Fire in the Hole

Centre de Musique Mediane pour Vikipedia

Fire in the Hole

Zingari (The Gypsies), original version premiered in 1912, music and libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Carlo Rizzi, Cadogan Hall, Friday 3 December 2021, reviewed by Leslie Jones

“Like a viburnum, I tremble on the breeze”. Ruggero Leoncavallo wrote the libretto for Zingari, which is replete with numerous, supposedly poetic lines. These lovers do go on. Prince Radu on heat brings to mind sexual tourist Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, in Madama Butterfly.

In Leoncavallo’s imagined world, men are possessive, prone to jealousy and to violence. Women, in turn, are fickle and faithless and have weaponised their sexuality. A sexually frustrated man, it would seem, is more manipulable. There are also distinct elements of sadomasochism herein. “Cut me! Burn me!”, Fleanda repeatedly implores. In due course, her sometime lover Radu obliges. A psycho-analyst would doubtless delve into the composer’s emotional and sexual history.

There is some splendidly exotic incidental music in this work. In his notes in the programme, however, Ditlev Rindom questions Leoncavallo’s pretentious claim to have “conducted ethnographic research into gypsy music”. He points out that part of the composer’s youth was spent in Cairo. The score, accordingly, is more reminiscent of Aida than of “gypsy ‘exoticism’”.

The four distinguished soloists, soprano Krassimira Stoyanova as Fleanda, tenor Arsen Soghomonyan as Radu, baritone Stephen Gaertner as Tamar and bass-baritone Łukasz Goliński as Il Vecchio, were all on top form. So was maestro Rizzi, the former Music Director of Welsh National Opera, although at times we worried for his health! There was some fine playing by the orchestra, in particular by the harpist Daniel De Fry. Opera Rara, which presented this performance in conjunction with RPO, is clearly on a mission to “rediscover and restore neglected works of the highest quality”.

London Hippodrome

Editorial note; the premier of Zingali was at the London Hippodrome in 1912

Dr Leslie Jones is Editor of QR

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A Dark Night Rises

Kiss by Briseis, vase painter, credit Wikipedia

A Dark Night Rises

A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and their Pursuit of Dignity, Allyn Walker, University of California Press, 2021, 221pp. reviewed by Ed Dutton 

A Long, Dark Shadow must rank as the most controversial book of 2021. Within weeks of it being published, its author had been hounded off social media and eventually forced to resign from an academic position at Old Dominion University in Virginia (see Sam Baker, “Trans professor, 34, who defended pedophiles as ‘Minor Attracted Persons’ finally RESIGNS after 15,000 people signed online petition,” Mail Online, 25th November 2021). [Editorial note; Dr Walker, hitherto an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, claims to have researched this subject “to identify ways to protect children” and to “prevent crime’. Walker has stated “I want to be clear: child sexual abuse is an inexcusable crime”. Dr Walker goes by the pronouns they/them] 

A Long, Dark Shadow attempts to dispassionately explore the world of non-active paedophiles. Due to the emotional baggage which the word “paedophile” carries, including the implication that a person has engaged in the sexual abuse of children, Walker prefers the euphemism “Minor-Attracted Person” (“MAP”). This is a term which many paedophiles increasingly employ to describe themselves, though some, Walker finds, are perfectly happy to self-identify simply as “paedophiles.” MAP is, however, a misleading and manipulative term, as we will see later.

The resulting book is a qualitative exploration, drawing upon semi-structured interviews with 42 MAPs who are overwhelmingly male. Following in the traditions of social anthropology, Walker treats these MAPs as a community – which they indeed are, as there are various online forums for non-active paedophiles such as VirPed (“Virtuous Pedophiles”) and B4U-ACT (p.11)and attempts to describe the findings therein without moral judgement. At various points, however, repugnance is expressed at the views of some the subjects, notably with regard to abolishing the age of sexual consent: “There were times when I felt disturbed by my own research . . . In moments such as these I felt less sympathy towards my participants overall” (p.189). Certainly, at some points, it is impossible to read this book without a feeling of disgust.

The furore that A Long, Dark Shadow has engendered is understandable. It is helping to normalize, even if indirectly, the abuse of little children. Paedophilia is an extremely emotive subject. It is difficult to discuss it in a dispassionate manner. This Dr Walker attempts to do and we learn a few things as a consequence.

Firstly, Walker distinguishes between different kinds of paedophile: there are those who will have sex with anything, including children (because they find it harder to fight back); those who are focused on late pubescent children, on pubescent children, on pre-pubescent children, and even extreme instances, with correspondents fantasizing about having a “sexual relationship” (not mere sex) with children as young as three. There are technical terms for each of these types and they seem to have slightly different biological and environmental correlates, although Walker – a social worker by training – doesn’t look at the hard science behind paedophilia. Congruous with the leftist takeover of universities, everything is attributed – wrongly – to environmental factors. The paedophiles themselves, however, tell us of the biological dimensions of their sexual predilection: “(The doctor) indicated to him there could be a biological cause of his attraction to minors . . .” (p.151). Again, “My participants brought up the work of James Cantor and his colleagues, mentioning whether or not they possessed characteristics that MAPs have been found more likely to exhibit (e.g. left-handedness, below average IQ, or childhood sexual trauma) than teleiophiles (individuals attracted to adults)” (p.35).

Dr Walker evidently gained the trust of the subjects, members of an otherwise extremely suspicious community, through both “fieldwork” and sympathetic correspondence. There are interesting differences within this community. Some MAPs believe that any kind of contact with children is morally wrong. They try to avoid children in case they become tempted. Others, though they don’t act on it, genuinely believe that such relationships can be right in certain circumstances. The MAPs who prefer older boys (they mainly seem to be homosexual) look down on those who prefer younger boys as being the real paedophiles. Some of them see child pornography as perpetuating sexual abuse and avoid it. Others justify using it, because it is an “outlet to engage in fantasies without involving children he knew ‘in real life’” (p.125). In effect, they feel that viewing it is “the lesser of two evils” (p.125) because if they don’t then their desires won’t be sated, so they’ll go and molest a child. One correspondent claimed that he watched online child abuse in order to empathise with the abused children and so remind himself that child abuse is wicked and that he shouldn’t engage in it (p.126). Thus, for him, watching videos of children being sexually abused was an “aversion tactic” (p.127). Walker acknowledges being deeply disturbed by these warped justifications.

The author provides us with useful – otherwise difficult to obtain – information about the environmental aspects of becoming a paedophile. Children tend to be attracted to, or to have crushes on, other children of their age. Many of Walker’s correspondents found that they became “stuck,” psychologically, at a specific age. Thus, they fancy 11 year-olds when they are 11, and they simply don’t move on from 11 year-olds. According to Walker’s research, some kind of trauma often happens to them at around the age in which they are “stuck.” And it is not necessarily sexual abuse; it could be the death of a parent. My book Churchill’s Headmaster explored the life of the prep school headmaster Herbert Sneyd-Kynnersley (1848-1886) who was a flogging fetishist and a non-active pederast. He seemed to be especially interested in the older boys at his school; those aged around 12. This is the exact age Sneyd-Kynnersley was when his mother died. The book posited a connection between autism and fetishes – via strong feelings, obsessiveness, interest in “things,” lack of empathy and emotional immaturity – though Walker merely noted, in passing, that three of the subjects had been diagnosed with autism (p.140).

All this notwithstanding, Dr Walker is implicitly arguing that MAPs are a persecuted minority, just as transsexuals and homosexuals once were, and that they deserve recognition and even “acceptance that they aren’t fundamentally evil people” (p.167). There are number of difficulties with this conclusion. Firstly, paedophilia is not an “attraction,” it is a “fetish”. It involves obsessiveness, hence the  tremendous difficulty in stopping oneself from acting it out, in a context in which the objects of attraction are vulnerable and trusting. Note also that paedophilia is partly an expression of high mutational load, with mutant genes impacting development and factors that have gone wrong in development. It correlates, accordingly, with assorted personality disorders that make people more impulsive.

Consistent with this, one of Walker’s subjects “had gone to a small island where he ‘saw children running around naked’ in public. Isaac immediately went online to seek help from others who would understand.” He told Walker, “It was a bit of a challenge for me.” But the online communities told him, “‘You can do it, [Isaac]!” This element of compulsion is the key problem with the concept of MAPs.  Of course, it may be that Walker’s sample – in reaching out for help to online communities – are not representative of the average MAP. Perhaps the latter type is better at suppressing, or coping with, his desires or feels them less acutely.

Walker is openly sympathetic to MAPs – seemingly identifying with them “As a queer person myself . . .” and as a member of another  marginalised sexual minority– to the extent that just as transsexuals have proclaimed that normal people are “privileged” as “cis-gender,” it seems that non-MAPs are privileged as “teleiophiles.” But whereas gay people have the “privilege of coming out without fear of stigmatization” (p.47), MAPs lack this “privilege.” In this sense, this book is the next logical step in a process of “runaway individualism” whereby you virtue-signal your concern with the individual-promoting, rather than group-promoting, values of “harm-avoidance” and “equality”. Walker maintains that “shaming” MAPs makes them less able to get help and so more likely to offend. It could be countered, however, that for most people, if their desire is so shameful as to be unthinkable, then they will suppress it, rape being an example. If they can’t do that faced with such shame, counselling probably won’t help them.

Some of the furious reaction to this book is doubtless attributable to projection and denial. Society sexualises young children, encourages and even pressures teenagers to have sex and is awash with sexual images of relatively young women which some people may feel guilty about being aroused by. Men tend to be attracted to younger females for evolutionary reasons, and this may stray into the “barely legal” range, as pointed out in the internet search analysis A Billion Wicked Thoughts by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, which also highlights the many other sexual perversions that interest ostensibly “normal” people. According to Evolutionary Psychiatry, by psychiatrists Anthony Stevens and John Price, studies indicate that many non-active paedophiles will go into professions such as school-teaching – in which they may excel precisely because they are enthusiastic about being with children and because they implicitly understand how they think, never having quite grown-up – satisfying themselves with platonic relationships and non-sexual touching. As Judge Mary Mowat told a teacher, convicted at Reading Crown Court in 2011 of downloading child pornography, “I don’t criticise you for being attracted to children. Many teachers are, but they keep their urges under control, both when it comes to children and when it comes to images of children” (M. Wardrop, “Judge Tells Sex Offender: I Don’t Criticise You for Being Attracted to Children,” Daily Telegraph, 29th July 2011).

A blind-eye was turned, until recently, to such “funny men,” who’d often never had an adult relationship of any kind. Of course, they were “MAPs,” but they were tolerated, so some people project their guilt about this, or their conflicted feelings towards these people, onto Dr Walker. But, even so, Walker is trying to normalise paedophilia to the extent of proposing that there needs to be more media role-models for young, troubled MAPs (p.92). Will we, accordingly, see token MAPs in American movies soon? Perhaps this book has triggered otherwise conformist liberals because it forces them to realise that the West really has degenerated into something truly appalling if a prestigious publisher – the University of California Press – is prepared to publish a book that espouses equality for, and normalization of, people who are aroused by the idea of having sexual relationships with children.

Prof. Edward Dutton runs a channel called The Jolly Heretic where he interviews controversial academics side-lined by our politicised universities. He is the author of Churchill’s Headmaster: the ‘Sadist’ who Nearly Saved the British Empire, among many other books

[Editorial endnote; views expressed in articles published by QR are not thereby endorsed by the editor]                             

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ENDNOTES, December 2021

Path in Marline Wood, Sussex, credit Wikipedia

ENDNOTES, December 2021

In this edition: Elgar, Ireland and Holst from the English Music Festival;   Fairy Tales for saxophone and piano; reviewed by Stuart Millson

The Autumn English Music Festival, held at St. Mary’s Church, Horsham, was memorable for four performances in particular: a moving, deeply-studied account of Elgar’s Violin Sonata of 1918; Ireland’s Violin Sonata in D minor (1908-9); songs for tenor and piano by Gustav Holst; and a too-rarely-heard rendition of Madeleine Dring’s almost cabaret-like John Betjeman settings. On the afternoon of Saturday 13th November, violinist Rupert Marshall-Luck took to the platform at St. Mary’s, accompanied by pianist, Nathan Williamson, with a programme of music that included Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending, the Legende by Frederick Delius and the charming “salon” pieces by Elgar, Salut d’Amour, Chanson de Nuit and Chanson de Matin – all played with depth, charm and beauty – but all exceeded by the complete immersion of the artists in Elgar’s sublime Violin Sonata, a product of the composer’s stay, late in the First World War, in secluded woodland in Sussex.

It was Lady Elgar who remarked that in the forest surroundings, a “wood magic” had begun to take hold of her husband’s writing. For so long associated with rich choral and orchestral works, here, deep in the Sussex countryside, Elgar’s vision found equal boundless energy and emotion through the medium of chamber music; the surging splendour of his symphonies dovetailed into the music of just violin and piano, and yet sacrificing nothing in this world of smaller forms. Rupert Marshall-Luck responded to and projected all the boldness and impetuousness of the opening bars, uncovering along the way – like woodland shadows – the softer introspection of Elgar’s sighs and threads of melody. Nathan Williamson made the sonata more than just an exercise in accompaniment: somehow, the work seemed in the hands of these fine artists almost like a concerto in miniature.

There have been many interpretations of this piece, but Rupert Marshall-Luck brings to the work – especially in the mysterious majesty of the last movement – a more effective, thoughtful, slower pace than practically any other performer. Thankfully, the English Music Festival’s recording arm, the innovative EM Records, has produced a studio performance of Mr. Marshall-Luck’s version of Elgar’s Violin Sonata – a CD that confirms the violinist as the foremost exponent of the work. One can only hope that he turns his attention one day to Elgar’s masterful Violin Concerto.

And if this powerful Elgar section of the programme was not enough, the Marshall-Luck-Williamson partnership delivered a brilliant account of Ireland’s Violin Sonata of 1909; a work that begins in an ardent spirit, but which soon subsides into the loneliness and reflection which we expect of Ireland – that unique, detached figure in our musical life who seemed to see visions of the past in the ancient Sussex and Dorset landscape. Again and again in the first movement, a phrase of touching lyrical beauty is heard – a somewhat sad and nostalgic theme, echoed by the piano; and again, given such memorable treatment by Nathan Williamson.

John Ireland also featured in the evening song recital, given by tenor James Gilchrist – with Nathan Williamson accompanying – our pianist showing no signs of exhaustion from his long afternoon with Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Delius. Quite the reverse, with Mr. Gilchrist ushering in a renewed world of beauty and springtime in Ireland’s Land of Lost Content, the first warm breath of the year, encapsulated in The Lent Lily. The calming music of Ivor Gurney followed; Gurney, a composer and poet was shell-shocked in the Great War. But his gentle, heartfelt setting of Down by the Salley Gardens (1920) seems far away from any battlefield. Frank Bridge’s FourSongs (1925) – the composer at his most astringent – brought an atmosphere of coldness and dissonance to the evening, but Holst’s A Vigil of Pentecost, and Humbert Wolfe Songs brought listeners into an ethereal, supernatural state; especially in the ‘Vigil’s’ pre-echo of the Venus movement from The Planets, and in the unearthly, distant landscape of Betelgeuse. Finally, James Gilchrist rounded things off with Madeleine Dring’s Betjeman settings: a reflective “teatime tide” at a Bay in Anglesey (one could almost hear the poet himself reading it, with the cry of gulls in the background); and an outrageous moment of cabaret, as our singer stepped into a bohemian Soho setting in the Song of a Nightclub Proprietess. Full marks to Mr. Gilchrist for this theatrical touch!

Finally, some Russian and Baltic fairy tales courtesy of Norwood Recordings and their artists, Kyle Horch (alto and soprano saxophone) and pianist, Yshani Perinpanayagam. The CD is superbly recorded – the saxophone sounding remarkably seductive, embracing the listener with its not-quite-classical sound, a sound more reminiscent, perhaps, of jazz. Yet as the album unfolds, such thoughts are put to one side: the saxophone telling wonderful stories, especially in the Lithuanian Eduardas Balsys’s Little Fish (the best tune on the disc – a folksy dance-like three minutes); Eduard Tubin’s more demonstrative, abstract Sonata for Piano and Saxophone; and the Cinq Melodies, Op. 35 by Prokofiev. An unusual disc, but one that is ideal for a winter’s evening – perhaps accompanied by a glass of something warming, and a frosty view from your living-room window.

Stuart Millson is the Classical Music Editor of The Quarterly Review 

Elgar, Violin Sonata, performed by Rupert Marshall-Luck, violin, and Matthew Rickard, piano, on EM Records, CD 011.

Fairy Tales, Kyle Horch, saxophone, Norwood Records, NR 202101.

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George Parkin Grant as Educator

Max Bruckner, Final Scene of Gotterdammerung, credit Wikipedia

George Parkin Grant as Educator

by Mark Wegierski

Conservatives in Canada face a dilemma. In 1965, in his famous book Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism, Canadian traditionalist philosopher George Parkin Grant pointed to the “impossibility of conservatism” in Canada. His writings have proved increasingly prophetic. Nevertheless, there are some thoughtful conservatives left in Canada, who could be called “George Grant’s children.” Their lives in Canada have been difficult – certainly at the psychological level – as they have been profoundly alienated from virtually every aspect of the current-day Canada, not least from the current-day Conservative Party of Canada.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole failed to win the federal election of September 20, 2021. The Liberals were able to win a minority government (a plurality of seats) in the House of Commons, which will probably be supported by the New Democratic Party (NDP) which is even further left. A Liberal-NDP coalition would be yet another blow to traditional Canada. The ambition of the woke Left is evidently to move Canada to “Year Zero” – where literally nothing from the Canadian past is regarded as worthwhile.

What were the reasons for the Conservative failure in the federal election of September 20, 2021? In the author’s opinion, the attempted “move to the centre” to try to win over blue-collar, as well as suburban and urban voters, especially in Ontario, Quebec, and B.C., was a good idea. However, it was hobbled by the policy delineated in the plan (the detailed Conservative electoral platform) to rescind the Liberal anti-assault rifle Order-in-Council, which the Liberals were able to zero in on with a laser-like intensity. It was also weakened by Erin O’Toole’s refusal to come on board with vaccine mandates – which also became a huge target for the Liberal campaign. These two matters were wedge-issues which generated huge support for the Liberals. If the Conservative Party was going to “move to the centre” these two matters should have been appropriately addressed.

What is Canadian identity? There have been at least two, very different Canada’s — the one that existed before the 1960s, and the one that exists today. Traditional Canada was defined by its founding nations — the English (British) and the French (the latter mostly centred in what became in 1867 the Province of Quebec). An understanding of the deep extent to which the British Canadian identity was formerly held – and a less negative view about its past role in Canada – are probably beyond the ken of most people in today’s “New Canada”, or “Canada Two” — the post-1960s Canada whose main architects have been the Liberal Prime Ministers Lester B. Pearson (1963-1968), and Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1968-1984, except for nine months in 1979-1980).

Two of the leading critics of current-day Canada are William D. Gairdner, who in 2010 brought out a new edition of his ground-breaking book, The Trouble with Canada: A Citizen Speaks Out — originally published in 1990, and the late Ken McDonald, whose best-known book is, probably, His Pride, Our Fall: Recovering from the Trudeau Revolution (1995). Current-day Canada is officially defined as a multicultural society. A putative Canadian identity is said to be constituted out of the “mosaic” or “kaleidoscope” of various heterogeneous cultures. Since 1988, after the Canadian Supreme Court struck down some residual restrictions, Canada has no laws whatsoever regulating abortion. Same-sex marriage has been deeply entrenched since the federal Parliament approved it in 2005 — responding to two decisions of lower courts in 2003 that were never appealed by the federal government. The upholding of current-day multicultural and gender politics orthodoxy is policed by various quasi-judicial tribunals, including the so-called Human Rights Commissions, which can severely punish speech deemed critical of various minorities and current-day political arrangements. Their operations have been tellingly described in Ezra Levant’s Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights (2009).

Abortion rights and same-sex marriage are an indelible part of the Canadian political landscape today. Nevertheless, the author believes that it is possible to promote pro-family policies (especially through the tax-system) that can win broad acceptance in Canadian society. For example, the tax-penalty on households with one main breadwinner in the marriage should be ended. No matter how many rights and benefits a given society offers, it may still be considered a failing society, if it fails in the most essential task of reproducing itself – both in the purely physical as well as cultural sense. The government must therefore substantially increase the incentives for married couples to have or adopt children, through a variety of tax-policies.

There are also varieties of separatism in Canada today. The Quebecois sovereigntists view the Canadian State with antipathy. Emerging since the 1960s, radical Aboriginal separatism also looks with deep disdain at Canada. The idea is that since the land was all “stolen”, the Canadian State has no inherent legitimacy. Canada is now subject to massive cultural fracturing, under the pressures of the American pop-culture, the extremes of multiculturalism, and of excessive Aboriginal claims. Ironically, the greatest champions of Canadian culture today are also usually mavens of “political correctness.” The core Canadian identity is in danger of disappearing, “the centre cannot hold”, only the so-called fringes are powerful today. The goal of conservatives should be to re-orient cultural funding to give more voice to core Canadian identity, and core Canadian culture and history.

There is a tendency among such archetypically Canadian institutions as the taxpayer-funded CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) to “read out” certain groups of people as “un-Canadian.” The CBC views people who hold what are considered “reactionary” or “mean-spirited” social and cultural outlooks as simply not part of “the Canadian Way”. The so-called cultural industries in Canada are also mostly government (i.e., taxpayer) subsidized, especially “CanLit” (Canadian literature). Many of these supposedly “public” cultural institutions pride themselves on their total rejection of anything smacking of traditionalism or conservatism.

Except for certain residues in political institutions, British Canada has been all but annihilated. Nevertheless, paradoxically Canada still remains in the penumbra of the WASPs, as many of them – whether in corporate or governmental structures — have taken on the role of being amongst the most “progressive”, politically-correct groups in Canada. They enjoy lives of enormous material comfort and cushy sinecures, even as the New Canada conceptually vitiates all that their ancestors once held dear. 

Sociologist Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer and researcher

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Dune, Frank Herbert, 1965, credit Wikipedia


Mark Wegierski considers Frank Herbert’s masterwork

In 1985, left-wing science fiction author Judith Merril complained that most science fiction was permeated by a typology of “feudal values plus high-technology”. In truth, however, this combination makes for one of the most creative and interesting paradigms of science fiction. Witness Frank Herbert’s novel Dune, published in 1965 then made into a film by David Lynch in 1984. Many alterations were made by Lynch to the original vision of the book — for example, in the book, Baron Harkonnen is a kind of “Mephistophelean” figure but in the film is portrayed as a hideous horror-flick “monster”. Lynch also introduced various elements of horror that are simply not found in the book. And the black rubber still-suits (desert gear) are laughably wrong. In December 2000, there was a new rendering of Frank Herbert’s Dune, as a six-hour television mini-series on the U.S. Sci-Fi Channel. This was a more faithful adaptation of the book. And this year, a new film of Dune (Part One), by Denis Villeneuve, is being released.

The noble vision of Frank Herbert, although set in the far future, is based on varied elements of the historical and religious past of humankind — for example, ideas of political messianism, the rise of Islam, the theme of healthy barbarians against a decadent empire, etc. The linkage of “feudal values” with “high technology” does not reduce the book’s vision to the category of a “fairy-tale.” Continue reading

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The Incomparable Gilbert Highet

Thomas Couture, The Romans and their Decadence, credit Wikipedia

The Incomparable Gilbert Highet

R.J.Ball, The Classical Legacy of Gilbert Highet, Lockwood Press, 2021. Pp. I-IVI; 1-104. $34.95, reviewed by Darrell Sutton

Great scholars need biographers to tell their stories, to disclose information that would not be made available otherwise. In recent times, publicized accounts of the lives of classical scholars have appeared every so often, exposing their lifestyles and fecund minds to exhaustive but narrow analyses in the broader discipline of wissenschaftsgeschichte, a burgeoning field of study. Historians recover suppressed truths. They search musty attics, rummage through second-hand bookstores, explore letters/diaries in archives, and inspect files in squalid library basements. The profit is usually worth it, with the benefits outweighing the drawbacks.

Gossip and scandal are rarely far from an academic’s life. Gilbert Highet, however, a noted classicist, was an exception. Well-dressed, decorous, and refined in his speech, he stood out among the professors of his day. And as a classical scholar, he represented his field properly, in a way that befitted a public intellectual. Continue reading

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Grandma’s House

Sid Vicious, credit Wikipedia

Grandma’s House

by Bill Hartley

There is a listings magazine distributed around the pubs and clubs of North East England called NARC. It’s a good guide to what’s going on and is packed with news and reviews about the Arts and much else. The magazine allows performers, bands and their recordings exposure which they might otherwise struggle to attain.

What soon becomes noticeable is the frequent references to ‘Punk’. Those with a long enough memory will recall a raw musical genre which leapt out of the 1970s, simulating outrage in the British tabloids with its cheek and offensiveness. That kind of energy and rebelliousness couldn’t be sustained indefinitely and eventually Punk faded away, to be followed by Post Punk, New Wave and Alternative Rock; labels hung on bands by music journalists keen to keep abreast of a vibrant and fast evolving musical scene. Evolution is the way it’s supposed to go with popular music though in NARC there seems little evidence of this. The magazine hangs the Punk label on so many bands that it seems as if it’s just an attempt to generate a sense of excitement, which on closer examination seems elusive. Continue reading

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Why we Fright

Daumier, La République

Why we Fright

Guillaume Faye, Prelude to War; Chronicle of the Coming Cataclysm, Arktos, 2021, 497pp, reviewed by Leslie Jones


According to ‘Archeo-Futurist’ Guillaume Faye, Islamic culture is sui generis. Inherently totalitarian, its driving force is expansionism, the religious obligation to create a global caliphate. Faye agrees with Samuel P Huntington that the ideological conflicts between capitalism and communism have been superseded by a clash between Islamic and non-Islamic societies. The conflict between bourgeoisie and proletariat has given way, in turn, to a new type of class struggle. For the ‘bohemian bourgeoisie’ despise the autochthonous working class and are in an unholy alliance with ‘immigrant colonisers’. Predominantly bourgeois, the left has little contact with immigrants, bar cleaning ladies. ‘Foreigner-free’ schools reinforce its insularity. Only the native working class must endure the insecurity and lawlessness of les banlieues, caused by mass immigration. Yet, for the ‘post Marxist bourgeoisie’, which embraces cosmopolitanism and xenophilia, immigrants are the real victims.

Alain de Benoist maintains that mass immigration has provided cheap labour and a new ‘reserve army of capital’.[i] Faye concurs. One thing, however, remains constant. Material possessions are all important to the bourgeoisie, more important even than ‘the salvation of its own people’. Continue reading

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The Rake’s Progress

Igor Stravinsky, credit Wikipedia

The Rake’s Progress

The Rake’s Progress, from Glyndebourne Touring Opera, Glyndebourne, Wednesday 27th October 2021, reviewed by David Truslove

In this latest revival of Stravinsky’s only full-length opera most of the cast members were not even born when the now celebrated John Cox/David Hockney collaboration was unveiled at Glyndebourne in 1975. Many revivals later, the 2010 run prompted Richard Morrison of The Times to observe that the production is ‘now so old that it probably qualifies for a blue plaque’. It’s certainly the oldest of any surviving UK opera production, and Hockney’s set and designs (replacing those by the cartoonist Osbert Lancaster) have toured the world. An outstanding achievement yes, but is there a hint in Morrisons’ quip of this staging becoming a tourist attraction? In his 2010 review, he was more impressed with the production’s ‘fabulous designs’ than he was with the performance.

Inspired by Hogarth’s 18th century engravings, there’s no denying the genius of Hockney’s cross-hatched patterns which still hold the eye whether in picture book trees, striped wigs or even a stuffed auk. The animation of drawings and designs artfully mirrors the restlessness of Stravinsky’s operatic farewell to neo-classicism, their restricted palette nicely balanced by the score’s primary colours. More vitally, the fabrics, whether canvas or cloth, capture the spirit of 18th century pastiche that is at the very heart of Stravinsky’s work, itself both an emotional pendulum and a patchwork of musical sources shoplifting the late operas of Mozart. For those over-long pauses between scenes there’s much to enjoy too in the ‘schoolboy’ scribbles decorating the backcloth. Continue reading

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ENDNOTES, November 2021

Max Bruckner (1836-1918), Walhalla, credit Wikipedia

ENDNOTES, November 2021

A tribute to Bernard Haitink, KBE, CH, 1929-2021. Stuart Millson on one of the great conductors of our time – a renowned interpreter of the works of Bruckner and Mahler

The recent death of Bernard Haitink – the legendary Dutch conductor, famed for his interpretations of the late-romantic repertoire – represents the passing of a generation in classical music. Haitink, although not one of the autocratic conductors of the recent past  such as Karajan or Bernstein, was part of that intensely serious, inscrutable, disciplined, white-tie-and-tails generation which produced the defining discography – Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler et al – dominating the record shelves of the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s; shaping our understanding of classical music and European high-culture.

From his earliest days with the orchestra of Netherlands Radio, through his famous years with the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, to a productive time in London with the LPO, Royal Opera House and the Philharmonia; then star appearances with the Chicago Symphony and Lucerne Festival orchestras in his late career, the unassuming Dutchman built up a legendary status with audiences. The wild acclamation he received from the Proms audience, although acknowledged and enjoyed, sometimes prompted a wince of embarrassment from Haitink – keen to curtail the clapping, eschew hero-worship and get on with the music. Continue reading

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