Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Von Rauffenstein

My Spanish friend calls me "Von Rauffenstein," after the militaristic Prussian aristocrat in "The Grand Illusion." It's an identification I accept. It's been a long evolution, but I've come to appreciate the role -- the essential role -- of natural aristocracies in a civilized society. And the role of horoable warriors, too. It seems to me Von Rauffenstein represented to old values that World War I was sweeping away.

This was a period of history that came to my mind much in the past few weeks, when everything seems so dark and when it seems like the American bid to redeem Western civilization and defend it from the Islamofascist attack has gone so horribly wrong, and we are destined to fail, with terrible consequences. That the people who apologize for their sins, who punish their transgressors, are going to lose -- really lose -- to the people who parade around with the heads of their enemies and who make their mass murderers into heroes.

I remember how it seemed World War I destroyed everything worthwhile.

I think of Pound's lines:

THERE died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization, -
Charm, smiling at the good mouth,
Quick eyes gone under earth's lid, -
For two gross of broken statues,
For a few thousand battered books.

Yet it survived. It is stronger than the chthonic powers that would tear it apart, from within and without.