[ by Charles Cameron — the worlds within this world are to be found in the workshops of Anselm Kiefer and William Vollmann ]
Artist one of two: Anselm Kiefer:
Kiefer devoted himself to investigating the interwoven patterns of German mythology and history and the way they contributed to the rise of Fascism. He confronted these issues by violating aesthetic taboos and resurrecting sublimated icons. For example, in his 1969 Occupations series, Kiefer photographed himself striking the “Sieg Heil” pose. Subsequent paintings—immense landscapes and architectural interiors, often encrusted with sand and straw—invoke Germany’s literary and political heritage. References abound to the Nibelungen and Wagner, Albert Speer’s architecture, and Adolf Hitler.
Interwoven patterns? The Nibelungen? Albert Speer?
Seraphim? Jacob’s ladder, on which angels travel up and down? And in this time of nuclear and gas chamber holocausts, have they abandoned the ladder?
Seraphim is part of Kiefer’s Angel series, which treats the theme of spiritual salvation by fire, an ancient belief perverted by the Nazis in their quest for an exclusively Aryan nation.
Spiritual salvation by fire?
Okay, This fellow has the kind of dark mythological intensity that interests me. Let’s take a stroll through this man’s world — a deeper dive into his studio.
In we go:–
It was like a world inside the world. Huge metal slabs were leaning against the walls. Helter-skelter around them, on racks with wheels, stood large paintings of oceans and beaches, rivers and meadows, mountains and forests, some covered with corroded ravines of lead. Vitrines in every size were standing everywhere, filled with the strangest things: the roots of trees, rusty hammers, little clay pigs. Shelves that ran the length of the hall were stacked with balance scales, hooks, rifles, stoves, snakes, torpedoes, piles of bricks, heaps of dried flowers, even whole trees. There were more full-size fighter jets and a cage that was maybe 300 square feet that was filled with golden wheat and what appeared to be the cooling tower of a nuclear power plant with a bicycle dangling down the side.
Torpedoes! Whole fighter jets! Whole trees!
Kiefer‘s paintings, we learn, are overwhelming, dark and vast — Seraphim‘s a good example — enforcing silence before their enormous intensity. And then, suddenly — watercolors, “brimming with color — sparkling blues and brilliant reds” as bright as the moments of a life, and thus as intensely personal as the dark vast paintings had been impersonal and overbearing — as is, one is forced to admit, our century.
He’s an artist — exhibit number one.
Here’s exhibit number two: the mind of William Vollmann..
Deep dive number two:
Bill greeted me warmly and showed me around the art-making area of his bunker, where he has a power engraver—he was working on a suite of Norse block prints when I visited—and where he prints his Dolores photographs using an arcane 19th century method called gum bichromate, which takes up to 28 days to produce a single print. Then he led me to the walk-in.
What’s in here?
This is the meat locker, where Dolores’s parts are. When the electrician wired it up, he asked, “What do you use this for?” I said, “Oh, that’s just where I keep my victims.” There was a long silence….She’s got her dresses here and I have my bulletproof helmet and various stuff from my journalism in there
Lecter, Hannibal? “That’s just where I keep my victims”?
Vollmann, like Kiefer, is possessed of a world both dark and sparkling bright. The sheer extent of his variety, too, is impressive, overwhelming.
Kissing the Mask is so packed with beauty, understatement — erotics, Japan, Noh, Vollmann himself, Noh backstage, behind-the-scenes, photographs — ” a string ball of thoughts” — I’d like to say “torpedoes .. even whole trees” but Vollmann‘s world within the world is other than Kiefer’s, as though there were room for two worlds within our world — three perhaps — though I’ve yet to encounter the third — “with Some Thoughts on Muses (Especially Helga Testorf), Transgender Women, Kabuki Goddesses. porn queens, poets, housewives, makeup artists, geishas, valkyries, and Venus figurines” Vollmann addsall this in small print at the bottom of the book’s cover.
When Vollmann turns to consider violence — “to establish a moral calculus to consider the causes, effects, and ethics of violence” as Wikipedia has it — he spends twenty and more years on the task.
The abridgment, Vollmann says, he made in half an hour, for the money. Truth to the work’s title is to be found in the $700, seven-volume original set, 3,500 copies. Even with dollar-store glasses and Holmes’ magnifying glass — enhanced with the option of bright light the better to read by — seven volumes is beyond me, as 700 pages of the condensed would be.
And there are yet other Vollmanns, with other worlds..
Oh but let Van Gogh have the last word, eh, Vollmann?
Schwarze Sonne (Black Sun), sometimes called the sonnerad: symbol has become synonymous with myriad far-right groups who traffic in neo-Nazi and/or neo-Volkisch ideologies. The symbol is based on the ancient sun wheel artifacts that were made and used by Norse and Germanic tribes as symbol of their pagan beliefs. Those sun wheels, made centuries upon centuries ago, do not usually resemble the complexity of this particular version. The version above is inlayed into the marble floor of the Castle Wewelsburg, the castle that Himmler made the spiritual and literal home of the SS during the reign of the Third Reich, and has significance within the occult practices of the SS.
The great replacement (French: le grand remplacement) is a right-wing conspiracy theory, which states that the white Catholic French population, and white Christian European population at large, is being systematically replaced with non-European people, specifically Middle Eastern, North and Sub-Saharan African populations, through mass migration and demographic growth. It associates the presence of Muslims in France with potential danger and destruction of French culture and civilization. [ .. ]
News sources will have more details on the shootings, the shooter or shooters, the trial of Brenton Tarrant and so forth. My interest, posting here, will be in this act of cruel terrorism, in Tarrant‘s manifesto and its close relationship to Anders Breivik‘s manifesto, 2083, and whatever else emerges.
Is Islamophobia the issue here? The ideology of Branton Tarrant‘s manifesto is white supremacist, but the attacks themselves, the massacres, take place not on immigration centers, hut on two mosques — clearly identifying the spear-tip of Tarrant‘s rage.
Consider: Hatred, hatred, hatred, and prayer, prayer, prayer:
The Gurdwara (Sikh temple), Oak Creek, WI, 2012
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, NC, 2015
The Tree of Life and New Light synagogues in Pittsburgh, PA, 2018
The Al Noor and Linwood Mosques in Christchurch, NZ, 2019
There’s context there.
On this most recent occasion I feel a mix of emotions:
The terrorist massacre of women, men and children in two places of Muslim worship on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, is heartbreaking: my tears and prayers go out to the victims, their families and friends, and all in New Zealand, a small and notably peaceful country — my friend Walter Logeman, therapist and man of peace, lives in Christchurch, and my heart goes out to him this day, as it does to Marianne Elliott, known on Twitter as @zenpeacekeeper, and Leah Farrall, @allthingsct — see below.
In this moment of rage and hate, it is good to remember and praise the lives of those who untiringly promote peace and love.
So I feel sad, very sad, and grateful for my friends.
Australian Senator Fraser Anning released a statement blaming “the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place” as “the real cause of bloodshed” following Friday’s shootings.
Tarrant’s manifesto :
The first thing to know about Tarrant‘s manifesto is that it is propaganda:
JM: The manifesto is — We treat these often as confessional documents, which are supposed to educate us about the person — but what it really is is a work of propaganda. And this one more than most.
We can tell from the manifesto that he’s a white supremacist, he’s anti-immigrant, he’s anti-Muslim, but when you try to drill down into the details,there’s not a lot of utility in the document. [ ..
One court appearance is probably going to be more illuminating nthan the document itself.
On the mix of immigration, racist and religionist issues:
Immigration and race are closely linked issues. Anti-immigration views allow white supremacists and people who have general right-wing views to incorporate a lot of different forms of hatred under one umbrella. It’s anti-Muslim, obviously, he targeted Muslims. It’s also racist as he describes it. Immigration is a convenient umbrella or fig-leaf for underlying bigotries that are more complex.
Having said that, let’s dig into the weeds, and take a look at one particular item in Tarrant‘s agenda, and that of Breivik. I’ll use the example of Constantinople, but Jerusalem and Vienna would have been other candidates..
Tarrant‘s manifesto includes a Q&A in which the imagined questioner asks:
Did/do you have ties to any other partisans/freedom fighters/ethno soldiers?
to which Tarrant responds:
I support many of those that take a stand against ethnic and cultural genocide. Luca Traini, Anders Breivik, Dylan Roof, Anton Lundin Pettersson, Darren Osbourne etc.
But I have only had brief contact with Knight Justiciar Breivik, receiving a blessing for my mission after contacting his brother knights.
That’s of particular since it mentions actual contact of some sort with Breivik , and also suggests there are in fact, as Breivik suggested, more Knights Justiciar besides (the self-proclaimed) Breivik himself.
We’ll return to that. The next question and response also mentions Breivik, and emphasizes his importance to Tarrant, whose 74-page manifesto was no boubt inspired by Breivik’s own manifesto of 1,515 pages:
Were your beliefs influenced by any other attackers?
I have read the writings of Dylan Roof and many others, but only really took true inspiration from Knight Justiciar Breivik.
Anders Breivik scans geopolitics and notes such things as Hindu nationalism in India as well as crusades and jihad, and one of his focuses within the latter pair of concerns is Anatolia, now known as Turkey — and within Turkey, Constantinople, now known, with the inclusion of largely residential areas on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, as Istanbul.
Breivik quotes a hadith of the Prophet:
Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will he be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!
He refers to Constantinople as a gem of the Christian world:
Constantinople, the jewel of Eastern Christendom, finally fell in 1453 to the armies of Sultan Mahomet II.
He also terms it “the greatest Christian city in the world” and nites that the First Crusade was called by Pope Urban II “in response to an urgent plea for help from the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople”
Tarrant‘s manifesto is much shrter, though 77 pages is long enough to cram in a fair amount of detail, vitriol, and propaganda, including this section, in which he too writes of the Christian city of Constantinople:
You can live in peace in your own lands, and may no harm come to you.
On the east side of the Bosphorus.
But if you attempt to live in European lands, anywhere west of the Bosphorus. We will kill you and drive you roaches from our lands.
We are coming for Constantinople and we will destroy every mosque and minaret in the city.
The Hagia Sophia will be free of minarets and Constantinople will be rightfully christian owned once more.
As we have seen, Tarrant suggests there is in fact a community of Templar Knights of the sort that Breivik also claimed:
I have only had brief contact with Knight Justiciar Breivik, receiving a blessing for my mission after contacting his brother knights.
Breivik himself in his manifesto offers an open invitation to all those Europeamns who self-identify as Knights Justiciar:
Normally, any individual who decides he want to choose the road of the PCCTS (ie Knights Templar), a road of strength and honour, courage and martyrdom, should leave any other organisation for practical reasons (first and foremost in order to protect them). He will then spend a predefined time preparing himself mentally (this cannot be emphasised enough) as well as for planning the actual operation (planning, financing and eventually execution of the plan). This may take longer than 36 months depending on the nature of the assault.
Breivik also stated that the Knights Templar had been reconstituted as an order in 2002, with founding members of the following nationalities and observances:
English Protestant, English Christian atheist, French Catholic, German Christian atheist, Dutch Christian agnostic, Greek Orthodox, Russian Christian atheist, Norwegian Protestant, Serbian Orthodox, Swedish, Belgian, and European-American
That white supremacism may be, as Breivik either knew or fantasized and hoped, an international movement is suggested by the breadth of Tarrant‘s travels, financed by his “profits from investing in the cryptocurrency Bitconnect, in such places as North Korea, Poland, Ukraine, Iceland, and Argentina [details].
Breivik‘s own sense of Temoplar membership as he understands it is reported in his manifesto:
varies from 15-80 Justiciar Knights in Western Europe (2008 estimate)
And to the extent that he wishes his manifesto to foment other actions beyond his own assaults on Oslo and Utoya, Breivik has clearly been successful.
The Newtown shooter Adam Lanza reportedly collected news clippings on Breivik’s attack and other incidents of mass violence before he killed 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Other young men, such as the British college student Liam Lyburd, have been inspired to plan or carry out mass shootings based on their admiration for Breivik’s lethality, rather than his beliefs.
U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Hasson was charged with planning a mass-casualty attack modeled in significant part on Breivik’s strategy, and bearing the marks of his belief system.
And now, courtesy of an Australian, New Zealand.
Clint Watts and cascading terrorism:
Clint: If you look at Al-Qaida or ISIS, it starts as this central body, this network, and then it expands out and then they inspire their followers.
In the West, it happens in reverse. Inspired followers start to network online, which build into this infrastructure.
We know this is getting more serious because the frequency and pace are picking up. When the pace picks up, that means that the network is tighter [ .. ] They’re citing each other ideologically, they’re playing to reach others’ attacks — and so this often does what I call cascading terrorism. It inspires others to begin acting.
Like a deeper layer of Hell, 8chan is an image board for anyone who is too much of an edgelord for 4chan. Created during the Gamergate fiasco when even the brass of 4chan decided that situation was getting out of hand and became a base of operations of sorts for the GG crowd.
You know, the left plays a tougher game, it?s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don?t play it tougher. OK? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump ? I have the tough people, but they don?t play it tough ? until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress ? with all this invest[igations]?that?s all they want to do is ?you know, they do things that are nasty. Republicans never played this.
For myself as a poet, one of the great but largely unremarked horros of Brenton Tarrant‘s manifesto is its epigrap=h, spelled out in full immediately after the title, Dylan Thomas‘ great poem Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night — with emphasis on the final line:
Rage, rage against the dying of the light..
Listen to Dylan Thomas himself voice this, his final, trembling plea to his dying father:
God, that’s a breth of fresh air amidst all this hatred.
The poem is one of the finest in the English language: to see it thus dragged through the mire is shocking and saddening in the extreme.
[ by Charles Cameron — a quiet weekend with no chyrons, but yasukuni, heavy metal, and three stunning headers on faith, forgiveness, and guns ]
Kamikaze, yay! As war-relate epithets go, it’s among the very finest — strongest, most halo’d with associations — from my POV as mythographer and poet:
As myth and legend, dream and imagination have it in some circles in Japan, kamikaze is spirit wind, downward-rushing, warships targeted, headlong warplanes in full nose-dive, martyrdom almost — tinged with cherry blossom and droplets of blood, patriotism, self-sacrifice ..
The controversies swirling around the Yasukuni Shrine and its inclusion of war criminals as patriotic heroes is something we’ve addressed in Zenpundit before — for both the controversy and the mythopoetics, see these excerpts:
Saturday wasn’t a chyron-collecting day for me — I had the distinct pleasure of a visit from Omar Ali, and live conversation trumps Trump every time — so I don’t have many items to display here… but this one caught my eye today, Sunday, as much for the color of the header as for its provocative content:
Among bands that are said today to fall into the category of N.S.B.M., as it is often called, are ?8?8??, from Russia, whose fans have given Nazi salutes during performances; a Finnish band, Goatmoon, which has performed in front of a backdrop resembling a Nazi flag; and Der Stürmer, from Greece, which shares a name with an anti-Semitic German newspaper whose editor, Julius Streicher, was convicted during the Nuremberg trials and then executed. Those bands and others, including Stahlfront, Sunwheel, Absurd, and Dark Fury, performed in December at the Asgardsrei festival, in Kiev, where Nazi-style displays abounded.
Asgard, hoke of the Æsir in Norse mythology — sacred to some though not all Asatru in a way reminiscent of Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine..
An FBI informant connected to the Uranium One controversy told three congressional committees in a written statement that Moscow routed millions of dollars to America with the expectation it would be used to benefit Bill Clinton’s charitable efforts while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton quarterbacked a “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations.
Don’t you just love quarterbacked? Like wingman and running point, it comes up all the time, but that was a stellar quarterback example in terms of paragraph content, ***** in my book.
Which reminds me, I don’t think I’ve captured one of this week’s favorites yet — making an end run around Congress:
Finally, I ran across three headers with religion-connected content today (Sunday at time of writing)…
A Senator praying his party would avoid a second shutdown may well be no more than a figure of speech:
Republican Chuck Grassley was on the Senate floor, asking the entire chamber to join in seeking divine intervention with Trump. “Let’s all pray that the President will have the wisdom to sign the bill, so that the government doesn’t shut down,” he said, as Washington waited, once again, on its capricious President.
Susan Glasser, the New Yorker writer, seems to take it a bit more seriously..
So it’s finally come to this: only God can stop Trump, as members of his own party are admitting that they’ve basically given up trying.
The story here is best told in this image, the work of the artist Wendy MacNaughton recording the words of a National Portrait Gallery guard, Rhonda:
Falling on one’s knees in prayer is definitely a mark of religion, even though Obama isn’t generally considered an object of religious devotion..
And this may be the most remarkable of the three. In the guns as religion article, it’s the mother of a teen-aged son who was shot and killed — a mother who is now a US Representative, Lucy McBath — who ssuggestd gun culture is an American quasi-religion — but she’s the one described in the article as deeply religious in her opposition to gun violence, refusing the request the death penalty for the killer of her son:
We never considered pushing for the death penalty because I firmly believe that I am not the one to choose who lives and who dies. Morally and ethically, I believe that decision is left to God. We suffered so much pain and so much anguish, and I actually did not want to be the one to inflict that upon his family, and I didn’t want to be rooted in those kinds of decisions, because I truly believed that would be the noose around my neck and I would not be able to move forward to actively champion for safer gun laws and a safer gun culture, because that’s what I believed that I was given to do, and I couldn’t do that without forgiveness, and I couldn’t do that without releasing myself.
[ by Charles Cameron — music, mildness and massacres — do we have a scalpel that can peel the mildness back to explain where the massacres come from? ]
Lenin listens, muses:
From the Russian film, Appassionate, Here’s Lenin listening and, towards the end, musing, to the music:
Vladimir Lenin asks Rudolf Kehrer to play Beethoven’s Appassionata, Piano Sonata no. 23, op. 57, and at the end says, ‘Nothing I know is better than the Appassionata’. … The footage comes from this rare film entitled Appassionata:
Here’s the full Lenin quote:
I know of nothing better than the Appassionata and could listen to it every day. What astonishing, superhuman music! It always makes me proud, perhaps with a childish naiveté, to think that people can work such miracles! … But I can’t listen to music very often, it affects my nerves. I want to say sweet, silly things, and pat the little heads of people who, living in a filthy hell, can create such beauty. These days, one can’t pat anyone on the head nowadays, they might bite your hand off. Hence, you have to beat people’s little heads, beat mercilessly, although ideally we are against doing any violence to people. Hm — what a devilishly difficult job!
Some people already know this quote, some don’t.
Here, Lang Lang plays Beethoven’s Appassionata in its colossal entirety:
Mildness and massacres.
Hitler, who began as an art student, liked Wagner; Lenin liked Beethoven. Shall we blame classical music for the Shoah and Gulags?
Somehow, if we could peel back the mildness, we might find the massacres. Does anyone have a suitable psychiatric or spiritual scalpel?
[ Charles Cameron — my latest for your reading pleasure ]
Some of you may be interested in my latest — 5,000 words on the Knights Templar crusaders & their various modern variants (Freemasons, proto-Nazis, Anders Breivik &c) as precursors to the Templarios cartel in Michoacán — now up at Small Wars Journal.
It seems appropriate to begin this overview of the appropriation of Templar symbolism from the original, medieval Knights Templar religious order by the contemporary Caballeros Templarios cartel by noting that the borrowing of ancient religious and military symbolism by more recent and questionable groupings is not uncommon.
In contemporary Pagan-revival Odinism / Asatru, for instance, a re-appropriation of Nordic mythology by far-right groups is not uncommon.
Of Vinland productions historical reenactments, Simon Coulu reports in Vice:
[T]heir Viking imagery often resembles that used by neo-fascist groups. Its president, as well as at least one actor from the historical re-enactment company, are also involved in the activities of the ultra-nationalist group Atalante Québec and the skinhead band Légitime Violence.
More precisely to our point, the Knights Templar of history were founded as a military order of monks with a rule devised by the Cistercian St Bernard of Clairvaux at the Council of Troyes (1128/9). St. Bernard was also the author of a spectacular defense of Templar chivalric warfare against the Saracens, In Praise of the New Knighthood (Liber ad milites Templi: De laude novae militae,1129). Their function was the protect both the holy places of Jerusalem and pilgrims traveling to visit them.
Since then, the Templars have featured in medieval Grail legends, in Masonic rites beginning with a Templar branch founded by Baron Gotthelf von Hund in 1755, and notably in one proto-Nazi cult. Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of the Utoya massacre, claimed to be a Templar, as do various alt-right groups..
In 1907, Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels, some-time Cistercian monk, Ariosophist (among the precursors of Nazi racial doctrines), and author of the fabulously-named 1905 publication, Theo-Zoology or the Lore of the Sodom-Apelings and the Electron of the Gods, founded the Order of the New Templars (ONT)—borrowing name and symbolism from the original Templars for his own Aryan race cult. Lanz’ membership of the Cistercian order would account for some of his interest in the original Templars, founded by the Cistercian St. Bernard of Clairvaux. The ONT was finally closed down by the Gestapo in 1942.
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.