All posts by Robert Carmonius

DeCasseres Dances With Nietzsche

 

Two small articles/reviews from the Detroit Jewish Chronicle concerning Benjamin DeCasseres and Nietzsche.  The first about “Germans, Jews and France,” published November 15, 1935,  followed by  “I Dance With Nietzsche,” published December 11, 1936, enjoy.


DeCasseres Shows Nietzsche Hated the German People

Benjamin DeCasseres, eminent writer and critic, descendant of the family of Baruch Spinoza, is the author of a pamphlet, “Germans, Jews and France,” in which is compiled a series of statements from the writings of Nietzsche. This pamphlet, published by the Rose Printers & Publishers, Inc., 91 Runyon St., Newark, N.J., proves that contrary to the claims of Nazis, Nietzsche hated the Germans and had the highest respect for the Jews. DeCasseres took the excerpts in this pamphlet from the 15 volumes of Nietzsche’s works. In a foreword to the booklet he states:  “In Germany his universal doctrine of Will-to-Power and his ideal of Superman have been used by professors and mob-masters as philosophy to excuse their atrocities, their sadism and their totalitarian-state crimes. But they have carefully concealed what you will find in this booklet.”

In his attack on the Germans, Nietzsche is quoted among other things as follows:

“German intellect’ is my foul air.”

“When I try to think of the kind of man who is opposed to me in all my instincts, my mental image takes the form of a German.”

“Even the presence of a German retards my digestion.”

“I can no longer abide the (German) race.”

“I was condemned to the society of the Germans.”

Under the caption “Germany and the Germans,”Mr. DeCasseres has compiled a chapter of quotations among which we read:

“The Germans have not the faintest idea how vulgar they are.”

“The spirit of Germany—soft, swampy, slippery soil.”

“A man lowers himself by frequenting the society of Germans.”

Another chapter in which he condemns the Germans is titled “German Culture.”

Three of the 31 pages are devoted to a discussion of the Jews, and he says of them:

“What a blessing a Jew is among Germans!”

“This race (the Jews) should not be irritated without necessity. Therefore anti-Semites should be expelled from Germany.”

“Since Wagner’s return to Germany he has condescended to everything that I despise—even to anti-Semitism.”

“In respect to cleaner intellectual habits, Europe is not a little Indebted to the Jews; above all, the Germans as being a lamentably deraissonable race, who, even at the present day, must always have their ‘heads washed. ‘It has always been the Jews’ problem to bring a people to raison.”

“It was Heinrich Heins who gave me the most perfected Idea of what a lyrical poet could be.”

“Among Jews I did, indeed, find taste and delicacy toward me, but not among Germans.”

“The Jews are beyond all doubt the strongest, the toughest and purest race at present living in Europe.”

A two-page chapter on France pays tribute to the French as compared to the Germans he despised. Nietzsche is quoted as saying: “We Germans are nearer to barbarism than the French.”

Detroit Jewish Chronicle – November 15, 1935, P.6


DeCasseres “Dances With Nietzsche”

Benjamin DeCasseres, lineal descendent of Spinoza, ranks among the outstanding authorities on the German philosopher, Nietzsche, whose name has been invoked by Nazis in the campaign against the Jews. A short time ago DeCasseres published a pamphlet entitled “Germans, Jews and France by Nietzsche” in which he compiled the writings of this German to prove that instead of being a hater of Jews, Nietzsche, rather, favored them and despised the Germans.

A great lover of Nietzsche, DeCasseres is continually writing commentaries on his works and one of the most interesting of his pamphlets entitled “I Dance with Nietzsche” has just come off the press. It is procurable at 50 cents from him, care of the Blackstone Publishers, 118 W. 27th St., New York City.

The title of this pamphlet is derived from Nietzsche’s having been referred to as the Dancing Philosopher. A most interesting tribute to Nietzsche is contained in this pamphlet in which DeCasseres writes:

“No one has stimulated me over a longer period of time than Nietzsche. Merely to pick up one of his books after reading him for 30 years gives me a great thrill, physical, mental and metaphysical. With a book of his in my hand I feel precisely like a person who holds a bomb.”

“I love him because he inflames every part of my physic and physical life. He is perpetual ecstasy, orgasm. He inflames me to intellectual anger, quite often, as well as to dancing with intellectual joy. But I thank him for infuriating me almost as much as I thank him for penetrating me with mental ecstasy. For whether I agree or disagree with him, he causes my emotions, my thoughts, my nerves to dance.”

Elsewhere in this booklet, Mr. DeCasseres states:

“The prophet and writer in Nietzsche are straight out of the Old Testament. He is of the strain of Isaiah and Jeremiah, King David and Jesus. He is an Old Testament Jew transposed to a modern sensibility. He Is par excellence the Puritan. He is in no sense Greek. He is Oriental. “His “funeral of God’ Is somewhat pathetic, for he has resurrected Jehovah under the name of the Superman. ‘Sacrifices’ are demanded in the name of the Superman. Here is the God of the Old Testament again.”

DeCasseres calls Nietzsche “the greatest phychologist of all time, one of the greatest poets who have ever lived, one of the master-stylists of world-literature, one of the Six Colossi of Thought, the incarnation of all militant Individualists that have been and the protagonist of those to come — sublimely beautiful soul whose like we shall probably not see again.”

Detroit Jewish Chronicle – December 11, 1936 P.13

 

Hawthorne: Emperor of Shadows

 

From the “Hawthorne number”  of The Critic – Vol.XLV No.1, July 1904


Hawthorne: Emperor of Shadows

By Benjamin DeCasseres

 

HAWTHORNE drank from the beaker of inexhaustible shadows; his soul sought instinctively the obscure and the crepuscular; the shadow-glozed figures of his brain were never mockeries of the real, but phantasms of the dead-beings called out of the endless night of the tomb to sport, at his will, in the shadow of crypts and catacombs, or to languish in half-lights, or to be the pawns in some moral problem that vexed his sensitive heart. He dallied in byways and roamed strange, blighted heaths, and preferred to listen to the sibilant murmurs that came from the brackish tarn than to stand beside the gay, tumbling waterfall in the full light of the sun. He was an emperor—but an emperor of elves—an Oberon whose reign began at the twilight hour and who abdicated at the first cockcrow. He was a giant—but a giant leashed in cobwebs. He was a thinker whose thoughts were always at half-mast for the sorrows that sucked at his heart. He was exquisitely aware of a Conscience. He knew that the supernormal could alone explain the normal, that the exceptional housed all the laws that governed ordinary occurrences plus an explanation, which if it did not explain gave us something better — another mystery. “The Scarlet Letter” is the romance of pain; “The House of the Seven Gables” is the romance of crime; “The Marble Faun” the romance of penitential despair.

The evil that is in the heart of man; the subtle poisonous vapors that emanate from his soul like vent-hole gases; strange, sudden maladies without name, dateless in their birth, bringing with them reversions to a kind of devilship; moral cankers which he identified with physical environment and which he made to dwell in dank cellars, in old gabled houses, in curious angles in the garden-wall, or in the fetor of old wells—these things possessed Hawthorne entirely. He dealt with pain as though it were a conscious being —a survival in his brain of the puritan belief in a personal devil. He never burst through the black cerements and dun dreams that kept him apart from his kind. His tales are his soul-saga.

They portray a man immured in a sunless moat—one who is content with the dark, but who, unconsciously, rises from his seat at intervals and searches the walls with his eyes for a chink of light. His mind was a lodging-house for the distraught. What weird, pain-bitten, grief-ravaged beings took up their abode in that caravansary at night and slunk away in the morning, maybe never to return!—imprinted, unprintable, untellable. And there came, too, to stay with him myriads of wan, pale, ethereal wayfarers who seemed to bear about their eyes the light of impalpable worlds and on their brows the sombre thoughts of thwarted genius. The best that is in a man is never told—and the worst is past imagining. Two things the soul cannot formulate in language: its remote, obscure emotions and its immediate noon-day certainties. In Hawthorne’s face there are the wonderful tales that he never told.

There is phantom-touch in his pages. He lacked the sense of reality—the sure test of spirituality. Long, shadowy files sweep up from out the unconscious and form black processions across the earth. That is life. It is the phantom lockstep. These shadows come and go, making frenetic comic gestures. They whisper hoarsely each to the other—and this they call history. They scud across the earth from the immurmurous to the immurmurous — from Mist to Mist. They are palpitant sobs vested in flesh-mesh. This star is but a ghost walk—the fading ramparts of a mystic Elsinore, and graveyards are but tombs within tombs. The days sheened in their meridional glories, the nights set with their little pulsing eyes are the reflections of soul-torrent. Our arts are but the photographs of the apparitional.

Who has touched the Real or tethered the Now? What Hawthorne saw, that is so. Who can say, “Here thought begins and things cease”? Who can put his thought upon that moment that divides the sleeping moment from the waking moment?—who can tell how far one trenches on the other? Life is but a conscious sleeping; sleep an unconscious waking—or a waking into the Unconscious. Life in prospect is always phosphorescent with hope; the path behind is a white capped dream. Youth and Age are to both somnambules. Our imaginations —and Hawthorne was an imaginative seer — are unplumbed, immeasurable. Fancy is the mirror that gives us back the real. Life is a progressive dream, a languorous, painful unwinding. We pace the decks, withered gods, the definite shrunk to a hint, a puzzle to ourselves, a puzzle to the beasts below and the inhabitants of the fourth dimension above. Hawthorne nowhere formulates this sense of mystery, but it stands shadowlike behind each sentence. It is the breath of his literary body.

Though here, of our date and time, he was a belated spirit—a fanciful, roving, ether-cleaving spirit who one day, while peeping in curiosity over the eaves of his dream-mansion, fell into flesh. Society annoyed him and he turned from the rouged arts of civilization with a fine contempt.

Genius treads far from that bellowing sphinx called civilization. The nineteenth century was a coarse melodrama written by the devil for the delectation of the blasé gods. By ignoring it utterly Nathaniel Hawthorne and Walter Pater became its greatest critics. Civilization at best is a peddler dressed up to look like a monarch. It is that process which has subtilized the direct and made automatic the spontaneous. It has made a crooked line the shortest way between two given points and substituted Machiavelli for Euclid. It invents pains in order to banish from its heart the horrible boredom that oppresses it. The vaunted arts and sciences sit cheek-by-jowl with Mammon. “Progress” is the cluck-cluck of satisfaction of Caliban as he makes headway into thicker mud.

Practical life stands for the utter materialization of the soul. Its glitter, which attracts from afar, is the glitter that falls from pomade-burnished garbage cans. In the great cities, which Rousseau called nature’s sinks, men do not congregate, but fester. Cities are great street-canalled slime-vats, wherein long familiarity has indurated the sense of smell. Here the souls of men turn turtle: they call it “business.” Ideals melt in these fens like the snow-image in Hawthorne’s tale when it is dragged by the Practical Man—always and everywhere an atheist—before the fireplace. Practical life!—the domain of the arched spine and the furtive glance—it is better to become moss-grown in the Old Manse of Dreams. Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, Clifford Pynchon, Miriam, Donatello shall outlive in shadowy immortality the flesh and blood beings that mimic their ways here below, and the turrets and spires of our civilization shall long be gangrened in the muds of oblivion when the shadow-makers that have gone shall still with potent rod smite the souls of generations unborn, and from them, as from us, shall burst the fountains of exalted wonder.

What strange shadows tread at our heels!—shadows of evil and shadows of good. On how slight a pivot turn our fortunes! In that exquisite fantasy, “David Swan,” the muffled march of events that never materialize, that cross and recross our paths unseen, unapprehended, like the ghost of Hamlet’s father when he parades before the eyes of the spirit-blind Queen Gertrude, is the theme of  Hawthorne. In this little allegory we read the chances of life. Our destinies are brittle but inexorable, and we are tossed around in the great world-forces like a bottle in the sea.

Young Swan lies down to rest beneath a tree that stands by a well-travelled road. He is poor and sleeps deep. A carriage becomes disabled near him and the occupants, an elderly lady and gentleman, while waiting for a broken wheel to be mended, contemplate his adoption, but the coachman interrupts with the message that the carriage is ready, and Fortune, which just grazed him in her flight, passes on forever. Death, in the guise of thieves who are about to murder him for his clothing, but who are opportunely frightened off, lingers near him for a second and then postpones her rendezvous with the soul of David Swan. Love, in the person of a young girl who steps aside to contemplate and blush, glides by him. David wakes and goes on his way whistling.

Our days are freighted with gifts and curses, and the bitterness of life lies in the consciousness of what might have been. Yet the Law never swerves, or if it swerve, it carries on its breast the debris of our dreams and hurries us to the Gulf that swallows all dreams. The might-have-been is as far away as that which never came to being. “Our happiness passes close by us.” Not so: it is the illusion of space. Unless we possess it, it is but the greater mockery when it thrusts its flowers under our noses and when we are about to inhale the fragrance substitutes snuff.

Hawthorne, King of a realm fantastic, Emperor of shadows, Grand Seigneur of the unmapped, tourist of the sub terrene, who saw from behind his lattice of fancy the pain that bases the moral world and the comic lie that is called optimism — he sups to-night, with Omar, Amiel, and de Maupassant, on herbs and bitters. For he was one of the Order of the Black Veil—in life a soul of regal pains, in death a quenchless memory in our hearts.

 

 

DECASSERES PLANS U. S. LIBERTY FIGHT

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, SUNDAY MORNING. AUGUST 11. 1935


DECASSERES PLANS U. S. LIBERTY FIGHT

Philosopher Turns to New Credo in “War on Collectivism”

NEW YORK, Aug. 10 (A. P.) Benjamin DeCasseres, philosopher and descendant of philosophers, turned today from his abstractions to what he termed “a fighting political realism in the defense of American liberty.”

“I purpose from now on,” he said, to use all my forces in battling for the preservation of the American-British-French ideal of civil liberties against Communism. Fascism, Nazism or any form of collectivism that ties the individual to the Juggernaut of a dictatorial State.

“The difference between Communism and Fascism is a difference in stench.” The descendant of Spinoza, great Dutch philosopher of the 18th century, turned his back on the philosophers of antiquity and modernity.

Rings Liberty Bell

“I have hobnobbed with Buddha and Aeschylus, Plato and Schopenhauer, Spinoza and Nietzsche, Victor Hugo and Baudelaire, Goethe and Heine, Montaigne and Whitman, Hegel and Keats, Thomas Hardy and Dostoievsky,” he said,”-in fact, with the whole earth brain trust.

“I salute them in temporary farewell, walk down Olympus into Independence Hall, roll up my sleeves, carry the Liberty Bell up to the tower—and ring it till it either cracks to dust or until I die.” For his battle cry DeCasseres has taken a new American credo, culled from the men he considers the great type American political leaders—Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

His credo:

“I believe with Benjamin Franklin that any nation that exchanges its liberty for security is not worthy of either.

“I believe with Thomas Jefferson that the least government is the best government.

Activities Divided

“All my life I have divided my spiritual, mental and emotional activities between Olympus and Independence Hall.”

“That is, part of me pursued truth and beauty in the great thinkers and poets, and part of me pursued with passionate militancy the fierce individualism of Thomas Jefferson.

“Today I leave Olympus, except for short visits, and move, bag and baggage, into Independence Hall and Monticello.” DeCasseres said he considered that “there is a mighty war being fought now in every country in the world.”

“It is individualism versus collectivism; freedom versus reactionary totalitarianism.

“I shall advocate individualism against all forms of standardized stagnation, sterile conformity, beehive Socialism. Communism and the efforts of capitalism to monopolize the necessities of life.

“The most brutal form of capitalism is the totalitarian State: Russia, Germany and Italy.”

The philosopher, although he has turned from thoughts to deeds, insists on the rational approach to action.

“Every American worthy of the name,” he said, should know why he is an American.

“And having found out that this greatest deliberate experiment ever made in human liberties, with all its attendant faults and corruptions, is the superior politically of any other Government that has heretofore appeared on earth, he should be prepared to risk everything to save it from the threatened universal catastrophe of the superstitious belief that the State is a miracle machine.”

 

America’s Most Unpublished Author

As published in the San Bernardino Sun, Volume 67, Number 23, 23 September 1930


Intelligentsia Pole Star Gives Bernard Shaw Merciless Flaying In Volume Lauding H.L Mencken

America’s Most Unpublished Author at Last ‘Clicks’ and Works to Be Printed

By H. ALLEN SMITH (United Press Correspondent) NEW YORK, Sept. 22.

Benjamin Decasseres, pole star of the American intelligentsia and sometimes called the most unpublished author in the United States, has written a new book that will be published. It is called “Mencken and Shaw, the Anatomy of America’s Voltaire and England’s Other John Bull.” Between its covers Decasseres sets out, with a pen that drips blue fire, to prove that George Bernard Shaw is a colossal mountebank and that H. L. Mencken is the true modern Voltaire.

Lives in Apartment Off Gramercy Park

This being an interesting thesis, Decasseres submitted to an interview. He lives in an apartment off Gramercy park surrounded by books, green pencils, unpublished manuscripts and an ice box well stocked with tannic acid. The “Lone Eagle” of American literature wore brown striped pajamas, of a silken texture, during the interview. First off he brought out his 16 unpublished books. These range in topic from a volume of poetry to the love letters of Bio and Benjamin Decasseres. “The publishers,” Decasseres said, “won’t touch my stuff because I won’t go to literary teas.” His new volume on Mencken and Shaw will be published by Silas Newton, a Texas oil man. Newton may publish all of Decasseres works. The 57-year-old author believes that Mencken’s books should be placed in the schools, “to teach Americans how to write English.” He holds that Mencken is the greatest writer as well as the greatest social satirist this country has ever produced. “I have taken Mencken and Shaw,” he said, “as the world’s two outstanding sane rebels. But my idea is that Mencken’s sanity is sincere, while Shaw’s is not. Shaw delights in making people believe he is insane, which he probably is. He is a cheap publicity-seeker, a publicity-shark of the lowest type. He is like a trick bear, always clowning. “The big difference lies in the fact that Mencken has character, Shaw has none. I don’t agree with Mencken on many of his literary and esthetic judgments. But I believe that his grandeur comes from his narrowness, his height comes from his lack of breadth. “Mencken glories in the use of words. He takes the same pleasure in studying the use of words that a Beethoven would take in the study of notes, or a Rembrandt in the study of colors.” The frequent charge of insincerity, brought against Mencken, irritates Decasseres.

Has Been Pursuing One Line of Thought

“For 20 years.” he said, “the man has been following one solid line of thought a battering ram against sham and humbug and popular idols. My objection to him is that he is monotonously sincere. I wish he would change his record occasionally.” Decasseres said that Shaw has never created a character that will live, that he is the “father of all the sophisticated drool that exists on the stage today. He is the greatest disaster to the English stage of the century. He cannot create human beings, only epigrani-spouters, and he creates his characters to fit his epigrams instead of letting the epigrams flow naturally from the characters. I might add that he gats all his epigrams from jazzing up Schopenhauer, Neitzsche, Tolstoy, La Rochefocauld, Oscar Wilde and Samuel Butler. Shaw is related to the world of great artist? as jazz composers are related to Beethoven and Mozart.” Decasseres sent the proofs of his book to Mencken, who in- turn wrote a letter to the author. The last line of this letter reads: “You forgot to put in that I was baptized at the age of two months and had the hives for five weeks thereafter.”