The Unconquerable Jew (Harper’s Weekly, 1916)

as published in HARPER’S WEEKLY for May 6, 1916


THE UNCONQUERABLE JEW

BY BENJAMIN DE CASSERES

THE Jew is the enigma of history. A giant shadow out of the East, the mystery and the problem of his destiny confront his own mind with a force as great as it strikes the minds of Christians and agnostics.

The evolution of the Jew is the romance of the races. He carries the Cross that he spurned on Calvary. and on his face is the dust of his humiliation; but to the mind’s eye he wears about his form something of the splendor of deniers. His toga is a winding-sheet, but he wears it proudly. His neck wrung for ages under the heel of hatred and bigotry, he emerges unconquered and is broken anew in the iron coils of circumstance. He challenges with a sneer on his lips the while his mind holds mystic parlance with his dream.

His dream! It is that that keeps him alive. He is a wanderer on the face of the earth who fingers perpetually the amulets of hope. He sees each race with its country, each religion with its hierarchy. Only the Hebrews are scattered to the four winds of heaven—cut, drawn and quartered, yet, like the ameba, they multiply by fission. A vague nostalgia keeps them alive, and above their heads is flaunted the mirage of Zion.

The Jew is an egotist—and in this lies his grandeur. He believes that he is of the race of Chosen People—that the Eternal has elected his race to be its mouthpiece. The Hebrews believe that a special divinity watches over them, that their terrible God is trying them. testing the metal and fibers of their nature, and that they will somehow, through the grace of Jehovah. cross the threshold of the New Jerusalem to the fanfare of the acclaiming servitors of the Only God. To them, their history is the epic of the ages. An outrage against one is an affront to all. If you attack a Jew you attack his race. He is of the elan of God, and when you scoff at him you scoff at the soul of the race.

Despised, degraded, shackled, outlawed, he has fashioned for a weapon of revenge a cudgel of gold dug out. of the earth. The world is today in pawn to him. He has studied the weaknesses of his adversaries and measured his thrift and, acquisitiveness against their needs. He knows in his heart of hearts that his Christian conquerors are at bottom things of earth like himself, and that the dynasties of power in this world are dynasties fed from money-bags, that the joists of authority, whether it be at the Vatican or the Quirinal, are mortared with lucre. He knows that more men pray to the Dollar than to God.

Proud, humble. calculating, thrifty, dreaming, the Jew wanders up and down the ages preyed upon by the beasts of religious fanaticism and preying like a beast in turn. Rejecting the Cross, he, by a fine irony, has been transfixed to it since his rejection. Dreaming of Zion. lie erects his tent in Paris, London and New York, where he sits throned in a lustrous martyrdom. Driven out of the temple. he rules from the market-place. He is unconquerable and indissoluble. His blood is intellectual, and his intellect has bloody intents.

Little Scenarios

as published in The Smart Set magazine, Vol. LXI,  No. 3, MARCH, 1920.


By Benjamin De Casseres

I – Economics A SOCIALIST and an Individualist sit late into the night in a Fourteenth street restaurant arguing excitedly. The Socialist has his mouth full of mush and the Individualist has a pickle in his mouth. A man rises lightly from a table in back of them and pinches both of their overcoats.

II – Government The Board of Aldermen is in a solemn discussion over changing the license fee to carry a pistol from $2.00 to $2.25. The Board of Estimate in the next room is voting $400,000,000 in new building contracts. The Mayor sits in his private office between the two dictating a letter to the Commissioner of Licenses on the rights of peanut vendors.

III – God She trips along on French heels. A man passes her with waterlogged, heelless shoes. The pavement remains impersonal, neutral.

IV – The Onlooker His soul bubbled in the champagne of her beauty. Her soul aviated with him to the heights of his Olympian intellect. The teeth of their ten-year-old are in a hideous condition.

V – Crowds A great crowd of stars swarms through the streets of Space. A great crowd of people swarms the streets of Paris, London and New York. A great crowd of cells swarm through the brain of a poet looking at the other swarms and gives them meaning and beauty.

VI – Strata At the top of the Woolworth Tower stands the Prince looking at the greater city. At the base of the Tower, in Broadway, a panhandler is plying his trade. Between the two, in the eighteenth story, a man sits at his desk and writes an advertisement about his New Hampshire diamond mine.

VII – Peace He lounges in her luxurious boudoir and yawns about the inroads of Bolshevism over a fifty-cent cigarette. She is lacing her scented body for the evening in the Diamond Horseshoe. Under their window a boy yelps an extra about five deputy sheriffs and eight strikers dead in a riot.

6,000 Ways to Say It (book review)

This book review was published in  The Sun (city?) on July 20th, 1919.


By BENJAMIN DE CASSERES.
GIOVANNI PAPINI, the Italian iconoclastic and sometimes humorous, all too humorous, philosopher, has written an amusing sketch for one of the magazines called “The Satanic Genius.” It tells of the quest of a youthful worshipper of a world famous poet who lives in Paris. The poet’s Satanism has thrilled the world and made the gooseflesh vibrant where none had vibrated before.
The breathless disciple after many attempts at last stands face to face with the Master in the latter’s very commonplace apartment. And the Great Man is still more commonplace—a sort of baldheaded and bowlegged D’Annunzio.
To the killing astonishment of the believing boy the Genius relates just how be concocts his flights, aphorisms, demoniacal frenzies and super-vamps. Even shows him his catalogue of paradoxes, his dictionaries of obsolete phrases and words, his assortment of nude jokes, medical terms—in fact, all the trappings and Liberty Motors that beautify the outside and buzz inside of Pegasus!
He relates his money wrangles with his publishers and bows out the young man with a satanic grin after explaining that the water colors on the wall were painted by his wife.
This is the very triumph of Satanism, but the boy didn’t know it—and he probably bopped off the Pont Neuf forthwith.
In the age long controversy whether genius is a matter of infinite pains or inspiration, Signor Papini seems to go in for the infinite pains side. Inspiration, anyhow, is only the result of the infinite pains of our ancestors. All the words that Shakespeare used in his plays are in the dictionary. Take twenty thousand of them, sit down sonic Saturday afternoon and arrange them as Shakespeare knew the trick and—pouf !—you’ll have something bigger than Hamlet on your paper. Personally having been a genius up until my fortieth year, and having then given it up in order to live decently, I can now blazon the secret of the concoction of those great books that no publisher will publish—Roget’s Thesaurus, the Standard Dictionary, Walker’s Rhyming Dictionary, Smith’s Classical Dictionary, Woods’s Dictionary of Quotations and a briar root pipe, mixed with tea and rum.
But here comes another ready genius maker just as we were all going in for Bolshevism and root beer. It is A Dictionary of 6,000 Phrases, compiled and arranged by Edwin Hamlin Carr. It is an aid to ready and effective conversation and to social letter writing, with over 100 model social letters. It is (Papini, Pegasus and fooling aside) a valuable book for beginners in the art of conventionalizing their style if they flout the genius game. The author truly says “We think in phrases as well as words.” Can you deny it? And here is the phrase for any exigency, social, political, religious or literary.
A person that could memorize them all would go through the world as slickly as a kitten in a molasses factory. He would be a perfect genius of manners, poise, courtesy and grace, the Fourteen Points of elegance and the Ten Commandments of fashion. May I venture to suggest that with this book one could write a peace treaty that posterity would look on as a Magna Charta of Thought?
At the top of each page there is an index word. Suppose, for instance, you are interested in “Progress.” Page 203 is your cubbyhole. Here are “the chariot of progress,” “an aggressive movement,” “a thorough going reform,” &c. In fact there are 17,000 ready made editorials right on this page. Every man his own brisbane.
As I am seriously thinking of becoming a genius again, thanks, Mr. Editor, for this valuable book.


A DICTIONARY OF 6,000 PHRASES. Compiled by EDWIN HAMLIN (‘ARK. 0. P.
Putnam ‘s Sons.


And for the intrepid, I bring you:
Giovani Papini’s “The Satanic Genius.” Published in Vanity Fair, Vol. 12, No. 5, p. 47, July 1919.

 

Inscription | 1932 | Arthur Leonard Ross | The Muse of Lies

Ben dedicated his The Last Supper from “DeCasseres Books” to Mr. Ross.

Paul Avrich’s Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America gives this brief biographical sketch of Mr. Ross:

Arthur Leonard Ross, a New York attorney, met Emma Goldman in Paris in 1924 and became her legal representative in the United States, from which she had been deported in December 1919. He helped raise money for the purchase of her cottage in St. Tropez, sent books to her for her preparation of lectures in Toronto, negotiated with Alfred Knopf for the publication of her autobiography, and helped arrange her visit to the United States in 1934. “Arthur Leonard Ross, kindest and most lavish of men,” she wrote in St. Tropez in 1931, “gave me his untiring efforts as legal representative and adviser…. He was the rare type that one gets to consider in a short time as a good friend?” Ross died in New York in the spring of 1975.

Dear Arthur,
There are only four copies of this book–probably the most restricted edition of any work.
There is an error in the copyright line. It should be 1936, there is a page missing giving an account of other books and the ??? ??? is missing.
I am retaining 3 copies for myself and present this again to you with salutations.

Yours, Ben
To Arthur Leonard Ross
from
Benjamin De Casseres
New York, 1936

The signature of Ben DeCasseres…

As Curtis Weyent pointed out in a post on his blog, Ben DeCasseres’ signature is often wildly inconsistent.  With that in mind, I collected every signature I have of Benjamin DeCasseres, from letters to inscriptions and regular “signed copy” signatures. There is up to two decades between some of these signatures, but I have not ordered them in any way.

Inscription | 1929 | Al Satterwhaite | The Superman in America

Welcome to a new category of post called “Signatures and Inscriptions.” If you click on the category, you will find all post we have made so far. If you would like to contribute an interesting signature, inscription, or letter (starting soon), please contact me. There is a form on the front page: http://www.benjamindecasseres.com/

Many thanks to Robert Carmonius for this contribution and some of the further research.

This inscription found in a copy of The Superman in America, and is dated the same year of publication, 1929.

Of interest is his “Anno Volstead 9”, I hadn’t seen him do that before (or I don’t recall it either way). Year nine of prohibition.



To Al Satterthwaite
in memory of those
nights so long ago when we
used to wander under the
morning stars talking Schopen-
hauer and Saltus, rending
life and the Universe to tatters–
since which time I–they–
have never been quite well,
for did not God say to me
over the other day, “Say, Ben, you
give me a pain in my
DeCasseres!” Venerably,
Benjamin DeCasseres
1929
Anno Volstead
9.


It seems both Benjamin DeCasseres and an Albert Satterthwaite contributed to Pendant la mêlée: acrate, individualiste, éclectique (title translates as During the melee), a French individualist anarchist publication from 1915-1916. The journal was one in a series associated with Emile Armand.


Heading of the journal of the first issue (CIRA de Lausanne)

November 15, 1915 , in full World War, exit the fortnightly Paris “during the melee ,” the newspaper proclaimed acrate, individualistic and eclectic. The manager is Charles Michel. From January 1916, the newspaper published in Orléans, change its name to ” beyond the fray .” The executive of a department of the newspaper then E.Armand but after the arrest of the latter in October 1917 (for desertion complicity) is Pierre Chardon who will succeed him until February 1918. The following month, the newspaper will change as for ” The Melee “.  – translated by Goole from http://www.ephemanar.net/novembre15.html


This postcard with text from “Alba Satterthwaite” was found at:
http://cartoliste.ficedl.info/article2385.html?lang=fr

Ignorance in the brain, hatred in the heart, cowardice in the will, these are the crimes I impute to the idea of ​​God and his fatal corollary: religion. — SÉBASTIEN FAURE.

The most terrible fact to the charge of Christianity is neither its intolerance, nor its tortures, nor its excommunications, nor its internal wars, nor its fatuity or falsehood, but this: it teaches man To resign himself to life, not to enjoy it, thereby depriving him of the most precious possession he has acquired by right of birth. He teaches him to be satisfied with social injustice. He taught her to tighten the other cheek and not to resist the evil. He treacherously induces him to barter the present, now, for a mythical beyond. And this is why men who are intellectually intellectually reject with sincere repugnance his theology, his dogma and his profession of faith. — ALBA SATTERTHWAITE

DeCasseres in Mencken’s “The Smart Set”

Before The American Mercury, there was The Smart Set. Wikipedia says: “The Smart Set was an American literary magazine, founded by Colonel William d’Alton Mann and published from March 1900 to June 1930. During its heyday under the editorship of H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan (1914-1923), The Smart Set offered many up-and-coming authors their start and gave them access to a relatively large audience. Its headquarters was in New York City….
…the magazine featured works by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Theodore Dreiser, Aldous Huxley, Sinclair Lewis, Eugene O’Neill and Dashiell Hammett, among others.”
I have subsequently added Ben’s name to that list.


“A Conversation Between George Bernard Shaw and the Dictionary”- Vol. XLIV,  No. 4 – December, 1914

“Variations On An Old Theme” – Vol. LIII, No. 1 – September, 1917

“The Resignation Of New York” – V o l. L III,  N o . 2 – October , 1 9 1 7

“The Psychology Of The Avenue” – Vol. LV, No. 1 – May, 1918

“Little Scenarios,” Vol. LXI,  No. 3 – March, 1920

“Four One-Reel Movies” – Vol. LXI, No. 4 – April, 1920

“The Last Satire of a Famous Titan” – Vol. LX II, No. 2 – June, 1920

“Sub Specie Eternitatus” – Vol. LXVIII  No. 2 – June, 1922

“The Nietzschean Follies: VIII, The Muse of Lies” – Vol. LXIX, No. 1 – September, 1922

“The Nietzschean Follies: IX, From the Breviary of a Nihilist” – Vol. LXIX, No. 2 – October, 1922

Missing Boy Found in the Delaware River

Article from The Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 3 Apr 1900.

Details finding the body of Walter, Benjamin’s brother, who committed suicide. Ben would later publish a collection of Walter’s poetry title The Sublime Boy.

Article gives home address as 1929 N 31st St Philadelphia, PA.

 

Communists and Civil Rights

(as printed in the Syracuse NY Journal, on 12-21-1934)
By BENJAMIN DeCASSERES

THE case of Alexius Karllson, the alien Communist held at Ellis Island for deportation, is full of that ironic mirth which is said to make the gods laugh at all things mortal and which we on earth call the “horselaugh.”

Karllson, whose only use for America is to turn it into a Communistic slave-state, had his lawyer apply for a writ of habeas corpus. He wants to stay in this accursed capitalistic country. He demands the right to go on talking and plotting—neither of which he could do in his own ideological Utopia, Russia, without an early morning trip to the live-target yard.

Federal Judge Goddard denied the writ on the ground that membership in the Communist party was proof of conspiracy to overthrow the government.


Aside from the momentous nature of this decision, the question arises why these enemies of the American form of government are so loath to leave our shores.

They exhaust every legal resource of this hateful “bourgeois-capitalistic-ruggedly individualistic” democracy to stay here.

They appeal—with perfectly straight faces—to their “rights” per the constitution—that constitution which they would tear into bits.

They abjectly petition judges and bureau chiefs at Washington to keep them here, where they are, so they claim, being “exploited” and “enslaved”—those very judges and bureau chiefs that they would not only abolish but lift into the air with a gentle bomb or two.

They use, in a word, all the privileges that a free democratic country accords them—free speech, free pen and a free soap-box—TO ADVOCATE THE ABOLITION OR ALL THESE SWEAT-AND-BLOOD-BOUGHT PRIVILEGES.

WE PERMIT these aliens to use our own culture and civilized practices for the purpose of destroying us!


No wonder they want to stay here! Think of the loot! It is like inviting a man to sit in your office chair so that he can more comfortably shoot you.

The Communists, both of the foreign and home-spawned varieties, are strong for the preservation of American civil liberties when their own liberties are threatened.

But when they come into power, as in Russia, presto!– all civil liberties disappear and the Karllsons line up against a wall anyone who utters those words of hated democratic. capitalistic origin, civil liberties.

A political dissenter in Russia when arrested is hurried before a MILITARY TRIBUNAL. He has no counsel (that is a capitalistic custom). There is not even a trial. There is a “hearing” (the military tribunal HEAR themselves pronounce sentence). and the objector to Communism is hurried up against a wall.

The only writ of habeas corpus is written by the vultures if the fellow is not buried in quicklime.


Sixty-six of these cases in one day in the last Communist “purge”!

And Karllson and his Communist plotters gawp about their “rights”!

As a matter of fact, Karllson and his alien cronies know that they are having the time of their lives in free America. They never breathed freely before they came here.

But it is time to check the breathing of these plotters, of all plotters of all patterns—Communists, Nazists and Fascists—and make them understand that this democratic- individualistic republic is still a going concern.

The Communists dish it out (in Russia), but they can’t take it (in the U. S. A.).

THERE SHOULD BE NO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN THEM.

The dictatorship of the proletariat means the end of everything that is fundamentally American ! Liberty, self-reliance, private property, civil procedure, free speech, free press and even free movement.

It would be the return of ant-civilization. Instead of the free-flying eagle as our emblem a Communist regime would substitute A BUG.

What the Communists here need is a dish of their own cooking. Do unto them as they have done unto the minorities in Russia!

The time for action is NOW. Let democracy destroy Communism. Don’t wait until the Fascist man-on-horse-back appears!

The ghost books of Benjamin DeCasseres…

“So far as I know, DeCasseres was the only author who was proud of his unpublished books.” So said Charles Driscoll in his memorial to the recently passed on DeCasseres:

What follows are titles of DeCasseres books announced but (probably) never published (under the titles given in advance at least):

Words, Words, Words*
The Book of Vengeance
The Second Advent

*This title was actually advertised as forthcoming outside of DeCassere’s own materials, so it is possible that it was published and has become a lost work. In the March 9th, 1918 issue of Publisher’s Weekly, in the “Spring Announcements.” It’s listed as being published by “Goodman” and retails for 90 cents.

On the back flyleaf of Mencken and Shaw, listed under the header of “Books to be Released Later,” these titles were never published:

The Overlord
The Complete American*
The Ego Epic
Mars and the Man
The American Comedy
The Comedy of Hamlet

*This title was published as an essay in The American Mercury, a series of biographical sketches of famous Americans: P.T.Barnum, Jesse James, William Jennings Bryan, Dr. Frank Crane, Billy Sunday, Theodore Roosevelt, Edgar A. Guest, Woodrow Wilson.

The following were listed on the back cover of The Muse of Lies, along with other titles, under the header “Ready for Publication.” Of the other titles listed, all of them were published as “DeCasseres Books”, so it’s possible these were a planned part of that series.

Symphonies of the Ego
Chaos and Cosmos
The American Comedy (repeated)
The Complete American (repeated)

On the back of The Muse of Lies, but under the header “In Preparation” is the following:

Nietzsche

In a “DeCasseres Book”, but I don’t recall which one at the time, the following is mentioned:

Nutopia

This website http://www.authorandbookinfo.com/ngcoba/de.htm lists two odd items, not sure of their source:

Edelweiss And Mandragora
Counsels Of Imperfection

These two actually had descriptions on the inside back flap of the dustjacket for DeCassere’s Huneker.

Poses and Postures
Currents and tendencies of the American Drama. Serious and humorous analyses of the Shows of the Day, as they pass through Mr. Casseres’ brilliant imagination and are caught on the rapier of his wit. Price, $3.00

Somersaults
A book of literary criticisms in which all standards are smashed; ”an intellectual adventure among books and ideas with a humorous Ulysses. Price, $2.50.

I’m sure more will be added to this list at some point, I had not intended on publishing it, but finding a few more pushed me to assemble what I knew into a post.