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“So far as I know, DeCasseres was the only author who was proud of his unpublished books.”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.

Introducing UnionOfEgoists.com and Der Geist Journal…

UnionHeader

tbmsbibIntroducing the Union of Egoists, a biographical, historical, bibliographic and inspirational resource for autodidacts and vagabonds alike. A project initiated by Trevor Blake (Confessions of a Failed Egoist & Max Stirner Bibliography) and Kevin I. Slaughter (A Bible Not Borrowed from the Neighbors: Essays and Aphorisms on Egoism).
The first Egoist Max Stirner, Egoist Feminist Dora Marsden, defacto Satanist Benjamin DeCasseres, Social Darwinist Ragnar Redbeard and soap-box Superman Malfew Seklew are a few of the members of this Union of Egoists.
EgoCover-1963-LibertarianBookClub-682x1024Blake has described Egoism as being the claim that the individual is the measure of all things. In ethics, in epistemology, in aesthetics, in society, the Individual is the best and only arbitrator. Egoism claims social convention, laws, other people, religion, language, time and all other forces outside of the Individual are an impediment to the liberty and existence of the Individual.
UnionOfEgoists.com is also home to Der Geist, a blog(including facebook page)and forthcoming print journal. The print journal will focus exclusively on the 100 years between the publication of Stirner’s “Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum” and DeCasseres death in 1945.
You can support the project by contributing corrections or materials. Use the Contact page or view the Wanted list.

Introducing a single-volume Fantasia Impromptu, paperback and limited hardback…

Fantasia-Cover-01-17-16Fantasia Impromptu & FINIS
by Benjamin DeCasseres
Edited by Kevin I. Slaughter
Cover art by Josh McAlear
Underworld Amusements, 2016
Baltimore, MD
246 pages, 6×9″

Paperback:
Amazon.com
Underworld Amusements (US)
ASP (UK/EUR)

Hardback (edition of 13):
Underworld Amusements

Fantasia Impromptu & FINIS constitute Benjamin DeCasseres’ (1873-1945) most private writing, but even then, they were intended for publication and posterity. The first is a diary-like collection of notes and reminiscences began in December 1925. The latter was professed to be “a summation of all my books, of my lifelong beliefs.”
Fantasia Impromptu was released as a series of booklets, six in total, that constitute his “intellectual, emotional and spiritual autobiography.” They are filled with ruminations on daily life, aphorisms, esotericisms, and appeals to future readers. It is appropriately dedicated to: “The Thinkers, Poets, Satirists, Individualists, Dare-Devils, Egoists, Satanists and Godolepts of Posterity.”
FINIS is his final work, appropriately enough, and consists of three essays and a “hymn”, all previously unpublished. The one focus of all of these pieces is Oblivion. Though he states in his introduction is was not necessarily meant to be his last work, he died before it was published, and his wife Bio prepared an introduction and included a poem of dedication. FINIS was released as a booklet the year of his death and has never been reprinted before.

DeCasseres-Ltd-1020830

“The Species Ghost” in Moods magazine…

What follows is a review of Moods journal, containing mention of a DeCasseres article titled “The Species Ghost”. This was later published in the “DeCasseres Book” Saint Tantalus (1936). The review itself was published in Columbia Daily Spectator, Volume LII, Number 51, 21 November 1908.

What follows is a rough transcription of the above:

“MOODS” A UNIQUE MONTHLY New Venture in Literary Field

“Moods.” the new publication which has already been announced as being the work of four Columbia men, contains, in its November issue, a series of poems and prose pieces that follow the style of last year’s Columbia Monthly. Of the thirteen contributions to this number, eleven are in verse. “A Memoir of Wilbam Barrington” is the one long prose piece, being a recollection of an artist’s life in New York. It has vague suggestions of Hopkinson Smith, but lacking in his peculiar charm. Most of the work is by Columbia men, past or present, the exceptions being the above “memoir,” two poems by Leonard Van Noppen, and “The Species Ghost,” by Benjamin De Casseres. Columbia men who contribute are G. W. Cronyn ’10. J. H. Donohue ’08, E. Goodman ’08, B. R. Herts ‘OB, G. M. Lapolla ’10, R. L. Roeder ’10, S. O’Sheel (Sp.), and. C. S. VVttpperman ’08. “Moods” is attractive in its make up, closely approximating in size and general appearance Elbert Hubbard’s “Little Journeys”. The cover design, by Florence Southworth, is unique; a combination of parallel lines in different combinations, representing various moods. A peculiar style of type used gives the design a distinctly foreign appearance—rather German. “Moods” is intended, as is stated editorially, to encourage “artistic excellence, sincerity, and individuality,” and to discourage conformity. In addition to the articles, there are three regular departments: “The Home of Thespis,” “The Art Lover,” and “Chords and Discords.”

MY DICTIONARY.

(from the Greenwich Village Quill)

PEOPLE.—An aggregation of ventriloquists. (A ventriloquist is one who speaks from the belly.) 2. A Jacob’s ladder used by politicians, priests and newspaper proprietors for ascent into the Golden City. 3. A movable barrier, a hinge. 4. The slats in the beds of the mighty. 5. The pivot of stupidity. 6. The second childhood of the race of simians. 7. An invertebrate cow. (In some countries the word people is used to denote a voting machine; in others—especially the Oriental countries—it is a sect numbering many millions that lives entirely on caviar and ortolans and that is in consequence much hated by its impoverished rulers.)

DISINTERESTED.—Whatever is inconceivable. 2. A hypothetical ether that surrounds all forms of selfishness and naturalness. See Zymosthzmphsysizmotishness in the appended “Book of Obsolete Incantations and Recipes for Easy Lying”.

SUCCESS.—A sunset. 2. A stained glass window through which one may see an ironic moon. 3. The final link in a chain of chalk. 4. To rise from the illusion of pursuit to the disillusion of possession. (“Nothing succeeds like success”—an ironic aphorism first uttered by Christ on the cross; later credited to Porfirio Diaz.)

WORLD.—Once the garden spot of the universe; now a breeding stable.

CRADLE.—A promise of happiness for the unmarried and a promise of misery for the unborn.

Word Meanings

Word Meanings
By Benjamin DeCasseres
(From The Washington Herald, reprinted in Dansville, NY Genesee County Express, 01-20-1938)

Many of the words we use nowadays have ceased to have any meaning.
The word democracy, for instance, is now used by the Communists. Democracy means the rule of the people. Communism means the rule of the proletariat — that is, rulership by only one class of people, the very lowest. And they purpose to exterminate the middle and upper classes. That is not democracy (which means all the people) but oligarchy.
The “radicals” call fundamentalist and constitutional Americans “reactionaries,” whereas a reactionary means one who seeks to return to ancient and outworn forms of social and political organization — such for instance, as those that make the state all powerful and abolish the common rights of individuals
Reactionaries are actually thus Fascists, Communists and Socialists.
A liberal used to mean one who was opposed to centralization and regimentation in those matters that concern the individual alone. Today men call themselves “liberals” who support every crackpot scheme to make the individual a parasitic growth on the general public. They now call these schemes “social legislation.”
The dictionary is, however, still a good guide in defining one word, and that is individualist. There is no mistaking what that word means. It means an independent man, two words hated by all Communists, Fascists and reactionary liberals and Socialists.

The Pan-Baiters

The Pan-Baiters
By BENJAMIN DE CASSERES

(from The Judge, 04-03-1920)

THERE is one god that will never pass away. Gods may go and gods may come, but Pan lives on forever!
Pan is nature, life, instinct, the seasons. beauty, good wine, pleasure. the heady laughter-beads in the cup of the eye and the whispers in the reeds and trees where clandestine lovers meet.
Pan’s eternal slogan has been, “Live and let live.” Eat, drink and laugh, is another of his pipings on his immortal pipe carved from the Tree of Good and Evil, and still another is, Get thee behind me. Long-Face and pogrom-laden bigots!
We have had in the last two thousand years Christian-baiters, Jew-baiters, free-speech baiters, free-thought baiters, and now in this country we are afflicted with the Pan-baiters.
They chase the great god from the eating places, from literature, from the “movies,” from the stage, from the painted canvas, from the great poem, from the hearts of the human.
Squat on their wooden thrones in sanctified sublimity, they crack their whip at the head of the happy god wherever he shows himself. Pan-baiting is the veritable business of our lawmakers and sectarian pundits. If they ever discover that sunlight intoxicates they will attempt to gouge the eyes out of the God of Day himself.
But Pan hides, and is never dead, and can never die while the blood is rich and red.
The Pan-baiters are wasting their bad breath.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF HYPOCRISY

THE PHILOSOPHY OF HYPOCRISY
By Benjamin De Casseres.
(Originally published in The International, July 1915)

THE epithet “hypocrite!” is generally applied by a hypocrite. The clairvoyant mind smiles and passes on. Make-believe is the eternal Fact. Appearance, semblance, illusion, seduction, lying, con­stitute the elements of life. Emerson said God’s method is illusion and he spoke of life as a procession of “hypocritic days.” That is, God himself is the primal make-believe, the protagonist of all hypocrites. Are we not created in His image? The “things are seldom what they seem” of the Gilbertian ballad should have read, “things are never what they seem.” Duplicity is inherent in all movement, in all thought, in all human action. A study of history reveals a stupendous charla­tanism. The study of religions reveals the inherent quackery of human belief. The history of human ideals is a history of pretence, fraud, self-hypnosis.
Life is a passion for masks. The Kiss of Judas on the forehead of the Lord came out of the heart of man. Each of us desires to seem the thing he is not. It is a life-instinct. Hypocrisy, whether conceived as Maya, the god of illusion, whose work goes on forever and whose lies are sublime and transfigurating, or whether conceived as Pecksniff, who cov­ers his feelers and snatchers with the par­son’s white gloves, is the one unpunish­able sin. Hypocrisy spells success. Whether sublime or mean, it is the primal element in the will-to-live. Therefore I praise hypocrisy and glorify the hypocrite. Hypocrisy comes from the Greek words hypo (under) and krinomai (contend). It is a life-word. Its roots reach down into the heart of existence, which is com­bat, struggle, vengeance. The batteries that lie masked behind a smile and a salu­tation, the humility that charms and puts to sleep, the impassive look that swarms with eyes—these are the higher forms of the arts of the primordial bushwhacking being, the prehistoric man who lived by decoy and snare. Tartuffe is a descend­ant of Nimrod. Man nor animal, nor army, nor atom ever “fought in the open.” It is and always will be a “contending un­der.” Every act, every thought, every aspiration secretes itself in a Trojan horse before the obstacle to be scaled or the enemy to be conqured.
A great French thinker, Jules de Gaultier, has said that the one thing needful to life was a lie. It is the vital require­ment of the human being. Whenever an epoch comes to an end a great dreamer, religious, philosophical, or humanitarian, rises up and invents the lie-ethical. This profound truth (the universal necessity for the lie) gives us the metaphysics of hypocrisy. The external world is other than it seems. It is a series of represen­tations or images in the brain. The imag­ination colors the raw material of impres­sions and sensations, and builds up in that monstrous house of a billion scin­tillating wonders—the brain—a world that does not exist. We project it outside of us and go eternally toward it, but it recedes forever and forever, that New Jerusaleum an arm’s length away, that hypocritical and smiling mirage of the perfidious Life-spirit. A malign and an­cient seduction! A sublime, ironic Falsehood! The Spirit of Life the first Hypo­crite!
In the struggle for existence as formu­lated by Darwin, hypocrisy is a condition of survival. The law of adaptation to en­vironment, whether in the higher or lower forms of animal life, is a law dependent on flexibility. How quickly can we change? How quickly can we put away our previous selves and engender newer attitudes? Turn-coat, Volte-f ace, and Trimmer always survive in the struggle for existence. “When in Rome do as the Romans do” is not a proverb from Bae­deker, but a physiological, sociological and psychological law. To the degree that the individual urges his personality against the claims of the personality of the mass, in that degree are his life and welfare threatened. In that monstrous process from the amoeba to man forms and intelligences have survived through cunning, which is the heart of hypocrisy, as the instinct to survive at any price is its soul.
The theory of sex selection in Darwin, which has played such a tremendous role in the evolution of life, is an exposition, unconsciously, of sex-hypocrisy. The courtships of animals, birds and men do not differ in any manner. The whistle from the tree-tops, the strut of the pea­cock, the clean collar and newly mani­cured finger nails of the lover, the piano lessons that the young girl receives, all constitute part of that feigning and dis­sembling that cloak a brutal fact. Joseph Surface came nearer the secret of suc­cessful courtship than his brother. Before possession and before yielding the man and woman are always Janus-faced. Nature lards and fards to secure her end. After mating all masks are thrown off. The two sentimental hypocrites revert to a kind of intolerable sincerity and bald­ness of speech. The Sunday finery is laid away in the chest. The animal world and human world put on jumpers and cheap calico after attaining the end for which they were spawned. Hypocrisy in this field is a solemn sport.
If the race is to persist (and there has never been a single reason advanced why it should, but from Solomon to Schopen­hauer one could quote a thousand thou­sand reasons why it should not) hypocrisy is as necessary as food, and whatever is necessary is moral. Hence hypocrisy is moral because it furthers the perpetuation of the species. To bring about chaos, dis­organization and universal death it is only necessary for each individual, each nation to proclaim “the truth” from the house­tops. Truth is the one thing to be feared, truth is the one thing to be shunned. Truth is Medusa. It is the basilisk in the human heart; he who encounters its gaze dies. Let men drop their masks and look at one another in the face, let us pluck our thoughts naked and bleeding out of the voluptuous body of our deceits: So­ciety or the race could not last a minute. Men play the hypocrite before themselves. They do not seek truth, but comfort, hap­piness.
Read “Don Quixote.” Is the Idealist the supreme comedian of Time? Read “Don Quixote.” Is truth in the head or in the bowels ? Read “Don Quixote.” O thou Idealist : Fragrant and immortal liar ! Divine and aromatic hypocrite, from the zenith of thy filigree heaven scattering sweets from thy magical scent-bag!
All the ills of civilization as it is con­stituted to-day and as it was constituted anciently flow from the hypocritical Ideal. The physical and mental organization of man is always trying to escape natural laws and straining to cross natural bar­riers and limits. “National ideals” breed the patriotic hypocrite, the political hypo­crite, the diplomatic hypocrite, the im­perialist hypocrite. All the nations of the world have disparate ideals—that is, masks to cover the preying, prowling jackal of racial pride. Buccaneers, loot­ers, assassins at heart, they hide their mo­tives behind their gold-embossed ensigns and ornamental insignias. Wearing the full regalia of the Ideal, they strut before one another bowing and scraping—these pliant tools of a satanic god.
Hypocrisy is an aesthetic. In the hands of attitudes. Before complacency he is an art that conceals a crushing irony. “I am all things to all men, and to myself no thing” is the formula of the chameleon of attitudes. Before complacency he as­sumes the self-satisfied air. Before shrewd­ness he plays the fox. Before luxury he plays the Sybarite. Before poverty he assumes a threadbare air. Before intellect he parades his prowess. But in assum­ing these masks, to make the art exquisite and to more completely subtilize the sub­lime buffoonery of existence, the aesthete of this cult must exaggerate. He must play the hypocrite to the nth power. His protean attitudes must be the subli­mation of life itself. He must reincarnate himself from minute to minute in the di­verse attitudes and nuances of voice and expression of the person he is satirizing. He makes believe he is flattering and imi­tating—and thus pours acid on acid. He never antagonizes. He blends and mixes and yields at every point, slipping on the characteristics of the other one like a skin-tight garment. And from the zenith of his consciousness there will flash across his brain that “unarithmetical smile” of Aeschylus, that silent laughter that rolls its thunder over the summits of the great world-intellects. This hypo­crite, of which Montaigne and Sainte-Beuve are the eternal types, is a surgeon of souls who works masked and gloved.
In the hands of the weak there is no weapon like hypocrisy. It is the sum and substance of the Nietzschean psychology. It is the first rung and the last rung in the Jacob’s ladder of the weak—that in­visible ladder that littleness and incapacity construct while the strong and capable sleep, and which reaches from the niggard reality of earth into the fat heavens of the gluttonous imagination. The will-to-power masks itself as “justice,” “equal­ ity,” “brotherhood,” “internationalism.” And a stench of scruples comes from their mouths—scruples, which are the fears of Hypocrisy. And from the midst of the hypocritical lowly come forth from time to time “redeemers,” victims of auto-hypnosis, who, regal in themselves, are in time covered with the pollution of infinite adoration. Their cloaked dream : to draw the quivering heart from the breast of Power and strip it of its secret. The rich are thieves, no doubt ; but the poor aspire. From the hovel to the palace the pilgrims are on the way, cloaked and cowled with the stuffs of their reveries—and the keen poignard of envy protruding from their under belts. Hyperions of an ancient heaven, to-day they mask themselves as socialists and “redeemers of society.”
The strong no less than the weak wear the mask of pretence. To gain their ends they must feign and fawn and practice a sly humility and break bread with the respectable. They draw the thunderbolts of destiny from her invisible heavens, but they must always pretend that the thun­derbolt sought them out. It is fatal for Strength to play the egotist. Strength for itself must never be glorified. The Titans must come before the lowly with some­thing sacrosanct about them. Their vital purpose must walk the earth tip-toe. It is also politic for strength to snivel and whine occasionally and sham meekness and confusion. And its kit of burglars’ tools should always have some homely motto engraved on it, such as “God Bless Our Home,” or “God Be With You.” The captains of life should look like mis­sionaries in their dress. The Will-to-Power in the strong must scale back fences before it can enter its mansion in the skies.

“De Casseres” vs. “DeCasseres” and a review…

Untitled-1At the outset, I thank everyone who takes time to write a considered review of any of our books on amazon or any other service, even if critical (Otherwise wonderful reviews can get so stilted by the strangest things. The very first line of the review below a) criticizes my “spelling” of DeCasseres name and b) misspells my name.

I take it the reviewer believes there should be a space between the “de” and “casseres”. It doesn’t take much when collecting to see the problem, and early on I decided to use the form “DeCasseres”, rather than “De Casseres”, in all my own work. Most of the books he seemed to have had the closest editorial control over generally has the form “DeCasseres”, and most examples of his signature in my collection connect the two with a line, though I have an example where it isn’t.

So, both forms have been used in print and in his own signature. I chose what I thought was “right”.

The cover of the original edition of “Anathema” shows a space in his signature in silver foil stamping, but his actual signature inside the book (nos. 42, 488, and 761 – yes, I have three copies) all show the connected “DeCasseres”. Moreso, the title page and every mention of his name is set “DeCasseres”. The biography of Spinoza owned by DeC shows a space in the signature on the flyleaf, but The DeCasseres Books has no space on the covers in the typesetting. On the spine of “Forty Immortals” it’s “De Casseres”, on the spine of  “The Muse of Lies” it’s “DeCasseres”. Etc. etc. etc.

After this initial odd stumble, it’s a wonderful review. And I thank the author of it, regardless of the contention at the outset, or the typo of my own name.
————————

My utmost praise to Underworld Amusements for this superb edition of a forgotten great’s works
By ncosmann on September 22, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

The apparently idiosyncratic and (I hope) unintentional spelling of the author’s name aside, Underworld Amusements and Kevin J. Slaughter should be commended for the work they’ve put into collecting together what I’ve found from this collection of poetry to be a criminally-neglected American author – although his anarchic, Dionysian pessimist, Nietzschean messages and his wonderfully ornate style seem to me somewhat of an outlier from many American poets and authors (of his time especially) and perhaps a bit niche. I have a feeling Mr. De Casseres would have preferred it like that anyhow.

The influence of Nietzsche and his style has a well-earned but often tiresome legacy; everyone seems to love Nietzsche, but out of all the writers I know of who were strongly influenced by his work, there are two who I think took up his ideas most explicitly with true skill. One of these is Mr. De Casseres, whose sheer wit and exquisite genius could not help but win me over; his knowledge of often obscure vocabulary, mythology, and history are put to good use in his work, which just oozes opulence and grandeur. His other work that has also been published by Underworld Amusements – Anathema! Litanies of Negation – exemplifies his style best in my opinion with its increasingly hyperbolic, soaring feats of Dionysian splendor and arrogance. In my humble opinion, it is among the finest representations of the timeless human spirit – in that instance, its unmatched arrogance, which De Casseres and Nietzsche both knew to be far from a bad thing.

As far as Imp goes: De Casseres’ style is still here, albeit oftentimes more narrowed. If Anathema! is a fable of mankind’s arrogance, Imp is the collected moments of an individual’s repeated attempts at ascension to godhood. Here we see more of the poet rather than his philosophy, with none of his grand style removed. Of course, being the very ruminative writer he is, Imp certainly is not without its share of contemplative and more general pieces (the Minutes collection in particular is an excellent example of melding the universal scope of philosophy with the highly concrete and ephemeral scope of poetry – an ancient art that De Casseres does all too well).

Some may dismiss De Casseres for being too Nietzschean, even unoriginally so, and in a sense I can see that criticism; as I’ve said, the tendency to imitate Nietzsche and the spirit of his philosophy is something far too many people do and that most do poorly. I consider De Casseres to be an example of Nietzsche’s philosophy instantiated in a man who lives by his ideas – him along with E.M. Cioran, the other author who I think takes a lot out of Nietzsche while still providing his own unique, lived interpretation of him. Some may also dismiss De Casseres for his preoccupation with unnecessarily fancy diction and syntax; to that, I say that if you don’t like a writer who can dish out classical-styled poetry with the level of skill that De Casseres does while still doing something unique with it rather than simply writing generic nostalgia poetry, you simply don’t like poetry.

On the author’s merits alone, I could give this edition of his works the highest praise simply for being released when De Casseres is relatively unknown; however, the edition itself is also an extremely high quality paperback. The material used for the pages and the cover all feel great and fittingly luxurious for the work contained, and the original cover art is just awesome. Really, Underworld Amusements went out of their way with this.

Since I’ve already probably gushed enough about De Casseres’ work, the final word I’ll give on it is to definitely check it out if you happen to enjoy philosophy in the vein of Nietzsche, if you are an anarchist who enjoys work by anarchists, or if you are a fan of classically-styled poetry. If you are into philosophy or poetry, in fact, I think it is reasonable to bet that you’ll enjoy reading this obscure author; if you are into philosophy and poetry, you may just find a new favorite.

Art in America, July-August 1973

ArtInAmerica

The July-August issue of Art in America contains the article “The Critics: Hartmann, Huneker, De Casseres” by Peter Plagens. I’ve transcribed the third section on DeCasseres, skipping the introduction and sections on the first two critics/artists.

——

Benjamin de Casseres comprised at once the best and worst of the three: the least substance (you get the feeling what he liked best about art was his own talking about it), and the best style. Two quotes give some idea of how sharp, overly cute, almost Timestyle, he was:

Turgenief’s characters are gripped in a vise. They go through life like somnambulists. Bazaroff is an arsenal of tendencies. Liza is a medieval nun that by some curious freak has been revamped for 19th century consumption.
The Comic View is exhilarating. It mounts the barricades of limitation with a hop, skip, and jump. It knows the value of all things. Science? Mere mumblings in a vacuum. Life? A parenthetical affirmative between two negatives. Honor? A bauble for babes. Love? Vascular excitation. Morality? A clever device of grafter princeps—the State. Tra-la! Hoop-la! Hold up your paper hoops, Master of Ceremonies, and see Merry Andrew dive through them and slit them into tissue shards.

De Casseres was, by his own admission a born writer, an anti-Semitic Jew and a direct descendant of Spinoza. He saw the artist as a transcendentally asocial (“only in a flurry of excess does one catch glimpses of immortal truth”), irrational (“creators should spurn reason as an eagle would a ladder”) individual. De Casseres’s most unsavory characteristic was his Nietzsche-derived social philosophy—the worst kind of might-makes-right social ethic. War, in his view, is inevitable and even honorable, since it sharpens the instincts for praying and conquest; a viable social system is only a mechanism which “pits one vice against another.” De Casseres also fabricated wrestling matches from criticism, e.g. Arthur Symonds vs. Kipling, or H. L. Mencken vs. Shaw. The latter (Mencken & Shaw, 1930) displays De Casseres at the height of his vindictive powers, going after G.B.S. with the most scurri­lous argumentum ad hominem because Shaw advocated Socialism (which terrified De Casseres, especially after the Russian Revolu­tion) while simultaneously amassing a personal fortune (driving De Casseres up his underpaid walls in envy), and, sub rosa, because Shaw was a near celibate.

The plutocratic fear of the Reds, which Mencken so finely but uncon­vincingly satirizes, is well founded. There is nothing more important than money—property—in the world. Every Red knows that; all Russians know that. In order to lick the world all Russia needs is money.
The plutocrats are all thieves; the Reds potentially or actually all thieves. There is no principle involved. To hell with ideals! I’m for protecting my bank account by upholding the Reigning Dynasty of Forty Thieves so long as they protect me.
. . . No strong man, no real man, no man with guts and brains wants to be equalized in his income with anyone else. All men are born unequal, and the battle will be always to the strongest and the race to the swiftest, no matter how sharp the giant gelding knife of Socialism becomes or how great the intermittent power of such group-predatory sentimentalists as George Bernard Shaw, superficially a dungaree Mephisto, but in his soul of souls a Cromwell and a social Borgia.

Shaw was a virgin until twenty-nine, and citing that fact is as close as De Casseres comes to allowing mitigating circumstances, for he believed, with Hunker, that rampant “individualism,” rampant “imperfection,” heroic excess and a sensual—read sex­ual—nature were the stuff of which artists are made . . . er, born. The arguments against De Casseres’s social esthetic now stand out embarrassingly. When he cites his “man” who disdains eco­nomic equality he means, whether he knows it or not, other privileged upper-middle-class whites like himself, with fancy edu­cations, who never struggled for anything more than the dinner check at Luchow’s. Even if “man” is predatory/competitive by nature, it doesn’t follow that a rational social system should encourage/reinforce it; rather, it ought to counterbalance it.
Shaw’s money does not taint his Socialism, only the reverse. Until the Revolution is won you’re going to have millionaires anyway, so it’s better they’re advocates-in-transit than robber barons. De Casseres, as a turn-of-the-century free-enterpriser, would certainly have Socialists be pauper saints and thus unheard voices. And De Casseres’s simplistic view of Socialism is of the undeserving mob trying to steal the fruits of society; he has no idea a la Marx or even a la Daniel Moynihan of the organism of society (i.e. you can’t let the workers starve without debilitating the whole thing). It’s the one question laissez faire advocates can never answer; what do we do with the losers? Camps? Mass graves? Slavery? Panhandling?