An Artist in his Studio, Anthony Burgess, Black Power, Bruce Davidson, Collyer Brothers, Correlli Barnett, Game of Thrones, Guerrilla Warfare, Homer and Langley Collyer, Horizon, James Morris, Jan Morris, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Lacey Baldwin Smith, Marquis de Sade, Owen Rachleff, Prince Charles, Reign of Terror, Robert Cowley, Things, Vermeer, Vietnam War, Wales, Wars of the Roses
A regular feature of Horizon was special sections on a topic – in this issue it’s ‘Things are in the Saddle’. A series of pieces explores how the Western world in 1969 is saddled with things: ‘We cannot take them with us, but it seems they can take us with them.’ In ‘Does Your Room Look Like the Collyer Brothers’?’, Robert Cowley looks at the ultimate example, the compulsive hoarders Homer and Langley Collyer, who were found dead in their Harlem brownstone in 1947. More than 140 tons of things they had collected over the years were eventually removed from the house. The blind and paralysed Homer was found first, and a search went out for Langley:
Then on April 8, nineteen days after the search had begun, a detective rooting not ten feet from where Homer had died looked down and saw a shoe. Langley Collyer had been crushed by one of his own booby traps as he carried food to his brother through a tunnel lined with a chest of drawers and an old bedspring. On the body – which could only be identified by the two suits and the striped overalls it was dressed in – there rested bundles of newspapers, a suitcase filled with metal, a sewing machine, and three breadboxes.
Smith describes ‘a series of gang wars in which the ringleaders, instead of having such suitable names as Dutch Jake or Reno Starkey, were princes, dukes and lords’:
…[Kings] and battles must be allowed to recede into the mist of history while the spotlight is focused on the social and emotional bonds that held society together. Fifteenth-century England was staggering under a triple shock – a rising tide of violence that swept the kingdom to the edge of anarchy, a narrowing spiral of economic contraction that turned moderate squires into militant henchmen, and the curse of disputed succession that turned the crown into a political football. Like modern gang warfare, the Wars of the Roses were no mere social aberrations; they were the ugly sign of a society gone wrong, of a world where the traitor was not merely executed but was axed with a rusty sword, where the brigand no longer stole but slew his victim horribly and spoiled him ‘unto the naked skin’, and where the son found it necessary to warn his mother to lock her doors not only at night but also during the daytime for fear of thieves who rode ‘with great fellowships like lords.’
…Orthodox Western armed forces and heavy equipment are next to useless. The military answer lies in small units able to match the guerrillas in ability to live in the jungles or mountains and in the crafts of tracking and ambush. These penetration groups are supplemented by the mobility conferred by air power. They must be mobile and aggressive; they must keep the guerrillas moving, break them up.
However, there is in any case no purely military solution to revolutionary warfare; victory lies in political and social action. It lies in remedying the grievances the Communists exploit. Just as the revolutionaries try to split the people from the existing regime, so the counterguerrillas must try to split the guerrillas from the people.
He ends with a prediction no doubt inspired by the rise of the Black Panthers:
So far the Negro masses of America have not displayed the necessary self-discipline and organization for revolutionary war, nor have leaders of the quality of Mao or Giap or even Castro emerged. However, if Negro grievances are not swiftly and completely remedied, the shapeless and spontaneous outbreaks of violence , arson and looting may change into a planned and controlled strategy aimed at destroying existing authority in the Negro areas of American cities. Against such a strategy, force alone could prove no better an answer in America than it has proved elsewhere in the world.
In Old English the word ‘Welsh’ meant ‘foreigner’, but the Welsh call themselves ‘Cymry,’ meaning ‘comrades,’ and much of the atmosphere of Wales springs from a sense of inner collusion – members only, or passes must be shown.
After looking forward to the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales later in 1969 he ponders the future of the Welsh:
Whichever way they choose, we may be sure that the Welsh will never again relapse into the obscurity of a conquered people. As the allures of power, splendour and size seem to weaken in the world, so the idiosyncrasies of the Welsh, their gifts of lyrical ellipsis and side step, melody and gentle flourish, will find them ever more readily that perennial object of Welsh ambition – a large, attentive, and sympathetic audience.
The novelist and critic Anthony Burgess writes in ‘Our Bedfellow: The Marquis de Sade’: ‘…he knew what we have taken a long time to learn – that sex is not just something that happens in a bedroom’. He notes that the ‘Moors Murderers’ had a copy of Sade’s Justine but says that Sade shouldn’t be banned, because he is ‘one of the prophets of our age’:
He really had only one theme – his own predilections and their justification through a rational philosophy…Though [Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man] mentions God a good deal, God was a concept Sade wholly rejected (he was a good eighteenth-century rationalist in this). There is no God, but there is a goddess, and this is Nature. We are wholly subject to her, being part of her, and we must fulfill in our own actions her most terrible and monstrous impulses. Nature is creative – lavishly and carelessly so, but she is also destructive, reveling in earthquakes, in storms, floods, volcanic eruptions. But this destructive urge is in the service of creating new forms of life. A huge melting pot is always on the boil, and her old creations are thrown into it, to re-emerge transmogrified. The devices of cruelty that man develops are quite impersonal, or rather prepersonal, energy. Personal guilt is irrelevant, since the first law of life is to accept the world as it is.
…The Sade image of man is, unfortunately, far more realistic than that of either Rousseau or the Church. In the depraved France of the prerevolutionary era, in the ghastly actions of the Terror, Sade could see ample evidence that man’s appetites for pleasure were most satisfyingly fulfilled through the exercise of power and cruelty. His own private orgies, the extravagant fantasies of his books – what were these but reduced reflections of the conduct of the great world outside the château?