18 August 2010

Books Do Furnish A Bachelor Pad

I collect rare books. Or should I say: I did once, but no longer. It is a solitary pastime, I have long suspected but only recently reluctantly concluded, that renders one unfit for common human company, especially of the long-term female sort, an inference which by the way only confirms those qualities once publicly deduced by the individuals in closest physical proximity to me in my early youth. So be it. Fuck them. And damn them. And God's speed to them if I should ever meet them in a dark mews somewhere. For few modern people here I have discovered over the decades actually read proper books. It is a serious flaw, a widespread civilisational deficiency. Am I the only one here taking notes? Must I kick arse as well?

As a schoolboy at Templer College in the late 1980s I developed a strong interest in the Brideshead Generation, as a portrait by Humphrey Carpenter once succinctly put it, thanks in part to the scholarly Jesuit priests in whom my people placed my adolescent intellectual development and soule for safe-keeping. (God bless the Jesuit fathers for without their influence I would be more of a violent beaste than I am already). I therefore distributed inquiries to rare book agents in London and New York for first editions of works by Waugh, Powell, Green, Byron, et. al., and collected a fair number as a result. Two surviving members are pictured here in this column (above).

My interest naturally followed me to university, where I studied political philosophy and economics, when I was not playing rugby, rowing, drinking, fucking, and fighting. I spent most evenings in the cathedral library cellars, however, reading and re-reading the Brideshead curriculum, amongst other things, before heading out betweeded to the castle ale-hall. In those days of floppy side-parted hair, bitter-stained cords, and thick chestnut brogues, it did not help that one of my favourite drinking chums was a dead-ringer for the actor Jeremy Irons of televisual Brideshead Revisited renown. My imagination was on over-load.

And now on to Anthony Powell. In recent weeks his books have infiltrated my absinthe and codeine-saturated consciousness. I must say, it is a good thing to be able to settle down to a Powell novel in the 'A Dance To the Music of Time' series after a long day doing battle with the Kenneth Widmerpools of the world. The character Widmerpool is a stinking abomination, a modern Grendel in three-piece suit begging for slaughter. Grossly fat, ambitious, corrupt, deviant, pig-like, sharply aware of his core inferiority, leaking rank blood-streaked puss from his very centre, Widmerpool is a slave to fad and youthful rebellion and a socialist traitor to his country wherever he goes. He is modern Western man personified.

As I have discovered, Widmerpools are far more numerous than Powell has led us to believe, I can report, and their suppression requires bigger guns than mere English novelists can muster. It also requires more accurate artillery. Widmerpools over-populate the main centres of influence; indeed you can smell their ancient filth from here. Do you know a Widmerpool? If so, would you be able to point him out in the street to me and my droogs? Do let us know. It is very important.

Anthony Powell's observant yet detached attitude toward his times and contemporaries is entirely appropriate for an artist of his generation. But today, I think, we can ill afford to be so complacent. You have been warned. It is important to be a man of thought and deed, to have the courage to walk right into the sun and to go out like a supernova. We must take action, for the last hours are drawing nigh.

10 comments:

Tabitha said...

Fabulous, you do know that the SS modelled their structure on the Jesuits?
I haven't made it past the first volume of Powell's epic, I should go back to it.

Were you on the sauce last night? I've never noticed you swear before

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tabitha; I think this post is mainly the electric soup talking. Take heart - Widmerpool carries within himself the seeds of his own destruction.

Fatfriend

Belle de Ville said...

Very well written. Don't even get me started on the Widmerpools of this world...they are everywhere.

I never read any of Powell, so I guess that it is time for me to start. I'm going on holiday next week, maybe a little Powell by the pool is just what I need.

Did you stop collecting rare books?

Anonymous said...

In vino veritas: fuck the naysayers and excuse-makers; the actionless intelligentsia and the illiterate thuggery.

The gentry has become little more than a decadent, bloated parody of itself: effeminate weaklings begging for slaughter...to say nothing of those who ape their social betters.

Winter is here. Optimism is cowardice.

Acta, non verba.

brohammas said...

Hmmm, I was taking notes, but I'm a prop, so after three words I started doodling in the margins.
How odd that while we apperantly write with many a simlar word, the language is quite dissimilar.
I'm sure your rugby and rowing world was one of crew, chords, and pints at the pub.
My world of rugby and rowing was a kayak, a lavalava, and sitting cross legged around the kava bowl.
You read Bittish authors, I read the Itations of Jamaica and I Rastafari.
Proper books eh? You must be a back... or a brit, as any rugger I know would have only read the cell wall, or maybe Steinbeck and Hemmingway.

Not me. I decorate with Bancroft and Cornel West.

A.E.F. said...

Admiral, What a fascinating web you weave. Did Widmerpool not murder Templer?
I make a point of keeping the Widmerpool's of this world far away from my circle of very select friends and acquaintances.

Anonymous said...

I think you're all being too hard on poor old Widmerpool; he didn't murder Peter Templer, though he was indirectly responsible for his death. Also, as I recall, he was fond of his mother....

Fatfriend.

Cyprian Korzeniowski said...

Sir,

The detached observation of the author would do well give way to involved observation of the marksman in these trying times. Raspail depicts quite the situation for such involvement; it ends poorly, but at least it is set to Mozart.

Sartre said...

I'm with you on Powell. Did you know it's pronounced "Pole"? I did a post myself on "A Damce" in my ill-fated blog (http://advice-to-my-sons.blogspot.com/2009/01/dance-to-music-of-time.html). Still enjoying your stuff, though I rarely comment.

daddywarbucks said...

Is there some reason this same post has been sent about a dozen times over the last few weeks?

You must have some problem with your website.