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Rapallo - art, treason, conspiracy and affirmation

by Ted Welch Tue May 19th, 2009 at 11:54:24 AM EST

I had thought this was going to be a fairly short, light piece about our trip to Rapallo and Portofino, but when I got back and started reading more about Rapallo, I learned about some darker aspects and connections between art, treason and conspiracy. It falls into two sections, so if you prefer the short, lighter version, jump off at the blue palm.

The post-visit intellectual journey is a long one. If you are into history and intellectual debates about art and politics, the CIA and cultural imperialism, press on beyond the reflection of the palm into a "wilderness of mirrors". But don't worry, there's a path back to Rapallo and Nice, where you'll end up on Nietzsche's terrace - possibly with "amor fati" - a love of fate:


To embrace amor fati is to grow, evolve, and know what it means to be human, all too human [title of one of Nietzsche's books].

http://thenietzscheindex.blogspot.com/2008/08/amor-fati.html


blue-sea-italy-3033

This was taken on the way to Rapallo, just after Alassio, where, as with much of the Italian Riviera coast, it's very hard to find somewhere to park, but once you've done so, there is a great sense of space.

M likes a touch of class, and works hard in one of Nice's best hotels, so I booked a couple of nights in the Grand Hotel Bristol, Rapallo - if it was good enough for Hemingway ...  (we'll forget about that other guest, Mussolini - at least for now).

bristol-rapallo-3184

She was very pleased to have a room with this view:

balcon-m-bristol-3202

bristol-pool-rapallo-3040


Rapallo Castle:

castle-rapallo-beach-2-3052


"Rapallo castle is the main symble of the town and it has been declared as a national monument by the Cultural Ministry. It'also erroneously known as mediaeval castle, but it was built in 1551. It's on the Rapallo sea, and it was built after an incursion by the Turkish pirate Dragut in 1549. He kidnapped a hundred of children and maiden who become his slaves on his boats. Therefore, the Genoan Captain Gregorio Roisecco advised Rapallo to build a castle in order to protect the village. Nowadays, the castle is one of the several element of the Ligurian region that deserve to be visited by those people who like the culture."

http://www.globeholidays.net/Europe/Italy/Liguria/Rapallo/Rapallo_Castello1.htm

It now houses occasional exhibitions.

 Rapallo has some claim to a connection with Columbus:

columbus-rapallo-3065

"Go west - to go east"

Cf.: http://www.mahalo.com/The_Day_the_Universe_Changed_Episode_3

boy-fishing-rapallo-3063

"I'm a boy and I'm telling you this is how you do it."

bimbi-shop-rapallo-3067

Father: "I can't bear to look." Baby: "Don't they understand there's an economic crisis ? Never mind the toys, just keep my bottle filled."

a-montse-meal-sat-3076

Serious decisions.

Saturday we went to Portofino:

bay-boats-portofino-3121

We had hardly stepped ashore when an attractive young woman approached me - with microphone and TV cameraman - asking where I was from and what I thought of Portofino - a bit prematurely. I said I liked all the cafes around the harbour with no traffic and everywhere was like a picture. Maybe I was on Italian TV that evening ! I think perhaps the story was about the effects of the crisis on tourism. In Nice Matin when we got back it was reported that tourism was 15% down in Nice in the first quarter of 2009.

But there was little sign of a lack of tourists that sunny saturday in Portofino:

crowd-cafes-portofino-3147

Though maybe they were spending less:

family-art-portofino-3137

M is always looking for elegant things:

fashion-montse-portofino-3141

I see things from a slightly different perspective:

fashion-portofino-3143

This reminds me of a Magritte crossed with a Mondrian:

bluedream-portofino-3139

What is the "blue dream" behind the green door?


Midnight, one more night without sleepin`.

Watchin` till the morning comes creepin`.

Green door, what`s that secret you`re keepin`?

There`s an old piano and they play it hot

behind the green door.

Don`t know what they`re doin`, but they laugh alot

behind the gren door.

Wish they`d let me in so i could find out

what`s behind the green door.

I start to worry about having to queue for a long time, or even missing the last boat - which is at 7 pm - when the locals can have a bit of peace:

boat-queue-portofino-3135

Mercifully we didn't have to queue for too long. On the way back to Rapallo we passed this great ship:

a-sail-ship-3104

There's a lot more space in Rapallo:

bysea-rapallo-3045

Our stay is too brief and we head back to Nice on Sunday:

autos-return-3209

On the way to Rapallo we'd driven on a very clear motorway, past miles of traffic jams in the other direction, what a relief not to have been in that. Now, on the way back, the traffic jams were in the other direction. Maybe the Italians are more enthusiastic about France, than the French are about Italy. We had an easy drive back to Nice - where other palms float against blue.

blue-pool-palm-3185

The pool at the Bristol.

The Darker side

castle-night-cafe-3080

 Rapallo's most notorious ex-pat was the poet Ezra Pound; during World War II he did some radio broadcasts and wrote articles supporting Mussolini. He was charged with treason, but judged to be insane and spent years in an asylum in the US before returning to Italy - apparently unrepentent:

... the regret bears on the failure of the ideals not on the ideals themselves, and the Pisan Cantos teem with references to the original utopian project that underpins the allegiance to fascism ... "those words still stand uncancelled, / "Presente!" / and merrda for the monopolists" (LXXVIII 99). The exclamation "Presente!" is at the same time an indirect quote from the subtitle of Canto LXXII ("Presenza"), one of Pound's few but very violent cantos in Italian, and a direct quote of the Fascist salute to the Duce. Such examples undermine the reading of the post-Pisa cantos in terms of recantation ...

http://erea.revues.org/index364.html

pound-mug_shot

American treatment of prisoners, even a 60 year-old American, paid little attention to Geneva conventions even then; he was held in an open-air cage in Italy for weeks.

The Wikipedia entry about him is something of an apologia (cf. Kazin's very critical views below):

Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (October 30, 1885 - November 1, 1972) was an American expatriate poet, critic and intellectual who was a major figure of the Modernist movement in the first half of the 20th century. He is generally considered the poet most responsible for defining and promoting a modernist aesthetic in poetry...
...
On 10 October 1924, Pound left Paris permanently and moved to Rapallo, Italy. He and Dorothy stayed there briefly, moving on to Sicily, and then returning to settle in Rapallo in January 1925.

...
according to his biographer Humphrey Carpenter "The broadcasts were 'a masterly performance'."[14]. Carpenter wrote "Certainly there were Americans who, in 1941, would have agreed with virtually every word Ezra said at the microphone about the United States Government, the European conflict, and the power of the Jews."[15]. The broadcasts were monitored by the Foreign Broadcast Monitoring Service of the United States government, and transcripts, now stored in the Library of Congress, were made of them. Pound was indicted for treason by the United States government in 1943.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezra_Pound

While his political interventions may have had little effect, some argue that some academics' defense of his poetry had an unfortunate effect on literature and literary criticism:


The Pisan Cantos were awarded the first Library of Congress Bollingen Award by a panel of internationally famous poets in 1949, and have since been surrounded by furor. An admitted fascist under indictment for treason because of wartime radio broadcasts made in support of the Axis cause, Pound was being honored for poems that lamented the passing of fascist and Nazi collaborators, and the general public rose up en masse.

In constructing a defense of Pound, the Bollingen judges and an international array of prominent writers fell back on formalist criteria of poetic value and helped to forge a mandarin, politically conservative "New Criticism" that would dominate the next two decades of literary discourse and ultimately become the primary target of poststructuralist theory ...

http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/modernism-modernity/v002/2.3bush.html

In 1986, Alfred Kazin was quite scathing about Pound's academic defenders and there was a very lively exchange in the New York Review of Books. Kazin responded to those who'd criticised his article:


... The "museum of modern literature" exists in the minds of professors who decade after decade keep annotating every last particle in Pound because they are curators, not critics. I don't accuse them of "playing it safe." They just can't see beyond their noses. The Cantos, for all their occasional beauty, are in my opinion an essentially disordered work. The violent distortions of history, the scatalogical ugliness of Pound's epithets for English literary enemies, Jews, etc., the idolatry of the murderer Musolini as a "twice-crucified" Redeemer eaten by "maggots" (the Italian people) - such violations of truth and art, of all that we have left of civilization in this century of totalitarian horror, mean nothing to curator types.
...

 Professor Weiss accuses me of not noting "Pound's profound hatred of war, his powerful attacks on it in Mauberley, the Cantos and elsewhere." Here is a perfect example of the way curators ignore the actual historic circumstances surrounding their sacred object. Pound's horror of the first World War in Mauberley and elsewhere did not extend to the Second, in which he was a propagandist for what Churchill called "the worst crime in human history."
...

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5012

pound-conf2

http://www.orgs.muohio.edu/ezrapound/index.php

In searching for images of Pound I was happy to come across this, which actually shows him in Rapallo in the 1930s. It also shows that the "curators," as Kazin described them, go on celebrating Pound, e.g. in the 21st conference on Pound organised by Miami university, not to be confused with the University of Miami, the former, to add to the confusion, is in Oxford, but Oxford, Ohio. The conference was held in Rapallo in 2005, where:


... participants ... will have the opportunity to relax in the seafront Caffé Rapallo, under the balcony of Ezra and Dorothy Pound's apartment in Via Marsala, once the headquarters of the "Ezuversity." ... There will be visits to Sant' Ambrogio, where Pound lived with Olga, which forms the background of some of his most haunting lines

http://www.orgs.muohio.edu/ezrapound/


No mention, of course, of the more embarrassing "haunting lines" from the wartime broadcasts, e.g.:


Just which of you is free from Jewish influence?
Just which political and business groups are free
from Jew influence, from Jew control?

 [broadcast, 19 March 1943]

http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/pi/article/viewFile/1374/919


But then I was stunned to note the credit for the photo of Pound in Rapallo, it was taken by James Jesus Angleton !

Some of you may also be familiar with the name, perhaps the most notorious conspiracy theorist, who, like his poetic hero, Pound, was also alleged to be insane - paranoid; he even suggested that Henry Kissinger was a Soviet agent.

"A wilderness of mirrors"

The phrase "wilderness of mirrors" appears in a 1994 song by the Canadian rock trio Rush. Lyricist/Drummer Neil Peart used the phrase in the song "Double Agent," and cites both Angleton and T. S. Eliot [friend of Pound] in the liner notes as sources of the phrase."

Wikipedia

Angleton

James Jesus Angleton (December 9, 1917 - May 12, 1987) ... was a long-serving chief of the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) counter-intelligence (CI) staff (Associate Deputy Director of Operations for Counter-Intelligence/ADDOCI).
..
Angleton is notable for his long tenure as the CIA's foremost "spy catcher" (as chief of counter-intelligence), but also for being deceived by the Soviet spy, Kim Philby ... Angleton's faith in his abilities was deeply shaken by Philby's success. From that point onward, Angleton was increasingly convinced that CIA was penetrated by other Soviet moles.

A poetry aficionado with known ties to Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot ... Angleton functioned as principal adviser to successive Directors of the CIA, most notably Allen Dulles and Richard Helms. His excesses as a counter-intelligence czar, arising from extreme paranoia that may have been clinical, had adverse effects on the Agency, especially during the 1970s.

According to former CIA officer Robert Baer: "Angleton was truly a bit of a lunatic. He fancied himself as a serious poet ... In fact, he fairly well destroyed the CIA single-handedly because of his paranoia. He put a security system into place that ensures even today that CIA people work in a bubble, isolated from the way the world works."

...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Jesus_Angleton

Or, as Kazin said of the "curators": "They just can't see beyond their noses."

Unlike Pound, Angleton wasn't charged with treason, not even with illegal acts, yet:


... Colby then demanded Angleton's resignation, after Seymour Hersh told Colby on December 20, 1974, that he was going to publish a story in The New York Times about domestic counter-intelligence activities under Angleton's direction against antiwar protesters and other domestic dissident organizations.
...
These illegal surveillance activities resulted in the generation of 10,000 case files on American citizens ...

ibid


Subverting Italian elections

The consequences of Angleton's activities were far worse for the Italians, but would have been applauded by Pound:


Angleton's personal liaisons with Italian Mafia figures helped the CIA in the immediate period after World War II. Angleton took charge of the CIA's effort to subvert Italian elections to prevent communist and communist-related parties from gaining political leverage in the parliament.

ibid

This was despite the major role which the Italian communists had played in resistance to the Nazis. I don't suppose many left-wing Italians living in Rapallo will be celebrating the work of Pound, still less that of his fan, Angleton.

"Free enterprise painting"

But Angleton and CIA did not confine themselves to politics, at least not in a narrow way, as so often, art was a political tool, particularly effective when its connection to politics was not so evident, but apparently "pure", the expression of individual sensibility and concerned with form - the kind of attitude behind the academic defense of Pound:


Simultaneously, the US did not hesitate to sink huge sums of unaccounted funds into the CIA's campaign to "culturally" fight communism. This culminated in the Congress for Cultural Freedom, which was rooted into place by 1950. The general idea was to parade art (writing, visual arts, music) that was as antithetical as possible to Stalinist dictums about what art should be. Art was to represent "freedom," a nebulous concept without a context. The idea was that this pro-American freedom was a freedom of the individual, with the emphasis on every-man-for-himself. No political doctrine was going to tell these artists what to do.


gottlieb

"Untitled" Adolph Gottlieb


...
 Eva Cockcroft wrote about Abstract Expressionism in Artforum (No. 12) in 1974: "To understand why a particular art movement becomes successful under a given set of historical circumstances requires an examination of the specifics of patronage and the ideological needs of the powerful."

Why was Abstract Expressionist art singled out by the CIA/State Department as an essential weapon of the cultural Cold War? Why did Nelson Rockefeller purchase over 2500 pieces of Abstract Expressionist art and use these paintings to decorate the lobbies of Chase Manhattan banks? And then, why was New York's Museum of Modern Art so terrifically enthusiastic over this specific art movement?
...
 Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko, who went on to become superstars of Abstract Expressionism, led the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors fervently against the communist presence in the art world. Even before the tremendous disillusionment that prevailed at the end of the War, the late '30s brought artists a sense of betrayal by the Soviet Union. They thus took a turn toward Trotskyism, which upheld the belief that art in and of itself was subversive, and should be left free to develop on its own without political restrictions. From there, a new ethos took root: the individual as king.

http://www.slowart.com/articles/cia.htm

" ... the CIA named its biggest front in Europe the Congress for Cultural Freedom. It worked. Soviet art became a laughing stock, and New York became the center of the art world, not Paris, where Picasso, a long-time member of the Communist party and winner of the Stalin Peace Prize (who can forget his doves of peace?), still reigned supreme.

The CIA had stolen the show from Picasso, taking art a step further into a near mystical expression of unfettered human liberty in the spirit of free enterprise. Nelson Rockefeller, whose family created the MoMA, actually referred to Abstract Expressionism as 'free enterprise painting.' ... "

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig3/cummings3.html

good_shepherd_l2

Art catches up with life: "The 2006 film The Good Shepherd is loosely based on Angleton's life and his role in the formation of the CIA." Wikipedia.


The central character is Edward Wilson (a convincingly grey and serious Matt Damon), a literary scholar from a distinguished WASP family, who becomes a member of the world's most exclusive secret society, Skull and Bones, while a student at Yale. Based in part on the famed superspook and counterintelligence expert James Jesus Angleton (though much saner)
...
There's a key moment when a Mafia boss (Joe Pesci), being lured into a plot against Castro, talks about what blacks, Italians, Jews and Irishmen have that gives them a consoling cultural identity. 'But what have you got?' he asks this quiet, complacent WASP. 'The United States of America,' Wilson replies. 'The rest of you are just visiting.'

Philip French

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2007/feb/25/robertdeniro.mattdamon

Angleton and Rothko were both working for this elite, but Rothko was not happy with his "superstar" success, which led to a major commission:


In 1958, Rothko was awarded the first of two major mural commissions that proved both rewarding and frustrating. The beverage company Joseph Seagram and Sons had recently completed their new building on Park Avenue, designed by architects Mies Van der Rohe and Philip Johnson. Rothko agreed to provide wall paintings for the building's restaurant, The Four Seasons.
...
The following June, Rothko and his family again traveled to Europe. While on the SS Independence he disclosed to John Fischer, publisher of Harper's, that his true intention for the Seagram murals was to paint "something that will ruin the appetite of every son-of-a-bitch who ever eats in that room. If the restaurant would refuse to put up my murals, that would be the ultimate compliment. But they won't. People can stand anything these days."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Rothko

Well, the kind of people who could afford his prices could not only stand his paintings, they happily promoted it. His work was bought by a small elite, such as the Rockefellers, the elite to which Angleton belonged and which, through the CIA, was using art to defend its new empire.

rothko-rockefeller

It seems that Nietzsche was a major influence on Rothko, but, given the context and his cynicism about it, he lacked Nietzsche's affirmative attitude to life as formulated in "Thus Spake Zarathustra":


Virilio quotes Mark Rothko as stating that he 'trapped the most absolute violence' in his works (2003: 38). Virilio discusses none of Rothko's paintings, much less how Rothko's statement illuminates any particular Rothko canvas. Rather, for Virilio, this statement confirms that Rothko's suicide was an inevitable consequence of Rothko's rejection of human form's representation. By committing suicide, Rothko exercised 'the most nihilistic of freedoms of expression: that of SELF-DESTRUCTION' (Virilio, 2003: 38).

http://www.culturemachine.net/index.php/cm/article/view/211/192

This brings us back to Rapallo:


The following winter I stayed in that charming quiet bay of Rapallo ... it was on these two walks that the whole of Zarathustra occurred to me, and especially Zarathustra himself as a type: rather, he overtook me.

http://www.geocities.com/thenietzschechannel/eh11.htm


In his major work, Zarathustra, Nietzsche fundamentally reworks the idea of eternal recurrence ...

... Nietzsche believed he had created the greatest model of life-affirmation with the eternal recurrence ... Nietzsche wished ... to accord the utmost value to the process of life itself, and in this sense, his formula of recurrence was an experiment with unqualified affirmation.

http://www.temple.edu/gradmag/summer99/berger.htm

But then it's not so difficult to be life-affirming - in places like Rapallo:

neitzsche-rap-3179

 - or Nice, where Nietzsche spent the following six winters and completed Zarathustra:

a-n-terrace-nice-2628

Display:
V. interesting background on these two. Thanks!

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 12:09:48 PM EST
Thanks Sven.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 08:36:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was a bit of a revelation, to say the least, because Gottlieb and Rothko were early influences when I was at art school because they were so challenging and I was ready for imprinting ;-)

I had also been through a Tom Hudson Basic Course (Victor Pasmore type) that amplified the effects.

But Pop Art struck me soon after: Richard Hamilton's 'Slip It To Me' exhibition, Reyner Banham et al. That 'movement' resonates with me still.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 10:37:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As it happens I went on a short course run by Tom Hudson.

We had an American critic/lecturer give a talk about recent US art. The head of the school asked me what I thought - I wasn't impressed by the semi-religious reverence for the flatness of the canvas - so just give it another coat of white paint - what "respect"! :-)

 I was impressed by a show of Rauschenberg's work, but not by most Pop art. The guy who DID impress me (associated with Brit pop artists, but an American living in London and doing very different work) was Ron Kitaj. I went to a lecture he gave - bright, very learned and articulate guy. He said: "The idea that it is a novel concept to be concerned with the edges of the painting tetters on the brink of the absurd." His paintings then were montages with some very arcane references (in the catalogue) he also said: "Some books have pictures and some pictures have books." My pictures almost lead to books :-)

 

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 11:07:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kitaj had enormous influence, especially at the RCA, on people like Hockney.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 11:17:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow.  I think that's the first Rothko I've ever seen that I kind of liked...

Nevermind.  I don't like it.  

But the CCF!  How have I never heard of this?  Wow.  Just wow.  I mean I knew about rooting out commies, but I didn't know there was a real aesthetic counterpart to Stalin's Socialist Realism!  Wow.  Damn.  Is Mary arround?  We both attended an exhibit about Abstract Epressionism this winter, and maybe I was more interested in the art than the texts, but I don't remember anything about it being a CIA-funded anti-commie movement!

Today, records of the International Association for Cultural Freedom and its predecessor the Congress for Cultural Freedom are stored at the Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago's Library.

Well, that's rather convenient...

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 01:10:43 PM EST
Well that's American freedom for you :-) - some censorship, but the most effective is the self-censorship of the academics and critics who just decided NOT to look into this. It's not so hard to find out about it, IF you already have some clue about it and if you have the desire to know about stuff that isn't necessarily going to do your career any good.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 06:12:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably O/T...

Damon's Edward Wilson in The Good Shepherd is without doubt the most claustrophobic role I have ever seen in a film.  Damon played the part of an automaton, an inhuman, emotionless thing.  I went through the whole film waiting for some crisis point, some moment of catharsis when he would break, or crack, or lash out in some way, but he never did.  I left the movie disappointed, feeling almost cheated in some way.

We all bleed the same color.

by budr on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 02:38:49 PM EST
No you weren't cheated, that seems to have been the kind of person he was - you just didn't get what what Hollywood has encouraged you to expect - melodrama; all credit to Damon and De Niro for resisting that - itself another form of emphasis on the individual.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 06:08:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DeNiro was very good.  He has matured rather well I think.  And the scene with Matt Damon and Joe Pesci was exquisite.  It's worth seeing the film just for that scene.

The Good Shepherd


Joseph Palmi: Let me ask you something... we Italians, we got our families, and we got the church; the Irish, they have the homeland, Jews their tradition; even the niggers, they got their music. What about you people, Mr. Wilson, what do you have?

Edward Wilson: The United States of America. The rest of you are just visiting.



We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 08:08:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to be clear, I was referring to De Niro as director of the film rather than as actor in it, and here are some positive views of that and of Damon's performance:


 In her review for The New York Times, Manohla Dargis wrote, "The Good Shepherd is an origin story about the C.I.A., and for the filmmakers that story boils down to fathers who fail their sons, a suspect metaphor that here becomes all too ploddingly literal", but praised De Niro's direction: "Among the film's most striking visual tropes is the image of Wilson simply going to work in the capital alongside other similarly dressed men, a spectral army clutching briefcases and silently marching to uncertain victory".[8] Kenneth Turan, in his review for the Los Angeles Times, praised Matt Damon's performance: "Damon, in his second major role of the year (after The Departed) once again demonstrates his ability to convey emotional reserves, to animate a character from the inside out and create a man we can sense has more of an interior life than he is willing to let on".[9]

Time magazine's Richard Corliss also gave Damon a positive notice in his review: "Damon is terrific in the role - all-knowing, never overtly expressing a feeling. Indeed, so is everyone else in this intricate, understated but ultimately devastating account of how secrets, when they are left to fester, can become an illness, dangerous to those who keep them, more so to nations that base their policies on them".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good_Shepherd_(film)



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 10:05:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I knew that.  I was just, ah, seeing if you were paying attention.  Yeah, that's it.

We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 10:32:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A good source on the CIA's intervention in the post-WW2 art world is Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: the CA and the World of Arts and Letters (The New Press: 1999.)
by rootlesscosmo on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 03:56:03 PM EST
Good to know.  

Sounds more appealing than rooting about in 500 boxes of records...

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 04:22:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I thought of referring to that, but it was yet another complication - should I refer to the debate about it in the US? E.g.:


In his review of Frances Stonor Saunders's ''Cultural Cold War'' (April 23), Josef Joffe informs us that ''everybody who was anybody'' wrote for the journals Encounter and Der Monat, which were sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency. Among those who did not were Simone de Beauvoir, E. H. Carr, Isaac Deutscher, Eric Hobsbawm, Robert Maynard Hutchins, Thomas Mann, Pandit Nehru, Jean-Paul Sartre and C. Wright Mills. Indeed, some of these figures were criticized harshly in the journals for their failure to manifest cold war orthodoxy.

Joffe suggests that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 justifies the C.I.A.'s hidden subsidies to intellectuals. Had there been more discussion of alternative policies in the West, however, the wall might have fallen 20 years earlier. The C.I.A.'s ideological campaign may have prolonged the cold war.

Joffe is not without his doubts. He declares that the covert nature of the C.I.A.'s operation ''sticks in the craw.'' Yet he thinks those working with the C.I.A. were right to do so, since ''they believed in what they were doing.'' As an editor of a great European weekly, would Joffe think it compatible with his responsibilities to his colleagues and readers were he to collaborate, covertly, with the C.I.A. -- even in a good cause?

Norman Birnbaum

http://www.nytimes.com/2000/05/21/books/l-intellectual-espionage-225789.html



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 06:21:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rapallo has also housed Gore Vidal for many a season.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 04:23:59 PM EST
Actually it didn't, someone else suggested this to me, but in fact he had a villa in Ravello:


"GETTING to the front gate of the house in Ravello, on the Amalfi Coast, has taken time and effort. I false-started nearly 25 years earlier when I mistook Rapallo, on the Ligurian coast, for the lair of literary lion Gore Vidal. His hillside fastness is actually more than half a country, and half a day, away to the south."

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,22493592-5002031,00.html?from=public_rss



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 06:25:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. One hell of a mistake.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 06:15:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great writing!

I thought you were somehow to work in the Rapallo treaty somewhere.

The Treaty of Rapallo was an agreement made in the Italian town of Rapallo on April 16, 1922 between Germany (the Weimar Republic) and Soviet Russia under which each renounced all territorial and financial claims against the other following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and World War I.

The two governments also agreed to normalise their diplomatic relations and to "co-operate in a spirit of mutual goodwill in meeting the economic needs of both countries".

The Treaty was signed during the Genoa Conference by Georgi Chicherin, foreign minister of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic, and his German counterpart Walther Rathenau.

A supplementary agreement signed at Berlin on November 5 extended the treaty to cover Germany's relations with Russian controlled (or heavily influenced) Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Far Eastern Republic.

A secret annex signed on July 29 allowed Germany to train its military in Soviet territory, thus violating the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

(Btw, my Tribext has partially stopped working. Or at least the neat copy html and translate functions. Are there any known conflicts with other firefox extension?)

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 05:43:58 PM EST
Yes, I did consider that too, but it didn't really relate to the main issues I discussed, so I decided not to "work it in".

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue May 19th, 2009 at 06:26:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely fascinating diary and discussion.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 07:55:34 AM EST
Thanks CH.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 08:35:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
M. looks quite somber for someone about to partake of a 50€ meal. Maybe you should take her to a kabob joint once in a while and make her happy ;)

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 10:46:03 AM EST
As you know, the French take food VERY seriously - I often wish we didn't have to study the menus of a dozen restaurants before deciding on one :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 10:55:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way-nice photos!

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 11:28:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed James Jesus was a fascinating scoundrel who left his mark on Italy. His father was honorary head of the Milan Chamber of Commerce under fascism and it is no doubt the Angletons harboured sympathy for Mussolini. James is specially remembered here for having saved the potential war criminal Valerio Borghese, head of the infamous Decima Mas, that plundered and terrorized Northern Italy during the Salo Republic to the point the Nazis couldn't stand him. Captured by the Allies, James Jesus cross-dressed with him and drove him to Rome where he found safe haven.

Valerio Borghese continued throughout the first decades of the Italian Republic to foster subversive fascist organizations and plot coup d'etats. He is allegedly responsible for the Mayday massacre of Portella della Ginestra in connivance with the Sicilian outlaw Salvatore Giuliano. Regarded by some as the first act of the Cold War, the massacre became a template for further terrorist actions throughout the first decades of the republic.

Curious that Valerio Borghese had plotted to blow up the Empire State Building in the early phases of the Second World War- a latter day Osama. James Jesus perhaps felt that by winning Borghese to the imminent conflict with the USSR, he could tampon the fascist terrorism in liberated territories. The fascist terrorist organizations went on to collaborate with US counter-intelligence in the supply of arms to Israeli insurgents. Borghese actually taught terrorist tactics to the then Israeli subversive movements and is alleged to have supplied logistics in the destruction of the King David Hotel.

Borghese's organizations have been considered behind a number of unsolved high profile murders in Italy.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 12:59:44 PM EST
Fascinating stuff, thanks.

Borghese - quite a name:


Borghese is the surname of a family of Italian noble and papal background, originating in Siena as the Borghese or Borghesi, where they came to prominence in the 13th century holding official offices under the commune. The head of the family, Marcantonio I moved to Rome in the 16th century and there, following the election (1605) of his son Camillo Borghese as Pope Paul V who was an unabashed nepotist, they rose in power and wealth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borghese

By weird coincidence - last night on my way to jazz i had a drink near the port at - Café Borghese ! :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:27:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
great diary, Ted.

art, politics, skullduggery, history, wonderful pix, quintessential ET.

...and now i know why i found abstract expressionism quite soulless.

it was a weapon...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 02:12:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry for getting to this fine diary so late, Ted.  I had always wondered why I so liked much of German Expressionism but was left totally perplexed and untouched by American Abstract Expressionism.  Now I have a better idea.  It is not only my poorly developed knowledge of art.

Interestingly, two of my favorite historians, E.H. Carr and Eric Hobsbawm, are on the list of those who never participated in CIA front organizations.  I suspect that the reasons ran in both directions.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 09:52:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German Expressionism and American Abstract Expressionism are really quite different, and not just in political ways.  I too am a great fan of the former - not so much of the latter.

Related, I highly recommend Kracauer's "From Caligari to Hitler" to anyone remotely interested in German Expressionism.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 11:35:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Couldn't agree more about the Expresionissims.  I had sort of put the differences down to the Abstract part. In this case the abstraction was apparently away from genuine feeling--always a dangerous thing, especially to authoritarians.  "We will tell you what you should feel."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 11:54:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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