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Jonathan Bowden’s Last Interview, Part 1

Bowden-new2387 words / 47:46

Part 1 of 2

Transcript here

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From February 23 to 27, 2012, Jonathan Bowden visited California to speak at a private Counter-Currents gathering in the Bay Area. On Sunday, February 26, after the official program had ended, Jonathan and I sat down in my breakfast room in front of a microphone and talked about philosophy, politics, religion, and above all art. This is, to my knowledge, the last interview Jonathan recorded. He died a little more than a month later on March 29, 2012.

Jonathan was very enthusiastic about this interview and pressed me to release it. But I set the recording aside, thinking that it needed a great deal of editing, as when we recorded it we were both rather tired at the end of a hectic weekend. After Jonathan died, I discovered to my horror that the flash drive on which the interview had been stored had been damaged. Luckily, after a long search, we found a person who could recover the information for a fee of $350 (we wish to thank one of our donors for putting up part of the cost; you can donate here).

Topics discussed include:

  • Jonathan’s life and education
  • Modern architecture: Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Modern painting
  • Jonathan’s vitalist standard of art appreciation
  • Ugliness in modernist and Christian art
  • Picasso
  • Francis Bacon
  • Dalí as the greatest modern painter
  • William Blake, Fuseli, Bosch, Grünewald, Bruegel, medieval manuscript illustrators
  • The beautiful vs. the sublime
  • Jonathan characterizes his fiction as intellectual Gothic horror
  • The purpose of literature
  • J. G. Ballard and other contemporary fiction writers
  • Flannery O’Connor
  • The grotesque and anti-Bourgeois style
  • David Lynch
  • Art and dreaming
  • Film as a medium
  • Favorite filmmakers: Syberberg, Tarkovsky, Riefenstahl, Michael Powell, film noir, early Fritz Lang, early Soviet cinema
  • Opera: Harrison Birtwhistle, Wagner, Alban Berg (Wozzeck, Lulu)
  • How Jonathan reconciles his artistic modernism with his Right-wing convictions
  • Elitism
  • Western high art under communism
  • Soviet art
  • The greatness of Soviet music
  • How external political limits on art do not necessarily destroy creativity but rather can encouraging it by limiting and focusing it
  • Favorite poets: Robinson Jeffers, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, Emily Dickinson

Part two of this interview will be released next Monday.

Greg Johnson


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  1. UFASP
    Posted January 18, 2013 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this, Mr. Johnson.

  2. Prince Blueblood
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    The comments-section on the interview with Robert N. Taylor is closed so I am writing here.

    I really liked the interview with Robert Taylor. I’ve listened to it twice now. I admire what he’s done in his life and I feel that I instantly get him when he talks.

    PS: I really liked the Bowden interview too for that matter. Why did he die and where can I find his horror prose?

  3. Drexler
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    You can always learn something new from listening to Bowden and you have to stand at the ready to do many google searches just to get through one of his interviews. I listened to his lecture on Syberberg years ago and subsequently watched some of “Hitler: A Film From Germany” which is available online, and remember spending almost an entire weekend listening to Bowden and subsequently delving for days into the subject of Syberberg and his films.

    Bowden tried, I think, to live his life as a form of total art or as a total aesthetic. Which is why his lectures (even those given at airport lounges on poor recording equipment) are great theatrical-educational performances in and of themselves. This is what he praises in Syberberg’s art. And which, I think, is a very dangerous form of living in this sullen age.

    Further, after revisiting the same Bowden lecture on Syberberg for this comment, I realize now how deep was Bowden’s plea that- if anything- we insist on reviving art, aesthetics, and spirit lest the Western soul die and whither from the world history it has made.

    This, I think, is the essence of conservative revolution.

  4. Posted January 9, 2013 at 4:49 am | Permalink

    I uploaded this to Youtube and linked back to here, incase you wanted at some point to make it the ‘vid of the day’ without having to pin it the the front page as other articles are posted.

    Thank you Greg and everyone at Counter Currents, as above…hopefully more of his inspiring work surfaces.

  5. Craig
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this interview. As someone who knew Bowden quite well, it’s nice to hear his voice again. I look forward to part two.

  6. CosmicSurfer
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Hi, thanks for uploading this. I made several enquiries at the London New Right to make public any Bowden material that wasn’t already out there…alas, many of his speeches don’t appear to have been recorded. Perhaps, in time, more will surface…

    Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Wise Blood’ is genius! (the film is good too).

    “Jesus ain’t nothing but a trick on n****s.”

  7. Avery
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    I loved Bowden’s YouTube speeches, but in his philosophy of art, he reveals his Nietzschean and anti-social side, which never struck a chord with me. I am especially struck by his exhortation to “put some realism back into the fantasy through surrealism and surrealness”. I’m struck by it because I don’t know what it means.

    It would be neat, though, for more traditionalists to speak openly about their preferences in art and music. I hope Bowden’s work lives on.

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