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Australian Artists of the Right
Norman Lindsay, Part II

6,247 words

Part 2 of 2 (Part 1)

Homosexuality not conducive to creativity

Norman rejected the faddish view that homosexuality is associated with the creative individual. He regarded homosexuality as “destructive” to the creative impulse, which is based on unisexuality. He stated that the male homosexual is dominated by a split of either all-male or all-female:

Normally sexed men and women are bi-sexual; each is both man and woman. . . . It is the content of femininity in the male which makes a bridge of understanding with the woman, and the content of masculinity in the woman makes the same sympathetic bridge with the man. . . . Applied to the creative problem, it means that Shakespeare can be both Antony and Cleopatra as he reveals the emotional and mental states of each in their speech and actions.

In the Greek concept of bi-sexuality, the Daemon of the man is feminine, and the Daemon of the woman masculine. With Socrates, the Daemon is a living entity; an invisible presence, coming to his aid when a decision must be made in the conflict of existence. With modern psychology the Daemon is the subconscious. I prefer to affirm the Greek concept of this guiding principle, not only because it confirms that of Yeats’ Gate Keepers[1] but because I utterly reject the Freudian concept of the subconscious dominating the action of the conscious. Only a Jew could have conceived such a transfiguration of the Hebrew God, Jehovah, for it transfers omnipotence to the subconscious, making the conscious its feeble subject, no longer morally responsible for its behaviour. Worse even than that, it gave its authority to the underworld of art in its attack on all established values in creative art; the most salient evidence of the Dark Age we have endured for half a century.

The homosexual has no Daemon, being either all man or all woman. He has no power therefore to dramatise internal conflict, from which all creative concept of life is derived. He can only strive to externalise that conflict by play-acting the parts of male and female, but intensity of emotion can’t be inspired from such a febrile source. A homosexual may have technical excellence in the practice of an art, but he has no power to weld all its component parts into a symphonic unity.[2]

While Lindsay rejects psychoanalysis as typically “Jewish” and, like his brother Lionel in Addled Art, regarded it as having a degenerative effect on art, Jung’s concept of anima and animus came to similar conclusions. To Jungian psychology, likewise, homosexuality was regarded as an imbalance between anima and animus.

Christianity and Communism

While Lindsay, as a Nietzschean, rejected Christianity, he viewed the Catholic Church as having often been more political than merely interfering in the “creative effort”; yet such could not be said at the start for the Reformation and the consequent Puritanism. So long as the great artists did their share of portraying Christian themes, they were free, for example, to depict Greek mythology, and its gods and satyrs:

The Reformation smashed that fine spirit of tolerance in life and art, letting loose as it did the virulent hatreds of Puritanism. And in return, forcing Puritanism on the Catholic Church in defence against the anarchy of Protestant creeds, all fighting among themselves for the possession of the only true God, and seeking to impose their taboos on all freedom of mind or self-expression in the arts.[3]

Norman sees something good arising out of the religious conflict, as he saw it prompting all higher minds to reject Christianity regardless of creed, and in a historic pendulum, he wrote, creativity swung from Catholic to Protestant states though the loosening of religion. Like Nietzsche, he saw Christianity as akin to Communism, and both as arresting the development of civilization. Norman was here taking a cue from Nietzsche, who wrote of the revival of the Classical ideal of the Renaissance, only to succumb to “the thoroughly plebeian ressentiment movement (German and English) called the Reformation . . .”[4] The former religious conflicts had been replaced by rivalry between Communism and the Church. Norman wrote:

Civilisations are not created by creeds and codes, religious or political. They are the product of a very small central core in a people of inspired minds; thinkers, law givers, poets, artists, craftsmen, strong men of action as leaders in conflict with other peoples; in short, all that makes for creating a stable state of existence out of primitive chaos.

In this present conflict between Catholic and Communist, it is the Communist who is the most relentless doctrinist, for where the Catholic merely pronounces anathema against the apostate, and ejects him from the corporate body of the Church, the Communist puts him up against a wall and shoots him.[5]

In the midst of the Cold War, Norman did his part as an artist for The Bulletin, as he had for the propaganda of the two World Wars. He saw Russian Communism as an unleashed brute, without civilization, while the stability of government that had been bequeathed by the Romans and had once been maintained by Britain was now being sustained by the United States.

Race and Revolt

Norman does not say much about “race” in Creative Effort. It was a Nietzschean epistle to the two percent that comprise the Culture-bearing stratum. By this, he meant Indo-European, since he did not consider the creative impulse to be as notable among Orientals, Jews, or Africans. To the Russians, he accorded some level of civilization prior to Bolshevism, but the technology of the Soviet Union he considered as having been derived from the West.[6]

Norman had worked for The Bulletin, the seminal periodical for the development of an Australian consciousness, for twenty-seven years, and many of his drawings depicted the “Yellow Peril.” In Scribblings, Lindsay was more explicit. Among his musings on race, a chapter on “staticism” and “static man” not only reflects his Nietzschean outlook on the difference between the “Existence” of mass man and the “Life” of the Culture-bearing two percent, but also the existence of static races. The Australian aborigine was a “static” race, but here there are no judgements intended, for that has been the perfect condition for the continuation of the Aborigine. In comparing the static lower classes of white Australia to the static race of the Aborigine, one sees that the latter was in a vastly better place, unburdened by civilization, whose discontent periodically breaks out as revolution. It is this “revolt of the underman” that social and political psychologists such as Gustave Le Bon,[7] Max Nordau,[8] and Lothrop Stoddard[9] had examined, and which Nietzsche had referred to as being motivated by ressentiment,[10] which included not only socialism but Christianity as proto-bolshevism.[11] For Norman the ressentiment of static, inert man within civilization remained a primary danger, poised for periodic bloodlusts against the Culture-bearing stratum.

Norman did not counsel democratic tolerance for revolutionary leaders. He would not have accorded any sympathy for Nelson Mandela. He wrote of the atavistic revolt against the creative minority that:

There is one factor in the automatic pendulum swing between energy and inertia to which I will not concede any tolerance, and that is the forerunner of revolution which gives it the good conscience to begin by cutting all the throats of Higher man that it can get hold of. Two examples of those forerunners are Rousseau and Marx. Those gentry know very well what they are about, submerging a hatred for life under the mask of love for man.[12] I am sure that Rousseau was the portent which frightened Sam Johnson against meddling with the affairs of man in the mass, which he would have had to do if he had attacked the intellectual inertia of his period. For even the highest minds may be lured into meddling with the affairs of the rabble, as Plato did with his New Republic, and Nietzsche with his Superman, which Hitler took over as his destined role in comic publications for children. It is hard even for philosophers to get through this human madhouse without getting their feet into that sort of mud.

As for the Lenins and Stalins who rush in when the pendulum swing of energy goes over to the mob, and whoop it into a frenzy of wholesale murder, I reject tolerance for them also. Humanism claims that the rich brought down that nemesis on themselves by their indifference to the sufferings of the poor, and that an abstract law of justice is at work here. That may be true, where that law refers to the economic problem of the human belly. But quite another law is involved where the problem shifts to the cultured section of the human race. That a superior class of people, graceful in their behaviour, responsive to the arts, alive to the sense of beauty – in short, the civilised minority of any people – should be massacred by a brutal and mindless mob is a revolting spectacle, and not to be condoned by any abstract law of justice.[13]

 Not by me, anyway. And though it seems fantastic to assume that the penal laws of earth might operate elsewhere, I can’t think of any other system which could restrain the revolutionary leader from making trouble in the human rabble into which he is ejected. Like every other unit of it, he does not cease to be the thing he is by being transported into another degree of space. Since he carries with him the sort of mentality that makes him a revolutionary, its compulsions will be intensified rather than lessened. He is basically a bad brute while on earth and will be one on leaving it.[14]

Today, this ressentiment against civilization has taken on racial characteristics through migrations not evident in Lindsay’s day. Spengler saw a two-pronged revolutionary attack on Western civilization, writing of these in The Hour of Decision as the “colored world revolution” and the “white world revolution,” by which he meant class war within the West, although Norman does not seem to have been aware of Spengler. He concludes regarding the Aborigine:

From what I have read of him, and observed myself, I don’t doubt that he is the survival of a long past civilisation, destroyed by cataclysm. His genesis does not go back to a black-skinned primitive people, such as the Negroid African races. . . . Moreover, among pure-bred Aboriginals individual face-formations of the European type are to be found; a little coarsened externally, but with a civilised bone structure under them. My friend, Rayner Hoff, the sculptor, modelled a number of Aboriginal heads and he told me that the measurements of their skulls conformed to a classical canon of proportions. . . .[15]

Lindsay is here referring to the “Lost Continent of Lemuria,” and discusses this in the next chapter on Atlantis. He is perhaps influenced by Theosophy when he states that the Aborigine was “the last lingering survival” of Lemuria.[16] He is suggesting the then still widespread notion that the Aborigine is an “archaic Caucasoid.”

The greatest branches of civilization, stated Lindsay, were the Greek, Latin, and Indian. These provided the basis for whatever followed, and emanated in migrations from Atlantis in the north. Admixtures between these Atlanteans and those they encountered resulted in the formation of other races. “The highest intellectual content of the migrants was in the white race, which is still the dominating power in our present civilisation.”[17] Lindsay refers to the theory of Jürgen Spanuth, which held that Atlantis was submerged in the Baltic Sea,[18] although Lindsay does not ascribe the German or Scandinavian race to the Atlanteans. Norman contends that the Atlantean scientists had discovered all that is now regarded as “modern,” and that whatever has since been discovered is actually a rediscovery of what was known millennia ago; an “eternal recurrence.” In addition to the Earth’s cataclysms, including atomic apocalypse, “The revolution which destroyed the Atlantean empire was a communist uprising of the lower orders.” The lesson is that: “If it is a civilisation worth preserving, it will be preserved. And only a Renaissance of the creative faculties in Art can make it worth preserving.”[19]

The Negro

Norman saw the Negro in the United States as a major problem. While the Australian Labor Party had been subverted and pressured to drop the White Australia immigration policy as a primary principle in 1965, it was not until 1972 that steps were taken to destroy this bedrock of Australian nationhood.[20] Norman’s views on race were not controversial in the Australia of the 1960s. Of the Negro problem in the US, he wrote:

Of all the mass imbecilities which have demoralised mankind, this of racial equality between all peoples, White, Black, Red and Yellow, is the most inane. Politically, it has already stirred up all the minor races into a state of belligerence and discontent which will impose minor wars on the dominant nations for years to come. But when it comes to racial integration between the White and Black races, sanity has descended to the looney bin of the impossible, because the intermixture of blood between those races must degrade the White race to the level of the Negro and cannot raise the Negro to the level of the White. Where today we see some evidence of the effect of education on the Negro it is the White blood in him that stirs some animation in his sluggish mental faculties, but the Negro pure, as he exists in Africa, cannot be educated even up to the standard of the lowest content of the White race. He may learn to parrot all the political and sociological clichés of today, but unless he is buttressed by the White race, and policed by it, he must relapse back to the jungle, which is his predestined habitat.[21]

While Norman gave scant attention to race in Creative Effort, the epoch of “black civil rights,” “decolonization,” and white scuttle, which was unimaginable in 1926, seems to have prompted him to address the issue. He sees the issue with the Negro as one of biology in his reference to “blood,” which is obviously meant here in a genetic sense rather than as a metaphysical quality in the Spenglerian or Evolian sense:

There appears to be an illusion today that this age is the first one in which the Negro has come into contact with a White civilisation, and so had a chance to benefit by its cultural and sociological ordinances. This is not the case. Since the genesis of this present civilisation some six or seven thousand years ago, the Negro has had contact with many past episodes of civilisation, but always, as each subsided, he has relapsed back to the jungle. The other three races, White, Yellow and Red, have devised their own civilisations, and have maintained them through the ages, but it is only in quite recent years that the Negro has come into relations with them. As in the past, his status has been one of slavery, because he has never been able to compete culturally with their achievements in the arts and crafts and intellectual standards. Nor can he compete today with those same achievements, because he utterly lacks the creative faculty: he has no thumbs. The only thing he ever learned to do was to smelt iron ore and hammer out his spear heads. That weapon was essential to the preservation of his existence in his tribal wars, and his food derived from wild animals able to defend themselves with teeth and claws.[22]

Lindsay here places the Negro in a position that cannot proceed beyond what was described in Creative Effort as “Existence,” as distinct from “Life”:

Save for the Chinese, and other Asiatic peoples, all other civilisations were generated on the shores of the Mediterranean and the Negro penetration of them was very slight, except, perhaps, with the Egyptians, who were themselves a dark coloured race, but with no relation to the Negroid peoples. Only the Moors and Arabs, because of their geographical contiguity with Africa, have kept up the slave trade with Negroes, but sexual union with them was strictly prohibited. Or impossible for that matter. By a very simple clinical ritual, the Negro became a harmless guard and menial to the Harem. It is only since the colonisation of Africa by the British, Dutch, French and Belgian peoples that the Negro has become a momentous world problem within the last two decades. The British, French and Belgian peoples solved it for themselves by handing their colonies over to the Negroes. The Dutch could not do that. They had been so long in South Africa that they had built up another white race there—the Boers. And there, the world may be assured, they will remain, and the Negro will not be permitted racial equality with them. What must happen shortly between those peoples is already predestined. The only other country on which the full weight of the Negro falls is America.[23]

Lindsay is alluding to the use of Negro eunuchs by the Moors. His assumption that Moors did not interbreed with Negroes, despite the views of other race theorists, is correct; we now know through DNA population studies that there was not widespread miscegenation in North Africa, and that Arabs are no more of Negroid descent than Portuguese or Sicilians. The “Negro problem” arose during Lindsay’s time due to white scuttle from Africa, but it was still not evident that the character of the problem would be that of Africa coming to Europe, including Britain. The real significance of white scuttle was that the imperial states had shown their lack of will and inner decay. Norman’s assurance that the Afrikaner was made of sterner stuff and would not succumb seemed assured in the 1960s. Dr. Verwoerd, the last great statesman of white Africa, was assassinated the same year as Scribblings was published (1966).

And the Politician’s solution to it of race integration is a desperation measure which never can succeed, as the politicians themselves know, but at present, they dare not do anything about it, for President Johnson won the presidential campaign by handing himself over to the largest section of the community to command the vote, just as Roosevelt did to capture the presidential chair. We know that section, which is the pestilential problem of all peoples who seek to keep a sane balance of rationality in the conduct of their political and sociological affairs. In Australia, we call them Wowsers – a stigma word which Mencken incorporated in his American Language, but as yet Americans have not adopted it. A stigma word has great power.

“The Wowser”

Continuing his chapter on “The Negro,” Norman addresses the situation in the US at a time of enforced desegregation. He uses the term “Wowser,” a word coined in Australia, to define the liberal moralizer whose good intentions lead to hell. He sees this do-goodism as having sapped the whites’ will, and it might be compared to Nietzschean concepts of “slave morality” undermining “master morality” as a weapon. Martin Luther King used this successfully.

Lindsay shows here a preoccupation with the Cold War, and how easily bamboozled the Right was in how it saw the ideological and geopolitical conflict between the US and the USSR. Lindsay was a Cold Warrior because of his aversion to Communism, assuming that the USSR was the citadel of the world revolution. While seeing the dominance of the “Wowser” in American politics, he nonetheless lauds Australian involvement in the Vietnam War, and clearly saw President Johnson’s strategy as a revival of the white man’s will against the colored, the same President who had enacted the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965:

In America the Wowser is the self-elected Dogooder – the temperance crank, the Purity Leaguer, the anti-saloon leaguer, the Comstock bookshop smasher and picture slasher; in short, that chapel product of the cheap suburbs and the rural back blocks which seeks to impose its own horrible codes and doctrines on all that makes life tolerable for well constituted humanity. They are the people who imposed Prohibition on America and very nearly wrecked the country. In Russia, they were largely responsible for the Revolution by cutting off the people’s need for liquor during the 1914 war. They are the Pacifists – the peace at any pricers, the appeasers at any threat of war which thereby makes it inevitable by inviting aggression from piratically inclined nations. They are today trying to cripple Johnson’s handling of the Viet Nam war: the finest piece of statecraft since the great days of England as a world power, when half a dozen words from Lord Salisbury was enough to send Russia scuttling back from the Oxus. It is a great pleasure to know that our men are fighting with the Yanks, and that more are being trained to follow, if needed.

It is the Wowser, then, to use one stigma term for a generic type common to America, England, and Australia, who is doing all the mischief today by inflating the Negro with a state of megalomania which convinces him that he is the victim of monstrous injustice by the white peoples, and all revenges on them are his by right of martyrdom. And that revenge he will take whenever he has power to do so.

We must concede him injustice so far in that the Whites have invaded his country and taken possession of large sections of it. In the past, they made a commodity of him in the slave market. Those same Whites have now handed back to him the sections of country they had occupied and have freed him from slavery. Justice can go no further than that.

But America, swung off a sane balance of rationality by the maudlin sentimentality of the Wowsers for the assumed sad lot of the Negroes, has allowed its politicians to establish them in equal civil and social rights with the Whites. They have ordained that the white children must consort intimately with the black offspring from infancy to adolescence, and that alone insures sexual intimacy between the two races. That American mothers – always so passionately possessive over their young – should have allowed them to do such a noxious thing is evidence that they are too dazed by the bulldozing tactics of the politicians to realise its inevitable consequences. It is assumed that education will dispose of the physiological compulsions inherent in all such propinquity of the human species.[24]

Lindsay does not see “education” as the universal panacea. Education cannot cultivate what is not latent. He sees the race issue as a genetic problem; an argument about the development of the frontal cortex of the brain differing between races. He sees the Wowser assumptions about education and rising expectations among the Negroes as agitating conflict when the promises of the Wowser do not accord with reality. A “universal state of mind among the Negro,” expressed in rioting, will worsen as the Negro becomes agitated through the failure of those promises to eventuate. What would emerge is the revolt of ressentiment, in Nietzschean terms:

Education! This age has become besotted over its assumed potentialities to perform a universal miracle, which is that text books alone can create a civilisation. It ignores the irrefutable evidence that only a civilised mind can be educated. Education is nothing more than a procedure for exercising intellectual faculties which are a content of the mind at birth. It has taken the white race six thousand years to develop those special faculties on which all civilisations have been built. The craftsman’s fingers, the musician’s ear, the artist’s hand and eye, the scientist’s investigation of all natural phenomena are inherited from progenitors who have left behind them the brain cells, and the muscular reflexes essential to all creative effort. And it is now assumed that education, in a generation or two, will allow the wretched Negro to develop those special faculties and so allow him to compete on equal terms with the White race as a civilised being. Imbecility can go no further than such a preposterous assumption.

Already the Negro mass is in a vicious state of resentment because it has not straightway been vested in all the rights and privileges of the Whites. The Los Angeles episode is a sufficient evidence of a universal state of mind among the Negroes. And that is only the beginning of the trouble. When he finds that the higher-class whites will not consort with him on equal terms, and that there is no place for him among the trained working class, no police force in the world will be adequate to control him.[25]

Norman assumed that white Americans would rebel. His optimism in this regard seems at odds with his perception that ninety-eight percent of mass man is static. Because Americans rejected Prohibition with gusto, he assumed that they would be as passionate about their race as they were about their drinking. Again, uncharacteristic optimism, but at the time, who realized that desegregation, like imperial scuttle, was a primary aim of plutocracy, for which the Wowser was merely a stooge?[26] Lindsay here hints at open revolt, and there were signs of it during his time, such as the gasbaggery of George Wallace and other Southern politicians, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, and the Citizens Councils, all put down with ease by the FBI and federal troops, bayonets drawn:[27]

Americans are not a docile people when politicians impose arbitrary interdictions on the free conduct of their civic rights and their private lives. The politicians’ failure to inflict Prohibition on the American people is evidence of what they must expect by this proposal to impose racial integration with the Negroes on them. It only required an adjustment of the legal code to dispose of Prohibition, but no such adjustment can solve the Negro problem for them. There is only one possible solution to that, but I am not going to take it on myself to suggest it. It must be already pregnant in the minds of all higher class American thinkers today.[28]

Race Conflict

The concerns of Lindsay with the Chinese and the Indonesians were widespread among Australians until comparatively recently. The pioneer Australians saw the “Yellow Peril” as part of capitalism. It carried over into the war with Japan. The Australia of the Cold War saw the prospect of Asiatic invasion from decolonized Indonesia, and the rise of a very bellicose China.

Lindsay, in Cold War mode, saw the alliance with the US as part of a geopolitical race conflict. He saw the alliance as racial and cultural, founded on a common legacy of Americans and Australians who were largely descended from the British race, and both having sought independence from the Mother Country. He saw civilization as reliant on the ascendancy of English culture, and the mantle for maintaining that supremacy not as Britain, but as the US:

A hundred years ago Browning forecast the point in time at which we stand today. At that point, the future is already predestined by us. The test is yet to come which may ensure that our works have the energy to carry on into the coming generation. That must be involved in the political problems facing both America and Australia, enforced on them by their geographical situation in the Pacific. The eternal conflict principle between the nations has shifted there also, and is no longer one of nations, but of races. In short, between the white Western peoples and the yellow Asiatics of the East.

Those are already in a ferment, stirred up by the Chinese Communists. Australia, with a coastline bordering on that of Indonesia, will bear the brunt of their attack, in an alliance already made with America and American men of action have taken it over. There won’t be any European vacillations over what to do in the event of a threatened war. The American mind is not built that way. One has only to look at the faces of the men in control of affairs in America to see living portrait busts of Romans of the Imperial Augustan age.

But more important than the political bridge between our countries is the sympathetic bridge between their cultures. And that, too, is being built by exchanges between universities in lecturers, and by the activities between publishers. We, in Australia, have an intimate knowledge of American literature, while America knows hardly anything of ours. And, strange as it may appear, Australia owes one of its important initial expressions in literature to two American writers, Mark Twain and Brett Hart.

It was the coincidence of the Californian and Australian goldfields that brought Brett Hart into prominence here, with his Luck of Roaring Camp short stories, which gave the impetus to Edward Dyson’s Below and On Top stories of the mining days, for in his youth he had worked as a trucker in some of the biggest deep sinkings. Henry Lawson was writing his stories of the Outback at the same time, but the idiom of both writers was that of Mark Twain’s innocently ironic deadpan accent on humour. . . .

In the exchanges of national egos we in Australia are much closer to the American than to the English. For myself, I have never met an American with whom I was not at ease after ten minutes’ talk with him, while I believe that the only Englishman with whom I could exchange talk in equal terms of understanding was Max Beerbohm. To an Englishman an Australian is a Colonial – an inferior being, and always will be. At the back of his mind he is still of Doctor Johnson’s opinion on America when he wrote his Taxation No Tyranny. Is it worth noting here that in the Roman Augustan age which produced all that is great in Roman literature, of all its literary notabilities, Suetonius was the only born Roman – all the rest were either Colonials or Provincials?

No matter for that. The English, because they are of the Roman genus, have been the greatest civilising power since the Roman Empire. And that power is still vindicated in the English language. That is the sympathetic bridge between all English speaking people. And the future of world civilisation rests on maintaining that bridge.[29]

Norman saw Roman qualities reborn in the American. He saw the Augustan Roman in the portraits of American politicians, yet in the same chapter had stated that the American state relied on pandering to the sentiment of “Wowsers.” What Americans was he thinking of in whom he could see Roman qualities is not known to me. President Johnson? Robert Weaver? Nicholas Katzenbach? Dean Rusk? For a Nietzschean who, for most of his long life, had expressed contempt for those who cannot rise above mere “Existence” to see an imperial and racial Life-impulse in American leaders is perplexing, and seems to have been shaped by the Cold War and the war against Asians in Indo-China. Would he have thought differently had he lived to see the ignoble scramble of the Americans from Vietnam? Would he have seen the US’s “war on terror” in terms of the world race-war?

Norman was prescient in predicting a geopolitical shift to the Pacific and the threat from China, which is happening before us now. But would he have also still seen the US as a “great white hope”? Would he still be able to discern any vestige of the Old American that he had seen in Mark Twain? In discussing “Post-Impressionism” and its influence on American culture, as a yardstick for testing the cultural depravity of a nation, Norman had written that “America proved to be a great fighting nation once roused,”[30] but there was little one could say for its culture during the decades preceding the war. “And the depressing thing was that America bought Post-Impressionist rubbish by the cartload, and apparently still does, to judge by the examples of it which constantly appear in its otherwise reputable journals.”[31]

He likewise castigated the US for continuing to regard Paris as the center of world culture. Did he not notice, as his brother Lionel had in Addled Art, that the center of culture-depravity had shifted to New York, and further, that Abstract Expressionism was being promoted across the world as “official American (democratic) art” by David Rockefeller, the CIA, and the US State Department? He seems to have been blinded by his ongoing contempt for the French, as he had been for the Germans. Would he have seen anything of aesthetic merit in today’s US? In his day, he saw Andrew Wyeth as the sole redeeming artist in America. Indeed, his discovery of Wyeth’s art provided Norman with grounds for optimism.[32] Perhaps Trump would have given him renewed hope?

Conclusion: “Form” as the Aesthetics and Ethos of the Right

Norman always said that he was not interested in ideologies, doctrines, or politics. These were for lesser minds. His excursion into geopolitics and race conflicts in his old age was based on his concern that the aesthetics of “higher man” should be passed on by the two percent of the world’s Culture-bearing stratum. Yet, there is much about Scribblings that compelled him to descend into herd quagmire politics.

Likewise, in defining his aesthetics, he was faced – like his brother Lionel in Addled Art – with confronting the modern era and juxtaposing his aesthetics with that of the depravity of the epoch. Norman once listed the contrasts between his aesthetic and “Post-Impressionism,” which has a wider application and relevance:

Traditional Art Post-Impressionist Art
Absolute Form. Formlessness.
Constructive integration of forms.

Disintegration of forms.

Lucidity of Theme. Obscurantism of Theme.
Harmonic unity. Tone dispensed with. Colour an arbitrary discordance of pigments.
Careful training in craftsmanship.  No training at all.
Technical dexterity and practised knowledge of the medium used. Technical dexterity and practised knowledge dispensed with.
Concretion of external reality in the relation of Seeing and Knowing. Hieroglyphic abstractions having no relation to reality, or to seeing and knowing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tradition, order, harmonic unity, craftsmanship, realism – each of these aesthetic elements also constitute the ethos of a Rightist society, socially, economically, and politically. Despite his desire to remain detached from mass society and its politics and doctrines, Norman Lindsay’s philosophy provides depth and breadth for the concerns of that element among the ninety-eight percent that is intermediate between mass/static man and the culture-bearing two percent. For what is the “Right” other than a yearning for the “Life” impulse described by Norman Lindsay, striving to reach beyond amoebic-like Existence?

Notes

[1] Referring to the “Gate Keepers” postulated by W. B. Yeats, as the nexus between the individual and the divine, which Yeats referred to as adepts, guides, inspirers, and protectors of artists. This is discussed by Lindsay.

[2] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind (Melbourne: Lansdowne Press, 1966), “Homosexuality.”

[3]Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “The Catholic Church.”

[4] Friedrich Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, cited by Thomas Common, Nietzsche as Critic, Philosopher, Poet and Prophet (London: Grant Richards, 1901), pp. 128-129.

[5] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “The Catholic Church.”

[6] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “The Catholic Church.”

[7] Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1977).

[8] Max Nordau, Degeneration (New York: Appleton & Co., 1895).

[9] Lothrop Stoddard, The Revolt Against Civilization (London: Chapman & Hall, 1922).

[10] Friedrich Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, cited by Thomas Common, Nietzsche, p. 129.

[11] See: K. R. Bolton, The Psychotic Left: From Jacobin France to the Occupy Movement (London: Black House Publishing, 2013).

[12] For a psychohistorical analysis of Rousseau, Marx, et al, see Bolton, The Psychotic Left.

[13] Might not one question, however, the value of this “aristocracy” when it becomes so corrupted, depraved, and effete that its continuation as a supposed “aristocracy” is a historical travesty, and more so when the “ruling elite” is based on nothing other than speculative wealth? Hence, Lindsay even departed from Nietzsche in seeing nothing but baseness in Napoleon, whereas Nietzsche saw Napoleon, in the aftermath of the French Revolution, as “a last indicator pointing out the other road . . . the most unique and belated man that has ever existed . . . the problem of the noble ideal in itself . . . Napoleon, the synthesis of brute and overman.” (Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, cited by Thomas Common, p. 129).

[14] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “The Revolutionary.”

[15] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “Static Man.”

[16] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “Atlantis.”

[17] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “Atlantis.”

[18] Jürgen Spanuth, Atlantis of the North (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1979).

[19] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “Atlantis.”

[20] See K. R. Bolton Babel Inc.: Multiculturalism, Globalisation and the New World Order (London: Black House publishing, 2013), p. 28.

[21] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “The Negro.”

[22] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “The Negro.”

[23] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “The Negro.”

[24] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “The Negro.”

[25] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “The Negro.”

[26] Funding for Martin Luther King, for example, came personally from Nelson Rockefeller, and federal agencies provided joint projects for King’s organizations.

[27] The potential leader of an actual revolt, General Edwin Walker, was thrown into a lunatic asylum in 1962 on orders from Attorney General Robert Kennedy because of his leadership in resisting the desegregation of the University of Mississippi. His reputation was eventually consigned to the toilet.

[28] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “The Negro.”

[29] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “And What Now?”

[30] After Pearl Harbor.

[31] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “Post-Mortem on Post-Impressionism.”

[32] Norman Lindsay, The Scribblings of an Idle Mind, “Post-Mortem on Post-Impressionism.”

Related

3 Comments

  1. vagrantrightist
    Posted December 11, 2018 at 3:40 am | Permalink

    Wonderful. Insightful. It’s always a joy to learn about such people – writing years ago, but what they have written decades before reflects exactly how you feel today… it’s a like a weight being relieved from your shoulders. But at the same time a little frustrating, because you think why was no one listening to them then? Why do we have to go through this insanity ? This needless pain and suffering ?

    I didn’t know anything about him until this article. But doing a search, I can see he’s a great artist too.

  2. nineofclubs
    Posted December 10, 2018 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    I was fortunate to catch the Norman Lindsay exhibition in Sydney in 1996. At that time, his artistic works were displayed without too much political judgement. I wonder whether the same exhibition would be shown today.
    Norman Lindsay was one of a number of thinkers who contributed to the canon of Australian nationalism. Others included the poet Henry Lawson and individuals like WG Spence and William Lane.

    Thanks for the incisive article.

  3. Ambrose Kane
    Posted December 7, 2018 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Man, what little I’ve read of Norman Lindsay in these two articles makes me want to read more! Many of his thoughts are exactly the kinds of things I’ve thought of, except he expresses them with greater clarity and depth.

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