Enemigo mío.

‘Hatred is holy’, said Zola, who fought the enemies of Dreyfus not just from love of justice, but because he enjoyed fighting, and believed that he did not truly exist unless he was being attacked. So he rejoiced that he had made ‘pride and hate my two companions… I have felt younger and more courageous after each one of my revolts against the platitudes of my time… If I am worth anything today, it is because I stand alone and because I know how to hate.’ The more the two sides hated each other, the more they had in common, but that was ignored.

Anthropologists have found tribes which never fight, and which praise timidity, but they are not models to imitate, for they are obsessed by the fear of violence. Tribes have also been found which fights all the time, but which have to sustain their aggression by drugs or other stimuli; even cannibals are frightened by their own ferocity, and paradoxically drink the blood of their victims to calm themselves down, to liberate themselves from the feeling that they have become tigers.

Working onself up into a rage was once almost a form of art: ‘Sweeter by far than the honeycomb is wrath,’ said Homer. Divine fury used to be admired as heroic. In the last couple of centuries anger has lost its prestige; not that it is diminishing, but people are beginning to be ashamed of their anger. Nevertheless, an Australian enquiry- the only one of its kind- found that anger was experienced five times more frequently than sympathy.

So there has been little progress in the art of confronting enemies. Once an enemy is identified, propaganda now multiplies proofs of his depravity to reinforce the hostility, on the assumption that people find it gratifying to have their opinions confirmed. For example, John Foster Dulles, the US Secretary of State during the Cold War, when confronted with any new information about the URSS, systematically ignored anything that challenged his judgement of his opponent as an implacable and dishonest enemy. There is a firmly established tradition which encourages enemies to blind themselves to each other’s point of view. On this basis, war can continue for ever. And what helps it to continue is that private individuals are prisoners of attitudes of mind which make them seek out enemies, just like nations.

If you believed that there are people who despise you or wish you harm, if you have simmering inside you not just a fear of them, but a loathing and a disgust at the very sight of them, if you are convinced that they and you are totally incompatible, then it may be that your deepest roots stretch back into ancient Persia, and that you are an unwitting disciple of the prophet Zarathustra, who lived in the tenth century BC. His recommendations on how to react to enemies are still widely followed, particularly in the West, even if he is remembered only because his priests, the Magi, visited the Infant Jesus. Until Zarathustra had the idea that there was only one true god, and that all other gods were really wicked and hateful demons, enemies were different from what the have become. It used to be silly to imagine that one had implacable enemies, when what happened was believed to depend on whims of a large number of gods and ancestor spirits, and one’s no need to hate those who harmed one, because magic and sacrifice and prayer were more practical ways of dealing with them. the most ancient divinities were thought of as having the power to be either helpful or nasty, and much depended on how one treated them. Zarathustra replaced that with the belief that life was a perpetual battle, that every individual was surrounded by enemies ruled over by Satan-the arch-enemy who hated one irrespective of what one did, just for being human.

Zarathustra put all the blame for the opposition which his prophesying aroused on Satan. Only wickedness could explain that opposition, he thought. Satan refused to understand him, told lies about him: Satan was The Lie. That is how the all-purpose scapegoat was born, and nothing has paralysed intelligence more than the search for scapegoats. There was no need to probe the motives or the difficulties of on’s enemies, once one learnt to spot Satan in them, and so to hate them. Several great religions took up the idea that it was a duty to fight Satan, who hid behind the people one disagreed with. Cardinal Newman wrote, ‘One must learn to hate before one can learn to love.’ Zarathustra explained how to find the right object for one’s hatred, whom to blame for every misfortune. In other respects, he was a prophet of generous instincts, whose ideal was that people should be peaceful and neighbourly; but he could not understand those who rejected his ideas; he could not understand disagreement.

Theodore Zeldin, An Intimate History of Humanity.

Infamia.

On 24 April 1895, while Wilde was in Holloway prison awaiting trial, the entire contents of his house in Tite Street, Chelsea were sold at the demand of his creditors. The Marquess of Queensberry, whom Wilde had unsuccesfully prosecuted for libel, had been awarded £600 legal costs, and it was his insistence on payment that led to the sale of Wilde’s goods.

Wilde’s effects were ‘sold by Auction, by Mr. Bullock, on the premises at one o’clock’. The cover of the sale catalogue advertised the choicest items on offer-‘portraits of celebrities’, Carlyle’s writing table’, ‘Old Blue and white China’ and a ‘library of valuable books’. Wilde had accumulated this collection of books since his adolescence, transporting the volumes between the various bachelor residences he occupied before he settled at 16 Tite Street in 1885 with his wife. There, he had set out the books on the shelves of his luxurious ground-floor library.

At the auction, Wilde’s ‘House Beautiful’ was plundered by a frenzied crowd of curiosity hunters who had come in search of mementoes of the ‘monster’. After his arrest on 5 April, on charges of ‘sodomy’ and ‘gross indecency’, Wilde had become the most notorious figure in England. During the sale, the white front door of No.16 was left open, giving the jostling crowds access to the house and licence to loot it. People pushed each other in a frantic attempt to help themselves to the finest items< some forced the locks on the rooms that had been shut up. A scuffle b roke out between a group of people and a number of Wilde's friends. The police were called in to quell the disturbance. Inside the library, just to the right of the house's entrance, the auctioneer's men took Wilde's books down from the shelves, then carted them out to the auctioneer. The sale was conducted right in front of the library window. Members of the public crowded the room, eyeing bargains and perhaps pocketing volumes that caught their aye. Piles of letters and manuscripts, that had been emptied out of Wilde's mahogany desk before it was carried outside, were strewn across the floor. Bidders pored over them, and riffled through Wilde's books, in a prurient search fro references to his 'crimes'. Wilde's large cast of the bust of Hermes, the greek God of liars and thieves, looked on at the mayhem from the corner of the room. In front of the house there was a pandemonium. The auctioneer was surrounded by a sea of bidders, comprised, in the main, of antique dealers and second-hand-book dealers who had come in search of bargains. They were not dissapointed. They had the opportunity of acquiring private letters and manuscripts, even though the public sale of these was illegal: they also had the chance of picking up Wilde's beautiful furniture and books at knock-down prices. The books were hastily bundled together and sold as job lots. Lot 114 consisted of 'about' one hundred unidentified French novels. Extremely personal items were auctioned off, such as first editions of Wilde's works that he had inbscribed to his wife and two sons. Wilde especially lamented the loss of his sumptuous éditions de luxe, and the ‘collection of presentation volumes’ he had received from ‘almost every poet of my time’. He also deeply regretted the dispersal of the ‘beautiful bound editions of his father’s and mother’s works’, and the ‘wonderful array’ of ‘book prizes’ that had been awarded to him as a student.

The volumes were sold for a song. The first lots fetched derisory sums, the last next to nothing. The hundred or so French novels that comprised lot 114 (which must have cost Wilde around five shillings each) went for the grand total of 35 shillings. Twenty-five beautifully bound volumes of the classics were knocked down at the price of an ordinary Victorian novel. The auctioneers’ men grouped the books indiscriminately, with little consideration of their value. Unique poresentation copies of Wilde’s own work were sold along with volumes on angling.

A surviving copy of this catalogue, which lists some of Wilde’s books, and which was annotated by a bidder, suggests that Wilde’s library contained around two thousand volumes, along with numerous magazines, periodicals, scrapbooks, photograph albums and parcels of manuscripts. The entire collection was sold for about £130-roughly the same as Wilde’s expenditure on food, drink, cabs and hotel rooms.

Most of the books went the way of a large paper edition of Wilde’s fairy tale collection The Happy Prince and Other Tales [1888], which bearss the inscription of the book dealer ‘H. Parsons of Brompton Road’. Parsons acquired it as part of lot 53, which included eight other extremely rare editions of Wilde’s works. He paid £8 and doubtless sold them on for at least five times the price.

Wilde hoped that his friends would buy some of the books on his behalf, but it is highly unlikely that they were able to out bid the dealers. A few did, however, manage to acquire certain volumes for him, when the dealers put them on the open market. One friend bought several books which he came across by chance in a shop on Chelsea’s Queen Road, with the intention of restoring them to their former owner. Other acquaintances, horrified by the idea that Wilde’s cherished volumes (some of them were adorned with extremely personal inscriptions) were being displayed in booksellers’ windows, purchased and eventually returned them to Wilde.

The overwhelming majority of the books were bought from dealers by individuals with no conection to Wilde, and, in time, sold on again to be scattered throughout the world. Wilde’s Tite Street library, which had taken over thirty years to build, was destroyed in a single afternoon.

When Wilde learned the fate of his books he was inconsolable.

Oscar’s Books. A journey around the library of Oscar Wilde, Thomas Wright.

Igual es que yo soy muy sensible para según qué cosas. Mi amiga Cristina me ha refrescado la memoria sobre este desastre de proporciones gigantescas.

Mi primer meme.

En respuesta a la invitación de Cristina.

Pasos:
1. Toma el libro que tengas más cerca.
2. Ábrelo en la página 161.
3. Busca la 5ª frase (completa).
4. Cita la frase en el blog.
5. Pásalo a otros 5 blogs.

The art of always being right, Arthur Schopenhauer.

Bueno, pongo dos párrafos para darle sentido a esa quinta frase (en negrita).

A last trick is to become personal, insulting, rude, as soon as you perceive that your opponent has the upper hand, and that you are going to come off worst.

It consists in passing from the subject of dispute, as from a lost game, to the disputant himself, and in some way attacking his person.

Iba a usar el libro que estoy leyendo pero no lo tenía cerca 🙂