Z-siteA Companion to the Works of Louis Zukofsky
The bulk of this movement was composed from 5 Aug. 1935 – 21 Jan. 1937, excluding the concluding ballade (final 26 lines), which was composed March – 14 July 1937. The entire movement revised Oct. 1957; for revisions to the text, almost entirely deletions, see Textual Notes.
43.5 Labor as creator, / Labor as creature: a rewriting in Marxist terms of Spinoza’s famous distinction, “Nature as creator, Nature as created”; see 6.22.28-23.2. The specific pair of terms “creator” and “creature” may come from Dante, who LZ was reading assiduously during the 1930s. Cf. Purgatorio XVII.91-96, where Virgil begins an important passage (continued in the following canto) on the nature of love: “Nor Creator, nor creature, my son, was ever without love, either natural or rational; and this thou knowest. The natural is always without error; but the other may err through an evil object, or through too little or too much vigour” (trans. P.H. Wicksteed).
43.8 THREE HOURS / AGONY…: the Three Hours’ Agony (Tre Ore) is a service held from noon to 3pm on Good Friday to commemorate the Passion of Christ.
43.12 To provide the two Choirs the work demanded…: that is, for Bach’s St. Matthew Passion first performed in Leipzig on Good Friday, 15 April 1729; see 1.1.2. The various details of this performance through 44.9 are taken with only slight adaptation directly from Sanford Terry, Bach: A Biography 196-197.
43.18 Thomaskirche: St. Thomas Church in Leipzig where Bach’s St. Matthew Passion was first performed.
43.23 Thomasschule, University studiosi, / And members of Bach’s Collegium Musicum: the attached St. Thomas School, where Bach lived and worked, provided boys choirs for the major churches of Leipzig, although the St. Matthew Passion required further resources from the University (studiosi: It. scholars or students, in this case meaning university students) and the Collegium Musicum or Music Society, whose direction Bach took over in 1729, an orchestra of students and professional musicians who performed weekly public concerts.
44.2 High officials and well-born ladies…: through 44.9 from a report by Christian Gerber, one of Bach’s students, of what Terry assumes to be the first performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion: “Some high officials and well-born ladies in one of the galleries began to sing the first Choral with great devotion from their books. But as the theatrical music proceeded, they were thrown into the greatest wonderment, saying to each other, ‘What does it all mean?’ while one old lady, a widow, exclaimed, ‘God help us! ’tis surely an Opera-comedy!’” (Terry 197). This incident is alluded to in Bottom 61.
44.10 ‘Natural that Bach should enjoy himself…: from EP, Antheil and the Treatise on Harmony (1927); see Ezra Pound and Music 280.
44.12 And out of respect for what he said about Bach…: through 44.21 refers to EP; see somewhat different version of this passage in EP/LZ 155.
44.24 With impulse to master / music and related matters: see Terry’s biography of J.S. Bach: “[The biographer André] Pirro observes a parallel between the youthful Bach and his contemporary Leibniz. Guided by chance along the path of knowledge, each obeyed the imperative rein of curiosity, the impulse to master the completest knowledge of the subjects that engaged their interest” (48).
44.26 Others agonizing, inside…: from WCW, A Voyage to Pagany, describing Bach; see quotation at 1.4.17.
44.31 to hear sounds sweeter than by day: from Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice V.i: on hearing music from the house, Portia remarks: “Nothing is good, I see, without respect: / Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.”
45.2 Director Musices: although Bach’s official title at Leipzig was Cantor, this was his self-preferred title (Terry 177). Terry describes the ongoing struggle between Bach and his employers, the Town Council of Leipzig, as to the proper definition of his responsibilities and powers.
45.3 A short and much-needed statement…: through 45.23, the full title and brief extracts from a statement Bach addressed to his employers, the Council of Leipzig, dated 23 August 1730. Reproduced in full by Terry 201-204. Cf. description of Bach’s resources for performing the St. Matthew Passion at 43.12-24 and Bach letter at 21.491.33-492.8.
45.24 Friends too tired to see differences: see 6.22.2.
45.25 Marx dissociated: / “Equal right . . presupposes inequality…: through 46.2 from Lenin, State and Revolution (1918), quoting and commenting in detail on Marx’s remarks in the Critique of the Gotha Programme (1875) on the transition to socialism and finally to the realization of the higher stage of communism and the complete withering away of the state. LZ quotes the first part of the following passage in a 11 July 1936 letter to EP as an example of the ethical basis of Marxism (EP/LZ 198-199):
“‘Equal right (says Marx) we indeed have here; but it is “Bourgeois right,” which, like every right pre-supposes inequality. Every “right” is an application of the same measure to different people who, as a matter of fact, are not similar and are not equal to one another; and, therefore, “equal right” is really a violation of equality, and an injustice. In effect, every man having done as much social labor as every other, receives an equal share of the social products (with the above-mentioned deductions). Notwithstanding this, different people are not equal to one another. One is strong, another is weak; one is married, the other is not. One has more children, another has less and so on.
‘With equal labor (Marx concludes) and therefore with an equal share in the public stock of articles of consumption, one will, in reality, receive more than another, will find himself richer, and so on. To avoid all this, “right,” instead of being equal, should be unequal.’
[Lenin comments:] The first phase of Communism, therefore, still cannot produce justice and equality; differences, and unjust differences, in wealth will still exist, but the exploitation of one man by many, will have become impossible, because it will be impossible to seize as private property the means of production, the factories, machines, land, and so on. [The precise edition LZ used is uncertain and the phrase “the exploitation of one man by many” looks like a mistake; LZ has more sensibly, “by one man of many” and other editions simply “of man by man”].
Marx continues: ‘In the higher phase of Communist society, after the subjection to the principle of division of labor; when together with this, the opposition between brain and manual work will have disappeared; when labor will have ceased to be a mere means of supporting life and will itself have become one of the first necessities of life; when, with the all-round development of the individual, the productive forces, too, will have grown to maturity, and all the forces of social wealth will be pouring an uninterrupted torrent—only then will it be possible wholly to pass beyond the narrow horizon of bourgeois laws, and only then will Society be able to inscribe on its banner: “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.”’
Only now can we appreciate the full justice of Engels’ observations when he mercilessly ridiculed all the absurdity of combining the words ‘freedom’ and ‘State.’ While the State exists there can be no freedom. When there is freedom there will be no State.
The economic basis for the complete withering away of the State is that high stage of development of Communism when the distinction between brain and manual work disappears; consequently, when one of the principal sources of modern society inequalities will have vanished—a source, moreover, which it is impossible to remove immediately by the mere conversion of the means of production into public property, by the mere expropriation of the capitalists.”
46.3 Whether it was ‘impossible for matter to think?’ / Duns Scotus posed…: in The Holy Family (1845), Marx says: “Materialism is the natural-born son of Great Britain. Already the British schoolman, Duns Scotus, asked, ‘whether it was impossible for the matter to think?’” LZ almost certainly found this passage in the “General Introduction” Engels wrote for the English edition (1892) of Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880), where Engels gives a historical summary of materialism and includes a long quotation by Marx from which LZ extracts both this and the passage below at 46.15-17. LZ repeats this remark about Duns Scotus’ materialism in a 29 Oct. 1933 letter to EP (EP/LZ 154) and a 7 June 1939 letter to Lorine Niedecker (qtd. Ahearn 96-97); in the latter he indicates his source is Engels’ “General Introduction” as published on its own as a pamphlet, On Historical Materialism (1892).
46.5 Unbodily substance is an absurdity / like unbodily body…: from Marx quoted in Engels’ “General Introduction” to Socialism: Utopian and Scientific: “Hobbes, as Bacon’s continuator, argues thus: if all human knowledge is furnished by the senses, then our concepts and ideas are but the phantoms, divested of their sensual forms, of the real world. Philosophy can but give names to these phantoms. One name may be applied to more than one of them. There may even be names of names. It would imply a contradiction if, on the one hand, we maintained that all ideas had their origin in the world of sensation, and, on the other, that a word was more than a word; that, besides the beings known to us by our senses, beings which are one and all individuals, there existed also beings of a general, not individual, nature. An unbodily substance is the same absurdity as an unbodily body. Body, being, substance, are but different terms for the same reality. It is impossible to separate thought from matter that thinks. This matter is the substratum of all changes going on in the world. The word infinite is meaningless, unless it states that our mind is capable of performing an endless process of addition.”
46.8 “Described,” in Das Kapital, “large-scale industry…: through 46.14 from Marx letter to Ludwig Kugelmann, 17 March 1868.
46.15 Infinite is a meaningless word…: from Marx, see quotation at 46.5.
46.24 The mirth of all this land / Browne, Morel and More / (Who speed the plow in May!)…: these lines through 47.3 in particular and to some degree the form of the entire lyric from 46.18 are indebted to the anonymous 15th century poem, “I-blessed Be Cristes Sonde” which is among what are referred to as Plowman writings, that is, works inspired and imitative of William Langland’s Piers Plowman (14th century). The phrase “God speed the plow” originates from a song sung for Plough Monday, the first Monday after the twelve days of Christmas when farmers went back to work. Brown and Morel are presumably names of plough-oxen, and “More” is probably LZ’s substitute for the usual “Gore,” which has puzzled scholars. The following version is from Early English Lyrics, eds. Edmund K. Chambers and F. Sidgwick (1926):
The merthe of alle this londe
Maketh the gode husbonde,
With eringe plowe.
Iblessed be Cristes sonde,
that hath us sent in honed
Merthe and joye enowe.
The plowe gothe many a gate,
Bothe erly and eke late,
In winter in the clay,
Aboute barly and whete,
That makethe men to swete.
God spede the plowe all day!
Browne Morel and Gore
Drawen the plowe full sore,
All in the morweninge;
Rewarde hem therefore
With a shefe or more
Alle in the eveninge.
Whan men beginne to sowe,
Full well here corne they knowe
In the mounthe of May.
However Janiver blowe
Wether hie or lowe,
God spede the plowe alle way!
Whan men beginnethe to wede
The thistle fro the sede
In somer whan they may,
God lete hem well to spede;
And longe gode life to lede,
Alle that for plowe men pray.
47.5 Betrayed and sold: from the libretto of St. Matthew Passion by J.S. Bach (see 1.3).
47.6 No thought exists / Completely abstracted from action…: through 48.3 primarily from Jules Henri Poincaré (1854-1912), Science and Hypothesis (1903), French mathematician and philosopher of science. Although Poincaré’s works on the philosophy of science were accessible to a general audience and widely read at the time, LZ may have been drawn to Poincaré by Henry Adams, who in The Education of Henry Adams, Chap. XXXI: “The Grammar of Science (1903)” discusses Poincaré’s work in relation to questions of a science of history and quotes the same passage as LZ at 47.20-25; see also 102.22:
47.6-7: “But no system exists which is abstracted from all external action; every part of the universe is subject, more or less, to the action of the other parts. The law of the motion of the center of gravity is only rigorously true when applied to the whole universe” (Chap. 6).
47.8-9: “If, then, there were no solid bodies in nature there would be no geometry” (Chap. 4).
47.10-12: “But outside the data of sight and touch there are other sensations which contribute as much and more than they do to the genesis of the concept of space. They are those which everybody knows, which accompany all our movements, and which we usually call muscular sensations. The corresponding framework constitutes what may be called motor space. Each muscle gives rise to a special sensation which may be increased or diminished so that the aggregate of our muscular sensations will depend upon as many variable as we have muscles. From this point of view motor space would have as many dimensions as we have muscles” (Chap. 4).
47.13-16: this passage apparently adapted from Poincaré’s remarks on probability and roulette (cf. characterization of American business practices as a form of “roulette or rough-et-noir” by Adams, qtd. at 78.21): “All the players know this objective law [that preceding results do not effect that there is always a 50-50 chance of landing on red or black in any given spin]; but it leads them into a remarkable error, which has often been exposed, but into which they are always falling. When the red has won, for example, six times running, they bet on black, thinking that they are playing an absolutely safe game, because they say it is a very rare thing for the red to win seven times running. In reality their probability of winning is till 1/2. Observation shows, it is true, that the series of seven consecutive reds is very rare, but series of six reds followed by a black are also very rare” (Chap. 11).
47.17-18: “As we cannot give a general definition of energy, the principle of the conservation of energy simply signifies that there is a something which remains constant. Whatever fresh notions of the world may be given us by future experiments, we are certain beforehand that there is something which remains constant, and which may be called energy. Does this mean that the principle has no meaning and vanishes into a tautology? Not at all. It means that the different things to which we give the name of energy are connected by a true relationship; it affirms between them a real relation” (Chap. 10).
47.19-25: “No doubt, if our means of investigation became more and more penetrating, we should discover the simple beneath the complex, and then the complex from the simple, and then again the simple beneath the complex, and so on, without ever being able to predict what the last term will be. We must stop somewhere, and for science to be possible we must stop where we have found simplicity. That is the only ground on which we can erect the edifice of our generalisations. But, this simplicity being only apparent, will the ground be solid enough? That is what we have now to discover” (Chap. 9).
47.26: “The Present State of Physics. — Two opposite tendencies may be distinguished in the history of the development of physics. On the one hand, new relations are continually being discovered between objects which seemed destined to remain forever unconnected; scattered facts cease to be strangers to each other and tend to be marshaled into an imposing synthesis. The march of science is towards unity and simplicity. On the other hand, new phenomena are continually being revealed; it will be long before they can be assigned their place—sometimes it may happen that to find them a place a corner of the edifice must be demolished. In the same way, we are continually perceiving details ever more varied in the phenomena we know, where our crude senses used to be unable to detect any lack of unity. What we thought to be simple becomes complex, and the march of science seems to be towards diversity and complication” (Chap. 10).
47.27-28: “Nowadays, ideas have changed considerably; but those who do not believe that natural laws must be simple, are still often obliged to act as if they did believe it. They cannot entirely dispense with this necessity without making all generalisation, and therefore all science, impossible. It is clear that any fact can be generalised in an infinite number of ways, and it is a question of choice. The choice can only be guided by considerations of simplicity” (Chap. 9).
48.1-3: “In multiplying the fluids, not only did the ancient physicists create unnecessary entities, but they destroyed real ties. It is not enough for a theory not to affirm false relations; it must not conceal true relations” (Chap. 10).
48.8 Two legs stand – / Pace them: see 7.40.28-29, also 7.39.8 and 7.41.16.
48.10 Railways and highways have tied…: the original version of this poem through 49.5 was published in New Masses (3 May 1938) as “’March Comrades’ (words for a workers’ chorus from ‘”A”-8’)” (see here) and appeared in this form in the original printing of “A”-8 in New Directions 1938; see Scroggins (155-159) for discussion of the original publication and context of this song. The final “A”-8 version (revised in Oct. 1957 in preparation for the publication of “A” 1-12 in 1959) primarily deletes elements, most substantially cutting the entire first stanza, suppressing specific mention of May Day and severely pruning the last stanza. See Textual Notes.
It is quite possible that Guillaume Apolllinaire, “Liens” (Chains), the opening poem of Calligrammes (1918) was a partial model for this song; in The Writing of Guillaume Apollinaire, LZ quotes the following stanza (138):
Rails qui ligotez les nations
Nous ne sommes que deux or trois hommes
Libres de tous liens
Donnons nous la main
(Rails that bind nations
We are but two or three men
Free of all ties
Let us join hands. —trans. Sasha Watson)
48.22 Light lights in air blossom red: for “light lights” and variants, see 7.40.17, 8.43.2, 9.104.10, 12.136.29 and 18.393.36; and for “blossom red,” see 7.41.27 and 8.105.4.
49.6 To this end, Communists assembled in London…: through 52.2 consists of nine stanzas of nine 12-syllable lines each. Ahearn claims that LZ worked a mathematically determined pattern of shifting n and r sounds into this section, as he does in the final ballade (see 103.30), although Booth says LZ only went back and marked the sound patterns retrospectively (53); for further details see Ahearn 233-239.
The source of 49.6-9 is the Preamble and opening of Part I of Marx and Engels’ The Communist Manifesto (1848):
“A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.
Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?
Two things result form this fact:
I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European power to be itself a power.
II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the spectre of communism with a manifesto of the party itself.
To this end, Communists of various nationalities have assembled in London and sketched the following manifesto, to be published in the English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish languages.
Part I: Bourgeois and Proletarians
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes” (trans. Samuel Moore).
The phrase “exploiting and exploited” comes from Engels’ later prefaces for both German (1883) and English (1888) editions, in which he summarizes the above central point: “The basic thought running through the Manifesto—that economic production, and the structure of society of every historical epoch necessarily arising therefrom, constitute the foundation for the political and intellectual history of that epoch; that consequently (ever since the dissolution of the primaeval communal ownership of land) all history has been a history of class struggles, of struggles between exploited and exploiting, between dominated and dominating classes at various stages of social evolution; that this struggle, however, has now reached a stage where the exploited and oppressed class (the proletariat) can no longer emancipate itself from the class which exploits and oppresses it (the bourgeoisie), without at the same time forever freeing the whole of society from exploitation, oppression, class struggles—this basic thought belongs solely and exclusively to Marx.”
49.9 When in the ice-age / A pipe made of a lion’s tooth played D and G: from the New York Times for 22 Jan. 1934: “Czech Finds Ice-Age Musical Instrument; Pipe Held to be Clue to Origin of the Art”: “What is believed to be the oldest musical instrument in the world has been discovered on the slopes of the Pollau Mountains in Czechoslovakia. It is a musical pipe made of a lion’s tooth. It sounds a signal in the notes of D and G, which can still be played perfectly after some 30,000 years.”
49.11 glass harmonica: or armonica, was a musical instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. Inspired by a performance of musical glasses, filled with different amounts of liquid and played by rubbing a finger around their edges, Franklin created an instrument from a series of different size glasses attached to a horizontal rod that allowed them to be rotated by means of a foot pedal, which enabled the glass edges to be easily rubbed with the fingers, including up to ten glasses at a time. This instrument became extremely popular in the later 18th century and the likes of Mozart and Beethoven wrote compositions for it, but its popularity waned and all but disappeared in the early half of the following century, in large part because of claims of its harmful affects on both players and listeners. The New York Times for 7 Jan. 1935 had a report on a glass harmonica concert that LZ may have read or even attended: “Maganini Revives Rare Mozart Work; Glass Harmonica Is Heard in Restoration of Forgotten Adagio and Rondo,” which mentions that the instrument “had the look of a small dining-room table” and “yielded an ethereal small tone, tinkling and remote.” See 50.26.
49.19 (Why does Monsieur P. talk about God): from Karl Marx letter to P.V. Annenkov, 28 Dec. 1846; LZ mentions and quotes at length from the following passage in an 11 July 1936 letter to EP (EP/LZ 183): “Why does M. Proudhon talk about God, about universal reason, about the impersonal reason of humanity which never errs, which remains the same throughout all the ages and of which one need only have the right consciousness in order to know truth? Why does he produce feeble Hegelianism to give himself the appearance of a bold thinker? He himself provides you with the clue to this enigma. M. Proudhon sees in history a certain series of social developments; he finds progress realised in history; finally he finds that men, as individuals, did not know what they were doing and were mistaken about their own movements, that is to say their social development seems at first glance to be distinct, separate and independent of their individual development. He cannot explain these facts, and in a moment the hypothesis of universal reason revealing itself is produced. Nothing is easier than to invent mystical causes, that is to say phrases which lack common sense. […]
What is society, whatever its form may be? The product of men’s reciprocal activity. Are men free to choose this or that form of society for themselves? By no means. Assume a particular state of development in the productive forces of man and you will get a particular form of commerce and consumption. Assume particular stages of development in production, commerce and consumption and you will have a corresponding social order, a corresponding organisation of the family and of the ranks and classes, in a word a corresponding civil society. Presuppose a particular civil society and you will get particular political conditions which are only the official expression of society. M. Proudhon will never understand this because he thinks he is doing something great by appealing from the State to society—that is to say from the official summary of society to official society. […] Thus the economic forms in which men produce, consume exchange are transitory and historical.”
49.22 Light-wave and quantum, we have good proof both exist…: through 49.24 is from Albert Einstein, apparently from a newspaper report of a public talk during a 1933 visit to the U.S. The report remarks that he “spoke in English in a small, hesitant voice, occasionally asking some one near him for a word.” Einstein said that “It was well known a hundred years ago that light consisted of waves. Eventually it was shown that light is not unity undulating but corpuscular […]. So we have good proof that both waves and particles exist. Our present effort is to understand how this is, to find a theory that will unify the nature of light. The composition of a two point view has not yet been found. It is a quest of science in which our present methods are imperfect. Economics has a similar problem. The means of production are perfect. But we have no method of good distribution. It is not automatic, for production is too great relative to needs. […] The unified theory which Prof. Einstein seeks, in common with all research physicists, would reach into the foundations of so-called matter, for the particles of which he speaks have the character of waves. Space, so-called, is the primary thing in nature, with matter secondary” (qtd. from Chicago Tribune for 15 March 1933: “Einstein Tells 3 Problems of World Today; Light, Distribution, Peace Vital Problems”). Another relevant source that explains the then new break-throughs in quantum mechanics is Herbert Stanley Allen’s Electrons and Waves: An Introduction to Atomic Physics (1932), which LZ includes this as one of his major sources for the First Half of “A”-9 (1940).
50.1 Designate by Ψ that “something,” changes / In which a trident…: the symbol is the Gk. letter psi used to designate the wave function that describes the state of a particle in quantum mechanics, or more exactly the probability of locating the particle, but also playing here on Neptune’s trident.
50.8 Lollai, lollai, litil child, Whi wepistou so?: this line, as well as 50.10 and the last three words of 50.16 are from an anonymous lullaby in Anglo-Irish dialect, which LZ dates c.1308-1318; see TP 43-44, 102. The various poetic segments that are blended together in this stanza and the beginning of the following (to 50.18) all appear in LZ’s unpublished A Workers Anthology, finished in 1935, and most were subsequently included in TP. Probably at the time LZ was writing this section of “A”-8 he was working with the former anthology, since it also included the passages from John Donne at 50.11-12 and Emily Dickinson at 51.30, which did not make it into TP.
50.9 the estates Mentula had: mentula is vulgar Latin meaning prick or cock and was used by Catullus to designate a Roman equestrian and favorite of Julius Caesar, also known as Mamurra, whose lavish pretensions and estates are mocked in Carmina 114 and 115. LZ included the latter in the prose translation of F.W. Cornish in both A Workers Anthology and TP 10. See 18.390.21.
50.11 Now drinkes he up seas, and he eates up flocks: from John Donne, the satirical sequence The Progresse of the Soule. Infinitati Sacrum (1601), stanza 34; this and the preceding stanza were included in A Workers Anthology. See 50.12:
Now drinkes he up seas, and he eates up flocks,
He jostles Ilands, and he shakes firme rockes.
Now in a roomefull house this Soule doth float,
And like a Prince she sends her faculties
To all her limbes, distant as Provinces.
The Sunne hath twenty times both crab and goate
Parched, since first lanch’d forth this living boate,
’Tis greatest now, and to destruction
Nearest; There’s no pause at perfection,
Greatenesse a period hath, but hath no station.
50.11 He’s but / A coof for a’ that: coof = fool. From Robert Burns, “For A’ That and A’ That” (3rd stanza) (qtd.TP 88); see 50.16:
Ye see yon birkie ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, and stares and a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
His riband, star and a’ that;
The man of independent mind,
He looks and laughs at a’ that.
50.12 that guitlesse / Smals must die: from John Donne, The Progresse of the Soule. Infinitati Sacrum (see 50.11), stanza 33:
He hunts not fish, but as an officer,
Stayes in his court, at his owne net, and there
All suitors of all sorts themselves enthrall;
So on his backe lyes this whale wantoning,
And in his gulfe-like throat, sucks every thing
That passeth neare. Fish chaseth fish, and all,
Flyer and follower, in this whirlepoole fall;
O might not states of more equality
Consist? and is it of necessity
That thousand guiltlesse smals, to make one great, must die?
50.13 I spec it will be all ’fiscated. / De massa run, ha! ha! De darkey stay, ho! ho!: from Henry Clay Work (1832-1884), “The Year of Jubilee” (1862; also known as “Kingdom Coming”), qtd. in TP 102 with the note: “Sung by the negro troops as they entered Richmond, 1865”; further stanzas appear at TP 43. Work was an abolitionist and active in the underground railroad, as well as a very popular songwriter.
50.15 So distribution should undo excess: from Shakespeare, King Lear IV.i (qtd. TP 21):
Gloucester: Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens’ plagues
Have humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched
Makes thee the happier. Heavens, deal so still!
Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,
That slaves your ordinance, that will not see
Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly;
So distribution should undo excess
And each man have enough.
50.15 (chaseth): see quote by Donne at 50.12.
50.16 Shall brothers be, be a’ that: from the final stanza of Robert Burns, “A Man’s a Man for All that” (see 50.11; qtd TP 89):
Then let us pray that come it may,
As come it will for a’ that;
That sense and worth, o’er a’ the earth,
May bear the gree, and a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet, for a’ that,
That man to man the warld o’er
Shall brothers be for a’ that.
50.17 When the sheriffe see gentel Robin wold shoote, held / Up both his hands: from the anonymous 15th century ballad, “Robin Hood Rescuing Three Squires” (qtd. TP 20).
50.19 Manifesto: The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848) by Marx and Engels; see 49.6. The following 6 lines are from Chapter Two:
“We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man’s own labor, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence.
Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily. […]
The average price of wage labor is the minimum wage, i.e., that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to keep the laborer in bare existence as a laborer. What, therefore, the wage laborer appropriates by means of his labor merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence. We by no means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the products of labour, an appropriation that is made for the maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no surplus wherewith to commend the labour of others. All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, under which the laborer lives merely to increase capital, and is allowed to live only in so far as the interest of the ruling class requires it. […]
You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society. […]
You must, therefore, confess that by ‘individual’ you mean no other person than the bourgeois, than the middle-class owner of property. This person must, indeed, be swept out of the way, and made impossible” (trans. Samuel Moore).
50.26 I saw my Lady weep: from an anonymous song found in John Dowland, Third and Last Book of Songs or Airs (1603); see 103.22:
I saw my Lady weep,
And Sorrow proud to be advanced so
In those fair eyes where all perfections keep.
Her face was full of woe
But such a woe (believe me) as wins more heart
Than Mirth can so with her enticing parts.
50.26 glass harmonica…: see 49.11.
50.27 society splitting into two camps, two / Classes: from Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, Chap. I: “Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other—bourgeoisie and proletariat.”
50.28 Elberfeld’s / Rich gone Communist (Engels): Frederick Engels (1820-1895) grew up in Barmen and went to school in nearby Elberfeld (now both part of greater Wuppertal in the Düsseldorf area). He later returned to the area on behalf of the communists and wrote Marx on 22 Feb. 1845: “Miracles are happening here in Elberfeld. Yesterday, we held our third communist meeting in the largest hall and the best restaurant of the city. The first meeting was attended by 40 people, the second by 130 and the third by at least 200. The whole of Elberfeld and Barmen, from the moneyed aristocracy to the small shopkeepers, was represented, all except the proletariat.”
50.29 Bach’s double chorus / Not paid a herring, eight themes spacing eight voices: see 1.1.2; in addition to the double chorus, J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion had 8 soloists and 8 lyrical or concertato sections. For the herring reference, see note at 104.16.
50.31 labor sold piecemeal, / Masses of laborers, crowded, factories, slaves / Of class: from Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, Chap. I: “In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed—a class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital. These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market. […]
Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of laborers, crowded into the factory, are organized like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army, they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois state; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, in the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is.”
51.2 Marx Englished, Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly: newspaper published by the sisters Tennessee Claflin and Victoria Woodhull, which campaigned for women’s suffrage and equal rights, as well as promoted socialism. The newspaper published various communications from Marx, including the first English translation of the Communist Manifesto in 1871.
51.3 the pit, Marx waiting: from The Education of Henry Adams, Chap. V: “Berlin (1858-1859)”:
“Then came the journey up to London through Birmingham and the Black District, another lesson, which needed much more to be rightly felt. The plunge into darkness lurid with flames; the sense of unknown horror in this weird gloom which then existed nowhere else, and never had existed before, except in volcanic craters; the violent contrast between this dense, smoky, impenetrable darkness, and the soft green charm that one glided into, as one emerged;—the revelation of an unknown society of the pit,—made a boy uncomfortable, though he had no idea that Karl Marx was standing there waiting for him, and that sooner or later the process of education would have to deal with Karl Marx much more than with Professor Bowen of Harvard College or his Satanic free-trade majesty John Stuart Mill. The Black District was a practical education, but it was infinitely far in the distance. The boy ran away from it, as he ran away from everything he disliked.”
51.3 time to go, said Adams: from the final paragraph of The Education of Henry Adams (this passage is partially quoted in “Henry Adams” (Prep.+ 125):
“There it ended! Shakespeare himself could use no more than the commonplace to express what is incapable of expression. ‘The rest is silence!’ The few familiar words, among the simplest in the language, conveying an idea trite beyond rivalry, served Shakespeare, and, as yet, no one has said more. A few weeks afterwards, one warm evening in early July, as Adams was strolling down to dine under the trees at Armenonville, he learned that [John] Hay was dead. He expected it; on Hay’s account, he was even satisfied to have his friend die, as we would all die if we could, in full fame, at home and abroad, universally regretted, and wielding his power to the last. One had seen scores of emperors and heroes fade into cheap obscurity even when alive; and now, at least, one had not that to fear for one’s friend. It was not even the suddenness of the shock, or the sense of void, that threw Adams into the depths of Hamlet’s Shakespearean silence in the full flare of Paris frivolity in its favorite haunt where worldly vanity reached its most futile climax in human history; it was only the quiet summons to follow,—the assent to dismissal. It was time to go. The three friends had begun life together; and the last of the three had no motive,—no attraction—to carry it on after the others had gone. Education had ended for all three, and only beyond some remoter horizon could its values be fixed or renewed. Perhaps some day—say 1938, their centenary,—they might be allowed to return together for a holiday, to see the mistakes of their own lives made clear in the light of the mistakes of their successors; and perhaps then, for the first time since man began his education among the carnivores, they would find a world that sensitive and timid natures could regard without a shudder.”
51.4 thought eighty years…: Henry Adams (1838-1918); 51.6-7 are clearly reworked from the final sentence of The Education of Henry Adams; see preceding note.
51.8 seventy / Million tons of coal: from The Education of Henry Adams, Chap. II: “Boston (1848-1854)”: “Even the violent reaction after 1848, and the return of all Europe to military practices, never for a moment shook the true faith. No one, except Karl Marx, foresaw radical change. What announced it? The world was producing sixty or seventy million tons of coal, and might be using nearly a million steam-horsepower, just beginning to make itself felt. All experience since the creation of man, all divine revelation or human science, conspired to deceive and betray a twelve-year-old boy who took for granted that his ideas, which were alone respectable, would be alone respected.”
51.10 ash-heaps: see quotation from The Education of Henry Adams at 51.12. Also there is the famous phrase, “ash-heap of history,” attributed to Leon Trotsky, who directed it against the rival revolutionary party to the Bolsheviks, but the phrase became a more generalized slogan implying the inevitable fall of capitalism.
51.10 Viollet-le-Duc’s / Guess: Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879), French architect famous for restoring medieval buildings and the most prominent proponent of the Gothic revival; he adapted modern engineering techniques, such as the use of cast iron skeletons, rather than strictly recreating authentic Gothic structures. It may be relevant that Viollet-le-Duc is often quoted in Henry Adams’ Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres.
51.12 Silver slipped across the / chasm: from The Education of Henry Adams, Chap. XXII: “Chicago (1893)”: “Once admitted that the machine must be efficient, society might dispute in what social interest it should be run, but in any case it must work concentration. Such great revolutions commonly leave some bitterness behind, but nothing in politics ever surprised Henry Adams more than the ease with which he and his silver friends slipped across the chasm, and alighted on the single gold standard and the capitalistic system with its methods; the protective tariff; the corporations and trusts; the trades-unions and socialistic paternalism which necessarily made their complement; the whole mechanical consolidation of force, which ruthlessly stamped out the life of the class into which Adams was born, but created monopolies capable of controlling the new energies that America adored.
Society rested, after sweeping into the ash-heap these cinders of a misdirected education. After this vigorous impulse, nothing remained for a historian but to ask—how long and how far!”
51.14 What is light? Physicists failed: see note at 49.22.
51.15 All one’s best citizens the banks: from The Education of Henry Adams, Chap. 22: “Chicago (1893)”; this same passage is selectively quoted in Arise, Arise 22:
“In 1893, the issue came on the single gold standard and the majority at last declared itself, once for all, in favor of the capitalistic system with all its necessary machinery. All one’s friends, all one’s best citizens, reformers, churches, colleges, educated classes, had joined the banks to force submission to capitalism; a submission long foreseen by the mere law of mass. Of all forms of society or government, this was the one he liked least, but his likes or dislikes were as antiquated as the rebel doctrine of State rights.”
51.15 the first May Day: as a workers’ holiday, May Day has its roots in the struggle for the eight-hour working day, beginning with the 1886 U.S. general strike starting on May first and culminating in the Haymarket massacre in Chicago when police opened fire on demonstrators, killing six, with more deaths resulting from subsequent events. To commemorate this event, as well as to continue the demand for the eight-hour day, in 1890 the Second International declared that May first would be a day of demonstrations, and from that time it gradually became accepted as a day to celebrate labor.
51.22 Subdivided shops, fire / Hazards: probably from the New York Times for 21 May 1935 reporting on silk sweatshops in Paterson, NJ; see quotation at 99.17.
51.24 My kid’s bare as a plucked bird’s hole in whistling time: whether or not this line quotes or reworks a specific source is uncertain, but it is apparently derived from the Southern folk expression “naked as a jay-bird in whistling time.”
51.30 Revolution is the pod systems rattle: from Emily Dickinson, poem # 1082, which LZ originally included in his proposed A Workers Anthology:
Revolution is the pod
Systems rattle from;
When the winds of Will are stirred,
Excellent is bloom.
But except its russet base
Every summer be
The entomber of itself,
So of Liberty.
Left inactive on the stalk,
All its purple fled,
Revolution shakes it
For test if it be dead.
52.2 To each his needs, the Manifesto: the former phrase is not from The Communist Manifesto, but from Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, which includes the famous slogan expressing fully realized communism: “From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs.” LZ’s source for this phrase is almost certainly Lenin, State and Revolution; see end of quotation at 45.25; also 2.6.4.
52.6 Shorter along the line of motion…: through 52.10 mostly from Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1928):
“The FitzGerald Contraction. Suppose that you have a rod moving at very high speed. Let it first be pointing transverse to its line of motion. Now turn it through a right angle so that it is along the line of motion. The rod contracts. It is shorter when it is along the line of motion than when it is across the line of motion. This contraction, known as the FitzGerald contraction, is exceedingly small in all ordinary circumstances. It does not depend at all on the material of the rod but only on the speed” (5).
“But a moving mirror does not give an undistorted image of what is happening. The angle of reflection of light is altered by motion of a mirror, just as the angle of reflection of a billiard-ball would be altered if the cushion were moving” (11).
52.12 170 meters of the wall collapsed: possibly from M. Ilin’s book for school children, New Russia’s Primer: The Story of the Five Year Plan (1930), published in English translation in 1931.
52.18 Swung machine-guns in deadly arcs: from the New York Times for 6 Oct. 1936, reporting on the Spanish Civil War: “Fierce Fighting on in Madrid Sector; Moors Repulsed; Rebel Calvary Mowed Down in Sharp Clash at Navalperal”: “Then, swinging machine guns in deadly arcs, the government defenders were reported to have mowed down the Rebels and their horses, causing the survivors to flee back into the hills.” See next note.
52.22 Fly back mowed down…: see preceding note.
53.2 The cultured growth is scrapped: see 89.9 and 64.17, in the latter instance the image is suggested by cheese production. LZ uses this phrase in a 29 Oct. 1933 letter to EP (EP/LZ 155).
53.3 Au nom / de la République…: Fr. in the name of the Republic you are decorated with the cross of the Order of Fallen Leaves.
53.8 “Theory is grey, my friend / But green—…: from Goethe’s Faust (spoken by Mephistopheles), but evidently a favorite quote of Lenin’s: “Theory is grey, my friend, but the tree of life is ever green.”
53.9 “Petrov, the shot was an accident?”…: through 53.21 from two different lectures by Lenin on the failed 1905 Revolution: “Lessons of the Moscow Uprising” (1906) written immediately after he events and “Lecture on the 1905 Revolution” delivered in Zurich on the eve of the 1917 Revolution. This and the following line form an account of the Potemkin incident mentioned in “Lecture on the 1905 Revolution”; Petrov was one of the mutinous sailors on the battleship Potemkin.
53.11: Nor advocate ‘waiting’ until the troops ‘come over’: from Lenin, “Lessons of the Moscow Uprising” (1906): “The December events confirmed another of Marx’s profound propositions, which the opportunists have forgotten, namely, that insurrection is an art and that the principal rule of this art is the waging of a desperately bold and irrevocably determined offensive. We have not sufficiently assimilated this truth. We ourselves have not sufficiently learned, nor have we taught the masses, this art, this rule to attack at all costs. We must make up for this omission with all our energy. It is not enough to take sides on the question of political slogans; it is also necessary to take sides on the question of an armed uprising. Those who are opposed to it, those who do not prepare for it, must be ruthlessly dismissed from the ranks of the supporters of the revolution, sent packing to its enemies, to the traitors or cowards; for the day is approaching when the force of events and the conditions of the struggle will compel us to distinguish between enemies and friends according to this principle. It is not passivity that we should preach, not mere ‘waiting’ until the troops ‘come over.’ No! We must proclaim from the house tops the need for a bold offensive and armed attack, the necessity at such times of exterminating the persons in command of the enemy, and of a most energetic fight for the wavering troops.
The third great lesson taught by Moscow concerns the tactics and organisation of the forces for an uprising. […] Kautsky was right when he wrote that it is high time now, after Moscow, to review Engels’s conclusions, and that Moscow had inaugurated ‘new barricade tactics.’ These tactics are the tactics of guerrilla warfare. The organisation required for such tactics is that of mobile and exceedingly small units, units of ten, three or even two persons.”
53.12: “An eight hour day and arms!”: from Lenin, “Lecture on the 1905 Revolution.”
53.13: The siege of the Aquarium…: from Lenin, “Lessons of the Moscow Uprising”: “December 7 and 8: a peaceful strike, peaceful mass demonstrations. Evening of the 8th: the siege of the Aquarium. The morning of the 9th: the crowd in Strastnaya Square is attacked by the dragoons. Evening: the Fiedler building is raided. Temper rises. The unorganised street crowds, quite spontaneously and hesitatingly, set up the first barricades. The 10th: artillery fire is opened on the barricades and the crowds in the streets. Barricades are set up more deliberately, and no longer in isolated cases, but on a really mass scale. The whole population is in the streets; all the main centres of the city are covered by a network of barricades. For several days the volunteer fighting units wage a stubborn guerrilla battle against the troops, which exhausts the troops and compels Dubasov to beg for reinforcements. Only on December 15 did the superiority of the government forces become complete, and on December 17 the Semyonovsky Regiment crushed Presnya District, the last stronghold of the uprising.”
53.20: Ten-, three-, or even two-men detachments: from Lenin, “Lessons of the Moscow Uprising”; see quotation at 53.11.
53.21: —that rebellion is an art: from Lenin, “Lessons of the Moscow Uprising”; see quotation at 53.11. The phrase “insurrection is an art” is originally from Engels’ Germany: Revolution and Counter-Revolution (1851-52), edited by and published under Marx’s name.
53.22 Take it from me, what we need / Is fitness, not suffusion:
53.24 To drink the stinking source of some French ‘positivists’: from Lenin letter to A.M. Gorky, 25 Nov. 1908: “Now the Studies in the Philosophy of Marxism have appeared. I have read all the articles except Suvorov’s (I am reading it now), and every article made me furiously indignant. No, no, this is not Marxism! Our empirio-critics, empirio-monists, and empirio-symbolists are floundering in a bog. To try to persuade the reader that ‘belief’ in the reality of the external world is ‘mysticism’ (Bazarov); to confuse in the most disgraceful manner materialism with Kantianism (Bazarov and Bogdanov); to preach a variety of agnosticism (empirio-criticism) and idealism (empirio-monism); to teach the workers ‘religious atheism’ and ‘worship’ of the higher human potentialities (Lunacharsky); to declare Engels’s teaching on dialectics to be mysticism (Berman); to draw from the stinking well of some French ‘positivists’ or other, of agnostics or metaphysicians, the devil take them, with their ‘symbolic theory of cognition’ (Yushkevich)! No, really, it’s too much.”
54.1 You’re right there on the spot . . / I do not know the nature of A.M. ch’s writing…: from Lenin letter to A.V. Lunacharsky, 13 Feb. 1908, concerning A.M. Gorky:
“Your plan for a section of belles-lettres in Proletary and for having A. M. run it is an excellent one, and pleases me exceedingly. I have in fact been dreaming of making the literature and criticism section a permanent feature in Proletary and having A. M. to run it. But I was afraid, terribly afraid of making the proposal outright, as I do not know the nature of A. M.’s work (and his work-bent). If a man is busy with an important work, and if this work would suffer from him being torn away for minor things, such as a newspaper, and journalism, then it would be foolish and criminal to disturb and interrupt him! That is something I very well understand and feel.
Being on the spot, you will know best, dear An. Vas. If you consider that A. M.’s work will not suffer by his being harnessed to regular Party work (and the Party work will gain a great deal from this!), then try to arrange it.”
54.9 The every-day exchange relation need not be directly / Identical…: from Marx letter to Ludwig Kugelmann, 11 July 1868 (this letter also quoted at 103.13): “The vulgar economist has not the faintest idea that the actual everyday exchange relations need not be directly identical with the magnitudes of value. The point of bourgeois society consists precisely in this, that a priori there is no conscious, social regulation of production. The reasonable and the necessary in nature asserts itself only as a blindly working average. And then the vulgar economist thinks he has made a great discovery when, as against the disclosures of the inner connection, he proudly claims that in appearance things look different. In fact, he is boasting that he holds fast to the appearance and takes it for the last word. Why then any science at all?”
54.11 The exchequer of the poor: from Shakespeare, Richard II, II.iii:
Lord Ross: Your presence makes us rich, most noble lord.
Lord Willoughby: And far surmounts our labour to attain it.
Henry Bolingbroke: Evermore thanks, the exchequer of the poor;
Which, till my infant fortune comes to years,
Stands for my bounty. But who comes here?
54.12 Of all the arts the wind can blow: from Robert Burns, “I Love My Jean”: “Of a’ the airts the wind can blaw, / I dearly like the west, / For there the bonnie lassie lives, / The lassie I lo’e best”—although in Scots, “airts” does not mean arts but directions (from which the winds blow).
54.13 The most important, in my opinion, is the cinema: from Lenin, who remarked in Feb 1922 to his Education Commissar, A.V. Lunacharsky, that “You must remember always that of all the arts the most important for us is the cinema” (Ladlec 312). LZ included this quotation, explicitly attributed to Lenin, in the original typescript of “Modern Times.”
54.14 Sorry we have to have strikes…: this stanza concerns evidence given at the Congressional hearings of the La Follette Civil Liberties Committee (1936-1941), which investigated the violation or workers’ rights by employers, particularly their rights to collective bargaining, and uncovered wide-spread industrial espionage and collusion. For more on the conflict with “bootleg” miners in Pennsylvania, see 85.21-86.2 and note. The speaker LZ quotes is A.S. Ailes, Vice President of the Lake Erie Chemical Co. on being questioned by the committee, as quoted in the New York Times for 25 Sept. 1936: “Planned Gas War on Bootleg Miners; Coal Operators Bought 7,500 Bombs to Drop Into Shafts, Witnesses Testify. Law Officers Assailed La Follette Inquiry Reveals Other Big Industries Secretly Bought Gas Supply”: “A plan to fill with tear and nauseating gases the mines operating by ‘bootleg’ miners in the anthracite fields of Southern Pennsylvania was brought to light today by the La Follette subcommittee investigating charges of violations of civil liberties. […] Ailes said that the company constantly experimented on its own people. ‘We don’t want anybody to get hurt if we can help it,’ he said. ‘The whole theory of the use of gas is that it makes it unnecessary to use bullets. I am sorry we have to have strikes. I am sorry we have to have Communists in the country.’ When [Congressman] Thomas asked him if he was familiar with the effect of the gases his company sells, Mr. Ailes answered that he had been gassed himself at least 1000 times.”
54.20 first motion picture in America, / Made in 1870, it was called “Diaphanous”…: through 54.29 quotes from the New York Times for 4 Oct. 1935: “First Motion Picture Offered as ‘Antique,’ Made in 1870, It Will Be Shown Again Next Week—Once Made Spectators ‘Softly Weep’”: “What is said to be the first motion picture made in American will be shown at the Antiques Exposition opening next Monday evening at the Hotel Commodore.” This was actually a series of oil paintings by John Stevens put onto a single strip of canvas that was unreeled on a wooden frame with a light behind it—it depicted scenes of the Minnesota Massacre (see next note), current events, prominent people and scenic landscapes.
54.23 Minnesota Massacre: an uprising by Sioux, who had been forced onto reservations, in August 1862 that killed over 450 settlers before eventually being put down by local troops. See preceding note.
55.1 Flanagan and Phepoe…: through 55.15 is from an early 19th century newspaper classified offering various lotteries. I have seen a similar ad in an 1805 copy of the New York Evening Post. Fly Market is located in Lower Manhattan near the East River on Maiden Lane; existed from the Revolutionary period into the early 19th century.
55.4 No. 151 Water St.: in Lower Manhattan, Water Street runs parallel to the East River. See preceding note.
55.14 Choose a firm cloud…: from Alexander Pope (1688-1744) slightly misquoted from “An Epistle to a Lady” (Moral Essays ii), lines 19-20: “Choose a firm cloud before it fall, and in it / Catch, ere she change, the Cynthia of this minute.” See note at 55.1.
55.17 The 300 year banishment of Roger Williams / from Massachusetts ended officially…: Roger Williams (1603?-1683) advocated religious tolerance, which led to his banishment from the Puritan dominated colony of Massachusetts in 1636, so he went into the wilderness and established Rhode Island. LZ is quoting from the New York Times for 1 May 1936: “Exile of Roger Williams Ended by Massachusetts.” The governor of Massachusetts at the time was James M. Curley, a notoriously corrupt politician, many time elected mayor of Boston.
55.26 Woosbsx struck me much like a steam-engine / In trousers…: this quip originally made by the English wit and essayist, Sydney Smith (1771-1845), about Daniel Webster, but recycled to refer to other hyper-active politicians—Theodore Roosevelt in particular. The source of this remark is the Memoir of the Rev. Sydney Smith by his Daughter, Lady Holland (1853).
55.28 So dry the sloughs and water holes when the rain came…: through 56.12 describes the dust bowl, from two articles in the New York Times:
13 July 1936: “Rains in Montana Largely Wasted; Long-Awaited Moisture Drains Off From Fields Almost Denuded by Drought”: “So dry were the sloughs and water holes when the rain came that it did little more than moisten their bottoms.”
9 July 1936: “Wide Grain Areas Burned to a Crisp, Montana and Dakota Farms Brown and Black—Corn Only a Foot High. Cattle Are Being Moved Grasshoppers Are Completing the Ruin—Nebraska Also Feeling the Drought”: “The largest part of the spring wheat area of the United States has been burned to a crisp. Montana and Dakota farms and many of those in Minnesota that earned for these States their composite title are now a picture of desolation that lifetime tillers of their soils say has never been witnessed before. […] The traveler by automobile will be seen to stop along the road to scrape [the grasshoppers’] battered bodies from the windshield and radiator. Sweet clover planted over broad acres to resuscitate the soil stands like trees without leaves in the wake of the creeping, flying, plague of pests. […] But for a little fresh grass around the few remaining waterfilled sloughs and conservation dams, the only green that meets the eye for hundreds of miles is from the Russian thistle [tumble weed]. But to be of use it must be cut while green. As yet it is too short for cutting. Rains are needed to being it to the proper height and the farmers are afraid that rain, if it comes, will make the plant irresistible to the grasshoppers. […] The range country, some of it never put to a plow, seems to be covered with a tan moss so close to the ground that hungry cattle cannot reach it; so dry is the covering that it is useless for sheep. […] Overall farmers and ranchers crowd the offices of the country agents and welfare boards, […].”
56.13 Process: notion about which the researches cluster…: through 57.5 from Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929), “The Evolution of the Scientific Point of View” in The Place of Science in Modern Civilization and Other Essays (1919); also mentioned in the preface to An “Objectivists” Anthology (Prep+ 16) and qtd. 12.257.7f. LZ selects from throughout the first few pages of the essay; and as Ahearn points out, the mid-sentence break at the end of 56.18 is due to the fact that in the edition of Veblen LZ was using, this marks a page break in the long first end note:
“The sciences which are in any peculiar sense modern take as an (unavowed) postulate the fact of consecutive change. Their inquiry always centers upon some manner of process. This notion of process about which the researches of modern science cluster, is a notion of a sequence, or complex, of consecutive change in which the nexus of the sequence, that by virtue of which the change inquired into is consecutive, is the relation of cause and effect” (32).
“That is to say, science and the scientific point of view will vary characteristically in response to those variations in the prevalent habits of thought which constitute the sequence of cultural development; the current science and the current scientific point of view, the knowledge sought and the manner of seeking it, are a product of the cultural growth. Perhaps it would all be better characterised as a by-product of the cultured growth” (38).
[from Note 1] “And yet the great achievements of physics are due to the initiative of men animated with this anthropomorphic repugnance to the notion of concomitant variation at a distance. All the generalisations on undulatory motion and translation belong here. The latter-day researches in light, electrical transmission, the theory of ions, together with what is known of the obscure and late-found radiations and emanations, are to be credited to the same metaphysical preconception, which is never absent in any ‘scientific’ inquiry in the field of physical science” (35-36).
[Continuing from first paragraph quoted above] “The consecution, moreover, runs in terms of persistence of quantity or of force. In so far as the science is of a modern complexion, in so far as it is not of the nature of taxonomy simply, the inquiry converges upon a matter of process; and it comes to rest, provisionally, when it has disposed of its facts in terms of process” (32-33).
[from Note 1] “The concept of causation is recognized to be a metaphysical postulate, a matter of imputation, not of observation; whereas it is claimed that scientific inquiry neither does nor can legitimately, nor, indeed, currently, make use of a postulate more metaphysical than the concept of an idle concomitance of variation, such as is adequately expressed in terms of mathematical function” (33).
[from Note 1] “Consistently adhered to, the principle of ‘function’ or concomitant variation precludes recourse to experiment, hypotheses or inquiry—indeed, it precludes ‘recourse’ to anything whatever. Its notation does not comprise anything so anthropomorphic” (35).
57.6 I am now working like a horse…: from Marx letter to Engels, 20 May 1865 (continued at 57.26): “I am now working like a horse, as I must use the time in which it is possible to work and the carbuncles are still there, though now they only disturb me locally and not in the brainpan. Between whiles, as one cannot always be writing, I am doing some Differential Calculus dx/dy. I have no patience to read anything else. Any other reading always drives me back to my writing-desk.”
57.17 Then there is still the fourth book…: from Marx to Engels, 31 July 1865, about Capital: “Now as to my work I will tell you the unvarnished truth. There are still three chapters to write in order to complete the theoretical part (the first three books). Then there is still the fourth book, the historico-literary one, to write, which is relatively the easiest part to me as all the problems have been solved in the first three books and this last is therefore more of a repetition in historical form. But I cannot bring myself to send anything off until I have the whole thing in front of me. Whatever shortcomings they may have, the merits of my writings is that they are an artistic whole, and this can only be attained by my method of never having things printed until I have them before me as a whole. This is impossible with Jacob Grimm’s method, which is in general more suited to works not dialectically constructed.”
57.22 . . damnable iteration . . art able to corrupt a saint: from Shakespeare, King Henry IV, Part I I.ii:
Prince Henry: Thou didst well; for wisdom cries out in the streets, and no man regards it.
Falstaff: O, thou hast damnable iteration and art indeed able to corrupt a saint. Thou hast done much harm upon me, Hal; God forgive thee for it!
57.23 —repetition. I cannot bring myself…: see quotation at 57.17.
57.25 As to this “dammed” book: from Marx letter to Engels, 13 Feb. 1866; both referred to Capital in such terms several times in their correspondence.
57.26 This evening a special session of the International…: continuation of above 20 May 1865 letter to Engels (see 57.6): “This evening a special session of the International. A good old fellow, an old Owenist, Weston (carpenter) has put forward the two following propositions, which he is continually defending in the Beehive: (1) That a general rise in the rate of wages would be of no use to the workers; (2) That therefore, etc., the trade unions have a harmful effect. If these two propositions, in which he alone in our society believes, were accepted, we should be turned into a joke (so wären wir Kladderadatsch) both on account of the trade unions here and of the infection of strikes which now prevails on the Continent. On this occasion—as non-members may be admitted to this meeting—he will be supported by a born Englishman, who has written a pamphlet to the same effect. I am of course expected to supply the refutation. I ought really therefore to have worked out my reply for this evening, but thought it more important to write on at my book and so shall have to depend upon improvisation.” Marx’s reply to Weston was the lecture “Value, Price and Profit,” originally delivered to the International in Sept. 1865 and used by LZ as one of his sources in First Half of “A”-9 (1940.
58.10 The Jacob Grimm method…: see quotation at 57.17.
58.14 “does not need any philosophy standing above the other sciences”: through 58.18 from Engels, Anti-Duhring (1877), but here and through 58.18 quoting from Lenin, “Karl Marx” (1914), an article originally written for an encyclopedia; LZ knew it as “The Teachings of Karl Marx”:
“This revolutionary side of Hegel’s philosophy was adopted and developed by Marx. Dialectical materialism ‘does not need any philosophy towering above the other sciences’ [Anti-Düring]. Of former philosophies there remain ‘the science of thinking and its laws—formal logic and dialectics’ [Ibid.]. Dialectics, as the term is used by Marx in conformity with Hegel, includes what is now called the theory of cognition, or epistemology, or gnoseology, a science that must contemplate its subject matter in the same way—historically, studying and generalising the origin and development of cognition, the transition from non-consciousness to consciousness. In our times, the idea of development, of evolution, has almost fully penetrated social consciousness, but it has done so in other ways, not through Hegel’s philosophy. Still, the same idea, as formulated by Marx and Engels on the basis of Hegel’s philosophy, is much more comprehensive, much more abundant in content than the current theory of evolution. A development that repeats, as it were, the stages already passed, but repeats them in a different way, on a higher plane (‘negation of negation’); a development, so to speak, in spirals, not in a straight line; a development in leaps and bounds, catastrophes, revolutions; ‘intervals of gradualness’; transformation of quantity into quality; inner impulses for development, imparted by the contradiction, the conflict of different forces and tendencies reacting on a given body or inside a given phenomenon or within a given society; interdependence, and the closest, indissoluble connection between all sides of every phenomenon (history disclosing ever new sides), a connection that provide the one world-process of motion proceeding according to law—such are some of the features of dialectics as a doctrine of evolution more full of meaning than the current one.
Realising the inconsistency, the incompleteness, the one-sidedness of the old materialism, Marx became convinced that it was necessary ‘to harmonise the science of society with the materialist basis, and to reconstruct it in accordance with the basis’ [Ludwig Feuerbach]. If, speaking generally, materialism explains consciousness as the outcome of existence, and not conversely, then, applied to the social life of mankind, materialism must explain social consciousness as the outcome of social existence. ‘Technology,’ writes Marx in the first volume of Capital, ‘reveals man’s dealings with nature, discloses the direct productive activities of his life, thus throwing light upon social relations and the resultant mental conceptions.’”
58.20 A full number of things in a very few words: from LZ’s review of “Ezra Pound’s XXX Cantos,” published in Front 4 (June 1931): “Yet a comparison of [The Cantos and Ulysses] is not implied. For beyond an aptitude for saying a full number of things at a time in a very few words—an attribute which might be called modern if it were not for the fact that Dante in his Commedia said at least three things at a time as he explained in a well known letter—comparison is inconsequential” (364).
58.21 To be sure . . so thoroughly aware of merits…: from Henry Adams, 13 Nov. 1871 letter to Charles Milnes Gaskell: “To be sure, when a man is so thoroughly aware of his own merits as I trust we are and always shall be, public applause or criticism must be equally indifferent to us, but still there is a certain prickly sensation about it still, which is not without elements of amusement” (Letters of Henry Adams (1858-1891), ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford, 1930: 218).
58.23 “To sponge in a brook / before sunrise…: from Henry Adams, 2 Oct. 1871 letter to Charles Milnes Gaskell, writing of his experiences in the Uintah Mountains in Utah (Letters of Henry Adams (1858-1891), ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford, 1930: 215).
59.5 If I Should Tell My Love My Pen Would Burn: the New York Times for 20 Nov. 1935: “Underground Retreat Built 400 Years Ago Found by Workers Digging Moscow Subway”: “An underground retreat built by Russia’s Czars 400 years ago, containing a supply of cannonballs, was discovered today by workers digging an extension of the Moscow subway. […] Another find of the excavators was an ancient Persian stone seal bearing the inscription, ‘If I Should Relate My Love, My Pen Would Burn.’”
59.12 Der Lenin hat anders getan: Ger. Lenin did (it) differently.
59.26 NEP: New Economic Policy of the Soviet Union from 1921-1928, prior to Stalin’s launching of the Five Year Plans.
59.30 Second / Five Year Plan: from 1933-1937.
60.7 He (Lenin) came to this earth, to drive / out Kuchak, Tajiks!…: the New York Times for 22 Jan. 1935: “Moscow in Black for Lenin Rites; Tens of Thousands File Into Tomb on 11th Anniversary of the Founder’s Death”: “Thus, according to Soviet ethnologists, there is a story among the Tajiks, true Aryans who live on the borders of Afghanistan, of Lenin’s coming to earth as the avenger of the people’s wrongs and driving out the evil, Kuchak (Adam) who held them in thrall. In other myths of Eastern peoples of the Soviet Union Lenin is depicted as a knight slaying foul monsters, like St. George and the dragon; as a hero with golden arms, born of the moon and stars, and even as a participant in the creation of the world.”
60.20 And the veins of the earth: see 48.15.
60.25 If you know all the qualities of a thing…: from Engels, “General Introduction” to Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (see 46.3): “But then come the Neo-Kantian agnostics and say: We may correctly perceive the qualities of a thing, but we cannot by any sensible or mental process grasp the thing-in-itself. This ‘thing-in-itself’ is beyond our ken. To this Hegel, long since, has replied: If you know all the qualities of a thing, you know the thing itself; nothing remains but the fact that the said thing exists without us; and, when your senses have taught you that fact, you have grasped the last remnant of the thing-in-itself, Kant’s celebrated unknowable Ding an sich.”
61.4 “What I did” said Marx…: from 5 March 1852 letter to Joseph Weydemeyer; Lenin quotes this passage in State and Revolution, where LZ may have found it: “And now as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society nor yet the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes. What I did that was new was to prove: (1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular, historic phases in the development of production; (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat; (3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.”
61.12 But the labor process…: through 62.12 mostly from Marx, Capital, Chap. 7 on “The Labour Process and the Process of Producing Surplus Value.” This passage through 63.5 was read by LZ on WOR radio on 6 June 1937 and published in the New Masses (27 July 1937) as “The Labor Process,” although apparently it appeared there without his permission (SL 172):
“In the first instance, therefore, we must consider the labour process apart from the particular form it may assume under particular social conditions. Primarily, labour is a process going on between man and nature, a process in which man, through his own activity, initiates, regulates, and controls the material reactions between himself and nature. He confronts nature as one of her own forces, setting in motion arms and legs, head and hands, in order to appropriate nature’s production in a form suitable to his own wants. By thus acting on the external world and changing it, he at the same time changes his own nature. He develops the potentialities that slumber within him, and subjects these inner forces to his own control. We are not here concerned with those primitive and instinctive forms of labour which we share with other animals. A huge interval of time separates the days when human labour was still purely instinctive, from the days when the worker appears in the commodity market as seller of his own labour power. We have to consider labour in a form peculiar to the human species. A spider carries on operations resembling those of the weaver; and many a human architect is put to shame by the skill with which a bee constructs her cell. But what from the very first distinguishes the most incompetent architect from the best of bees, is that the architect has built a cell in his head before he constructs it in wax. The labour process ends in the creation of something which, when the process began, already existed in the worker’s imagination, already existed in an ideal form. What happens is, not merely that the worker brings about a change of form in natural objects; at the same time, in the nature that exists apart from himself, he realizes his own purpose, the purpose which give the law to his activities, the purpose to which he has to subordinate his own will. Nor is this subordination a momentary act. Apart from the exertion of his bodily organs, his purposive will, manifesting itself as attention, must be operative throughout the whole duration of the labour. Nay more. The less attractive he finds the work in itself, the less congenial the method of work, the less he enjoys it as something which gives scope to his bodily and mental powers—the more closely must he devote his attention to his task” (169-170).
[Footnote] “No doubt it seems somewhat paradoxical to describe a fish which as yet is uncaught as a means of production in the fishing industry. Still, no one has yet discovered how to catch the fish in waters where there are none” (173).
“A machine which does not serve the purposes of labour is useless. Besides, it falls a prey to the destructive working of natural forces. Iron rusts. Wood rots. Cotton yarn which is not used either for weaving or for making stockinette, is cotton wasted. Living labour must seize on these things, must rouse them from their death-like sleep, must change them from potential use-values into real and kinetic use-values. Bathed in the fire of labour, appropriated as embodied labour, and, as it were, animated for their functions in the labour process, they are, indeed, consumed, but they are consumed for a purpose, as formative elements of new use-values, new products, which are ready to enter into the process of individual consumption as means of subsistence, or to enter into a new labour process as means of production” (176).
“The labour process, resolved into its simple elementary factors, is, as we have seen, purposive activity carried on for the production of use-values, for the fitting of natural substances to human wants; it is the general condition requisite for effecting an exchange of matter between man and nature; it is the condition perennially imposed by nature upon human life, and is therefore independent of the forms of social life—or, rather, is common to all social forms. It was superfluous, therefore, to represent the worker as existing in relation to other workers. It was enough to describe man and his work on one side, nature and her materials on the other. When we eat bread, its taste does not tell us who grew the wheat. So, likewise, when we study the labour process, it does not itself tell us under what conditions the process is carried on: whether under the lash of the overseer of slaves, or under the sharp eyes of the capitalist; whether a Cincinnatus is conducting the labour process by tilling his little farm, or whether a savage is slaughtering a wild beast with stones” (177; trans. Eden and Cedar Paul).
62.11 Cincinnatus: 5th century BC Roman patriot who was twice called from his farm to defend Rome.
62.16 In bad form the surfaces and planes / all come to an end: a remark by the sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957): “In bad form … the surfaces and planes all come to an end. They finish themselves within the mass. I think the true form ought to suggest infinity.”
63.6 Treeless . . sight, sight . . labor’s imaginable house…:
63.12 I-was-early-taught-to-work-as-well-as-play…: jingle composed by John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (1839-1937), supposedly on his 86th birthday. Rockefeller was one of the founders of Standard Oil in 1862, which through dubious practices virtually monopolized oil production in the US by 1890 and made Rockefeller the richest man in the world. Eventually Standard Oil was forced to breakup by the Supreme Court in 1911, resulting in various smaller companies, such as SOCONY (see 63.5).
63.17 The history of a chair . . old, blue eyes…:
63.19 Proof that . . a . . ancestor of Mickey Mouse…: the New York Times for 3 April 1935: “Egypt of 2,000 B.C. Had Mickey Mouse; Antics of Dancing Animal on Backs of Nile Described by Prof. Capart”: “Proof that an ancestor of Mickey Mouse danced through the land of Egypt 3,000 years ago was offered last night by Professor Jean Capart, director of the Royal Museum of Art and History, Brussels, Belgium, at a lecture in the Brooklyn Museum on Eastern Parkway. […] ‘Very little direct information exists, but we can catch enough reflections from formal documents to paint our study of the common people. […] Cats and mice sketched in papyrus, manuscripts reveal the existence in Egypt of comic cartoons and fables,’ he said. ‘What would you say if I told of finding a drawing on a fragment of limestone showing a child walking through a land inhabited by educated animals?’ […] Illustrations from the 11,000 slides at his disposal in Brussels were used by Professor Capart to show Egyptian children riding ‘piggyback,’ sitting in the dining room watching their parents eating, singing together, studying and loafing in the sun under shade trees.”
63.23 J.D.: John D. Rockefeller; see note at 63.12.
63.25 even-before-you-begin- / To-prepare-to-start-to- / Consider-it: the New York Times for 27 Sept. 1935: “Johnson Attacks WPA as Wasteful; But He Warns Ad Club Relief Must Go On to Avert Rebellion Until Employment Revives”: [General Hugh S. Johnson, WPA (Works Progress Administration) administrator remarked:] “‘and, if you are wise, you will not wait for some such sudden catastrophe as an exhaustion of funds or a failure of appropriation before you begin to prepare to start to commence to consider it.’”
63.29 what we eat actually is radiation / Of various wave-lengths…: through 64.5 quoted from the New York Times for 20 April 1934: “Lightning Held Creator of Life; Dr. Crile Links It With Earth Electricity and Soil Bacteria as Source of Protoplasm. Detonating of Dynamite Cleveland Clinic Head Tells Philosophers of Rays Setting Off Nitrogen ‘Explosions.’”
64.8 When industry brought with it / The factories in the valleys…: for this passage through 64.20 on cheese production, as well as the related passge at 65.8-21, LZ is evidently drawing on research probably related to work with the WPA. For at least one of the sources he appears to be drawing from, see note at 65.8.
64.27 Bosch: Hieronymus Bosch (c.1450-1516), Flemish painter, one of several copies of his “Adoration of the Magi” is in the Metropolitan Museum in NYC; see 67.8.
65.5 In our times when the producers / Have nothing to consume…: through 66.7 from Frederick Engels, Anti-Dühring (1878). Engels is summing up the logic of class conflict under capitalism: “[…] in fact the abolition of social classes has as its presupposition a stage of historical development at which the existence not merely of some particular ruling class or other but of any ruling class at all, that is to say, of class difference itself, has become an anachronism, is out of date. […] This point has now been reached. Their political and intellectual bankruptcy is hardly still a secret to the bourgeoisie themselves, and their economic bankruptcy recurs regularly every ten years. In each crisis society is smothered under the weight of its own productive forces and products of which it can make no use, and stands helpless in the face of the absurd contradiction that the producers have nothing to consume because there are no consumers. The expanding force of the means of production bursts asunder the bonds imposed upon them by the capitalist mode of production.” See 66.2.
65.8 The blood-purifying properties of this cheese…: this passage through 65.21 on cheese production, as well as the related passage on the preceding page (64.6-20), presumably draws on research LZ did for the WPA. One apparent source is a U.S. Department of Agriculture pamphlet, Varieties of Cheese: Descriptions and Analyses by C.F. Doane & H.W. Lawson (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1908):
[on Sap Sago:] “This cheese is made from sour skimmed cow’s milk principally in Glarus, Switzerland. […] Sap Sago is a small, hard green cheese flavored with the leaves of a species of clover; it is shaped like a truncated cone, 4 inches high. 3 inches in diameter at the base, and 2 inches at the top” (46).
[on Leyden:] “This is a hard rennet cheese made in Holland, where it is known also as Bergues, Delft, Komynde, Koejekaars, and Hobbe. […] The surface is colored with litmus in alkaline water” (31)
[on Caciocavallo:] “This is a somewhat peculiar kind of cheese made from either whole or partly skimmed cow’s milk. Various explanations have been made as to the origin of the name, which means literally horse cheese. One explanation offered is that the cheese was originally made in the region of Monte Cavallo, and another is that the imprint of a horse’s head was made in each cheese as the trade-mark of the original manufacturer. […] The cheeses are suspended in pairs from the ceiling and slightly smoked. […] As seen on the market they vary much in size and shape. On an average they weight about 3 pounds. The most common shape is that resembling a beet, a constriction near the top being due to the string which is tied around the cheese for the purpose of hanging it up” (12).
[on Limburg:] “When the cheese has been in the forms with frequent turnings for a sufficient length of time to retain its shape it is removed to the salting table […]” (31).
65.23 Lady Greensleeves: traditional English song, to which there are many different lyrics. Those by Henry VIII are in part as follows:
Alas my love you do me wrong
To cast me off discourteously;
And I have loved you oh so long
Delighting in your company.
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold
Greensleeves was my heart of joy
And who but my Lady Greensleeves.
65.24 Who lived so long / And loved so long, so long ago: Cf. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), “Vittoria Colonna,” which depicts the 16th century poet’s faithfulness to her dead husband:
Upon its terrace-walk I see
A phantom gliding to and fro;
It is Colonna,—it is she
Who lived and loved so long ago.
65.29 Re-furbelowing La Fontaine’s Fables: famous collection of versified moral fables by the French poet Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695). Furbelow means to decorate with a ruffle or flounce (AHD).
65.30 Blue Ontario’s Shore…: “As I Sat Alone by the Blue Ontario’s Shore” by Walt Whitman is a major statement on the idea of America and the poet’s role; in fact the following passage was adapted from Whitman’s 1855 Preface to the first edition of Leaves of Grass. LZ quotes from section 13, which is also qtd. at 81.18, Prep+ 142, Bottom 252:
He masters whose spirit masters—he tastes sweetest who results sweetest in the long run;
The blood of the brawn beloved of time is unconstraint;
In the need of poems, philosophy, politics, manners, engineering, an appropriate native grand-opera, shipcraft, any craft, he or she is greatest who contributes the greatest original practical example.
66.3 What for, when the producers have nothing to consume?: see 65.7.
66.5 Hosea approached a Jerusalem of whores: see Hosea 1:2: “And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.”
66.6 Yes, if people could only read: from Engels letter to Conrad Schmidt, 1 July 1891: “’Yes, if people could only read!’ as Marx used to exclaim at criticisms of this kind.”
66.15 Breughel’s Harvesters: famous painting by the Flemish painter Pieter Breughel the Elder (c.1525-1569) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC; see 13.287.2, 17.377.19. Strictly speaking Brueghel would be the more correct spelling, but the name appears inconsistently in “A” as well as English language texts generally.
66.22 Cranach: Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), German Renaissance painter. A version of “The Judgment of Paris” is the primary work by Cranach in the Metropolitan Museum, NYC.
66.22 Quentin Matsys: or Massys (1465-1530), Flemish painter; there is an “Adoration of the Magi” in the Metropolitan Museum, NYC.
66.23 Hieronymus Bosch—a round of horses, / “Garden of Terrestrial Lust”: triptych by the Flemish painter Hieronymus Bosch (c.1450-1516) in the Prado, Madrid, Spain. In the middle of the central panel is a pool, around which circles a parade of horses (or strictly speaking an array of horses, donkeys, unicorns, camels, etc.) with nude figures.
66.26 Pitting / Greater passion against relentless fury…: through 67.6 primarily from Joseph Stalin, “Address to the Graduates from the Red Army Academy,” 4 May 1935. LZ’s source is probably the New York Times for 7 May 1935: “Stalin Says Fears Made Soviet Rise: Explains to Red Army Cadets That Industrialization Was Vital as Defense”:
“Joseph Stalin, Soviet dictator, has at last explained why the Bolshevist regime has driven the Russian people into industrialization and collectivized agriculture regardless of privation and hardship and despite protests within the country against the punishing pace. […] ‘There were comrades who were frightened and called to the party to retreat. […] Obviously,’ he continued, ‘they counted on frightening us to retreat from the path laid down by Lenin. Apparently they forgot we Bolsheviks are a people of a special makeup. They forgot that the greater the fury of our enemies and the panic of opponents within the party the greater is the Bolshevik’s passion to march onward to new struggles. We pressed on all the more firmly, eliminating all obstacles in our way. True, in so doing we had to treat some of our comrades roughly and I must admit I, too, had a part in this. […] It is time to understand that the most valuable of all capital in the world is the people.’ […] The dictator created a new slogan, ‘Personnel is everything’ to replace the now outworn ‘Technique is everything.’ […] ‘The art of valuing machinery and reporting about our technique has been learned,’ he went on, ‘There was no other way to wipe out our technical poverty.’”
67.2 So that the brush will not be a mere / means of feeding brains: apparently the reference to painters is LZ’s interpolation into Stalin’s remarks (see above), but the final phrase echoes Marx at both 46.1 and 70.18.
67.8 “Adoration of the Kings”: the painting LZ describes quite precisely through 67.23 is by Hieronymus Bosch in the Metropolitan Museum, NYC (see image); also mentioned at 64.27.
67.25 Bluesleeves / Is my heart of gold: this latter phrase from the song “Lady Greensleeves”; see 65.23. The Madonna typically is depicted as wearing a blue robe as the symbol of hope.
67.27 while 40 streets down hung Vincent’s / Miners…: the Metropolitan Museum is at 82nd Street and Fifth Avenue, so 40 streets down would be at the New York Public Library at 42nd Street, but LZ is being a bit loose and has in mind the Museum of Modern Art at W. 53rd Street, where a major Van Gogh exhibition opened in Nov. 1935 – Jan 1936, which LZ saw (the exhibition catalog along with other documentation is online at the MOMA site). Early in his career, in the years 1878-79, Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) spent time as a missionary among the coal miners of the Borinage district of Belgium and produced bleak etchings of their poverty stricken lives, and later used some of these subjects in paintings. In an undated (probably 1937) letter to Lorine Niedecker, LZ mentions the 1880 drawing, “Miners,” depicting nine down-trodden looking figures on their way to work (HRC 25.2).
67.30 Eight kings followed by Banquo’s ghost: see Macbeth IV.i where Macbeth sees a series of apparitions culmination in this vision; Banquo is a Scottish nobleman Macbeth has had murdered.
67.31 Borinage: see 67.27
67.32 miners in Pecs, 1000 feet down in the pits…: a number of desperate strikes took place in 1934-1935 in the Pecs region of SW Hungary, a major coal producing area. The New York Times for 15 Oct. 1934: “1,156 Stay in Mine in Suicidal Strike; 44 Hungarian Workmen Are Brought to Surface in Critical Condition. Entombed Men Furious Angrily Reject Government’s Ultimatum and Seize Five Emissaries as Hostages”: “Forty-four out of 1,200 striking coal miners, who for three days and three nights have been entombed by their own choice 1,000 feet underground, threatening mass suicide, were brought to the surface late today in a critical condition. The rest remained below, some of them dying, still threatening to cut off the air pumps and suffocate in the coal mine pits. […] ‘Rather than suffer the slow pangs of death by starvation we will commit suicide by smothering ourselves.’ Miners’ wages amount to about $2 weekly. They demand $3.50, about 58 cents a day.”
68.15 Nineteen kilometers in the stratosphere…: through 69.24 primarily from the New York Times for 2 Oct. 1933: “Russians Thrilled by 2 New Records; Hail Feat of 22 Soviet-Built Motor Cars in Completing Test Run of 5,721 Miles. Proud of Balloon Flight Half of Moscow Turns Out to Greet Auto Caravan and Watch the Stratostat”: “Under the proud headline, ‘Two World Records,’ the newspaper Pravda, in its leading editorial today, waxes lyrical over ‘the glorious day in Soviet history’ which simultaneously witnessed the record breaking stratosphere flight and the return of twenty-two trucks and automobiles from a great endurance test over a route that included the Central Asian desert. Like the balloon, Stratostat, the automobiles are of Soviet construction […]. It was, indeed, a day of joy and enthusiasm. It was the weekly holiday, there was perfect weather, and half of Moscow, it seems, turned out to greet the returning automobiles, which, technically, finished their tour ten miles outside of the city, near Podolsk, whence they started eighty-six days ago on their journey of 5721 miles. From Podolsk the motor cars continued to Moscow and passed through a dense mass of cheering people, while far away, like a tiny silver globule, the Stratostat shone high in the southern sky. The people’s faces literally beamed with childish delight as they pointed to the distant balloon or waved their caps to welcome the heavy, dusty trucks and the automobiles which blazed with red banners and flowers. ‘It is ours,’ they said, ‘our balloon, our automobiles, our records, our proof that we no longer are behind Western industry and technique.’ The writer heard a man say to his little son perched on his shoulder as he indicated the great balloon that looked so far away and so small. ‘The last radio message said the balloon was nineteen kilometers [11.799 miles] high, further than Podolsk is from Moscow and three kilometers [1.86 miles] above the record they made in Europe.’ And the child said: ‘Three kilometers above Europe—we have caught up with and passed them this time.’ That child’s words will be echoed by millions, which is precisely what the Kremlin wants […].”
69.13 In the stratosphere the color of the sky…: through 69.24 continues quoting from the New York Times article on the Stratostat (see 68.15), giving the scientific results of the flight form which LZ quotes.
70.1 “foe of mankind,” England: apparently refers to Voltaire, Candide, the beginning of Chap. 23 when Candide and Martin stop briefly at Portsmouth, England and see an admiral being executed: “‘What the devil is all this for?’ said Candide, ‘and what demon, or foe of mankind, lords it thus tyrannically over the world?’” This phrase appears, also alluding to England, in the Cyclops chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses where “the citizen” remarks: “Where are the Greek merchants that came through the pillars of Hercules, the Gibraltar now grabbed by the foe of mankind, with gold and Tyrian purple to sell in Wexford at the fair of Carmen?”
70.5 the wealth of nations’…: echoing the title of the classic work of political economy, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776) by Adam Smith (1723-1790), which defends free market capitalism.
70.7 If the historian cares for his truths, / He is certain to falsify his facts: from The Education of Henry Adams, Chap. XXXI: “The Grammar of Science (1903)”:
“The historian must not try to know what is truth, if he values his honesty; for, if he cares for his truths, he is certain to falsify his facts. The laws of history only repeat the lines of force or thought. Yet though his will be iron, he cannot help now and then resuming his humanity or simianity in face of a fear. The motion of thought had the same value as the motion of a cannon-ball seen approaching the observer on a direct line through the air. One could watch its curve for five thousand years. Its first violent acceleration in historical times had ended in the catastrophe of 310. The next swerve of direction occurred towards 1500. Galileo and Bacon gave a still newer curve to it, which altered its values; but all these changes had never altered the continuity. Only in 1900, the continuity snapped.”
70.9 Rapprochement with an aggressor is / Like rapprochement of the lobster…: remark by Maxim Litvinoff (1876-1951), Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR from 1930-1939, when he was replaced during the negotiations leading to the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939. From the New York Times for 11 Nov. 1936: “Litvinoff Honored with Lenin Order; Soviet, Striking at Rumors of Ill Will on Part of Kremlin, Confers Highest Decoration. Stalin at the Ceremony Foreign Committee, Outlining His Policies, Repeats Offer of General Disarmament”: “’The way of so-called rapprochement with an aggressor is like the rapprochement of a lobster with a shark, the lobster hoping that the shark will not eat all of it, but only one claw.’” See 89.2 for further remarks by Litvinoff from the same article.
70.15 More difficult than to a lobster is the casting of / its shell: from Marx, Capital, Chap. 3 “Money, or the Circulation of Commodities”: “In order, therefore, that a commodity may in practice function as an exchange-value, it must quit its bodily shape, must transform itself from imaginary gold into real gold, although to the commodity this transubstantiation may be a more difficult matter than, in the Hegelian ‘conceptual world,’ is the transition from ‘necessity’ to ‘freedom,’ more difficult than to a lobster is the casting of its shell, more difficult than was to St. Jerome the putting off of the old Adam” (trans. Eden and Cedar Paul).
70.16 vis inertia: L. force of inertia. This is the title of Chap. XXX of The Education of Henry Adams, which in part reflects on the condition of Russia. Another possible source is Engels’ preface to the English edition of Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, in which he refers to tradition and particularly religion is “a great retarding force, is the vis inertiae of history.”
70.17 till when labor will have ceased…: from Marx, see 46.1 and quotation at 45.25.
70.19 People: the most valuable of all capital: from Joseph Stalin, “Address to the Graduates from the Red Army Academy,” see quotation at 66.26
70.20 1648: New York in Dutch times / Wages of Indians…: this and the following dated entry (a third was included in the original printed version of “A”-8; see Textual Notes) are evidently taken from “Historical Minutes of the Times of the Dutch,” a somewhat haphazard collection of dated facts and events from old documents included in Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York for 1860 by D.T. Valentine, a large compilation of historical documents and records. Apparently LZ was doing research into the Dutch period of New York history at this time and numerous other quotations from early historical records appear in Arise, Arise (1936); probably this research was carried out in connection with his WPA work.
70.23 1655: All Jews are ordered to depart…: the governor of New Netherlands, Peter Stuyvesant, attempted to prevent Jews from settling in the colony in 1655, although he was overruled by the directors of the Dutch West Indies Company.
70.26 Rules of this Tavern…: this notice through 71.6 can be found in various publications on the early history of NYC.
71.10 Hollow Way of General Washington’s time: Hollow Way is what is now West 125th Street, where on 16 Sept. 1776 the Battle of Harlem Heights took place.
71.13 Workingmen in Boston and New York…: in 1774 organized workers in Boston refused British efforts to help with building fortifications, supported by workers in New York. They also forcefully prevented workers from being imported to do the work. The Committees of Mechanics were early labor organizations; mechanics in this case meaning manual laborers.
71.17 “Don’t Tread on Me”: famous defiant motto on one of several flags used during the American war of independence.
71.18 Tom Jefferson defender of the Shaysites: Shays’s Rebellion was an armed protest in 1786-87 against the state government by debt-ridden farmers in western Massachusetts over the loss of their farms. In a 30 Jan. 1787 letter to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson commented sympathetically on this insurrection, adding: “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
71.19 Washington to the Jewish congregation…: from George Washington letter to the Jewish Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island 19 Aug. 1790. It is likely LZ found this in the New York Times for 26 May 1933: “Fish Awaits Test of Jewish Opinion; Will Press for Protest to the Reich by Roosevelt if It Receives United Support. Resolution in Committee Representative, as Friend of the German People, Appeals to Its Sense of Fair Play,” in which the sentence LZ quotes is given in the resolution: “Our traditional American policy towards our citizens of Jewish origin is best expressed in the words of George Washington to the Jewish congregation at Newport, in 1790: ‘May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good-will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.’”
71.26 Constructive centralization . . not indeed precisely / At the point at which Washington left it: this and much of the following pages through 80.27 are quoted from Brooks Adams, “The Heritage of Henry Adams,” the long introductory essay (pages 13-122) to Henry Adams, The Degradation of the Democratic Dogma (1919), which collects his major late essays that attempt the application of scientific laws to historical interpretation. A major thesis of Brooks in “The Heritage of Henry Adams” is the significance of John Quincy Adams as a precursor to Henry Adams’ “scientific” propensities. The essay begins by describing George Washington’s vision that a “consolidated community which should have the energy to cohere must be the product of a social system resting on converging highways […]” (Degradation of the Democratic Dogma 14), which however was left unrealized at his death, “And it was then that John Quincy Adams took up the theory of constructive centralization, not indeed precisely at the point at which Washington had left it, but with the expansion due to the operation upon the problem of a profound scientific mind” (20).
71.28: “Light-houses of the skies”…: this was John Quincy Adams’ poetic designation for observatories, of which he was an enthusiastic supporter (61).
72.1: something / Of awful enjoyment…: through 72.10 quoted from John Quincy Adams in “The Heritage of Henry Adams”: “‘To me, the observation of the sun, moon, and stars has been for a great portion of my life a pleasure of gratified curiosity, of ever returning wonder, and of reverence for the Creator and mover of these unnumbered worlds. There is something of awful enjoyment in observing the rising and setting of the sun. That flashing beam of his first appearance upon the horizon; that sinking of the last ray beneath it; that perpetual revolution of the Great and Little Bear round the pole; that rising of the whole constellation of Orion from the horizontal to the perpendicular position, and his ride through the heavens, with his belt, his nebulous sword, and his four corner stars of the first magnitude, are sources of delight to me which never tire…. There is, indeed, intermingled with all this a painful desire to know more of this stupendous system; of sorrow in reflecting how little we can ever know of it; and of almost desponding hope that we may know more to it hereafter’” (60).
72.11: As cold as Nova Zembla…: through 72.18 from “The Heritage of Henry Adams” describing a journey John Quincy Adams took to Cincinnati in Nov. 1843 at age 77 to give a speech at the dedication of a new observatory, in which he used the phrase “light-houses of the skies,” much to the derisive amusement of his detractors. Nova Zembla is a group of Russian islands in the Arctic Ocean: “At Springfield the weather turned cold. In crossing the river at Albany ‘I felt as it I were incrusted in a bed of snow.’ In the morning he was awakened by the hail. The train was frozen to the rails, and could not be broken free for an hour. At Buffalo his accommodation was wretched, and on Lake Erie he met a fierce snow storm, and was wind-bound for a day and a half, ‘as cold as Nova Zembla.’ [Continuing by boat on the Ohio canal:] He lay in a compartment ‘with an iron stove in the centre, and side settees, on which four of us slept, feet to feet,’ next to ‘a bulging stable’ for the horses. Moving at about two miles and a half an hour, bumping into all the innumerable locks, until the boat ‘staggers along like a stumbling nag,’ Mr. Adams sometimes tried to write amidst babel, and sometimes played euchre, of which he had never heard before” (68-69).
72.19 The Schleswig-Holsteiners…: from Engels letter to Friedrich Adolf Sorge, 8 Feb. 1890: “The Schleswig-Holsteiners [Anglo-Saxons] and their descendants in England and America are not to be converted by lecturing, this pig-headed and conceited lot have got to experience it on their own bodies. And this they are doing more and more every year, but they are born conservatives—just because America is so purely bourgeois, so entirely without a feudal past and therefore proud of its purely bourgeois organization—and so they will only get quit of the old traditional mental rubbish by practical experience. Hence the trade unions, etc., are the thing to begin with if there is to be a mass movement, and every further step must be forced upon them by a defeat. But once the first step beyond the bourgeois point of view has been taken things will move quickly, like everything in America, where, driven by natural necessity, the growing speed of the movement sets some requisite fire going under the backsides of the Schleswig-Holstein Anglo-Saxons, who are usually so slow; and then too the foreign elements in the nation will assert themselves by greater mobility.”
73.1 Democracy would not permit…: through 73.8 from Brooks Adams, “The Heritage of Henry Adams” (Degradation of the Democratic Dogma 121):
“As John Quincy Adams discovered in 1828, democracy would not permit the ablest staff of officials, to be chosen by him, to administer the public trust. Democracy, on the contrary, has insisted on degrading the public service to a common level of incapacity, thereby throwing the management of all difficult public problems, such as the use of railroads and canals, into private hands, in order that they might escape ruin, and thence has come the predicament in which we, in particular, and the world at large, now stand. The democratic principle of public conduct has always been ‘that to the victor belongs the spoil,’ and public property has been administered accordingly. It is the system of averages or of levelling downward. We see it in the trade union. The wage is fixed according to the capacity of the feeblest workman, precisely as the pace of the regiment is fixed by the walk of the slowest horse. But under nature’s system of competition the opposite tendency prevails, and prevails to a terrible excess, even to the excess of war. And social war, or massacre, would seem to be the natural ending of the democratic philosophy.”
73.9: Destroying everything of which I had planted the germ…: “In 1828 [John Quincy Adams] matured a plan to preserve a forest of live-oak near Pensacola, because the natural history of the live-oak had many singularities and had not been observed; and this plantation was growing luxuriantly, and numbered upwards of a hundred thousand trees, to which he added a nursery of seedlings that their habits might be observed. All this, as Adams bitterly observed afterward, ‘is to be abandoned by the stolid ignorance and stupid malignity of John Branch and of his filthy subaltern, Amos Kendall.’ He could not reconcile himself ‘to the malicious pleasure of (Jackson’s administration,) of destroying everything of which I had planted the germ‘” (52-53).
73.14 1828. American Workingmen’s Party…: a very early worker’s party formed in New York City in 1828 advocating various progressive issues: a ten-hour work day, free public education, end to imprisonment for debt, abolition of chartered monopolies.
73.22 QUIET / is requested…: this sign through 73.26 was commonly used on Pullman sleeper cars at night.
74.1 Cardanus, for example…: through 75.3 excerpted and somewhat rearranged from Marx letter to Engel, 28 Jan. 1863:
“You may or may not know, for in itself the question does not matter, that there is great dispute as to what distinguishes a machine from a tool. English (mathematical) mechanics, in their crude way, call a tool a simple machine and a machine a complicated tool. English technologists, however, who pay rather more attention to economics (and who are followed by many, by most, of the English economists) base the distinction between the two on the fact that in one case the motive power is derived from human beings, in the other from a natural force. The German asses, who are great at these small things, have therefore concluded that, for instance, a plough is a machine, while the most complicated spinning-jenny, etc., in so far as it is worked by hand, is not. But now if we look round at the elementary forms of the machine there is no question at all that the industrial revolution starts, not from the motive power but from that section of machinery which the English call the working machine. Thus, for instance, the revolution was not due to the substitution of water or steam for the action of the foot in turning the spinning-wheel, but to the transformation of the immediate process of spinning itself and to the displacement of that portion of human labour which was not merely the ‘exertion of power’ (as in working the treadle of the wheel) but was directly applied to the working up of the raw material. On the other hand, it is equally certain that when it is a question, not of the historical development of machinery but of machinery on the basis of the present method of production, the working machine (for instance, the sewing-machine) is the only determining factor; for as soon as this process has been mechanized everyone nowadays knows that the thing can be moved by hand, water-power or a stream-engine according to its size.
To pure mathematicians these questions are indifferent, but they become very important when it is a case of proving the connection between the social relations of human beings and the development of these material methods of production.
The re-reading of my technical-historical extracts has led me to the opinion that, apart from the discoveries of gunpowder, the compass and printing—those necessary pre-requisites of bourgeois development—the two material bases on which the preparations for machine industry were organized within manufacture during the period from the sixteenth to the middle of the eighteenth century (the period in which manufacture was developing from handicraft into actual large-scale industry) were the clock and the mill (at first the corn mill, that is, a water mill). Both were inherited from the ancients. (The water-mill was introduced into Rome from Asia Minor in the time of Julius Caesar.) The clock is the first automatic machine applied to practical purposes; the whole theory of the production of regular motion developed through it. Its nature is such that it is based on a combination of half-artistic handicraft and direct theory. Cardanus, for instance, wrote about (and gave practical formulae for) the construction of clocks. German authors of the sixteenth century called clock-making ‘learned handicraft’ (i.e., not of the guilds) and it would be possible to show from the development of the clock how entirely different the relation between theoretical learning and practice was on the basis of the handicraft from what it is, for instance, in large-scale industry. There is also no doubt that in the eighteenth century the idea of applying automatic devices (moved by springs) to production was first suggested by the clock. It can be proved historically that Vaucanson’s experiments on these lines had a tremendous influence on the imagination of the English inventors.
The mill, on the other hand, from the very beginning, as soon as the water-mill was produced, supplies the essential distinctions in the organism of a machine: the mechanical driving power—prime motor—on which it depends; the transmitting mechanism; and, finally, the working machine, which deals with the material—each with an existence independent of the others. The theory of friction, and with it the investigation into the mathematical forms of wheel-work, cogs, etc., were all developed at the mill; here first ditto the theory of measurement of the degree of motive power, of the best way of employing it, etc. Almost all the great mathematicians after the middle of the seventeenth century, so far as they occupied themselves with practical mechanics and its theoretical side, started from the simple corn-grinding water-mill. And indeed this was why the name mill came to be applied during the manufacturing period to all mechanical forms of motive power adapted to practical purposes.
But with the mill, as with the press, the forge, the plough, etc., the actual work of beating, crushing, grinding, pulverization, etc., from the very first without human labour, even though the moving force was human or animal. This kind of machinery is therefore very ancient, at least in its origins, and actual mechanical propulsion was formerly applied to it. Hence it is also practically the only machinery found in the manufacturing period. The industrial revolution begins as soon as mechanism is employed where from ancient times onwards the final result has always required human labour; not, that is to say, where, as with the tools just mentioned, the actual material to be dealt with has never, from the beginning, been dealt with by the human hand, but where, from the nature of the thing, man has not from the very first merely acted as power. If one is to follow the German asses in calling the use of animal power (which is just as much voluntary movement as human power) machinery, then the use of this kind of locomotive is at any rate much older than the simplest handicraft tool.”
75.2 Jacques de Vaucanson: (1709-1782) French inventor who created several famous automatons, including The Flute Player and a hissing snake used in a play about Cleopatra. In 1741 Cardinal Fleury, chief minister of Louis XV, appointed him inspector of the silk industry where he made many improvements in the machinery, including creating the first fully automated loom. The information in parenthesis at 75.4-10 is not in Marx, but from a note to the passage quoted in the preceding in the edition of the Marx-Engels: Selected Correspondence LZ used.
75.12 The way the North is conducting the war…: from Marx to Engels, 10 Sept. 1862, commenting on the American Civil War: “As for the Yankees, I am as certain as ever in my opinion that the North will win in the end…. The way in which the North is conducting the war is only what might have been expected from a bourgeois republic, where fraud has been enthroned king so long. The South, an oligarchy, is better adapted to it, especially an oligarchy where the whole productive work falls on the niggers and the four millions of ‘white trash’ are professional filibusters. All the same I would bet my head that these fellows get the worst of it, in spite of ‘Stonewall Jackson.’ It is possible, of course, that before this things may come to a sort of revolution in the North itself.”
75.21 All Lincoln’s Acts…: from Marx to Engels, 29 Oct. 1862, continuing about the Civil War: “The fury with which the Southerners have received Lincoln’s Acts proves their importance. All Lincoln’s Acts appear like the mean pettifogging conditions which one lawyer puts to his opposing lawyer. But this does not alter their historic content, and indeed it amuses me when I compare them with the drapery in which the Frenchman envelops even the most unimportant point.”
75.29 Parisian gentlemen…: from Marx to Ludwig Kugelmann, 9 Oct. 1866: “I had great fears for the first Congress at Geneva. […] The Parisian gentlemen had their heads full of the emptiest Proudhonist phrases. They babble about science and know nothing. They scorn all revolutionary action, i.e., action arising out of the class struggle itself, all concentrated social movements, and therefore all those which can be carried through by political means (e.g., the legal limitation of the working day). […] I was very pleased with the American Workers’ Congress at Baltimore which took place at the same time. The slogan there was organization for the struggle against capital, and curiously enough most of the demands which I drew up for Geneva were also put forward by the correct instinct of the workers.”
76.9 1869: A Chapter of Erie…: “A Chapter of Erie” is an essay from Chapters of Erie and Other Essays by Charles Francis Adams and Henry Adams (1871), from which most through 78.31 is taken. This essay describes the highly complicated economic manipulations concerning the Erie Railroad that took place in 1868, involving systematic legal and political corruption.
76.10: Ten o’clock the astonished police…: from “A Chapter of Erie”: “The morning of the 11th [March 1869] found the Erie leaders still transacting business at the office of the corporation in West Street. It would seem that these gentlemen, in spite of the glaring contempt for the process of the courts of which they had been guilty, had made no arrangements for an orderly retreat beyond the jurisdiction of the tribunals they had set at defiance. They were speedily roused from their real or affected tranquility by trustworthy intelligence that processes for contempt were already issued against them, and that their only chance of escape from incarceration lay in precipitate flight. At ten o’clock the astonished police saw a throng of panic-stricken railway directors—looking more like a frightened gang of thieves, disturbed in the division of their plunder, than like the wealthy representatives of a great corporation—rush headlong from the doors of the Erie office, and dash off in the direction of the Jersey ferry. In their hands were packages and files of papers, and their pockets were crammed with assets and securities. One individual bore away with him in a hackney-coach bales containing six millions of dollars in greenbacks. Other members of the board followed under cover of the night; some of them, not daring to expose themselves to the publicity of a ferry, attempted to cross in open boats concealed by the darkness and a March fog. Two directors, who lingered, were arrested; but a majority of the Executive Committee collected at the Erie Station in Jersey City, and there, free from any apprehension of Judge Barnard’s pursuing wrath, proceeded to the transaction of business.”
76.21 (Ribbed Gothic and grilled iron): this curious detail is an interpolated personal image referring to the Erie railroad station in Jersey City, N.J.; for its association with WCW see 15.374.6.
76.23 Doll said: “A captain!…: through 77.2 from C.F. and Henry Adams, “A Chapter of Erie” (see 76.9):
76.23-76.26: “Meanwhile the conquerors—the men whose names had been made notorious through the whole land in all these infamous proceedings—were at last undisputed masters of the situation, and no man questioned the firmness of their grasp on the Erie Railway. They walked erect and proud of their infamy through the streets of our great cities; they voluntarily subjected themselves to that to which other depredators are compelled to submit, and, by exposing their portraits in public conveyances, converted noble steamers into branch galleries of a police-office; nay, more, they bedizened their persons with gold lace, and assumed honored titles, until those who witnessed in silent contempt their strange antics were disposed to exclaim in the language of poor Doll Tearsheet: ‘An Admiral! God’s light, these villains will make the word as odious as the word “occupy,” which was an excellent good word before it was ill sorted; therefore, Admirals had need look to ’t.’” This last quotation from Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2, II.iv: Doll Tearsheet is a prostitute and part of the disreputable crowd that hangs out with Falstaff.
76.27: The old maxim of the common law…: through 78.2 from the concluding two paragraphs of “A Chapter of Erie” (see 76.9):
“One leading feature of these developments, however, is, from its political aspect, especially worthy of the attention of the American people. Modern society has created a class of artificial beings who bid fair soon to be the masters of their creator. It is but a very few years since the existence of a corporation controlling a few millions of dollars was regarded as a subject of grave apprehension, and now this country already contains single organizations which wield a power represented by hundreds of millions. These bodies are the creatures of single States; but in New York, in Pennsylvania, in Maryland, in New Jersey, and not in those States alone, they are already establishing despotisms which no spasmodic popular effort will be able to shake off. Everywhere, and at all times, however, they illustrate the truth of the old maxim of the common law, that corporations have no souls. Only in New York has any intimation yet been given of what the future may have in store for us should these great powers become mere tools in the hands of ambitious, reckless men. The system of corporate life and corporate power, as applied to industrial development, is yet in its infancy. It tends always to development, —always to consolidation, —it is ever grasping new powers, or insidiously exercising covert influence. Even now the system threatens the central government. The Erie Railway represents a weak combination compared to those which day by day are consolidating under the unsuspecting eyes of the community. A very few years more, and we shall see corporations as much exceeding the Erie and the New York Central in both ability and will for corruption as they will exceed those roads in wealth and in length of iron track. We shall see these great corporations spanning the continent from ocean to ocean, —single, consolidated lines, not connecting Albany with Buffalo, or Lake Erie with the Hudson, but uniting the Atlantic and the Pacific, and bringing New York nearer to San Francisco than Albany once was to Buffalo. Already the disconnected members of these future leviathans have built up States in the wilderness, and chosen their attorneys senators of the United States. Now their power is in its infancy; in a very few years they will re-enact, on a larger theatre and on a grander scale, with every feature magnified, the scenes which were lately witnessed on the narrow stage of a single State. The public corruption is the foundation on which corporations always depend for their political power. There is a natural tendency to coalition between them and the lowest strata of political intelligence and morality; for their agents must obey, not question. They exact success, and do not cultivate political morality. The lobby is their home, and the lobby thrives as political virtue decays. The ring is their symbol of power, and the ring is the natural enemy of political purity and independence. All this was abundantly illustrated in the events which have just been narrated. The existing coalition between the Erie Railway and the Tammany ring is a natural one, for the former needs votes, the latter money. This combination now controls the legislature and courts of New York; that it controls also the Executive of the State, as well as that of the city, was proved when Governor Hoffman recorded his reasons for signing the infamous Erie Directors’ Bill. It is a new power, for which our language contains no name. We know what aristocracy, autocracy, democracy are; but we have no word to express government by moneyed corporations. Yet the people already instinctively seek protection against it, and look for such protection, significantly enough, not to their own legislatures, but to the single autocratic feature retained in our system of government, —the veto by the Executive. In this there is something more imperial than republican. The people have lost faith in themselves when they cease to have any faith in those whom they uniformly elect to represent them. The change that has taken place in this respect of late years in America has been startling in its rapidity. Legislation is more and more falling into contempt, and this not so much on account of the extreme ignorance manifested in it as because of the corrupt motives which are believed habitually to actuate it. Thus the influence of corporations and of class interests is steadily destroying that belief in singleness of purpose which alone enables a representative government to exist, and the community is slowly accustoming itself to look for protection, not to public opinion, but to some man in high place and armed with great executive powers. Him they now think they can hold to some accountability. It remains to be seen what the next phase in this process of gradual development will be. History never quite repeats itself, and, as was suggested in the first pages of this narrative, the old familiar enemies may even now confront us, though arrayed in such a modern garb that no suspicion is excited. Americans are apt pupils, and among them there are probably some who have not observed Fisk and Vanderbilt and Hoffman without a thought of bettering their instructions. No successful military leader will repeat in America the threadbare experiences of Europe; —the executive power is not likely to be seized while the legislative is suppressed. The indications would now seem rather to point towards the corruption of the legislative and a quiet assumption of the executive through some combination in one vigorous hand of those influences which throughout this narrative have been seen only in conflict. As the Erie ring represents the combination of the corporation and the hired proletariat of a great city; as Vanderbilt embodies the autocratic power of Cæsarism introduced into corporate life, and as neither alone can obtain complete control of the government of the State, it, perhaps, only remains for the coming man to carry the combination of elements one step in advance, and put Cæsarism at once in control of the corporation and of the proletariat, to bring our vaunted institutions within the rule of all historic precedent.
It is not pleasant to take such views of the future; yet they are irresistibly suggested by the events which have been narrated. They seem to be in the nature of direct inferences. The only remedy lies in a renovated public opinion; but no indication of this has as yet been elicited. People did indeed, at one time, watch these Erie developments with interest, but the feeling excited was rather one of amazement than of indignation. Even where a real indignation was excited, it led to no sign of any persistent effort at reform; it betrayed itself only in aimless denunciation or in sad forebodings. The danger, however, is day by day increasing, and the period during which the work of regeneration should begin grows always shorter. It is true that evils ever work their own cure, but the cure for the evils of Roman civilization was worked out through ten centuries of barbarism. It remains to be seen whether this people retains that moral vigor which can alone awaken a sleeping public opinion to healthy and persistent activity, or whether to us also will apply these words of the latest and best historian of the Roman republic [Theodor Mommsen]: ‘What Demosthenes said of his Athenians was justly applied to the Romans of this period; that people were very zealous for action so long as they stood round the platform and listened to proposals of reform; but, when they went home, no one thought further of what he had heard in the market-place. However those reformers might stir the fire, it was to no purpose, for the inflammable material was wanting.’”
77.18 hymn to—Latinity: latinity means the manner in which Latin is used in speaking or writing; or can refer to Latin literature generally. However, in the present context, LZ is undoubtedly associating the term with Mussolini and Italian fascism, who incessantly evoked the glory of the Roman Empire to promote their brand of nationalism. In My Autobiography (1928), Mussolini remarks: “I am desperately Italian. I believe in the function of Latinity.”
78.3 1871. Henry Adams. My book is out…: from 2 Oct. 1871 letter to Charles Milnes Gaskell (see 58.23) referring to Chapters of Erie (see 76.9) written with his older brother, Charles Francis Adams: “My book is out, and you will receive a copy in due course. My own share in the volume is as you will see, less than half and nothing new. Of course the thing was not expected to make a noise, being a mere re-print, and although of course few works except possibly some few of Aristotle and Bacon contain anything to compare with the wisdom of this, still I am aware that it is vain to expect proper appreciation in this world and I have my doubts whether I shall fare much better in any other. You however will support me, I am sure, in my indifference to vulgar opinion” ( 215-216).
78.13 As one cannot doubt foreign press dispatches…: in 1936 it was rumored that Stalin was ill or even dead, so the AP Moscow bureau chief, Charles P. Nutter, wrote directly to Stalin for the facts and received the letter LZ quotes, which was reported in the New York Times for 1 Nov. 1936: “I know from the reports of the foreign press that I long ago abandoned this sinful world and moved into the other world. As one cannot doubt such foreign press dispatches unless he wants to be expelled from the list of civilized people, I request you to believe them and don’t disturb me in the calm of the other world.”
78.19 By means of this simple and smooth machinery…: through 78.31 from “The New York Gold Conspiracy” in Chapters of Erie (see 76.9). The opening paragraph:
“The civil war in America, with its enormous issues of depreciating currency, and its reckless waste of money and credit by the government, created a speculative mania such as the United States, with all its experience in this respect, had never before known. Not only in Broad Street, the centre of New York speculation, but far and wide throughout the Northern States, almost every man who had money at all employed a part of his capital in the purchase of stocks or of gold, of copper, of petroleum, or of domestic produce, in the hope of a rise in prices, or staked money on the expectation of a fall. To use the jargon of the street, every farmer and every shopkeeper in the country seemed to be engaged in ‘carrying’ some favorite security ‘on a margin.’ Whoever could obtain five pounds sent it to a broker with orders to buy fifty pounds’ worth of stocks, or whatever amount the broker would consent to purchase. If the stock rose, the speculator prospered; if it fell until the five pounds of deposit or margin were lost, the broker demanded a new deposit, or sold the stock to protect himself. By means of this simple and smooth machinery, which differs in no essential respect from the processes of roulette or rouge-et-noir, the whole nation flung itself into the Stock Exchange, until the ‘outsiders,’ as they were called, in opposition to the regular brokers of Broad Street, represented nothing less than the entire population of the American Republic. Every one speculated, and for a time every one speculated successfully.”
78.22: I went down to the neighborhood of Wall Street…: through 78.31 conflates two episodes of meetings with the financier James Fisk recounted by Abel Rathbone Corbin. Primarily LZ quotes Fisk’s first meeting with President Grant, arranged through Corbin, who was married to the president’s sister; the Adams’ essay describes how Fisk and his partner Jay Gould subsequently worked to influence Grant’s economic policies to their advantage.
79.1 The Romans, after the Battle of Magnesia…: through 79.5 from the Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., Vol. 19, page 910, on “Greek Coins”: “On Alexander’s conquest autonomy is granted to the much-enduring Hellenic communities, and is again interrupted, but only partially, by the rule of his successors, for there was no time at which Asia Minor was wholly parceled out among the kings, Greek or native. The Romans, after the battle of Magnesia (190 B.C.), repeated Alexander’s policy so far as the cities of the western coast were concerned, and there is a fresh outburst of coinage, which, in remembrance, follows the well-known types of Alexander. When the province of Asia was constituted and the neighbouring states fell one by one under Roman rule, the autonomy of the great cities was generally reduced to a shadow.”
79.6 1893. Brooks Adams / Henry, like the good brother he was…: through 79.18 from Brooks Adams, “The Heritage of Henry Adams” in Degradation of the Democratic Dogma 90-92 (see 71.26). Ahearn points out that the jump from 1871 at 78.3 to 1893 at 79.6 mirrors an identical gap in The Education of Henry Adams during which Adams felt his “education” lapsed. This passage, as well as those at 80.5-12, are from Brooks Adams’ account of the panic of 1893, which precipitated several years of economic depression and threatened the Adamses with complete bankruptcy. The quoted remarks at 79.11-18 concern the manuscript of Brooks Adams’ The Law of Civilization and Decay (1895), which he asked Henry to read, who responded with the quoted warning.
79.19 It will be remarked that these are matters…: through 80.4 from Thorstein Veblen, The Vested Interests and the State of the Industrial Arts (1919): “A vested interest is a marketable right to get something for nothing. This does not mean that the vested interests cost nothing. They may even come high. Particularly may their cost seem high if the cost to the community is taken into account, as well as the expenditure incurred by their owners for their production and up-keep. Vested interests are immaterial wealth, intangible assets. As regards their nature and origin, they are the outgrowth of three main lines of businesslike management: (a) Limitation of supply, with a view to profitable sales; (b) Obstruction of traffic, with a view to profitable sales; and (c) Meretricious publicity, with a view to profitable sales. It will be remarked that these are matters of business, in the strict sense. They are devices of salesmanship, not of workmanship; they are ways and means of driving a bargain, not ways and means of producing goods or services. The residue which stands over as a product of these endeavors is in the nature of an intangible asset, an article of immaterial wealth; not an increase of the tangible equipment or the material resources in hand. The enterprising owners of the concern may be richer by that much, and so perhaps may the business community as a whole—though that is a precariously dubious point—but the community at large is no better off in any material respect.”
80.5 “It is now full four generations …: through 80.27 from Brooks Adams, “The Heritage of Henry Adams” in Degradation of the Democratic Dogma (see 71.26); this remark by Brooks Adams qtd. 93.
80.10: Hot August . . and talked endlessly…: “If I live forever, I shall never forget that summer. Henry and I sat in the hot August evenings and talked endlessly of the panic [of 1893] and of our hopes and fears, and of my historical and economic theories, and so the season wore away amidst an excitement verging on revolution” (94).
80.13: 1895. “Dear Brooks: / “The nations, after a display of dreadful / Bad manners…: qtd. from a letter by Henry Adams: “’As far as I can see, the scrimmage is over. The nations, after a display of dreadful bad manners, are settling down, afraid to fight. The gold-bugs have resumed their sway, with their nerves a good deal shaken, but their tempers or their sense unimproved.
Cleveland and Olney have relapsed into their normal hog-like attitudes of indifference, and Congress is disorganized, stupid and childlike as ever. Once more we are under the whip of the bankers. Even on Cuba, where popular feeling was far stronger than on Venezuela, we are beaten and hopeless. . . .
My turn will come next, and I am all ready and glad to get through it. The last six weeks have given me much to think about. Were we on the edge of a new and last great centralization, or of a first great movement of disintegration? There are facts on both sides; but my conclusion rather is—and this is what satiates my instinct for life—that our so-called civilization has shown its movement, even at the centre, arrested. It has failed to concentrate further. Its next effort may succeed, but it is more likely to be one of disintegration, with Russia for the eccentric on the one side and American on the other. . . .’” (98).
80.29 Active, vibrating, mostly unconscious…: through 82.10 primarily from The Education of Henry Adams (1918), Chap. 27: “Teufelsdröckh (1901)”: “Thus the student of Hegel prepared himself for a visit to Russia in order to enlarge his ‘synthesis’—and much he needed it! In America all were conservative Christian anarchists; the faith was national, racial, geographic. The true American had never seen such supreme virtue in any of the innumerable shades between social anarchy and social order as to mark it for exclusively human and his own. He never had known a complete union either in Church or State or thought, and had never seen any need for it. The freedom gave him courage to meet any contradiction, and intelligence enough to ignore it. Exactly the opposite condition had marked Russian growth. The Czar’s empire was a phase of conservative Christian anarchy more interesting to history than all the complex variety of American newspapers, schools, trusts, sects, frauds, and Congressmen. These were Nature—pure and anarchic as the conservative Christian anarchist saw Nature—active, vibrating, mostly unconscious, and quickly reacting on force; but, from the first glimpse one caught from the sleeping-car window, in the early morning, of the Polish Jew at the accidental railway station, in all his weird horror, to the last vision of the Russian peasant, lighting his candle and kissing his ikon before the railway Virgin in the station at St. Petersburg, all was logical, conservative, Christian and anarchic. Russia had nothing in common with any ancient or modern world that history knew; she had been the oldest source of all civilization in Europe, and had kept none for herself; neither Europe nor Asia had ever known such a phase, which seemed to fall into no line of evolution whatever, and was as wonderful to the student of Gothic architecture in the twelfth century, as to the student of the dynamo in the twentieth. Studied in the dry light of conservative Christian anarchy, Russia became luminous like the salt of radium; but with a negative luminosity as though she were a substance whose energies had been sucked out—an inert residuum—with movement of pure inertia. From the car window one seemed to float past undulations of nomad life—herders deserted by their leaders and herds—wandering waves stopped in their wanderings—waiting for their winds or warriors to return and lead them westward; tribes that had camped, like Khirgis, for the season, and had lost the means of motion without acquiring the habit of permanence. They waited and suffered. As they stood they were out of place, and could never have been normal. Their country acted as a sink of energy like the Caspian Sea, and its surface kept the uniformity of ice and snow. One Russian peasant kissing an ikon on a saint’s day, in the Kremlin, served for a hundred million. The student had no need to study Wallace, or re-read Tolstoy or Tourguenieff or Dostoiewski to refresh his memory of the most poignant analysis of human inertia ever put in words; Gorky was more than enough: Kropotkin answered every purpose.”
81.1 (Brooks: men work unconsciously . . / perform an act…: from Brooks Adams, “The Heritage of Henry Adams”: “Mostly men work unconsciously, and perform an act, before they can explain why often centuries before. Throughout the ages it had been the favorite device of the creditor class first to work a contraction of the currency, which bankrupted the debtors, and then to cause an inflation which created a rise when they sold the property which they had impounded” (Degradation of the Democratic Dogma 95).
81.18 Rhymes and rhymers pass away . . : from Walt Whitman, “As I Sat Alone by Blue Ontario’s Shore,” section 13; see 65.33:
Rhymes and rhymers pass away—poems distill’d from foreign poems pass away,
The swarms of reflectors and the polite pass, and leave ashes,
Admirers, importers, obedient persons, make but the soul of literature;
America justifies itself, give it time—no disguise can deceive it, or conceal from it—it is impassive enough,
Only toward the likes of itself will it advance to meet them,
If its poets appear it will in due time advance to meet them, there is no fear of mistake,
(The proof of a poet shall be sternly deferr’d, till his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorb’d it.)
82.11 Dreary forests of Russia…: through 82.31 continuing from The Education of Henry Adams, Chap. 27 (see 80.29):
“The tourist-student, having duly reflected, asked the Senator whether he should allow three generations, or more, to swing the Russian people into the Western movement. The Senator seemed disposed to ask for more. The student had nothing to say. For him, all opinion founded on fact must be error, because the facts can never be complete, and their relations must be always infinite. Very likely, Russia would instantly become the most brilliant constellation of human progress through all the ordered stages of good; but meanwhile one might give a value as movement of inertia to the mass, and assume a slow acceleration that would, at the end of a generation, leave the gap between east and west relatively the same. […]
The Germans, Scandinavians, Poles and Hungarians, energetic as they were, had never held their own against the heterogeneous mass of inertia called Russia, and trembled with terror whenever Russia moved. From Stockholm one looked back on it as though it were an ice-sheet, and so had Stockholm watched it for centuries. In contrast with the dreary forests of Russia and the stern streets of St. Petersburg, Stockholm seemed a southern vision, and Sweden lured the tourist on. Through a cheerful New England landscape and bright autumn, he rambled northwards till he found himself at Trondhjem and discovered Norway. Education crowded upon him in immense masses as he triangulated these vast surfaces of history about which he had lectured and read for a life-time. When the historian fully realizes his ignorance—which sometimes happens to Americans—he becomes even more tiresome to himself than to others, because his naïveté is irrepressible. Adams could not get over his astonishment, though he had preached the Norse doctrine all his life against the stupid and beer-swilling Saxon boors whom Freeman loved, and who, to the despair of science, produced Shakespeare. Mere contact with Norway started voyages of thought, and, under their illusions, he took the mail steamer to the north, and on September 14, reached Hammerfest.
Frivolous amusement was hardly what one saw, through the equinoctial twilight, peering at the flying tourist, down the deep fiords, from dim patches of snow, where the last Laps and reindeer were watching the mail-steamer thread the intricate channels outside, as their ancestors had watched the first Norse fishermen learn them in the succession of time; but it was not the Laps, or the snow, or the arctic gloom, that impressed the tourist, so much as the lights of an electro-magnetic civilization and the stupefying contrast with Russia, which more and more insisted on taking the first place in historical interest. Nowhere had the new forces so vigorously corrected the errors of the old, or so effectively redressed the balance of the ecliptic. As one approached the end—the spot where, seventy years before, a futile Carlylean Teufelsdröckh had stopped to ask futile questions of the silent infinite—the infinite seemed to have become loquacious, not to say familiar, chattering gossip in one’s ear. An installation of electric lighting and telephones led tourists close up to the polar ice-cap, beyond the level of the magnetic pole; and there the newer Teufelsdröckh sat dumb with surprise, and glared at the permanent electric lights of Hammerfest. […]
No such strange chance had ever happened to a historian before, and it upset for the moment his whole philosophy of conservative anarchy. The acceleration was marvelous, and wholly in the lines of unity. To recover his grasp of chaos, he must look back across the gulf to Russia, and the gap seemed to have suddenly become an abyss. Russia was infinitely distant. Yet the nightmare of the glacial ice-cap still pressed down on him from the hills, in full vision, and no one could look out on the dusky and oily sea that lapped these spectral islands without consciousness that only a day’s steaming to the northward would bring him to the ice-barrier, ready at any moment to advance, which obliged tourists to stop where Laps and reindeer and Norse fishermen had stopped so long ago that memory of their very origin was lost. Adams had never before met a ne plus ultra, and knew not what to make of it; but he felt at least the emotion of his Norwegian fishermen ancestors, doubtless numbering hundreds of thousands, jammed with their faces to the sea, the ice on the north, the ice-cap of Russian inertia pressing from behind, and the ice a trifling danger compared with the inertia. From the day they first followed the retreating ice-cap round the North Cape, down to the present moment, their problem was the same.”
82.32 Then feed, and be fat…: from Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2 II.iv:
Pistol: Then feed, and be fat, my fair Calipolis.
Come, give ’s some sack.
“Si fortune me tormente, sperato me contento.”
Fear we broadsides? No, let the fiend give fire:
Give me some sack: and, sweetheart, lie thou there.
[Laying down his sword.]
Come we to full points here, and are etceteras nothing?
83.2 Arrived mostly with bedding in a sheet…: this passage almost certainly records the arrival of LZ’s father, Pinchos (c. 1860-1950), in America from Lithuania, then part of Russia in 1898; see 12.151.10.
83.7 railroad flat: an apartment in which the rooms are connected in a line (AHD), which would have been a typical arrangement in the narrow tenements of the Lower East Side. In the 1920s, Zukofsky’s family moved uptown to East 111th Street.
83.24 Grasso in “Scuro”…: probably the renown Sicilian actor, Giovanni Grasso (1873-1930), not to be confused with his younger cousin with the same name who was a successful film actor (1888-1963). Grasso performed frequently in the lower East Side in its heyday as a theater district and was particularly known for performing Sicilian dialect plays. “Scuro,” which means dark or darkness, is not definitely identified but might refer to Othello, which Grasso performed with considerable success.
83.25 His older brother took him (the baby) / to the theatre…: Cf. LZ’s Autobiography: “My first exposure to letters at the age of four was thru the Yiddish theater, most memorably the Thalia on the Bowery. By the age of nine I had seen a good deal of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Strindberg and Tolstoy performed—all in Yiddish” (33).The older brother was Morris Ephraim Zukowsky, co-dedicatee of “A”-21, where this passage is partially echoed in the first Epilogue (21.507.11-13). LZ was the youngest sibling and the only one born in America.
83.30 Let me tell you about the state of Pennsylvania / said Bob: Bob, who is mentioned several times in the following pages and presumably is the source of some of what is related, is Robert Allison Evans (c.1885-1943), a mining engineer and poet who LZ met in the mid-1930s and whose work he enthusiastically tried to promote (see also next note). LZ remarks in an 18 Jan. 1936 letter to EP that Evans worked for a quarter century in the Pennsylvania mines, became a mining executive until he was fired for attempting to advise the operators how to run their business (qtd. WCW/LZ 226). LZ was responsible for the appearance of a set of Evans’ poems in New Masses (4 Feb. 1936) under the title, “From the Anthracite” (see here). See LZ’s 1943 tribute to Evans, “R.A.E.” (CSP 120).
83.32 Below the Grass Roots…: this is the title of an unpublished volume of poetry by Robert Allison Evans (see preceding note), including a poem entitled “The Patch” (see 84.1). Evans’ poetry deals realistically and satirically with the lives of Pennsylvannia coal miners in traditional poetic forms. In a 10 March 1943 letter to WCW, LZ mentions both Below the Grass Roots and a novel on miners (WCW/LZ 323). Evans is almost certainly the major source for the following passage through 85.5 and is the “Bob” referred to (see note at 84.14). “Patch” evidently refers to the rough shanty town built by the mine owners; “culm” is the waste materials—coal dust, dirt, etc.—from anthracite coal mines, but also can mean the stem of grass or similar plants.
84.14 I hail / From William Penn: LZ’s 18 Jan. 1936 letter to EP mentions that Robert Allison Evans (see 83.30) was descended from William Penn (1644-1718), the progressive founder of the colony of Pennsylvania.
85.6 Wherever I sit / Is the head of the table: often attributed to H.L. Mencken, although variations on this quip are wide-spread. In the original publication of “A”-8 in New Directions 1938, LZ attributes this to “Morris Raphael Fable,” probably referring to his brother Morris Ephraim (see 83.25).
85.7 Not too / Near Spinoza refusing a new coat…: from Anton Reiser, Albert Einstein: A Biographical Portrait, whose English version was translated by LZ and published 1930: “Nothing is more foreign to [Einstein] than elegance: or ceremonial garb. In this he agrees with Spinoza, who refused a new coat with these words, ‘Will that make me a different man? It would be a bad situation if the bag were better than the meat that’s in it’” (194).
85.11 Said Albert—where?—in infinite diapers…: Albert Einstein, who is quoted in the following lines through 85.2. The source is Portraits and Self-Portraits by the artist George Schreiber (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1936), a compilation of sketches of famous people accompanied by brief autobiographical statements. LZ’s source is probably a review of this book by Robert Van Gelder in the New York Times for 26 Nov. 1936, which gives this Einstein quote that LZ reproduces almost exactly, although he substitutes “singleness” for Einstein’s “solitude.”
85.21 1935. Eight thousand / Men, operators, / Set themselves above the law…: despite the date LZ gives, through 85.30 is almost certainly from the New York Times for 21 Nov. 1936: “Raiders Defend Seizures of Coal; Creator Put it in Ground and the ‘Greedy Rich’ Stole It, ‘Bootleggers’ Contend. Constitution Is Drafted Preamble States the Right to Fight to Add to Their ‘Measly Income’”: “Pottsville, Pa., Nov. 20—Declaring that the Creator put coal in the mountains of Pennsylvania for all to share, and charging that it was stolen from them originally by ‘the greedy rich class,’ the coal bootleggers have banded together in the Independent Anthracite Miners Association to defend their ‘rights’ by ‘organized strength.’ Through this organization, which claims a membership of 8000 men, the outlaw miners have resorted to mass violence and sabotage on numerous occasions to force the big companies, which own nearly all the hard coal land in the Western Hemisphere, to maintain a handsoff policy toward their illegal operations. As a strong voting unit, the association has openly entered politics to prevent interference by local authorities, frightening office holders with threats of reprisals at the polls and pledging its solid support to candidates who have helped or help them in their effort to set themselves above the law. […] The preamble to the ‘constitution’ which these leaders wrote for the bootleggers to bring a semblance of order to their once chaotic industry reads as follows: ‘Realizing the reason why we must resort to the present form of digging coal is due to the fact that we, as workers and coal miners, are hit by this terrific unemployment and depression, and that the amount of relief given us by the State agencies is not enough to keep our families in sufficient food, clothing and shelter; We must dig the coal out of these mountains as a means of our measly income that we receive in the form of relief, in order to keep the wolf away from our doorsteps; Knowing that the coal which is in these mountains was put here by our Creator and that this mineral wealth was stolen away from us by the greedy rich class, the coal operators and the bankers; We, as the workers and members of this association, do hereby agree that we will uphold our interests as workers and will use our organized strength, jointly and collectively, to fight and maintain the right for us to dig this coal and make that lot of our members more bearable.’”
86.3 Go splintered rondel…: in a note to Lorine Niedecker, who apparently was the main typist of “A”-8, LZ explained that he was adopting the form of Villon’s caustic rondeau, “Repose eternal, donne a cil” (part of Le Testament) for the following segment but using “modern technique” rather than conventional rhyme and therefore “splintered” (note copied into one of the typescripts of “A”-8; see HRC 2.6).
86.6 Like the present governor of that State, / Hasn’t he said: / I wasn’t their candidate…: through 86.23 quotes George H. Earle, Governor of Pennsylvania from 1935-1939; from the New York Times for 18 Nov. 1936: “Gov. Earle Asserts Socialization May End the Bootleg Coal War; Federal Government Will Have to Take Over Anthracite Mines Unless Owners Reopen Enough Pits to Give Jobs to Idle Diggers, He Says—Situation in Fields Now Amounts to Anarchy.” For further references to the “bootleg” miners of Pennsylvania see 54.14 and 85.21.
86.25 Police Sergeant Jasper McKinney…: the New York Times for 11 Nov. 1936: “Three Homes Bombed in Akron Rubber Row; No One Is Injured, Though Windows Are Shattered—Warning Notes Found”: “Notes warning them to ‘lay off our union’ were found in mail boxes at the Childs and Gualt homes, police said. None was left at Hoffman’s. Police Sergeant Jasper McKinney commented: ‘I believe this was the work of anti-union men who left the notes to throw us off the track.’” For more on corporate espionage, see 54.14.
87.1 Go where (not from the cemetery)—…: through 87.6 mostly repeats various images and words from previous movements. Lines 87.1 and 87.4-6 (and probably the various lines further down the page associated with the seaside) evoke Ricky Chambers from the early movements (see 3.9.3). For the specific images in these lines, see 3.9.5 and 10.25, 6.26.13, 3.10.6-10 and 3.9.15-17 respectively (the original printed version of “A”-3 also included another mention of “running-board”; see Textual Notes). For 87.2-3, see 1.5.19.
87.8 Araucanian Indians’ sacred tree Canelo…: the Araucanians are indigenous people living in an area covering parts of Chile and Argentina, to whom the canelo tree is sacred as well as having medicinal properties. Through 87.15, LZ is paraphrasing from the New York Times for 10 Dec. 1936: “A Tale of Flowers in Spring, Tra-La; Chilean Consul Here Unfolds an Epic of Flora That Will Never Bloom in U.S. Strangled by Red Tape Rare Specimens, Brought Here for Show, Die of Old Age Before Permit Is Granted.”
87.18 Spring rain on his face—…: see note at 87.4; for this image and the “dark hair” at 87.20, see 3.10.1 and 3.10.11 (the “dark hair” is more explicit in the original printing of “A”-3; see Textual Notes).
87.26 a voice craves perfection: Cf. 6.24.20-23.
88.1 our most valuable capital: see Stalin quotation at 66.26 and 70.19 where the subject is “people.”
88.4 Enlevez-moi quelques kilometers d’ici: Fr. take me a few kilometers from here.
88.5 “Ulysses”: James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922). In the mid-1930s, LZ was involved in co-writing and unsuccessfully attempting to market a film script of Ulysses with his friend Jerry Reisman; it is unclear the extent of LZ’s hand in the writing of this screenplay (see Slate and Reisman).
88.11 The Great Boot, fathers of Italia, pinches: the boot is a common reference to the Italian peninsula, which here also refers to the brutal tactics of Mussolini and his black shirts.
88.14 Fascisti: It. Facists.
88.16 Herr Führer and Heiland…: Ger. Leader and Savior (with play on heil suggesting “healer”), presumably referring to Adolf Hitler. The following German expressions are colloquial idioms that are obviously anti-Semitic in origin. Es jüdelt der Judenbaum! (It’s jewing the Jewtree!), the meaning of this is uncertain. Es geht hier her wie in einer Judenschule in Deutschland (Around here it’s like a Jew school (i.e. synogogue) in Germany), meaning as LZ indicates that it’s like a madhouse here. Haust du meinen Juden, hau’ ich deinen Juden (You hit my jew, I’ll hit your jew), meaning tit for tat.
88.23 Thou ’rt an Emperor…: through 89.1 from Shakespeare, Merry Wives of Windsor, I.iii (scattered excerpts throughout scene):
Falstaff: I sit at ten pounds a week.
Host: Thou’rt an emperor-Caesar, Keiser, and Pheazar. I will entertain Bardolph; he shall draw, he shall tap; said I well, bully Hector?
Falstaff: Do so, good mine host.
Host: I have spoke; let him follow. [To Bardolph] Let me see thee froth and lime. I am at a word; follow. Exit Host.
Falstaff: Bardolph, follow him. A tapster is a good trade; an old cloak makes a new jerkin; a wither’d serving-man a fresh tapster. Go; adieu.
Bardolph: It is a life that I have desir’d; I will thrive.
Pistol: O base Hungarian wight! Wilt thou the spigot wield?
Falstaff: Which of you know Ford of this town?
Pistol: I ken the wight; he is of substance good.
Falstaff: My honest lads, I will tell you what I am about.
Pistol: Two yards, and more.
Falstaff: No quips now, Pistol. Indeed, I am in the waist two yards about; but I am now about no waste; I am about thrift. Briefly, I do mean to make love to Ford’s wife; I spy entertainment in her; she discourses, she carves, she gives the leer of invitation; I can construe the action of her familiar style; and the hardest voice of her behaviour, to be English’d rightly, is “I am Sir John Falstaff’s.”
Pistol: He hath studied her well, and translated her will out of honesty into English.
Nym: The anchor is deep; will that humour pass?
Falstaff: Now, the report goes she has all the rule of her husband’s purse; he hath a legion of angels.
Pistol: As many devils entertain; and “To her, boy,” say I.
Nym: The humour rises; it is good; humour me the angels.
Falstaff: I have writ me here a letter to her; and here another to Page’s wife, who even now gave me good eyes too, examin’d my parts with most judicious oeillades; sometimes the beam of her view gilded my foot, sometimes my portly belly.
Pistol: Then did the sun on dunghill shine.
Nym: I thank thee for that humour.
Exeunt Falstaff and Robin
Pistol: Let vultures gripe thy guts! For gourd and fullam holds, And high and low beguiles the rich and poor; Tester I’ll have in pouch when thou shalt lack, Base Phrygian Turk!
Nym: I have operations in my head which be humours of revenge.
Pistol: Wilt thou revenge?
Nym: By welkin and her star!
Pistol: With wit or steel?
Nym: With both the humours, I. I will discuss the humour of this love to Page.
89.2 We offered peace to the nations / At a time when our offer…: in the original 1938 printing of “A”-8, LZ included a few further lines to this stanza and identified it as a statement by the “Commissar for the Workers” (see Textual Notes). LZ is likely quoting from the New York Times for 11 Nov. 1936 (also quoted at 70.9): “Litvinoff Honored with Lenin Order; Soviet, Striking at Rumors of Ill Will on Part of Kremlin, Confers Highest Decoration. Stalin at the Ceremony Foreign Committee, Outlining His policies, Repeats Offer of General Disarmament.” Maxim Litvinoff (1876-1951) was Minister or Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR from 1930-1939, when he was replaced during the negotiations leading to the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939 by Vyacheslav Molotov, largely because he was Jewish, but also he was a proponent of closer relations with the West. The New York Times article quotes Litvinoff: “‘We offered peace to the nations at a time when that proposal could be interpreted as a weakness,’ the Foreign Commissar said. ‘We have repeated it at every opportunity and we repeat it now, despite the fact that the growth of our armed forces, of our military industry and of our military potentialities gives us supremacy over any possible enemy or even a possible combination of enemies. We arm not for the purpose of matching with any one, but to prevent others from cherishing a hope of matching strength with us with impunity.’”
89.8 For labor who will sing—: see 46.21.
89.9 the cultured growth is scrapped : referring, in the first instance, to cheese production; see 53.2 and 64.17.
89.17 the shape-up: a method of hiring longshoremen by the day; applicants gather around a union boss who selects those to be hired.
89.18 Preventitives for this ease? / Friends, let two fingers salute…: the phrase “two fingers salute” echoes 44.14 and therefore obliquely identifies this passage as from EP. In an 8 March 1937 letter to EP, LZ indicates that this passage is in response to a passage in Canto 46, which deals extensively with EP’s obsessive focus on the root of financial injustice in the banks’ irresponsible issuance of money irregardless of its relation to production (EP/LZ 192; see also 191). In particular LZ has in mind the following passage:
The bank makes it [money] ex nihil [out of nothing]
Denied by five thousand professors, will any
Jury convict ’um? This case, and with it
The first part, draws to a conclusion,
Of the first phase of this opus [The Cantos], Mr Marx, Karl, did not
Foresee this conclusion, you have seen a good deal of
The evidence, not knowing it evidence, is monumentum (233-234).
89.25 By what name you call your people…: through 90.2 from the Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson paraphrasing John Adams’ views on the question of whether or not slaves should be taxable as inhabitants: “Mr. John Adams observed that the numbers of people were taken by this article as an index of the wealth of the state, & not as subjects of taxation, that as to this matter it was of no consequence by what name you called your people, whether by that of freemen or of slaves. That in some countries the labouring poor were called freemen, in others they were called slaves; but that the difference as to the state was imaginary only. What matters it whether a landlord employing ten labourers in his farm, gives them annually as much money as will buy them the necessaries of life, or gives them those necessaries at short hand. The ten labourers add as much wealth annually to the state, increase it’s exports as much in the one case as the other. […] It is the number of labourers which produce the surplus for taxation, and numbers therefore indiscriminately, are the fair index of wealth.” Sherwood notes that this same idea is echoed in LZ’s WPA work on the Index of American Design (see A Useful Art 26, 165).
90.6 It is not by the consolidation / Or concentration…: through 90.9 quoted directly from the Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson, except for the parenthetical addition.
90.10 Nor should we wonder at . . pressure…: from the Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson on the situation in France on the eve of the French Revolution: “Nor should we wonder at this pressure when we consider the monstrous abuses of power under which this people were ground to powder, when we pass in review the weight of their taxes, and inequality of their distribution; the oppressions of the tythes, of the tailles, the corvees, the gabelles, the farms & barriers; the shackles on Commerce by monopolies; on Industry by gilds & corporations; on the freedom of conscience, of thought, and of speech; on the Press by the Censure; and of person by letters de Cachet; the cruelty of the criminal code generally, the atrocities of the Rack, the venality of judges, and their partialities to the rich; the Monopoly of Military honors by the Noblesse; the enormous expenses of the Queen, the princes & the Court; the prodigalities of pensions; & the riches, luxury, indolence & immorality of the clergy. Surely under such a mass of misrule and oppression, a people might justly press for a thoro’ reformation, and might even dismount their rough-shod riders, & leave them to walk on their own legs.”
90.14 The body / lies awake sitting, / Bodies step over their own bodies: cf. 13.309.12-15.
90.19 I thought of workers and peasants…: through 92.12 form Lenin as quoted by Clara Zetkin, Reminiscences of Lenin (1924, trans. 1929). Zetkin (1857-1933) was a prominent German communist and colleague of Rosa Luxemburg, who published her widely read and hagiographic memoir, which consists primarily of Lenin’s remarks to her in conversations and interviews, immediately after Lenin’s death in Jan. 1924—this work incorporates the material separately published as “Lenin on the Women’s Question”:
“‘I [Zetkin] know only one counterpart to your way of speaking. It is Tolstoy’s great art. Like him, you have the broad, unified, firm line, the sense of inexorable truth. That is beauty. Perhaps it is a peculiarly Slav characteristic?’
‘I don’t know,’ Lenin replied. ‘I only know that when I “became a speaker” I always thought of the workers and peasants rather than of my audience. Wherever a Communist speaks he must think of the masses, must speak for them. But it’s good that nobody heard your national psychological hypothesis, or they might say: “look, look, the old man lets himself get caught by compliments”’” (37-38).
“‘I know! Many people are honestly convinced that the difficulties and dangers of the moment can be overcome by ‘bread and circuses.’ Bread—certainly! Circuses—all right! But we must not forget that the circus is not a great, true art, but a more or less pretty entertainment. Do not let us forget that our workers and peasants are no Roman mob. They are not maintained by the State, they maintain the State by their work. They ‘made’ the revolution and defended their work with unexampled sacrifices, with streams of blood. Our workers and peasants truly deserve more than circuses. They have the right to true, great art’” (17).
“‘Things move forward so slowly. World history does not seem to hurry, but the discontented workers think that your Party leaders don’t want it to hurry. They make them responsible for the rate of the world revolution, cavil and curse. I understand all that. But what I don’t understand is a leadership of the “left opposition” such as I listened to.’ With biting sarcasm Lenin gave his views as to the ‘better half’ of the ‘left’ delegation. He considered her a ‘personal accident,’ politically unstable and uncertain, concluding animatedly: ‘No, such opposition, such leadership, does not impress me. But I tell you frankly that I am just as little impressed by your “centre” which does not understand, which hasn’t the energy to have done with such petty demagogues. Surely it is an easy thing to replace such people, to withdraw the revolutionary-minded workers from them and educate them politically’” (45).
“‘The first war of the world revolution has subsided. The second has not yet arisen,’ [Lenin] declared. ‘It would be dangerous for us to have any illusions about that. We are not Xerxes, who had the sea scourged with chains. But to determine and pay attention to the facts does not mean to be inactive, to give up the struggle. Not at all! Learn, learn, learn! Act, act, act! Be prepared, well and completely prepared, in order to be able to make full use, consciously and with all our forces, of the next revolutionary wave. That is our job. Untiring Party agitation and Party propaganda, culminating in Party action, but Party action free from the illusion that it can take the place of mass action’” (30). Xerxes was a 5th century BC King of Persia. As part of Xerxes’ plan to subdue Greece, he built two bridges across the Hellespont, but when they were destroyed by a storm, he was so enraged he ordered that the sea be beaten with 300 strokes of the scourge. The classic account is found in Herodotus.
“I gave an account of the state of affairs, finishing it with the statement that the ‘Berlin Opposition’ had assigned to the Fourth International Congress the task of revising the position of its predecessor and annulling it. Their slogan was ‘Back to the Second Congress.’
Lenin was amused at this ‘unexampled naïveté,’ as he called it. ‘The “left” comrades really think that the Communist International is a faithful Penelope,’ he laughed. ‘But our international does not weave during the day in order to undo its work during the night. It cannot afford the luxury of taking a step forward and then taking one back. Can’t those comrades see what is happening? What has changed in the world situation to make the winning of the masses no longer our foremost task?’” (43-44).
“‘But thanks for such Marxism which directly and immediately attributes all phenomena and changes in the ideological superstructure of society to its economic basis. Matters aren’t quite so simple as that. A certain Frederick Engels pointed that out long time ago with regard to historical materialism’” (58).
“‘The extension on Freudian hypotheses seems “educated,” even scientific, but it is ignorant, bungling. Freudian theory is the modern fashion. I mistrust the sexual theories of the articles, dissertations, pamphlets, etc., in short, of that particular kind of literature which flourishes luxuriantly in the dirty soil of bourgeois society. I mistrust those who are always contemplating the several questions. Like the Indian saint his navel. It seems to me that these flourishing sexual theories which are mainly hypothetical, and often quite arbitrary hypotheses, arise from the personal need to justify personal abnormality or hypertrophy in sexual life before bourgeois morality, and to entreat its patience. This masked respect for bourgeois morality seems to me just as repulsive as poking about in sexual matters. However wild and revolutionary the behaviour may be, it is still really quite bourgeois. It is, mainly, a hobby of the intellectuals and of the sections nearest them. There is no place for it in the Party, in the class-conscious, fighting proletariat’” (52).
“‘Last and not least. Even the wise Solomon said that everything has its time. I ask you: Is now the time to amuse proletarian women with discussions on how one loves and is loved, how one marries and is married? Of course, in the past, present and future, and among different nations—what is proudly called historical materialism! Now all the thoughts of women comrades, of the women of the working people, must be directed towards the proletarian revolution. It creates the basis for a real renovation in marriage and sexual relations. At the moment other problems are more urgent than the marriage forms of Maoris or incest in olden times. The question of Soviets is still on the agenda for the German proletariat. The Versailles Treaty and its effect on the life of the working woman—unemployment, falling wages, taxes, and a great deal more. In short, I maintain that this kind of political, social education for proletarian women is false, quite, quite false. How could you be silent about it. You must use your authority against it’” (54-55).
“‘I know, I know,’ he said. ‘I have also been accused by many people of philistinism in this matter, although that is repulsive to me. There is so much hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness in it. Well, I’m bearing it calmly! The little yellow-beaked birds who have just broken from the egg of bourgeois ideas are always frightfully clever. We shall have to let that go’” (55).
92.16 The pulse of light be timed to / The speed of the film…: through 92.22 primarily from the New York Times for 23 Nov. 1933: “Super-Eye Camera Gives New Vision; Scientists ‘See’ Aerodynamics of Fly’s Flight in Photos at 6,000 a Second”: “The latest model of a superspeed motion-picture camera, which takes up to 6,000 pictures a second, with exposures of about one-millionth of a second, was described here today before the closing sessions of the Autumn meeting of the National Academy of Sciences. […] For making motion pictures the pulse of light is synchronized with the speed of the film, which moves past the aperture of the lens at velocities up to 200 miles an hour. […] The pictures reveal an aerodynamic mechanism enabling the fly to flap its wings at the rate of 200 times a second. A drop of milk, when dispersed in falling on a glass surface, is shown as transformed into a perfect crown.”
93.2 Standard Oil: see 63.5.
93.5 This water you almost got killed for, / Said David…: from 2 Samuel 23:15-17: “And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the Lord. And he said, Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.” Sherwood points out that LZ recounts this incident in one of his Index of American Design broadcasts (A Useful Art 161-162); see also CSP 147.
93.7 Marx to his daughter Jenny: / It is dull since you went away…: Marx to his daughter Jenny Longuet, 11 April 1881: “It is dull since you went away—without you and Johnny and Harra! And Mr. ‘Tea.’ […] The day before yesterday the Dogberry Club was here; yesterday, in addition to the two Maitland girls—and for a moment Lankester and Dr. Donkin—an invasion from Hyndman and spouse, who both have too much staying power. I don’t dislike the wife, for she has a brusque, unconventional and decided way of thinking and speaking, but it is funny to see how admiringly her eyes fasten upon the lips of her self-satisfied garrulous husband. Mother was so tired (it was nearly 10.30 p.m.) that she withdrew. But she was amused by some byplay. For Tussey has discovered a new Wunderkind among the Dogberries, a certain Radford; this youth is already a barrister at law, but despises the jus [law] and is working in the same line as Waldhorn. He looks well, a cross between Irving and the late Lassalle (though he has nothing in common with the cynically oily, obtrusive, ducal manners of the latter) an intelligent and somewhat promising boy. Well this is the point of the story—Dolly Maitland pays fearful court to him so that mother and Tussy are signaling to each other all through supper. Finally Mr. Maitland arrived as well, fairly sober, and also had a wordy duel with his instructive table companion—Hyndman— about Gladstone, in whom the spiritualist Maitland believes. I—rather annoyed by a bad throat—felt glad when the whole lot vanished. It is a strange thing that one cannot well live altogether without company, and that when you get it, you try hard to rid yourself of itself.”
93.23 This matter is the substratum…: from Marx quoted in Engels’ “General Introduction” to Socialism: Utopian and Scientific; see quotation at 46.5.
94.9 He asked, “The Future of Literature: / Will It Be A Sport?…: an essay by the French poet Paul Valéry (1871-1945) appeared under this title in the New York Herald Tribune Book Section (22 April 1928): 1, 6 (Quartermain, Disjunctive Poetics 216): “Literature is an art based on the abuse of language—that is, it is based on language as a creator of illusions, and not on language as a means of transmitting realities. Everything which makes a language more precise, everything which emphasizes its practical character, all the changes which it undergoes in the interests of a more rapid transmission and an easier diffusion, are contrary to its function as a poetic instrument” (trans. Malcolm Cowley). And the essay concludes with an observation it goes on to develop: “Sometimes I think there will be a place in the future of literature the nature of which will singularly resemble that of a sport.” Valéry’s essay, titled simply “The Future of Literature,” can be found in Occasions, Collected Works of Paul Valéry, vol. 11, ed. Jackson Mathews (1970): 151-157.
94.15 Académicien and poet…: Paul Valéry (see preceding note), French poet who was elected to the Académie française in 1925. Under the auspices of the Académie and other government related bodies, Valéry traveled and lectured widely as something of an official state poet and cultural ambassador.
94.19 O little nanny-goat daddy bought for two cents: in undated notes (probably 1937) to Lorine Niedecker, LZ described this as an old Hebrew round sung at Passover (HRC 25.2). In Hebrew the song is Chad Gadya and is included in the Haggadah. The song progresses in simple repetitive stanzas so that a cat eats the goat, a dog bites the cat, a stick beats the dog … until finally God smotes the angel of death and the song quickly reverses back to the beginning.
94.20 Who reviewed whose tiny metal warriors? / Général Gene Gem: the New York Times for 8 June 1935: “Tin Soldiers Are on Review”: “The Society of the Collectors of Tin Soldiers mobilized a parade of 80,000 tiny metal warriors today. It was reviewed at the Invalides by General Eugene Mariaux. The membership in the society includes Frank B. Kellogg, former Secretary of State of the United States.” Cf. note on General Martinet Gem who appears in the poem “Motet” (CSP 209).
94.29 (AP): Associate Press, major American news agency started in 1848.
94.30 China, the one place it could happen…:
95.21 Toba harbor, Japan, Oct. 1936.— / Kokichi Mikimoto…: the New York Times for 31 Oct. 1936: “Japan’s Pearl King Holds Rites for Oysters’ Souls”: LZ quotes directly from the article. Kokichi Mikimoto (1858-1954) pioneer pearl farmer from Toba, Japan.
96.7 November of F.D.R.’s second election: Franklin D. Roosevelt’s reelection in Nov. 1936.
96.9 village of West Farms…: located in the south Bronx, as is 1229 Washington Ave. in the township of Morrisania, originally part of West Farms.
96.12 Thomas Hicks, General Blacksmith and Tool Maker…: this episode through 98.1 describes LZ doing research on old gardens for the WPA (Works Progress Administration) during the 1930s, possibly for the Index of American Design, part of the Federal Art Project of the City of New York.
96.31 Lady Greensleeves: see 65.23; here, however, LZ appears to be alluding to the versions of songs and/or fables in which Lady Greensleeves is a type of fairy or nature spirit.
96.32 fayërye: ME fairy.
97.17 the researchist in old gardens / (for $23.86 a week…: the “researchist” is LZ himself (see 96.12). Telemachus is Odysseus’ son in Homer’s The Odyssey.
98.4 Woodlawn Cemetery: located in the Bronx.
98.17 Jerome Racetrack: racetrack built in the Bronx in the mid-19th century where now the Jerome Reservoir Park is located.
98.21 New Deal: President Roosevelt’s series of programs and policies to promote economic recovery and social reform during the 1930s.
98.27 invested Ambassador to Maine: only the states of Maine and Vermont voted against F.D.R.’s landslide reelection in 1936, thus prompting F.D.R.’s witticism about Maine as a foreign country (Ahearn 138). Evidently there were a good many jokes about Maine and Vermont as foreign turf in the aftermath of this election.
99.12 in Shanghai…: some of the following images are possibly from a Soviet documentary film A Shanghai Document, directed by Jakob Blakh (Bliokh); the film uses montage to sharply juxtapose the lives of Westerners living in the foreign concessions of Shanghai with those of working class Chinese, and climaxes with the Communists’ failed 1927 March Revolution in Shanghai (the subject of André Malraux’s novel La Condition humaine (Man’s Fate), 1933). LZ enthused to WCW about this film in a letter dated 22 Oct. 1928 (WCW/LZ 19-20); also mentioned in Prep+ 62; see Kadlec 307-313.
99.17 Behind chicken coops, / Looms so close together, operators / Could barely stand up to work between them: from the New York Times for 21 May 1935 (see 51.22): “Silk Sweatshops Found in Paterson; Report to Roosevelt Holds Conditions Are Demoralizing Industry’s Mills”: “Disclosing extreme sweatshop conditions among the ‘family’ silk weaving shops of Paterson, N.J., with entire groups working long hours weekly for a mere pittance, the Silk Textile Work Assignment Board reported today that only by the creation of a Rayon and Silk Adjustment Board would it be possible to cope with the conditions in these shops which were held to be demoralizing the reputable silk and rayon mills of the nation. […] The report emphasized fire hazards and charged virtual imprisonment of workers behind chickenwire in subdivided shops where means of egress were difficult and where looms were so close together that operators could barely stand up in the narrow space between them and work.”
99.21 Marked Tree…: a town in east Arkansas; lines 99.20-24 refer to a contemporary account related to the organizing of the interracial Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union (STFU) of landless farmers, share croppers and laborers in the Marked Tree area during the mid-1930s, which eventually included 35,000 members and provoked violent reactions from white land owners that received national attention. “Night-riders” is a more generic term for groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, who carried out acts of violent terror in disguise, primarily against blacks and their sympathizers. At least one of LZ’s sources is the New York Times for 20 April 1935: “‘Run Off Farms,’ Tenants Declare; Dispossession Is Laid to Link with Union by Arkansas Share-Croppers,” which includes the detail of “Negroes and white men together, in a small cabin, the doors of which are stoutly barred and the road to which is guarded against night-riders.”
99.26 “turkey in the straw”: early American minstrel song; see 17.382.10.
99.31 Nazis lured by super Nazis— / “Become super-Nazis” in order…: the New York Times for 28 Oct. 1935 reported: “Nazi Purge Threat Is Made by Goering; Air Minister in Breslau Speech Warns Radicals That Hitler Alone Decides Issues. Trade Pinch Is a Factor, Another Is Strategy of Reds in National Socialist Ranks to Force Showdown,” in which Goering apparently claims that Communists attempted to infiltrate the Nazi Party, becoming “super-nazis the more quickly to destroy the regime by its own excesses.”
100.3 “I have led my ragamuffins where they are peppered”: from Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, V.3; spoken by Falstaff defending his cowardice on the battlefield: “I am as hot as moulten lead, and as heavy too: God keep lead out of me! I need no more weight than mine own bowels. I have led my ragamuffins where they are peppered: there’s not three of my hundred and fifty left alive; and they are for the town’s end, to beg during life.”
100.4 1937. “White Moors”—Germans—against Germans…: during this year the Spanish Civil War hung in the balance; Franco’s fascist forces, supported by Germany and Italy, tried unsuccessfully to take Madrid—a famous slogan of the Republican defenders is quoted at 100.8. Franco did take Malaga in the south with a force that included substantial numbers of Moors (Moroccans), who made up a significant part of his forces from the time he first provoked the civil war. The United Front was the designation for the coalition of left and republican forces fighting against Franco, which in the event was never very united.
100.7 More than one civil war…: the following through 100.17 primarily from reports by Herbert L Matthews (a classmate of LZ at Columbia) on the Spanish Civil War in the New York Times.
9 Dec. 1936: “Madrid Is Safe Unless Rebels Get More Foreign Aid, Observer Holds; Insurgent Army Now Faces Formidable Defenses, Tour of the Front Lines Reveals—People’s Morale Is Stiffened by Air Raids—Loyalist Move Up Guns From Abroad Rebels Need Help to Crush Madrid”: Matthews gives details about the “Garibaldi Battalion,” Italians who joined the International Column or Brigades in support of the Republican cause against Franco, including the commanders, “Col. Randolfo Pacciardi, a former lawyer and republican [who] had a fine World War record and later formed a war veterans’ association, Italia Libera, which was anti-Fascist, and this resulted in his having to flee Italy,” and “His aide is Captain Umberto Galliani, one of the directors of the Stampa Libera, New York anti-Fascist newspaper. He left New York on Oct. 1 to enlist in the international column. […] We all had lunch together at headquarters, where Pietro Nenni, Socialist and former close friend of Il Duce [It. The Leader, i.e. Benito Mussolini (1883-1945), Fascist dictator of Italy from 1922-1943], joined me. Mr. Nenni is acting as a sort of political chief of the International Column. […] Their lines were heavily bombed by planes, which used flares for visibility. In the morning a number of disks used in the flares were picked up. They bore the address, ‘4 Via Dante, Milan.’ Earlier in the evening a voice shouted in perfect Italian: ‘Come on, you pigs of Italians! Come on!’ Which is merely another indication that more than one civil war is being fought on Spanish soil. Former Friend of Duce There!”
100.14 Randolfo Pacciardi and Umberto Galliani, and Pietro / Nenni: see quotation at 100.7.
100.14 Kiss all the little ones for me . . / So cold…: from two letters by Thomas Jefferson to his son-in-law Thomas Mann Randolph (1768-1828) dated 4 March 1800 (first line) and 28 Nov. 1796 respectively; from the latter: “It is so cold that the freezing of the ink on the point of my pen renders it difficult to write. We have had the thermometer at 12 degrees. My works are arrested in a state entirely unfinished, and I fear we shall not be able to resume them.”
100.21 The Batture at New Orleans…: through 101.1 the full title of a brief written and published by Thomas Jefferson on a celebrated case involving the private appropriation of public land and water; batture is a raised river or sea bed, in this case a beach. Lines 101.4-8 quote Edward Livingston in his own defense immediately followed (101.9-14) by Jefferson’s retort. 101.15-19 further quotes from Jefferson’s argument: “Indeed, without all this appeal to such learned authorities, does not common sense, the foundation of all authorities, of the laws themselves, and of their construction, declare it impossible that Mr. Livingston, a single individual, should have a lawful right to drown the city of New Orleans, or to injure, or change, of his own authority, the course or current of a river which is to give outlet to the productions of two-thirds of the whole area of the United States?” And finally Jefferson quotes from a Latin Imperial Edict on similar misuse of the Nile: “Let him be consumed by the flames in that spot in which he violated the reverence of antiquity, and the safety of the empire, let his accessories and accomplices be cut off by deportation from the possibility of supplicating forgiveness, or of being restored to country, dignity and possessions.”
101.20 1821 . . for my own more ready reference…: from the opening sentence of Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography: “At the age of 77, I begin to make some memoranda and state some recollections of dates & facts concerning myself, for my own more ready reference & for the information of my family.”
101.24 the destinies of my life…: through 102.21 mostly from the Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson: “It was my great good fortune, and what probably fixed the destinies of my life that Dr. Wm. Small of Scotland was then professor of Mathematics, a man profound in most of the useful branches of science, with a happy talent of communication, correct and gentlemanly manners, & an enlarged & liberal mind. He, most happily for me, became soon attached to me & made me his daily companion when not engaged in the school; and from his conversation I got my first views of the expansion of science & of the system of things in which we are placed.”
101.27: . . interested in considering British claims…: through 102.21, with the exception of the passage from Cadwallader Colden (see 102.19), mostly quotes from Jefferson’s Autobiography, concerning events leading up to the American Revolution and specifically with matters of organizing sentiment and resistance to the British:
“Nothing of particular excitement occurring for a considerable time our countrymen seemed to fall into a state of insensibility to our situation. The duty on tea not yet repealed & the Declaratory act of a right in the British parl to bind us by their laws in all cases whatsoever, still suspended over us. But a court of inquiry held in R. Island in 1762, with a power to send persons to England to be tried for offences committed here was considered at our session of the spring of 1773 as demanding attention. Not thinking our old & leading members up to the point of forwardness & zeal which the times required, Mr. Henry, R. H. Lee, Francis L. Lee, Mr. Carr & myself agreed to meet in the evening in a private room of the Raleigh to consult on the state of things. There may have been a member or two more whom I do not recollect. We were all sensible that the most urgent of all measures was that of coming to an understanding with all the other colonies to consider the British claims as a common cause to all, & to produce an unity of action: and for this purpose that a committee of correspondence in each colony would be the best instrument for intercommunication: and that their first measure would probably be to propose a meeting of deputies from every colony at some central place, who should be charged with the direction of the measures which should be taken by all. We therefore drew up the resolutions which may be seen in Wirt pa 87. […]
The next event which excited our sympathies for Massachusetts was the Boston port bill, by which that port was to be shut up on the 1st of June, 1774. This arrived while we were in session in the spring of that year. The lead in the house on these subjects being no longer left to the old members, Mr. Henry, R. H. Lee, Fr. L. Lee, 3. or 4. other members, whom I do not recollect, and myself, agreeing that we must boldly take an unequivocal stand in the line with Massachusetts, determined to meet and consult on the proper measure in the council chamber, for the benefit of the library in that room. We were under conviction of the necessity of arousing our people from the lethargy into which they had fallen as to passing events; and thought that the appointment of a day of general fasting & prayer would be most likely to call up & alarm their attention. No example of such a solemnity had existed since the days of our distresses in the war of 55. since which a new generation had grown up. With the help therefore of Rushworth [John Rushworth (c.1612-1690), closely involved in Cromwell’s government, he compiled a history of the English Civil Wars, which became an important resource for Jefferson], whom we rummaged over for the revolutionary precedents & forms of the Puritans of that day, preserved by him, we cooked up a resolution, somewhat modernizing their phrases, for appointing the 1st day of June, on which the Port bill was to commence, for a day of fasting, humiliation & prayer, to implore heaven to avert from us the evils of civil war, to inspire us with firmness in support of our rights, and to turn the hearts of the King & parliament to moderation & justice. To give greater emphasis to our proposition, we agreed to wait the next morning on Mr. Nicholas, whose grave & religious character was more in unison with the tone of our resolution and to solicit him to move it. We accordingly went to him in the morning. He moved it the same day; the 1st of June was proposed and it passed without opposition. The Governor dissolved us as usual. We retired to the Apollo as before, agreed to an association, and instructed the commee of correspdce to propose to the corresponding commees of the other colonies to appoint deputies to meet in Congress at such place, annually, as should be convenient to direct, from time to time, the measures required by the general interest: and we declared that an attack on any one colony should be considered as an attack on the whole. This was in May . We further recommended to the several counties to elect deputies to meet at Wmsbg the 1st of Aug ensuing, to consider the state of the colony, & particularly to appoint delegates to a general Congress, should that measure be acceded to by the commees of correspdce generally. It was acceded to, Philadelphia was appointed for the place, and the 5th of Sep. for the time of meeting. We returned home, and in our several counties invited the clergy to meet assemblies of the people on the 1st of June, to perform the ceremonies of the day, & to address to them discourses suited to the occasion. The people met generally, with anxiety & alarm in their countenances, and the effect of the day thro’ the whole colony was like a shock of electricity, arousing every man & placing him erect & solidly on his centre. They chose universally delegates for the convention. Being elected one for my own county I prepared a draught of instructions [“A Summary View of the Rights of British America”] to be given to the delegates whom we should send to the Congress, and which I meant to propose at our meeting. In this I took the ground which, from the beginning I had thought the only one orthodox or tenable, which was that the relation between Gr. Br. and these colonies was exactly the same as that of England & Scotland after the accession of James & until the Union, and the same as her present relations with Hanover, having the same Executive chief but no other necessary political connection; and that our emigration from England to this country gave her no more rights over us, than the emigrations of the Danes and Saxons gave to the present authorities of the mother country over England.”
102.8 (Like Bloody Sunday in St. Petersburg!): on 22 Jan. 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russian Imperial Guards shot large numbers of peaceful demonstrators seeking to petition Czar Nicholas II. A major incident leading to the failed Revolution of 1905; see Lenin quotations on latter event at 53.9-20.
102.9 But a half page further…: continuing from Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, see quotation at 101.27.
102.19 Cadwallader Colden: American colonial governor and scientist (1688-1776), a frequent correspondent with Benjamin Franklin and Linnaeus on scientific matters; see 12.256.24. The quotation at 102.13-18 is from a letter to Franklin; apparently only an undated copy survives but it is from 1752. This is part of his extensive discussions on the nature of electricity, in the period leading up to Franklin’s famous kite experiment with lightning in the same year, although here Colden is speculating on the nature of the atmosphere as a medium that would explain lightning.
102.20 . . arousing every man . . …: continuing from Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, see quotation at 101.27.
102.22 bringing together facts which appearances separate…: this stanza is from Henri Poincaré, The Value of Science (1905; see 47.6): “Now what is science? […] it is before all a classification, a manner of bringing together facts which appearances separate, though they were bound together by some natural and hidden kinship. Science, in other words, is a system of relations. Now as we have just said, it is in relations alone that objectivity must be sought; it would be vain to seek it in beings considered as isolated from one another” (qtd. Prep+ 164). Poincaré discusses at some length the nature of a “fact” and concludes: “In sum, all the scientist creates in a fact is the language in which he enunciates it. If he predicts a fact, he will employ this language, and for all those who can speak and understand it, his prediction is free from ambiguity. […] An isolated fact has by itself no interest; it becomes interesting if one has reason to think that it may aid in the prediction of other facts; or better, if, having been predicted, its verification is the confirmation of a law. […] In sum, facts are facts, and if it happens that they satisfy a prediction, this is not an effect of our free activity.”
102.29 “The houses and trees stand where they did…: through 103.10 from Thomas Jefferson, 26 May 1811 letter to his granddaughter, Anne Cary Bankhead, writing from Monticello.
103.11 . . moving matter, bodies…: from Marx to Engels, 30 May 1873: “The subject of natural science—moving matter, bodies. Bodies cannot be separated from motion, their forms and kinds can only be known through motion, of bodies apart from motion, apart from any relation to other bodies, nothing can be asserted. Only in motion does a body reveal what it is. Natural science therefore knows bodies by considering them in their relation to one another, in motion. The knowledge of the different forms of motion is the knowledge of bodies. The investigation of these different forms of motion is therefore the chief subject of natural science.”
103.13 when workers and even manufacturers…: from Marx to Ludwig Kugelmann, 11 July 1868 (this letter also qtd. at 54.9): “In any case it shows what these priests of the bourgeoisie have come to, when workers and even manufacturers and merchants understand my book [Capital] and find their way about in it, while these ‘scribes’ (!) complain that I make excessive demands on their understanding.”
103.22 “So made that all the parts together…: a book of songs by the lutanist John Dowland (1563-1626): First Booke of Songes or Ayres of foure partes with Tableture for the Lute: So made that all the parts together, or either of them severally may be song to the Lute, Orpherian [a species of cittern, tuned like a lute] or Viol de Gambo (1597).
103.24 Simone Molinare / (Miller)…: Simone Molinaro (c.1565-c.1634), Italian composer, as well as a connoisseur and editor of madrigals. “Molinare” is a printing error, since the name is spelled correctly in both the typescript and original publication of “A”-8 in New Directions 1938. Through 103.29 LZ is quoting from an elaborate dedication by Molinaro to one of his editions of madrigals by Carlo Gesuado (1560-1613), Prince of Venosa (in the Kingdom of Naples), an important composer of madrigals. Although LZ’s precise source is not certain, judging from the parenthetical interpolation in order to render the pun on Molinaro’s name (It. mulino = mill), it is likely he is using the translation found in Cecil Gray and Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine), Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa: Musician and Murderer (1926):
To the Concordant Fame
of the Nobility, Immense, Infinite,
Incomparable of pure lovers
Limpid crystals of immaculate genius,
Humble in themselves
Glorying in Others,
Celestial, of transparent verity,
Simone Molinaro (Miller)
To the discomfiture of the Mill of time,
the invincible destroyer
Of terrestrial hopes,
dedicates these canorous pearls Dis-
tilled in the conch of eternal beauty in the
Union of the Graces, and Sun of
103.30 A pretty May note, / Singing Bach as they dug…: in the following stanzas (104.1 to end), LZ adopts a ballade form, most commonly associated with late medieval French poets such as Villon, that deploys a complex rhyme scheme and repeats the same final line in each stanza as well as the envoy. LZ’s specific model is in fact Villon who wrote a number of ballades of three 10-line pentameter stanzas plus a 6-line envoy using the same rhymes and rhyme scheme in each: ababbccdcd, with the envoy ccdccd. This form is replicated in Swinburne’s rendition of Villon’s “Epistle in Form of a Ballade to his Friends” included in TP 15-16. LZ’s ballade picks up many words and phrases from throughout “A”-8 but particularly words and images associated with the May Day song (48.10-49.5) and J.S. Bach. Furthermore, as at 49.6-52.2, LZ worked in mathematical ratios of n and r sounds (see Ahearn 239 and manuscript notes in Booth 53). In musical terms LZ undoubtedly has in mind a stretto, the overlapping of subjects or motifs in a fugue creating increased density of texture and usually forming the conclusion to a work.
104.1 Isenacum en musica: L. Eisenach, here find music. J.S. Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany in 1685. This Latin epigram was composed by the town historian, Christianus Franciscus Paullinus, in Annales Isenacenses (1698). See 14.338.4 (Terry 18).
104.2 March / Day of equal night: Bach was born on 21 March (old style calendar), therefore on the spring equinox (Michael Fournier personal communication).
104.3 Bach’s chorus primus…: see 43.13-14.
104.4 groined arch: a groined (or cross) vault is produced by the intersection of two barrel vaults producing four curved surfaces rising up to a center point. See 12.134.24-26.
104.7 he said I worked hard: from Charles Sanford Terry biography of Bach: “‘I worked hard,’ he replied to one who asked the secret of his mastership in later days; ‘if you are as industrious as I was, you will be no less successful’” (54).
104.9 clatter of a water-mill: describing Bach at Cöthen: “A tradition that Bach was disturbed by the clatter of a water-mill has suggested that he lived beyond the Schloss garden, near the Orangery” (Terry 123). See 18.405.16 and cf. passage on Veit Bach and mill at 4.15.12.
104.10 Labor, light lights in air, on earth…: see 43.2; also 7.40.17, 8.48.22, 12.136.29 and 18.393.35.
104.12 Silence supports my pretension . . […] / My contention . . that the slight disregards / My costs: from a long letter J.S. Bach wrote as part of a dispute with the University at Leipzig over his pay in 1725 that Terry quotes in full: “Its [the University’s] silence supports my praetension and affords proof of the justice of my contention…. Moreover, it disregards my contention in its dutiful reply to your Majesty, and so tacite accepts my facts, which it fails to controvert in a single particular” (186).
104.12 the parts / Ascend a tone, repeating: in a footnote referring to a canon by Johann Gottfried Walther that he exchanged with Bach: “The parts ascend a tone at each repetition” (Terry 90).
104.16 Fa […] Fa Mi et Mi Fa . . tota Musica: L. Fa Mi and Mi Fa (are) the sum of music. Bach inserted this phrase into his Canon super Fa Mi (dated 1 March 1749), which has a complicated set of meanings, including an acrostic for the name Bach in the sequence of notes: F (H), A, B, E.
104.16 as what wind blew / Tossed coins in herrings heads: a Bach anecdote from Terry: “Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg published in 1786 a story which Bach himself found it pleasant to repeat: returning with empty pockets from Hamburg at a later afternoon hour along an inhospitable road, he sat down outside a tavern and hungrily sniffed the savours from the kitchen. Above him a window opened and at his feet fell the heads of two herrings, sea-fish much prized in inland Thuringia. Picking them up eagerly, he found in each a Danish ducat, which satisfied his present hunger and aided a future visit to Reiken” (48).
104.21 tonus / Contrarius: L. contrary tone, that is, conflicting with the melody. The young Bach at his first job as organist in Arnstadt was reprimanded by his superior in a document Terry reproduces: “Complaints have been made to the Consistorium that you now accompany the hymns with surprising variations and irrelevant ornaments, which obliterate the melody and confuse the congregation. If you desire to introduce a theme against the melody, you must go on with it and not immediately fly off to another. And in no circumstances must you introduce a tonus contrarius” (Terry 70); qtd. Bottom 94.
104.23 contrapunctus; / Plays till four notes give out their names: “contrapunctus” was Bach’s designation for the individual fugues and canons that make up The Art of the Fugue (1750), the last of which famously introduces the notes of his own name then breaks off incomplete. These four notes of Bach’s name figure prominantly in “A”-12 (see 12.127.23) and are probably alluded to at 11.125.14.
104.24 old Bach’s / Here: blind: Bach was all but blind at the end of his life and died in part due to complications of an eye operation.
104.25 Son . . […] has two boys: from a letter by the elderly Bach in 1748 remarking that “My Berlin son now has two boys” (Terry 256).
104.26 Where orchards were: Cf. 7.40.24.
104.29 Men of Madrid…: alluding to the Spanish Civil War (see 100.4f); presumably the “attacker dogs” of the next line refer to the Fascists.
105.2 burden: in music, the chorus or refrain of a composition, or (archaic) the bass accompaniment to a song (AHD).
105.4 May is red blossom: see 48.22 and 7.41.27.
105.5 times’ mill: see 103.26.
105.6 Luteclavicembalo: an instrument Bach invented around 1740 that combines the qualities of the lute and the harpsichord; mentioned by Terry who calls it Lautenclavicembalo (247). Cf. clavicembalo at 4.13.19, 5.18.5, 7.41.8 and 42.4.