Civilisation’s “Romance and Reality”

For an introduction to these series, see here.

Below, some indented excerpts of “Romance and Reality,” the third chapter of Civilisation by Kenneth Clark, after which I offer my comments.

Originally I posted this entry on April 15 of the last year, but now that I posted another entry about Spain’s Teresa of Ávila I would like to see some feedback in the comments section about my thoughts on St. Francis from those interested in child abuse as a subject.

Ellipsis omitted between unquoted passages:

I am in the Gothic world, the world of chivalry, courtesy and romance; a world in which serious things were done with a sense of play—where even war and theology could become a sort of game; and when architecture reached a point of extravagance unequalled in history. After all the great unifying convictions of the twelfth century, High Gothic art can look fantastic and luxurious—what Marxists call conspicuous waste. And yet these centuries produced some of the greatest spirits in the human history of man, amongst them St Francis and Dante.

A couple of pages later, Clark says:

Several of the stories depicted in the [Chartres Cathedral] arches concern Old Testament heroines; and at the corner of the portico is one of the first consciously graceful women in western art. Only a very few years before, women were thought of as the squat, bad-tempered viragos that we see on the front of Winchester Cathedral: these were the women who accompanied the Norsemen to Iceland.

Now look at this embodiment of chastity, lifting her mantle, raising her hand, turning her head with a movement of self-conscious refinement that was to become mannered but here is genuinely modest. She might be Dante’s Beatrice.

There, for almost the first time in visual art, one gets a sense of human rapport between man and woman.

About the sentiment of courtly love, on the next page Clark adds that it was entirely unknown to antiquity, and that to the Romans and the Vikings it would have seemed not only absurd but unbelievable.

A ‘love match’ is almost an invention of the late eighteenth century. Medieval marriages were entirely a matter of property, and, as everybody knows, marriage without love means love without marriage.

Then I suppose one must admit that the cult of the Virgin had something to do with it. In this context it sounds rather blasphemous, but the fact remains that one often hardly knows if a medieval love lyric is addresses to the poet’s mistress or to the Virgin Mary.

For all these reasons I think it is permissible to associate the cult of ideal love with the ravishing beauty and delicacy that one finds in the madonnas of the thirteenth century. Were there ever more delicate creatures than the ladies on Gothic ivories? How gross, compared to them, are the great beauties of other woman-worshiping epochs.

When I read these pages for the first time I was surprised to discover that my tastes of women have always been, literally, medieval; especially when I studied closely the face of the woman at the right in the tapestry known as The Lady with the Unicorn, reproduced on a whole page in Clark’s book with more detail than the illustration I’ve just downloaded. I have never fancied the aggressive, Hollywood females whose images are bombarded everywhere through our degenerate media. In fact, what moves me to write are precisely David Lane’s 14 words to preserve the beauty and delicacy of the most spiritual females of the white race.

Alas, it seems that the parents did not treat their delicate daughters well enough during the Middle Ages. Clark said:

So it is all the more surprising to learn that these exquisite creatures got terribly knocked about. It must be true, because there is a manual of how to treat women—actually how to bring up daughters—by a character called the Knight of the Tower of Landry, written in 1370 and so successful that it went on being read as a sort of textbook right up to the sixteenth century—in fact and edition was published with illustrations by Dürer. In it the knight, who is known to have been an exceptionally kind man, describes how disobedient women must be beaten and starved and dragged around by the hair of the head.

And six pages later Clark speaks about the most famous Saint in the High Middle Ages, whose live I would also consider the result of parental abuse:

In the years when the portal of Chartres was being built, a rich young man named Francesco Bernadone suffered a change of heart.

One day when he had fitted himself up in his best clothes in preparation for some chivalrous campaign, he met a poor gentleman whose need seemed to be greater than his own, and gave him his cloak. That night he dreamed that he should rebuild the Celestial City. Later he gave away his possessions so liberally that his father, who was a rich businessman in the Italian town of Assisi, was moved to disown him; whereupon Francesco took off his remaining clothes and said he would possess nothing, absolutely nothing. The Bishop of Assisi hid his nakedness, and afterwards gave him a cloak; and Francesco went off the woods, singing a French song.

The next three years he spent in abject poverty, looking after lepers, who were very much in evidence in the Middle Ages, and rebuilding with his own hands (for he had taken his dream literally) abandoned churches.

He threw away his staff and his sandals and went out bare-foot onto the hills. He said that he had taken poverty for his Lady, partly because he felt that it was discourteous to be in company of anyone poorer than oneself.

From the first everyone recognised that St Francis (as we may now call him) was a religious genius—the greatest, I believe, that Europe has ever produced.

Francis died in 1226 at the age of forty-three worn out by his austerities. On his deathbed he asked forgiveness of ‘poor brother donkey, my body’ for the hardships he had made it suffer.

Those of Francis’s disciples, called Fraticelli, who clung to his doctrine of poverty were denounced as heretics and burnt at the stake. And for seven hundred years capitalism has continued to grow to its present monstrous proportions. It may seem that St Francis has had no influence at all, because even the humane reformers of the nineteenth century who sometimes invoked him did not wish to exalt or sanctify poverty but to abolish it.

St Francis is a figure of the pure Gothic time—the time of crusades and castles and of the great cathedrals. But already during the lifetime of St Francis another world was growing up, which, for better or worse, is the ancestor of our own, the world of trade and of banking, of cities full of hard-headed men whose aim in life was to grow rich without ceasing to appear respectable.

Of course, Clark could not say that Francesco’s life was a classic case of battered child. Profound studies about child abuse would only start years after the Civilisation series. Today I would say that, since Francesco never wrote a vindictive text—something unthinkable in the Middle Ages that would not appear until Kafka’s letter to his father—, he internalized the parental abuse with such violence that his asceticism took his life prematurely.

What is missing in Clark’s account is that Francesco’s father whipped him in front of all the town people after Francesco stole from his shop several rolls of cloth. After the scourging inflicted by his father, with his own hands, and public humiliation, a citizen of Assisi reminded him that the town statutes allowed the father to incarcerate the rebellious son at home. Pedro shut Francesco in a sweltering, dark warehouse where “Francesco languished without seeing the light except when his father opened the door for Pica [the mother] taking a bowl of soup and a piece of bread.” After several weeks of being locked Francesco escaped and, always fearful of his father, hid in a cave. The earliest texts add that in the cave he often wept with great fear.

Francesco then embarked on a spectacular acting out of his emotional issues with his father. He made a big scene by returning to Assisi, undressing in the town’s square in front of Bishop Guido and addressing the crowd: “Hear all ye, and understand. Until now have I called Pedro Bernadone ‘my father’. But I now give back unto him the money, over which he was vexed, and all the clothes that I have had of him, desiring to say only, ‘Our Father, which art in Heaven,’ instead of ‘My father, Pedro Bernadone.’”

To everyone’s surprise Francesco broke with his wealthy parents forever, thus renouncing any possible reconciliation. So resolute was his parental repudiation, writes a Catholic biographer, that from that day on Pedro and Pica disappear from all the biographies of their son. There is no historical evidence of reconciliation, and no information about his parents or the circumstances of their death.

But I don’t want to diminish the figure of St Francis. Quite the contrary: in my middle teens I wanted to emulate him—and precisely as a result of the abuse inflicted by my father on me. And nowadays our world that has Mammon as its real God—trade, banking and dehumanized cities that are rapidly destroying the white race—, this will always remind me what Clark said about St Francis.

Nevertheless, despite my teenage infatuation with the saintly young man of Assisi, I doubt that poor Francesco’s defence mechanism to protect his mind against his father’s betrayal could be of any help now…

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Lady with unicorn

    Since I’m busy in the real world and won’t add another entry for a couple of days, I must ask visitors not to post off-topic comments.

    As to the subject matter of the above entry, Stubbs once asked me how child abuse studies could be relevant for our interests. What I say about St Francis could give a glimpse of how his life, that may be interpreted as a defense mechanism built against his father’s betrayal, so strongly influenced European history. It is my opinion that today’s adults who had been abused by their parents and have developed defense mechanisms do it according not to St Francis’ rebelliousness against his father’s Mammon: but by betraying their parents’ culture. That’s the usual psychic outlet that the current Judeo-liberal zeitgeist allows the white people with insecure attachment with their parents.

    The above entry is a mere blog post of course. If I manage to survive the coming financial collapse I’ll write a book on the subject.

    Incidentally, the whole chapter “Romance and Reality” can be read: here. When I posted the above entry in 2012 no text was available online and I had to type it directly from the text.

    • Chechar, you say:

      “It is my opinion that today’s adults who had been abused by their parents and have developed defense mechanisms do it according not to St Francis’ rebelliousness against his father’s Mammon: but by betraying their parents’ culture. That’s the usual psychic outlet that the current Judeo-liberal zeitgeist allows the white people with insecure attachment with their parents.”

      I think you are right about this, and Bill de Blasio (the newly elected mayor of New York city) is very likely a good example of abuse by the father against an effeminate son (the father wants his effeminate son to “be a man” and beats and/or bullies and/or verbally abuses his son in an effort to “reform” his son): link

      Notice how the linked-to article says “De Blasio’s father was a celebrated WW2 warrior”, which probably means his dad was a stone-cold killer of either Germans or Japanese. Notice also the stern look on the father’s face in the provided photo in that article. Thus, given this evidence, De Blasio’s father sounds like “bad news” for an effeminate son.

      Chechar, you say:

      “The above entry is a mere blog post of course. If I manage to survive the coming financial collapse I’ll write a book on the subject.”

      If you ever do write such a book, I hope it’s in English, since I would want to read at least some of such a book. Also, depending on my circumstances at the time, I may be able to help with a final edit for correct English, since English is my only language.

      • I’ve responded below…

  2. There is ALOT covered in this blog entry of yours…..but just one point I add here.

    There are pre-christian european poem-cycles where love is continued through several reincarnation of the lovers, I believe this shows they had a high understanding of romance.

    The medieval period marks when some of the european mans natural nature began to celebrate the sacredness of women, after the anti-woman early christian church.

    This is called by Osred as the “dual-faith” period of christianity, or a melding of the indigenous europeans “faith-values” with the barrenness of early christianity, mostly caused by large masses of “native europeans” been admitted into the enlarging church structure.

  3. In response to Kurt:

    I started the 700-page, five “books” Hojas Susurrantes (fourth “book” in PDF already translated: here) in 1988 and finished it by 2007. Only “books” (actually long chapters) 1, part of the 3rd and 5th are truly original. Most of it (books 2nd and 4th) is a didactic presentation and critique of the ideas of other authors, Alice Miller, Lloyd deMause and the debunkers of psychiatry.

    Hojas Susurrantes (which might be translated as “Whispering Leaves” or “Rustling Leaves”) is a kind of prolegomena of a much more ambitious book that I have in mind, that if I manage to write it would be my real magnum opus.

    It is difficult to express in a comment what I have in mind, because it really covers profound topics, including of course white racial preservation. (When I finished HS in 2007 I was still a sort of liberal, which means that HS will be a hard sell to racialists.)

    To convey the idea of my ambitious project I’d like to quote Stefan Zweig. He wrote in Adepts in Self-Portraiture that when Western literature began with Hesiod and Heraclitus it was still poetry, and of the inevitability of a decline in the mythopoetic talent of Greece when a more Aristotelian thought evolved. As compensation for this loss, says Zweig, modern man obtained with the novel an approach to a science of the mind. But the novel genre does not represent the ultimate degree of self-knowledge:

    Autobiography is the hardest of all forms of literary art. Why, then, do new aspirants, generation after generation, try to solve this almost insoluble problem?

    [For a] honest autobiography […] he must have a combination of qualities which will hardly be found once in a million instances. To expect perfect sincerity on self-portraiture would be as absurd as to expect absolute justice, freedom, and perfection here on earth. No doubt the pseudo-confession, as Goethe called it, confession under the rose, in the diaphanous veil of novel or poem, is much easier, and is often far more convincing from the artistic point of view, than an account with no assumption of reserve. Autobiography, precisely because it requires, not truth alone, but naked truth, demands from the artist an act of peculiar heroism; for the autobiographer must play the traitor to himself.

    Only a ripe artist, one thoroughly acquainted with the workings of the mind, can be successful here. This is why psychological self-portraiture has appeared so late among the arts, belonging exclusively to our own days and those yet to come. Man had to discover continents, to fathom his seas, to learn his language, before he could turn his gaze inward to explore the universe of his soul. Classical antiquity had as yet no inkling of these mysterious paths. Caesar and Plutarch, the ancients who describe themselves, are content to deal with facts, with circumstantial happenings, and never dream of showing more than the surface of their hearts. […]

    Many centuries were to pass before Rousseau (that remarkable man who was a pioneer in so many fields) was to draw a self-portrait for its own sake, and was to be amazed and startled at the novelty of his enterprise. Stendhal, Hebbel, Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, Amiel, the intrepid Hans Jaeger, have disclosed unsuspected realms of self-knowledge by self-portraiture. Their successors, provided with more delicate implements of research, will be able to penetrate stratum by stratum, room by room, farther and yet farther into our new universe, into the depths of the human mind.

    This quote perhaps explains why I want to devise a hybrid genre between self-portraiture, and external occurrences such the ongoing assisted suicide in the West. Ultimately white suicide is a psychological phenomenon, so “intuitive psychology” (to contrast it with academic psychology) should be our forte in the movement.

    Stay tuned about what I will say about the classics of Spanish literature in the coming days or weeks.


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