It is difficult to find anarchist works in English that are at the same time “individualist” and explicitly revolutionary, that emphasize the centrality of the aim of individual self-determination to a revolution that will “communalize material wealth” as it will “individualize spiritual wealth”. For this and other reasons I chose to translate Toward the Creative Nothing by Renzo Novatore and publish several of his shorter pieces. Written shortly after World War I, as a revolution was occurring in Russia and uprisings were happening in Germany and Italy, this poetic text responds to the upheaval of its time with a call for a revolution that could truly move the human race beyond the spiritual impoverishment, the equality in baseness that democracy and socialism offered. Bourgeois society seemed to have reached its dusk, and Novatore saw the hope for a new dawn only in such a revolution-one that went beyond the mere economic demands of the socialists and communists–a revolution moved by great ideas and great passions that would break with the low values of bourgeois democratic civilization.
Novatore recognized that the war had simply reinforced the lowest and most cowardly of bourgeois values. The “proletarian frogs” just let themselves be led to the slaughter-killing each other for the cause of those who exploited them-because, in spite of their exploitation, they continued to share the values of their masters, the “bourgeois toads”-the values of the belly, the democratic values of equality in baseness, the rule of survival over life.
In our time when the “great dusk” of bourgeois democratic society that is heralded in this text seems to have become an eternal dusk making the entire world a dull grey nightmare of survival, Novatore’s call to a destructive revolution based on great passions and ideas, on the dreams and desires of a mighty and strong-willed “I” seems more necessary than ever if we are to move beyond this pathetic swamp of mediocrity. Of course, no revolution can go very far without the insurrection of the exploited against their condition. But this is precisely the point: when the proletarians rise up against their proletarianization, this means taking their revolt beyond the demand for full bellies to the active appropriation of full lives.
Novatore recognized that one could not struggle against this order alone-that revolution was necessary, not just individual revolt. If he mocked the proletarians of his time , it is because they did not lift themselves above the bourgeois hordes with great dreams and great will. So, as Novatore could have predicted, the “great proletarian revolution” in Russia came to embrace the worst of bourgeois values and created a monstrous machine of exploitation. Starting from the bourgeois values of the belly that place productivity above all else, that anti-individual egalitarianism of survival above all, how could it do otherwise?
Now more than ever we need an anti-democratic, anticapitalist, anti-state revolutionary movement which aims at the total liberation of every individual from all that prevents her from living his life in terms of her most beautiful dreamsdreams freed from the limits of the market. Such a movement must, of course, find ways to intervene in the real struggles of all the exploited, to move class conflict toward a real rupture with the social order and its survivalist values. These are matters we must wrestle now analyzing our present situation to find the openings for our insurrectional project. Novatore’s text is a light of poetry and passion-one light among many-which may help us to pierce through the gloom of the capitalist technological dusk that surrounds us-a ray of singularity breaking through the dinginess of the present mediocrity with its call for the revolution of the mightiest dreams.
Renzo Novatore is the pen-name of Abele Rizieri Ferrari who was born in Arcola, Italy (a village of La Spezia) on May 12, 1890 to a poor peasant family. Unwilling to adapt to scholastic discipline, he only attended a few months of the first grade of grammar school and then left school forever. Though his father forced him to work on the farm, his strong will and thirst for knowledge led him to become a self-taught poet and philosopher. Exploring these matters outside the limits imposed by the educational system, as a youth lie read Stirner, Nietzsche, Wilde, Ibsen, Baudelaire, Schopenauer and many others with a critical mind.
From 1908 on, he considered himself an anarchist. In 1910, he was charged with the burning of a local church and spent three months in prison. A year later, he went on the lam for several months because the police wanted him for theft and robbery. On September 30, 1911, the police arrested him for vandalism. In 1914, he began to write for anarchist papers. He was drafted during the first World War. He deserted his regiment on April 26, 1918 and was sentenced to death by a military tribunal for desertion and high treason on October 31. He left his village and went on the lam, propagating the armed uprising against the state.
On June 30, 1919, a farmer sold him to the police after an uprising in La Spezia. He was sentenced to ten years in prison, but was released in a general amnesty a few months later. He rejoined the anarchist movement and took part in various insurrectionary endeavors. In 1920, the police arrested him again for an armed assault on an arms depository at the naval barracks in Val di Fornola. Several months later, he was free, and participated in another insurrectionary endeavor that failed because of a snitch.
In the summer of 1922, three trucks full of fascists stopped in front of his home, where he lived with his wife and two sons. The fascists surrounded the house, but Novatore used grenades against them and was able to escape. He went underground one more time.
On November 29, 1922, Novatore and his comrade, Sante Pollastro, went into a tavern in Teglia. Three carabinieri (Italian military police) followed them inside. When the two anarchists tried to leave, the carabinieri began shooting. The warrant officer killed Novatore, but was then killed by Pollastro. One carabiniere ran away, and the last begged Pollastro for mercy. The anarchist escaped without shooting him.
Renzo Novatore wrote for many anarchist papers (Cronaca Libertaria, Il Libertario, Iconoclastal, Gli Scamiciati, Nichilismo, Pagine Libere) where he debated with other anarchists (among them Camillo Berneri). He published a magazine, Vertice, that has unfortunately been lost. In 1924, an individualist anarchist group published two pamphlets of his writings: A1 Disopra dell’ Arco and Verso il Nulla Creatore.
Introduction from the 1993 Edition
Published by Centrolibri-Edizioni
Anarchiche e Libertarie
About 70 years since its first publication, Toward the Creative Nothing seems to really maintain its destructive force intact. This characteristic of unchanging timeliness, in spite of every upsetting social occurrence and beyond the literary form, is common to a great many of the writings of individualist anarchists, that is to say, of those who did not base their lives on a social and economic program that was to be realized-the validity of which could only be determined by History-but on the individual, on being a real human being in flesh and bone. (This very probably explains the recent revival of enthusiasm for the work of Stirner.)
But the enhanced value of the individual cannot and must not decay into the constitution of a new school, a new ideology which in a time of uncertainty like the one that we are going through could attract all those-and they are many-who go in search of a point of unshakeable support. One cannot substitute the Individual for the Party merely because it is considered exempt from every critique in relation to social reality. In conclusion the greatest risk is that of enclosing oneself in the classic ivory tower, as many individualist anarchists in the past had, in fact, done.
Many, but not all. Here then is the reprint of the work by Renzo Novatore that allows us to rediscover his figure under several aspects that are exceptional in the individualist anarchist, since it not only gets rid of possible speculations about individualism, but is, at the same time, a call to struggle with a timeliness that is at times amazing.
Among those who declare themselves to be individualist anarchists, Renzo Novatore undoubtedly occupies a place of
remark, being one of the greatest examples of that which in past epochs was called “heroic and iconoclastic anarchism”. Man of thought and action, in the course of his life, Novatore had a way most of the time of showing his own uniqueness.
During the First World War, when interventionism picked up not a few followers among the anarchists, particularly within the ranks of the individualists, Novatore lined himself up resolutely against the war , deserting with arms in hand and being condemned to death for it by the tribunal in La Spezia. Unlike the great portion of other individualists who amused themselves with academic meditations on the “I”. Novatore live as an outlaw committing attentats and expropriations and actively participating in numerous insurrectional endeavors until he was killed in a gun battle with carabinieri in 1922.
Anti-dogmatic, he entered into polemics with both the muscle-bound anarchist organizers of the UAI (Union of Italian Anarchists) -he had a -most violent argument with Camillo Berneri-and with the spokespeople of a certain type of anarchist individualism (like Carlo Molaschi) often and willingly. For Novatore-a reader of Stirner, but not for that a disciple of stirnerism-the affirmation of the individual, the continuous tension toward freedom, led inevitably to the struggle against the existent, to the violent battle against authority and against every type of “wait-and see” attitude.
Written around 1921, Toward the Creative Nothing, which visibly feels the effects of Nietzsche’s influence on the author, attacks christianity, socialism, democracy, fascism one after the other, showing the material and spiritual destitution in them. All that which has led to the decadence of the individual, that which subjected it under various pretexts to “social phantoms” is assailed with iconoclastic fury. With this critique of that which belittles the uniqueness of the individual-which is still valid now-Novatore demolishes all the widespread commonplaces on the worth of individuals. At times with a smile on his lips and at other times with rage, Novatore refutes anyone who imagines him closed in the cloister of philosophical speculation; he drives back the accusations of those who believe him to be a blind negator, one deprived of projectuality; he shows the absurdity of those who believe him to be opposed to the revolution and favorable only to individual revolt. All of this without ever missing an opportunity to affirm the uniqueness of the individual, the greatness of the dream. The force of desire, the beauty of anarchy. In other words, here is what today has come to be considered out-of-date, but which perhaps is more simply out of fashion.
Certainly, a lot of time has passed since the writing of this text. But the triumph of democracy, the survival of stalinism, the rebirth of fascism, the deluge of technology, the universalization of commodities, the validation carried out by the mass media, the reduction of language, the contempt for utopia; this is what conspires to drown the individual in a sea of mediocrity, to tame its uniqueness, to placate every instinct of revolt within it, to render it incapable of love as well as hatred, impotent in its quiet life-all this is frighteningly current. Here this is because it renders that which can serve to desecrate and combat this situation equally current.
One thing is certain, only one who prefers the stormy sea to stagnant water will surely know how to appreciate the iconoclastic work of Renzo Novatore.
(revised from a translation by Stephen Marietta)
My soul is a sacrilegious temple
in which the bells of sin and crime,
voluptuous and perverse,
loudly ring out revolt and despair.
These words written in 1920, give us a glimpse of the promethean being of Renzo Novatore.
Novatore was a poet of the free life. Intolerant of every chain and limitation, he wanted to follow every impulse that rose within him. He wanted to understand everything and experience all sensations-those which lead to the abyss and those which lead to the stars. And then at death to melt into nothingness, having lived intensely and heroically so as to reach his full power as a complete man.
The son of a poor farmer from Arcola, Italy, Abile Riziero Ferrari (Reno Novatore) soon showed his great sensibility and rebelliousness. When his father wanted him to plow the fields he would flee, stealing fruit and chickens to sell so that he could buy books to read under a tree in the forest. In this way he educated himself and quickly developed a taste for nonconformist writers. In these he found reasons for his instinctive aversion to oppression and restriction, to the principles and institutions that reduce men to obedience and renunciation.
As a young man he joined the Arcola group of anarcho-communists, but he was not satisfied with the harmony and limited freedom of the new society they awaited so eagerly. “I am with you in destroying the tyranny of existing society,” he said, “but when you have done this and begun to build anew,
then I will oppose and go beyond you.”
Until he was fifteen years old, Renzo included the church in his poetry. After that, freed and unprejudiced, he never planted any roots in the gregarious existence of his village, but often found himself in conflict with both men and the law. He scandalized his respectable family, who wondered what they had done to deserve such a devil…
… Novatore, who was influenced by Baudelaire and Nietzsche, asserted that we had needs and aspirations that could not be satisfied without injury to the needs and aspirations of others. Therefore we must either renounce them and become slaves, or satisfy them and come into conflict with Society, whatever kind it may be, even if it calls itself anarchist. Novatore:
Anarchy is not a social form, but a method of individuation. No society will concede to me more than a limited freedom and a well-being that it grants to each of its members. But I am not content with this and want more. I want all that I have the power to conquer. Every society seeks to confine me to the august limits of the permitted and the prohibited . But I do not acknowledge these limits, for nothing is forbidden and all is permitted to those who have the force and the valor.
Consequently, anarchy, which is the natural liberty of the individual freed from the odious yoke of spiritual and material rulers, is not the construction of a new and suffocating society.’ It is a decisive fight against all societies-christian, democratic, socialist, communist, etc., etc. Anarchism is the eternal struggle of a small minority of aristocratic outsiders against all societies which follow one another on the stage of history.
Those were the ideas expressed by Novatore in Il Libertario of La Spezia, L’Iconoclasta of Pistoia, and other anarchist journals. And these were the ideas that then influenced me as I was well prepared to receive them.
During World War I Novatore refused to fight for a cause that was not his own and took to the mountains. Astute, courageous, vigilant, his pistol at the ready the authorities failed at every attempt to capture him. At the end of the war the deserters were amnestied and he was able to return to his village where his wife and son were waiting for him.
I was sixteen years old and had run away from home and my studies, freeing myself from my bourgeois family, who had done everything they could to stop my anarchist activities. Passing through Saranza on my way to Milan, I stopped to get to know Novatore, having read his article “My Iconoclastic Individualism”. Renzo came at once to meet me together with another anarchist called Lucherini.
We passed unforgettable hours together. Our discussions were long and he helped me fill gaps in my thinking, setting me on my way to the solution of many fundamental problems. I was struck by his enthusiasm.
His appearance was impressive. Of medium height he was athletic in build, and had a large forehead. His eyes were vivacious and expressed sensibility, intelligence and force. He had an ironic smile that revealed the contempt of a superior spirit for men and the world. He was thirty-one years old, but already had the aura of genius.
After two months wandering around Italy with the police at my heels, I returned to Arcola to see Renzo again. But Emma, his wife, told me that he was also hunted and that I could only meet him at night in the forest.
Once again we had long discussions and I was able to appreciate his exceptional qualities as a poet, philosopher and man of action even more. I valued the power of his intellect and his fine sensitivity which was like that of a Greek god or a divine beast. We parted for the last time at dawn.
Both of us were existing under terrible conditions. We were in open struggle against Society, which would have liked to throw us in jail. Renzo had been attacked in his house at Fresonaro by a band of armed fascists who intended to kill him, but he had driven them off with home-made grenades. After that he had to keep a safe distance from the village.
Despite being an outlaw, lie continued to develop his individualist anarchist ideas in libertarian papers. I did the same and we aroused the anger of the theoreticians of anarchocommunism. One of them, Professor Camillo Berneri, described us in the October, 1920 issue of L’Iconoclasta as “Paranoid megalomaniacs, exalters of a mad philosophy and decadent literature, feeble imitators of the artists of opium and hashish, sirens at so much an hour.”
I could not reply because in the meantime I had been arrested and shut up in a House of Correction. But Renzo replied for both of us and took “this bookworm in whom it is difficult to find the spirit and fire of a true anarchist” to task.
More than a year later I was provisionally released from prison, but I could find out nothing regarding the whereabouts of Renzo. Finally I received the terrible news that he had been killed.
He was at an inn in Bolzaneto, near Genova, along with the intrepid illegalist S.P., when a group of carabinieri arrived disguised as hunters. Novatore and S. P. immediately opened fire and the police responded. The tragic result was two dead, Renzo and Marasciallo Lempano of the carabinieri, and one policeman wounded. This was in 1922: a few months before the fascist march on Rome.
So a great and original poet, who, putting his thoughts and feelings into action, attacked the mangy herd of sheep and shepherds, died at the age of thirty three. He showed that life can be lived in intensity, not in duration as the cowardly mass want and practice.
After his death it was discovered that, together with a few others, lie was preparing to strike at society and tear from it that which it denies the individual. And in the Assizes Court where his accomplices were tried, a prosecuting counsel acknowledged his bravery and called him “a strange blend of light and darkness, love and anarchy, the sublime and the criminal.”
A few friends collected some of his writings and posthumously published them in two volumes: Above Authority (Al Disopra dell’ Arco) and Toward the Creative Nothing (Verso il Nullo Creatore). Other writings remained with his family or were lost.
So an exceptional man lived and died-the man I felt was closest to me in his ideals and aspirations. He described himself as “an atheist of solitude” He wanted to “ravish the impossible” and embraced life like an ardent lover. He was a lofty conquistador of immortality and power, who wanted to bring all to the maximum splendor of beauty.
TOWARD THE CREATIVE NOTHING
Our epoch is an epoch of decadence. Bourgeois-christianplebeian civilization arrived at the dead end of its evolution a long time ago.
Democracy has arrived!
But under the false splendor of democratic civilization, higher spiritual values have fallen, shattered.
Willful strength, barbarous individuality, free art, heroism, genius, poetry have been scorned, mocked, slandered.
And not in the name of “I”, but of the “collective”. Not in the name of “the unique one”, but of society.
Thus christianity—condemning the primitive and wild force of the virgin instinct-killed the vigorously pagan “concept” of the joy of the earth. Democracy-its offspring-glorified itself making the justification for this crime and reveling in its grim and vulgar enormity.
Already we knew it!
Christianity had brutally planted the poisoned blade in the healthy, quivering flesh of all humanity; it had goaded a cold wave of darkness with mystically brutal fury to dim the serene and festive exultation of the dionysian spirit of our pagan ancestors.
In one cold evening, winter fatally fell upon a warm midday of summer. It was-christianity-that, substituting the phantasm of “god” for the vibrant reality of “I”, declared itself the fierce enemy of the joy of living and avenged itself knavishly .on earthly life.
With christianity Life was sent to mourn in the frightful abysses of the most bitter renunciations; she was pushed toward the glacier of disavowal and death. And from this glacier of disavowal and death, democracy was born.
Thus democracy-the mother of socialism-is the daughter of christianity.
With the triumph of democratic civilization the spiritual mob was glorified. With its fierce anti-individualism-democracy being incapable of understanding such a thing-trampled all the heroic beauty of the anti-collectivist and creative “I”.
The bourgeois toads and the proletarian frogs clasped each others hands in a common spiritual baseness, piously receiving communion from the lead cup containing the slimy liquor of the very social lies that democracy handed to each of them.
And the songs that bourgeois and proletarian raised at their spiritual communion were a common and noisy “Hurrah!” to the victorious and triumphant Goose.
And while the “Hurrah!”’s burst forth high and frenzied, she–democracy–pressed the plebeian cap on her forehead, proclaiming-grim and savage irony-the equal rights… of Man!
It was then that the Eagle, in his prudent awareness, beat his titanic wings more swiftly, soaring-disgusted by the trivial performance-toward the peak of meditation.
Thus, the democratic Goose remained queen of the world aid lady of all things, imperial mistress and sovereign.
But since something waiting above her laughed, she-by means of socialism, her only true son-moved to hurl a stone and a word, in the low swampy realm where the toads and frogs croaked, to raise a materialistic fistfight in order to make it pass through a titanic war to superb ideas and to spirituality. And in the marshes, the fistfight happened. It happened in such a plebeian manner as to spray mud so high that it stained the stars.
Thus, everything was contaminated with democracy.
Even that which was best here.
Even that which was worst here.
In the reign of democracy, the struggles that were opened between capital and labor were stunted struggles, impotent ghosts of war, deprived of all content of high spirituality and of brave revolutionary greatness, unable to create a different concept of life, stronger and more beautiful.
Bourgeois and proletarian, though clashing over questions of class, of power and of the belly, still always remained united in common hatred against the great vagabonds of the spirit, against the solitaries of the idea. Against all those stricken by thought, against all those transfigured by a superior beauty.
With democratic civilization, Christ has triumphed.
In addition to paradise in heaven, “the poor in spirit” had democracy on earth.
If the triumph has not yet been completed, socialism will complete it. In its theoretical conception, it has already announced itself for a long time. It aims to “level” all human worth.
Listen, oh youthful spirits!
The war against the human individual was begun by Christ in the name of god, was developed by democracy in the name of society and threatens to complete itself in socialism in the name of humanity.
If we do not know in time how to destroy these three absurd as well as dangerous phantoms, the individual will be inexorably lost.
It is necessary that the revolt of the “I” expands itself, broadens itself, generalizes itself!
We-the forerunners of the time-have already lit the beacons!
We have lit the torches of thought.
We have brandished the ax of action.
And we have smashed.
And we have unhinged.
But our individual “crimes” must be the fatal announcement of a great social storm.
The great and dreadful storm that will smash all the structures of the conventional lies, that will unhinge the walls of all hypocrisy, that will reduce the old world to a heap of ruins and smoking rubble!
Because it is from these ruins of god, of society, of family and of humanity that the new human mind could be born flourishing and festive, that new human mind which-on the rubble of all the past-will sing the birth of the liberated man: the free and great “I”.
Christ was a paradoxical misunderstanding from the gospels. He was a sad and sorrowful phenomenon of decadence, born of pagan fatigue.
The Antichrist is the healthy son of all the bold hatred that Life has bred in the secrecy of its own fecund breast, during the twenty and more centuries of christian order.
Because history returns.
Because eternal return is the law that rules the universe.
It is the destiny of the world!
It is the axis around which life itself turns!
To perpetuate itself.
To run itself back.
To contradict itself.
To pursue itself.
To not die.
Because life is a movement, an action.
That pursues thought.
That yearns for thought.
That loves thought.
And this being walks, runs, bustles around.
Life wants to stir in the kingdom of ideas.
But when the way is impractical, then, thought weeps. It weeps and despairs…
Then weariness makes it weak, renders it christian.
Then it takes its sister life in hand and seeks to confine her in the realm of death.
But the Antichrist-the spirit of the most mysterious and profound instinct-calls Life back to himself, shouting barbarically to her: Let’s begin again!
And Life begins again!
Because it does not want to die.
And if Christ symbolizes the weariness of life, the sunset of thought: the death of the idea!
The Antichrist symbolizes the instinct of life.
He symbolizes the resurrection of thought.
The Antichrist is the symbol of a new dawn.
If the dying democratic (bourgeois-christian-plebeian) civilization succeeded in leveling the human mind, denying every high spiritual value that stands out above it, it fortunately-did not succeed in leveling the differences of class, of privilege, and of caste, which-as we have already said remained divided only over of a question of the belly.
Since-for the one class as for the other-the belly remained-it is necessary to confess it and not only to confess it as the supreme ideal. And socialism understood all this.
It understood it, and since it was a skillful-and at last, perhaps, practically useful-speculator, it cast the poison of its coarse doctrine of equality (equality of lice before the sacred majesty of the sovereign state) into the wells of slavery where innocence blissfully quenched its thirst.
But the poison that socialism spread was not the powerful poison capable of giving heroic virtue to anyone who drank it.
No: it was not the radical poison capable of performing the miracle that elevates the human mind-transfiguring it and freeing it. Rather it was a hybrid blend of “yes” and “no”. A livid mixture of “authority” and “faith”, of “state” and of “the future”.
So that, through socialism, the proletarian mob once again felt close to the bourgeois mob and together they turned toward the horizon, faithfully awaiting the Sun of the Future!
And this because, while socialism was not able to transform the shivering hands of the slaves into so many iconoclastic, pitiless and rapacious claws, it was also incapable of transforming the mean avarice of the tyrants into the high and superior virtue of generosity.
With socialism, the corrupt and viscous circle created by christianity and developed by democracy was not broken. Instead it consolidated itself better.
Socialism remained as a dangerous and impractical bridge between the tyrant and the slave; as a false link of conjunction; as the ambiguity of the “yes” and the “no” from which its absurd underlying principle is mixed.
And, once again, we saw the fatally obscene joke that disgusted us. We saw socialism, proletariat and bourgeoisie, together reenter the orbit of the lowest spiritual poverty to worship democracy. But democracy-being the people that governed the people by beatings with cudgels-for the love of the people as Oscar Wilde one day quipped-it was logical that true free spirits, great vagabonds of the idea, more strongly felt the need to push decisively toward the extreme boundary of their iconoclasm off the solitary in order to prepare the trained phalanxes of the human eagles in the silent desert, those who will furiously take part in the tragic celebration of the social dusk in order to overturn democratic civilization between their steel claws, and plunge it into the void of an ancient time that was.
When the bourgeoisie had kneeled to the right of socialism in the sacred temple of democracy, they serenely stretched out in the bed of expectation to sleep their absurd sleep of peace. But the proletarians, who had lost their happy innocence by drinking the socialist poison, shouted from the left side, upsetting he tranquil sleep of the idiotic, criminal bourgeoisie.
In the meantime, on the higher mountains of thought, the vagabonds of the idea overcame nausea, announcing that something like the roaring laughter of Zarathustra had echoed sinisterly.
The wind of the spirit, similar to a hurricane, would have had to penetrate the human mind and raise it impetuously in the whirlwind of ideas in order to overwhelm all the old values from the darkness of time, raising the life of the sublimated instinct again in the sun with the new thought.
But, awakening, the bourgeois toads understood that some incomprehensible thing cried out in the heights, threatening their base existence. Yes: they understood that a thing arrive from the heights like a rock, a roar, a menace.
They understood that the satanic voices of frenzied forerunners of time announced a furious tempest that, arising from the renewed will of a few solitaries, exploded in the entrails of society to raze it to the ground.
But they have not understood (and will never understand this until they have been crushed) that what passed over the world was the powerful wing of a free life in the beating of which was the death of the “bourgeois man” and of the “proletarian man”, because all people could have been “unique” and “universal” at the same time.
And this was the reason why all the bourgeoisie of the world rang their bells, made from false idealistic metal, in mass, calling themselves to a great assembly.
The assembly was general…
All the bourgeoisie gathered.
They gathered among the slimy rushes growing from the quagmire of their common lies and there, in the silence of the mud, they decided the extermination of the proletarian frogs, their servants and their friends.
In the ferocious plot all sides were devotees of Christ and of democracy.
All the former apostles of the frogs attended as well. The war was decided and the prince of the black vipers blessed the fratricidal armies in the name of the god who said, “Do not kill”, while the symbolic vicar of death implored his goddess who
came to dance on the earth.
Then socialism-as skillful acrobat and practical jugglertook a leap ahead. He jumped on the tight wire of sentimental political speculation, his brow encircled in black, and, aching and weeping more or less this way, said, “I am the true enemy of violence. I am the enemy of war, and also the enemy of revolution. I am the enemy of blood.”
And after having spoken again of “peace” and of “equality”, of “faith” and of “martyrdom”, of “humanity” and of “the future”, he intoned a song on the motifs of the “yes” and of the “no”, bowed his head and wept.
He wept the tears of Judas, which are not even the “I wash my hands of it” of Pilate.
And the frogs departed…
They departed toward the realm of supreme human baseness. They departed toward the mud of all the trenches.
And death came!
It came drunk on blood and danced horribly in the world.
For five long years…
It was then that the great vagabonds of the spirit, taken with a new disgust, rode their free eagles once more to soar dizzily in the solitude of their distant glaciers to laugh and curse.
Even the spirit of Zarathustra-the truest lover of war and the most sincere friend of warriors-must have remained sufficiently disgusted and scornful since somebody heard him exclaim: “For me, you must be those who stretch your eyes in search of the enemy-of your enemy. And in some of you hatred blazes at first glance. You must look for your enemy, fight your war. And this for your ideas!
And if your idea succumbs, your rectitude cries of triumph!” But alas! The heroic sermon of the liberating barbarian availed nothing.
The human frogs knew neither how to distinguish their own enemy nor how to fight for their own ideas. (The frogs have no ideas!)
And neither recognizing their enemies nor having their own ideas, they fought for the bellies of their brothers in Christ, for their equals in democracy.
They fought against each other for their enemy.
Abel, revived, died for Cain a second time.
But this time, at his own hand!
Voluntarily, because he could have rebelled, and lie did not do so…
Because he could have said: no!
Because saying: “no” he could have been strong!
Because saying: “yes”, lie could have shown that he “believed”
in the “cause for which he fought.
But he said neither “yes” nor “no”.
He went toward death! .. .
Without knowing why.
And death came…
It came to dance in the world for five long years!
And it danced hideously in the muddy trenches of all parts of the world.
It danced with feet of lightning…
It danced and laughed…
It laughed and danced…
For five long years!
Ah! How vulgar is death that dances without having the wings of an idea on its back.
What an idiotic thing to die without knowing why…
We saw it when it danced-Death. It was a black Death, without transparency of light.
It was a Death without wings!
How ugly and vulgar it was…
How clumsy was its dance…
But still it danced!
And how it mowed-dancing-all the superfluous and all of those of the majority. All those for whom-says the great liberator-the state was invented.
But alas! It did not mow these alone…
Death-in order to avenge the state-has even mowed down
those who are not worthless, even those who are essential!…
But those who were not worthless, those who were not of the
majority, those who have fallen saying “no!” They will be avenged.
We will avenge them.
We will avenge them because they are our brothers!
We will avenge them because they have fallen with stars in their eyes.
Because dying, they have drunk the sun.
The sun of life, the sun of struggle, the sun of an Idea.
What has the war renewed?
Where is the heroic transfiguration of the spirit?
Where have they hung the phosphorescent tables of the new values?
In which temple have the holy amphoras of gold enclosing the luminous and blazing hearts of the supreme and creative heroes been laid?
Where is the splendor of the great and new noon?
Frightful rivers of blood washed all the turf and covered all the pathways of the world.
Fearful torrents off tears made their heartbreaking lament echo
across the eddies of all the earth: mountains of bone and human
flesh everywhere blanched and everywhere rotted in the sun.
But nothing was transformed, nothing evolved.
The bourgeois belly merely belched from satiety and that of
the proletarian cried out from too much hunger.
With Karl Marx the human mind descended into the intestines. The roar that passes through the world today is a belly roar. Our will can transform it into a shout of the mind.
Into a spiritual storm.
Into a cry of free life.
Into a hurricane of lightning.
Our thunderbolt could unhinge the present reality, rip open the
door to the unknown mystery of our longed-for dream and show
the supreme beauty of the liberated man. Because we are mad forerunners of the time.
The first announcements.
Do you remember it?
What has the war created?
Here it is:
The woman sold her body and called the prostitution “free love”.
The man, who “dodged” to manufacture bullets and to preach the sublime beauty of the war, called his cowardice: “delicate artfulness and heroic cunning”.
This one who always lived in unconscious infamy, in cowardice, in humility, in indifference and in weak renunciations, cursed against small audacities-which he had always detested 4 because by themselves they did not have the strength to prevent his belly from being torn apart by those weapons that lie himself had constructed for a vile morsel of bread.
Because even the beggars of the spirit-those who always remain outside to warm up while the more noble part of humanity enters into the hell of life-these humble and devoted servants of their tyrant, these unconscious slanderers of superior minds, even these, we say, did not want to depart.
They did not want to die.
They writhed, they wept, they implored, they prayed!
But all this from a low instinct of impotent and bestial self-preservation, deprived of every heroic roar of revolt, and not instead from questions of a superior humanity, of refined depth of feeling, of spiritual beauty.
No, no, no!
Nothing off all that!
Only the bestial belly.
Bourgeois ideal-proletarian ideal-the belly!
But in the meantime death came…
It came to dance in the world without having the wings of an idea on its back!
And it danced…
It danced and laughed.
For five long years…
And while on the borders wingless death danced drunk on blood, at home in the sacred apse of the internal front-in the vulgar “gazettes” of lies-the miraculous moral and material evolution of our women was recited and sung along with the spiritual peak that our heroic and glorious foot soldier ascended. The one who died weeping without knowing “why”.
How many ferocious lies, how much vulgar cynicism the grim minds of democratic society and of the state vomited in the “gazettes”.
Who remembers the war?
How the crows croaked…
The crows and the owls!
And meanwhile death danced!
It danced without having the wings of an idea on its back! Of a dangerous idea that bears fruit and that creates. It danced…
It danced and laughed!
And how it mowed-dancing-the superfluous. All those who
were of the majority. Those for whom the state was invented.
But alas! It did not only mow these.
It also mowed those who had the rays of the sun in their eyes,
those who had the stars in their pupils!
Where is the epic art, the heroic art, the supreme art that the war promised us?
Where is the free life, the triumph of the new dawn, the splendor of noon, the festive glory of the sun?
Where is the redemption from material slavery?
Where is the one who has created the fine and profound poetry that had to germinate painfully in this tragic and fearful abyss of blood and death, in order to tell us the silent and cruel torture felt by the human mind?
Who has said the sweet and good word to us that calls a clear morning after a terrible night of hurricane?
Who has said the superior word that makes us great as our sorrow, pure in beauty and deep in humanity?
Who is, who ever is the genius who has known how to bend himself with love and faithfulness over the open wounds in the living flesh of our life, to receive all the noble tears from them so that the supreme laughter of the redeemer spirit could rend the claws from the starving monsters of our past errors in order to make us ascend to the concept of a superior ethic, where, through the luminous principle of human beauty purified in blood and sorrow, we could lift ourselves, strong and majestic- like an arrow taut on the bow of the will-to sing the deepest and gentlest melody of the highest of all our hopes to earthly life!
I don’t see it!
I don’t feel it!
I look around me, but I see only vulgar pornography and false cynicism…
At least we could have been given a Homer of art, and a Napoleon of the acts of war.
A man who could have had the strength to destroy an epoch, to create a new history…
The war has given us neither great singers nor great rulers. Only lying ghosts and grim parodies.
The war has passed washing history and humanity in tears and blood, but the epoch has remained unchanged.
An epoch of disintegration.
Collectivism is dying and individualism has not yet taken hold.
Nobody knows how to obey, nobody knows how to command.
But given all this, knowing how to live free, this is still at
present an abyss.
An abyss that can only be filled up with the corpse of slavery and that of authority.
The war could not fill up this abyss. It could only dig it deeper.
But what the war could not do, revolution must do.
The war has rendered humans more beastly and plebeian. Coarser and uglier.
Revolution must render them better.
It must ennoble them.
Already–socially speaking–we have slipped down the fatal slope, and there is no more possibility of turning back.
To attempt it alone would be a crime.
Not a great and noble crime however.
But a vulgar crime. A crime more than useless and vain. A crime against the flesh of our ideas.
Because we are not the enemies of blood…
We are the enemies of vulgarity!
Now that the age of obligation and slavery is agonizing, we want to close the cycle of theoretical and contemplative thought in order to open the breach to violent action, which is still the will of life and the exultation of expansion.
On the ruins of piety and religion we want to erect the creative hardness of our proud hearts.
We are not the admirers of the “ideal man” of “social rights, but the proclaimers of the “actual individual”, enemy of social abstractions.
We fight for the liberation of the individual.
For the conquest of life.
For the triumph of our idea.
For the realization of our dreams.
And if our ideas are dangerous, it is because we are those who
love to live dangerously.
And if our dreams are mad, it is because we are mad.
But our madness is supreme wisdom.
But our ideas are the heart of life; but our thoughts are the beacons of humanity.
And what the war has not done, revol