November 16, 2013

A bit of Brecht...

I did enjoy that Between the Hammer and the Anvil post on thread about Norman Geras's passing or more specifically on the passing of his blog, Normblog.  Someone, Chris Y left the following comment:
chris y said...
Back in the early 80s, when I (and Bertram) first knew Geras, he was an important revolutionary intellectual - yeah, OK, big fish, small pond - who was instrumental in mainstreaming the work of Rosa Luxemburg among the British left, but was also active in any number of more immediate areas. Definitely one of the good guys.

What happened to him between his leaving NLR and the Iraq war, I have no idea. It came as a real shock to many people who had admired his work and seemed like a complete change of character. I at least found it deeply distressing, although of course there were no excuses to be made for his later positions.

Brecht:
I saw many friends
And the friend I loved most
Among them helplessly sunk
Into the swamp
I pass by daily.
And a drowning was not over in a single morning.
This made it more terrible.
And the memory of our long talks about the swamp
Which already held so many powerless.
Now I watched him leaning back
Covered with leeches in the shimmering,
Softly moving slime,
Upon the sinking face
The ghastly blissful smile.

It could well be a lament for a friend with similar ideals to yourself who then goes on to embrace precisely what you both used to oppose, ie, the swamp.  Apparently it's actually a lament for the self-destructive lifestyle of the actor, Peter Lorre.

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