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Kenneth Rexroth

Geburtstag: 22. Dezember 1905
Todesdatum: 6. Juni 1982

Kenneth Rexroth war ein US-amerikanischer Dichter, Essayist und Literaturkritiker. Er gilt als ein „Vater“ der Beat Generation. Wikipedia

Zitate Kenneth Rexroth

„No one was required to believe in the gods as Christians believe in their creeds. Socrates had always been scrupulous in observance of every accepted principle and practice of community life. However, from his questioning he had developed a civic and personal morality founded on reason rather than custom.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

Plato: The Trial and Death of Socrates (pp. 50-51)
Classics Revisited (1968)
Kontext: No one was required to believe in the gods as Christians believe in their creeds. Socrates had always been scrupulous in observance of every accepted principle and practice of community life. However, from his questioning he had developed a civic and personal morality founded on reason rather than custom. He envisioned it as subject to continuous criticism and revaluation in terms of the ever-expanding freedom of morally autonomous but cooperating persons, who together made up a community whose characteristic aim was an organically growing depth, breadth, intensity of experience — experience finally of that ultimate reality characterized by Socrates as good, true and beautiful.
The accusers were right. This is a new religion which bears scant resemblance to the old. Civic piety is founded on the recognition of ignorance and the nurture of the soil until it becomes capable of true knowledge — which is a state of being, a moral condition called freedom. The Greek city-state, not to speak of the tribal community, knew nothing of freedom in this sense, but only the liberty that distinguished the free man from the slave.

„Lenin’s The State and Revolution is an authoritarian parody of their ideas.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

Introduction : The Libertarian Tradition
Communalism (1974)
Kontext: People who believe in libertarian communism can be grouped roughly under three general theories, each with its old masters, theoreticians, leaders, organizations, and literature. First there are the anarchists in a rather limited variety: communist-anarchists, mutualists, anarcho-syndicalists, individual anarchists, and a few minor groups and combinations. Second, the members of intentional communities, usually but by no means always religious in inspiration. The words “communalism” and “communalist” seem to have died out and it would be good to appropriate them to this group, although the by now too confusing word “communist” actually fits them best of all. Third, there are the Left Marxists, who prior to 1918 had become a widespread movement challenging the Social Democratic Second International. It was to them the Bolsheviks appealed for support in the early days of their revolution. Lenin’s The State and Revolution is an authoritarian parody of their ideas. They in turn have called it “the greatest pre-election pamphlet ever written: ‘Elect us and we will wither away’.” Against them Lenin wrote Leftism: An Infantile Disorder. There is a story that, when the Communist International was formed, a delegate objected to the name. Referring to all these groups he said: “But there are already communists.” Lenin answered: “Nobody ever heard of them, and when we get through with them nobody ever will.” Today these ideas are more influential than they ever have been.

„Whenever the power structure falters or fails the general tendency is to replace it with free communism. This is almost a law of revolution.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

Introduction : The Libertarian Tradition
Communalism (1974)
Kontext: The contemporary world is being pulled apart by two contrary tendencies — one toward social death, one toward the birth of a new society. Many of the phenomena of the present crisis are ambivalent and can either mean death or birth depending on how the crisis is resolved.
The crisis of a civilization is a mass phenomenon and moves onward without benefit of ideology. The demand for freedom, community, life significance, the attack on alienation, is largely inchoate and instinctive. In the libertarian revolutionary movement these objectives were ideological, confined to books, or realized with difficulty, usually only temporarily in small experimental communities, or in individual lives and tiny social circles. It has been said of the contemporary revolutionary wave that it is a revolution without theory, anti-ideological. But the theory, the ideology, already exists in a tradition as old as capitalism itself. Furthermore, just as individuals specially gifted have been able to live free lives in the interstices of an exploitative, competitive system, so in periods when the developing capitalist system has temporarily and locally broken down due to the drag of outworn forms there have existed brief revolutionary honeymoons in which freer communal organization has prevailed. Whenever the power structure falters or fails the general tendency is to replace it with free communism. This is almost a law of revolution. In every instance so far, either the old power structure, as in the Paris Commune or the Spanish Civil War, or a new one, as in the French and Bolshevik Revolutions, has suppressed these free revolutionary societies with wholesale terror and bloodshed.

„The contemporary world is being pulled apart by two contrary tendencies — one toward social death, one toward the birth of a new society.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

Introduction : The Libertarian Tradition
Communalism (1974)
Kontext: The contemporary world is being pulled apart by two contrary tendencies — one toward social death, one toward the birth of a new society. Many of the phenomena of the present crisis are ambivalent and can either mean death or birth depending on how the crisis is resolved.
The crisis of a civilization is a mass phenomenon and moves onward without benefit of ideology. The demand for freedom, community, life significance, the attack on alienation, is largely inchoate and instinctive. In the libertarian revolutionary movement these objectives were ideological, confined to books, or realized with difficulty, usually only temporarily in small experimental communities, or in individual lives and tiny social circles. It has been said of the contemporary revolutionary wave that it is a revolution without theory, anti-ideological. But the theory, the ideology, already exists in a tradition as old as capitalism itself. Furthermore, just as individuals specially gifted have been able to live free lives in the interstices of an exploitative, competitive system, so in periods when the developing capitalist system has temporarily and locally broken down due to the drag of outworn forms there have existed brief revolutionary honeymoons in which freer communal organization has prevailed. Whenever the power structure falters or fails the general tendency is to replace it with free communism. This is almost a law of revolution. In every instance so far, either the old power structure, as in the Paris Commune or the Spanish Civil War, or a new one, as in the French and Bolshevik Revolutions, has suppressed these free revolutionary societies with wholesale terror and bloodshed.

„These bits of information are important because they are signs of a revolution of the sensibility — which incidentally was a metaphysical revolution of which certainly St. Francis himself was quite unaware.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

"Eckhart, Brethren of the Free Spirit" http://www.bopsecrets.org/rexroth/communalism2.htm from Communalism: From Its Origins to the Twentieth Century (1974), ch. 4
Kontext: St. Francis is not only the most attractive of all the Christian saints, he is the most attractive of Christians, admired by Buddhists, atheists, completely secular, modern people, Communists, to whom the figure of Christ himself is at best unattractive. Partly this is due to the sentimentalization of the legend of his life and that of his companions in the early days of the order. Many people today who put his statue in their gardens know nothing about him except that he preached a sermon to the birds, wrote a hymn to the sun, and called the donkey his brother. These bits of information are important because they are signs of a revolution of the sensibility — which incidentally was a metaphysical revolution of which certainly St. Francis himself was quite unaware. They stand for a mystical and emotional immediate realization of the unity of being, a notion foreign, in fact antagonistic, to the main Judeo-Christian tradition.
“I am that I am” — the God of Judaism is the only self-sufficient being. All the reality that we can know is contingent, created out of nothing, and hence of an inferior order of reality. Faced with the “utterly other,” the contingent soul can finally only respond with fear and trembling.

„I said, "I have an extremely wide repertory. What would you like — sex, revolution, or mysticism?" She looked up and said quietly, "What’s the difference?"“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

"The Libertarian Circle"
An Autobiographical Novel (1991)
Kontext: I was giving a reading at some university. Down in the front row of the auditorium was a young lady in a leather microskirt and a leather microbolero, tied with a leather bootlace, and nothing else whatever. I said, "I have an extremely wide repertory. What would you like — sex, revolution, or mysticism?" She looked up and said quietly, "What’s the difference?"

„Any writer, reading over the typescript of a book for the last time before sending it off to the publisher, must wonder what all the effort was for.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

"Introduction" http://www.bopsecrets.org/rexroth/autobio/1.htm
An Autobiographical Novel (1991)
Kontext: Any writer, reading over the typescript of a book for the last time before sending it off to the publisher, must wonder what all the effort was for. An autobiography is specially in need of justification to its author. It is a work of self-justification which itself needs justifying. Why have I written this book? Why have I written it the way I have? What does it mean to me? What do I hope it will mean to others?
Each human being has at the final core of self a crystal from which the whole manifold of the personality develops, a secret molecular lattice which governs the unfolding of all the structures of the individuality, in time, in space, in memory, in action and contemplation. Asleep there were just these dreams and no others. Awake there were these actions only. Only these deeds came into being.

„Love is the garment of knowledge. The soul first trains itself by systematic unknowing until at last it confronts the only reality, the only knowledge, God manifest in itself. The soul can say nothing about this experience in the sense of defining it. It can only reveal it to others.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

"Eckhart, Brethren of the Free Spirit," from Communalism: From Its Origins to the Twentieth Century (1974), ch. 4
Kontext: The influence of Meister Eckhart is stronger today than it has been in hundreds of years. Eckhart met the problems of contingency and omnipotence, creator-and-creature-from-nothing by making God the only reality and the presence or imprint of God upon nothing, the source of reality in the creature. Reality in other words was a hierarchically structured participation of the creature in the creator. From the point of view of the creature this process could be reversed. If creatureliness is real, God becomes the Divine Nothing. God is not, as in scholasticism, the final subject of all predicates. He is being as unpredicable. The existence of the creature, in so far as it exists, is the existence of God, and the creature’s experience of God is therefore in the final analysis equally unpredicable. Neither can even be described; both can only be indicated. We can only point at reality, our own or God’s. The soul comes to the realization of God by knowledge, not as in the older Christian mysticism by love. Love is the garment of knowledge. The soul first trains itself by systematic unknowing until at last it confronts the only reality, the only knowledge, God manifest in itself. The soul can say nothing about this experience in the sense of defining it. It can only reveal it to others.

„God is not, as in scholasticism, the final subject of all predicates. He is being as unpredicable. The existence of the creature, in so far as it exists, is the existence of God, and the creature’s experience of God is therefore in the final analysis equally unpredicable. Neither can even be described; both can only be indicated. We can only point at reality, our own or God’s.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

"Eckhart, Brethren of the Free Spirit," from Communalism: From Its Origins to the Twentieth Century (1974), ch. 4
Kontext: The influence of Meister Eckhart is stronger today than it has been in hundreds of years. Eckhart met the problems of contingency and omnipotence, creator-and-creature-from-nothing by making God the only reality and the presence or imprint of God upon nothing, the source of reality in the creature. Reality in other words was a hierarchically structured participation of the creature in the creator. From the point of view of the creature this process could be reversed. If creatureliness is real, God becomes the Divine Nothing. God is not, as in scholasticism, the final subject of all predicates. He is being as unpredicable. The existence of the creature, in so far as it exists, is the existence of God, and the creature’s experience of God is therefore in the final analysis equally unpredicable. Neither can even be described; both can only be indicated. We can only point at reality, our own or God’s. The soul comes to the realization of God by knowledge, not as in the older Christian mysticism by love. Love is the garment of knowledge. The soul first trains itself by systematic unknowing until at last it confronts the only reality, the only knowledge, God manifest in itself. The soul can say nothing about this experience in the sense of defining it. It can only reveal it to others.

„The words “communalism” and “communalist” seem to have died out and it would be good to appropriate them to this group, although the by now too confusing word “communist” actually fits them best of all.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

Introduction : The Libertarian Tradition
Communalism (1974)
Kontext: People who believe in libertarian communism can be grouped roughly under three general theories, each with its old masters, theoreticians, leaders, organizations, and literature. First there are the anarchists in a rather limited variety: communist-anarchists, mutualists, anarcho-syndicalists, individual anarchists, and a few minor groups and combinations. Second, the members of intentional communities, usually but by no means always religious in inspiration. The words “communalism” and “communalist” seem to have died out and it would be good to appropriate them to this group, although the by now too confusing word “communist” actually fits them best of all. Third, there are the Left Marxists, who prior to 1918 had become a widespread movement challenging the Social Democratic Second International. It was to them the Bolsheviks appealed for support in the early days of their revolution. Lenin’s The State and Revolution is an authoritarian parody of their ideas. They in turn have called it “the greatest pre-election pamphlet ever written: ‘Elect us and we will wither away’.” Against them Lenin wrote Leftism: An Infantile Disorder. There is a story that, when the Communist International was formed, a delegate objected to the name. Referring to all these groups he said: “But there are already communists.” Lenin answered: “Nobody ever heard of them, and when we get through with them nobody ever will.” Today these ideas are more influential than they ever have been.

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„Even the word “socialism” itself was originally applied to the free communist communities which were so common in America in the nineteenth century.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

Introduction : The Libertarian Tradition http://www.bopsecrets.org/rexroth/communalism1.htm
Communalism (1974)
Kontext: Prior to 1918 the word “communism” did not mean Left Social Democracy of the sort represented by the Russian Bolsheviks, a radical, revolutionary form of State socialism. Quite the contrary, it was used of those who wished in one way or another to abolish the State, who believed that socialism was not a matter of seizing power, but of doing away with power and returning society to an organic community of non-coercive human relations. They believed that this was what society was naturally, and that the State was only a morbid growth on the normal body of oeconomia, the housekeeping of the human family, grouped in voluntary association. Even the word “socialism” itself was originally applied to the free communist communities which were so common in America in the nineteenth century.

„All over the world we are witnessing an instinctive revolt against dehumanization.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

Introduction : The Libertarian Tradition
Communalism (1974)
Kontext: As concentration and depersonalization increase in the dominant society, as the concentration of capital increases with the takeover of ever larger businesses by conglomerates and international corporations, as more and more local initiative is abandoned to the rule of the central State, and as computerization and automation narrow the role of human initiative in both labor and administration, life becomes ever more unreal, aimless, and empty of meaning for all but a tiny elite who still cling to the illusion they possess initiative. Action and reaction — thesis and antithesis — this state of affairs produces its opposite. All over the world we are witnessing an instinctive revolt against dehumanization.

„Now I know surely and forever,
However much I have blotted our
Waking love, its memory is still
there.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

In Defense of the Earth (1956), She Is Away
Kontext: Now I know surely and forever,
However much I have blotted our
Waking love, its memory is still
there. And I know the web, the net,
The blind and crippled bird. For then, for
One brief instant it was not blind, nor
Trapped, not crippled. For one heart beat the
Heart was free and moved itself. O love,
I who am lost and damned with words,
Whose words are a business and an art,
I have no words. These words, this poem, this
Is all confusion and ignorance.
But I know that coached by your sweet heart,
My heart beat one free beat and sent
Through all my flesh the blood of truth.

„Today we hear a great deal about Organizational Men, Mass Culture, Conformity, the Lonely Crowd, the Power Elite and its Conspiracy of Mediocrity. We forget that the very volume of this criticism is an indication that our society is still radically pluralistic.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

"Introduction"
An Autobiographical Novel (1991)
Kontext: Today we hear a great deal about Organizational Men, Mass Culture, Conformity, the Lonely Crowd, the Power Elite and its Conspiracy of Mediocrity. We forget that the very volume of this criticism is an indication that our society is still radically pluralistic. Not only are there plenty of exceptionalists who take exception to the stereotyping of the mass culture — but that very string of epithets comes from a series of books that have been recent best-sellers, symptoms of a popular, living tradition of dissent from things as they are.

„What happened instead of apocalypse and judgment was a long-drawn-out apocalypse of counterrevolution against the promise and potential of a humane civilization.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

"Introduction"
An Autobiographical Novel (1991)
Kontext: The classics of Socialist and Anarchist literature seem at mid-century to speak a foolish and naïve language to minds hardened by two generations of realpolitik.
It was not just the sophisticates and the reformers who had no belief in the validity or endurance of the system. Everybody in what they used to call the master class, from the Pope to William Howard Taft, believed in his bones that the days of his kind were strictly numbered and found wanting. What happened instead of apocalypse and judgment was a long-drawn-out apocalypse of counterrevolution against the promise and potential of a humane civilization. It began with the world economic crisis of 1912, and the First and Second World Wars and the Bolshevik Revolution have been episodes, always increasing in violence and plain immorality, in the struggle of our civilization to suppress its own potential.

„For one heart beat the
Heart was free and moved itself. O love,
I who am lost and damned with words,
Whose words are a business and an art,
I have no words. These words, this poem, this
Is all confusion and ignorance.
But I know that coached by your sweet heart,
My heart beat one free beat and sent
Through all my flesh the blood of truth.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

In Defense of the Earth (1956), She Is Away
Kontext: Now I know surely and forever,
However much I have blotted our
Waking love, its memory is still
there. And I know the web, the net,
The blind and crippled bird. For then, for
One brief instant it was not blind, nor
Trapped, not crippled. For one heart beat the
Heart was free and moved itself. O love,
I who am lost and damned with words,
Whose words are a business and an art,
I have no words. These words, this poem, this
Is all confusion and ignorance.
But I know that coached by your sweet heart,
My heart beat one free beat and sent
Through all my flesh the blood of truth.

„I write for one and only one purpose, to overcome the invincible ignorance of the traduced heart. My poems are acts of force and violence directed against the evil which murders us all.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

Preface to the second edition (1953) of The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1949)
Kontext: I write for one and only one purpose, to overcome the invincible ignorance of the traduced heart. My poems are acts of force and violence directed against the evil which murders us all. If you like, they are designed not just to overthrow the present State, economic system, and Church, but all prevailing systems of human collectivity altogether... I wish to speak to and for all those who have had enough of the Social Lie, the Economics of Mass Murder, the Sexual Hoax, and the Domestication of Conspicuous Consumption.

„The accusers were right. This is a new religion which bears scant resemblance to the old.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

Plato: The Trial and Death of Socrates (pp. 50-51)
Classics Revisited (1968)
Kontext: No one was required to believe in the gods as Christians believe in their creeds. Socrates had always been scrupulous in observance of every accepted principle and practice of community life. However, from his questioning he had developed a civic and personal morality founded on reason rather than custom. He envisioned it as subject to continuous criticism and revaluation in terms of the ever-expanding freedom of morally autonomous but cooperating persons, who together made up a community whose characteristic aim was an organically growing depth, breadth, intensity of experience — experience finally of that ultimate reality characterized by Socrates as good, true and beautiful.
The accusers were right. This is a new religion which bears scant resemblance to the old. Civic piety is founded on the recognition of ignorance and the nurture of the soil until it becomes capable of true knowledge — which is a state of being, a moral condition called freedom. The Greek city-state, not to speak of the tribal community, knew nothing of freedom in this sense, but only the liberty that distinguished the free man from the slave.

„Mark Twain is far more at odds with the values of his society than Stendhal, Baudelaire or Flaubert, and yet he is far more a part of it.“

—  Kenneth Rexroth

Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn (p. 206)
Classics Revisited (1968)
Kontext: Huckleberry Finn sets the tone and pattern for hundreds of American novels after it. No other civilization in history has been so totally rejected by its literary artists. Mark Twain is far more at odds with the values of his society than Stendhal, Baudelaire or Flaubert, and yet he is far more a part of it. In many ways he was the typical educated — self-educated, usually — American male of his day. He was also enormously successful, one of the most popular American writers who has ever lived. Significantly, his hack work was less popular than Huckleberry, and even his blackest, bitterest books sold very well — and still do. Perhaps the typical American male is secretly far less the optimist than he would have the world believe; but the lies he rejects and myths he believes are still those whose contradictions tortured Mark Twain.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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