The Charlotte News

Tuesday, August 15, 1939


Site Ed. Note: "Ominous Portent", indeed. It harkens back to the letter to the editor of July 23, re the four things of Proverbs 30 which pass understanding--as does of course the whole of that which we found with regard to the editorials of July 23, not to mention, in combination, that of "Black Daniel" and his au revoir, of October 15.

While playfully toying in the beau geste, Cash was also predicting beneath it the more serious consequence of what was on the horizon--Götterdämmerung, (by any other name, Ragnorök, Twilight of the Gods), The Four Horsemen, and the rest.

The Gimbels, incidentally, were Bavarian Jews who emigrated to the United States in 1835, set up a notions trade along the Mississippi and eventually founded their first department store in Milwaukee in the 1880's, then in Philadelphia in 1894, and New York City, 1910. (The stores were subsumed under Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company in 1973.)

Perhaps the corset implies symbolically the tightening of the belt, the sacrifice, the hemming in of societies by war and conquest, tyranny and fascism, the tying of the stirrups tight at home to remind constantly that we were in need of full gallop by the bootstraps.

Whatever the matter, we have seen trends in female clothing, not to mention that of the male as well, in other war times more recent, in the 1960's--but tightening or occluding the lady's midriff anatomy was not titely observed to be its resultant quality. Just what that bit of down dressing loosely symbolically meant in that more recent episode, we haven't yet figured--perhaps, an ode to the post-Bikini world?

For the history of the corset, or pair of bodies, as it was called in Elizabethan England, you may encounter that here, or go back even further to Biblical times and that of the Greeks, here.

And, no, it had nothing to do with the naming of the Battle of the Bulge, though girded round they were.

The preparation for invasion of Washington via Virginia demonstrates just how seriously the threat of actual land invasion was being taken--though it was thought if such a thing were to come to pass it would more likely occur via the Aleutians and the Bering Strait, neither approach really ever thought very probable. Ultimately, the real fear became economic slavery to the Reich and Japan should Great Britain fall in 1940-41, a stranglehold to be brought on by first the absorption of China and the greater Pacific Rim--Indochina, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, Guam, Australia, and finally the eastern portion of Russia into the Japanese sphere, while after conquering Europe, would come Hitler's island-hopping creep across through Greenland, Canada, the Caribbean, South America, Central America, Mexico--the latter achieved by the oil deals with Cardenas in 1938, enabling both Germany and Japan to have their fill-up. Thusly, it was assumed by Hitler and Tojo, the final usurpation of the United States would be achieved. As Admiral Yamamoto, head of the Task Force which would go to Pearl Harbor, stated in January, 1941, that when war would come with the United States, he would not be content with occupying Guam, the Philippines, Hawaii and San Francisco, but would "look forward to dictating the peace to the United States in the White House at Washington". Thus, it was to be...

Third Manassas

Which Somehow Reminds Us Of Another Noted Battle

In Virginia, the third battle of Manassas is waging. As usual, Americans are shooting at Americans, but fortunately this time not along any Northern-Southern line of division, and only in a kind of grand play with blank shells and cartridges which prefigures what would happen if some foreign foe tried to emulate the attacking forces and close on Washington by that route.

In the first two battles, they were more serious about it. In the first battle, fought on July 21, 1861, called Bull Run, and typified by the incident in which Thomas Jonathan Jackson acquired the name of Stonewall, the Yankees, despite their rout, lost only 470 killed and 1,071 wounded, and the Confederates only 387 killed, and 1,582 wounded. And in Second Manassas, fought on Aug. 28-30, 1862, the Yankee losses were just 1,481 killed, 7,627 wounded.

In these improved times, that would seem almost like child's play. A squadron of German bombers killed nearly as many helpless civilians in twenty minutes at Guernica as both sides lost at Bull Run. And that Civil War, you will recall, was the bloodiest that had ever been heard of up to that time.

But Manassas reminds us of the battle, which all good little Tar Heels, raised to the tune of "First at Bethel, farthest at Gettysburg, and last at Appomattox," know to have been the first land battle of the war. But do you know where that battle was and when it was fought? Well, it was Big Bethel in Virginia, down near Fortress Monroe. And it was fought on June 10, 1861. It wasn't, however, a very important battle--a mere skirmish before the opening of the main Virginia campaign. And, though we hate to admit it, we can't, since the library is closed, even tell you who commanded the North Carolina troops there.

Further Note: The above quote was to be seen again in The Mind of the South, Book III, Chapter I, "Of Easing Tensions--And Certain Quiet Years", section 11, pp. 219-221:

11. But now, there was of course change involved in all this growth and absorption in empire-building. It rises up and becomes manifest in the very telling of the story. And yet--as regards the Southern mind, which is our theme, how essentially superficial and unrevolutionary remain the obvious changes; how certainly do these obvious changes take place within the ancient framework, and even sometimes contribute to the positive strengthening of the ancient pattern!

Look close at this scene as it stands in 1914. There is an atmosphere here, an air, shining from every word and deed. And the key to this atmosphere, if I do not altogether miss the fact, is that familiar word without which it would be impossible to tell the story of the Old South, that familiar word "extravagant." Probably it would mean nothing if I said that the skyscrapers which were going up were going up in towns which, characteristically, had no call for them--in towns where available room was still plentiful, and land prices were still relatively low--for it would merely be said that the Middle West was doing something of the same silly sort. But if I told you that they were often going up in towns (like Tar Heel Charlotte and Winston and Greensboro, or South Carolina's Columbia and Greenville and Spartanburg) which had little more use for them than a hog has for a morning coat--in towns where there was no immediate prospect of their being filled, unless by tenants willing to forgo a meal now and then in order to participate in such grandeur?

Softly, do you not hear behind that the gallop of Jeb Stuart's cavalrymen? Do you not recognize it for the native gesture of an incurably romantic people, enamoured before all else of the magnificent and the spectacular? A people at least as greatly moved by the histrionic urge to perform in splendor, and by the patriotic will to testify to faith in their land and to vindicate it before the world's opinion, as by the hope of gain and the belief that tomorrow's growth will bring forth tenants in profusion?

But I generalize too easily, I am a little fanciful and maybe a little dubious, and of course I ought not to be so. Well, but listen now to that boasting--to that great outburst of pride I have alluded to. There are strange notes--Yankee notes--in all this talk about the biggest factory, about bank clearings and car loadings and millions. But does anybody fail to detect the authentic Southern pitch and tone? Does anybody fail to hear once more the native accent of William L. Yancey and Barnwell Rhett, to glimpse again the waving plume of, say, Wade Hampton, that trooper whose perpetual gasconade so irritated William Tecumseh Sherman?

Or, again, does anybody imagine that these new boasts have eliminated the old? Then let him listen to the orators, as I myself listened to them as a boy in North Carolina in 1914. Let him observe how certainly such a boast as "First at Bethel, farthest at Gettysburg, and last at Appomattox" precedes these new ones; how certainly the latter are felt merely as the crown upon the former; how the cheers spring up for the one as for the other; how surely the adjective "Southern" sounds through the whole.

Nevertheless, there is Rotary, the sign-manual of the Yankee spirit, the distillate, as it were, of the Yankee mind; and not the most fanciful man will venture to suggest that its appearance in Dixie is not witness to a most profound and searching change in Southern psychology? But I am not so sure.

If one took the Southern extravagance and brag, if one took the old Southern gregariousness, the unaffected delight of every proper Southerner in the company of his fellows; if one added to these the Southern love for high and noble and somewhat nebulous profession, and the Southern joy in the sense of participating in tremendous though indefinite enterprise and in mysterious bonds; if, again, one added to all these the old horse-trading instinct, and the continual growth of that instinct under the conditions which had reigned since the Civil War, I think we should hardly have to suppose more than an unfortunate decline in the dignity of the Southern manner--the grafting of Yankee backslapping upon the normal Southern geniality--to arrive at a startingly accurate portrait of Rotary, exactly as it was to flourish in this country. I am myself, indeed, perpetually astonished to recall that Rotary was not invented in the South.

And when we turn from Rotary as an institution to the men who made it up, when we go on to examine the heroes and captains of Progress as they stood in 1914, and the forces in the South which they bodied forth, we find much the same story continually unfolding. These men, as I suggest, distinctly had the stamp of George F. Babbitt upon them; and their example was combining with the whole flow of the times to set the stamp of Babbitry ever more closely upon those about them, and especially upon the young men who were boiling out of the Southern colleges.

The element of calculation was by now an immeasurably great force in the lives and characters of these men--was becoming an immeasurably great force in the life and character of the South at large. There was a word--"smart"--which was increasingly upon Southern lips in these days, a word serving as the touchstone and accolade of success under Progress. And what was epitomized in this word was, first of all, of course, a constantly mounting acquisitiveness, the fact that the mere making of money was everywhere getting to be the ultimate test of a man, a growing obsession in the upper classes, in all the ambitious elements of society, greater in the towns, but great enough even in the countryside. This, and a rapidly rising pride in and admiration for cleverness in acquisition. And more still--a rising pride in and admiration for cleverness in acquisition that was in fact no more than cunning, an increasing carelessness as to the scrupulousness of the means employed.

A similar Gettysburg figure was used earlier in the book by Cash--and by Faulkner after him in Intruder in the Dust--to suggest not just the braggadocio of the average modern Southerner in the era of 1914, but also the concomitant traits of hedonism and romanticism on display during the preceding half century:

When we turn to the pattern of Southern unreality, of romanticism and what I have called hedonism, we find the story of growth to continue.

In large part this is immanent, indeed, in the things I have already been saying. Nothing is more obvious than that the whole atmosphere which prevailed from 1860 to the last march of the Red Shirts--the engagement of the best energies of the Southern people precisely at the point of passion and conflict--was perfectly calculated for the nurture of the taste for the extravagant, the intense, and the bold and flashing.

More specifically, two considerations merit attention here. One is that the Civil War and the sentimental cult of the Confederate soldier (at which we will look more closely in a moment) reacted on the Southern hero-ideal to leave it definitely military, in the grand style. I say definitely military because, of course, that ideal had always tended implicitly to find its summation in the dragoon and the lancer. But now the figure was drawn out and established in high relief. Every boy growing up in this land now had continually before his eyes the vision, and heard always in his ears the clamorous hoofbeats of a glorious swashbuckler, compounded of Jeb Stuart, the golden-locked Pickett, and the sudden and terrible Forrest (yes, and, in some fashion, of Lord Roland and the douzepers) forever charging the cannon's mouth with the Southern battle flag. And so he demanded more imperatively than ever that those who levied on his admiration, those who aspired to lead him when he became a man, should be like that; and so more surely and more eagerly than ever he set himself to be as much like that as possible... (Mind, Book I, Chap. I, "Of the Frontier the Yankee Made", section 7, pp. 121-122, 1941 ed.)

Surrender Plan

Its Real Papa Is Probably Not Named Burckhardt

What "plan" it is that Carl J. Burckhardt, League of Nations Commissioner for Danzig, has cooked up is a little hard to understand. From the Associated Press report, it appears that what he proposes to hand over to Hitler is both Danzig and the Corridor strip to unite East Prussia with Germany proper. But that is no new "plan of settlement," but surrender to the demands Mr. Hitler has made all along. Maybe, though, the "plan" part consists in the fact that Mr. Hitler will be required to give some more promises. It is a pity Mr. Barnum is dead. He would have derived great satisfaction out of observing modern "statesmen" demonstrate his theory as to human credulity with a fullness never before achieved.

It is Mr. Burckhardt, you see, who is supposed to have invented this plan. And his agents are supposed to be hurrying to England to present it to Lord Halifax and Mr. Chamberlain. But we have a suspicion that agents first passed from England to Danzig, and that this is really only Mr. Chamberlain's little "plan" which is now being presented to him. What it probably adds up to is a trial balloon to see if English public opinion will stand for another Munich and the betrayal of Poland. If it turns out that it will, then the Munich will probably happen in short order.

And if there were the slightest reason for thinking it would finally satisfy Hitler, it might be justified. But if experience means anything at all, it will simply open the way for new demands and more Munichs.

"Blessed Peace"*

Governor Hoey Extols It, And Industry Should Prize It

Governor Hoey's congratulations yesterday to the State Federation of Labor--for the "blessed" industrial peace that has prevailed in North Carolina, in sharp contrast to many another state--were well deserved. There is pretty strong evidence that, left to its own way, labor in North Carolina much prefers amicable to inimicable relations.

Docility, agitators may call it. But the trouble with those boys is that they attach a sort of perverted value to turmoil. Then, too, they feel that they are only carrying out the orders of the New Deal, which has let labor strife be made an instrument of Federal policy.

But if industry in North Carolina would retain the good will and faith of labor, it must constantly adjust its wage policies in accordance with its means. We do not, in short, hold with Governor Hoey that it falls upon labor to maintain a tractable attitude to the end that "new manufacturing plants may be attracted to the state and thus contribute to our general prosperity."

This would be equivalent to imposing upon labor the obligation to subordinate its own advancements to the needs of the state, and thus volunteer to serve as an instrument of State policy.

North Carolina's best defense against industrial strife and the ruptures that had broken out elsewhere is two sided. On the one side it is fortified by the essentially peaceable nature of its working men. As a complement of that and to retain that, it must look to the enlightenment of its employers.

Ominous Portent

This Probably Bodes Ill But Has Its Bright Side

The jig is pretty well up, masters, and we may as well get ready for a thumping big war and probably Gotterdammerung. For the girls, according to Madame Gimbel, wife of the New York department store owner, are going back into corsets. And what is more, "clothes are to be very elaborate with heavy brocades and small wastes..."

And nothing is better established than that when the femmes begin to put on hard armor and wrap themselves up in many layers of cloth, Mars and all the Four Horsemen are about to come into their own. It was so when the Crusades happened, and when the Hundred-Years War, and the Thirty Years War, came along. It was so on the eve of the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars, and on the eve of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War.

And who is there old enough who does not remember that it was precisely the iron corset and "clothes... elaborate with heavy brocades and small wastes..." which went before 1914?

Now, now, now, don't ask us to explain the correlation. Maybe it's because the girls get gooseflesh from reading the newspapers, maybe it's the celebrated intuition. But ourselves we don't pretend to know. For us, it is not only the way of the maid with a man which passes understanding, but any way of the creature at all. Still, there the thing is, at least as real as the fact that space is curved.

There is one little consolation, however. It promises to put industry, both heavy and light, back to work with a vengeance. Heck, it may even help Big Steel to resume dividends on its common.

Yet Further Site Ed. Note: Götterdämmerung begins with the gods in Valhalla being threatened with destruction as the three Norns weave the rope of fate reminiscing of the ash tree which was the source of Wotan's power and musing on how its Logs will soon be used for the pyre of the destruction of Valhalla. Wotan, we know, of course, was the chief god in Valhalla.

In Part III, Die Walkure, we have learned that Wotan, father to Valkyrie Brunnhilde, has punished his daughter for disobedience in aiding the wrong party in a battle by condemning her to live as a mortal asleep on a cliff and to fall in love with the first mortal she meets; she asks for and is granted the one dispensation of a Ring of Fire for protection to make this mortal worthy of her, the one who can penetrate the Ring of Fire. In truth, what Wotan wants is for his daughter to attract a mortal who will obtain the Ring of the Rhinegold from the giant, Fafner, who, by virtue of the Tarnhelm, could also become a dragon; to Fafner, Wotan gave the Ring and Tarnhelm in payment for having built his castle, and thus mortgaged the kingdom of the gods in Valhalla, to be destroyed unless the Ring, only retrievable from Fafner by a mortal, is returned.

In Part II, Siegfried, Siegfried has first obtained the Ring and Tarnhelm from Fafner, after killing him with his self-forged sword; the sword, Nothung, having been broken in battle by Wotan, as Siegfried father, Siegmund, fought Hunding whose tribal members had killed Siegmund's mother and kidnapped his twin sister, Sieglinde. Sieglinde, unwittingly having fallen in love with Siegmund, as learned in Part I, was taken, after Siegmund's death, by Brunnhilde to Valhalla where she bore her son. Brunnhilde, by so aiding Sieglinde, disobeyed Wotan. Thus, Bruunhilde's punishment.

So, naturally, Siegfried then comes upon Brunnhilde after penetrating the Ring of Fire and awakens her from her sleep to be told she has always been in love with him.

From Wotan, we have also learned that Alberich has had a son, Hagen. If Hagen gets the Ring, the gods will be destroyed.

In Part I, Das Rhinegold, we learned from the Rhinemaidens that whosoever possesses the Rhinegold and makes a ring from it shall rule the earth--but shall also be without love. One of the Nibelung dwarfs of the nether world, Alberich, desires the Rhinegold and steals it from the Rhinemaidens, and through the work of his brother, Mime, forges the Ring, as well as the magical Tarnhelm, the gold helmet which enables its wearer to become invisible and change form. Thus, Alberich has achieved world power, enslaving his fellow Nibelungen. Wotan had his castle built in the cloudy realm above the earth, Valhalla, by Fafner and his brother, giants who inhabit the earth along with men, and has in jest promised as payment his wife's sister, the goddess of eternal youth, protector of the Golden Apples. He cannot so pay, however, for to do so would mean the end of the gods' immortality, their eternal youth. Thus, he employs Loge, god of fire, to find a suitable replacement form of payment. Loge finds the Rhinegold and proffers it as a substitute. Wotan and Loge go to the underworld and inveigle the Nibelung, Mime, under the despotic rule of Alberich, to assist in getting the Ring. Alberich eventually succumbs to trickery by Loge; to impress him with form-changing via the Tarnhelm, turns into a toad; is then beset and forced to give up the Ring and Tarnhelm, but only after cursing the Ring by consigning its wearer to envy, care and death. The Ring and Tarnhelm are then used to pay the debt to the giant brothers, who then fight over the Ring. Fafner kills his brother, then makes off with the Ring and Tarnhelm, the Ring's curse thereby already having proven itself.

The Ring!

Thus the Ring has passed from the Rhinemaidens to the Nibelung, Alberich, to the giant and sometime dragon, Fafner, who is then killed by Siegfried, who now has the Ring and Tarnhelm at the end of Part III.

Now in Part IV, Götterdämmerung, Brunnhilde and Siegfried, after falling in love, emerge from a cave. Brunnhilde sends Siegfried to perform heroic deeds. To cement her love for him, Siegfried leaves with her the Ring, as Brunnnhilde remains protected against interlopers by the Ring of Fire. (But into it had she yet fallen?)

Half-brothers Gunther and Hagen next plot to gain wealth for their House; Gunther wants Brunnhilde; Hagen, the Nibelung, son of Alberich, naturally wants--The Ring. Wotan wants anything but.

Gunther and Hagen plot together to capture Brunnhilde. But first they must somehow get around the Ring of Fire. Only Siegfried may accomplish this feat, as they know. Thus, they devise to provide Siegfried with a magical potion to manipulate him to forget about his love for Brunnhilde, to be enamored of Gunther's sister, Gutrune, and to obtain Brunnhilde from the Ring of Fire for Gunther.

Siegfried appears from his hunt and drinks the potion and obediently procures Brunnhilde for Gunther, having disguised himself by means of the Tarnhelm as Gunther.

Meanwhile, a Valkyrie, Walturate, tells Brunnhilde that the Ring must be returned to the Rhinemaidens, guardians of its source, the Rhinegold, to prevent the destruction of the gods and all of Valhalla. (The Norns, recall, are weaving their cord the while, preparing the pyre upon which Valhalla will burn.) Brunnhilde refuses.

Siegfried appears as Gunther and woos Brunnhilde to Gunther. Siegfried as Gunther then re-obtains the Ring from Brunnhilde.

Hagen, meanwhile, has been foresworn by his father, Alberich, to obtain the Ring from Siegfried. After the return of Siegfried to the village, as Gunther and Brunnhilde also arrive, a wedding feast is prepared for the latter two. Bruunhilde becomes enraged, however, upon seeing Siegfried, believing him to have spurned her. But Siegfried of course has no memory of his courtship with Brunnhilde, and instead declares his love for Gutrune and announces further that Gunther and Brunnhilde are to marry. If his prediction is wrong, says he, he is to die by the spear of Hagen. Brunnhilde vows deadly revenge on Siegfried for spurning her affections in favor of Gutrune and she is promised aid in this endeavor by Gunther and Hagen. She tells Hagen that Siegfried is vulnerable only in his back, as she had previously rendered him invulnerable elsewhere.

The Rhinemaidens then seek the Sun's Power to lead Siegfried and the Ring to them. Voila! The Rhinemaidens encounter Siegfried on a hunt alone, down by the River, and tell him to return the Ring, else he will be killed that very day. To show his lack of fear of death, Siegfried, however, retains the Ring.

Siegfried returns to the main hunting party and begins to tell of his past. His memory is restored of his love for Brunnhilde after a drink provided by Hagen. Suddenly, two ravens fly by and distract Siegfried; he turns, as Hagen plunges a spear into his back. Siegfried dies, with visions of Brunnhilde to the last.

Upon return to the village, Gunther tells Gutrune of the murder of Siegfried by Hagen. Hagen then fights with Gunther over this betrayal and Hagen kills him.

Hagen goes back to obtain the Ring from Siegfried's cold dead hand--yet another victim of the curse of--The Ring!

Siegfried's ghostly arm raises to ward off Hagen, however, and, being startled, hies he away.

Brunnhilde arrives to announce that a funeral pyre is to be built for Siegfried on the banks of the Rhine. Brunnhilde alas takes the Ring from Siegfried's hand to return it to the Rhinemaidens.

She then sends the Ravens of Wotan to obtain the services of Loge to strike fire in Valhalla, as she Rides into the pyre upon her steed, to be consumed with Siegfried's earthly remains.

As Brunnhilde dies amid the flames, having vengeance on all, her father who punished her, her would-be lover for life who appeared to abandon her for another, and finally upon herself for her own miscreant deeds, the banks of the Rhine swell to quench the flames of the pyre of this tragedian's tragedy, and thus obtain again for the Rhinemaidens--The Ring!

Hagen jumps into the flooding Rhine to seek the Ring, but, fortunately, the Rhinemaidens drown him.

As the Wagnerian shadows descend on the players, Valhalla may be seen in the distance--ablaze.

The Norns, it would appear sub silentio, having weaved their cord fully while Erda, the goddess of the earth who first warned Wotan in Part I that keeping the Ring from the giant would bring the destruction of the gods, then in Part II of the danger to the gods which the Ring would cause, then in Part III refused to say anymore about how to avoid the disaster, instead deferring to the Norns and to Brunnhilde, has played her deceit--for Erda bore illicitly Brunnhilde with Wotan, and no doubt was upset at Wotan's ill treatment of their daughter, at the behest of Brunnhilde's stepmother.

...And so it was with Adolf and Eva and Berlin and all the little Nazis, a year short of a decade after step one, remilitarization of the Rhineland, establishing therein the powerful set of traps known as the Siegfried Line...

...White Cliffs of Dover?

...Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo...kushew.

Was the Rhinegold, possession of which in hands other than the Rhinemaidens, insured the destruction of the gods in Valhalla, instead possessed and guarded primarily in Czechoslovakia and the Congo? Was that why Valhalla burned? Has it yet? Will it someday?


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