Arright (does anyone actually say “alright”?) we only went over the parody of the Sitwells in Apes of God– that’s the longest chapter. The second longest chapter is a parody of the Schiffs. It’s debated which of these two is the heart of the book.
Zagreus, the main mouthpiece of Lewis, is another name for Dionysus. So he’s similar to Pound in this. Lawrence also was an extremely Dionysian figure. So the backbone of Modernism could be said to be a Dionysus-cult.
So Lionel Kein Esq., aka Sydney Schiff, is referred to initially as a polichinelle.
Ez believed that the Kein character represented a timeless archetype, so don’t interpret it as simply being about Schiff.
Kein is presented as someone influenced by jewish authors and psychologists.
Zagreus is presented as his friend who is a “Greek viking”, so a similar dynamic we had with the Bailiff and his interlocutors in The Childermass.
His friend ! (like my furcoat, or my alsatian).
Alsatian is a German shepherd. Schiff was the type that essentially bribed writers to wink wink make sure to make the book as part of MY spirit. There’s a sense in which the one accepting the “bribe” becomes a clone of their patron. Lewis was rebelling against this in this satire. Zagreus’s first name is Horace by the way, an allusion to one of the arch-satirists of antiquity. See how this is similar to the Cantos? – Homer Dionysus vs. Horace Dionysus. Pound and Lewis are their own timeless archetypes.
Here is Horace
I never leave you, my dear old friend, without the sensation that I am taking something away that does not belong to me.
I think Kein could stand for the demos too, rather than only an influential oligarch. The mob wants to stamp you with its image. When you interact with them they add a foreign element to your nature. (Unless you ARE the mob yourself, then it’s not so foreign.)
Anyway, let’s just that this satire was published the year before Lewis traveled to Krautland and gained an admiration for Adolf. Some of those Brits were on a similar wave-length without needing any sauerkraut.
There are some Dostoevsky-tier psychological observations in this book.
There’s also a mise en abyme component in this
It is almost as if, when they saw [Proust] approaching, they exclaimed : ‘ Here comes a good satirist ! We’ll give him some sport. We are just the sort of animals he loves. ‘ Then the official satirist fills his pages with monsters and, sprinkling of rather sentimental ‘personnages sympathiques,’ and everybody is perfectly happy. The satirist is, of course, quite as insensitive as his subjects, as a rule. Nothing really disgusts him.”
Lewis wrote Apes of God with the intention of showing them all what “real satire” is. He thought everyone who read Proust (who was something of the “public mirror” of that time) only saw other people being satirized, never themselves. I think he touches on something important here- the widespread lack of the faculty for disgust. Not to use a gross simile but it’s like the old days before deodorant when people just naturally smelled really bad and they were all probably just used to it and didn’t notice it. Lewis can “smell” the Schiffs and Sitwells and Prousts. It’s a rare sensitivity he had, which he himself, as a painter, attributed to his eye more than anything.
Horace says the salon has replaced Christendom
the atmosphere of the salon has been adapted always to providing a place where the little can revenge themselves upon the great… Such is ‘Society.’ It is an organized pettiness—to use, Kein, a favourite expression of yours—or it is nothing. Society is a defensive organisation against the incalculable. It is so constituted as to exclude and to banish anything, or any person, likely to disturb its repose, to rout its pretences, wound its vanity, or to demand energy or a new effort, which it is determined not to make.
Remember Lewis was writing this book simultaneously with The Childermass, so we can imagine Kein also as a cross between the Bailiff and Pullman in purgatory. The Time book was being written at the same time- the Keins are also representatives of the time-cult.
The equivalent of this in our time is Facebook, twitter, reddit, etc.
the salon—that is the stronghold of democracy
“Horaces” will be kicked out of there.
“What pretences, what vanities, what do you mean!” Oh none to speak of.
Remember that book on the Schiffs and their circle? How Lewis is referred to as “excruciatingly irascible” in the subtitle? You can imagine this is why-
Wasn’t his satire of Woolf the other day funny? I think that one might have hit too many raw nerves for people of today. Above, though, is one of the reasons people often say that Lewis wasn’t just a Modernist, but he was a anti-Modernist Modernist. He critiqued them from the inside. The Modernists created characters–and Lewis made those Modernists his own characters. In other words, he was the philosopher of the bunch. Hence- buried. Waaal if you want to comprehend this historically recent, major literary movement then you need to understand Lewis. And again, this dynamic he has with his contemporaries doesn’t appear to be confined to his own time…
Interesting historiography of WWI here
The Lion species survived so they had to have another war. The Lion species survived that war too, so they had to engineer the hippie movement to get the Lions adjusted to a diet of soy blocks. That wasn’t enough either so they had to engineer today’s coon-lovin, U Go Girl, prog movement.
He really does knock it out of the park in this chapter- it probably really IS the “centerpiece” of the book
Ordinary, nice people–how BLAND! The men’s balls are in a jar, and the women have a trace of mustache upon their upper-lip. That brings us back to the concept of disgust and sensitivity regarding disgusting things.
Man, I wonder how far this goes back? Could we describe something like Robinson Crusoe or The Hobbit as this too?
A famous Fiction writer… exercises a good deal of power. In fact he is a sort of editor, of the current news-and-Gossip-sheet, for the select public of the High-bohemia
“Inside information” – and Apes of God is quite the club.
The ‘ truth ’ if it were told (not that it can be by more than one man in a generation or two) would bring rushing down the whole house of cards, would it not—or do I exaggerate ?
Makes you wonder how much art contains protagonists that should be regarded as the opposite. A Lewisian revisionary history would be quite devastating I think.
See what the painter’s eye catches?
I’ve only covered about half of this chapter. Until another time.