Sunday, 24 November 2013

Henry Dunant, 1828 - 1910

Swiss businessman, social activist and thinker, and writer who received the first Nobel Peace Prize 1901 jointly with pacifist Frederic Passy.

The son of a Calvinist businessman and social worker (orphans, parolees, sick, poor), Henry Dunant spent much of his life working with prisoners and the poor.  At age 21 he left college due to poor grades and began work in banking.  

1958 His first book was written about his 1953 trip to the colonies of Algeria, Tunisia, and Sicily on assignment for his banking company.  His second book was a book of flattery and praise to Napoleon III as part of an appeal to that emperor for land and water rights in the land concession his company (initiated with funds of 100 000 000 Swiss francs raised from family and friends) had gained in Algeria.  He traveled to Solferino to present the book to Napoleon III.  

1962 Dunant arrived in Solferino the day of a battle that left 23 000 wounded.  Dunant organized the people, especially the women, to provide care to all who needed care regardless of nationality.  Dunant organized the purchase of supplies and the erection of facilities and gained the release of Austrian doctors held by the French.  

1962 The next month, back in Geneva, Dunant wrote of Solferino, describing the realities and effects of the fighting and suggested that there should be a neutral organization to provide care to all wounded.  He paid for the printing of 1600 copies of his book and distributed it to political and military figures.  He traveled Europe promoting his ideas.  

At the 1963 meeting of the Geneva Society for Public Welfare the President of that society, jurist Gustave Moynier, made the book and its suggestions the topic of the meeting.  A 5-man Committee was created to pursue this issue, making Dunant one of the members.  Their first meeting is considered the founding of the ICRC.  

In the following years, Dunant's career was thwarted by his conflict with Moynier.  And 1968 Dunant became bankrupt, condemned and scandalized following the collapse of his company and for his deceptive practices in the bankruptcies.  Geneva called for his resignation from the ICRC, which resignation took place that year.  Dunant moved from his home to Paris where he pursued humanitarian ideas and plans, including plans for an international court to mediate international conflicts and for the creation of a world library.  During this time he became increasingly in debt and shunned.  He moved to London and began to receive some financial support from distant family members.  1887 he moved to Heiden, entering a hospital and nursing home in 1892.

1895 an editor of a St Gall newspaper, Georg Baumberger, wrote an article, "Henri Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross," which appeared in a German Illustrated Magazine.  The article was soon reprinted in other publications throughout Europe, after which attention and support came to Dunant, including humanitarian prizes and letters (including a note from Pope Leo XIII and support from Russian tsarist widow Maria Feodorovna). 1897 a book was written by school-teacher Rudolf Muller about the origins of the Red Cross, Entstehungsgeschichte des Roten Kreuzes und der Genfer Konvention, altering the official history to stress Dunant's role, which had been downplayed, including the text of A Memory of Solferino.  Dunant became more active in correspondence and article writing, especially on women's rights.  He was involved in the 1897 founding of a "Green Cross" women's organization.  

1901.  A Norwegian military physician who had received a copy of Muller's book advocated Dunant's case to the Nobel committee, which case was controversial--Moynier and the whole ICRC had been nominated for the prize.  The award was given jointly to Dunant and to Frederic Passy, the founder of the Peace League and activist (with Dunant) in the Alliance for Order and Civilization, an award which finally rehabilitated Dunant's reputation.  The Nobel prize money was placed in a Norwegian Bank to prevent access by Dunant's creditors.  Dunant never spent any during his lifetime.  

Dunant received several other awards, including an honorary doctorate.  In his final years, he lived in the nursing home in Heiden, and suffered from depression and paranoia.  He was buried without ceremony in Zurich, according to his wishes.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Der Wandervogel

1896 onward a movement of various forming and splitting and reforming German youth groups were known as "Wandering Birds". They were also often the same people who called themselves "life-reformers." It quickly became the preeminent German youth movement. These youths broke away from the strict requirements of their educational and social environment and were opposed to contemporary trends toward rapid, progressive urbanization.  The also were reacting against the organized youth groups and clubs that featured German folk music which were being pushed on them.  They broke off to develop their own way of life. Their aesthetic featured back-to-nature, freedom, self-responsibility, adventurousness, and anti-bourgeoisie. They wore long hair and beards, danced and made music, went nude, wore hiking boots, sandals, and went barefoot, practiced vegetarianism, natural medicine and healing. They also practiced abstinence, were interested in Teutonic nationalism, and organized outdoor activities like hiking.  They were mostly middle class young people, and organized into "bands" around compelling leaders. 

Richard Miller described them in 1977: “They pooled their money, spoke hobo slang, peasant patois and medieval vulgate. They were loud and rude, sometimes ragged and dirty and torn by briars. They carried packs, wore woolen capes, shorts, dark shirts, Tyrolean hats with heavy boots and bright neck scarves. Part hobo and part medieval they were very offensive to their elders.”

One of the origins of these groups and their activities was athletic hiking expeditions that were a part of school culture.  The first of what would become Wandervogels came together, met and bonded arranging such hikes.  Experienced hikers took on the role of "chiefs" and "sub-chiefs."

Some groups of Wandervogels eventually formed communes, cooperatives, and other settlements, practicing soil reform, organic gardening, communitarianism, and experimented economically. 

 One such location was "Monte Verita", which drew visitors like Hesse, Jung, Isadora Duncan, Lawrence, Klee, and Kafka, among many other artists, anarchists, and celebrities.

Monte Verita was originally a hill in Asconda which was purchased in 1900 by Henry Oedenkoven, the son of a businessman, and his wife, where they established the "Co-operative vegetarian community of Monte Verita" on principles of primitive socialism.  These values were discarded in favor of individualistic vegetarianism.  The community was against private property, party politics, traditional marriage and dress, and practiced morality, nudism, and sunbathing.

After several years, some of the aspects of Wandervogel became less radical, more conventional organizations that were a part of mainstream culture and society, quite different from the intentions of their Wondervogel creators.  Monte Verita later became a School of Art and then a hotel and eventually a museum.

A Wandervogel song by Otto Roquette:

The Wondervogel in the air,
In ether glimmering, in the sun's fragrance,
in blue airswells,
You greet me as a journeyer!
A Wondervogel am I too,
me taking a fresh lifebreath,
and my song gift
is my most loved thing I have.

Grove Press, est. 1951

"That principle, that no one has the right to tell us what we can and cannot read, is one that's always been dear to me." - Barney Rosset

1951 Barry Rosset bought Grove Press, a publishing house which had published only 3 titles, for $3000.

Grove published, among much erotic literature, Camus, Ferlinghetti, Brecht, LeRoi Jones, Albee's first play, French avant-garde's Robbe-Grillet, Genet, Ionesco, politicians Malcolm X, Franz Fannon, Debray, the American Beats of the 50's, Black Mountain and the San Francisco Renaissance, Harris' My Life and Loves (complete and unexpurgated), the unabridged complete Sade, Japanese authors such as Oe, Emmanuelle Arsan, Alan Ayckbourn, Imamu Amiri Baraka, Eric Berne, Paul Bowles, James Broughton, William S. Burroughs, Marguerite Duras, Wallace Fowlie, Robert Frank, Allen Ginsberg, Maurice Girodias, Witold Gombrowicz, Juan Goytisolo, Nat Hentoff, André Hodeir, Jack Kerouac, D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Pablo Neruda, Frank O'Hara, Charles Olson, Joe Orton, Harold Pinter, George Reavey, John Rechy, Kenneth Rexroth, Michael Rumaker, Hubert Selby, Gilbert Sorrentino, Amos Tutuola, Parker Tyler, Tomi Ungerer, Alan Watts.

1959 Grove published Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928) in its first unexpurgated US edition. The unexpurgated Chatterley was sent from Paris to Rosset in New York and was confiscated as material promoting "indecent and lascivious thoughts", something illegal at the time.  May 15 Rosset sued the NYC postmaster, citing Justice Brennan's finding 2 years earlier that the First Amendment guaranteed protection to works including those that had any redeeming social importance.  July 21 Justice Bryan ruled in Rosset's favor.  Appeals Court's panel of 3 judges unanimously upheld Bryan's decision and the issue wasn't appealed to the Supreme Court.  The post office was ordered to lift all bans on the importation of the book, and Chatterley reached #2 on the NY Times bestsellers and sold 2 000 000 copies within a year.

1961 Rosset published Tropic of Cancer (1934).  The book sold 1 000 000 copies the first year.  60 individual booksellers in 21 states were charged with Obscenity for selling it.  Rosset attempted to assist (legally, financially) every bookseller prosecuted, regardless of whether or not he was obligated legally.  Court opinions varied.  In 1964 all findings that Cancer was obscene were overruled in Supreme Court Grove Press, Inc. v. Gerstein.

1962 Grove published Naked Lunch (1958), which had been published expurgated in 1959 by Olympia Press in Paris.  The book was banned in Boston for Obscenity.  Grove added to the book material regarding the censorship battle and material written by Burroughs about drug addiction.  In 1966 the decision deeming Naked Lunch obscene was reversed by the Massachusetts Supreme Court.  This trial included testimonial support from Ginsberg and Mailer.  It was the last major literary censorship battle in the US.

1957 Rosset founded a quarterly magazine called the Evergreen Review.  Issue #1 featured a Sartre essay, an interview with New Orleans jazz drummer Baby Dodds and a Beckett story.  Issue #2 proclaimed the "San Francisco Scene" and featured writing by the beats, bringing them to a larger audience.

1964 April-May edition was the beginning of regular nude pictorials, and was seized for Obscenity in Hicksville, NY.

1964 Grove published Waiting for Godot, which had been refused by more mainstream publishers.  With its success, Grove became the publisher of the theater of the absurd in America, publishing its formost playwrights, whose world-renown established Grove as a serious legitimate literary press.

In the later 1960's Rosset began investing in films, including importing the controversial (for explicit sex) film I am Curious (Yellow), which earned $14 000 000.  Grove went to trial for Obscenity over the film, which was banned in Mass., and won in rulings in 1969 and 1971.  Rosset had been involved in film since the 40's.  By the late 60's he had a lot of money from publishings of erotic literature.  For a short time he owned a theater near Grove's offices.  From the profits of Curious, Rosset doubled the size of his film division, which in the absence of other commercial hits nearly bankrupt Grove.

1970 second-wave feminists attacked the sexist and somewhat misogynist Grove .  This coincided with Groves being taken public, which drove Grove's 150 insecure workers to push for unionization.  Rosset fired many of the striking workers.  Feminists occupied Grove's office, for which he had the police drag them out.

1985 Rosset sold Grove to Ann and Gordon Getty.  He remained president, but was fired a year later.  He regretted selling Grove.

1988 Rosset and his wife Astrid revived Evergreen online.

Barry Rosset is dead.  He died in hospital in Manhattan, New York on a Tuesday night at the end of May while undergoing a double-heart valve replacement procedure at age 89.

The majority of Grove's readers were in college or high-school, during an era when those populations were growing.  Grove's main association was with censored sexual taboos.  Grove was born amidst the sexual politics of the 50's, at a time when books were very important and when distribution of printed matter required uncommon sums of money, distribution networks and self-defense.  People identified themselves by what they read.  Grove entered the publishing industry during a revolution of book-printing when books were made affordable and readership was expanded through paperbacks. It was involved in the movements which would become the revolutionary currents of the 60's. Lauren Glass wrote, "Grove Press established and expanded the circuits through which experimental and radical literature was distributed, particularly to the burgeoning college and university populations that were the seedbed of the counter culture, thereby effectively democratizing the avant-garde. By the end of the sixties, the avant-garde had in essence become a component of the mainstream..."

“We thought a magazine, even a self proclaimed literary review, had to be involved in politics. We felt sex was healthy and made (then) bold use of fiction and graphics so declaring. We operated on a shoestring and still got our issues out on time. In short, we had a ball.” - Barney Rosset

The authors Grove published later became college curriculum standards.  After Godot, O, and Malcolm X, Grove could have rested on its royalties, but Rosset did otherwise.  Throughout the legal trials, Rosset paid for the defense of small booksellers, the cost of which nearly put Grove out of business several times.

Rosset later said that he was uninterested in Chatterley as a book, but that he thought Lawrence was more "literary" in public opinion than other writers deemed obscene, and that Lawrence's book would be easier to present as "literature" to the courts.  Rosset valued this as a means of getting to publish Tropic of Cancer, which he loved.

"Publishing, that grand, battered, and essential institution..." - Barney Rosset

Monday, 18 November 2013

1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968

1963 bohemians in Greenwich Village

1964 Dancers at the Whisky-a-go-go

1965 English Mods


Bohemians ("Beatniks")

1967 Haight Street in the Summer of Love

1968  "Well all these people   are really in love with each other   like REALLY in love with eachother   like you don't even ask what your names are anymore."