Kenneth Clark: Messengers from Another World
KENNETH Clark, the British art historian who is best known for his 1969 television series, Civilization, died last month at the age of 79. Clark (pictured) was a liberal: an effete, over-civilized son of the idle rich who hobnobbed with Jewish “culture vultures” and such enemies of the race as Winston Churchill.
Yet for all that Clark retained a certain racial consciousness, which manifested itself occasionally in his generally excellent series of Civilization broadcasts. In looking back over the scripts of that series today, one realizes with a shock how much tighter the shackles of thought control have been drawn by the masters of the controlled media in just the 14 years which have elapsed since they were written.
In his first Civilization broadcast Clark began by comparing the Apollo of the Belvedere, the famous Roman copy of a fourth-century B.C. Greek Apollo generally attributed to Leochares; and an African mask belonging to a friend. Clark asserted that the grotesque wooden mask has “all the qualities of a great work of art.” And he noted that nowadays it is a much more chic work of art than the exquisitely beautiful marble Apollo, which has fallen from public favor. But then Clark went on to say:
Whatever its merits as a work of art, I don’t think there is any doubt that the Apollo embodies a higher state of civilization than the mask. They both represent spirits, messengers from another world — that is to say, a world of our own imagining. To the Negro imagination it is a world of fear and darkness, ready to inflict horrible punishment for the smallest infringement of a taboo. To the Hellenistic imagination it is a world of light and confidence, in which the gods are like ourselves, only more beautiful, and descend to earth in order to teach men reason and the laws of harmony.
Is there even the slightest chance that the masters of the controlled media would permit such a “racist” statement to be broadcast today?
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Source: National Vanguard magazine, No. 95, June 1983, pp. 21–22; transcribed by Anthony Collins
An Excerpt from Civilization
by Kenneth Clark
AT THIS point, I reveal myself in my true colours, as a stick-in-the-mud. I hold a number of beliefs that have been repudiated by the liveliest intellects of our time. I believe that order is better than chaos; creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole, I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than ideology.
I believe that, in spite of recent triumphs of science, men haven’t changed much in the last 2,000 years. And, in consequence, we must still try to learn from history. History is ourselves.
I also hold one or two beliefs that are more difficult to put shortly. For example, I believe in courtesy, the ritual by which we avoid hurting other people’s feelings by satisfying our own egos.
I think we should remember that we are part of a great whole, which, for convenience, we call Nature. All living things are our brothers and sisters.
Above all, I believe in the God-given genius of certain individuals and I value a society that makes their existence possible.
These programmes have been filled with great works of genius. In architecture, sculpture, and painting. In philosophy, poetry, and music. In science and engineering. There they are. You can’t dismiss them. And they’re only a fraction of what Western Man has achieved in the last 1,000 years, often after setbacks and deviations at least as destructive as those of our own time. Western civilisation has been a series of rebirths. Surely, this should give us confidence in ourselves. I said, at the beginning of the series, that it’s lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilisation. We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs.
Fifty years ago, W.B. Yeats, who was more like a man of genius than anyone I’ve ever known, wrote a prophetic poem and in it he said:
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned. The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.”
Well, that was certainly true between the wars and it damn nearly destroyed us. ls it true today? Not quite, because good people have convictions — rather too many of them. The trouble is that there is still no centre. The moral and intellectual failure of Marxism has left us with no alternative to heroic materialism and that isn’t enough. One may be optimistic, but one can’t exactly be joyful at the prospect before us.