The Worth of Fame
IN RETROSPECT, Aryans appear to have harbored a naïve faith in the natural relationship between reputation, fame, and merit. True, our conceptions served us well enough in our own world. But that was prior to the Age of Defamation. Now we see that fame, reputation, and moral worth can be completely unrelated. It is child’s play for dominant, cunning, and unscrupulous elites to destroy reputations, fabricate evidence and opinions, and reverse the judgments of history—and have their constructs stick, and be universally accepted. (ILLUSTRATION: Benjamin West, The Bard, 1778)
Traditional attitudes toward reputation and fame came to my attention recently while listening to an online lecture about the Greek historian Herodotus by Elizabeth Vandiver, associate professor of Latin and classics at Whitman College, a small private liberal arts school in Washington State.
In one of a series of half-hour lectures about Herodotus’ The Histories (written c. 450-429 BC) (only a handful of the lectures are available online), she examines in minute detail the opening sentence of that lengthy work. For those who want to listen to the whole thing, start at the 46:54-minute mark here. Her discussion of the sentence takes 15 minutes. Among other things, she reads it in Greek before analyzing it.
I’ll quote the sentence from one of my own editions of Herodotus (there are several English translations and editions), which uses English classicist G.C. Macaulay’s 1890 translation as revised by Donald Lateiner: “This is the showing forth of the Inquiry of Herodotus of Halicarnassos so that neither the deeds of men may be forgotten by lapse of time, nor the works great and marvellous, which have been produced some by Hellenes and some by Barbarians, may lose their renown; and especially that the causes may be remembered for which these waged war with one another.”
The last reference is to the Persian Wars (499-449 BC) between the Greek city-states of the Hellenic world and the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. Vandiver says that almost every word of this opening sentence requires careful consideration and explanation. The portion of her analysis that particularly struck me, and which I will focus on, relates to the first segment only, before the semicolon.
The following five paragraphs closely paraphrase or quote parts of what she said, but her entire analysis of the sentence is worth listening to.
So, putting aside the final clause—i.e., where Vandiver believes Herodotus “broke truly new ground”—the author’s objective was to assure that the events and people of the past about which he wrote would be remembered, deeds and accomplishments remain fresh, and not grow faded with the passage of time. He strives to keep these things bright and clear in collective memory. Herodotus is particularly concerned with great and astonishing works—monuments or feats of engineering like the pyramids—and great and astonishing deeds. Furthermore, by recording such matters, he hopes to keep them from becoming without glory, or kleos.
Kleos, Vandiver says, is an extremely important term in Homeric studies, and by invoking it Herodotus places himself centrally and directly in the tradition of Homeric epic. Epic confers kleos upon its subjects: “Kleos means glory, reputation, what is said about one after one’s death. [Emphasis added.] It is one of the primary things that the Homeric warrior fights for.”
A principal function of the Homeric epic is to preserve the kleos of its heroes. Vandiver cites an episode from the Iliad in which Achilles, when he is not fighting, sings the glory of others: If he “cannot be a warrior and gain kleos, then he will memorialize the kleos of others rather than achieving it himself. That’s what the bard does. The bard memorializes the kleos of the heroes about whom he sings.”
Herodotus claims for himself a commemorative function similar to Homer’s. He confers kleos upon the people of the past about whom he writes. By telling us about them he keeps them from losing their kleos.
Finally, the focus of The Histories is on the actions and achievements of individuals rather than great, sweeping, impersonal, “forces” of economic and political change. This “very definitely harks back to Homeric epic and the way Homer presents his narrative of past events.”
It is the nature of contemporary society to prevent people and events important to us from coming to our attention in the first place, and to remove them quickly from a greatly-diminished collective memory as soon as they are gone. However, readers who remember National Alliance founder William Pierce, who died in 2002, may recall the centrality to his personal beliefs and motivation of a passage from the Icelandic Hávamál, part of the Poetic Edda that encodes themes identical to those of kleos and memory described by Vandiver.
The Poetic Edda derives from a single manuscript written in Iceland around 1270 AD, though it contains poems that predate the conversion of Scandinavia to Christianity and reflect pagan Northern beliefs. Hávamál (also called in English “Sayings of the High One”), the core of which is a collection of proverbs or sayings both practical and metaphysical in nature, is composed primarily in Ljóðaháttr song or ballad meter.
The verse cited by Pierce was the following (using the translation he employed):
Cattle die, and kinsmen die,
And so one dies oneself;
One thing I know that never dies:
The fame of a dead man’s deeds. (77)
The 1996 English translation I happen to own uses the word reputation instead of fame. It renders Pierce’s oft-quoted lines as follows: “Cattle die, kinsmen die,/the self must also die;/I know one thing which never dies:/the reputation of each dead man.”
This is stanza 77 of Hávamál. It dates from the 900s AD and these four lines are the best-known in its section, called the Gestaþáttr, or “Guest’s section.” It is easy to see that it succinctly encapsulates the idea of kleos. Indeed, the preceding stanza (76), which is similar, explicitly invokes “glory,” the word used by Elizabeth Vandiver to describe kleos in Homer and Herodotus:
Cattle die, kinsmen die,
the self must also die;
but glory never dies,
for the man who is able to achieve it. (76)
The last line suggests that glory is not easy to attain.
In discussing the stanza about fame (i.e., the succeeding stanza, 77), Pierce said that renown is not the same as wealth (cattle) or power.
That it does not equal wealth is clear from nearby stanzas:
Even a man who knows nothing
knows that many are fooled by money;
one man is rich, another is not rich,
he should not be blamed for that. (75)
wealth is like the twinkling of an eye,
it is the most unreliable of friends. (78)
Pierce told his biographer, University of Vermont educator Robert S. Griffin, that “’Fame’ here doesn’t mean fame in the way we think of it today—notoriety, having people know who you are, that kind of thing.” Rather, it means
your reputation, the impression you make on the world and your fellow men while you are alive. If you live in a way that warrants it, your people will remember you for generations as a person who did great things or was exceptionally wise or just or courageous. That is the only immortality that is real [Pierce, an anti-Christian, did not believe in any kind of afterlife apart from this metaphorical one], and that is a kind of immortality that can matter to people and really affect how they live. (The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds: An Up-Close Portrait of White Nationalist William Pierce, 2001, p. 263)
In an American Dissident Voices radio broadcast (“Thoughts on Accepting Responsibility,” February 6, 1999), Pierce elaborated further, saying that it was not fame itself that is important, but the kind of fame. The goal isn’t just to be remembered for outstanding feats of strength or skill, but for having lived a meaningful life—a life of accomplishment, of changing the world, or living in accordance with ideals of personal honor and service to one’s people “so that one’s life could be held up as a model and remembered as such.” (Emphasis added.)
Pierce focused heavily upon being remembered, as if accurate social memory was an automatic process or foregone conclusion. He seemed oblivious to (he probably wasn’t, but that’s how he sounds) the essential role of the bard—that is, of writers, historians, broadcasters, moviemakers, and so forth. As Vandiver (and Achilles) recognized, stories must reach and penetrate people’s consciousness in a meaningful way before appreciation or remembrance is even possible. That is why the bard’s function is so vital. There must be someone who is willing and able to record and “publish” memory.
However, this is not possible in Jewish societies. Wilmot Robertson, author of the underground classic The Dispossessed Majority (1972; 3rd rev. ed. 1981), wrote of “the publishing Mafia” in his essay “The Censorship of Silence” in Ventilations (1982):
How is the large potential audience of The Dispossessed Majority to be reached when book reviewing and book distribution, indeed almost the entire publishing industry, is in the hands of those who are totally opposed to any manifestation of a [White] racial viewpoint and who will go to any length to prevent even the whisper of such a viewpoint from coming to the attention of the reading public? (p. 26)
Yet even if a pro-White book were to become a conventional bestseller on a massive scale it would not move the needle of public opinion, much less engender social change. Today Whites—radical Whites—need significant access to the media of mass communications. The bell jar, the death chamber of censorship and suppression that is employed to murder us, must be smashed.
Robertson went on (p. 27) to quote the Greek lyric poet Pindar (c. 518-438 BC) (harking back to the idea of fame and reputation discussed earlier): “Every noble deed [or expression, or idea — A.H.] dieth, if suppressed in silence,” and the 19th-century British poet James Montgomery, who “put the following iambics in the mouth of the Press”:
In me all human knowledge dwells;
The oracle of oracles,
Past, present, future, I reveal,
Or in oblivion’s silence seal;
What I preserve can perish never,
What I forego is lost forever.
Consider, also, the vital importance to Jewish-run societies of defamation, vituperation, denunciation, abuse, ridicule, hatred, social humiliation, hyperbole, and lies. As the ordeals of David Irving, Robert Faurisson, Fred Leuchter, Germar Rudolf, Mel Gibson, and countless others prove, reputations that took 30 years to build can be destroyed in five minutes. The underlying merits of a case, facts, truth, justice, mean absolutely nothing to anyone—not to Jews or the Left, not to police, secret police, prosecutors or judges, not to the media, not to academics, not to the public, not to “history,” not to friends, neighbors, or family. The normal functions of reputation, fame, glory—what others think or say about us before or after we are dead—have been completely short-circuited.
Professor Robert Faurisson, 85, is ceaselessly hounded, fined, and threatened with imprisonment by the French police and courts, and reviled by the media. He was hospitalized after being severely beaten by Jewish hoods. Nothing was done because they are one—cops and criminals.
There is no place David Irving, a historian now in his mid-70s, can go without a pack of Left-wing thugs tracking his every move, even to the smallest private gatherings (which, of necessity, all his meetings must be). They routinely threaten physical violence and inflict thousands of dollars’ worth of property damage—i.e., commit crimes for which you and I would be imprisoned, indeed given artificially severe sentences for “hate”—in an age when cameras, surveillance, and electronic records are ubiquitous, and criminal, civil, and administrative prohibitions are woven densely over every conceivable human act. Yet the “law” and the media do nothing, just as Jews continue to assassinate and torture with impunity, shielded, facilitated, and funded by the governments of the world.
Jewish weapons such as social humiliation, defamation, assault, show trials, kangaroo courts, prison, assassination, etc., share one conspicuous attribute. They ignore “broad social, economic, and political” forces entirely and ruthlessly identify, target, and harm individuals with laser-like intensity. Everything is personal. In this they follow the underlying assumptions of primal Greek and Nordic individualism discussed earlier. Whites, on the other hand, never dream of giving Jews, the Left, and government a taste of their own medicine.
Result: game over. Whites lose.
“The white race is the cancer of human history.” Is that wad of spit in the face too subtle? The memorable slander was uttered by one of society’s and the Jews’ most honored and respected representatives, Susan Sontag. She was never forced to grovel or apologize for her statement. No Jews or Leftists had to frantically disassociate themselves from her or publicly revile her. She continued to live a comfortable, privileged life. She did not worry about being attacked, killed, prosecuted, jailed, or even socially shunned and verbally abused.
Finally, when Vandiver speaks of the commemorative function of Herodotus and Homer, she is compelled to employ words such as “recounting,” “recording,” “describing,” “listing,” “chronicling,” memorializing,” and “preserving” facts about people who’d lived and events that had happened.
In contrast, the conscious, systematic, one-sided tearing down of flags and defacing of monuments, and selective suppression, distortion, and rewriting of a now-fluid, often-fictionalized “history,” destroys rather than preserves the collective consciousness of a people, deliberately depriving it of its kleos.
It is noteworthy that the ostensibly relativistic narratives and social constructions of the ruling class quickly emerge as new dogmas purporting to assert “truth.” The spinners of tales impose them as substitute realities, inquiry about or dissent from which is officially forbidden.
It appears that Whites seeking immortality through posthumous fame in the traditional manner will not be successful. Today’s hero should instead act in accordance with an inner imperative, informed by the understanding that kleos before or after death will probably elude him, and that his exertions on behalf of an uncomprehending and ungrateful people might well go unrewarded.
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Source: Author and Counter-Currents