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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2002 > Jun > Jun 29

Re: Breakout Of The Fictions - Sandow

From: Greg Sandow <greg@gregsandow.com>
Date: Sat, 29 Jun 2002 14:38:12 -0400
Fwd Date: Sat, 29 Jun 2002 18:08:42 -0400
Subject: Re: Breakout Of The Fictions - Sandow

 >From: Colin Bennett <colin@bennettc25.fsnet.co.uk>
 >To: <ufoupdates@virtuallystrange.net>
 >Subject: Breakout Of The Fictions
 >Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 04:12:24 +0100

 >On re-reading Borges=92 short story Tl=F6n, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,
 >it occurred to me that there might be something of genuine
 >MJ12 interest in this curious tale. Though according to Andre
 >Maurois, Borges wrote the first version of his story in 1940,
 >it first appeared in the Argentinean Spanish-language
 >publication Ficciones in 1945. It is odd than no MJ12
 >researcher appears to have noticed this work. It outlines no
 >less the complete body of the MJ12 story, and was written
 >significantly within that stretch of years representing the
 >formative middle-ranking period and accelerated wartime
 >promotions of the significant top players of MJ12.

 >Since a great planetary war was raging, intellectual life and
 >literature and the arts had come almost to a stop, and
 >therefore what little literary activity there was
 >(particularly of the avant guard type) existed in the form of
 >very few magazines, often of an A5 size, such as the British
 >Lilliput and Men Only (this latter has no connection to its
 >modern equivalent!) that could be carried in the map pocket
 >of a military uniform. Short stories and short articles were
 >all that existed practically for contemporary intellectual
 >food, received and absorbed as it was under often very
 >strenuous work and battle conditions

A remarkable notion.

In the United States, at least, intellectual and cultural life
continued throughout the war. Books and magazines were
published, radio stations stayed in business, newspapers
appeared every day (many more of them than are printed now,
since even medium-sized cities had two or more daily papers;
most now only have one).

Movies were made -- hundreds of them. Major league baseball
teams played full seasons, as did the Metropolitan Opera and
major orchestras throughout the country. Dance bands did big
business. "Oklahoma," never to be forgotten, premiered on
Broadway in 1943. The original-cast recording of its songs sold
more than a million copies, as did Bing Crosby's "I'll Be Home
for Christams." Crosby, in fact, had four million-selling
records in 1943, at the height of the war, and three more in
1944. From 1942 through 1944 there were 42 million-selling pop
records in America, certainly a sign that cultural life hadn't
exactly shut down. It's true that special, slim editions of
books were published, specially designed to fit into the pockets
of military uniforms, but these were reprints of volumes already
published in normal format.

Colin Bennett, of course, is from the UK, and I can well imagine
that things were worse there, since apart from the Pearl Harbor
surprise (and some minor sabotage elsewhere), the US wasn't
attacked during the war, as Britain was. And things on the
continent and in Russia must have been still worse. Even so,
cultural life didn't shut down in any of those places, either. I
know much less about this than I know about things in the US.
But if you're looking for recordings by the great conductor
Wilhelm Furtwangler (who died in 1954), you'll find that many of
the best ones are of live concerts he conducted in Vienna during
the war. I treasure a live recording of Richard Strauss's opera
"Arabella," conducted by Clemens Krauss, and made at the
Salzburg (Austria) Festival in 1942. Shostakovich's "Leningrad"
symphony, which premiered in Russia at the height of the war and
supposedly depicted the Nazi attack and Soviet resistance, was a
sensation at symphony concerts throughout the allied nations. (I
say "supposedly" because of later revelations that Shostakovich
may also have targeted the Stalin regime in his piece, but
that's another story.)

But then it doesn't even matter what went on outside the US,
because Bennett is talking about literary and cultural life in
America, where the Manhattan Project scientists worked, along
with the MJ-12 (if they really existed).

 >It is possible therefore
 >that Borges=92 original story was sought out in these
 >conditions by very small elite groups such as those who
 >worked on the Manhattan Project. It can easily be imagined
 >for example, that the main high-level high-IQ figures around
 >Oppenheimer (including Teller, Fermi etc) reading at least
 >the earliest version of Tl=F6n, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. Richard
 >Feynman for one, would have loved it. The Los Alamos staff in
 >particular would hardly been able to avoid Spanish-American
 >culture. Needing intellectual food in their mental and
 >physical isolation they would in all likelihood have sought
 >it from such Argentinean writers as Borges whose country was
 >hardly affected physically by war, and whose publishing and
 >printing houses still had time, inclination, and materials
 >for such luxuries as free literary expression

But of course books were published in the US. Here's a little
more information: Two of Raymond Chandler's most famous
mysteries, "The High Window" and "The Lady in the Lake," were
published, respectively, in 1942 and 1943 -- and reprinted just
a year later in London. The best-selling novel of 1942 was Franz
Werfel's "The Song of Bernadette"; in 1943, Lloyd C. Douglas's
"The Robe"; in 1994, Lillian Smith's "Strange Fruit."

The scientists at Los Alamos could easily ignore Spanish-
American culture; most non-hispanic Americans did, back then.
Spanish-speaking people hadn't flooded into the US then in the
numbers that represent them now, nor were they a cultural and
poltical force that no one could ignore.

Moreoever, the Spanish-American culture in the Los Alamos area
wouldn't have been literary, and wouldn't have been from
Argentina. It would have been (and, as far as I know, still is)
predominantly Mexican. Those people weren't reading Borges. For
that matter, even in New York now, with far more Hispanic
immigration, from many more countrires, it's rare to meet or
hear about anyone from Argentina. Cuba, yes; the Dominican
Republic, Puerto Rico, Peru, Colombia, Mexico...but not
Argentina. Spanish-American literature (Marquez, Borges, Neruda,
and so on) became famous long after 1945 in America -- and in in
translation, in English-speaking literary circles, not through
any advocacy by Spanish-speaking Americans.

I won't comment on the rest of Bennett's speculations. But some
of it, clearly, is based on imaginary history.

Greg Sandow

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