Robinson Jeffers
December 23, 2007 1:05 PM   Subscribe

jeffers died in 1962. had he instead been born in that year, it's not difficult to imagine him as an assassin or a suicide.
posted by kitchenrat at 1:42 PM on December 23, 2007

I'm not sure how well this article will go over here, but I appreciated it at least- thanks for posting it, and for mentioning the post I did about Jeffers as well. It was interesting reading, though not being a paleoconservative/Old Right type myself, I didn't agree with all of it- I felt it tried a little too hard to claim Jeffers for the Old Right when I don't think he can really be pigeonholed that easily, but I do think it's pretty safe to say that if you had to categorize him politically, he was closer to that than anything else.

One thing it illustrates, which is quite fascinating to me, is how much certain issues we now associate with the left used to be seen as almost solely the domain of the right. Jeffers' pantheistic environmentalism was far from a common belief, but it was something that was very clearly associated with the right in his day- there's an essay by Orwell where he mentions that every time he made some positive reference to nature in his writing, he would then get a bunch of angry letters from self-proclaimed socialists who regarded any sort of concern for it as a sure sign of bourgeois and/or reactionary tendencies. Towards the end of Raimondo's article, it mentions how Jeffers' "inhumanism" had "everything to do with his allegiance to the permanent things, such as the transhuman magnificence of creation." This is true, and I think it is probably the best illustration of why concern for nature and the non-human world was once primarily the domain of certain areas of the right and scoffed at by the left of the time- it does not sit comfortably with the traditional Marxist view of progress and humanism at all.

This of course changed pretty dramatically later, and though the article (probably unsurprisingly) scoffs at the idea that Jeffers was a precursor to the "sandals-and-beads set", I find it fascinating how much they seemed to adopt certain issues, like that one, at around the same time the right abandoned them. As strange as the anti-imperialist right of Raimondo and the pro-war, Bush-supporting "decent left" or "cruise missile left" of Hitchens seem to us in the current political landscape, in a lot of ways both are examples of the survival of certain tendencies on their respective sides that have been mostly abandoned in the present day.

(Kind of weird to see Reason recommended this, incidentally- I understand why, but I suspect Jeffers would have detested most of what that magazine advocates.)
posted by a louis wain cat at 10:19 PM on December 23, 2007

Jeffers's great-grandson was my best friend growing up, and we played at the Tor House from time to time. Interestingly, I ended up pursuing a poetry education, and over they years his work has become very important to me.

"They dream their own dreams for themselves..."
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:26 PM on December 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

louis wain cat: yeah, I agree with you about the article. I wasn't sure about posting it at first, but in the end anybody writing enthusiastically about Jeffers is okay with me.

Joseph Gurl: playing at Tor House as a kid must have been great. Thanks for sharing that.
posted by homunculus at 8:32 PM on December 24, 2007

« Older Electric Christmas Trees   |   eclectic galleries Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments