This month we've a fair wheen o' politics for you as we reflect what it means to be political and non political past and present. Russia and Britain are arguing over nerve agents. Gets on my nerves, certainly.
Leatham concludes his 'on being non political' offering us some insight into the European 'troubles'. He laments how in his youth people used to debate, and know how to debate:
In my own young manhood there were literary and debating societies on every hand.
He noticed the change from the 1890s to the 1920s. How much more have politics, culture (and any connection between them) changed since then. In the 1920's he writes:
One has seen men with a passion for music, or for books, or for the theatre, or for wine, or money, or flowers, or horseflesh. We may make shift to do, at a very great pinch, without any or all of these, but we cannot do without politics. Wherever men are gathered together there must be rules of the social road, and these rules are politics. As all are equally oppressed by bad and blessed by good laws, clearly all have an equal right to participate, less or more, as arranged in the making, altering, and administration of the laws.
And the conclusion is still very apposite:
And the inescapable penalty of taking no part in the business of government is that we shall be obnoxiously or even disastrously governed by others.
We have been warned. We were warned. Did we heed the warning? People these days don't value either politics or literature (or culture) much more than as a capitalist venture. We were warned of this too:
As I write, the efforts of official Labour seem to be directed towards maintaining the life of Capitalism rather than ushering in instalments of the Co-operative Commonwealth.
Politics has become a career, every bit as murky as the career of literary critic which was emerging along with men such as Andrew Lang. Orraman gives his own personal opinion on that state of affairs.
Which brings us some might say ironically, onto the lists and 'advice' of writers, editors and critics. Leatham and Lang both fulfilled a critics role in different ways, but reading this month's articles I'm led to conclude that really, as Leatham says:
When all is said, Literature of all subjects is least to be taught by tabloid. A lifetime and a temperament are required for it.
In my research this month I came across the following. And thought it was worth sharing. This was the P&J in 1926, offering a critique of Leatham and Gateway.
Aberdeen Press and Journal July 1926
Mr James Leatham of the Deveron Press, Turriff, has already made quite a name for himself as an essayist, and though often extreme his views have frequently the piquant flavour of originality. He has also the gift of argument and his reasoning is at times quite plausibly convincing.
As editor of ‘The Gateway’ a journal of life and literature, he has found a voice for his theories and opinions, and the mid-July number contains much that is readable. In his article ‘Dog does not eat Dog,’ his criticism of Mr Baldwin’s economic theories is violent, and many will be roused to indignation by his cynical derision of Dean Ingo in ‘Is this A God’s World or Devil’s’, with ‘Jacobus’ in his contribution, ‘Cliches and Solecisms’, wherein he adopts as his slogan, ‘If we can’t men the world, let us mend our speech,’ there will be general agreement.
I wish you all the best this month with casting a critical reading eye over the Gateway past and present and drawing your own conclusions. What you choose to do with it, or learn from it, is up to you.
To find past articles please use monthly archives.