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Just as revealing would be, say, Antonin Artaud’s 1925 letters to the DaliLama and the Pope, together with the scabrous missive of 1946 that he addressed to Pope Pius XII. Whether merely openly disdainful (“O Pope confined to this world, neither Earth nor God speaks through you.”)27 or obscene (the 1946 letter), rebellion takes aim at foolish figures of authority. With Luca, by contrast, his propulsive but controlled voice creates pristine, tightly constructed texts that are, in effect, robust carapaces studded and emboldened with violent imagery whose aims, in the end, are to preserve love — unwedded to the fatherland, unencumbered by the absurdities of mystical fascism. His work was at antipodes with, say, that of Mircea Eliade — later to become the famous scholar of myth and religion. Eliade wrote of his commitment to and belief in the future victory of the Legion of the Archangel Michael. Why? “Because I believe in the destiny of the Romanian people … because I believe in the victory of the Christian spirit… Because I believe in love.”28 Love. From Archangel Michael to the disemboweled corpses of victims of the Iron Guard dangling from meat hooks, Luca does not reveal his sources. How could he? Even if it were not to risk life and limb, why would he? With respect to the author of “The Dead Death,” consider completed suicides from the same epoch — the almost mythological demise of Walter Benjamin or, more poignantly, the suicide of Stefan Zweig. Not: what did they leave us besides their work? But: what more do we need? Luca makes few explicit references to the Second World War, or the raw circumstances of his clandestine existence in Bucharest, either in the Romanian texts or in the long-form and quasi-autobiographical The Passive Vampire. But there is at least one clear and straightforward exception. In 1942, grain shortages brought about wheatless days in the country that was once Europe’s breadbasket. In the fall the proto-fascist dictator Antonescu stepped up arrests in what he called an “energetic purge” while cementing a “cordial understanding” with Hitler.29 Earlier in the year the police arrested teenagers in a tavern for singing objectionable songs. A court sentenced                                                                                                                       27

http://bazookapoetrymagazine.blogspot.com/2011/06/address-to-pope.html Quoted in: Clark, “European Fascists and Local Activists: Romania’s Legion of the Archangel Michael (1922–1938)” 293. 29 The New York Times (September 24, 1942). 28

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Profile for Contra Mundum Press

Gherasim Luca Centenary Issue  

Essays and reflections in English and French on Romanian surrealist Gherasim Luca, including Luca's own texts and art. Also featuring rumi...

Gherasim Luca Centenary Issue  

Essays and reflections in English and French on Romanian surrealist Gherasim Luca, including Luca's own texts and art. Also featuring rumi...

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