Friday, June 21, 2013

Orson Welles: "Europeans Know About Other Europeans"

"Bosnians have short necks."

(Hat tip to Dangerous Minds)

I always get a thrill when I find examples of healthy racial attitudes from out of the past. As kinists know, the best prima facie case against anti-racism is the fact that nobody believed such nonsense until recently. Just nobody. Especially not Christians. On the other hand, it is equally gratifying to find that before the ascendancy of political correctness, even putative liberals often expressed 'racist' ideas. So you can file this one under Racist Hollywood.

Ever since seeing Citizen Kane in college, I've been a fan of Orson Welles. He was a total bohemian, but one with a lot of appeal, and an unapologetic European aristocrat to boot. He represents the outer limit of semi-sane libertinism within the Western tradition, a man who was half-alienated by the twentieth century, and half at home in that milieu. (Incidentally, I am discovering that Charles Lindbergh belongs in this category as well. An uncatechized aristocrat; a patrician without a creed, who resorted to pseudo-Aryan humanism as a proxy for Christian faith.) Born sooner, Welles would have probably invented the cinema. Born later, he might have been a normal anti-intellectual hipster. As it was, he was a decently intelligent pagan whose timing and talents generated some pretty good art, and some very ribald pronouncements.

This morning I heard tell of a forthcoming book of interviews with Welles, hitherto unknown. It's just a book of Hollywood gossip, but it promises to be a valuable document of what one older liberal thought about race. Look at what he had to say about races here, and "people like Woody Allen":

Orson WellesDon’t you know there’s such a thing as physical dislike? Europeans know that about other Europeans. If I don’t like somebody’s looks, I don’t like them. See, I believe that it is not true that different races and nations are alike. I’m –profoundly convinced that that’s a total lie. I think people are different. Sardinians, for example, have stubby little fingers. –Bosnians have short necks.
Henry Jaglom: Orson, that’s ridiculous.
Orson Welles: Measure them. Measure them!
I never could stand looking at Bette Davis, so I don’t want to see her act, you see. I hate Woody Allen physically, I dislike that kind of man.
Henry Jaglom: I’ve never understood why. Have you met him?[Jaglom is forgetting about Casino Royale]
Orson Welles: Oh, yes. I can hardly bear to talk to him. He has the Chaplin disease. That particular combination of arrogance and timidity sets my teeth on edge.
Folks this was a man who understood racial reality. Yet he was an unhinged man, an absentee father and a rake. He appreciated the vision of Shakespeare, but failed to see Him who Shakespeare pointed to. Orson Welles serves as a handy figure for the rootless twentieth century European. Lacking a heart link to Jesus Christ, the European steadily abandons the fruits of his former faith. But the Christian hangover is powerful, and in certain even atheistic men, some healthy understanding can abide even after self-conscious worship has vanished.

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