From the Early 20th Century Correspondence between Grange Torse and Henrietta Pommelhorse

“I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans…” — William Blake

“I am the instrument of providence, she will use me as long as I accomplish her designs, then she will break me like a glass.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

THE KAISER had a withered arm from birth, yet that lraut bastard could zero a stag as well as any of those Prussian toffs. As a child he had a nerve cut in his neck, only briefly weeping. They tell me IT’S over…but my dears—how it felt as if it had only just started. Indeed, I perceived a great hurtling swell in the human spirit! Ahh yes the note I made, from the horse’s mouth I proclaimed experience of a “TRIUMPH OF THE SPIRIT”—Bah well the long and short of it is that I’ve had the joy of experiencing total civilisational collapse! I tell you, what remains of the zone of the armies is foul, flesh, wire…the rats, you should come see the thing—photograph it before it’s gone…ploughed over, forgotten, draped in the stinking falsehood of remembrance. For there were no greater ideals, it was a conflagration of RACE, the brewing hatreds of Slav, Teuton, Frank, and Saxon allowing open bloodshed in the absence of civilisation.

Ludwig was there…ahhh and he had a LOT to say about it. He claims to have constructed the Tractatus while incarcerated by the Italian army…well…and that note: only death gives life its meaning. Seems Toresean! I swear I wrote the same thing in 87—blast and anyway the old queer told me he was a pacifist…come now—when the shells he made—cowering in the workshop away from the lines, tore an Italian’s organs from his body…where was his pacifism?

And this influenza, in Trieste alone they recorded thousands dead. This influenza is all they speak of (I had a bird his name was enza, I opened the window and in-flew-enza)…GOD how I abhor they’re frightful cowering, trembling at the sickness and death—should they not lift themselves from foul meekness and stand accepting fate with steadfast hearts: RISE UP, you judge of the Earth—lift thyself up.

Ahh Russia…Russia, that shining bastion of the divinely sanctioned creed of autocracy—languishing now, faltering and dying under the nonsensical Hegeliansims of that kook Marx! You know…I met that Prussian bastard in London, he put off meeting me the whole time, claiming business with his work—I know however that the kraut was doing nothing, or whoring at best! Lest hammering away at his ambiguous, contradictory pseudoscience. This shall be the end of Russia, the end of Slavs as a race, for they can only be rendered under the iron will of the autocrat. I remember too my dear, coffee with the Kaiser in the palatial gardens; he agreed the Slavs to be a race governable only by the whip hand of the Teutons and that the brewing war and life struggle of the Hapsburgs was some ancient struggle between Teuton and Slav.

My feelings are that history advances minute unit by minute unit—do not misunderstand: I truly mean in terms of number theory, that historical progress itself is constructed of discrete individual units, such being the set H = {1,2,3,4,…} such that its cardinality is not |=∞  but to the value {P} which accumulates upon the realisation of human potential. You see events, from an ant who cuts a leaf to the conclusion of a great epoch, the liberation of a people or indeed the great comet which shall end our times—construct individual units of historical weight. You must understand the nature of these units, as found in Copenhagen, they are as subatomics being only of ether and inertia until the very forceful will of history binds them with mass. I have seen them…captured them in apparatus…measured their presence during the course of this war and have produced readings I could never have imagined! Aye…the very stuff of history!

I have come to understand these units and have studied them, they are as real as any other Dramatis Personae of subatomic casting, behaving in similar ways; though bound not by electromagnetism or gravity—but by the very force of history, of the enactment and falterance of innumerable wills to power. I have included several proofs, lest I muddy these pages with my numerical ramblings. Though the real proof is physical and I shall show you when you arrive at Triestste. For I had been given special permission by Foch! Attendance at the battle of the Marne; and it was there, as the French and Brits emblazoned by the insignia of victory shattered von Hindenburg’s “offensive for peace” that I set up my apparatus. The designs are attached, understand that it is an electromagnetic cluster I call a Vos—place it near the occurrence of historical events and pass through it a strong current, release the xenon gas and observe; you shall see specks appear in the mist…these are active quartiles of historical weight…when I first understood I had witnessed the very matter of history, I wept. Perhaps I should explain more:

You see, each action is a unit of history: the aforementioned ant or comet, but also a soldier who slips and drops his spear changing the course of a great battle, or a wife unable to face the mundanity of her life flees her husband; failing to produce the birth of a great conqueror, or a prophet who stays silent—never uttering the secret of peace which would have liberated the world, or a little girl who drops a doll, or a beggar who lives for one more day, or a dog who follows his master to the end; all are quantiles of historical weight, contributing as a single unit in a greater whole toward the soul-shattering final revelation, of course this revelation is entirely variable depending upon the final configuration of quantiles, though do not misunderstand the apparent randomness; when the final configuration approaches this will indeed be the end of history, but not perhaps the end of the world. Further expoundment can be sought in The End of the End and The Beginning of the Middle.

But to what extent, you ask, should we take these quartiles to be anything more than metaphysical? What, you ask, is the nature of the system? Does its entropy tend to anything? YES I foresee some final cumulation of quartiles, tending toward a great final revelation (being the entitled Triumph of the Spirit) in which the human spirit shall be lifted from mortal climes and toward unimaginable potential. (As I glance back I find it of interest that I reference the comet [an ill omen and bad planet; influencing the inner imagination of countless generations {are you aware that in 1178, a groups of monks in Canterbury witnessed a conflagration upon the moon?

From the midpoint of the division, a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out, over a considerable distance, fire, hot coals and sparks. Meanwhile the body of the Moon which was below writhed, as it were in anxiety, and to put it in the words of those who reported it to me and saw it with their own eyes, the Moon throbbed like a wounded snake. Afterwards, it resumed its proper state. This phenomenon was repeated a dozen times or more, the flame assuming various twisting shapes at random and then returning to normal. Then, after these transformations, the Moon from horn to horn, that is along its whole length, took on a blackish appearance.

What thoughts must have manifest in their feeble minds? } ] interesting…you see the analogy of the comet coming to destroy the world, as in the Zoroastrian apocalypse the comet Cochir will come and strike the earth with its fire and halo, melting all the metals and minerals, the molten metal will flow forth as a river through which the righteous and sinful must both pass, facing purification or damnation.) When all quartiles have gained enough historical mass, a great cataclysm shall envelop the Earth, I foresee it as being both beautiful and terrible; rendering vast swathes of the population to naught and hurting others to Olympian glory. The quartile itself is bound to a highly volatile state…fading into the ether with ease, the slightest disturbance can purge the particle…indeed it is as if history tends toward something…perhaps inexorable fate itself is simply the influence of historical quartiles on physical matter.*

Trieste is shattered, the city and the hearts of the people. The other day, I took a flight in an aeroplane manned by some retired Italian officer. We sailed the skies, witnessed the earthen scars below, the crumbled towns, the old lines. We sailed toward grace. I remembered: Justice stood, with golden sword and scales, flanked by death and punishment, trampled under foot; avarice and envy…in the old chapel. And yet…later, after the bombardments, illuminated by a dust-choked sunbeam (beatified, gloriole), the shattered arm of justice grasped a marred and ruined sword.

Still as I think upon Triumph’s completed manuscript, I conceive another child of thought upon the said triumph…a sort of revolutionary dirge. Now…in this century does man not find himself inexorably bound to a future that refuses to be any different from the past? YES, indeed, and why should he accept it? In a sense, this Princip fellow had the right idea, nudge history along and all that, what was it that Pound fellow correctly diagnosed—a botched civilisation?

There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them, For an old bitch gone in the teeth, For a botched civilization,
Charm, smiling at the good mouth, Quick eyes gone under earth’s lid,
For two gross of broken statues,
For a few thousand battered books.


* During the First World War, in his personal journal The Great Lamentation, he erroneously considers this great conflict to have been the final revelation; some arrogance, perhaps today we would call him a Eurocentric, though it’s certainly an understandable conclusion. Though the attentive reader will have realised that the configuration of quantiles must indeed have had an increased density and speed through those terrible years, forgoing their own historical gravity, for when else had so many souls been so near, all generating units of history, such frequency is not likely to be the final configuration, however; Torse later goes on to say that it may even be unnoticeable, a whimper in time and spirit. He realised, too, that the aimless war was a shining example of the harmful nature of the delusion of the individual, especially in conjunction with the cumulative nature of history; the delusion of course being that of national destiny in all its grace and all its horror and all its failure. So there, in Eastern and Western fronts, as the individual soldiers shivered in their trenches and huddled in their greatcoats and gripped their rifles as the very flesh rotted from their bodies, they thought themselves part of a greater destiny, but no such greater destiny existed other than their tiny count in pointing the direction of the arrow of history, together those frightened young men formed a national destiny more horrible than any individual evil can ever muster. Nothing had been revealed as he looked out across the slaughter and the wasteland and cries for mothers; if anything, the conclusion of history had been drawn back thousands of years. Torse stood and wailed to the void of his soul into what Pound correctly diagnosed as a botched civilisation.