The Manifesto Of The White Lily, 1928

excerpts The lashes against the young generation are relentless. They have all befallen us at once, like pelts of heavy rain. The pundits charge anew and huff heavily, seconded by verbose mercenaries that bounce off like loose cannonballs of tennis. All the nuances of obtuseness – "the stupid", "the dimwits", "the ninnies" fly at us, each and every one determined to become of heroic vigor. The moment has come to remind these gentlemen, zealous advocates to a lost cause, that we are familiar with Pythagoras's story who sacrificed a herd of oxen as a gift to the gods, grateful for having discovered his immortal hypotenuse theory. Since then, commotion has ruled amongst the oxen – wary of any impending novelty. But the young Romanian generation – the most magnificent, majestic and fresh – has risen stoutly on the horizon, like an aurora before an all-encompassing renewal, tanned by winds, racked by problems and engaged in the generous motion of the discus thrower… Fundamentally human is the tendency to come near thought, to seek absolution thereby at terrible times of indecision and ill-fortune. These are the sultry and fecund roots of human cogitation. Still, thoughts which emerged from disappointment and lugubrious despondency, from the pale sadness of bidding happiness farewell on the brink of death, will always bear the edginess provoked by the pain and the anemia of a state of mourning. The only thoughts that break clear way and live on collecting and enlivening forces with the wing of hope, are those of a youth, healthy and robust. The youth ask themselves, on the verge of beginning life, about the purpose thereof, about the rights and duties bestowed on them. The vanquishing 'youth within' feels a natural repulsion towards thoughts soured or mortuary, but heads – bereaved by the magic spur of the vital force – towards issues world-shaking to the cowardly, but creative to the strong. For a fleeting moment, we have broken away from the atmosphere in which we have grown up and weighing one thing up against another, we stood terrified by the lack of thought in our predecessors. Patronizing and carping at us: a generation when no one has ever thought properly. In their head, a non-entity thrones: an eternal and irritating void, covered by a foreign arras and surrounded by the dust of old age, staleness of deserted homes. Forgetful of the rule of thumb that cats and ideas should not to be borrowed, they have begged amidst the neighbors and brought us back leftovers and parts stolen from a 'foreign engine'. Our parents' generation has been feeding on unprocessed borrowings and unfinished thoughts. They were not able, or did not have the nerve, to contemplate themselves the entirety of unanswered questions. Thus their uninspired adventure of sense and sensibility remained vassal to others, became stunted in its growth or trickled inconsistently and whimsically, as if at the mercy of an electrical contact, interrupted and resumed time and time again, until the spirit of the borrowed thought had fed on its incipient sap and darkness took over. On account of a desolate lack of philosophical spirit, our forerunners had borrowed two distinct thoughts and fed on their marrow, increasingly stumped and mundane, without trying to transfigure and harmonize them into a superior unity. The end of the last century had placed the materialistic outlook on history at their disposal, whereas philosophical psychologism had handed them the seductive monist-Darwinian cosmogony of natural sciences. Concurrently, by virtue of an unheard-of lack of philosophical spirit, out of the yeasty atmosphere of those times, they adopted the credos of French philosophical Illuminism. Teaming up with philosophical psychologism that denies not only rationalism but also philosophical transcendentalism, they have impudently placed faith in human reason as the only fountain and criterion of theoretical knowledge and as the sole provider of moral norms and trends – failing to realize that what historical materialism belies is precisely spirit and thought (by declaring them dispensable); moreover, they neglected to learn that monist and Darwinian evolutionism carry the germs of, and lead to, the most unequivocal relativism. What is reason in the Darwinian and Spencerean interpretation…? Can it admit to something absolute and irrevocable? And, if so, how is it possible to believe simultaneously through their mediation, in Absolute Reason? Without getting lost in such doubt, they firmly believed in the idea of humanitarianism, in the eternal rights of man, as prescribed by the 1789 Revolution Illuminism, but not as seen by Empiricism and relativism of the evolutionary acceptation. What found them intrigued was definitely not the contradiction between the two currents, but their similar consequences: agnosticism, atheism, a-cosmism. They chose to divorce in the blink of an eye from God, mystery, infinity, man's fate. It did not pay wrecking their heads over it, neither did they observe that by severing the ties with these realities and the questions thereabouts, the human soul and enthusiasm itself was left out to dry. It was enough for them to cast them away and be satisfied that in the light of those two philosophies, mystery on earth was uncover'd unto them – and what an 'elucidation' it was! They knew Darwinian cosmogony, materialist historical philosophy and, what is more, trusted Absolute Reason. What interested them further were the consequences to their life and the life of the nation: competition in technology, roads, toilets, civilization and in the campaign against illiteracy – with all the Balkans' petty states and, if an opportunity arose – with Belgium or Denmark. (At times they would be more humble: Romania, the Belgium of the Orient; Bulgaria – as it had cows – the Denmark of the Orient. During the Balkan War, Mongolian neighbors would play the part of the Prussians, whereas we, the loafers and poltroons of Europe, accordingly treated by the world media, to the abomination of our Europeanists.) The key to everyone's happiness would – in any case – be an energetic banking strategy, a kind of rubber string that could be stretched to one's own pleasure. In our country, as in the rest of South-Eastern Europe, a different set of circumstances and a distinctive religious matrix were present. Let us not confuse the old hats too much, as the ancient and stodgy generation is remarkable precisely through a lack of unity in the mind's compartments. The most contradictory ideas co-habit with equal and grinning insolence in a perfectly chaotic head. The necessity of unification and of making psychic associations is, akin to the primitive man, unknown to them. This rudimentary makeup irritates and plagues, and when it is deemed to rank so high as to represent Romanian thought, it dumbfounds and revolts. The salient feature of all the old chaps: be they honest, sheepish, indolent, or timorous, stays albeit clear: the essence of life's wisdom resides in not taking anything seriously. No questions, doubts, raising issues and tormented souls shall we find amidst the old generation's exponents. Tranquility is guaranteed through the sturdiness of the path chosen by mankind, ever since it has been under governance of those two borrowed ideas. What does, in truth, Darwinian monist, philosophical psychologism and Absolute Reason teach one, except agnosticism and serenity by eradicating questions without an answer. We loath these individuals – so weary of spirit. We would relish to inject them with an ounce of restlessness to ripple their brutish beatitude, or a driblet of poison to make them sense the wind of madness and of death; we would love razing down their promiscuous huts with a shatter of a pickaxe and acquaint them with the fresh air of the pine forests and that of celestial heights. Let them not hibernate any longer suckling on their paws – like a honey eater. Let them remember the cardinal questions. Let us with vigor open their sleep-drunk, rheumy eyes. Let us wash them as the Samaritan and introduce them to the unparalleled beauty and novelty held by each moment in the world and in life. Fallen into swinish exhilaration, they have forsaken God. They have lost the sense of mystery in man's fate. Not knowing the ecstasy and the passion of the Divine, they have never trembled at the deep meaning of Christ's crucifixion. From the geometrical abstractization of rationalism and the philosophical and moral insensitivity of Darwinian monism, we have dissociated ourselves, ashes in our mouths and emptiness in our souls, to be nearer the frenetic and felicitous concrete, history, indigenousness, and faith. In destroying, once and for all, the bars of a petty cage designed on the philosophy of French-imported Illuminism, we have, for the first time, tasted the concept of completeness, as a supreme attempt to organize our, and others', lives in theory and in practice. We are the sons and daughters of the sun and wish to live our life without a muzzle on our mouth and a lock on our heart, without being mutilated and violated, with our full strong being, with all our aspiration towards the divine and the human within us. By living each of us ourselves to the full – with the frenzy of our own idiosyncrasy and with the ferment of eternity in our heart – we, the world, shall gain in strength, diverseness, color, and speed. Why belie ourselves and others? Why add one more sin to a litany of them and create an even more fertile ground – and a one hundred percent more so – for inequity, ignorance, stupidity, and simulation? Let each and every one of us flourish in the plenitude of their being – a mix of Reason, Intuition, Momentum, Ecstasy. Completeness excludes one-sidedness and the occasional, unjustified privilege granted to reason, or to senses, or to intuition. Knowledge engages the entire human being within reality and it is for it precisely that we claim a right to find our answers on the path dictated by the impulses of our own nature. With a future looming on the horizon and heavily in the debt of past, but exempt from a crutched thinking technique, and freed from the rationalist cast, in the search of ecstasy, passion and the divine, we have now rejected the following of a skeptical and barren pre-war generation. Their lack of torments and disquiet betrays a jovial and perpetually boring triviality. They have sowed contradiction and skepticism, they shall reap anarchy. They have flaunted an excessive individualism, now they are candidly met with infantile crust. They had no holy code of conduct nor one of decent behavior in social life, now they are being spurned as lusty old men that mock the majesty of white hair in their belated eroticism. We had to vanquish them at first, to cast them off without a show of mercy; and if we lighted upon a good path it is our merit only for looking for it, threatened by suffocation in the desert of their heritage. A generation self-deprived of faith and creative zest cannot deserve ought else than our scorn and loath. A decade past, we received – by chance of fate – a grand gift: the bringing together in a unitary state of the provinces, scattered by historical adversity: much like a flock of sheep lost and found after a shower of hail. These territories were bestowed with new obligations and glorious prospects. Nonetheless, the generation that had prepared the Day of Deliverance as early as 1916 – fireworks, flower showers, bands and speeches – still indulges in its Balkan ways to this day. The baptism of fire did not serve them anything; thus, in a chest that hath cried: "We claim Transylvania", may lurk all the vermin of the earth. The authority of the victor was turned into a huge libation. The swinish sweetness of an easy and venal living of 1925, they have transposed with hardened obstinacy into our times. With whom does accountability lie? Where is a master's example? We wish to shake these characters out of their pettiness. More enthusiasm and more sense of responsibility! In any deed that requires trust, passion, enthusiasm, and the founding of a culture, sarcasm and pessimism cannot prevail. What leads us towards history is the belief that everything is historic, from the most humble and shy gesture, to absolute reason; moreover, if we feel indigenous, we shall find ourselves one with the past of this nation, in other words, a lack of inconsistency in our geographic horizon and in our cultural traditions constitutes our indigenousness, and pulsates within us, following into the footsteps of a past threefold millennial. This is our novelty, the good tidings by virtue of which we denounce the nightmarish public life in Greater Romania threatening to infest the young offspring. By inserting into our fundamental beliefs "love for all, esteem for a handful, but mercy to no one", we are aware that only in small towns do great leaps become visible, and we wish to do away with a type of tradition of tyranny and servitude that could propel the town of Mizil to an unmerited emblematic rank for Greater Romania, in traps spun by Romanian Neo-Phanariot insects. Let us shatter barriers, not shun them; let us ban the arrases behind which the destiny of a nation was set in the mud of biased equations, and let us turn Romania into an immense amphitheatre – a haven where each of us, from their due place, should look upon the entire scene and hall. Anew we assert, among the goals of our battle, two cardinal things: the freedom of conscience – as a supreme possession of mankind, and the harshness of criticism, as the noblest of qualities in a citizen. The 'The White Lily' group rises in protest and summons – from all the corners of the country – the court for appeal and concern for national honor. In offering the purity of the highest values and that of mystery, in encouraging creation and élan through a dream of completeness, as well as uprightness through the cult of the State, and through the predominance of great collective interests over the individual ones, 'The White Lily' is contemplating faith and a millenary past – wherefrom it picks teachings and coordinates. Gândirea, VIII-th year , nos. 8-9, 1928, pp. 311-317

by Sorin Pavel; Ion Nistor; Petre Marcu-Balş