By Abdassabur Kirke
It is an honour and a pleasure to present to you today our newest publication. Its title: ‘Ian Dallas – Collected Works’.
In my presentation I would like to tell you something about each of the Works which are gathered together in this book. Then, I would like to look at the Collection once again, by following four of the principle themes which Ian Dallas develops throughout. Finally, in examining the book, I would also like to convey to you a little about the author himself.
But to begin with, let the author’s words speak. In his Introduction he says: “My desire is to submit my work to those fellow travellers who seek for maps to make sense of their life’s journey.”
And indeed, the Collected Works of Ian Dallas is an account of a journey. One man’s journey, told from many angles, yet at the same time a vivid reflection of that journey of a whole society as it emerged out of the World War spanning from 1914 to 1945, and culminated in that situation which we see in the world today.
This book is therefore an account. Yet there is another crucial dimension to the work of Ian Dallas, one which I believe makes it quite unique. The great Western thinkers of the present and recent past have succeeded, sometimes with astonishing foresight and lucidity, in describing to us the situation to which we have arrived culturally, poitically, philosophically, and in our collective social psyche. The picture they have painted has not been a pretty one; the greater the writer, the more the works have taken the form of warnings, premonitions, and indications that cataclysmic change was close. The German soldier-poet Ernst Jünger, undoubtedly one of Europe’s greatest 20th century authors, said even of himself: “I am an end, not a beginning.” Goethe before him warned of the consequences of relentless Newtonian scientific deconstruction, and those modern-day writers who have received any kind of clarity on our social fabric, such as Giorgio Agamben and the Peter Sloterdijk, can do nothing but explain in devastating terms the vast contradiction of things as they stand. And then there is the rhetorical firebrand – the Chomskys and Galloways – the intellectual napalm-throwers in the War of the Words, and in their wake trail the softer tones of the apologists and the propounders of an undifferentiated ‘pacifism’.
Yet everything they offer remains within the existing framework and is nothing but a greater of lesser adjustment of it. As such they are all endings, finishers, diagnosticians.
Ian Dallas goes further. He describes the end, but also a new beginning.
The Collected Works consists of three plays and four prose pieces, each of the two parts being prefaced by an introduction. The works were written between 1952, when the author was a 22-year-old student at London’s Royal Academny of Dramatic Arts, and the present day where we find him, perhaps more active and prolific as a writer than ever before, engaged in a series of world-wide social programmes enacting those conclusions to which his journey has taken him.
A Masque of Summer was Ian Dallas’ first play and was first presented at Glasgow’s Citizens’ Theatre. A comedy in three Acts, its story revolves around Louisa, the young socialite daughter of high-society parents, subject of endless attentions and yet lost to her own true identity. This reaches crisis point, and the play is about her collapse into despair and illness, then her recovery from the edge of death. Among the characteris is the mysterious Madallo, poet, who, although he brings the key to her healing, himself in turn falls in love with Louisa, leaving at the end the question of whom of the many suitors she will choose.
The Face of Love is a Tragedy in three Acts set in a modern-day Troy, portrayed as the unquestionable State, besieged by the Greeks and on the verge of war.
Dallas portrays the illusion of a society: the absolute sanctity of the Nation State of Troy, along with exaltation of its mythic heroine Helen, representing an idealised beauty and freedom-rhetoric to which all pay unquestioned lip service. However, amid the strain of events and the threat of death, questions inevitably arise.
In the end the truth of the situation is not arrived at rationally, rather by insight in the hearts of men. And it takes the advent of a passionate love affair between man and women, innocent and rising above the rationale, to finally lay bare the terrible hypocrisy which is the cause of the imminent suffering. Yet ‘The Face of Love’ is a tragedy, and the characters move forward to embrace their fate accordingly.
Oedipus and Dionysus, written almost three decades later, overlaps with this theme but moves to a resolution and a breakthrough. Confronted by the destiny written for them by those seemingly inescapable worldly forces put forward as ‘The Gods’ by scheming men, the couple, Oedipus and Astymedusa, at the last moment reject the dreadful doom which they are asked to accept. Dallas offers two possibilities at the finale: One: a version of history is born, the subsequent justification for a whole psychology and the continuation of the Sacred State – or, in Oedipus’ crying out beyond all that is in the world, the apparent inevitability of the force of things is thrust away and a new destiny of true freeom is chosen.
Ian Dallas describes The Ten Symphonies of Gorka König as a ‘Fictional Textbook’, and indeed, although it is ostensibly a fictitious biography interwoven among the historical events of the Twentieth Century, it has the fascinating capacity to take a transformative role on the reader.
There is a story of when this book was first published, by a certain well-known British publishing house. The editor met over tea with the author to discuss some points in the text. At the end of the discussion she said to him with some perplexity, “I have to tell you Mr Dallas, that my husband is an expert on Twentieth Century composers and he has never heard of Gorka König!”
Such is the effect of the book that its publishers have not been not the only ones to wonder whether or not they were in the world of fiction or reality. It is that very ambiguousness, coupled with the winning, passionate vibrancy of its narrative and the realism of the Symphonies themselves, described in intimate detail, which captures the reader and draws him into the the world of the German composer, his philosopher father, and his wife, the tremendous Frieda Ludendorff.
It is at the end of this book that Ian Dallas first reaches the door to which in the previous works he has been drawing ever nearer. The tension and expectation mounts.
With characteristic decisiveness, Ian Dallas opens his next work, The New Wagnerian:
He writes: “Do not be put off by Wagner’s bitterly sarcastic critics, or perhaps, yes, do be put off. If you view life as they do, and envy vastness of spirit and profundity of meditative reflection on existence and nature, and surrender to the erotic drive, yes, do turn away. Wagner is not for you.”
Once again the book has several layers. Firstly it is an appreciation of the man and his music. It is also the portrait of a visionary ahead of his time, and the social questions which he tackled. And it is a signpost to something beyond Wagner himself. Dallas quotes the great composer thus:
“‘Revolution alone can give me the artists and audiences I need.’” Dallas continues: “He said he would convey in his works the meaning of their revolution in its noblest form. Then, he insisted, there would be an audience which could understand him, for his contemporaries could not.”
There are far too many different aspects to The New Wagnerian to cover here, but in analysing The Ring he discusses how Wagner depicts the different archetypes of Coupledom, a subject which I shall come to in more detail.
The next prose piece, The Book of Strangers, was written in 1973 and quickly became celebrated as a monumental account of the quest for real knowledge and the journey to the Spiritual Master. Set in the not-too-distant future, it follows the Clerk of a State Library as he is re-posted as Keeper of the Archives to replace ‘Kasul’, who has inexplicably disappeared. The Clerk soon discovers that Kasul, like him, had been dissastisfied with what now passed as knowledge – mere information, that is – and that his yearning, like his own, had caused him to set out in search of something he could not yet formulate or imagine.
Journeying out to the deserts, he hears of the Shaykh of Instruction, the man of perfected knowledge. After becoming Muslim to begin the travel in earnest, he enters the world of the Sufic Tariqa and meets his Master and the men of knowledge who surround him.
The final piece, The Gestalt of Freedom is a study of that principle theme in the work of Germany’s great author, poet and most decorated soldier of both Wars, Ernst Jünger. Ian Dallas explains that the culmination of Jünger’s work, and the encapsulation of this Gestalt, or Form, of freedom, can be found in his book, ‘Der Waldgang’.
“The book,” writes Dallas, “announces that we need a new concept of freedom. Defining the state system by the metaphor of a boat, and not just any liner, but indeed the Titanic, Jünger insists that the first question of existence is, “Is it possible to stay on the boat and preserve one’s independence of decision?”
“The central Gestalt of the book,” continues Dallas, “is that of the one who goes into the forest. It is not a romantic or literal image. The forest he defines as the non-temporal, it is the inner zone, where the conscious break is made with the horrific lie of the now magical social contract. It is not a form of anarchy opposed to the mechanical world.”
* * * * *
Allow me now to sketch very briefly the principle themes which recur throughout the writings of Ian Dallas.
The first is the true nature of the State and rulership, a subject which has clearly occupied the author since his early years.
In The Face of Love and Oedipus and Dionysus, Dallas re-writes two common myths in their foundations, and, by intervening dramatically at the origins of modern-day thinking, he opens the reader to the possibility that the sickness of our society is based on a primal misunderstanding in the way things are explained to us.
Some of the most remarkable passages in The Face of Love parody the rhetoric of Freedom and the spreading of liberty to other nations. In Oedipus and Dionysus this first subject becomes fully interwoven with the second, which is The Couple. It is Oedipus’ wife, Astymedusa, who reflects his true self back to him and holds him to life and victory as opposed to the submission and accursed destiny which has been written for him by those who wish to see their own reign perpetuated.
A Masque of Summer proposes a series of levels on which man and woman can relate: Louisa’s various suitors, motivated by various material reasons, seem to culminate in the poet Madallo who carries the key to the heroine’s self-discovery – but then he himself is surpassed by the innocent Martin, who loves Louisa unconditionally and without cause. And it is her choosing him, and overpassing even Madallo, which is the completion of her healing.
In The Ten Symphonies of Gorka König the central character has two relationships with women: the first catastrophic, the second dynamic and socially creative. His depiction of König’s love affair with the alluring Slav Milena is poignantly familiar – Milena, writes Dallas, “the young woman around whom Gorka’s war years in Switzerland were to circle in a hopeless and tangled love affair he was never to forget, or get out of his system.”
Then there is his depiction of the brilliant psychologist Frieda Ludendorff, undoubtedly one of his greatest characters. With her and Gorka König, Ian Dallas has created a couple who are again more than the sum of their parts. What he depicts is the sheer irresistible, irrepressable creativity of the true feminine coupled to the questing masculine.
“Frieda,” writes Dallas, “brought Gorka to life. She gave him confidence and taught him to enjoy himself. Without any of his mother’s frivolity yet with enormous social enthusiasm she opened up to him the world of society, teaching him to be tolerant of different kinds of people, people who were not ‘like’ them yet interesting. She taught him how to read people so that basically he could not make a mistake.”
Later, Dallas quotes Wagner as he describes his vision of the future woman:
‘… she is no longer the home-tending Penelope of Ulysses, as courted in the days of old, but the quintessence of womankind; and yet the still unmanifest, the longed-for, the dreamt-of, the infinitely womanly woman – let me out with it in one word: THE WOMAN OF THE FUTURE.’
“Now,” continues Dallas, “this simply did not make sense in 1851 when he wrote it, nor did it to the early Wagnerians – it shocked Newman who basically thought his brain was deformed and yet spent a whole lifetime writing about him, and Shaw discreetly avoided the issue, despite his own heroic attempts to inform the age he lived in that women were now due recognition at last.”
Dallas reveals Siegfried as the untainted, unfettered, raw force of manhood. The psychologist Frieda Ludendorrf, in her extraordinarily crafted Interview with Bavarian Radio, has this to say:
“The famous ‘This is no man!’ of Siegfried when he first sees Brunnhilde is a great moment in western drama. Then his response that it is his mother is from a psychological view the adult response that must be made in order that it be surpassed. He consciously recognizes that it is not his mother. The bourgeois man meets his partner just as if it were another man for he only knows woman as mother. Then he is horrified that she behaves differently from a man so he treats her like his mother because inevitably that response will always work. In the Brünnhilde-Siegfried encounter exactly the opposite takes place. They are immediately open towards each other Brünnhilde confirms Siegfried’s project. They are bonded, a couple, and free.”
It is in that same Interview where Frieda Ludendorff touches again on the subject of democratic governance on which Dallas has developed such a unique and revelationary position.
“INT: Ah – you are opposed to democracy?
LUD: What democracy? Greek democracy, the collective decision of a small elite, and one which, we should not forget, was responsible for the death of Socrates, precisely because he was considered a threat to the democratic system? It also in our time has shown little compunction in condemning its greatest poet (Ezra Pound) to incarceration in a lunatic asylum. Is there some model of democracy that you find acceptable? Certainly nobody would be taken in by English democracy … Which is the democracy you wish me to confirm?
INT: ‘It may not be very good but it is the best that we have,’ I think that is Churchill’s observation.
LUD: Dubious logic from a dubious source. Faute de mieux is the argument of fools, in this case a most sinister one. I think you mean modern electoral democracy.
LUD: This I would define as the rule of the masses through a predictable mathematical method of control by that hidden elite which defines its parameters and its lines of communications. I have personally never met anybody who believed in politicians or their parties. Furthermore, it is known that the institutions themselves, congresses and parliaments, do not have substantive power over the monetary system or the military machine, these two zones are located outside their effective control.”
And here we come to the third of Dallas’ great themes: the nature of the prevailing money system. In his introduction to the Prose section, speaking of the political teachings of Hilaire Belloc, Dallas writes:
“The power and dynamic of this thinking puts to an end as utterly worthless both the evolutionary myth that banking is merely the abstract and objective mechanism of markets and exchange, and that democracy is the ultimate post-historical system which grants every individual their rights. In reality the usury system is mathematically doomed to ultimate collapse, and the real meaning of democracy is that people have been granted limited rights to social order in the imperium, but utterly forbidden access to the whole world’s wealth.”
The abandoning of gold and silver coinage, the creation of paper and electronic money out of nothing by the banking system, and the infiltration of usury into every transaction – these Dallas identifies in his work as the greatest and most murderous crimes of our age.
In The Ten Symphonies of Gorka König, he writes:
“To attack usury was, in the 1960s, either considered medievalist or plain right-wing romantic.”
Gorka König takes up the subject in his Sixth Symphony, the Contra Usura. “The astonishing thing is,” he wrote to his wife Frieda, “that nobody knows what usury is, not even the people who tell me I should not waste time with the matter. Usury, in fact, is a forbidden subject not an outmoded one.”
She writes back: “The concept of interest as a crime has still to return to Europe. People think they are radical if they suggest limiting interest, abolition is still unthinkable. That such an action should also be accompanied by a return to a bi-metal and commodities economy is beyond the imagination – but for how long? Sooner or later the illogicality of the current monetary system has to burst upon the world – but when?”
From these themes, Ian Dallas moves compellingly towards the core affair. Not only that, he draws together the threads, showing that no one issue is divorced from the other. Gorka König writes, speaking of the changes that must be made:
“‘I know of no worthier cause. Yet I do not see it emerging unless it is also grounded in a deep committed spiritual revolution. I see no justice in the post-Nietzschean world, I see no Overman, unless we acknowledge this source of will to power in Being, and I am now convinced of one thing, that Being, the Being of the philosophers, is not just an idea, but is Real. Being is the Named. Of that I am convinced. Being has a name and it is known. And it is recognized and strength is drawn from it and when we finally bow down to the One Being not in religion but in truth, not under priesthood but under conviction of the truth, then this force will rejuvenate the world, just in time.”
The Book of Strangers is a vivid description of the encounter with the Master and the opening to a genuine spiritual path, whose boundaries are defined by the self-accepted injunctions of Islam, and whose objective is the perfection of knowledge of the Reality of the Creator.
* * * * *
Viewed separately, the different themes of Ian Dallas’ writing are not unique; indeed, he openly draws his threads from the breadth of our European intellectual heritage. What is unique is that he brings together aspects which have otherwise lain separate. He shows that to take the great intellectual issues of modern times to their final conclusion is to arrive at the door of Islam. His invitation to a spiritual renewal is absolutely inseparable from an insistence on real social, political and monetary transformation. His writings as Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi have made him the strongest opponent of suicide terrorism in the whole of the Muslim world. And yet he has discovered that accepting the democratic statist system coupled with banking finance will inevitably also lead to disaster, including that terrorism which it pretends to so strongly oppose.
* * * * *
In the end the author speaks to us through his book. If you want to go beyond these extremes that touch, says Ian Dallas, and discover real change, social and therefore personal – and if you look with stark honesty at the European situation and have genuine courage to take on the future – and if you sense that the system of parliamentary democracy is itself a fraud, not just the theatrically revolving parties – and if you sense that our entire financial system contains in its very core a great injustice – If these things are familiar to you on your journey, then sooner or later you will inevitably arrive at the door of Islam.
And for those who have already entered through that door, the book speaks clearer still. Islam is not alien to Europe – and certainly not to Scotland – and Europe and its traditions are not alien to the Muslims. There is no split between them. Rather, the Muslims can be the renewers of the integrity of the European situation, and its inheritors. He shows us what Europe is, and where it has come to.
No, the Muslim who realises the true situation of the European peoples does not want to attack them; that is a position of extreme ignorance. He or she wants to hurry to establish what Allah has ordained for us, with actions that illuminate the human situation, and engender a love among the people for their One Lord who is above everything that can be ascribed to Him, and for His Messenger, Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, who was sent with the Final Message as a mercy to all of mankind.