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When I listened to Equilbey's performance of the Mozart Great Mass again, I was struck how effectively she brings out the striking similarity of the music of the Benedictus, in particular, to the stylistic tropes of Alessandro Scarlatti.
I am extremely happy to give some very wonderful information here about my Mozart research article "A Resolution of Mozart and Freemasonry: Enlightenment and the Persistence of Counter-Reformation", I have discovered that the wonderful Insula Orchestra of France, supported by the Conseil Generale of the Seine, conducted by the marvelous... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2013 at Ppfuchs's blog
Men At Arms: Mozart’s Masonry and Music-Politics, In Light of Erik Levi’s Mozart And The Nazis In re: Erik Levi. Mozart and the Nazis: How the Third Reich Abused a Cultural Icon New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010. By Peter Paul Fuchs, 32 Research-Scholar of the Supreme Council, Scottish Rite... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2013 at Ppfuchs's blog
I want to share a wonderful lecture and presentation that uses some insights from my Mozart paper, and has some kind words about my effort. One of the best things in scholarship is to have one's insights employed for branches of thought that expand the original idea. I also thought... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2013 at Ppfuchs's blog
Dear Brother, Thank you so much for your kind and fraternal comment! I would highly recommend my own Lodge, the historic Federal Lodge # 1 in Washington, D.C., assuming that you are going to be in the Capital. Also in Virginia there is Alexandria--Washington # 22, which meets at the George Washington Memorial.
A while ago I rather unceremoniously put my article on the Scottish Rite and the American South on this blog. I am happy that the article, which I don't think was given a terribly elegant launch by me here on this very basic blog, will be published by an important... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2012 at Ppfuchs's blog
Many admire how beautiful and conceptually rich The Philalethes has become under the editorship of Shawn Eyer. I am so proud to have an article in the most recent issue. It is beautiful...and the result of serendipity! As I say in the piece, it resulted from a research happenstance, while... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2012 at Ppfuchs's blog
REVIEW NOTICES: Since I have one of my research papers actually posted on this rather unprepossessing blog of mine here, I wanted to help potential readers with some information on critical reviews of my work, from some of the most distinguished venues for scholarship on Freemasonry. I do this simply... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2012 at Ppfuchs's blog
The Russian Tower of Babble In re: "Decoding the Symbols: Did Masonic Psychology Inspire the Oslo Attacks?" on RT TV Cable, with Alex Jones About nine months ago I was on a cruise in Asia, and one of the few stations on our little TV set was, strangely, "RT" which... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2011 at Ppfuchs's blog
Lights and "Light" on Veliko Tarnovo and Freemasonry in Bulgaria By Peter Paul Fuchs, 32 It is striking that sometimes an ancient relic from the past allows some of the most current insight on today’s events. In fact the ancient castle in the old capital of Bulgaria provided the most... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2011 at Ppfuchs's blog
Repost of part of the Enigmatic Code paper. I was recently in Atlanta, and had access to a library collection there in which I came across a very useful citation for this paper. So, I am reposting Section 3 with the new quote added, since I think it offers a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2011 at Ppfuchs's blog
Response to Papenheim, by Peter Paul Fuchs In re: "Albert Pike's and Eugene Goblet d'Alviella's reforms of the Scottish Rite and the theory of religion in the late nineteenth century." by Martin Papenheim. Presented May, 27, 2011 at the Third International Conference on the History of Freemasonry, The George Washington... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2011 at Ppfuchs's blog
Part Six of "Enigmatic Code" --Endnotes: 1. J. G. Randall and David Donald. The Civil War and Reconstruction. Revised Second Edition. Boston: D.C. Heath and Company, 1961, P. 33 2. James Oakes. The Ruling Race: The History of American Slaveholders. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982, p. 138. 3. Frederick Dalcho. [By a South Carolinian] Practical Considerations Founded on the Scripture Relative to the Slave Population in South Carolina. Charleston: A.R. Miller, 1823, p. 30 4.At the most it was mixed inchoately with traditional faiths which were the real underlying belief system: “It is clear that elements of Islam were often mixed with or adapted to forms of traditional African belief.” (Alan J. Raboteau. Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South. Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 5. ) Further, to the extent that some Islamic religious elements were present we should see those as having a “syncretic” relationship with the “slave religions,” a well-understood phenomenon throughout religious history. In such syncretic systems the presence of the more well- known elements does not change the more profound underlying and distinct belief system, in this case the persistence of traditional African belief. (See Juan Sosa. Sectas, Cultos, y Sincretismo. (Collecion Felix Varela) N/p: Ediciones Universal, 1999.) 5. Let me anticipate an objection here, and thus perhaps address one of J. G. Randall’s proverbial “wiseheads” who might want to smother this simple insight in a welter of conditions. The potential objection might be that perhaps in Southern culture, with its penchant for knighthood imagery generally, Dalcho’s identification of the bondmen’s religion with Islam, could itself be seen as related to a conception of Scottish Rite initiates as new- fangled knights in an old-time Templar crusade. Beyond being too clever by half, and missing any real insight into the environment’s conflicts, there is a simpler objection. First, this would be reading nefarious later Southern phenomena into the already sufficiently complicated period that we are considering with plenty of its own contingent historical problems. Second, and more conclusively, the fact that the Templars themselves were often accused of being crypto-Moslems themselves pulls the rug out from under that idea. The charge was not historically true, but still was well -known to history and often widely believed, as conspiratorial beliefs are wont to be for a long time. This hardly would make the Templars great candidates as durable symbol for a new anti-Islam, or anti-black crusade. As Malcolm Barber, in his standard treatment of the subject tells us: The charge was that they had been “infiltrated by Islam” or “corrupted by Islam”. (Malcolm Barber. The Trial of the Templars. Second Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 209, then p. 216.) If anything they are perhaps symbolic of a certain level of freedom-of-belief within the limited confines of medieval belief -structure. And this is precisely how the Scottish Rite has made use of them as a symbol. 6. As evidence of this see the many cited sources in: Larry Tise. Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery in America, 1701-1840. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987. 7. Larry Tise. Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery in America, 1701-1840. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987, p. 149. 8. James Oakes, p. 136. 9. Erskine Clarke. Wrestlin’ Jacob: A Portrait of Religion in the Old South. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1979, p. 88. 10. Erskine Clarke, p. xii 11.Erskine Clarke, p. 162. 12. Erskine Clarke, p. 162. 13.Erskine Clarke, p. 162 14. Erskine Clarke, p. 161 15. Erskine Clarke. All the chapters of Clarke’s book, which treat Charleston, make this point very convincingly and evocatively, and create a striking picture of the religious particularity of the place. 16. Erskine Clarke, p. 103. 17. Erskine Clarke, p. 162. 18. Erskine Clarke, xiv. 19.St. Michael’s Parish Records, 1751-1983. (320.00). South Carolina Historical Society. I would like to thank the very knowledgeable Archivist of the South Carolina Historical Society, Mary Jo Fairchild, for receiving me cordially into the Historical Society’s beautiful library, and engaging with me in an enlightening discussion on the St. Michael’s parish records held in the collection. After speaking with her as Archivist it was my confident assessment that the general concept of dual-worshipping tendency in Charleston generally is strongly supported for St. Michael’s particularly by the documentary evidence of the Society’s collection. 20. Louis P. Nelson. The Beauty of Holiness: Anglicanism and Architecture in Colonial South Carolina. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2008, p. 326. 21. Louis P. Nelson, p. 324. 22. Louis P. Nelson, p. 179. 23. Louis P. Nelson, p. 179. 24. Larry Koger. Black Slaveowners: Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina, 1790-1860. N/p: The University of South Carolina Press, 1985, p. 7 25. Larry Koger, p. 7. 26. Erskine Clarke, p. 98. 27. In the interest of creating a balanced picture of a difficult environment one should also note Erskine Clarke’s observation contrasting plantation punishments to those in Charleston: “In Charleston there was an efficiency and impersonality possible in an urban setting. Owners could send their slaves to the workhouse to be whipped out-of-sight and out-of –hearing [unlike on the plantation], and, to heighten the degradation the slaves would have to carry the instructions for their whipping along with twenty-five cents to cover the charges.” Thus, as we attempt to develop a theory on the paradoxical mindset and intuitions of those for whom one part of their lives was the defense of slavery, the contradictions of which may have been real and sharp, let us do so with full cognizance of the brutal and, for the bondsmen, vastly more contradictory environment. 28. Arturo de Hoyos. “The Union of 1867” Heredom Scottish Rite Research Society Volume 4, 1995, p. 7. 29.Manisha Sinha. The Counter-Revolution of Slavery: Class, Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina. Ph. D. Dissertation. Columbia University, 1994, p. xxv. I think it is interesting and perhaps significant that when this dissertation was published several years later this summation seems to have been edited out, even though it is still supported by the excellent breadth of the argument Sinha pursues. If I may hazard a guess, I think it speaks to the almost fantastical sense of contradiction present in South Carolina at this period, which almost sounds ridiculous or farcical when state baldly. But I am appreciative that in the unpublished dissertation Sinha did state it baldly, because it supports broadly the sense underlying the argument I am making. But by Sinha’s reading of the local culture, I doubt if the sense of some real conflicted ideals emerging authentically, even if paradoxically, would jibe the argument pursued by this scholar. 30. Even in the most anti-Southern treatments of the period, for instance Genovese, the fact that people held contradictory views even when they professed religious or other justifications is not considered intrinsically problematic from the scholarly point of view and certainly not unrealistic. Thus I see absolutely nothing problematic in developing this theory substantially on that basis, as I believe it comports with even the most Southern-critical sources. So we may at once agree with Genovese’s basic point that these contradictions, however they might be construed, were ultimately to find their rationale in at least partially in a form of rather self-serving paternalism. But this does not negate that the phenomena created were not real. To give a more practical and well-known example, the architecture of Charleston continues to be thought beautiful, though it may be seen partially only as a phenomenon of paternalism. It is surely a mistake to negate all phenomena that in some way are related to this paternalism. Such negation would itself be merely propagandistic. 31. I have formulated much of my argument generally in relation to the analysis and masterful synthesis in David Goldfield. Still Fighting the Civil War: the American South and Southern History. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2002. 32.David Goldfield, p. 22 33. David Goldfield, p. 51. 34.David Goldfield, p. 53 35. Randall and Donald, p.43. The quotations are from Frank Owsley 36. Randall and Donald, p. 41 37. James Oakes, p.8 38. James Oakes, p. 16. 39. James Oakes, p. 41. 40. James Oakes, 105. 41. James Oakes. Interview on The Tavis Smiley Show. April 6, 2007. PBS Website. 42. William Fox, The Lodge of the Double Headed Eagle, Little Rock: University of Arkansas Press, 1997. p. 29. 43. James Oakes, p. 197. 44. See James Oakes, Chapter 7. 45. I am basing my argument on James Oakes’ very complex and nuanced description of the paternalist ethos, which he respectfully contrasts with those of Genovese. But I have extended Oakes views here in terms of how these paternalists would have felt about their particular locus, Charleston. 46. William Francis Guess. South Carolina: Annals of Pride and Protest. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957, p. 16. 47. Elizabeth Stone Senning. The Abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia. Unpublished Dissertation. University of Chicago, 1909. , pp. 65-68. Senning is discussing the period from 1801 to Emancipation with her observation on the “experiment station.” (Thanks to the Washingtoniana Division of the Martin Luther King Library, D.C.). 48. See Erskine Clarke. 49. Robert N. Rosen. Confederate Charleston: An Illustrated History of the City and People During the Civil War. N/p: University of South Carolina, 1994, p. 23. Rosen is describing the whole era before the war here. The quote is from George C. Rogers, Jr. 50. It is important to make a fine level of distinction here. We are talking about an elite class of southern patricians in the era before the real ramp-up to the war. 51. We are so used to thinking of the South and Southerners as secessionist, or proto-secessionist, that we badly misunderstand the nature of the most educated class in the South. These paternalists, as Oakes astutely makes clear, were amongst the most educated in whole country, and surely had amongst the most comprehensive personal libraries. So when they were critical of the rest of the country it was not from the archetypal position of Southern put-uponess, but from the condescending position of those with more erudition and (supposed) foresight. It is the simplest deduction then that the center of their activities, Charleston, would have been considered the de facto intellectual Capital. Indeed Charleston had very active and heavily- patronized booksellers compared to many urban place in the country: (Hennig Cohen in his The South Carolina Gazette, 1732-1775. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1957, uses newspaper excerpts to show just how tremendously active the book trade was in Charleston (Chapter, XI) at an earlier period. A similarly useful analysis is lacking for a later period, but since Charleston only became richer and more filled with the educated class we can safely assume that the tendency only increased. “…the degree of appreciation of both contemporary and classical literature was very high indeed…A number of clergymen, public officials and doctors owned notable...libraries,” p. 121) Therefore, what is crucial to grasp is that if they thought of Charleston as the de facto Capital it was for these vaunted intellectual reasons and tendencies , and certainly not for any proto-Confederate tendencies! 52.Larry Tise. Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery in America, 1701-1840. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987, p. 58. (N.B. Dalcho’s publication date of 1823). 53. Frederick Dalcho. “A Sermon” in A Collection of Addresses by South Carolina Masons 1800-1900. Columbia: Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, 1977, p. 5. 54.Jack P. Greene. “’Slavery of Independence’: Some Reflections on the Relationship Among Liberty, Black Bondage, and Equality in Revolutionary South Carolina.” South Carolina Historical Magazine. Charleston: The South Carolina Historical Association. Volume 80, Number 3 (July 1979), p.202. 55. Jack Greene, p. 201. 56. Larry Tise, p. 60. 57. The Denmark Vesey conspiracy was a thwarted massive slave rebellion in 1822, led by the charismatic figure of the same name. It caused great fears in Charleston and around the South generally. 58. Larry Tise, p. 62. 59. Roger D. Abrahams. Singing the Master: The Emergence of African American Culture in the Plantations South. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992, Pp.38-39. 60. William E. Wiethoff. A Peculiar Humanism: the Judicial Advocacy of Slavery in the High Courts of the Old South, 1820-1850. Athens: the University of Georgia Press, 1996, excerpting from pp.14-18. 61. In other words, if the point was not to actually enjoy a vigorous debate, it can only have been to learn lawyerly- type skills of rhetoric in the high- classical manner. 62. Michael O’Brien. Conjectures of Order Set: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1820-1860. Volume Two. N/p: University of North Carolina Press, 2003, p. 424 63.James Oakes. Slavery and Freedom. New York: W.W. Norton, p. 64. 64. Louis P. Nelson, p. 172. 65. Roger D. Abrahams, p. 39. 66. See De Hoyos. 67.Larry Tise. Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery in America, 1701-1840. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987, , pp. 209-211. Tise specifically focuses on the works of Dwight and Morse as exemplary of this trend. 68. Larry Tise, p. 212. 69. James Oakes, p. 207. I do not mean this in any way as a defense or excuse of Dalcho on this point. However, a hermeneutical, perhaps even deconstructionist analysis surely is more revelatory than simple condemnation. 70.Robert N. Rose, p. 23. 71. Larry Tise, p. 271. 72.See De Hoyos, p. 21. 73. See Barry A. Rickman. “Frederick Dalcho, A Man of Accomplishment, A Man of Peace.” In Transactions of the South Carolina Masonic Research Society, 1990. 74. Barry A. Rickman, p. 12. 75. I think we may be justified in speculating further that Dalcho’s departure came from a fear that the controversy over rituals would draw unwanted attention to the radical nature of the Scottish Rite per se, and thus be threatening to his reputation if revealed . It is perhaps also not a coincidence that the same year that he left the Craft because of this controversy, 1823, is also the year that he penned his proslavery tract. This tract may have been a conscious or unconscious attempt to inoculate himself and his reputation against any taint of “Illuminati” radicality should such have seen the light of day. 76. Of the many examples one could adduce, I would bring one close to my heart, Shostakovich in Stalinist Russia. In addition to all his great music, which expresses a deep distance from the oppressive regime, there is also a great quantity of sheer propaganda efforts on his part for movies especially. 77.Ralph E. Weber. “Joel R. Poinsett’s Secret Mexican Dispatch Twenty” the South Carolina Historical Magazine. The South Carolina Historical Society. Vole 75, No. 2, (April, 1974) , p. 70. 78..Ralph E. Weber, p. 73. 79. Ralph Edward Weber. United States Diplomatic Codes and Ciphers, 1775-1938. , p. 203. 80. Ralph Edward Weber, United States Diplomatic Codes, p. 212, note 26. 81. Ralph E. Weber. “Joel Poinsett’s…” p. 70. 82.Lester D. Langley. The American in the Age of Revolution, 1750-1850. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996, p. 242. 83. George Anthony Hruneni, Jr. Palmetto Yankee: The Public Life of Joel Robert Poinsett, 1824-1851. Unpublished Ph. D. Dissertation. University of California, Santa Barbara, June, 1972, p. 146. Hruneni actually devotes most of a substantial chapter to discussing the Masonic aspect of Poinsett’s involvement, which makes his conclusive statement all the more convincing, to my mind. 84.G.E. Maningault. A Biographical Sketch of the Hon. Joel R. Poinsett of South Carolina. Charleston: W.G. Brown, 1851. p.389. 85. Fred Rippy. Joel Poinsett, Versatile American. Durham: Duke University press, 1935, p. 65. 86. Fred Rippy, p. 218. 87. July 30, 1825: “From Isaac Auld, Edisto Island, near Charleston, South Carolina. Requests that a letter be forwarded to Joel R. Poinsett, asking him to send exotic or valuable seeds…. Auld was a Charleston physician and one of the founders of the Supreme Council, mother Council of the World, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.” The Papers of Henry Clay. Volume Four. Secretary of State. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1972, p. 563. 88. William Fox, 1972, p. 27. 89. Frederick Dalcho. An Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Charleston: E. Thayer, 1820, p. 417, Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2011 at Ppfuchs's blog
Part 5 of "Enigmatic Code": Speculative Epilogue: The Possible Link between the Scottish Rite’s “Southern” Code and the Specific Code Used by Joel Poinsett Because the logic describing the distance of the Scottish Rite’s intrinsic philosophy and the highly conflicted culture at Charleston is so strong, an ambit for further... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2011 at Ppfuchs's blog
Part 4 of "Enigmatic Code": Conclusion: Elements of the Southern Code and the Ritual Expression of the Scottish Rite It is well to remember the observation of the James Oakes with which we began this investigation, that, “[r]acism and the gospel of prosperity fused to form the prevailing ideology of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2011 at Ppfuchs's blog
Part 3 of "Enigmatic Code": The Pressure for Code, The Cultural Amplitude of the South We have seen that Charleston, as the birthplace of the Scottish Rite’s Mother Council had special characteristics. But it is obvious that these peculiarities only have significance in terms of the cultural amplitude of the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2011 at Ppfuchs's blog
Part 2 of "Enigmatic Code": The Cultural Locus of the Scottish Rite’s Mother Council: Charleston “Capital of the South” There are very strong reasons for assuming that the initial, salient characteristics of the Scottish Rite’s Mother Council were closely tied to the place of its birth, Charleston. While much scholarship has dwelled on the great commercial efflorescence that Charleston represented in the South, it has been less noticed what an intensely religious place it was. In fact, “Charleston was clearly a city full of churches.”/9 Unlike many places in the Country generally, and perhaps in the South in particular, where one might encounter day-to-day uneducated crudeness, Charleston was distinctly otherwise: “Charleston claimed to be the “Capital of the South” It was a sophisticated and cosmopolitan city, proud of its past and careful of its honor… its pulpits were supplied by…distinguished ministers. They had been educated at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, at the University of Edinburgh and Berlin. They traveled extensively in this country and abroad and carried on a voluminous correspondence with influential friends in America and Europe, and wrote scholarly books…. These ministers were clearly leaders of the church in South…No other city in the South … could match the distinctions or cosmopolitan perspectives of these Charleston pastors….”/10 With such worldliness and erudition we should not be surprised that even in the conservative environment of the South that many of these men followed the archetypal trajectory from youthful liberalism to elder conservatism. As a cultural matter there is evidence that Charleston as a locus somehow encouraged these people as young men to in fact have liberal attitudes in opposing slavery. One minister as a young man felt that slavery was, “a violation of all the laws of God and man at once. A complete annihilation of justice. An inhuman abuse of power.”/11 And it certainly says a lot generally about Charleston as a place in the whole pre-Civil war era that, “[a] number of the cosmopolitan ministers in Charleston shared similar views as young men”/12 Of course it is sad to relate, but not surprising historically, that the typical trajectory seems to have included later that they, “became staunch pro-slavery advocates.”/13 Still having had this youthful viewpoint likely affected them in some way. In fact, it is crucial to see that these religious men, because of their very religiousness conceived themselves as having a different political view, even in their support of slavery: “Because they were convinced of the brevity of this earthly life and its relative insignificance beside the eternal, and because they emphasized the duties of both masters and slaves, these white preachers thought of themselves as moderates. Strange as it seems in light of their support of slavery, they considered themselves to be standing between extremes in regard to the black slaves of the South.”/14 [emphasis added] There seems to be good reason to assume that the culture of Charleston produced a paradoxical nature in many, especially in its ministers. And since these ministers were regularly sharing their world-view with the parishioners, it seems likely that to some extent this sense of meeting between extremes rubbed off in general in the local culture. This sense of things will become important in our argument, but at this point we should always keep in mind that what produced this sense of meeting between extremes was actually very tragic circumstances. Though Charleston was known as a place where a significant number of free blacks lived, and where there was a gradually developing desire and systematic attempt to educated bondsmen in Christianity,/15 the whole background was sorrowful. “The primary difficulty which these white Southerners faced [which we might take as a tragically archetypal example] was exemplified by the very location of their meeting place. They had gathered on Chalmers Street to discuss how to convert and nurture black people in the Christian faith. Yet on that very street…black men and women, boys and girls, were being bought and sold…A family of 5, field Negroes consisting of 2 able Women, a likely girls, 10 and 14 years old, and a likely boy 12 years old.”/16 It seems the only way to really understand the existential anxiety at the heart of these ministers’ sense of being “moderates” and “standing between extremes” is by keeping the tragic contradictions like the foregoing closely in mind. It is likewise important to see that this sense which pushed them to argue in sermons and in print for better treatment of the bondsmen, likely produced only more anxiety for them because their efforts which, “were hollow because they [the ministers] had little power in the face of a powerful economic and social system.”/17 This feeling of powerlessness, amidst their doubtless concomitant feeling of influence and prestige as ministers, is significant background for any exploration of cultural phenomena relating towards religion in the period. One surely does not suggest that, whatever their personal sufferings, they were in any way comparable to the sufferings of the bondsmen,. But still they relate a telling and perhaps little understood cultural tale. This may be one of the variety of reasons why Charleston had another peculiar characteristic. Unlike Richmond or Savannah, in Charleston, “large numbers of blacks and whites worshipped together, whites accepted blacks in ways that would be unheard of in the later segregated South.”/18 Surely we are justified in seeing in this fact alone a great canvas on which some very contradictory feelings could be painted, on both sides of the racial divide, much more than would have occurred in other spots without this dual- worshipping tendency. Further we may, with sure justification, focus on Frederick Dalcho as representative in this regard because his parish, the famous St. Michael’s Church in Charleston shows evidence of this phenomenon. In fact, the records of St. Michael’s parish, kept by the South Carolina Historical Society, allow us to see Dalcho’s parish as a particular evocative example of this dual-worshipping tendency./19 In fact, specifically in the Anglican context, St. Michael’s is a strong example even from colonial times of this very tendency. “At St. Michael’s …[e]nslaved Africans, many present to attend elite white families, occupied the aisles and the floor of the belfry through most of the [eighteenth] century. Many others gathered outside [St. Michael’s] to resist authority structures through disruption.”/20 But from the start these “authority structures” at St. Michael’s would not have conveyed a completely anxiety-easing sense based on clear color-lines or color-barriers. For, “poor whites competed with slaves for seats in the aisles.” during services at St. Michael’s. /21 In addition it would be wrong to believe that the bondsmen were consigned to a mere spectator position. Generally in the churches of Charleston, “approximately one-third of those surrounding the communion table were black.”/22 Therefore, truly we are amply justified as seeing this dual-worshipping tendency as not only as a cultural particularity of Charleston, but as a powerful phenomenon which would have shaped the psychological identities of all persons, black and white, who participated in it. As an astute scholar has said, as if to sum up the whole matter, “South Carolina’s slaves occupied these [church] spaces, participated in worship, and shaped the experiences of their white masters in distinctive ways.”/23 So when we assess Frederick Dalcho’s experience in the paradoxical nature of this place, we do so with heightened sense that the complexity attendant to it already had a very long and powerful history. But all of this is set against the much more widely understood and famous fact that Charleston had more free blacks in the local community than other spots in the South. The peculiarity that some of these free black were themselves slaveholders seems to be sometimes used to suggest or imply that such would have been a moral anxiety-reliever for white slave holders. On this reading, if free blacks participated in human bondage, a conscience- relieving sense of moral equivalence might be imputed for some whites even if not made explicit. But this is countered by the fact that it was well- understood that many free-blacks held slaves who were family members, and thus it served an extremely different purpose for them as a potential form of familial protection./24 This fact had to have been well -known by the white slave-holding populace, who saw in this de facto form of family- protection a very practical and obvious purpose. “Free black slave masters served a useful purpose to the white community, “/25 in that it made the whole black community less susceptible to revolt. So in fact it is not the phenomenon of free-blacks per se so much that would have created a conflicted atmosphere in Charleston, but the more peculiar facet of the practical freedom given to those who were still enslaved. Indeed, much less well grasped is the fact that even those who were bondsmen in Charleston were granted much more independence day-to-day that in other places of the slave-holding South. Erskine Clarke paints one of his best pictures of a hard to summarize or imagine phenomenon –of- place in the past and uses particular examples to expertly do so: “The daily life of the Charleston slave…was quite different from the plantation slave…Caroline, who was selling potato-pone at the bathing house on the Battery, was one of the many Charleston slaves whose owners found it more profitable or convenient for them to earn wages [outside the home] than work as domestic servants. Such an arrangement permitted not only slave vendors such as Caroline, but also slave hirelings engaged in a wide variety of tasks. While the system provided some economic flexibility to urban slavery, it also permitted a greater degree of freedom for the slave and loosed the control of the master….”/26 Though these unusual freedoms for bondsmen were certainly countered by brutal punishments if they overstepped then-acceptable modes of behavior/27 , still it clearly must have created a unique environment, which couldn’t help raise certain contradictions in the minds of whites. In other words, to a degree unknown in the rest of the South whites interacted with black in places of worship and in the public square. This oddness of the Charleston environment was therefore surely rich in unspoken anxieties. This is so even if the whole scene could broadly be characterized as hegemeonic. This fact must be factored - in with any consideration of the religious or ritual tendencies of the environment. So preliminarily we can summarize these issues with our previous observation in the foregoing matter. The Mother Council of the Scottish Rite’s founding in Charleston would have happened in precisely this sort of paradoxical and contradictory environment. We should read the fact that the founders of the Rite developed Freemasonry even more in the direction of freedom of belief, not simply as a discrete, unconnected fact of Masonic history, but as a cultural phenomenon. The question is where did it come from? We should recall that some of the initial developments of Scottish Rite degrees were met with incomprehension by more established Masonic authorities, and were rejected as simply not pertaining to the Craft at all: “In 1802, when the first ‘Supreme Council of the 33rd’ at Charleston South, Carolina announced its existence by issuing its now famous Circular, the Grand Lodge of Scotland was overwhelmed by its multiplicity of degrees, and initially considered it to have been prepared in the ‘spirit of the Illuminati’ [and] ‘sufficient reason for drawing down the contempt of Scottish Masons.’”/28 As in so many cases in intellectual or artistic history, it is the words of those who oppose that often tell the most piquant truth. For indeed if the initial degrees that existed in the Mother Council in Charleston were such that they brought to mind the notions of radical and even extreme human equality, and rights of individuals against oppressive systems, both of which the “Illuminati” surely symbolized, then that tells us culturally something of great relevance. It means that we are justified in seeing in these degrees, as they existed then, a radical vision, which may indeed have contradicted profoundly their local environment. So in creating the Mother Council they must have had a sense that they were creating something new, something akin to further steps in a direction of human freedom. Since records on the period are limited, and even some were destroyed by fire, we are justified in taking a wider view of the cultural etiology of the founding. On the most basic level we can certainly see the curious tendencies of Charleston as a place in the South as highly influential on this etiology. The close proximity in which whites lived with blacks in the city could only on some level have created some doubts about the justification of the whole system by traditional orthodox Christianity. It is not a huge jump to see the de-centralization of religious beliefs in the Mother Council’s degrees as essentially or intrinsically counter-cultural in this environment. My contention is that the conceptual facts speak for themselves as a unique evidence which emerged in an extremely unlikely environment. We miss the radicality of the Scottish Rite’s degrees if ignore the profound universal sense of human equality embodied in the religious pluralism these rituals enshrine. Indeed, even set against the notions of equality embodied in Jeffersonian ideals coming from the founding of the country, the Scottish Rite’s ideals reach an extreme noble height of religious inclusiveness. But when we go from that universal sense to the particularity of the rituals of the Scottish Rite’s Mother Council having been given foundation in Charleston, this scenario reaches a level of almost prima facie grandiloquent contradiction. One very candid and unflinching analyst of the slave-holding South’s conundrums has summed-up this whole matter for South Carolina particularly in contradistinction to other States. This sense reaches back to the founding ideology of the country with a finality very useful for the argument pursued here: “The problem of South Carolina clearly had roots in the eighteenth century. Unlike some in the Virginia squirarchy, Carolinian planter-politicians never had patience with the egalitarian side of revolutionary ideology.” /29 [emphasis added] But this conclusive summation only sets in sharper relief the significant and telling fact that the radical vision of the Scottish Rite, having been connected to the politically dangerous egalitarianism of the Illuminati, was in fact founded in South Carolina! Again, I believe this allows for an almost prima facie assumption of profound feeling of contradiction for the cultural participants. Of course to ground this insight we must have a broader sense of the general mindset of people like these, which will be developed in the next section. Yet the foregoing surely preliminarily allows us to see that the basic point that the Scottish Rite’s doctrines were theoretically, if not actually (in terms of the outward social actions of individuals),/30 opposed to the prevailing system of bondage. Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2011 at Ppfuchs's blog
Fraternal Study Number One: (comments, of course, are welcome) This paper will be posted in several parts, as well as the endnotes, due to apparent space limitation of this host site. Part 1: The Enigmatic “Code” of the American South and the Cultural Genesis of the Scottish Rite’s Mother Council... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2011 at Ppfuchs's blog
FRATERNAL STUDIES: "Forthright Scholarship; No Conspiracies." Incipient Mission Statement: This new enterprise is devoted to filling a surprising gap online; and providing a seeming missing link in cultural studies and the social sciences online. The History of Fraternalism and Fraternal Organizations has played a very critical role in Western Culture... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2011 at Ppfuchs's blog
FRATERNAL STUDIES: "Forthright Scholarship; No Conspiracies." Incipient Mission Statement: This new enterprise is devoted to filling a surprising gap online; and providing a seeming missing link in cultural studies and the social sciences online. The History of Fraternalism and Fraternal Organizations has played a very critical role in Western Culture... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2011 at Ppfuchs's blog
A charming blog called "Beobachtung des Unsichtbaren" run by Thorsten Wiesman recently posted my Mozart article. I wrote some reflections, which I tried to post as well. But due to the length, er, my long-windedness, I couldn't post them. Either that or my lack of computer skills is messing up... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2011 at Ppfuchs's blog
Thanks for a very strong reflection. Though I am no fan of the Catholic Church at this point myself, I agree strongly also that it has "many strengths". But I ask you therefore to consider one difficulty with your lay-out of ideas here, Of course, your personal reasons for your decisions are beyond criticism, and what is more they make perfect sense to me anyways. In fact I think the world would be better off, and the Catholic Church particularly , if more people thought as you do, and acted on it. The hard point is that basically what "strengths" there are in the Church at this point comes from its simple massiveness. There are so many Catholics, and so much of the Church, period, that there are bound to be healthful and fine corners of it. It sounds like you found one at Cornell, and of course there are many others. But the proper position, from my point of view, for any person with intelligence and wit enough to address such things, which naturally as a Cornell professor you have, is a deeper need. Namely, to use the interior knowledge of the Church to help society deal with the true damage the Church inflicts in the world. I am not suggesting that you have to follow anyone's example on this matter, but that in some way, you have to articulate what you already know. Namely that it is a harmful organization overall. And the corollary is that those who evade that identification are complicit with it. The extent of that complicity we leave to God's judgment. But by any moral coherence in modern terms, this Church is a simple peril for many.
Vacation Obiter Dicta: A Day from Hell: Guided Tour to Hanoi Well, I have described the general great success of our recent Asian trip, even with a few ups and downs. The time has come to lay bare the low point, by way of salutary warning to others. Smart people... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2010 at Ppfuchs's blog
What I Reaped from Siem Reap: The Limits of Aesthetics Having been to many spots with great monuments in the world, Egypt and India come to mind, one can't help but feel that the quite elite distinction between Travel and Tourism has quite long ago been completely and irrevocably effaced.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2010 at Ppfuchs's blog
The Aesthetics of A Month in Asia Believe me, after you fly six hours from Singapore to Tokyo, and then change to another flight of thirteen hours from Tokyo to Washington D.C. one of the chief aesthetic questions in mind is was it worth it? We had a marvelous trip... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2010 at Ppfuchs's blog