This is the very final chapter draft for the Pavement Books collection on Cultures of Repair, which looks set to be an eclectic anthology, having seen a draft contents page.
The main changes on the last round of editorial agonism involved removing the following sections from the conclusion:
The national socialist form of longing in the 1930s, during a moment devastated by economic collapse – actually centred on the home as well as German folk culture and heritage, in its particular form of longing. Home assumes a privatised space, rather than a public one. It is also a yearning for somewhere or something which is absent, formulated in the interior landscape of the individual and collective subject. This is ‘repairing-to.’
The ‘volkish’ spirit raised by German national socialism shared some of its stances with Morris and Ruskin’s forms of looking back, stances Bonnett re-appraises: ‘For many years, William Morris’s exhortation to ‘cling to the love of the past and the love of the day to be’ has curled many a radical toe. It has been cast as an embarrassing relic of the incoherent and immature naivety of early British radicalism.’
It still curls my toes because the days of the past and those to come are still a locked-out public life, in the context of a most urgent crisis. Eric Gill’s commune incubated desires for romanticised ways of life which still spring uncritically from the collective unconscious:
‘Eric Gill, settled in 1920 with his commune at another monastery in the vale, Capel-y-Ffin. There they ‘bathed naked in the pools … and smelled a world untouched by men of business’…’
What Gill’s commune also engaged with were paedophilia, incest and bestiality. Mobilising disgust at Gill’s form of libido is pointless, and sensationalist, but the human fall-out is ethically great, when the world outside does not operate that way. Sinclair also skirts around the issues (2001) romanticising the Gill commune at Capel-Y-Ffin by abstracting it, although he highlights the potential dangers of ‘utopian’, sealed-off communalities, which Bauman also discusses.
This is what Sennett calls ‘destructive gemeinschaft’, negative community. Again, the national socialist form of longing in the 1930s was also a yearning for somewhere or something which was absent, formulated in the interior landscape of the collective subject. These longings were not just restricted to Germany, they saturated fin-de-siécle Europe, Britain included. We have just passed through another millennium. Moments of economic collapse are especially dangerous, as they open doors for negative nostalgias, and we are in such a moment now.
The editor thought that these points introduced too many new examples during the conclusion, and that they risked being a little too foreboding and sinister. I am still not sure I agree, although their removal does make for a neater, tighter chapter, at just over 6,000 words: I still hold to the big points I made here.