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Friday, 24 June 2016

The Literary Vanguard — Interview with David Yorkshire of Mjolnir Magazine

by Dorin Alexandru, contributing to Ocean Drive

The Body of Elaine on Its Way to King Arthur's Palace
The Body of Elaine on Its Way to King Arthur's Palace, Gustave Doré, 1867

On the threshold of the cultural struggle there exists the hammer that is Mjolnir. Now if you haven't heard about Mjolnir, you haven't been very active in keeping up with the Right. Mjolnir is the pet project literary magazine of David Yorkshire, self-described as "the first step in the cultural fightback against the tidal wave of leftist propaganda" — and a big step indeed.

The magazine is centered on the four key precepts of: Tradition, Eurocentrism, Elitism, and Illiberalism. It's blooming success and presence over the last couple years is evidence of a very polished and stimulating publication. Luckily, we were able to contact David to have a brief discussion about his beliefs and the future of Mjolnir.

I'd like to get this going by saying welcome to CEC David and that your presence is invaluable here on our little website in the great white North. So let's begin where it all started: How did you arrive to conceiving Mjolnir, was it something that always existed in your mind for you or did it bloom from past experience/interest?

David Yorkshire (DY): Having had poetry published in the past and read literary magazines, it became quite clear to me some fifteen years ago that there were certain moral restrictions around the writing the editors favoured. I used to subscribe to Writers' Forum, a print magazine in the pre- to early internet era, which at that time was patronised (or should that be matronised?) by fat Scottish lesbian Carol Anne Duffy, the current Poet Laureate, a position she received because, needless to say, she stands against the tradition that has gone before. Her work is therefore deconstructive of prior values, those that are based on Nature: inequality and hierarchy, particularly in relation to sexual and racial difference, but also uses post-Marxian and post-Freudian deconstructive theory in relation to social values like law and order, interactions between people and institutional structures. Her poetry is also on the school curriculum in Britain and she has received a damehood from the Queen and is therefore very much an establishment darling.

Duffy is representative of those in the mainstream arts in general now and I felt that a challenge to the current order was necessary. I felt certain that I was not the only one who felt this way, but looking around, I could see no vehicle outside of the internet to carry an artistic movement, so I decided to create one. It was important to me to create a print magazine, as opposed to a website, because print will always have more prestige and permanence.

Now that you've undoubtedly passed through some of the hurdles that come with starting a literary magazine and are on your way to a fourth and fifth issue, in hindsight what are some of the major initial challenges you had to overcome?

DY: Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong! I used to joke that we had been cursed by a synagogue full of disgruntled rabbis! The most difficult part was advertising it though — getting it into the public eye. Luckily, the first person to get on board right from the outset was Nick Walsh, who is treasurer of the National Front. He's also become a good friend of mine and is one of the wisest people I know — quite different to how the British press like to portray the NF, as uncultured idiots and mindless thugs. He could therefore sell the magazine at meetings and has taken over the burden of much of the administration — which has been a blessing. I've also been very grateful to people like Greg Johnson, Colin Liddell and Kevin MacDonald, who have helped to advertise it on the Counter Currents, Alternative Right and Occidental Observer websites. Jez Turner of the London Forum and the people at Candour Magazine have also been a great help and it really took off when the (in)famous artist Charles Krafft got on board for Issue II.

At the turn of the 20th century literary magazines and journals were part and parcel of right-leaning European political movements, what do you think happened to this presence and what do you hope to retrieve with Mjolnir within the political atmosphere of today?

DY: In continental Europe, that is certainly true, but in Britain, right-leaning magazines were in decline by then and one has to go further back to the nineteenth century when such magazines were in their heyday. Here I speak of High Tory magazines like The Quarterly Review, Blackwood's Magazine and (initially) Fraser's Magazine that were founded to combat Whig influence on the literary scene. The ones founded later that were associated with Charles Dickens like Household Words, All the Year Round and Bentley's Miscellany not only continued the tradition, but really brought it into the mainstream, shaping the values of high Victorianism, even if those values were often broken by mean Whig mercantilism, which was heavily criticised or satirised in the works of Dickens, Gaskell and Thackeray.

Twentieth century arts magazines like Blast were counter-cultural from all sides of the political spectrum, regardless of its two instigators' later forays into and flirtations with fascism. Mjolnir, in contrast, is like the aforementioned Tory magazines in its explicitly right-wing ideology and appeal to a wider audience. Blast had no direct impact on the mainstream whatsoever in its own time, what few sales there were going to artists and intellectuals — although many of these people would go on to shape culture. Having said that, Mjolnir is also the successor to Blast in its more radical approach to the arts than the Tory magazines. I do not consider it a coincidence that the first issue came together on the centenary of Blast's launch, nor that Dragoš Kalajić daughter sent us his paintings for use in the first edition. Kalajić of course was personally mentored by Ezra Pound. When I began the magazine, I always said that I envisaged it as an odd cross between Household Words, Blast and Oz!

I don't think I was too far away! Right-wing journals and magazines have rather shared the same fate as Right-wing politics. They have come under moral pressure to moderate their stances and have folded accordingly. Most have ceased publication. The furthest Right in print now is probably The Salisbury Review, which is very tame and is not primarily concerned with the arts. With Mjolnir, there is a real radicalism that has not been seen in a long time and I know that groups like Searchlight and Hope Not Hate are deeply concerned by it — which is nice.

You've spoken a lot about metapolitics and the significance of a cultural struggle for the reinvigoration of European identity. Tell us a little bit more about your understanding of what literature's place is in that struggle.

DY: Benjamin Disraeli once said that literary fiction offered the best chance of influencing public opinion. As someone who straddled both politics and literature, he knew what he was talking about. Of course, times have changed since the nineteenth century and our enemies know only too well that television and cinema are the two most effective ways of indoctrinating the masses into leftist thought. We do not have their vast wealth at our disposal to create things of that scope just yet. Yet the Harry Potter phenomenon was interesting because the books were as well-read as the films were viewed in an age when we are told no one reads anymore. Even many adults read the books.

It just shows that if writers get things right, the readership will be receptive to the texts and to the ideas imprinted thereon. What Rowling does is use the themes, tropes and motifs of traditionally Rightist literary forms like mediæval romance and fantasy and yet create a narrative that deconstructs the traditional morality of those genres. The caricaturising of Slytherin House at Hogwarts School is a direct attack on aristocratic and racialist ideas. With Tolkien, of course, one gets the reification of those values, which is why there is often talk of bowdlerising Lord of the Rings — particularly about expurgating the explicit racialism near the end. Lord of the Rings is one of the best-selling works of fiction ever, so people are still receptive to those ideas, which is food for thought. I have spoken about just a couple of genres here, but an underlying morality can be imprinted on any genre of text and I try to publish as wide a range of styles and genres as possible.

It is my hope that writers will recur in the magazine, especially short story writers, as the short story is where writers cut their teeth before going on to write novels. I can then ship them on to the Right's publishing houses like Arktos, Ostara and Counter Currents, the editors of those houses being thus already familiar with the writers' work and knowing that the writers have an audience.

I'm going to have to ask as a student of literature myself, which poets have a near and dear place in your heart?

DY: I particularly like poets that can affect the emotions in ways that go beyond the personal, that transcend one man's immediate struggle and juxtapose it with higher purpose and meaning. In that we touch upon the Divine. Indeed, it is the greater poet's task to act as intermediary between the Earthly and the Divine, to bring back the Divine Truth of the Gods and relate it to men. Homer could do it, and more latterly Tennyson and Goethe. These poets are great technicians too; James Joyce sneered at Tennyson for his technical ability, yet ironically, what are Joyce's later works, but technical experiments without a poet's soul? The measure of great art is in marrying Truth to a technique that will convey that Truth through aesthetics to its audience in such a way that the audience is awestricken. It is the sublime moment when we realise we are confronted with the Divine. Idylls of the King for me is the great English epic and is filled with such moments.

Idylls of the King
Equally, two of my great personal influences are Ted Hughes and T.E. Hulme. As a fellow Yorkshireman whose grandmother was actually at school with Hughes, I was introduced to Hughes' work at an early age and his Nature poetry is extremely powerful and, strangely, given Hughes' liberalism, very Rightist. I gave a speech about him at the Yorkshire Forum, which is available on Youtube. Hulme created the imagist movement in which poetry is distilled and condensed into its most concise form, which concentrates and thus intensifies its power. Coming from the milieu that included Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound, one can see his profound effect on Lewis' later Vorticist movement.

I can imagine the planning and organization behind such an endeavor, but David, are there projects (ongoing or planned) beyond Mjolnir or, for the foreseeable future, do you plan on dedicating yourself entirely to the magazine?

DY: Mjolnir takes up an awful lot of my time — I often get behind with e-mails, so apologies to people still waiting. That said, I do have plans for future endeavours as Mjolnir becomes more routine. The more often one does something, the faster it goes. In the short term (with a launch probably around September), I'm planning to create short films to be uploaded onto Youtube on a regular basis, exploring artistic, cultural and philosophical themes or texts, treated academically, but yet made accessible to ordinary people. This should educate and arm nationalists for public debate against university-miseducated Leftists. The aim is not to win over the SJWs (an impossible task), but to demonstrate to the thinking element of the public that we are the ones who are cultured and knowledgeable and thus win them over. In the long term, I would like to put on an annual festival for the Eurocentic illiberal arts, with theatre plays, music performances, exhibitions and workshops. This of course is entirely dependent on funding and I don't like asking for donations. I merely ask that people buy copies of the magazine and thus they get a return on their expenditure.

Since every issue is centered on a specific idea, what are some further themes you'd like to explore in future issues?

DY: The themes I take is a bit of a trick really. I wait to see what kind of material I get submitted before I decide on a theme, which I then make broad enough to encompass as much of the material as possible that I have received. I then ask other more experienced writers and artists to add work based on that theme. Therefore the themes of future issues will always be determined by the themes found within successful submissions.

From my understanding, one of the greatest difficulties a literary magazine struggles with is that there is no guarantee on the quality of work submitted. From your close experience with submissions, are you hopeful about the kind of talent that is circulating within the Right?

DY: I'm certainly hopeful and have good reason to be. The quality of work submitted has, on the whole, been higher than I expected. The bulk, for one reason or another, has of course not quite made the grade, but at least the majority of writers know what they're doing. I think the introduction and guidelines on the website have discouraged the people that think that just anyone can write or paint, which was deliberate on my part. At the moment, I'm still getting plenty of usable submissions and the release of issues is speeding up rather than slowing down.

What are some key aspects you look for in the creative work that is submitted to you?

DY: First and foremost, it has to be outstanding, meaning both excellent and that it stands out. The relevant ideology is a given, of course, but takes the form of assumptions before a text is even conceived. Therefore the ideology is always in the background rather than the foreground. That's the difference between art and propaganda. Traditionally, the Right has always had its art and the Left its propaganda, because politics always comes first for the Leftist and we have seen the total politicisation of all aspects of life since the Left took control; whereas the Right has always been the custodians of culture. With regard to theme, anything goes in Mjolnir, but I tend to reject most work that focuses too much on negativity. Mjolnir is a hammer we are using to temper the Western psyche as a newly forged sword from the broken shards of the old.

If you could say a few words to any struggling writer or artist in the Right, who is having a hard time practicing their craft in a culture that is antithetical to their values, what would they be?

DY: The first is that we are here for them. They now have places to go to where they can get public recognition. Another option is to play the Left's own game of subversion and irony, but to turn it back against them, as Charles Krafft once did before he was outed. They could of course subserve themselves to the Left and play the game of creating anti-art that deconstructs their own culture — and there will indeed be fame and fortune in that, at least for now — but a true artist would never be able to look himself in the mirror and his soul would wither and die. What we can offer artists and writers instead is something special: the chance to actually participate in the creation of a new culture that is part of a continuum of the European tradition, but reconfigured for the contemporary age. Fame and fortune will invariably follow when our values are triumphant and Europe and its extensions in the Americas, South Africa and Australasia saved. As the pioneers of the European cultural renaissance, they will be celebrated and immortalised by future generations. Such opportunities do not come along very often.

Visit Mjolnir Magazine.

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