You were secretary to Yeats in 1913 and 1914. What sort of thing did you do for him?
Mostly reading aloud. Doughty’s Dawn in Britain and so on.
And wrangling – you see.
The Irish like contradiction.
He tried to learn fencing at forty-five – which was amusing.
He would thrash around with the foils like a whale.
He sometimes gave the impression of being even a worse idiot than I am.
There is an academic controversy about your influence on Yeats.
Did you work over his poetry with him?
Did you cut any of his poems in the way you cut The Waste Land?
I don’t think I can remember anything like that.
I am sure I objected to particular expressions.
Once out at Rapallo I tried for God’s sake to prevent him from printing a thing.
I told him it was rubbish.
All he did was print it with a preface saying that I said it was rubbish.
(ed:..and how current does the following feel.?..)
Can an instrument which is orderly be used to create disorder? Suppose good language is used to forward bad government? Doesn’t bad government make bad language?
Yes – but bad language is bound to make in addition bad government – whereas good language is not bound to make bad government.
That again is clear Confucius: if the orders aren’t clear they can’t be carried out.
Lloyd George’s laws were such a mess the lawyers never knew what they meant.
And Talleyrand proclaimed that they changed the meaning of words between one conference and another.
The means of communication breaks down and that of course is what we are suffering now.
We are enduring the drive to work on the subconscious without appealing to the reason.
They repeat a trade name with the music a few times and then repeat the music without it so that the music will give you the name.
I think of the assault.
We suffer from the use of language to conceal thought and to withhold all vital and direct answers.
There is the definite use of propaganda – forensic language – merely to conceal and mislead.
Where do ignorance and innocence end and the chicanery begin?
There is natural ignorance and there is artificial ignorance.
I should say at the present moment the artificial ignorance is about eighty-five per cent.
(ed:: that is a defining modern equation: ‘trumpism = 85% artificial ignorance..)
When you were arrested by the Americans did you then expect to be convicted?
To be hanged?
At first I puzzled over having missed a cog somewhere.
I expected to turn myself in and to be asked about what I learned.
I did and I wasn’t.
I know that I checked myself on several occasions during the broadcasts – on reflecting that it was not up to me to do certain things or to take service with a foreign country.
Oh – it was paranoia to think one could argue against the usurpations against the folks who got the war started to get America into it.
Yet I hate the idea of obedience to something which is wrong.
Then later I was driven into the courtyard at Chiavari.
They had been shooting them and I thought I was finished then and there.
Then finally a guy came in and said he was damned if he would hand me over to the Americans unless I wanted to be handed over to them.