Sunday, January 3, 2010

Arthur Koestler

“Darkness at Noon”, Arthur Koestler's book on the Stalinist coercion, changed my father's life. After he read it in the late 40's, he broke with the communist party in which he, a fervent anti-fascist, had seen the promise of a new beginning after World War II. I was only six or seven then, but I understood that Arthur Koestler was someone to be respected. Only much later I've learned that my father's hero was an assh... well, he was repugnant. He bullied and raped women, refused to meet his illegitimate daughter, beat his wives (one of which committed suicide). When he was drunk he threw chairs in restaurants and started fights with bystanders. It was easy for him to change his opinions, because the only thing he believed in was his supreme intelligence My father knew and understood that Koestler became a fierce anti-communist, but had no idea that he was paid by the C.I.A. He was a Hungarian jew, but refused any public support for either the Hungarian uprising of 1956 or Israel in the 1967 war. His often demonstrated concern about "humanity" was a thin disguise of his general contempt of humans. Understandably he was contemptuous even of himself. He realized that he was "admired for my brains and detested for my character."


  1. Excellent summary. Koestler's case shows how dangerous comprehension can be. People who understand "too much" often die because they commit suicide. Or they become pessimistic fatalists noticing anywhere only the negative, refusing any preference for any social systhem. Or they become cynic, opportunistic and aggressive like Koestler. It is hard to put up with awareness.
    People like this you will find always where a deep comprehension of reality is flourishing, they are part of a more common destiny and burden.

  2. Talking about "heroes" is always a difficult thing, because we only learn about them what the media say and present about them. It is always better to form an own objective oppinion about things, situations and people.

  3. None of these atrocities are listed in Wiki. But read Koestlers curriculum vitae! How many adventures in his life are being reported, meetings with many VIP-assh… of the world and even a veritable cliffhanger (he was convicted for death penalty). Sometimes life experience changes character. But – according to Michaels report - Koestler was that repugnant from the beginning. So, how did you get all this information? Your father must have known Koestler privately……?

  4. Bruno Bettelheim was a survivor of Auschwitz. After 1968 a lot of things had to undergo a process of disenchantment; among these were fairy tales. Bruno Bettelheim surprisingly was one of the few defenders of traditional fairy tales ("Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales") and I kept him in great consideration for his statements.

    But a terrible shadow appeared when after Bettelheim's death by former patients were expressed reproaches of violence and even child abuse.

    "All that glitters isn't always gold"