ideas during the first half of the century,nBloomsbury’s defenders fume impatiently,narguing that a small group ofnprivate individuals who never soughtnpublic office could hardly be termed anconspiracy. The truth lies in between.nrSloomsbury liked to think of itself asna small enclave of culture in the midst ofnboors and barbarians, a gnostic group ofnunconventional people who were farnahead of their time. In feet, they were asnmuch creatures of their time as anyonencould be. Before the British Empirencollapsed, the British spirit had alreadyndone so. Without the moral and historicalnsense which the older generationsnhad taken for granted, the young begannto cringe before the confident, public,nduty-oriented Edwardians. As historiannPaul Johnson notes in hisModem Times,nthe new spirit was epitomized in thensecret, elite society at CambridgenUniversity known as the Apostles, whonwere diffident, retiring, unaggressive,nagnostic, and critical of grandiosenschemes; more concerned with personalnthan public duties, they cultivatednintrospection and friendship. Itsnphilosophy came from G. E. Moore’snPrinctpta Ethica, which extollednhedonism based on friendships, and itsnpropagandist was Lytton Strachey,n12inChronicles of Culturenwhose Eminent Victorians vilified thenBlimps and Grundys of Victoria’s reign.nThe homosexuality and pacificism ofnBloomsbury were retreats from thenchallenges of affirmation, sacrifice, andncommitment. It was, above all, Bloomsbury’sncorrosive cynicism that providednrelief to those who couldn’t supportnBritish institutions; the cynical climate ofnideas which blames “conventions” asnobstacles to the good society is a legacynwhich is very much with us.nVanessa Bell embodies the paradoxesnof Bloomsbury: she was as much ancreamre of late-Victorian culture as shenwas of the avant-garde. She and her sister,nVirginia Woolf, were daughters of LeslienStephen, the biographer and historian ofnideas. In his home, both Vanessa andnVirginia had the leisure and the encouragementnto develop their respectivenartistic skills. Stephen was a pamperednman, and he needed women to soothenand take care of him—^first his wife, andnafter her death, his eldest daughter, andnwhen she died, Vanessa. Though she maynhave loathed the tiring responsibilities ofnhostess, Vanessa remembered hernparents’ lawn parties with artists andnwriters, and the joys of family life; shenwas to pattern her whole life aroundnthem. Vanessa Bell scorned marriage,nbut as Spalding notes, she was “voraciouslynmaternal,” perhaps in compensation.nStephen’s frugality also enabled himnto provide his daughters with money.nLike her Bloomsbury associates, Vanessannever lacked; their wealth andnconnections helped to keep them insulatednfrom the outside world.nAs a painter, Vanessa rebelled againstnthe traditional “Academy” type ofnrealism, which had degenerated into andull assimilation of tired formulas. Likenmany of her peers, Vanessa also detestednthe “literary” or “narrative” art which thenBritish were fond of, and held that artnneed neither teach nor improve to benvaluable. For a time she came under theninfluence of John Singer Sargent, but thenIn the forthcoming issue of Chronicles of CulturenThe Ingersoll Prizes 1984n”The left never tires of mocking conservatives for clinging tonthe gossamer glories of a past that never existed. To thencontrary, the conservative loves the past for its quotidiannreality, its concreteness and palpability, its practical wisdomnthat arises out of the experiences of countless men and womennwho have loved and hated, sorrowed and rejoiced, lived andndied. The conservative needs no mytliic or legendary past tonsustain him, but his antagonists do; for all their prattle aboutnthe fiiture, leftists prefer to escape the frustrations of thenpresent by retreating imaginatively into a golden age of thenpast.”n—from “The Radical Virus”nby James J. Thompson, Jr.nOpinions & Views—Commendables—Waste of Money—In FocusnPerceptibles—The American Proscenium—Joumalisni—NotablesnScreen—Music—Confluences—Liberal Culturennn