Lynette Abel  / Aesthetic Realism & Life


Conclusion of "Woman's Determination: What Makes It Right or Wrong?"
    General Koenig visited and brought her books, including the poetry of Wilfred Owen.  They talked of her childhood and of his past.  She learned that when France had fallen, he immediately joined De Gaulle, which greatly upset his wife, Madame Koenig, a Nazi sympathizer, because it meant her husband's "defection" officially branded him a traitor. 

          Susan Travers and Koenig began to have a relationship, after much hesitation on her part--she feared it would only lead to heartache.  And for a time, they lived together.  Their relationship is complex, and while I cannot comment on it at length, she, likely, cared more deeply for him than any man.  They were fighting for justice together, and each in their own way were beautifully determined.  As the war intensified, Koenig felt they should live separately.  He put the war effort ahead of all else, saying to her, something I respect very much, "What my men can't have, I can't have." 

          In January 1942, the 1st Free French Brigade, comprised of nearly 4,000 persons were ordered to mobilize, their crucial purpose to prevent the Axis (German and Italian) forces from gaining control of the Suez Canal.  Ms. Travers writes: "So far Hitler's armies had seemed invincible.... We were all determined that this should stop." 

          Koenig advised her that desert life was very difficult; there would be no dishonor to stay behind.  She insisted on going.  They were headed for Bir Hakeim, Libya. 

          Now, Hitler's Stukas, or dive-bombers were releasing armor-piercing shells that on impact, maimed, scorched and disfigured all they met.  Ms. Travers describes the courageous men on the ground hour after hour, day after day--"men who were half-starved and parched and yet determined not to surrender."  In his essay "A Woman Is the Oneness of Aesthetic Opposites," Mr. Siegel writes of Hard: Soft.   

       Often a determination comes to women which can hold its own with that of Napoleon or a boulder in a city park. And women are also pitying, sympathetic, moved to give up their notions because of the plight of another. 
    These sentences describe Ms. Travers' who, after an attack, tended to the wounded, encouraging their spirits as well as she could. 

          The German forces outnumbered Koenig's army 10 to 1, yet astoundingly they held out for 15 days.  De Gaulle telegrammed Koenig: "Know and tell your troops that the whole of France is looking at you and you are her pride." 

          Meanwhile, the French position was pounded with 1,500 tons of 500lb high-explosive bombs, and it was apparent they could not survive another day.  So Koenig, after night fall, with nearly 3,000 men dependent on him, decided they would break out, and La Miss, driving him and his top aide, would lead the massive convoy out straight through enemy lines, taking them by surprise.  Shortly after they began, "We found ourselves [initially] trapped under heavy fire in [a] well-lit corridor...." Ms. Travers writes,   

       Shells were falling around us like rain... showering our car with burning metal.  The German cannon were upon us, and all the vehicles stopped, unsure of where to go or what to do next.... 
         They made it through the first of three rings of enemy lines.  Yielding to the facts before her, I think Ms. Travers was beautifully determined.  When they finally reached their rallying point many miles away from the German lines, Koenig greatly feared that only their car had made it through.  She fell into an exhausted sleep, and, she writes: 
     
       I awoke an hour or so later,...in the afternoon.... Sitting up blearily, I thought I was hallucinating.  What I saw was a thin line of men and vehicles on the unbroken desert horizon.....To my astonishment...I suddenly recognized the raggle-taggle group winding towards us as the remaining survivors of Bir Hakeim.... The general stood beside me, clasping his chest and trying to catch his breath.... We...rush[ed] to meet our friends and colleagues, each of us overcome with emotion....
     2,400 of the 3,700 men at Bir Hakeim had managed to cross enemy lines in the dead of night as they had somehow managed to follow the tracks of Susan Travers' car. 

    Wrong Determination Interferes with Love

     After the war, she became an officer in the French Foreign Legion, stationed in Tunisia, a French Protectorate, where she met Nicholas Schlegelmilch, an NCO in the Legion, whom she later married.  The purpose of the Foreign Legion after WWII was very different--to protect French colonial possessions throughout the world.  Unfortunately, Ms. Travers makes no distinction between the Legion's determination to fight for justice during the war and its determination to fight for French conquest after, which hurt her life very much. 

          In 1948, Nicholas was sent to fight in Indochina, to try to keep France's colonial possession, Vietnam, and make sure the Vietnamese would not own their own country, a purpose the United States would continue in the most brutal, unjust war in American history.  Soon, though, he became very ill.  And a year later when he returned, he didn't want to have anything to do with his wife.  Ms. Travers wrote that she had no idea what happened in the Far East, and he did agree to stay with her because of their two children.   How much their activities in the Legion after WWII badly affected their lives cannot be underestimated.  I've seen that when two people support injustice together, they despise each other. 

          Meanwhile, recognition of her right and ardent determination during the second world war came in 1956, when she was awarded France's high tribute--the Medaille Militaire, "For bravery in the face of the enemy at Bir Hakeim."  Fittingly, it was pinned on her by her comrade-in-arms,  General Marie-Pierre Koenig (show photo), then France's Minister of Defense, who said to her, "Well done, La Miss." 

          It was a very big thing in my life when I began to know Michael Palmer.  His thoughtful and eager interest in so many things encouraged new perception in me--his care for sports, history, the Big Bands, humor, and his deep love for Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism.  We came to care for each other,  discussed getting married, and I was very happy.  Soon, though, I began feeling that now my life was settled, and I no longer had to think so much.  But as weeks went on, there was growing tension between us.  In a class, I said I thought Michael was disappointed in me because I was too quiet and smooth.  Ellen Reiss said, "Aesthetic Realism shows the purpose of knowing a man is to like the world.  Do you have another purpose?"  "Yes," I answered.   

       ER  Do you see Michael Palmer as a take-care-of-Lynette Abel machine?
       LA  I think I do.
       ER   If you care for a person you want that person to love what's true....Miss Abel has gotten to have a quiet determination...taking another desire and putting it ahead of her first desire [to have good will]. 
    I thank Ellen Reiss for what she said, and for her steady desire to strengthen the best in me.  My happy determination to know Michael and through him the whole world grows with each year, but it's not big enough!  I want to change more, be deeper and wider as to my husband and all people, and I'm so glad that through studying Aesthetic Realism I know I will. 

          Last March, Michael and I celebrated our 9th year of marriage.  I'm grateful for his criticism, which I need to be the person I hope to be.  And I love him for encouraging my expression in these years.  It is an honor to work together--and we are proudly determined to have Aesthetic Realism known, because nothing is more needed for the safety and happiness of people all over this globe. 

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