Fiume 1.5 a short venture into Yoga

“Guido Keller told me that he had just formed a company to guard the Commander, a company that he called La Disperata (The Desperate). Many soldiers who had come from Italy to volunteer were without papers and had not been accepted by the Command. Instead of leaving they were camped out in the town’s big shipyards. When he went to see what they were doing there, Keller found some of them naked diving from the prows of the moored ships, others attempting to manoeuvre the old locomotives that used to run between Fiume and Budapest, and others perched up on cranes, singing. He found them to be high-spirited and jolly, and he gathered them for inspection: they were all proud, handsome men, and he declared that they were the finest soldiers in Fiume. He mustered these soldiers, known to all as the ‘desperados’ in view of their situation, and offered them to the Commander as personal guards. This move scandalized superior officials, but the Commander accepted the offer. With the creation of this company, Keller began to put his ideas for a new military order into practice. These new soldiers spent most of the day swimming or rowing, or singing and marching through the city, bare-chested and dressed in shorts. They were not obliged to stay in the barracks… and in the evening they frequented a deserted area called La torretta, where they split into two groups and did battle with real hand grenades, often leading to injury… The presence of a number of morally dubious elements did not sully the company’s reputation, but rather gave it the crepuscular flavor of a group despised by the wise and the mediocre, and this was its greatest source of pride.””

““…oddities like the curious war hero Guido Keller, whose mascot was an eagle, who slept naked in the tops of trees, and who was one of the new commander’s main lieutenants”

Let us speak of Giudo Keller(1892-1929), last of the Hellenics, nationalist-nudist and tantric master, Keller the air pilot who raided Zeppelins and Airplanes and dropped roses in the vatican. In 1919 the Union of Yoga was founded by Giudo Keller alongside Giovanni Comisso and Mino Somenzi they launched the “Yoga” magazine which was self published in Fiume by Keller. While the magazine’s circulation and most of its members were concentrated in Fiume it had a global outreach intellectually and through correspondences to the Berlin Dada groups, and Leninist-Bolsheviks in Russia alongside some Hungarian communists. The Union of Yoga itself was made up of many artists and poets within the city itself alongside Japanese Buddhist-Influence from Harukichi Shimoi. They also organized a “peoples academy” which hosted debates in public on free love, monetary abolition, destruction of prisons, improving the city through art etc. 

The Union of Yoga was primarily based upon the philosophy of the Männerbund taken from the German Wanderwogel movement with its anti establishment youth culture and anti urban nature culture. 

Though Giudo Keller had a passing ideological and comradely fascination with Marinetti he critiqued futurism for what he perceived as its anti human pro machine qualities. Guido Keller posited what he called a “Dionysian humanism”in contrast to Marinettis more anti human ideology. The 4th issue of the Yoga magazine contained a long critique by Keller of Marinetti’s futurism claiming that it took out the most precious part of art. That being the  human aspect of the artist. 

Though Keller disliked Futurism the Yoga circle included Futurists alongside extreme nationalists,“communists and anarchists, Bolsheviks and William Morris-like socialists, bohemians and nihilists, Nietzscheans and Rosenkreutzers, Rousseauist dreamers and Utopian Proudhonists”. These various ideologies were brought together by a shared hatred of the current system and love for diversity of thought and spontaneity.

The Union of Yoga also delved into religious topics with interest in theosophy, Freemasonry, Esoteric Forms of Yoga, Zen Buddhism and Hinduism, and Hellenism. It drew many of these types from all around Europe and helped gather funding and support for Fiume from around the world.

Two main groups formed within the Union of Yoga the first being called the “brown lotus” promoting  an agrarian race-based earth society which was strongly anti capitalist anti city and anti technology. They were obsessed with mysticism and forms of esoteric eastern philosophy. Another group formed to rival them called the “red lotus” whose motto was “Moving. Living. Destroying. They were also Italian patriots but opposed crude racism and national chauvinism. Yoga saw the various human races uniting into a single “dionysus race” that would overcome ideology and politics and create a hedonistic ubermensch.

Yoga also believed that the “negative” races like French and British had shackled the Italians with international treaties and democratic institutions and that in order to renew the Italian race they needed to embrace hedonistic aristocracy and forge a new spiritual order. From this they formulated a kind of “eugenics of karma” where your spiritual race would determine your standing in life and that through the state the spirit could be improved. This shows that Keller was at least mildly influenced by the traditionalist school. A byproduct of this was the organization of peoples into corporations mirroring the later “charter of Fiume” and also the manifesto of “Sansepolcrismo”.
During the last days of Fiume Giudo Keller and his Yoga group were some of the last members to give up and leave the city, many of them became apolitical, some became Fascists, others joined anti fascist groups. Keller’s story does not end here but a full tale of his exploits will be told of in the next article

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