June 20, 2008

Reality and ideals

"Playing the gentleman here would be possible only for actors; nor would anyone consider doing it anymore. Rather, people, such as my genitor and my brother, feel like martyrs. Half of Eumeswil is inhabited by types who have suffered for an idea or at least claim to have done so. They stood true to the flag, offered heroic resistance – in short, the worn-out military claptrap has reawakened. Upon taking a closer look, one sees that, with rare exceptions, they tried to save their hides just like anybody else. But one turns a blind eye to all that, as long as they do not over-do it.

The anarch sticks to facts, not ideas. He suffers not for facts but because of them, and usually through his own fault, as in a traffic accident. Certainly, there are unforeseeable things – maltreatments. However, I believe I have attained a certain degree of self-distancing that allows me to regard this as an accident.” Eumeswil, Page 113

COMMENTARY

The anarch, as Ernst Jünger envisions him, is not an idealist but a realist, a student of the world and not a world improver. He does not bemoan reality but attempts to deal with it “as a man”. Thus he concerns himself not with what should be, not with“it would be nice if”, but simply with what is and how to best move within those given constraints. The anarch has definitively renounced social progress and thus does not martyr himself attempting to “create better facts”, which according to his view is pure vanity on the social level - rather he suffers because of the unchangeable reality of what is.

Naturally, he prefers not to suffer because of these facts – there is no virtue in unproductive mechanical suffering - but he accepts that it may happen from his own inadequacy, through his own mistakes. From this he tries to learn.

Finally, he accepts that certain things are not predictable and thus not avoidable – injustice, pure chance exists, like it or not. When the anarch is unjustly treated, when something happens to him that he simply could never have anticipated under any circumstances, he regards and accepts it as an accident. He is able to see himself from a distance, as a character of history, and thus does not take it personally.

(In the first paragraph of the quote, Jünger describes others who, in contrast to the anarch, do see themselves as martyrs, even when this stance is not self-sincere. He equates this to a revival of the “old military claptrap”, which derogatory phrase should indicate to any lingering admirers or critics of the militaristic, war-glorifying Jünger before WWII how superficial their outdated conceptions of him are.)

18 comments:

beowulf1723 said...

The Anarchist is the idealist who thinks that he can make the imperfect world perfect.

"Old Gunpowderhead" (Nietzsche) also had some choice words for "improvers" of mankind".

Anonymous said...

... and who attempt to do this in non-legal, often violent ways. There are many other world-improvers/idealists who try the same through socially approved channels, such as politics.

Athos said...

I think, anonymous, Jünger didn’t reason about the method, the way, marking the difference between Anarch and Anarchist. If an Anarchist tried to realize his perfect world in some legal way, it would change nothing for Martin Venator: he remains an idealist who dedicates his life to an idea, not to the reality. The same opinion that the German had about representative democracy would confirm it. There, no one real change is possible.
I think, on the contrary, that a Parliament could be rather a good place for an Anarch (also if it doesn’t seem to me Jünger wrote about something like this), a kind of Martin Venator’s isbah, where he can study the power, stealing some secrets useful to know better the reality and to save himself.

Karl Fraser said...

But the anarchist is fundamentally bent on destroying the "evil" system; thus he must necessarily act against that society's laws, which the society has created above all to protect its existence. If he acted legally, within the laws, he would no longer be an anarchist but become a socialist or a communist or a democrat etc.

Or, as you say, he could be an anarch and sit in the parliament. Personally I doubt most anarchs would chose that role. Juenger himself refused a seat in the German parliament, long before he formally conceived of the Anarch. I think power would be more of an inconvenience to most Anarchs - Venator also prefers to gather his information from the sidelines, from behind the bar, even though the Condor has also hinted that he would promote Venator's political career - "Venator could become a Senator", he says somewhere.

Hector M. Padilla said...

The anarchist is against authority, against the state, king,president, premier, et.. The anarch is on his own power, he knows that comes from the wealth of Being and defends his freedom above all. Junger has a treaty on "the Rebel" or "the ambushed", where the resources of the anarch are articulated. Hic et nunc, he knows that in the desicion he is alone.

Karl Fraser said...

Hector, I agree, I only have reservations about what you say of Juenger's treatise on the rebel ("Der Waldgaenger"). This book is about the forest fleer (or rebel as you call him) and not specifically about the anarch. Certainly, as the successor to the forest fleer, the anarch incorporates many of his traits - making personal freedom his first priority, rejecting society in its essence, standing on his own two feet, etc etc - but he goes further than the forest fleer, is a stronger form. For he is able to be free within society, whereas the forest fleer must physically get away from society to be free of it. I would say rather that this treatise explains many of the characteristics of the anarch, but not all of them. It is chronologically before the anarch in Juenger's thought, and also developmentally.

In Aladdins' Problem, the protagonist, an anarch, says: "(My complaint) is lodged in my body - and beyond that, in society - the cause of my illness. I can do something about it only when I have isolated myself from society. Perhaps society will help by casting me out."

If he manages to isolate himself from society (while staying within society), he succeeds in being an anarch; if society casts him out, it means it has recognized him as an outsider and he is forced to become a forest fleer (or get locked up in a prison or mental asylum, as in this case.) An anarch remains unnoticed in the society, though he may cause changes.

Hector M. Padilla said...

Probably the difference comes from the explanation of the origin of the word Waldgaenger, which comes from Iceland where a criminal was punished by being left to his own deep within the forest in an extremely hostile place, surely there is no society there, but the figure of the Waldgaenger described in the book is different since he is not a criminal although for the political power in turn he is a menace to be identified and disposed, as with Stalin, Hitler and other messengers of death, past, present and future. Freedom is not given or attained permanently, we comunicate and are in society. In Aladdins Problem the main character suffers from nihilism, lacking sense. The main figures in Junger are the worker, the soldier and the R. Due to the difference in political settings the task varies as well as the accent, thus the anarch or the R.

Athos said...

I've always thought "Aladdin problem" is a particular chapter in the latest Junger's bibliography.
I don't know if i'm only forcing, getting the easiest way, but i think he would indicate a possible path followed by the anarch. It's not exacly the way choosed by Martin Venator and, it's clear, is not the way followed by Junger himself. Even better, this path is rather a typical "risk" for the anarch, the risk to be too close with nichilist behaviours.

Karl Fraser said...

Friedrich Baroh in "Aladdin's Problem" is an Anarch to me since he remains within the society, albeit tenuously as he fights with madness, even as he rejects any higher meaning for himself in the society. His way within society is different to Manual's, or Juenger's - every anarch has to find his own prefered niche in the society he happens to live in.

A nihilistic phase could be one that many "anarchs in the making" have to pass through - it represents the moment after the disillusionment with what society can offer and before the discovery of one's own unique and personal world of meaning.

Hector M. Padilla said...

That "most inhospitable of all guests: nihilism". Who is the real menace?.

xstepsahead said...

Thanks a lot for leading me to your blog Karl - its very interesting and i am more than happy to find some more informations. I will get hold of the book soon.
This said, although i do agree that there will be no better world, that there is no change worth fighting for, i disagree with the "anarch belief" in that i believe that the system, whatever the said system is, should be fought not in order to build a better world but in order to build a better self. I think the real change that happen in fighting the system is not within the system but within the fighter. I am willing to fight the system as i see in this fight some kind of purification, like a process that helps me breaking down the conditionement i am victim of and therefore being more free. The fight -against the society or against the conditionement- will never end, or at least will never be won, but its more of a matter pride, some kind of absolute hybris which i believe is the essence of consciousness.

I am not sure if my poor academic writting will allow me to be understood, but i would be very glad if you could advise me on what books i should start with in this matter ?

Bertrand

Zero said...

Junger's thought evolved-back unto itself,(?) like the serpent Ourobouros.

We could us a thousand more like him.

Lucius de Geer said...

Karl, grsnde lavoro!complimenti!!!avanti in cerca del bosco...

Svensson said...

Indeed there's a lot in "Eumeswil", the first Jüngerbook I read.

Maybe Emanuel Venator is a bit too perfect at times, he has got answers to everything. But in all this is a minor classic, a good performance by an old writer.

(Now I've bookmarked your blog, to read more on a rainy day or so. You visited my "Svenssongalaxen" today; greetings!)

vincenzillo said...

karl, i agree about the difference between reality and ideals in Eumeswil. Martin is always an "observer". He wants to understand reality as deep as possible, not to change it upon an ideal. He has two different masters, tryes to get the most from each one, and works to build a way out for himself.

Maybe a good example of anarchist, instead, could be the guy who loves explosives, whose name begins with N, Nekar or something.

beowulf1723 said...

Vincenzillo,

You're probably thinking of Sergei Nechaev.

Karl Fraser said...

Vicenzillo, I think you mean the anarchistic nihilist character in the book Eumeswil - Dahlin? He builds bombs for his meaningless destruction.

But there is also the aggressive Nebek, another student of Vigo's who frequents anarchist groups on the side. He invites Manuel once, who is disgusted by the stinky negative air there.

Karl Fraser said...

Beowulf, I don't know Nechaev, other than what wikipedia tells me - that he was a violent anarchist. Perhaps a model for Nebek?