November 9, 2009

Mauerfall - Fall of the Berlin Wall

Before he pushed the first domino in the symbolic "Fall of the Wall" in Berlin tonight, Lech Walesa said no politicians could have foreseen before 1989 that the Wall would fall - which goes to show how much more clearly an anarch understands history and therefore reality:

"At various times, I have stood between the barricades - for example, during March 1848, after the fateful shot was fired in front of the castle, then again at the end of the two great wars between the red flag and the swastika. I was there when the great barricade hardened into a wall and once again when it was razed".
"Verschiedene Malen stand ich dort zwischen den Barrikaden, so in jenem März, nachdem vorm Schloß der verhängnisvolle Schuß gefallen war, dann wieder am Schluß der beiden großen Kriege zwischen der Roten Fahne und dem Hakenkreuz. Ich war dort, als die Barrikade sich zur Mauer verhärtete, und wiederum, als sie geschleift wurde".

Ernst Jünger, "Eumeswil", published in 1977.

(I will not speculate here on what an anarch would have to say regarding the new personal freedom won in that moment - if anything, then probably not too much.)

October 21, 2009

Cain, Tubalcain and the Anarch


China's 60th Anniversary national day

What would an anarch have to say to the above spectacle? Here's what the Ur-Anarch Ernst Jünger wrote in "Glass Bees":

When new models were displayed to the masses at the great parades in the Red Square or elsewhere, the crowds stood in reverent silence and then broke into jubilant shouts of triumph. What was the meaning of this thunderous roar, when on the ground turtles of steel and serpents of iron rolled past, when in the sky triangles, arrows, and rockets shaped like fish, arranged themselves with lightening rapidity into ever-changing formations? Though the display was continual, in this silence and these shouts something evil, old as time, manifested itself in man, who is an outsmarter and setter of traps. Invisible, Cain and Tubulcain marched past in the parade of phantoms.

October 10, 2009

The anarch - a wolf, a master spy?

It occurs to me that one could explain and differentiate the Anarch and the Waldgänger with at least a couple of analogies ....

One could bring the old English expression "a wolf in sheep's clothing" to bear on the Anarch, who appears to be like the masses around him but underneath is not at all. He can be social but he is not socialized. Unlike the socialized beings around him, he remains fundamentally a free loner, even with his sheep's clothing on. He has strong, sharp teeth, which he hides, so they are not pulled "for the common good of the herd" - he may need them in an emergency.

But the analogy only goes so far and the differences are equally revealing. The anarch's relationship to the sheep around him is not predatory - this wolf's enemy is the shepherd and his dogs, not the sheep. When he is smelled out, he is forced to throw off his disguise, run for the cover of the woods, use his teeth if necessary in defense - in short, become a Waldgänger.

Another analogy - this time not mine but Jünger's - is the master spy, who disguises his true nature and loyalties and lives smoothly integrated into a world that is essentially foreign to him. Like the Anarch, his true mission remains his secret and it is entirely different from those around him. Like the Anarch, he puts on a false mask, a foreign uniform and he must resist identifying with those around him and their causes - when the mission is a very long one, this difficulty is not to be taken for granted - spies are turned, as free souls are lost to the world. Lastly, the ordinary people around the spy are not his enemies but rather their master and his watchdogs. An Anarch with philanthropic tendencies, may even, like certain spies, come to empathize with the ordinary innocents around him, secretly feel that in his small way he may be helping to free them from a bad master.

As with the wolf analogy, the differences are also important to note here. The master spy knows from the start who he is and what his mission is; the Anarch has first to lose himself to society and then laboriously to rediscover his true identity, his true heimat, his mission in life. The Anarch has no aspirations to contribute, however indirectly, to the defeat of the society he is embedded in - he is not an anarchist. Though he may go to great lengths to serve an external cause, if his own integrity or the challenge appeals to him, he will not ultimately martyr himself to it. And finally, the Anarch works for no other master, he is his own.

Anarch and Waldgänger (1)

Comments I made on differences and commonalities in Ernst Jünger´s figures of the Anarch and the Waldgänger (the Forest Goer) went over well on a Jünger mailing list (http://de.groups.yahoo.com/group/juenger_org/ ), so I have reworked and copied them below.

(For clarification, the Waldgänger was first developed in Jünger´s study "Der Waldgang" (The Forest Flight). Although it precedes "Eumeswil" and the Anarch chronologically (1951 vs 1977), in metaphysical terms much in the concept of the Anarch is already contained in that of the Waldgänger. The two do not exclude each other, but rather the former further develops the latter. In terms of level of being, they are more or less identical - differences only concern existential situations and the specific strategies that result.

Thus, although Jünger had not yet coined the word Anarch when writing "Der Waldgang", he said then that one could be a Waldgänger in the heart of the city, a clear foreshadowing of an Anarch. Later, when he explicitly refined the Waldgänger into an Anarch in "Eumeswil", he specified that the Anarch is the free man living in private autonomy within society; he becomes a Waldgänger when he is uncovered as a spiritual outsider and forced to flee society to preserve this autonomy. An Anarch thus comprehends a Waldgänger as a weaker form to be resorted to in an emergency. Just as an undiscovered Waldgänger living peacefully in the city was already in essence an Anarch. But on to the copied discussion ...)

From "Der Waldgang":

Man sleeps in the forest. When he awakens and realizes his power, then order is reconstituted.
Man does not become a Waldgänger (and by extension an Anarch) only then when he enters or flees to the literal forest: at the deepest level of being, each single man is already in the forest, is already a forest-goer, the forest being the original untamed core of his being. But in his sleep he has lost sight of this, forgotten where he is, hypnotized by dreams which are not even his. In sleep, he dreams the dreams that society has implanted in him and he is controlled by them, their slave, without having the slightest sensation of the chains. He (merely!) needs to awaken from the illusion to see that he (and not the protagonist of his dreams) is really in his own forest, and he has always been there. With this awakening, the Anarch/Waldgänger discovers the metaphysical separation of that forest from the tamed world, its absolute autonomy from civilization that wants to trap him, hypnotize him, seduce him, control him in its various ways for its own selfish purposes. Now he can make a realistic attempt to become his own master, to restore his own order to his life. Whatever it may have promised, in the dream there was never a real possibility of that, it was always another´s order.

If existential difficulties require it, the Anarch is forced to flee to the literal forest and transform into the Waldgänger form. But in his inner wilderness nothing changes - there he remains master where ever external life may take him.

May 30, 2009

Apoliteia

Through much of my last rereading of Julius Evola’s “Ride the Tiger” I have not been able to overlook spiritual and practical parallels of Evola’s ‘differentiated’ type of man to Jünger’s anarch. These become so obvious in the chapter “States and Parties: Apoliteia”, that I must comment.

Both Evola’s differentiated man and the anarch have recognised the unworthiness of the ideas, motives and goals given by life and politics today. This makes them apoliteia....

From Evola:

“After taking stock of the situation, this type can only feel disinterested and detached from everything that is “politics” today. His principle will become apoliteia, as it was in ancient times”.
“Apoliteia” refers essentially to the inner attitude…. The man in question recognizes, as I have said before, that ideas, motives, and goals worthy of the pledge of one’s true being do not exist today….”

And from Jünger:
"As a historian, I am convinced of the imperfection – nay, the vanity – of any effort. I admit that the surfeit of a late era is involved here. The catalogue of possibilities seems exhausted. The great ideas have been eroded by repetition; you won’t catch any fish with that bait.”

Inner detachment, apoliteia, brings freedom to their life-involvements, such as employment or even politics itself. They are equally free to be, as not to be, involved with any particular activity or role....

From Evola:
“As conceived here, apoliteia creates no special presuppositions in the exterior field, not necessarily having a corollary in practical abstention. The truly detached man is not a professional and polemic outsider, nor conscientious objector, nor anarchist. Once it is established that life with its interactions does not constrain his being, he could even show the qualities of a soldier who, in order to act and accomplish a task, does not request in advance a transcendent justification and and a quasi-theological assurance of the goodness of the cause. We can speak in these cases of a voluntary obligation that concerns the “persona”, not the being, by which – even while one is involved – one remains isolated”.
“Apoliteia” is the inner distance unassailable by society and its “values”; it does not accept being bound by anything spiritual or moral. Once this is firm, the activities that in others would presuppose such bounds can be exercised in a different spirit.”
“Apoliteia, detachment does not necessarily involve specific consequences in the field of pure and simple activity. I have already discussed the capacity to apply oneself to a given task for love of the action in itself and in terms of an impersonal perfection.”

And from Jünger:
“I have to succeed in treating my work as a game that I both watch and play…. It presumes that one can scrutinize oneself as from a certain distance like a chess figure – in a word, that one sees historical classification as more important than personal classification. This may sound exacting; but it used to be required of any soldier. The special trait making me an anarch is that I live in a world which I ‘ultimately’ do not take seriously. This increases my freedom; I serve as a temporary volunteer.”
“I serve the Condor, who is a tyrant – that is his function, just as mine is to be his steward; both of us can retreat to substance: to human nature in its nameless condition.”
“Working somewhere is unavoidable; in this respect, I behave like a condottiere, who makes his energy available at a given moment, but, in his heart of hearts, remains uncommitted. Furthermore, as here in the night bar, work is a part of my studies – the practical part."

Liberated from aspirations or beliefs in no-longer existent higher causes within life, both Evola’s type and Jünger’s anarch are free to take on life involvements, such as employment or even political associations - either because they simply appeal to them or because they are useful to their practical self-perfection. Any such commitment is temporary, conditional and ultimately superficial, that is, it remains outside their true inner being.

Psychologically speaking, neither figure identifies themselves with their life-roles and associations; these have useful functions, but are not substantial, do not regard their true inner being. The resulting detachment allows them life involvements which for others would require or presume inner identification with the external cause, be it the tyrant’s, the democracy’s or the religion’s. Neither driven nor limited by such moral or spiritual beliefs, their involvement in life is of a freer, less compulsive nature.

A job is a function of life, which engages only the persona, to use Evola’s term, the historical classification in Jünger’s. The soldier or the condottiere also sees their involvement with the cause in this context, as the involvement of the external persona with the external historical situation. But beyond or above the persona, inner substance or being protects the anarch as it does Evola’s differentiated man, provides them with an inviolable inner fortress - as a base for excursions into life and as a sanctuary to retreat to from life.

March 11, 2009

Standing on one's own two feet

"Here in Eumeswil, it seems as if the system occasionally falls asleep and the city begins to dream. The ship founders on a sandbank and then gets back afloat. Electric power stops; after a while, the machines start up again. During such recessions, the anarch measures his own strength and autonomy." Eumeswil, Page 195

COMMENTARY
Noticing that I am finding a peculiarly positive prospect in all the current prognoses of economic catastrophe, I found the above quote from Ernst Jünger's Eumeswil, which in part explains my attitude. Perhaps others can relate....

Setbacks in society's structures and supports provide an opportunity for the anarchic individual to test just how independent of the infrastructure he is. Unlike the anarchist, he takes no special pleasure in the demise of society's structures per se - he does not believe in the possibility of reforming society, therefore a temporary demise would mean as little to him as an equally ephemeral flourishing. Rather he sees in the moment of weakened external authority and support an opportunity to learn about himself, always his primary objective. As Jünger states elsewhere, "Know thyself" is the anarch's first commandant. His second commandment, "Know the rules" is perhaps temporarily less important in moments when the system itself slids into relative anarchy. The rules apply less strictly, he can afford to concentrate more exclusively on his own ability to self-rule.

As much as I would hope this anarchic attitude to self-knowledge explains my current optimism in the face of economic catastrophe, I have to also admit a certain schadenfreude, which takes a positive delight in these hopeful first signs of the inevitable Fall of the Titans. Manuel was more aloof than I am able to be - he judges what he can learn from the titanically-oriented teacher Bruno as highly as what Vigo, his gods-oriented teacher can offer him. He is able to remain independent of both to an extent I am unable to.... I cannot help cheering for a return of the gods.

March 4, 2009

Incidental rewards

“Above all, I could confirm that this fowl was in fact a new breed. Rosner was enraptured; he absolutely insisted on naming it after me: Alectura venatoris. I had a hard time dissuading him. After all, despite everything, I had tricked the good man. However, one of the anarch’s emoluments is that he is distinguished for things that he has done on the side or that go against his grain." Eumeswil, Page 135

COMMENTARY

In this short passage, Ernst Jünger has his protagonist Manuel relating of research work he volunteered to do for one of his mentors, the zoology professor Rosner. Manuel volunteers for this work in order to provide a valid and believable motive for being in the swamps where he is setting up a secret hideout to be used in case of a coup or other threats in the city. Despite his entirely self-interested hidden motive for this work, he gains special recognition from Rosner, who even names the new species after him.

Jünger comments that such unintended recognition or reward often comes the anarch's way. The anarch conceals his ongoing private battle to maintain personal freedom; in consequence he is often required to do things in the world which he is either uninterested in or that are even contrary to his inclinations. He cannot reveal his true motives, and so when he receives praise or reward for these activities it is quite incidental for him. These incidental effects can even indirectly benefit him, in that they reinforce his apparently normal status in the society.

March 3, 2009

Living in no man's land

“Bruno withdrew from the field of history more resolutely than Vigo; that is why I prefer the former’s retrospect but the latter’s prospect. As an anarch, I am determined to go along with nothing, ultimately take nothing seriously – at least not nihilistically, but rather as a border guard in no man’s land, who sharpens his eyes and ears between the tides." Eumeswil, Page 87-88

COMMENTARY

Manuel, the protagonist of Ernst Jünger´s novel Eumeswil, has two important mentors or teachers: Bruno, a future-oriented metaphysician, who experiments with the Titanic possibilities of technology for Man’s evolution, and who works, in Jünger’s own words, on the Tree of Life; and Vigo, a past-oriented historian, who is skeptical of technology’s promises and who works rather on the Tree of Knowledge.

Manuel’s attitude to their respective opinions indicates a paradoxical aspect of the anarch’s general attitude to external opinion. That is, he prefers those ideas of each respective teacher regarding the realm they have most distanced themselves from, the realm they can thus view more critically and objectively. From his future-biased vantage point, in the light of new possibilities, Bruno is able to view past events more neutrally; but he is less capable of this neutrality regarding the period with which he identifies or believes in, the future. The opposite is true of Vigo, who as a historian is too nostalgic and identified with past events to be an objective judge. On the other hand, he can more skeptically view future promises, say of technology, since he has a framework of past human experience by which to judge them.

In contrast to both, the anarch is neither future nor past-oriented, but rather “timelessly self-oriented”. He observes and studies both temporal realms, but identifies with neither, just as he takes no external opinion or authority as necessarily worthy of respect or belief. Changes in beliefs and affliliations over time are ultimately as neutral and abstract to him as they are over space.

If he temporarily finds nothing worth believing in past beliefs or future promises, this does not make him a nihilist, who actively believes in Nothing. Instead, he stands guard, by himself and over himself, in a emptied zone, a no-man’s land between past and future tides, listening keenly for what may come, from past experience or future possibility.

February 27, 2009

Climate change, microclimates, and the individual.

“Incidentally, prior to setting up my bunker on the Sus, I studied construction plans that Captain Ross had found among the Eskimos of New North Wales. A basic theme for the anarch is how man, left to his own devices, can defy superior forces – whether state, society, or the elements – by making use of their rules without submitting to them. ‘It is strange,’ Sir William Parry wrote when describing the igloos on Winter Island, ‘ it is strange to think that all these measure are taken against the cold – and in houses of ice.’ " Eumeswil, Page 241

COMMENTARY
Our world is obsessed with thereal and imagined consequences of global climate change. If we accept its reality, how do we react?

Firstly, we should make clear that we can understand climate change both materially and spiritually. And secondly, we must distinguish between our strategy as individuals and as humanity, as a collective. All considerations of man's strategy as a collective - whether we are to blame; whether we can change our ways; what the actual consequences will be, and so on - will be left aside here. Interesting though they may be, we are concerned here with the individual, and his personal strategy is in a different realm from mankind's.

Like the Inuit in Jünger's quote above, and unlike the collective or zoological man, the individual lives first and foremost in his own microclimate. The Inuit lives in an extreme climate, which he cannot hope to improve or control, but he survives because he acts where he can - on his microscopic world. There he builds himself a more temperate microclimate, his igloo, using the materials his environment provides, however unsuitable or paradoxical their nature may seem.

Like the Inuit, the anarch will also usually find himself in a social and spiritual climate hostile to the expression and fulfillment of his individual nature. Today, to the hostility of the external environment, must be added its uncertainty and changeability. If the demands of society, of Leviathan, are already a threat to individual freedom and fulfillment today, its future demands and conditions are even less known.

This makes the creation of a stable and favorable microclimate all the more urgent for the anarch and for every individual who wishes to preserve their individuality and freedom in our world. If we are able to create a favorable spiritual and material microclimate around us, it becomes less important what happens in the macroclimate around us.

Naturally, our microclimate is in contact with the global climate and thus not unaffected by its macroscopic changes. Thus we need to observe our world and sometimes take extra precautions when particularly bad conditions threaten our stable microclimate.

From these warm, secure inner fortresses, we can then radiate forth a warmth and optimism into the world which has direct positive effects on those around us. Here - and not in desperate and futile attempts to change or stabilize a spiritual global climate - is where we really can help our world in need.

February 25, 2009

The anarch’s relationship to authority

“Although I am an anarch, I am not anti-authoritarian. Quite the opposite: I need authority, although I do not believe in it. My critical faculties are sharpened by the absence of the credibility that I ask for. As a historian, I know what can be offered". Eumeswil, Page 67

COMMENTARY
The anarch in Ernst Jünger´s conception is not against authority, as the anarchist is. Certainly, he does not ascribe any higher truth or sense of obligation to authorities within whose domain he randomly happens to fall. But neither does he demand or even inwardly desire to be rid of external authority. Rather, he sees it as as useful structuring factor, which he needs for his own development and personal aims: external authority creates a more or less law-conforming and predictable social structure within which and against which he can test and hone his own powers and freedom. The presence of authority gives the game he plays its rules and boundaries.

The anarch understands that the particular identity of the authorities over him has come about randomly, with no inner connection with his true inner nature - he merely happens to be born or live in their domain, for the time being. Whether a Greek or an American, within a communist, capitalist or fascist structure - how could such a random association with his own nature expect special deference or respect from him? But he knows that he needs the authority for his own purposes and as a practical man, he therefore learns about its particularities and adjusts his behaviour accordingly.

Consciously recognizing the absence of any credible superior virtues or mandates in the authorities requires him to be more reliant on his own judgements and critical faculties. His understanding of history gives him a basis on which to critically judge the offers and boasts of authorities - he does not naively buy whatever is sold to him.