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.

1 comment:

Douglas said...

I have recently discovered your web site and am quite pleased. I am familiar with Junger and I too consider myself an anarch. The following is a compilation of mine that you may enjoy.

A fatalist is best thought of, quite simply, as someone who thinks he cannot do anything about the future. He thinks it is not up to him what will happen next year, tomorrow, or the very next moment. He thinks that even his own behavior is not the least within his power, any more than the motions of distant heavenly bodies, the events of remote history, or the political developments in faraway countries. He supposes, accordingly, that it is pointless for him to deliberate about anything, for a man deliberates only about those future things he believes to be within his power to do and forego. He does not pretend always to know what will happen. Hence, he might sometimes try to read signs and portents, or contemplate the effects upon him of the various things that might, for all he knows, be fated to occur. But he does not suppose that, whatever will happen, it will ever have been really avoidable.

Fatalism is a doctrine according to which, for everything that occurs, there never was an instant of time at which it was possible that it would not occur.

Fatalism is the belief that no one is able to act otherwise than they in fact do.

The fatalist looks at the events taking place in the world as if they were the events on an unwinding film. All of us are in the middle of the performance and do not know its ending, but the ending is there, it exists from the beginning of the "film". In it all the parts played, all the adventures and vicissitudes of life, all decisions and deeds are fixed and unalterable.

Fatalism denies the supposition that at any given moment reality contains actual alternative possibilities.

Fatalism does not affirm that the actions which are performed are the only ones which are logically possible. It merely asserts that the actions which are performed are the only ones which are within anyone's power to perform.

Fatalism is the thought that what is happening at any particular moment is unavoidable, and that we are powerless to prevent it.

Fatalism does not assert that certain things are going to happen no matter what. That does not express a logically coherent belief. No sane person believes what they consider to be plainly impossible. If anyone believes that a given event is going to happen, they do not doubt that those things necessary for its occurrence are going to happen too. The expression "no matter what", by means of which some have sought an easy and even childish refutation of fatalism is, accordingly, highly inappropriate in any description of the fatalist conviction.

Fatalism states that the only actions which anyone can perform are the actions which they do in fact perform.

Nearly every argument against fatalism rests upon the assumption that we are free to pursue various future alternative possibilities. When some of these possibilities have become realized and move on into the past, the supposed alternative possibilities then appear to have been less real than they had previously seemed. But this does not destroy the fond notion that they were there. Reason and logic are weak indeed in the face of an opinion nourished by invincible pride, and most people would sooner "loose their souls" than be divested of the so-called dignity that they imagine rests upon an illusory freedom of will.

Most people, without even thinking about it have an utterly fatalistic attitude toward the past, as something they can do nothing about. Fatalism only requires that we extend the same attitude toward things present and future.

Realizing that no one has any control over what is happening the fatalist endeavors to accept the present as it is, and the future for whatever it will be.

Whatever happens is unavoidable.

This is a portion of my compilation. If you would like to read the remainder please let me know.