11 March 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.

11 comments:

Adrian Demleitner Polonyi said...

I definitly relate. The Anarch lives after the maxim of reducing to the minmum and needed while living to the maximum.

Live and let live.

I would love to discuss more about the spiritual part of the Anarch. Jünger definitly touches the subject in his notes about prayer, and about the magick & mystic related characters in the book.

Karl Fraser said...

Glad to oblige, Adrian. Will be the subject of the next blog entry.

Karl

Ernest Miralles said...

I admit that Anarch searchs a wider field of freedom in this economic catastrophe, a will of measuring his own forces, a track to say No and Yes as the Anarch fits both in the system and is innerly an outcast. By this means the Anarch strenghtens himself in the keep of order or his attainment to it and his look of Freedom. But...

As I could remark that this Yes to the system can be remarked as the birth of a liberal-individualistic thinking, in the way of modern Democracy; maybe Jünger didn't want to make a step back, but it is notorious that his characters are some kind of pioneers in the seek of a new land; discovering new territories of liberty in the core of the known external boundaries of obliguing and coercitive society.

I dare to advance that Jünger promotes in some manner the likes of Modern Right-Wing liberty and freedom for all...

This is a matter for discussing. I would like to have third opinions about this point.

Good work, this blog.

Karl Fraser said...

I don't think Jünger believed in the possibility of liberty and freedom for all - that would be utopistic, idealistic, and neither Jünger nor the anarch are that.

The anarch believes freedom is something the individual can strive for, perhaps the highest result he can work for. But it is a personal effort and a personal reward that has nothing whatsoever to do with political parties or intellectual movements. When it rains, you put on a raincoat - and when a certain political climate reigns, the anarch acts accordingly. But he does not hope for change through favorable political change. Somewhere in Eumeswil Jünger explicitly says that only fools put their hopes in political changes.

Of course, the anarch would like others to achieve their own freedom, since it would presumably provide the same benefits to them as it does to him. But he cannot do more than provide them with information, sources, support, etc - just as he shares the weather forecast with his friend. But the other must understood the message, must have the same goal in life, above all he must do the work required to achieve the result. In doing the work, in realizing what we need to do in order to reap the results, each of us is alone.

At the beginning of his life, Jünger would not have said: "Only fools put their hopes in political changes." But he learned from experience.

But how many still not learned, how many fools remain - after all the failures of politics over the last centuries, one would think they should know better. For lack of a better option, they hope - in Mandela, in Bush, in Obama, in the messiah of their own projections ...

¡Benjaminista! said...

I like your work here. I am exploring similar ideas to that of the "anarch" from a Jewish perspective at http://state-of-exile.blogspot.com/ - specifically, Judaism as anarcho-monarchism (God being the only monarch, institutions and ideologies being false idols).

Karl Fraser said...

Thanks Benjaminista, I look forward to taking a close look at your blog. There is much I need to learn about Judaism, Zionism, Israel.

By the way, if you read German you might be interested in the recent flurry of news about Ernst Jünger´s correspondence with Gershom Scholem. Google it and you may come up with something in english.

Ernest Miralles said...

Thanks Benjaminista! I'm watching your blog as I'm very interested in the israeli world and the complicated effort to remain an Anarch in there.

Referring to the Anarch we can find related topics in Harold Bloom's The American Religion, as he asserts that this oneself into the big oneself, the exiled one, the diamantine personality of the Anarch has become a sort of 'religious american characteristic linked to gnosticism'. An interesting book that can be recommended to anyone that seeks Anarch self-knowledge.

The young Jünger was not torn appart from his epoch facts, and the Jew can't be avoiding his duty for Israel. It doesn't mean that he is a Zionist or a nationalist or that he believes in Tzipi Livni, but as he remain innerly free his person as a social actor must be responsible and take part in his times, as it is showed in Heliopolis. There is a difference between the Anarch and the artist ivory tower. The Anarch acts as he needs to bring the lost equilibrium.

Baroh said...

It is the situation that Kirkegaard called "øjeblikket" (translated as something like "The moment, or "the here and now")

Karl Fraser said...

Baroh, can you possibly elaborate on this comment? What was the situation Kirkegaard called "øjeblikket"?

Karl

¡Benjaminista! said...

Scholem is a hero of mine, I will certainly look into this correspondence.

Gnosticism is a fascinating topic; in a sense they may have been the original anarchs:

"The gnostic admits that the bishop, like the demiurge, exercises legitimate authority over most Christians--those who are uninitiated. But the bishop's demands, warnings, and threats, like those of the demiurge himself, can no longer touch the one who has been 'redeemed.'"
- Elaine Pagels, Gnostic Gospels

Marko Božić said...

Nothing personal, Ernest Miralles, but I am always disgusted when I come across to someone's attempt to Americanize something that is ontologically European and thus ontologically anti-American.

No offense, I just wanted to make my comment on that.