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.

10 comments:

Baroh said...

I have read Jüngers work from when I was a teenager and it has had a lifechanging effect on me. Without him i wouldn't be the person that i am today. It's nice to see that someone wants to share his thoughts on the author.

However the particular aspect of his thinking, that you are talking about, is more dangerous, to ones mental health, than one might expect. It is a very difficult thing, to remain "awake" and "in the world" while at the same time being "detached" and practising apoleteia. Jünger also stresses this in "Eumeswil"

Karl Fraser said...

I believe I understand exactly how you feel - I was not lucky (or ready) to read Jünger as a teenager, but since I began about 15 years ago it has changed my life completely.

Without Eumeswil, Aladdin´s Problem, An der Zeitmauer, Glass Bees, where would I have found a point of orientation in this world - certainly not from all the confused, inconsistent, merely imaginative noise coming from other sources.

Interesting that you call yourself Baroh - of all Jünger´s characters, Friedrich Baroh is the one I most identify with. Apparently you feel similarly.

Regarding this aspect of thinking: yes, it may be dangerous but to what? Only to one´s even more dangerous illusions and irrational hopes and fears. As Gurdjieff would put it, once one gives up one´s comfortable chair in the world, one is committed to a new path of self-development, one can never return to the old place. The only salvation is then upwards. And in the meantime, "purgatory". Which is certainly not comfortable in a lower sense.

One must consider the risk, I agree. Madness is one danger, if the level of detachment does not match the level of awakening, the sense of new world not balance the loss of the old world.

Send me a private email if you prefer to continue this discussion elsewhere. On the other hand, it may be interesting and useful for others.

Karl

Baroh said...

Hello Again

it is true that Friedrich Baroh fascinates me. To me he is a cross between Martin Venator and Richard Knecht.

I would like to know more about the following statement:

"One must consider the risk, I agree. Madness is one danger, if the level of detachment does not match the level of awakening, the sense of new world not balance the loss of the old world."

I have an idea, but I would like to know what, exactly, do you mean by this?

It looks like something that could have been written by Evola.

Yes madness is one of the dangers. Isolation is another.

There's a fine line between being an "anarch" and being an "idiot". It's like walking a razors edge.

Jünger knew how to do it.

JD said...

I cannot claim any expertise on Evola - much of his work is too obscure for me - but from what I've been able to absorb I believe that his "differentiated man" is radically different from Jünger's anarch, though I'll grant you the two might appear identical to an outside observer.

Evola's most prominent theme is capital-T Tradition, which seems to be a transcendent spiritual order. So it is natural that a follower of his doctrines would practice inner detachment from mass society. But such a one would still hold within his mind the ideal of the Traditional society which supposedly manifested itself in ancient times.

The Anarch is detached not only from the prejudices and madness of the masses, but from any fixed idea whatsoever, in the manner of Stirner. There is no higher cause or order for him, only himself.

Apoliteia is a useful attitude for anyone who is at odds spiritually with the mass society. This at least is shared by Evola and Jünger, though it is merely a shared opposition rather than a real affinity of thought.

Otherwise, this blog has been quite illuminating. Please do continue with it.

Karl Fraser said...

Thanks for the comments, JD - I'd like to hear more of your views on this blog.

Sure, Evola's primary theme is Tradition. But I don't see a necessary conflict between the two figures of Anarch and 'differentiated man', at least not in the present world and in the context of what Evola writes in "Ride the Tiger", where he deals specifically with strategies for the present era of the cosmic cycle.

In Evola's real or imagined golden past, a man striving for self-illumination and freedom would a) have been less at odds with the normal society around him, since it was governed and formed by higher principles and human types and b) he also would have been supported by esoteric structures and groups with the same goals as himself. The strictly distanced and self-dependent attitude of the anarch would not have been necessary to the same degree. There would have been others to whom one could exchange the most deeply sincere thoughts and feelings.

When this same man finds himself in a society which is not governed and formed by the higher in terms of level of being but rather the lower, and true esotericism is absent, he can only take on what looks to me essentially an anarch's position. That this strategy would become necessary at certain periods was comprehended by Tradition's teachings, which understood that dark periods (Kali yugas in Hindu cosmology) are also part of the cosmic cycles and that a different approach to the normal esoteric path must be taken in these moments. Gurdjieff's Fourth Way is another strategy for spiritual growth specifically in such dark periods when Traditional esotericism disappears.

There is no hint in Eumeswil of Venator belonging to any esoteric groups because presumably no true ones exist there, like in our world. However, he does not reject external wisdom or guidance per se - on the contrary, he has his teachers Bruno, Vigo and Thofern. He fully respects them and their advice, and with Bruno and Vigo comes close to a certain reverence. However, as an anarch he also retains for himself the ultimate priviledge, nay, the obligation to test their veracity and relevance for himself. Gurdjieff and Evola would not have disagreed with allowing this kind of freedom from absolute obedience, in fact they would also have recommended it in the present context.

There are other analogies between all three of these "systems" (now I am including the Fourth Way). For example, the taking advantage of a phenomenon foretold in Tradition, emphasized in the Fourth Way, and taken full advantage of by Manuel with his Luminar - namely the abnormally free access to previously hidden knowledge, which becomes possible in dark periods to the few are still looking for it.

As an aside, as much as I appreciate Stirner's Einziger, I would put him on a rung below both the anarch, as Juenger does in Eumeswil, but also the differentiated man as conceived in Ride the Tiger. There is "egoism" in the Einziger, which is a step below the anarch's substantial Ego-being. Similarly to the anarchist, the Einziger rejects authority "per se", though in contrast to the anarchist, he does not see any value in destroying society, nor in finding like-minded anti-social conspirators. On the other hand, to quote the anarch: "I am an anarch – not because I despise authority, but because I need it. Likewise, I am not a nonbeliever, but a man who demands something worth believing in."

I am not at all convinced that someone of Venator's level of being, finding himself in a Traditional period, would not have belonged to an esoteric school.

Which allows me to conclude here - the anarch would probably find something to believe in in Evola's hypothesized Traditional society, whereas the 'differentiated man', finding himself in a world with nothing worth believing in, becomes to all intents and purposes an anarch.

Baroh said...

JD: That is a sharp observation. The Anarch is not longing for or referring to a lost "Golden Age". That is the difference between Evolas differentiated man and Jüngers Anarch.

Otherwise I agree that Evolas work is very obscure and very difficult to read. It requires your full attention, sentence by sentence.

On a side note i will mention a youtube video of Evola being interviewed about his involvement in Dadaism. He talks and acts very differently from what i imagined.
As far as I know it is the only existing film of Evola online.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCvUvmQJgZM

Karl Fraser said...

JD and Baroh:

I can't agree that the differentiated man of Evola and the anarch are radically different. In the most important dimension, their substance, their ontological being, they are very similar.

Moreover, while Evola certainly does look too-longingly back to the golden past in many of his works, in "Ride the Tiger" his strategy for the differentiated man has little to do with attempting to follow Tradition anymore but is all about practical spiritual survival today. I believe you mistake what Evola usually discusses with the specific strategy of "Ride the Tiger".

He may be difficult to read (though I find nothing superfluous in what he writes) but I suggest you do read this book.

From the other side, the anarch has nothing against Tradition per se - a free person can allow himself whatever associations or lessons he chooses. He only refuses to be bound by them per forza, as he does by any external idea or power. In fact, he finds much of interest there, even if he does not take it as dogma - many of Manuel's interests and citations come from Traditional times or sources. Many of his viewpoints are also patently Traditional - for example "I am convinced that one of the fundamental orderings of the universe is a pedagogical one".

Comparing himself to his father, he says at one point: "Getting fired up over long worn-out buzzwords, he (his father) is even more closely bound to tradition than I. Yet his way is necrophilia."

With Ride the Tiger, Evola's own connection to Tradition is hardly necrophilic - like Juenger's anarch, it is a serious and practical attempt to provide a survival strategy for the self-evolving man in today's society.

Lastly, I also dispute your contention that for the anarch there is no higher cause or order, only himself. This may be true for Stirner's Only One, but that figure is a step below the anarch, ontologically and idealistically. Juenger himself says this. One difference may be that the anarch understands the responsibility to others that automatically comes with higher knowledge or power - that is, he acknowledges himself as part of a higher pedagogical order. And similarly he also accepts that he has to contend with powers and orders that are higher than him, whether or not he likes that. He is not morally obliged to respect them, but knows he may ultimately be practically forced to deal with them. This is not a pious but again a Traditional view.

Baroh said...

Of course there are similarities between the Anarch and The Differentiated Man (and between Jünger and Evola), but Evola is much more elitist (fascist) than Jünger.

Jünger basically says that freedom is right in front of you, if you know how to grasp and use it. And that you can use any (authentic) method from tradition (or one of its modern incarnations) to free yourself. The reason that he is referring to tradition is that thoughts that are effective and true usually survive, while artificial and false (inauthentic) thoughts usually do not stand the test of time.

Evola constantly underline that the ideals and techniques he is talking about is for a very special and rare person both racially, physically and spiritually. And not for the normal person of modern times.

Evolas reasons for writing "Ride the tiger" are very different from Jüngers modus operandi. Evola saw a world and a way of life that he perceived as wrong and false, compared to the correct and authentic ways of tradition, and he wanted to cope with it.

Jünger was sceptical of any society and wanted to envision a way in which the free individual could remain true to himself in a world that constantly tried to "equalize" or incorporate anyone who stepped out of line.

Adam said...

Saw you have many quotes from "EUMESWIL" - you got them from ebook, maybe? I ask beacuse, here in Poland, nobody publish that book. I'm looking for some other Jungers books; I have read "On the Marble Cliffs" and The Adventurous Heart and I'm totaly charmed.

If you can help me please contact me: irraka@o2.pl

Karl Fraser said...

Hi Adam,

In German, you can get almost all his books online, even through Amazon.de.

In English, a little more difficult. "Eumeswil" is available here:

http://isbndb.com/d/book/eumeswil/prices.html

Karl