December 24, 2010

Wie Ernst Jünger erst das iPhone erfand - How Ernst Jünger invented the iPhone


Wer schon Heliopolis gelesen hat, dem wird dieser Vortrag keine Offenbarung darstellen. Der weißt schon, daß in diesem futuristichen 1949 Roman ein Gerät, das sogenannte Phonophore, das genau wie ein Smartphone funktioniert, als Accessoire jedes Bürger erscheint.

Nachdem der Sprecher Jüngers Vision bestätigt hat, sieht er sich leider dazu gezwungen - vielleicht weil es schliesslich der beliebte böse Ernst Jünger ist - die Lücken in dieser Vision heraus zu erfinden. Davonabgesehen daß jeder Voraussicht von 1948 auf 2010 natürlich nicht gänzlich von kleinen Fehlern geschont bleiben kann, bin ich überzeugt, daß Jüngers Vision einer zentralistischen Monopolisierung und Hierachie des Phonephore Netz, in kurzem das Internet, nicht falsch ist. Die Behauptung, es sei frei, demokratisch und dezentraliziert ist reine Naivität, Ignoranz der Machtgefüge und Konditionierung Mechanismen unserer heutigen Welt. Das Phonophore von Heliopolis bleibt eine bestechende Zeugnis der Einsicht Jüngers in unsere Technik.

(Siehe auch http://www.ernst-juenger.org/2011/02/iphone4-or-iphonophore.html)

Anyone who has read Heliopolis, Jünger´s first futuristic novel, should not be surprised by the title of this blog and the embedded lecture. These readers already know that an apparatus with almost identical functions to today's smart phones appeared in this novel way back in 1949.

December 21, 2010

All Things are Nothing to Me *

Quoted from Eumeswil, regarding Max Stirner's concept of "Der Einziger":

"Now just what are the cardinal points or the axioms of Stirner's system, if one cares to call it that? There are only two, but they suffice for thorough reflection:

1. That is not My business.
2. Nothing is more important than I."

For any readers able to transcend the usual reaction to this as "shocking egoism", I give you below the whole first chapter of Stirner's Der Einziger und sein Eigentum ("The Ego and its property", sometimes translated as "The Only One and his property"). I believe it contains most of what is essential to understand Jünger´s summary of the Der Einziger, and thereby the psychological basis of the anarch.

For your "thorough reflection" then! I would welcome your reflections ....

December 20, 2010

"102 Years in the heart of Europe: a portrait of Ernst Jünger"

It is in Swedish, but the interviews with Jünger are in the original German, and they are a significant part of the whole. Enjoy, it is as good as I expected!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
This looks to be a very interesting documentary from Sweden. If anyone knows where this can be seen or purchased, I´d appreciate the tip!!

video



From the producer´s website:

102 Years in the Heart of Europe - A Portrait of Ernst Jünger
Documentary
Duration 58min.
Director Jesper Wachtmeister / Solaris Filmproduktion
Writer Björn Cederberg
Producer Fredrik Martin
© Fredrik Martin & Co. Filmproduktion 1998

German writer Ernst Jünger was born and lived in what has been the centre of European power, culture, politics and science for virtually the entire 20th century. Jünger fought in the first world war and received Germany’s highest military decoration from Hindenburg in 1918; he discussed politics with Goebbels and Brecht in Berlin in the ‘20s and art with Picasso during the Second World War; he conspired against Hitler and tried LSD in 1950. The news footage in the film becomes a commentary on Jünger’s life and writings, as contradictory and controversial as the history of the century.

Arte TV on the Marbacher Jünger Exhibition

It begins in a rather cliched manner ("Er war ein Mann der Kälte ....") but the real value here is listening to Martin Walser talk in shining words about Ernst Jünger´s value for people today.


December 19, 2010

Jünger and Hofmann

An interesting snippet of a conversation between Ernst Jünger and Albert Hofmann about their early LSD trips together. The quality improves after the first few seconds.

Psychonaut friends: Ernst Jünger and Albert Hofmann, inventor of LSD.

Ernst Jünger's readership - more eclectic than you think!

What this guy understands about Ernst Jünger's thought, I cannot judge - he only reads from one of his books here. But I give him the benefit of the doubt, since he has picked one of Jünger´s last, most metaphysical works, Die Schere (The Scissors, untranslated into English). 

The video also clearly shows that Jünger readers come in all shapes and colors!!

(Apparently Joschka Fischer also read Jünger, from Fischer´s left-wing student days all the way through to the year Jünger won the Goethe Prize. He then even defended Jünger´s right to receive it. I might post this letter sometime.)

Kriegstagebuch 1914 - 1918 - Deutschlandfunk book review

I am generally not very interested in the early Jünger works - whatever others may say, I find the mature works infinitely more useful for my own enlightenment. I also find they can be studied sufficiently well without much background in the early life and thought of Jünger. Life is short, too short to focus on the unessential, which is what these early works are in comparison with the mature masterpieces like Eumeswil and Co.

Nevertheless, when there is time, these immature works do add some interesting depth to the author. I still have to read the recently published Kriegstagerbuch from the trenches of WWI. This review on Deutschlandfunk is a good one, that just might make me buy the book.

If you find some extra time, listen....(auf Deutsch natürlich).

December 18, 2010

ZEIT interview with Ernst Jünger in 1989

The following is my unofficial translation of an interview with Ernst Jünger which appeared in the ZEIT magazine in 1989. The interviewer is André Müller.

I leave it to the reader without comment - in any case, even the most objective translation contains something of the translator.

A friendship developed from my original working contact with Ernst Jünger, who I interviewed for ZEIT on November 8, 1989. We corresponded and he called me at regular intervals, initially to let me know about favorable critiques or newspaper articles, but later also to ask my opinions or share something personal. I visited him five times, twice at his house in Wilflingen and three times at his nephew´s,* where he stayed when he came to Munich for the annual meeting of recipients of the Bavarian Order of Maximilian. According to Jünger, I owed this interview to the second wife of Friedrich Dürrenmatt, the journalist Charlotte Kerr, who had requested a television interview with him. He said she had warned him about me. I was a dangerous chap with whom he should be on guard. He responded to her that he understood that as a compliment and decided to accept my request. After some hesitation, he even agreed to a recording.

November 15, 2010

Kulturstaatsminister Bernd Neumann anlässlich der Eröffnung „Ernst Jünger – Arbeiter am Abgrund“

In seiner Rede im  Deutschen Literaturarchiv Marbach ging Staatsminister Bernd Neumann auf das Leben und Schaffen von Ernst Jünger ein. Ebenso wies er auf die besondere Bedeutung von Archiven hin und sprach das Thema Digitalisierung schriftlichen Kulturguts an.


Ernst Jünger notebook

- Es gilt das gesprochene Wort. -
Anrede,

gerne übermittele ich die Grüße der Bundesregierung zur Eröffnung der großen Ernst-Jünger-Ausstellung hier im "Pantheon der deutschen Literatur". Ein nicht nur langes, sondern auch besonders reiches Leben stellt sich dar: Ernst Jünger, der zeitlebens in erdgeschichtlichen und kosmischen Dimensionen dachte, sah es als ein Zeichen des Himmels und als ein Menetekel zugleich an, dass er zweimal – 1910 und 1986 – den berühmten Halleyschen Kometen an der Erde vorüberziehen sah. Durch die Aufnahme in die berühmte französische "Bibliotèque de la Pleiade" wurde er selbst gleichsam zu den Sternen erhoben.

October 14, 2010

Jüngers Kriegstagebücher - a higher perspective

The press has recently been been full of discussion about the publication of Ernst Jünger's War Diaries (Kriegstagebücher), his original notes from the trenches of WWI. Above all this has provided new opportunities for the usual misuse of his works by left-wing opponents and right-wing "friends", respectively expressing their knee-jerk critique and misguided hero worship.

The disproportion of this attention is apparent when one remembers that it is directed at a single teenage work of an author who lived to 102, wrote dozens of far more interesting and profound works, and was awarded Germany's highest literary prize.

(One wonders if these respected critics, Feuilleton editors and academics are in fact incapable in their 50's or 60's of anything more challenging than analyzing to death Jünger´s teenage works? The reflection of a difference in intellectual level of development? Would they know where to begin with later works like Eumeswil or An der Zeitmauer, works that have not been classified once and for all times in the public mind by these "authorities"? I challenge these venerable gentlemen to "explain" Eumeswil and the anarch to their readers with their tired old politicized cliches!)

October 13, 2010

Ernst Jünger Conferences in Florence

In a site devoted to Ernst Jünger, it is unforgivable that I have never mentioned the remarkable work of the Association Eumeswil in Florence, Italy. As one of the only groups world-wide that regularly organizes conferences and other events on Ernst Jünger, they deserve front-page treatment here. This oversight will be redressed in the future, as I have nothing but respect for their efforts there!

They gain plenty of extra points in my eyes, since they are clearly oriented towards Ernst Jünger´s mature works - as the name already indicates.

For October, this Jünger conference (in Italian) is announced on their website:

Saturday October 23, 17h
Istituto dei Padri Scolopi – Scuole Pie Fiorentine, Sala Verde – via Cavour 94, Firenze

Ernst Jünger's Orient: a bridge beyond modernity.
Speaker: Sandro Gorgone, professor of philosophy, University of Messina

The Orient in dialogue between Ernst and Friedrich Georg Jünger
Speaker: Professor Giuliana Gregorio, History of Philosophy, University of Messina.

In the city of the Renaissance, let us hope their work leads to a rebirth of interest in Ernst Jünger!

September 11, 2010

A new color! "Global grey"

I'm going to stray from direct reference to Ernst Jünger here, though it will be in the train of his thinking regarding global "levelization" or flattening of culture.

I was in the United Nations building here last week, since I can do duty-free shopping there. Indeed, I have no other reason to go, since the place basically depresses me everytime I visit.

Why? Because it becomes apparent there in microcosm how globalization ultimately leads not to a fascinating colorful tapestry of cultures but to a uniform "global grey".

If one imagines taking all the world´s flags and composing a mosaic of them, on a sphere like this unknown graphic artist has done, a cheerful and stimulating impression results. According to color theory, if one spun this globe very fast, assuming all the colors of the rainbow were present in the various flags, a pure white would result. This is additive color mixing - the frequencies of the colors are added to each to produce full-spectrum visible light, which is white.
 

September 8, 2010

INTERNATIONAL COVERS OF ERNST JÜNGER BOOKS


Here's a colourful mosaic of all the Jünger books (and a few good books on Jünger) that I´ve managed to collect over the years - presented here mainly for fun, but also to reinforce the international importance of Ernst Jünger. May it grow year by year as the world begins to discover the insights of this author!


Eumeswil
Eumeswil
Le api di vetro
Aladdin's Problem
Erzählende Schriften II. Heliopolis.
La emboscadura
Approches, drogues et ivresse
Trattato del ribelle
Sulle scogliere di marmo
Il cuore avventuroso. Figurazioni e capricci
Avvicinamenti. Droghe ed ebbrezza
Heliopolis
Sämtliche Werke, 18 Bde. u. 4 Supplement-Bde., Bd.11: Annäherungen
Die Schere
Das abenteuerliche Herz. Figuren und Capriccios.
An der Zeitmauer.
Der Waldgang
Aladdin's Problem
Héliopolis
On the Marble Cliffs


Associazione Eumeswil's favorite books »

August 19, 2010

Ernst Jünger documentary - "Ich widerspreche mir nicht." (3SAT, 1977)

Not a bad documentary on Ernst Jünger, consisting for once - thank goodness! - mostly of him speaking, and not others commenting on him. All five parts are below.

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


Part 4


Part 5


June 1, 2010

BP oil spill - the elements unleashed and running riot

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico reminded me of a chapter in Friedrich Georg Jünger's "The Failure of Technology - Perfection without Purpose", which I have reproduced almost completely below. I hope it may help intelligent readers who want to go deeper in understanding what has happened than is given them in the typical media or environmental analysis. In fact, I would highly recommend this book, soon to be republished by Alethes Press, for a deeper understanding of the titanic nature of technology and its eventual intrinsically-inevitable failure as it approaches perfection.

In this chapter,  Friedrich Georg Jünger describes how technology is fundamentally based on the tapping, confining and controlled application/release of elemental energies in nature. In effect, these energies and forces of the earth are narrowly confined by man's technology into receptacles and machines that store and then transform them into motion, heat, etc. That is, they are carefully imprisoned. The extreme example of this is nuclear energy, in which the elemental forces of matter itself are tapped - once this unlimited reservoir of energy has been broken into by technology, the forces unleashed have to be handled extremely carefully, imprisoned in the highest security jails and only allowed very controlled outlets. When however they break free, their wrath is all the more violent, the more restrictively they have been confined. A nuclear meltdown or atomic bomb would be the most extreme example of the imprisoned energies gaining their freedom and wreaking havoc. An oil well uncontrollably gushing its elemental forces into the world is another excellent one.

As numerous paragraphs in the passages below will show (in red), Friedrich Georg Jünger managed to foresee in 1939 something very similar to what has now happened to the BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. Its deep fundamental causes are all present in his analysis. The following should also function as a warning for future jailbreaks of all the energies we have tapped into and then confined in our apparatus.

(I sometimes imagine the firestorm that will result if an industrial blaze in an urban area gets so hot that it begins to uncontrollably ignite all the confined flameable materials present in a typical modern city - all the petroleum in millions of car tanks and gas stations, all the oil-based synthetic materials present in every house and office, the gas pipelines, etc. Such an inferno, once beyond a certain heat, would not be controllable by Man's means; it would make all previous city infernos hearth fires by comparison. That this is subconsciously perceived by  society is evidenced by the astonishment and fear elicited by the sight of a simple open flame in the city, in an illegal garbage burning or campfire for example - un-imprisoned fire is completely absent in cities; and when it is seen, it immediately provokes fear, despite the fact that despite millions of confined blazes are happening in every moment in car engines, home furnaces, factories etc. If there is ever a jail break, we will do well to get far away.)

Anyhow, here is plenty of food for thought from F.G.J:
Whatever power technology produces, it draws from nature's reservoir in the same fashion as one draws a pint from a barrel. This holds true regardless how ingenious the means may be by which technology taps the sources of its power.
The technician has lost the age-old awe that restrained man from injuring the earth, from changing the shape of its surface. This awe in the past was very pronounced; its traces are found everywhere in the history of agriculture, and it reaches well into historical times....
The technician however proceeds without awe, as his methods show. To him, the earth is an object for intelligent and artful planning, a lifeless sphere subject to mechanical motion and exploitation by him who understands its mechanics. Ruthlessly the technician conquers the earth in his quest for power; he confines the elemental forces in engines where they must obey and deliver power. Elementary nature and man-made mechanisms controlled by human intelligence will clash and the outcome is an act of enslavement which presses elemental forces into service. Their free play is ended by force.
We gain a clear idea of this process is we imagine it as an act of tapping or bleeding. Man taps elemental nature and drains her forces. The wells and shafts driven into the earth everywhere to get at her underground treasures, those factories which extract the nitrogen from the air, or simply ways of transforming clay into bricks - these are all taps and drains....
With the progress of technology, the sum total of the contributions which it extracts from nature grows bigger and bigger. Elemental nature, through mechanical work, is being mastered; it is being conquered and exploited by man-made tools. But if we thought this to be the whole story, we would understand but half of it. We would have only a one-sided idea of the process. For all this seemingly one-sided pressure and compulsion, this engineered extortion of nature, has a reverse side, a counter-part. Because the elementary now floods with its power all things mechanical, it permeates and expands all over the man-made world which has conquered it. In other words, mechanization and elementarization are merely two aspects of the same process; they presuppose one another....
As we look around today we feel that we are living in a giant mill which works day and night at a furious, feverish pace.... This is the workshop of the Titans. The industrial landscape is volcanic in its character, and thus all the companion-signs of volcanic eruption are found, especially in the areas of heavy industry: lava, ashes, fumaroles, smoke, gases, night clouds reddened by flames - and devastation far and wide.  Titanic elemental forces captured in marvelous engines are straining against pistons and cylinder walls as crankshafts are moving and delivering an even flow of power. All the elements are racing and raging through the jails of man-made apparatus; all those boilers, pipelines, gearboxes, valves are steely and bristling with reinforcements, as is every jail, designed to keep its inmates from escaping. But who can remain deaf to the sighing and moaning of the prisoners, to their raging and ranting, to their mad fury, as he listens to the multitude of new and strange noises which technology has created? Characteristically, all these originate from the meeting of the mechanical with the elemental; they are produced by the outflow of elementary forces from the contraining might of the machine....
At a certain stage of technological progress, the individual begins to become aware that he has entered into a danger zone. Gradually the smug satisfaction which the observor derived from the sight of some marvelous piece of machinery, gets mingled with a sense of impending danger; fear befalls him....
The realization that man has to pay a price for every increase in power the machine gives him, that he must give an equivalent in return, is a realization that had not yet dawned in the early days of technology. In those days, boundless economic confidence predominated, an unshakeable optimism about the future.... As technology approaches perfection, however, the chorus of optimistic voices grows weaker, because experience gradually teaches not only the advantages but also the disadvantages which the new tools bring. Only by experience do we learn that our technological apparatus has its own laws, and that we must be on our guard against getting in conflict with them.
The industrial accident may serve here as an illustration. As mechanization progresses, industrial and traffic accidents increase until they far exceed the casualties of war. Since even the most ingenious inventions cannot eliminate these accidents, it is clear that they must be due to some basic discrepancy between the operator and the mechanism he operates. The operational accident occurs when man fails to function as a human machine, where he no longer acts in accord with the automatic mechanism he is operating. The operational accident, in other words, occurs precisely where we are human, where we try to assert our independence of the machine, be it by a lack of attention, fatigue, sleep, or preoccupation with nonmechanical things. It is in such moments of human weakness that the suppressed elemental forces break loose, get out of control and wreak their vengeance by destroying both the operator and his machine. The law, now in the service of the technical organization, punishes the negligent operator for his failure to control his automaton with automatic regularity....
By its progressive mechanization, technology not only accumulates those energies which obey rational thinking and are its faithful servant. With the aid of these energies, it does not merely create a new work organization that directs both production and consumption. In the same process of mechanization, technology also accumulates forces of destruction which, once unleashed, turn upon man with elemental impact and a fury all the greater, the closer technology advances to perfection....
There are many to whom such destruction seems senseless and inexplicable because they do not understand the connection between destruction and technology, although they could see the same kind of disorder in any industrial accident. They do not grasp the fact that, together with technological progress, the violent and destructive forces of disorder also progress apace....
We now realize the existence of various danger zones which we can distinguish by the varying degrees to which they are menaced by destruction. Those zones where the interaction between man-made mechanics and natural elements is most intense, that is, where technical progress has advanced the farthest, as in big cities and highly industrialized regions; those are also the zones where destruction can have the greatest quantitative effect. 

May 27, 2010

"My Thing" and "God's Thing"

Max Stirner's "The Ego and its Own" (Der Einziger und sein Eigentum) was a fundamental text for Ernst Jünger´s development of the figure of the Anarch. In Eumeswil, Ernst Jünger summarizes the "cardinal points or the axioms of Stirner's system, if one cares to call it that" as being just two - two however which "suffice for thorough reflection":

1) That is not My business.
2) Nothing is more important than I.

During my own reading of Stirner, I find myself regularly re-reading the first chapter, "All things are nothing to me". I see in this chapter the whole metaphysical basis for Stirner's radical concept of individual autonomy; it also suffices to corroborate Jünger's summary. A few quotes from the chapter are in order. This first one opens it:
What is not supposed to be my concern? First and foremost the good cause, then God's cause, the cause of mankind, of truth, of freedom, of humanity, of justice; further, the cause of my people, my prince, my fatherland; finally, even the cause of mind and a thousand other causes. Only my cause is never to be my concern. 'Shame on the egoist who thinks only of himself!'
Stirner goes on to explain how God, mankind, the Sultan have all only concerned themselves with their own egoistic concerns. The individual on the other hand is supposed to forget his own egoistic cause and serve theirs. To which Stirner protests:
God and mankind have concerned themselves with nothing and for nothing but themselves. Let me then likewise concern myself for myself, who am equally with God the nothing of all others, who am my all, who am the only one (der Einzige).

If God, if mankind, as you affirm, have substance enough in themselves to be all in all to themselves, then I feel that I shall still less lack that, and that I shall have no complaint to make of my 'emptiness'. I am not nothing in the sense of emptiness, but I am the creative nothing (schöpferische Nichts), the nothing out of which I myself as creator create everything.

Away, then, with every concern that is not altogether my concern! You think at least the 'good cause' must by my concern? What's good, what's bad? Why, I myself am my concern, and I am neither good nor bad. Neither has meaning for me.

The divine is God's concern; the human, 'man's'. My concern is neither the divine nor the human, not the true, the good, just, free, etc, but solely what is mine (das Meinige), and it is not a general one, but is - unique (einzig), as I am unique.

Nothing is more to me than myself!
Stirner wants to create a tabula rasa by actively clearing the field of his consciousness from all the egoistic external causes which impose themselves on him and want to manipulate him - religion ('God'), humanity ('mankind'), other powerful men ('the Sultan'). He reduces them all to nothing by actively annihilating their psychological relevence to him - they mean nothing to him. An inner void is created, which, he explains, is not emptiness, but rather a creative nothing, within which he, as all that remains, is free to create his world anew.

For when nothing else such as God, mankind, society fills him with its claims, then all that remains is he, the ego, alone in a state of absolute creative freedom. And out of himself, what is his naturally arises to fill the void
, which is to say, 'his property'. Thus the title of the book, "The Ego and his Property".

(A double title would be more accurate - "The Ego/Only One and his Property" - since it is not just the ego that is critical but the fact that it alone remains when all else has been psychologically annihilated.)

At this point, I would make a personal distinction regarding the Ego and God. It is a departure from Stirner's personal feelings towards 'God', but perhaps not from the spirit of the Only One. And I suspect not from the spirit of Jünger´s Anarch.

As a result of his own personal and cultural background, Stirner clearly saw 'God' as one of the foreign causes that had so often distracted or perverted the attention of egoists through the ages from their own causes. Thus God and religion had to be effectively annihilated within the ego's consciousness, so that it was empty and free to realize its own cause.

I fully agree with psychologically annihilating all external egos that want to steal my cause from me. But in my personal case, I never had a strong influence of religion in my upbringing; thus,
in this respect at least, I have nothing to annul or fight against within myself. "God and religion are already nothing within me", to put it in his terms.

However I like to believe that higher powers exist in the universe, and even that they may see a bigger and clearer picture than I do. I call these powers 'the force of destiny', but others may call them 'God'; and in what follows, destiny should be remembered when the word 'God' is used.

Ideally I would like to reconcile myself as an ego with God-destiny. For me, this is possible, and I express it as "doing my thing":

God-destiny - no less than I - wants nothing more and nothing less than that I 'do my thing'. Doing my thing will be suffice me for my lifetime, and it will also be right for me, since it corresponds to what I am.

God-destiny would be as disappointed by my straying into irrelevent philanthropy as into irrelevent 'vice'. But do not misunderstand me -
my thing will certainly comprehend activities and natural impulses that are normally called philanthropic and vicious. But what meaning have these categories for me - from my perspective, I can do no 'good' or 'bad' thing, only my thing. Indeed, what is 'good' for me is doing my thing; and what is 'bad' is not doing my thing, but the things of someone or something else's.

I can equally well call this God's perspective, because he too only wants me to do my thing. Indeed, he prays that I will do it, because he created me to do my thing.

If, as a do-gooder, I try to do more than my thing, that is, someone or something else's things, then I necessarily go off-track, I 'sin' in the original Greek meaning of missing the mark.
Neither will doing some other 'good', thing compensate for not realizing my thing, for I can only ever do that other thing imperfectly, bungle it in comparison to how I would succeed in my thing. This mistake may even go very sour, as Jünger points out in Eumeswil:  
"As for the do-gooders, I am familiar with the horrors that were perpetrated in the name of humanity, Christianity, progress. I have studied them. I do not know whether I am correctly quoting a Gallic thinker: ‘Man is neither an animal nor an angel; but he becomes a devil when he tries to be an angel.’ ”
I have time, energy and ability only enough for my thing - anything else I do will result in an imperfect realization of what I was born for, what God, nature, my destiny created me for - doing my thing, nothing else.

So make yourself, your 'God' and your destiny happy and do your thing - nothing more is asked of you and you can do nothing better than that!


May 17, 2010

Technology, principles and sustainability

This blog entry regarding the importance of restraining principles in the exploitation of technology may seem to have little to do with the anarch or Ernst Jünger, however it did emerge from a discussion of whether Jacques Allul was an anarchist or something other. Hence I include it.

(I can only imagine Ernst Jünger would agree with Allul's ideas, since they correspond closely to his notions of the titanic abuse of science. His brother Friedrich Georg Jünger also often wrote about the unprincipled application of technology.)

As Allul explains in this interview, in certain middle age societies, a rule regarding technology existed which forbad the use of iron tools in working the earth. Although the people of the time knew that these would undoubtedly have been more efficient, the earth was considered a mother whom the use of hard tools would have injured.

In the light of our unrestrained use of technology today, we may think such a rule out-dated, inapplicable to us and above all inefficient - and yet when we look at how mining (and mechanized agriculture) have degraded and impoverished the earth in the last centuries, we understand that there was a real sense to this rule, that it contained simpler but greater wisdom than our technological cleverness. Such a rule or principle would have prevented the rape of the earth that we have witnessed in recent centuries.

Back then the extent to which our "iron" technology would progress would have been inconceivable - and probably considered demonic. Yet in consideration only of their own simple technology, without reference to all the mistakes we have since made, these civilizations followed a principle which protected the earth and ultimately also them. And had we maintained this principle, we would also have avoided our current environmental troubles.

We can learn from this that technology requires the guidance of principles - even when it seems that little damage can be done. One never knows to what extent a a contemporary technological development may progress. A conservative principle protects one from this danger. It allows stability, an equilibrium, to develop in a system - 'thus far and no further'.

That is to say, restraining principles applied to our technology would allow the development of that magical "sustainability" which so fills our rhetoric today.

Above all it must become clear that it is not more and better technology that will bring salvation, sustainability - it is new restraining principles for its use. Whether these are religiously or rationally-based is irrelevent - religious ones would probably work better for the masses.

Incidentally, Allul doesn't come across as an anarchist to me - he evidently values what tradition may offer. It is only the modern desacralization of nature that he objects to.

March 22, 2010

The Titanic Games

I was recently in Vancouver, Canada coincidentally at the same time as the Winter Olympic Games, and it occurred to me that the name Olympic Games is completely inaccurate and even dishonest. Let me explain.

One of Ernst Jünger's key symbols to characterize our post-enlightenment world is that of the titans from Greek mythology. His (and his brother Friedrich Georg Jünger's) idea is that we are living in a titanic world, in which the old gods have been defeated or have retreated out of human reach. Where there are no gods, the titans step in to fill the gap and exercise their powers.

Although an anarch takes no sides in the eternal struggle and alternation of titans and gods in world history, he should always understand the world he is living in, in order to best manage his relationship with it. This is part of his commandment to "Know the rules".

For an anarch, it is thus absurd to see the words "Olympic Games" used, especially when their organizers try to maintain an association with the ethics and spirit of the original Olympic Games. No, our modern games should rightly be called the Titanic Games, not only because we live in a titanic world, but because almost everything about these games in titanic in spirit.

Our Titanic Games are not about the spirit of peace, human excellence and companionship. Titans are literally  "overstretchers" and so their games are above all about achieving extremes of performance at all costs: a new world record is the absolute prize, even more than a gold; performance-enhancing technology is as much a part of the games as human achievement (doping as much as equipment and training technologies); all performances are analyzed on the spot with quantitative criteria and statistics; and even their Opening Ceremonies are flashy spectacles of technological power rather than artistic measure.

In Vancouver, it was only in the ice dance competition that I could detect any remnant of the Olympic Games.

January 26, 2010

Secondary sources and the anarch

"Secondary sources": this academic convention came to mind during recent discussions on Ernst Jünger. It seems that secondary sources have different meanings to different people. Why this is so relates directly to the anarchic quality in that person - or its absence.

In the common sense, secondary sources are external authorities commenting on the intellectual productions of the subject of one's own studies. The first person is thus the student, or commentator,  the second person the work or author studied, while the third person (the "secondary source") is another individual commenting on the work or author. I (first person) study Ernst Jünger (second person) and, as part of that study, I analyze what another (third person) said about him or his work.

It should now be obvious why my explanation of the all-too-obvious is not superfluous. As an anarch who takes his own authority and understanding as the only ultimately relevant one - and grants that right to every other individual -  I ask myself why the "secondary source" is not called a tertiary one, since that is the position of that participant in the process? This question reveals much about the  independence and being of many intellectuals and academics.

Contrary to appearances, many of them apparently undervalue themselves. For even as authors of an academic work (and thus the primary source who should make the ultimate judgments on the subject of the work), they often lose themselves (and are lost to the reader) in long and bulky comparisons of "secondary sources". The original face and intelligence of the author disappears here and he becomes a mere disc jockey of other people's intellectual efforts.

(The active first-person contribution to this kind of intellectual production is so minor and indirect that the author should really be designated anonymous - "there is no-one at home" in the work, no true ownership, all is borrowed. In these cases the secondary and tertiary sources take on their own collective life and a new academic work "just happens", without conscious direction. This sophisticated "cut and paste" process spins itself out into myriad abstract constellations in the academic world, so that new intellectual "creations" and discussions may contain absolutely nothing original and moreover have moved into total disconnection with any real world. If detached objectivity was the original motivation for this approach to ideas, it here degenerates into pure nonsense.)

An anarch never loses sight of himself and his own first-person reality to this degree. He strives to remember himself, keep himself at the center of the process. He is always his own primary source. The external work being studied - and in a broader sense, the whole outer world - is a secondary source, and others commenting on it are tertiary sources.

An anarch makes a conscious effort to always recall the second of Stirner's two commandments (as summarized by Jünger):
"Nothing is more important than I."
This does not mean he is a naive egotist. He does not disregard secondary sources, since "everything is my business, but Nothing is My business". As a pragmatist, he realizes that the world is filled with human insights which can be harvested, eaten and digested by him to form his own material.

But no external sources, not even such elevated ones as angels, gods or Nobel Prize winners, are necessarily valuable or sacred to him.

Above all, they are never more important to him than his own genuine self-won understanding of the matter at hand.

Because at the end of the day, what does the borrowed understanding of another mean if the first person subject does not understand and cannot therefore benefit from this understanding? What good does it do me if I fool the whole world into believing I understand something by remixing the words and ideas of others but get no real benefit from it myself? (The answer is that vanity provides its own illusionary reward. But an anarch prefers even a gram of real understanding to a ton of flashy illusion.)

As an aspiring anarch, I try to keep myself the primary source - even when I read Ernst Jünger. He would have wanted it no other way.