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dimanche, 23 janvier 2011

Jack London: The Protean Writer Who Mixed Racism with Socialism

The Protean writer who mixed racism with socialism : Jack London

Instauration

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

jack_london.jpg“There never was a good biography of a good novelist,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once observed. “He is too many people, if he’s any good.” This dictum holds particularly true in the case of Jack London (1876–1916). For biographers and critics as well, he is the most elusive of subjects. As a person, as a writer, and most of all as a man of ideas, he continually takes on different and sharply contrasting forms.

For nearly half of his short, turbulent and adventurous life he was a member of the Socialist Party. He wrote books and articles championing Socialist principles. He liked to end his letters with “Yours for the revolution.” Twice he ran as a Socialist for mayor of his hometown Oakland (he came nowhere near victory). Once, when serving as president of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, he spoke with menacing rhetoric of an imminent violent revolution at Harvard and Yale. Long revered as a patron saint of the left, he was for years the most widely read American author in the Soviet Union.

His best-known Socialist work is The Iron Heel (1907). Set in a future America, the novel expounds Marxist theory and vividly portrays the bloody suppression of a workers’ revolt by a Bilderbergerish cabal of plutocrats called the Oligarchy. Predictably, Iiberal-minority critics praise the book as a prophetic vision of the evils of twentieth-century fascism. Just as predictably, they deplore the shadowy presence of London the hereditarian. To him the book’s slum proletarians, “the people of the abyss,” are “the refuse and the scum of life,” a stock irredeemably inferior to the plutocrats and the Socialist elite who are the heroes and heroines of the novel.

London was usually much more explicit about the genetic coloring of his Socialism. He once horrified some fellow party members by declaring: “What the Devil! I am first of all a white man and only then a Socialist!” And he wrote a friend, “Socialism is not an ideal system devised for the happiness of all men. It is devised so as to give more strength to [Northern European] races so that they may survive and inherit the earth to the extinction of the lesser, weaker races.”

London became a Socialist because first-hand experience — he once worked 14-hour days in a cannery for ten cents an hour — had made him an enemy of economic injustice. But Socialist theory was just one of the three strong intellectual currents of the time that shaped his world view and found expression in his writing. He was also drawn, by his instinctive belief in the primacy of the self, to the ideas of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Max Stirner. The third, probably the most profound influence on his thinking, was Darwinism and Herbert Spencer’s application of it to philosophy and ethics. This doctrine was for London an essential key to the pattern of existence.

The contradictions’ between such divergent sources, writes London’s most recent biographer, Andrew Sinclair (Jack, 1977), “suited his divided nature. . . .  Jack was most a Socialist when he was depressed. . . . When he felt confident, he decided that the survival of the self and the race determined all human behavior.”

We cannot judge to what extent it is fair to describe London’s thinking in terms of manic-depressive psychology. But it is certainly true that throughout his work the writer gravitates from one theoretical matrix to another. For example, in describing his own climb to eminence, either in autobiography or in thinly disguised fiction (notably in the 1909 novel Martin Eden), he casts himself variously as a social underdog victimized by class barriers, as a man of indomitable will, and as a biological specimen superbly fitted for survival.

However he depicted it, his rise was an impressive story. He fought his way up from poverty, educated himself, served a grueling literary apprenticeship, and virtually by main force became a popular, well-paid and influential writer. Glorying in his hard-won status, he established himself in baronial (and un-Socialist) fashion on a sprawling California ranch and labored to maintain his lifestyle by grinding out an average of three books a year.

By instinct and by conviction, London was a literary naturalist-one of a new breed of writers who focused on the harsh, deterministic forces shaping nature and human society. Working at the top of his form, he had an enormous gift for graphically dramatizing primal conflict, and several of his books are classics of their kind. The most famous of these are two novels: The Call of the Wild (1903), in which the canine hero, Buck, learns “the law of the club and fang” in the Yukon; and The Sea-Wolf (1904), a complex and compelling portrait of a sealer captain who is a proto-superman.

Unfortunately, London is not at his best when he makes racial themes central in his fiction. The material, like most of his work, has raw power and vitality. But the modern reader will also find it full of operatic melodrama, stereotyped characters, and Kiplingesque assumptions about the imperial mission of the Anglo-Saxons. (Kipling was a major influence on London’s style and many of his attitudes.)

However, one of London’s themes, racial displacement, is more relevant now than when he wrote. It is the theme of his novel The Valley of the Moon (1913), a sympathetic study of poor, landless Anglo-Saxon Americans in California. They have lost the land to exploiters of their own kind, to more energetic immigrants, and through their own improvidence. They are “the white folks that failed.” Their salvation, London says, lies in returning

with new dedication to the land that is their birthright. His prescription, simplistic as it is, merits respect as a pioneering attempt. And we should note that it has been followed in recent years by a small but significant number of Majority members, people who for various reasons have gone back to the land to start over again.

The innate superiority of Anglo Saxon stock to all others is an article of faith in The Valley of the Moon and in London’s work generally. He was himself of Welsh descent on his mother’s side, English on the side of his presumptive father, a vagabond jack of-all-trades who never married London’s mother and never admitted his paternity.

Racial displacement on a larger scale is foreseen in The Mutiny of the Elsinore (1914). The hero-narrator, obviously London’s persona, is a playwright on an ocean voyage whose atavistic instincts help him crush a mutiny of his genetic inferiors But even as he exults in his victory, he judges it as all for naught in the long historical pull; and throughout the novel he delivers twilight-of-the-gods valedictories to his own kind, the blond, “white-skinned, blue-eyed Aryan.” Born to roam over the world and govern and command it, the paleface Aryan “perishes because of the too-white light he encounters” The brunette races “will inherit the earth, not because of their capacity for mastery and government, but because of their skin-pigmentation which enables their tissues to resist the ravages of the sun.”

This strange hypothesis the writer got from The Effects of Tropical Light on White Men, a book by a Major Woodruff. It was a theory which had been made horribly real for London by the nightmarish skin disease he had contracted on a cruise in the Solomon Islands.

London’s racial pessimism was reinforced by the decline in his fortunes in the last years of his life and by World War I, which he viewed as an orgy of racial fratricide But the writer who once had a heroine make the sensible observation that “white men shouldn’t go around killing each other” was outvoted by the inveterate Anglo-Saxon, and he became an advocate of American intervention on the side of England against Germany (One reason he left the SociaIist Party in 1916 was to protest its neutralist position. Another was his growing dissatisfaction with its dogma. “Liberty, freedom, and independence,” he wrote in his letter of resignation, “are royal things that cannot be presented to, nor thrust upon, races or classes.”)

Given to treating his increasing numbers of ailments, including alcoholism, with morphine and arsenic compounds, he died in 1916 of a self-administered drug overdose. Whether it was accidental or deliberate has never been determined

It is easy enough in retrospect to point out the flaws in London’s racial thinking. But the point to be stressed is that he knew, through his instinct and reason, how primary a factor race is, and he is one of the very few writers in this century who deals forthrightly with the fundamental role of racial dynamics m human affairs.

Like Proteus, London assumes different forms the Darwinian, the Socialist, the self-styled Nietzschean “blond beast,” the man of letters, the man of action, the “sailor on horseback” of his projected autobiography, and the major American author He is also reminiscent of the sea god in that he was something of a prophet. For example, the writer of such works as The Call of the Wild can be considered, to use biographer Sinclair’s words, “the prophet of the correspondences between beasts and men,” and a forerunner of Lorenz and E. O. Wilson.

Sinclair goes on to observe that London’s varied prophetic gifts make him “curiously modern as a thinker, despite the dark corridors of his racial beliefs.” Those of us who have made empirical journeys through our own “dark corridors,” will conclude that in this territory too London IS “curiously modern” and prophetic.

Instauration, vol. 3, no. 8 (June 1978), 5, 17, online: http://www.instaurationonline.com/pdf-files/Instauration-...

samedi, 22 janvier 2011

Katerine Mabire: la littérature, une école de vie



Katerine Mabire: la littérature, une école de vie

00:22 Publié dans Littérature, Nouvelle Droite | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : littérature, lettres, nouvelle droite | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

Le Bulletin célinien n°326

Le Bulletin célinien n°326 - Janvier 2011

Vient de paraître : Le Bulletin célinien n°326.
 
Au sommaire :

Marc Laudelout : Bloc-notes
Henri Godard : Doit-on, peut-on célébrer Céline ?
Gaël Richard : Le procès de Céline
M. L. : Un auteur et son éditeur
Benoît Le Roux : Les derniers mots de Brasillach sur Céline
Laurie Viala : Illustrer Céline (II)
M. L. : De Céline à Braibant
Matthias Gadret & Marc Laudelout : 2010, (autre) année célinienne
Jean-Paul Angelelli : « Petrouchka » d’Albert Paraz
S. G. : Une interprétation intimiste de « Mort à crédit »
M. L. : La correspondance de Céline à Bente Johansen
M. L. : Céline sur tous les fronts

Le numéro 6€
Par chèque à l'ordre de Marc Laudelout à :
Le Bulletin célinien

BP 70
B1000 Bruxelles 22

 

 

C’est en 1981, année du vingtième anniversaire de la mort de Céline, que débuta la petite aventure du Bulletin célinien. Lequel a donc aujourd’hui trente ans ¹. Bien des ouvrages sont annoncés pour cette année du cinquantenaire. Le plus consistant sera assurément le volume D’un Céline l’autre (plus d’un millier de pages) rassemblant les témoignages de ses contemporains. Plus décisif pour la connaissance de l’écrivain, ce Dictionnaire de la correspondance de Céline tant attendu. Et, pour les célinomanes, cette bibliographie, Tout sur Céline, recensant ce qui s’est écrit et dit sur l’écrivain depuis la parution de « Voyage au bout de la nuit » ². Pas moins de trois colloques sont prévus en 2011. Le premier, « Céline, réprouvé et classique », aura lieu début février au Centre Pompidou, à Paris ³.

Un récent séjour à Paris m’a permis de faire la connaissance de Matthias Gadret, webmestre du blog « Le Petit Célinien », qui réalise, comme les abonnés internautes le savent, un travail précieux. La rencontre fut d’autant plus agréable qu’elle se fit en compagnie du cher Claude Dubois, premier éditeur de Céline en verve et indéfectible amoureux de Paris 4. Celui d’antan surtout. Dans la préface de son anthologie (1972), il dénonçait « l’expropriation hors capitale du menu peuple, les gros coups de l’immobilier, la destruction systématique de Paris village, Belleville, Grenelle, Ménilmuche… la restauration d’un “Marais” pour richards, et l’invasion massive de la Grand’Ville par l’étranger, provinciaux et autres... ». Ce fut un plaisir de présenter l’un à l’autre ces deux céliniens de génération différente. Séduit par le parler populaire, Matthias est également un lecteur enthousiaste d’Audiard et de Boudard. C’est dire s’il se révéla un auditeur attentif de Claude Dubois évoquant ses innombrables heures passées au Balajo ou celles en compagnie d’Alphonse et de Gen Paul qu’il a tous deux bien connus.

Marc LAUDELOUT


1. Un n° 0 parut en 1981, suivi de quatre numéros l’année suivante. Le BC devint mensuel à partir de 1982. http://louisferdinandceline.free.fr
2. David Alliot, D’un Céline l’autre, Robert Laffont, coll. « Bouquins » (préface de François Gibault) ; Jean-Paul Louis, Éric Mazet et Gaël Richard, Dictionnaire de la correspondance de Céline, Du Lérot ; Alain de Benoist, Arina Istratova et Marc Laudelout, Tout sur Céline (Bibliographie – Filmographie – Phonographie – Internet), Le Bulletin célinien.
3. Colloque « Céline, réprouvé et classique », organisé par la BPI et la SEC, les vendredi 4 et samedi 5 février.
Thèmes annoncés : 1) Journée du 4 février, Dr Destouches et Mr Céline : « Céline et la médecine » par Isabelle Blondiaux ; « Les Traces d’une vie (recherches biographiques) » par Gaël Richard – Controverses et reconnaissances internationales : « La redécouverte de Voyage au bout de la nuit » par Christine Sautermeister ; « Céline au Japon : Œuvres complètes et French Theory » par Yoriko Sugiura ; « D’Elsa Triolet à Victor Erofeev : les avatars russes de Céline » par Olga Chtcherbakova ; « Céline chez les fils de la perfide Albion » par Greg Hainge – Céline et la critique : « Entretien avec Philippe Bordas, écrivain » — 2) Journée du 5 février, Céline et l’histoire : Table ronde avec Jean-Pierre Martin, Yves Pagès, Daniel Lindenberg et Delfeil de Ton ; Un autre Céline : « L’Œuvre épistolaire » par Sonia Anton ; « Céline au cinéma » par Émile Brami ; « Céline au théâtre » par Johanne Bénard ; « Céline et les gender studies » par Tonia Tinsley. Une partie théâtrale est également prévue le vendredi : « Faire danser les alligators sur la flûte de Pan », choix de correspondances établi par Émile Brami et interprété par Denis Lavant, ainsi que le samedi : lecture d’extraits de textes de Céline par Fabrice Luchini.
Signalons que, pour le cinquantenaire de sa mort, Céline est mentionné dans la rubrique « Célébrations nationales en 2011 » de Culture Communication, le magazine du Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication (déc. 2010-janv. 2011). À cette occasion, Henri Godard a écrit un texte figurant sur le site officiel « Archives de France » que nous reproduisons à la page suivante. D’ores et déjà, l’année 2011 s’annonce fertile pour les céliniens (voir p. 23)
4. Sur le blog, on peut désormais voir le documentaire « Paris vu sous 7 angles », présenté par Claude Dubois et dans lequel il évoque le Montmartre de Céline, Gen Paul et Marcel Aymé. Réalisation : Fabrice Allouche. Production : TV Only. NRJ Paris (2008).


lundi, 17 janvier 2011

Bernard Lugan salue Vladimir Volkoff

Bernard Lugan salue

Vladimir Volkoff

dimanche, 16 janvier 2011

D. H. Lawrence's Critique of Modernity

D. H. Lawrence’s Critique of Modernity,
Part 1

Derek HAWTHORNE

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

d-h-lawrence.jpg1. The Genealogy of Modernity

 

The entire corpus of D. H. Lawrence’s writing is devoted to addressing the problem of life in the modern world, and his view of modernity was extraordinarily negative. Consider the following striking image Lawrence provides us with in his essay “The Novel and the Feelings”:

Supposing all horses were suddenly rendered masterless, what would they do? They would run wild. But supposing they were left still shut in their fields, paddocks, corrals, stables, what would they do? They would go insane. And that is precisely man’s predicament. He is tamed. There are no untamed to give the commands and the direction. Yet he is shut up within all his barbed wire fences. He can only go insane, degenerate.

According to Lawrence, we have created a human world for ourselves: a world of concrete and ideals, and have excluded nature. What does it mean to say that we have become “tamed”? It means that we have lost our wildness; our connection to the natural self, or the true unconscious. We have “corralled” ourselves; imprisoned ourselves in this tame, human, “ideal” world voluntarily. When Lawrence remarks that there are no “untamed to give the commands and the direction” he means that we have lost touch with the true unconscious, the untamed source within us, from which “natural man” draws his guidance. We can only go insane – in the sense that we lose our grip on reality, our orientation to the greater universe. We become degenerate through losing everything great in life, all aspiration, all spirit, and become instead Nietzsche’s “Last Man”: a creature whose concerns never rise above the level of comfort and security, and who lives from distraction to distraction, trying never to reflect upon the emptiness within him.

Though it all we reassure ourselves with the thought that “Progress” is being made. Lawrence offers the following amusing description of Modern Progress in Fantasia of the Unconscious:

“Onward, Christian soldiers, towards the great terminus where bottles of sterilized milk for the babies are delivered at the bedroom windows by noiseless aeroplanes each morn, where the science of dentistry is so perfect that teeth are implanted in a man’s mouth without his knowing it, where twilight sleep is so delicious that every woman longs for her next confinement, and where nobody ever has to do anything except turn a handle now and then in a spirit of universal love–” That is the forward direction of the English-speaking race.

Much of Lawrence’s critique of modernity is simply devoted to pointing out the folly of our devotion to abstract ideals. But Lawrence was not merely a gadfly – he was a (literary) revolutionary. He believed that the existing social order was not salvageable and that it would have to be utterly and completely destroyed:

It is no use trying merely to modify present forms. The whole great form of our era will have to go. And nothing will really send it down but the new shoots of life springing up and slowly bursting the foundations. And one can do nothing but fight tooth and nail to defend the new shoots of life from being crushed out, and let them grow. We can’t make life. We can but fight for the life that grows in us.

In order to fully understand Lawrence’s critique of modernity one must understand how he believes that modernity has come about. In a number of his works, Lawrence tries to work out a philosophy of history that would shed light on the mechanisms of historical change. In Movements in European History (1919) and elsewhere Lawrence develops a theory of history founded on a metaphysics derived from Empedocles. The twin principles that govern all of human life, and all human history are, according to Empedocles and Lawrence, Love and Strife. The forces are, respectively, attractive and repulsive. The first tends toward unity, the second toward disintegration or apartness. In the language Lawrence employs, the lives of human beings are governed by “sympathetic” and “voluntary” impulses, on both individual and global levels. In the modern West, due primarily to the influence of Christianity, there has been an overemphasis on the sympathetic, unitive, and “feminine” element. When an imbalance in the two forces occurs, whether in an individual psyche or in history, a swing to the other pole will occur. Thus, modern individuals have swung to the voluntary pole. Ironically, however, they have vented their aggressive willfulness through fanatical devotion to a secularized version of the ideals implicit in “sympathetic” Christianity: liberty, equality, fraternity, and, most pernicious of all, universal love.

In Apocalypse, much of which is devoted to a critique of Christian values, Lawrence refers to Lenin, Abraham Lincoln, and Woodrow Wilson as “evil saints.” These are men who aimed to advance the “noble” ideals of modernity regardless of the cost in human lives. He tells us elsewhere that “What has ruined Europe, but especially northern Europe, is this very ‘pure idea.’ Would to God the ‘Ideal’ had never been invented. But now it’s got its claws in us, and we must struggle free. The beast we have to fight and to kill is the Ideal. It is the worm, the foul serpent of our epoch, in whose coils we are strangled.”

The secularization of Christian ideals, and their transformation into “isms” such as socialism, communism, liberalism, and multiculturalism is a manifestation of a deeper process, however. It is the process by which the intellect comes to usurp all else in the soul. The complex and often beautiful mythology of Judaism and Christianity, which operates on a visceral level, is replaced by the abstract ideologies of men like Hegel and Marx. This simply reflects the modern shift away from “mythopoetic thought” to a form of rationalism which seeks to do away with myth and to make everything explicit and transparent by means of “the concept.” Lawrence understands this cultural shift in actual physiological terms, as a shift from a life lived in contact with the “lower centers” of the body to one which operates exclusively from the “upper centers.” (He also understands the aforementioned “sympathetic” and “voluntary” forces as grounded in human physiology.)

Lawrence states in Fantasia, “We have almost poisoned the mass of humanity to death with understanding. The period of actual death and race-extermination is not far off.” Yet, underneath our intellectualism and devotion to ideals, in the deeper recesses of the body, nothing has changed. Lawrence writes, “What really torments civilized people is that they are full of feelings they know nothing about; they can’t realize them, they can’t fulfill them, they can’t live them.” These feelings may be sexual. They may be moral sentiments, such as archaic stirrings of the sense of honor. Or they may be religious: an inchoate yearning for the lost gods. Modern society gives us no one way to make sense out of many of these feelings, especially the religious ones. And others it positively condemns. Yet the feelings remain, and the feelings are very often—indeed, almost always—against the ideals. In our society, these feelings stir most strongly in children. But children are soon “put right” by an educational system that forces them, as Lawrence puts it, into “mental consciousness.” They are forced to suppress their heretical feelings, and are fed full of the Ideal.

We imagine that we live in a golden age of Progress, but Lawrence dismisses it as wholly false:

Everything is counterfeit: counterfeit complexion, counterfeit jewels, counterfeit elegance, counterfeit charm, counterfeit endearment, counterfeit passion, counterfeit culture, counterfeit love of Blake, or of The Bridge of San Luis Rey, or Picasso, or the latest film-star. Counterfeit sorrows and counterfeit delights, counterfeit woes and moans, counterfeit ecstasies, and, under all, a hard, hard realization that we live by money, and money alone: and a terrible luring fear of nervous collapse, collapse.

In the eyes of modern people, however, it is very often nature itself that seems counterfeit or, at least unreal. Lawrence believes that in modernity nature is essentially seen as raw material to be made over into the products of human design. This point was famously made by Heidegger in his essay “The Question Concerning Technology.” Heidegger argues that in the modern period, as a result of the advancement and proliferation of technology, the being of the natural world has revealed itself to humankind in a manner that is vastly different from how it revealed itself to our ancestors. It has become for us the “standing reserve” (Bestand). Heidegger writes:

The earth now reveals itself as a coal mining district, the soil as a mineral deposit. The field that the peasant formerly cultivated and set in order appears differently than it did when to set in order meant to take care of and to maintain. The work of the peasant does not challenge the soil of the field. In the sowing of the grain it places the seed in the keeping of the forces of growth and watches over its increase. But meanwhile [in the modern period] even the cultivation of the field has come under the grip of another kind of setting-in-order, which sets upon nature. It sets upon it in the sense of challenging it. Agriculture is now the mechanized food industry. Air is now set upon to yield nitrogen, the earth to yield ore, ore to yield uranium, for example; uranium is set upon to yield atomic energy, which can be released either for destruction or for peaceful use. (Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, trans. William Lovitt [New York: Harper and Row], 14–15.)

In a similar vein Lawrence writes, “To the vast public, the autumn morning is only a sort of stage background against which they can display their own mechanical importance.” In his essay “Aristocracy,” Lawrence speaks in general of how modern man has lost the connection to nature, and of how we have lost the connection to “Amon, the great ram” in particular. “To you, he is mutton. Your wonderful perspicacity relates you to him just that far. But any farther, he is—well, wool.” (This promethean perspective on nature—the perspective that sees nature as “standing reserve”—is perfectly exemplified in the character of Gerald Crich in Lawrence’s greatest novel, Women in Love.)

Nature seems unreal to moderns because to them it is unfinished: it waits upon us to put our stamp upon it; to “make it into something.” Natural objects always therefore have the status of mere potentials: potentials for being made over, improved upon, or re-used or re-arranged in some fashion. At root, this is because the modern consciousness is radically future oriented. The past, for moderns, is something that has been gotten beyond, and is well lost. Only the future matters, and the future promises to carry on the march of progress; to be cleaner, faster, and smarter. Everything has its true being, therefore in the future. Everything—including ourselves—is always what it is going to be. The being of things is always promissory.

Modern people live in reaction against the past, and in anticipation of the future. What drops out is the present. Hence, the notorious inability of modern people to appreciate what is present at hand, or to recognize when enough is enough. Lawrence writes in an essay, “Why do modern people almost invariably ignore the things that are actually present to them?” He goes on to speak of an elderly tourist he encountered who left England “to find mountains, lakes, scythe-mowers, and cherry trees,” and asks “Why isn’t she content to be where she is?”

Lawrence’s answer to all of this will be unsurprising at this point. He wants us to somehow re-connect with those primal feelings and impulses that modernity requires us to suppress. The Fall of Man had nothing to do with sex; on the contrary God was on the side of sex. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit they became creatures of the “upper centres”; self-aware and self-conscious. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked” (Genesis 3:6). In Lawrence’s words, the Fall did not arise “till man felt himself apart, as an apart, fragmentary, unfinished thing.” Somewhere along the way, we reached a point where we came to see ourselves as on the earth, but not of it. At one point, Lawrence refers to modern people as “parasites on the body of earth.”

He writes in “A propos of Lady Chatterley’s Lover,”

Oh, what a catastrophe for man when he cut himself off from the rhythm of the year, from his unison with the sun and the earth. . . . This is what is the matter with us. We are bleeding at the roots, because we are cut off from the earth and sun and stars, and love is a grinning mockery, because, poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the Tree of Life, and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilized vase on the table.

But how exactly are we to go about connecting with our primal instincts, and to the earth? This is the central problem for Lawrence, and his writings explore different ideas about how to accomplish it. Of course, one approach might be purely negative or critical. It might consist in a ruthless critique of everything that is, and everything that we are, until we get to that within us which is “natural.” This is indeed one of Lawrence’s approaches, and I am exploring it in this essay. It consists, in essence, of a kind of emptying or burning away. It is the alchemical nigredo, in which some lowly stuff (in this case, us) is burned and purified; made ready for transformation into something of a higher or better sort. Lawrence’s approach to modernity is certainly destructive, but it is not purely destructive.

Lawrence reminds us of Nietzsche, going around philosophizing with a hammer. His attitude in Women in Love seems, at least on the surface, particularly Nietzschean (a point to which I shall return later). But Lawrence’s position seems to evolve over time into a version of the nostalgia Nietzsche rejected. It is a nostalgia for something like the consciousness of the “Master” type Nietzsche discussed in On The Genealogy of Morals. At times Lawrence seems clearly to yearn for a return to something like a pre-modern pagan mentality. This element in his makeup becomes more pronounced over time, culminating in his “Mexican” works, The Plumed Serpent (1926) and Mornings in Mexico (1927).

There is a major problem with such a position, however. Doesn’t our ability to understand and to critique our own history mean that we have advanced beyond the position of our ancestors? We might yearn to return to paganism, but we have lost pagan innocence. And the more we believe we have understood paganism, the further we are removed from the life of an actual pagan. In other words, Nietzsche was right. Yet the Nietzschean alternative, the literal creation of “new values” by an Overman is unnatural: it is yet another manifestation of the modern dislocation from the earth and from the body. The current values are dead all right, but Lawrence believes they were laid over top of our suppressed natural values, which must now be unearthed. But how? And how can we “go back” while preserving what we have gained in going forward, even if the going forward was into degeneration? I believe these questions get to the heart of Lawrence’s concerns about modernity, and finding an answer to it.

D. H. Lawrence’s Critique of Modernity,
Part 2

5041.jpgLawrence encountered the effects of modernity—especially the Industrial Revolution—directly in his native Midlands. He saw how if affected people, generally for the worse. Again and again he sets his stories against the backdrop of the collieries. He saw the miners become increasingly dehumanized. Working in the earth, they become cut off from it and from themselves. They lived, but they did not flourish. Lawrence’s remarks about the Industrial Revolution, capitalism, and the condition of the miners put him quite close to the thought of Marx and other socialist writers. In fact, it would not be at all unreasonable to claim Lawrence as a kind of socialist. However, as we shall see, few socialists would wish to do so!

Though The Rainbow can hardly be thought of as a novel about the Industrial Revolution, nevertheless that is its backdrop. The novel is the saga of several generations of an English family, the Brangwens, following them from the pre-industrial to the industrial age. A pastoral mood dominates throughout most of the work, and one feels a vivid sense of connection to nature and to place. Little of great significance really happens to the Brangwen family until one gets to the present day, and the story of Ursula Brangwen. Up to that point their lives are as cyclical and as repetitive as the seasons, but what we feel in reading about them is great peace, not boredom. As the narrative moves into the thick of the industrial age, it becomes populated with characters— Ursula among them—who have lost the sense of connection to the soil and to traditional culture that was the mainstay of their forebears’ existence. Ursula and her lover, Skrebensky, are lost souls, in search of some connection somewhere. Skrebensky betrays the search, and flees from Ursula. (Ursula continues it, though we must read the novel’s sequel, Women in Love, to see where it takes her.)

In his essay “Nottingham and the Mining Countryside,” Lawrence writes,

In my father’s generation, with the old wild England behind them, and the lack of education, the man was not beaten down. But in my generation, the boys I went to school with, colliers now, have all been beaten down, what with the din-din-dinning of Board Schools, books, cinemas, clergymen, the whole national and human consciousness hammering on the fact of material prosperity above all things.

How were these mean beaten down? Lawrence answers in the same essay that “the industrial problem arises from the base forcing of all human energy into a competition of mere acquisition.” Human concerns, in other words, are narrowed to economics.

It is unsurprising to see people concerned solely with making a living if they face starvation. But, for Lawrence, what is queer about modern Europeans—including the working classes—is that actual starvation is seldom a danger for any man, yet they behave as if it is. Indeed, he begins his lengthy philosophical essay “The Education of the People” with exactly this issue: “Curious that when the toothless old sphinx croaks ‘How are you going to get your living?’ our knees give way beneath us. . . . The fear of penury is very curious, in our age. In really poor ages men did not fear penury. They didn’t care. But we are abjectly terrified of it. Why?” Whoever has wits (and guts), Lawrence points out, doesn’t starve, nor does he care about starving. But today the only thing that seems to really move people is a threat to their safety and security. We are all, it seems, Nietzsche’s Last Man.

Lawrence’s analysis of what has “beaten down” modern working men places him close to Karl Marx. Clearly, Lawrence believes that modern workers exist in the condition Marx referred to as “wage slavery.” Under capitalism, it becomes less and less feasible to be self-sustaining or self-employed and workers must sell their labor to bosses, who pay the workers only a fraction of the profit produced by their hard work. Although workers are de jure free to leave their jobs, they are de facto enslaved because the same conditions of economic exploitation will be found on the next job, and the next. In his essay “Is England Still a Man’s Country?” Lawrence writes “The insuperable difficulty to modern man is economic bondage. Slavery!” Lawrence would probably also have found Marx’s theory of “alienation” under capitalism quite congenial. (That theory is to be found in the so-called “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts” of 1844, which were not published until 1932.)  Lawrence would probably have agreed with Marx’s idea that capitalist relations of production alienate us from our “species being” by making it nearly impossible for us to realize ourselves and find fulfillment through work.

We know that Lawrence went through a period in his youth when he certainly thought of his himself as a socialist. In 1905, Lawrence met Alice Dax, a socialist and early feminist. Dax introduced him to a circle of socialist thinkers active in the Midlands, and also to her book collection, which included works by authors like John Ruskin, William Morris, and Edward Carpenter. Later, of course, Lawrence would make the acquaintance of an even more eminent group of “progressive” thinkers, including Bertrand Russell. On February 12, 1915 Lawrence wrote to Russell:

We must provide another standard than the pecuniary standard, to measure all daily life by. We must be free of the economic question. Economic life must be the means to actual life. . . . There must be a revolution in the state. . . . The land, the industries, the means of communication and the public amusements shall all be nationalized. Every man shall have his wage till the day of his death, whether he work or not, so long as he works when he is fit. Every woman shall have her wage till the day of her death, whether she works or not, so long as she works when she is fit—keeps her house or rears her children.

Then, and only then, shall we be able to begin living.

Throughout his career, Lawrence would again and again toy with the sort of thing he proposes here: a political solution to the problem of modernity. Ultimately, as we shall see, he came to completely reject the final assertion quoted above: that only when the right political action has been taken can we “begin living.” Ultimately, Lawrence realized that politics is not the answer; that the hope lies in the very personal quest of private individuals. (But more on this later.)

Lawrence’s “socialism” was always of the utopian variety, never the “scientific” sort advanced by Marxists. In so far as there are affinities with Marx’s thought, they are affinities—as I have already pointed out—with the early, “humanistic” Marx, not the Marx of Das Kapital. In addition, Lawrence eventually came to combine socialist ideas with a form of elitism, and an emphasis on ties to blood and soil. This, as many others have pointed out, puts him closer to fascism and national socialism than to Marx or to the left-wing progressives of Alice Dax’s circle. (However, Lawrence’s occasional flashes of Luddism and his vigorous critique of modern science distance him from both the Communists and the Nazis.)

Lawrence agrees with the Marxists in deploring the perniciousness of class warfare under capitalism. However, he rejects the Marxist (and, for that matter, national socialist) ideal of the “classless society.” For Lawrence, the problem with modern, industrial civilization is not that it has classes, but that the classes have lost the ability to relate to each other in a healthy way. In “A Propos of Lady Chatterley’s Lover” he writes, “Class-hate and class-consciousness are only a sign that the old togetherness, the old blood-warmth has collapsed, and every man is really aware of himself in apartness. Then we have these hostile groupings of men for the sake of opposition, strife. Civil strife becomes a necessary condition of self-assertion.” For Lawrence, true community depends upon shared blood ties, shared history, and closeness to the soil. In traditional, aristocratic societies relations between the classes were never so bad as they are under capitalism, for all individuals felt a kinship for one another based on an intuition of ethnic and cultural ties. But in the modern period, our awareness of these ties has been destroyed by what Lawrence calls in the same essay “individualism,” by which he means something like “atomization.” People have lost the common tie to the earth; they have forgotten their history and their folk culture. They exist in a state of apartness and mutual distrust. Industrialization and wage slavery have exacerbated this condition, pitting the new classes of bosses and workers, bourgeoisie and proletariat, against each other. The irresponsible exploitation of the earth, and of human beings, by business is only possible because these ties have been broken. This breakdown was furthered by industrialization and capitalism, but the deeper cause is what we have seen Lawrence denouncing as “idealism”: the tendency to live according to mental conceptions, ideals, and grand designs, rather than according to our “natural” and intuitive blood-consciousness, and blood-warmth.

In a late essay, “Men Must Work and Women as Well,” Lawrence writes,

Now we see the trend of our civilization, in terms of human feeing and human relation. It is, and there is no denying it, towards a greater and greater abstraction from the physical, towards a further and further physical separateness between men and women, and between individual and individual. . . . Recoil, recoil, recoil. Revulsion, revulsion, revulsion. Repulsion, repulsion, repulsion. This is the rhythm that underlies our social activity, everywhere, with regard to physical existence.

Lawrence rejects the ideal of the classless society, but he also rejects class division as it has been hitherto established in history. And he rejects traditional, hereditary aristocracy in favor of a quasi-Nietzschean “aristocracy of the spirit.” However, like much else in his social thought, Lawrence leaves it completely vague how such an aristocracy could be established and maintained. He certainly objects to the plight of the proletarians, but unlike the Marxists he does not romanticize them. In fact, Lawrence argues that in modern society virtually everyone has become “proletarian,” or proletarianized. In John Thomas and Lady Jane (the second of three versions of the novel that would become Lady Chatterley’s Lover) Connie Chatterley hears the following from the musician Archie Blood:

The proletariat is a state of mind, it’s not really a class at all. You’re proletarian when you are cold like a crab, greedy like a crab, lustful with the rickety egoism of a crab, and shambling like a crab. The people in this house are all proletarian. The Duchess of Toadstool is an arch proletarian. . . . The proletarian haves against the proletarian have-nots will destroy the human world entirely.

In other words, capitalism has turned us all into people whose lives revolve around work and money, through which we hope to gain greater security and greater buying power. When not working, we engage in various forms of mindless indulgence. It is the sort of life which (via the character of “Walter Morel”) he depicts his father living in Sons and Lovers: a day spent in the pit, followed by an evening getting drunk and stumbling home.

Essentially, the aim of communism is to do precisely what capitalism has already accomplished in a much more sinister way: to make everyone proletarian. The communists just sought to erase the distinction between the proletarian haves and have-nots. And this brings us back to Heidegger. One of Heidegger’s more notorious claims was that capitalist and communist societies were “metaphysically identical.” In Introduction to Metaphysics Heidegger states, “Europe lies in the pincers between Russia and America, which are metaphysically the same, namely in regard to their world-character and their relation to the spirit.” Both are fundamentally materialist in their orientation: in both social systems human concerns do not rise, and are not supposed to rise, above the level of material comfort and security. Both deny the higher needs of the human spirit: communism explicitly, capitalism implicitly (and far more insidiously). In his essay “Democracy” Lawrence speaks of how in modern, democratic societies the “Average Man” is exalted above all: “Please keep out all Spiritual and Mystical needs. They have nothing to do with the average.”

Early in life, Lawrence had half-idealized the “working men” (or the miners, at least) as more in touch with their chthonic, primal feelings. Lawrence came to realize that this was an illusion. In “Democracy” he asserts that the working men are “even more grossly abstracted” from the physical. But why? Here we encounter an aspect of Lawrence’s socialism that situates him far away from Marx, but close to William Morris and the socialists of the “arts and crafts movement.” The working man is abstracted from the physical because he has been beaten down by ugliness.

Now though perhaps nobody knew it, it was ugliness which really betrayed the spirit of man, in the nineteenth century. The great crime which the moneyed classes and promoters of industry committed in the palmy Victorian days was the condemning of the workers to ugliness, ugliness, ugliness: meanness and formless and ugly surroundings, ugly ideals, ugly religion, ugly hope, ugly love, ugly clothes, ugly furniture, ugly houses, ugly relationship between workers and employers. The human soul needs actual beauty even more than bread.

How does one square this thesis about the debilitating effects of ugliness with Lawrence’s claim that it is “idealism” that is the culprit here, “beating down” the working man and everyone else? The two claims are not mutually exclusive. Ugliness is a consequence of idealism: where the Ideal is all important, “aesthetic concerns” will be denigrated. This was very obviously a feature of communist societies such as the Soviet Union, where Lenin explicitly declared such concerns “momentary interests.” Westerners living in capitalist societies were always quick to point out the ugly, utilitarian quality of Soviet life—while being generally blind to it in their own countries. The typical American capitalist attitude is that unless something makes a profit it is valueless. What good is beauty, poetry, or good food—unless they can be sold on a mass scale? Since human life cannot be entirely free of these things, capitalism finds an indirect way of justifying them. The sight of beauty “relaxes” us. Reading poetry “lowers the heart rate.” Good food is a “reward for a hard day’s work.” In short, the fine and noble is not beautiful and useless at all—because it can make better, healthier, longer-lived workers of us! But the claim that the fine and noble could have any intrinsic value apart from its relation to work simply doesn’t get a hearing.

American education reflects this prejudice and students follow along like good proletarians in training, objecting to “useless” classes on literature, history, and art. All of this may make it seem like the capitalist attitude is not idealistic at all but cynically “practical.” This is not the case, however, for the ugliness and barrenness of life under capitalism is seen as part of the march of Progress. Like a disciple of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Lawrence suggests that beauty is the key to solving the “industrial problem”:

If they had made big, substantial houses, in apartments of five or six rooms, and with handsome entrances. If above all, they had encouraged song and dancing—for the miners still sang and danced—and provided handsome space for these. If only they had encouraged some form of beauty in dress, some form of beauty in interior life—furniture, decoration. If they had given prizes for the handsomest chair or table, the loveliest scarf, the most charming room that men or women could make! If only they had done this, there would never have been an industrial problem. The industrial problem arises from the base forcing of all human energy into a competition of mere acquisition.

In the essay “Red Trousers” he playfully suggests that “If a dozen men would stroll down the Strand and Piccadilly tomorrow, wearing tight scarlet trousers fitting the leg, gay little orange-brown jackets and bright green hats, then the revolution against dullness which we need so much would have begun.”

Of course, such suggestions may seem highly romantic, and unrealistic, but there is nevertheless a great deal that is right about them. The essays from which the above two quotes were taken were written in the period 1928–1930. They reflect the fact that Lawrence never entirely gave up on his early “utopian socialist” sentiments. He simply became a good deal wiser about the prospects for translating them into reality. His early naïveté is perfectly reflected in the finale of The Rainbow, in which Ursula Brangwen looks down upon the ugliness of the mining countryside, only to see a rainbow rising above it: “She saw in the rainbow the earth’s new architecture, the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heaven.” The First World War destroyed Lawrence’s naïve hopes that the modern world might be cleansed and redeemed, at least through some kind of social reform. His next novel, Women in Love, would be a complete repudiation of the optimism with which The Rainbow ends. My next essay will be devoted to an analysis of Women in Love as anti-modern novel.

samedi, 15 janvier 2011

George Steiner's "The Portage to San Cristobal of A. H."

George Steiner’s
The Portage to San Cristobal of A. H.

Jonathan BOWDEN

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

George Steiner
The Portage to San Cristobal of A. H.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999

steiner.jpgGeorge Steiner’s novella, The Portage to San Cristobal of A. H., was published about three decades back and encodes a large number of the author’s non-fiction books which were released beforehand. This is especially pertinent to the analysis published in In Bluebeard’s Castle, for instance.

For our purposes in this review, the dramatic or theatrical presentation of Steiner’s brief work is almost as important as the text itself. It was dramatized (the only one of the Professor’s works to be treated in this way) by the socialist playwright Christopher Hampton and, on a personal note, I actually saw it in 1981–82.

The drama starred Alec McCowen as Adolf Hitler in a production which lasted around an hour and a half. He was later awarded the Evening Standard theater award for his riveting performance — particularly his oracular testimony or speech at the play’s close. The critical record suggests that it was performed at the Mermaid Theatre, but I seem to recall seeing it at the Riverside studios in west London. I went with a girl that I was rather keen on at the time, but she was nauseated by the whole thing and fell asleep.

To cut to the chase: I believe that this is largely a work by and about George Steiner rather than the personalities or historical personages with whom he deals. Steiner is an “ultra-civilized” liberal, a polyglot, and an Encyclopaedist who has made a personal or subjective religion out of Western high culture. His play — and the short novel which gave it birth — are his attempts to deal with the fact that no matter how knowledgeable or assimilated he becomes he always remains an outsider . . . an Ashkenazic amongst Gentiles.

What differentiates Steiner from most of his group is that he has not chosen to identify himself with the major pathways that various vanguards usually choose. Not for him, in other words, the ways of commerce, gross materialist accumulation or gain; militant leftism or anti-system revolt; or active and intentional Zionism.

The elements in the play which appear shocking, “transgressive,” non-humanitarian, anti-Zionist, and even “self-hating” in Jewish terms, are quite understandable when you reckon on Steiner’s own sensibility. A pure intellectual who incarnates the mind-body split, Steiner actively dislikes Israel, Ashkenazic enthusiasm, and the normalcy, almost semi-Gentile qualities, of nationalism and group adherence. Like an ultra-liberal in the West, an active vision of Hell would be national service in the armed forces — that is, having to endure the relative crudity, non-sophistication, and “political incorrectness” of all and sundry. Steiner, in other words, wishes to assimilate on his own terms — most of which are basically specific to himself.

His culture is actually quite a small sliver of land that articulates the integrative energies of mid-European Jews from around 1880 to 1940. For him, authors like Karl Kraus, Kafka, and Paul Celan are European culture tout court. Likewise, a special endorsement will always be given to those superior Gentiles and cultural creators (Goethe, Tolstoy, Beethoven, and so forth) who make ready the path of assimilation through humane artistry.

In a manner which is typical of the radical liberals who dominate the cultural space in the West today, Steiner is truly horrified by Man’s brutality, ferocity, hatred, and capacity for endless sadism. A keen dualist, many of Steiner’s books contain long, anguished discourses about the Marquis de Sade, for example. De Sade, in gigantic works of megalomania like The 120 Days of Sodom, is rarely pithy or gnomic. But one of his remarks bears recording: when he declares that civilisation is an exercise in cruelty which has been tempered by disquiet. Steiner’s whole career is a protest against this assertion; yet, as a liberal pessimist, he doubtless secretly agrees with it.

To return to the play proper, however . . . the whole point of the narrative is to prepare for the enormous speech by the McCowan figure at the piece’s end. It is relatively typical for a creator like Steiner that he loves to hate Hitler and, in all honesty, his view of the German dictator is very similar to that of Norman Mailer in his last published novel shortly before his death. Both of them see Hitler as not a man at all but a force, a hypostatization, a recognition of the absence of the real — even an incarnation of terror, implacability, and death.

In this regard, but in no other, they actually engage in transgression and cross over to the other side . . . if only momentarily. Neither of these mild apostates can really be accused of shoah revisionism or its historical counterpart — by dint of identifying with the discourse of Harry Elmer Barnes. Not one bit of it . . . but they do, luridly, hesitantly, mesmerically (even lambently) become cultural revisionists just for a moment before snapping back into their a priori positions. This would amount to a post-existential and “left” conservative in Mailer’s case; a pained, enervated, diaphanous and painfully raw (or thin-skinned) “rootless cosmopolitan” in Steiner’s.

The piece itself, The Portage to San Cristobal of A. H., is essentially front-end loaded. It only really exists as a prop or attainment for Hitler’s great speech at the end. Some of the work’s Zionist or Ashkenazic critics who said that it was poorly constructed or slightly slung together actually have a point — yet what they miss is the deux ex machina moment. This amounts to the aporia in language — the moment of apocalypse at the finale — when a demi-god of inversion (literally an Anti-Christ) is permitted to orate. Steiner was classically educated by his father to a very high level . . . it has to be admitted. But one of his mental conceits is that Greek tragedy, even genuine tragedy without the Grecian overlay, is impossible at this time. He wrote an entire early book called The Death of Tragedy which is essentially on this theme. Nonetheless, I believe in delving a little bit deeper here.

The book itself is a bit of a rag-bag, primarily due to the fact that everything is fed towards (rather impatiently) getting to the end. This is the moment of high Greek drama, the play within the play which signifies the instant when the trial of Hitler begins, and that essentially resembles a playlet within a play. The main purpose of a narrative which runs for a hundred pages or so is to get all of the important characters on stage. Some of this is uneasily handled, and a good deal of it reads like some middle-brow thriller writers from the ’sixties and ’seventies, such as Hammond Innes or Aleister MacClean.

The dramatis personae are Emmanuel Lieber, the Nazi hunter and instigator of events, Simeon (the presiding judge at Hitler’s mock-trial) and search-party leader, as well as a young Israelite Isaac Ansell (who represents the post-war generation); and Elie Barach, an Orthodox Jew whose faith is disturbed by Benasseraf’s dream. He is the holy fool of the group — the Fool or Tom o’ Bedlam figure, if you like. For Benasseraf is mildly mentally ill, suffers flash-backs, and casts an alternative light on things. He even serves the dissentient role of an esoteric Hitlerist — albeit in reverse order.

There are two Gentile characters (other than Hitler). These are John Asher (who is half-Jewish); and who Steiner basically considers to be Gentile. Like all radical liberals, Steiner is overly-drawn to the other. He evinces quite a lot of sympathy for this character and possibly identifies with him. Asher is fascinated by the whole affair, but not pruriently. He suffers from no metaphysical lusts. The other Gentile is Teku, a Latino Indian or an indigenous South American . . . he is probably conceived as a largely silent witness to the trial, an incarnation of Mankind looking on.

As I say, the real purpose of the narration is to get these characters together so that the trial can occur. The elderly figure of Hitler (played by McCowan) has no real role until the trial sequence commences. When this happens he brushes aside any rudimentary defence apparatus provided by the “court” and represents himself. The whole point of the novella is really this trial.

The Hitler figure defends himself with vigor and urgency, irrespective of the fact that it’s obviously not a real court case. The point here is philosophical, semi-religious, and higher in tone or intent. The whole event is primarily metaphysical in aspect — and Hitler defends himself metaphysically. Once Hitler emerges in Steiner’s sequence, and despite his great age, he effortlessly dominates the scenario and virtually all the other characters lose their reality.

Hitler is really conceived of as being intimately connected to the Jewish destiny, so much so that he appears to be a part of their very development. To Steiner, he is no longer a man but an anti-god; a personal Satan not for mankind at large like the devil in Christianity or Islam. No. He is an Israelite devil; a Loki, a sprite of destruction — almost the pagan anti-god for one particular people, namely his own.

Throughout all of this we have to remember that Steiner is an uneasy co-optee; he doesn’t really identify with his people that much . . . like most liberals. He admires the “hard” jews and Israelis in his plot device — the men who have hunted down the Great Beast (666) — but he doesn’t really share their passions. Unlike all of them (to varying degrees) he is not a nationalist; he strives not to allow himself group emotions.

Nonetheless, a peculiar thing occurs during Hitler’s great speech (performed by McCowan) and which is quite reminiscent of the Bailiff’s endless oratory in The Childermass (a novel by Wyndham Lewis which I have reviewed elsewhere on this site). The leftist and Zionist critics who loathed this short book (as well as the play that came out of it via Hampton’s redaction) do have a point. Hitler is the genius; they are underlings. Like the malevolent Anglo-Irish landowner, Pozzo, in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, he has the power. Steiner knows this, wills it. and lets it happen. At the deepest possible level, so to say, Steiner is a masochist who worships and adores Hitler as a negative god, albeit filtered and sublimated through aesthetic inversions (the catalog of which is multiple). In this moment of post-Christianity, he is truly a Satanist.

The arguments which Steiner/Hitler uses are less important than the way it is delivered. Hitler is not a man but a force; a diabolical instantiation; the encomium of the Word turned around. He is an avatar; an Odin in a rival religion to the one which Steiner was brought up in (Judaism) and has rejected subsequently. Like most academics with tenure, he’s an Enlightenment man now.

It has to be said that in McCowan’s dark threnody one comes close to a species of black metal or cacophonic white power music — of a sort that Professor Goodrick-Clarke tabulated, with little overt criticism, in Black Sun. Steiner agrees — in a fragmentary moment or a semiotic register — with everything that Savitri Devi has ever said about the Führer, but he does so as an instant of nausea and ontological victimhood. Albeit raised to a high artistic level, it is a cosmicism whereby the liberal-minded victim of a street mugging forgives his attacker, even thinks it was justified.

None of the arguments the Hitler character uses are original; moral and historical relativism; together with the fact that many Orthodox Rabbis believe Hitler to have been part of God’s plan — i.e., to whip the chosen people for transgressing from the divine path of allegedly being Man’s beacon. A role which involves waiting for the coming of Jehovah and his messiah . . . Might Hitler have been him — in the way that a sect like Jews for Jesus believe that Christians have a point?

Steiner leaves these questions unanswered, but to my mind this secularist sees Hitler as a savage god — much like Stasinopolous’ view of Picasso, but more importantly. The only way out of Steiner’s dilemma is to attempt a caveat — and Nietzsche comes to his aid here. For in a pagan (Gentile) world Steiner believes that Jews are being punished for inventing conscience. This, although complicated, and passim. Nietzsche’s Geneaology of Morals, is Nietzsche’s understanding of anti-semitism as a metaphysical postulate. Didn’t he partly reject Christianity as the judaicisation of European gentility?

In any event, Steiner achieves an artistic madness here — in his own terms — that reminds one of Hans Prinzhorn’s Art of the Insane. Where, following on from the manner of Kafka in Metamorphosis, the mild-mannered insurance salesman, Gregor, transforms into a gigantic cockroach overnight. It is the ultimate Hieronymous Bosch morphology or curdling, and at the end of the rival novella the roach-man just dies. He lowers his head plus mandibles (so to speak) for the last time and gradually his epidermis or shell gets closer and closer to the carpet. Finally, he expires — all passion spent. It is the post-facticity of degeneration; the world-weariness, sadness in the face of Man’s nature, and masochism which lurks at Humanism’s heart. It, to switch one’s foray into entomology, involves the endless circling of a moth around the candle-flame which will devour it.

Professor Steiner seeks cessation; a Heideggerian full-stop: he wishes to flop down and worship the Black Sun.

Pierre Gripari, portrait de l'écrivain en joyeux pessimiste

gripari1111.jpg

Pierre Gripari, portrait de l'écrivain en joyeux pessimiste

par Anne Martin-Conrad

(Infréquentables, 8)

Ex: http://stalker.hautetfort.com/

Vous avez dit «infréquentable» ? Oui, bien sûr, et heureusement ! Où serait la grandeur d’un écrivain qui plairait à tout le monde ?
Gripari est né en 1925, mort en 1990 : le calcul est vite fait et vous m’avouerez qu’être fréquentable en ce siècle ce serait plutôt inquiétant. Ils sont d’ailleurs nombreux ceux qui ont été couverts d’honneurs et sur lesquels la pierre du tombeau s’est refermée lourdement : on n’en parle plus, on ne les lit plus. Il est vrai qu’on inventait alors l’intellectuel, qui devait se confondre avec l’écrivain… Peine perdue, leur compte est bon, les hommes, les idées, passent, les œuvres resteront.
Les nuages noirs qui menaçaient toute entreprise littéraire, toute réflexion à cette époque, c’était le communisme et la psychanalyse : il n’y avait pas d’autre grille de lecture. Hélas, à peine en a-t-on fini avec celles-là que d’autres se précipitent à l’horizon : la même quantité de bêtise et de conformisme pèse toujours sur le monde, sous une forme ou sous une autre. Aujourd’hui, les droits de l’homme et les bons sentiments continuent de semer la mort à tous les points cardinaux : fuyons les amoureux de l’humanité.
Des vertus requises pour réussir dans le monde littéraire de ces temps de misère, Gripari n’en avait aucune. La souplesse qui fait les carrières, la flatterie qui ménage les puissants, le dossier de subvention glissé au bon moment au bon endroit, sur le bureau qui l’attend ce n’est pas que Gripari se le refusait, c’est qu’il n’en avait aucune notion !
Dans le livre d’entretiens, Gripari mode d’emploi, son ami Alain Paucard lui dit : «Ça commence par un malentendu, ça se poursuit par un purgatoire, et ça finit par une réhabilitation !» Faut-il vraiment le souhaiter ? S’il s’agit de consensus, non : une œuvre digne de ce nom doit rester au-dessus de tout, en quelque manière infréquentable.
Comme dirait une femme célèbre, et largement surestimée, «on ne naît pas infréquentable, on le devient !» Mais la vie est une sorte de lutte entre un individu et le monde qui l’accueille : il naît avec quelques atouts, un noyau dur, il les confronte avec ce qui l’entoure, puis, un jour, c’est la bataille en rase campagne. Il faut conquérir l’univers… c’est un corps à corps dont il sort, éventuellement, mais rarement, une œuvre.
Gripari aimait ce thème, il le décline dans tous ses romans, Pierrot la Lune, Gripotard, Branchu, dans ses contes aussi, Le Prince Pipo, Jean-Yves sont des enfants de Wilhelm Meister. Et il ne s’agit pas de grandir pour se perdre dans la masse, mais pour accomplir une vocation, quel qu’en soit le prix. Il faut apprendre à désespérer de bonne heure, mais la mélancolie contemplative n’est pas pour lui et sa profession de foi, souvent répétée est : «la tête qui dit non, le cœur qui dit oui.»
Les années d’apprentissage de Pierre Gripari forment un socle fragile qui prépare le terrain pour une vie difficile : un père arrivé de Grèce et fraîchement naturalisé, une mère normande que l’ambition déçue amène à prendre un amant, puis à noyer le chagrin qui s’ensuit dans les alcools forts. Elle en meurt en 1941. Le père est tué sur une route de Touraine par un mitraillage allié en 1944… Les astrologues disent doctement que Gripari avait Mars dans son ciel.
Les années 40 avaient amené la famille Gripari dans un village des bords de la Loire, Saint-Dyé, et Pierre s’y retrouve seul avec son jeune frère… Ce village existe, j’y suis allée dans les années 90 : on se souvient des Gripari. Ils étaient scandaleux, infréquentables, déjà… Et Pierre qui n’aimait pas les filles ! C’est le comble.
gripari2.jpgCe jeune homme qui a fait de bonnes études, interrompues par les événements, travaille comme dactylo chez le notaire, s’emploie l’été chez un cultivateur, joue du piano le samedi soir dans les bals. Bref, il n’y a rien à lui reprocher, mais, tout de même, il n’est pas comme tout le monde : on le lui fait savoir. Pourtant, il est communiste, selon l’air du temps, mais à sa façon sans doute.
Il écrit, mais personne ne le sait. La vie est un théâtre, dit Shakespeare, et Gripari entre déjà dans son rôle : il imagine une correspondance qui s’adresse à un inconnu rêvé et qui est signée Alceste… Grande solitude, sentiment d’exil.
Au cours de son enfance mouvementée, il avait eu recours aux livres, ceux des autres : «J’ai parlé autre part de l’émerveillement, du sentiment de fraternité joyeuse qu’ont éveillé en moi, lorsque j’étais enfant, des livres comme Croc-Blanc ou David Copperfield. J’ai retrouvé cela depuis avec Homère, Tolstoï, Gogol, Kipling, Céline… Ce qu’ils m’ont apporté n’était pas quelque chose d’accessoire, ce n’était pas du luxe, ni du superflu. C’était, c’est au contraire quelque chose d’essentiel, de vital.» Il se considère comme un héritier, à lui maintenant d’écrire, envers et contre tout.
«Je pars à l’armée en 46 avec la carte du Parti dans la poche, je la fous en l’air après avoir lu Kravtchenko, je reviens à Paris en 49, sur mes vieilles positions sceptiques, épicuriennes et pessimistes […] déclassé total, je me retrouve au milieu de gens dont la mentalité m’est totalement étrangère, snobé par mes anciens amis […] dans le quartier, au bureau, les seules personnes qui m’intéressent sont des communistes, et je reviens tout doucement à eux.»
Il travaille à la Mobil Oil, apprend le russe aux cours du soir de France URSS, tout naturellement, puisqu’il aime les livres, il exerce les fonctions de bibliothécaire pour le compte de la CGT… C’est là que les choses se gâtent : au lieu de recommander la littérature soviétique, il conseille Gogol ! Scandale… Sans compter qu’au syndicat, on n’aime pas beaucoup les «pédés».
Dans les années 50, à l’occasion d’un voyage en train vers la Grèce, où il rencontre sa famille paternelle, il traverse la Yougoslavie, voit le communisme de l’intérieur et en sort définitivement, guéri de toute espérance dans quelque système que ce soit, sur la terre comme au ciel.
Son expérience, du communisme et de ses avatars lui sera une source abondante d’inspiration… Cela nous vaut quelques nouvelles jubilatoires et le personnage émouvant de Socrate-Marie Gripotard.
Vers la fin des années cinquante, il cesse de jeter ses carnets, ses essais… Il écrit, pour le théâtre, et son premier roman, Pierrot la Lune. Et là commence sa brillante carrière d’infréquentable, en tant qu’écrivain… D’abord, il y évoque, avec une sincérité qui n’était pas de bon aloi à l’époque, son homosexualité. O, rien de scandaleux, pas de descriptions scabreuses, plutôt le trouble et la difficulté qu’il y a à le vivre. Au pire, c’était tout de même immoral, au mieux, c’était gênant… personne ne s’y retrouvait, ni les censeurs, ni les intéressés eux-mêmes.
Le récit de cette jeunesse se situait dans les années quarante… le sujet était délicat et les opinions bien tranchées. Lui raconte ce qu’il a vu, avec étonnement, avec le souci de la vérité, d’évoquer la complexité de la situation. Rien pour arranger les choses ! Dans l’après guerre, on s’installait dans le noir et blanc et nous y sommes toujours, il faut bien le dire.
Ce manuscrit se retrouva sur le bureau de Roland Laudenbach à La Table Ronde, dûment recommandé par Michel Déon qui avait été séduit par Lieutenant Tenant
gripari 4.jpgLieutenant Tenant est la première pièce jouée, en 1962… Une critique flatteuse de Jean-Jacques Gautier l’avait lancée et un reportage photo dans Paris-Match avait précipité Pierre sous les feux de la rampe (le système a parfois des faiblesses et laisse passer… Il ne peut pas tout contrôler, aussi rigide qu’il soit). Et voici que tout se gâte : après quelques semaines, le producteur trouve que la pièce est trop courte et lui demande d’ajouter une scène. Pierre refuse (on reconnaît là sa propension à être infréquentable !) Il n’a pas de vanité d’auteur, mais beaucoup d’orgueil et ne supportera jamais qu’on touche à ce qu’il écrit. Qu’à cela ne tienne, le producteur fait écrire la scène par un autre… ce que Pierre n’accepte pas, évidemment.
Cet acte de rébellion arrête net sa carrière d’auteur dramatique, et le malentendu n’est pas seulement économique et médiatique : «Ceux qui attendaient une pochade antimilitariste furent déçus. Les habitués du boulevard trouvèrent les scènes philosophiques trop lourdes. Les staliniens (russes ou chinois) du théâtre «engagé» tiquèrent devant les allusions aux Tatars de Crimée qui furent massacrés, sur l’ordre de Staline, à la libération du territoire. Et le public de l’avant-garde qui a mauvaise conscience dès qu’il ne s’ennuie pas, trouva la pièce légère.»
Il aggrave son cas en refusant de signer le fameux Manifeste des 121… Pour lui, l’Algérie sera algérienne, c’est inévitable, mais ce n’est pas une raison pour trahir les Français installés là-bas depuis des générations et à qui on a promis... Il est remarquable de voir que la plupart des thèmes qui l’ont diabolisé et qui donnaient lieu à des conflits sanglants, n’ont plus de sens aujourd’hui ! Comme la querelle du Filioque et celle des Iconoclastes, ils ne sont plus que matière d’Histoire.
Plus jamais il ne sera joué ailleurs que dans les cafés-théâtres. Pas de subventions pour lui, pas de metteur en scène qui s’y risque… Sauf Guy Moign qui créera une compagnie et montera ses textes chaque fois qu’il le pourra, mais pour qui jamais les grandes salles ne s’ouvriront.
Gripari avait écrit des contes pour la jeunesse. Il était sous contrat avec La Table ronde, l’éditeur de l’Algérie Française, qui publiait aussi des romans, mais des livres pour enfants… jamais. Les célèbres Contes de la rue Broca parurent en 1967 : un beau volume de la collection Vermillon… sans images, diffusé comme les pamphlets politiques qui faisaient la renommée de l’éditeur. Aucun succès ! Chute dans un gouffre sans fond…
C’est Jean-Pierre Rudin, libraire à Nice, qui, au début des années 70 entreprit une croisade, vendit deux mille exemplaires à lui tout seul, par la persuasion ou la terreur… Le contact était établi, hors des fameux «circuits» et les enfants le plébiscitèrent. Depuis, les Contes de la rue Broca ont refait le chemin à l’envers, investi les écoles, les bibliothèques, le ministère de l’Education nationale lui-même… Là, les choses se gâtent, car tout le monde s’en saisit et les «adapte». Une notion très dangereuse… Qui lit Perrault dans la merveilleuse version originale des Contes de ma Mère l’Oye ? Même chose pour les contes de Gripari. Lui qui travaillait scrupuleusement le rythme, le choix des mots, se voit souvent attaqué par toute sorte de prédateurs-adaptateurs et autres simplificateurs : c’est la rançon du succès.

Je disais bien qu’être trop fréquentable, c’est un autre genre de malédiction ! Mais rassurons-nous, c’est la seule partie de son œuvre qui trouve grâce aux yeux du monde tel qu’il est.
À la fin de ces années 60, les malentendus étaient donc déjà bien installés. Comme il est passé du communisme à la fréquentation d’un milieu de droite, à cause de son éditeur, et qu’il s’y est fait des amis, c’est un traître de la pire espèce. Ou bien, comme un esprit libre est vraiment infréquentable dans tous les mondes possibles, cela arrange le milieu littéraire, théâtral, journalistique de le cataloguer ainsi. En fait, Gripari n’est pas un idéologue, c’est un moraliste, il le dit, l’écrit et le montre : «Moi, je suis un individualiste discipliné, qui paie ses impôts, jette ses papiers dans les corbeilles, afin que l’État lui foute la paix sur tout le reste.»
C’est à ce moment-là que je l’ai connu. Il était solide comme un roc : il écrivait et tout le reste était secondaire. C’était sa force. Pour se loger et se nourrir (très mal !) il continuait de faire des petits travaux de bureau qui l’occupaient à mi-temps et lui laissaient la tête libre. Vivant comme un moine, il n’était embarrassé de rien : pas de voiture, pas de télé, pas de radio, même pas de livres ou presque, car il en achetait quelquefois qu’il donnait aussitôt lecture faite. Quand ses amis, cherchant à l’aider, lui offraient un objet quelconque ou un vêtement, il remerciait gentiment et s’en débarrassait immédiatement, trouvant toujours plus pauvre ou plus intéressé que lui.
gripari5.jpgCet état de pauvreté consenti lui donnait une apparence un peu particulière qui le rendait encore infréquentable à une autre échelle : celle des relations sociales. Il allait en sandales, à grandes enjambées, le pantalon attaché avec une ficelle, un «anorak» informe jeté sur les épaules. Le luxe qu’il s’accordait, dès qu’il le pouvait, c’était l’opéra, un lieu où il faisait certainement sensation, mais quant au répertoire il le connaissait certainement mieux que la plupart des spectateurs qu’il y côtoyait.
Mais c’était un si joyeux compagnon, si cultivé, si drôle, si original qu’il était souvent invité à dîner. Il se mettait à table avec grand appétit, riait à gorge déployée, racontait une histoire aux enfants, flattait les animaux de la maison, et si par hasard il y avait un piano, il jouait des rengaines (son répertoire de pianiste de bal) entrecoupées de leitmotive des opéras de Wagner. Après quoi, tout le monde faisait silence et il nous lisait un texte fraîchement écrit.
En 1969, La Table ronde renonce à publier cet auteur par trop atypique… Dans les deux années qui suivent, il sera refusé par dix-sept éditeurs. Ne nous privons pas d’en faire la liste : Gallimard, Flammarion, Albin Michel, Bourgois, Julliard, Le Seuil, Belfond, José Corti, Balland, Fayard, Denoël, Laffont, Grasset, Losfeld, Stock, Mercure de France, Marabout… Il est à noter que parmi eux, il en est de grands et qui ont du flair : il est à craindre que les refus émanèrent de lecteurs plus soucieux du politiquement correct que de la valeur littéraire.
On les comprend, je veux dire qu’on comprend leur prudence, ils avaient une mission : faire tenir debout l’aveuglement idéologique sous toutes ses formes, soutenir coûte que coûte le progrès, le féminisme, la psychanalyse, la décolonisation, mai 68, Mao… C’est que Gripari n’y allait pas par quatre chemins. «Il ne faut jamais faire de concession, les concessions, c’est comme le crime : ça ne paye pas», disait-il et il savait bien qu’il n’avait plus rien à perdre… «Si ces cons-là n’en veulent pas, (il parlait de ses manuscrits), ils peuvent m’étouffer, me faire crever, d’accord, mais ce sera tant pis pour eux d’abord. C’était quand même tragique, parce que, quand on n’est pas publié, on est moins motivé à écrire. On a beau dire, quand le débouché n’existe pas… Je me suis vraiment senti menacé d’asphyxie, de mort lente, d’assassinat». Cette douloureuse expérience nous vaut une description à la manière de Balzac du milieu éditorial dans Histoire de Prose. Il était catalogué : mécréant, fasciste, provocateur. Le pire, le plus insupportable est qu’il n’attaquait pas de front, il n’opposait pas une idée à une autre, il détournait tout en ironie, en rêve, en drôlerie.
Il ne disait pas «Dieu n’existe pas !», il disait «On ne sait pas pourquoi les hommes ont tant besoin de son existence !» Dieu est le personnage principal de l’œuvre de Gripari. Il est partout, dans les romans, les nouvelles, les poèmes, de même que Jésus, la Vierge et le Saint-Esprit., A tel point que dans les pays très catholiques, comme l’Espagne ou la Hongrie, on n’a pas souhaité publier le Petit Jéhovah ou le Gentil petit diable.
L’Histoire du méchant Dieu, son exégèse biblique à lui, a de quoi énerver le chrétien sincère ou pratiquant, ou tout simplement l’amoureux de juste mesure, mais L’Évangile du Rien, une anthologie de textes sacrés ou mystiques est un très beau livre, une sorte de bible nihiliste. La fin, la disparition des dieux dans son roman posthume, Monoméron, dont c’est le sujet, arrache des larmes au matérialiste le plus endurci.
Il aimait la Bible, comme il aimait les poèmes homériques. L’Éternel le fascinait, alors que, pour lui, le Jésus des Évangiles était «un personnage littéraire peu crédible»… Et si vous êtes intrigués par des personnages tels que le nain Dieu, le géant Jésus, Sainte Épicure et la déesse Bonne Mère, les clés sont dans le roman Le Conte de Paris. L’un de ses amis, religieux traditionaliste notoire, officiant à Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet, pouvait dire avec humour mais non sans vérité : «Si Dieu n’existait pas, je me demande ce qu’il aurait raconté !».
Il n’en ratait pas une : dans les années 70, Bettelheim avait décrété que les contes de fées n’étaient pas démocratiques et qu’il ne fallait plus de rois, ni de princesses. Gripari ignorait l’oukase et continuait d’en écrire. C’est sans doute cet épisode auquel il avait été confronté qui lui donna l’idée de Patrouille du Conte. Une patrouille doit moraliser les contes : le loup ne peut plus manger la grand mère, l’ogre doit opter pour un régime végétarien… Heureusement, l’entreprise tourne mal et les contes retrouvent la délicieuse cruauté qui réjouit les enfants et nous laisse à tous d’excellents souvenirs.
Il avait pris le pli du paradoxe, du pas de côté, tout lui était bon pour renverser les situations et les fameuses «valeurs». Malgré son goût des hommes, Gripari n’avait rien d’un misogyne. Il était simplement irrité et amusé par les slogans féministes. Il leur préférait la franche et joyeuse guerre des sexes et son Roman Branchu illustre le sujet avec allégresse. Ses histoires ne se terminent jamais par un mariage heureux et il y a peu de femmes, sauf les déesses mères, dans son œuvre : «L’amour fin en soi, l’amour fou, l’amour sauveur du monde m’inspirent la même méfiance, la même gaieté amère, la même agressivité goguenarde que la joie du martyre.» Lisez que, même si on remplace la femme par un homme, la question de fond est que, pour accomplir une œuvre, il faut s’y engager, il faut être seul et libre de toute pesanteur affective ou matérielle.
gripari7.jpgTout cela ne fait pas un gros dossier de presse ! Et quand un journaliste aventureux chronique les Contes, encore aujourd’hui, il ne manque pas de prendre les précautions d’usage, disant que son œuvre pour adultes sent le soufre. Le jour où Jacques Chancel l’invita pour la célèbre émission Radioscopie, en 1979, il fut rappelé à l’ordre par la LICA… Gripari s’était livré à quelque plaisanterie saugrenue sur le racisme !
Les dix dernières années de sa vie, il participa à une émission de radio qui consistait en des exercices littéraires dans le style de l’Oulipo. Il y était très apprécié des auditeurs, car, non seulement, il excellait dans ces jeux «de potache, de matheux en goguette», disait-il, mais il était très drôle et apportait une animation très personnelle… Là aussi, rien n’arrêtait une boutade ou une plaisanterie de telle sorte que le producteur de l’émission nourrissait à chaque enregistrement de légitimes inquiétudes.
En 1975, Grasset Jeunesse commence à publier tout ce qu’il écrit pour les enfants, réédite en albums très bien illustrés par Lapointe les Contes de la rue Broca et les Contes de la Folie-Méricourt. Dans le courant des années 80, il pourra vivre de sa plume… toujours comme un ascète, mais en tous cas, libre de son temps.
À auteur infréquentable, éditeurs infréquentables, en tous cas hors du système éditorial, commercial, médiatique : enfin, il les rencontre ! D’abord en 1972, Robert Morel, chrétien de gauche, installé dans les Hautes Alpes, qui laissera un catalogue de livres reliés, très originaux, publiera Les Rêveries d’un Martien en exil (des nouvelles), et Gueule d’Aminche (un polar méditerranéen inspiré de l’épopée de Gilgamesh) puis s’empressera de faire faillite.

Enfin, en 1974, il rencontre Vladimir Dimitrijevic, le fondateur de L’Âge d’Homme, l’éditeur des dissidents russes, qui deviendra son ami. Désormais, tout ce qu’il écrit sera édité : poésie, théâtre, romans, essais, nouvelles…
Gripari est mort jeune, je veux dire qu’il avait encore des histoires à raconter et en ce XXIe siècle déjà bien engagé, il est toujours un auteur inconnu. Ceux qui l’ont rencontré, qui l’ont lu, qui ont parlé avec lui, l’ont trouvé très fréquentable, amical, généreux, courtois et bienveillant.
Rue de la Folie Méricourt, sa dernière adresse, il déjeunait «en dessous» de sa chambre, chez Dany. C’était une gargote où il y avait encore des habitués ronds de serviette, employés, ouvriers, artisans qui travaillaient dans le quartier. Certains jours, il y avait les déménageurs qui sont immortalisés dans l’un de ses contes… Le chien dormait sous le bar, le saucisson beurre, les harengs à l’huile et les plats en sauce étaient promptement dévorés. Et c’était un spectacle réjouissant de voir Pierre Gripari causant avec tout le monde, racontant, riant, chantant, commentant les nouvelles et les résultats sportifs. Ici, son élégance toute personnelle ne choquait personne. Non, il n’était pas du tout infréquentable,
«Il faut des malheurs pour que naissent et s’épanouissent les héros» dit le poète. Pierre Gripari a connu l’adversité, l’injustice et l’incompréhension. Jamais il ne s’est incliné, jamais il n’a remis en question l’idée qu’il se faisait de la grandeur de son métier : écrivain, raconteur d’histoires.

C’est la Mort, la Faucheuse, qui l’a trouvé très fréquentable, et un peu trop tôt.

On est complice de ce qui arrive, Gripari marchait joyeusement dans les flaques en ayant la tête levée vers les étoiles.

Heureusement il a rencontré ses frères, lecteurs, éditeur.

L'auteur
Anne Martin-Conrad, née en 1941, autodidacte, a eu de nombreuses activités professionnelles, parmi lesquelles celles de journaliste et libraire. Elle a accueilli Pierre Gripari dans sa librairie-théâtre en 1967 et a fait partie de son cercle d'amis jusqu'à sa mort, puis elle a animé l'Association des Amis de Pierre Gripari pendant dix ans. Elle a publié un Dossier H aux éditions L'Âge d'Homme et un Gripari dans la collection Qui suis-je ? (en collaboration avec Jacques Marlaud) chez Pardès en 2010.

vendredi, 14 janvier 2011

Conférence de Pierre Vial sur Henri Vincenot


Conférence de Pierre Vial sur Henri Vincenot

La metafisica de "L'Operaio" di Ernst Jünger

La metafisica de "L’operaio" di Ernst Jünger

Luca CADDEO

Ex: http://www.centrostudilaruna.it/

Il progresso tecnico che ancora alla fine dell’800 sembrava condurre l’uomo ad un mondo più giusto e libero dal dolore, pareva mostrare, all’alba del secolo ventesimo, il suo terribile volto di Giano. Gli sfaceli della guerra e la povertà da essa cagionata producevano quelle ingiustizie che, nell’ottica marxista, e ben presto nazionalista e “fascista”, erano il prodromo, per certi versi contraddittorio, all’avvento della “rivoluzione”, fosse questa intesa come un ribaltamento dei rapporti di proprietà o come uno scardinamento del mondo liberale e borghese in previsione della costruzione di una comunità organica. Si iniziò a leggere la tecnica come il segno, se non la causa, della decadenza morale dell’uomo che preludeva al crepuscolo del mondo occidentale o almeno alla sua inevitabile “Krisis”. E’ assai in generale questa la cornice storica e sociale all’interno della quale l’allora celebre scrittore di guerra e giornalista politico Ernst Jünger pubblica, nel 1932, il saggio filosofico e metapolitico Der Arbeiter, Herrschaft und Gestalt (1).

Nelle pagine che seguono cercherò, da un lato, di evidenziare la portata propriamente metafisica del saggio esaminando la metafisica delle forme che ne costituisce l’impianto; dall’altra, avrò modo di rilevare come Ernst Jünger ne L’operaio non abbia l’intenzione di criticare la classe borghese per rinsaldarne, attraverso un artificio ideale, il potere; al contrario, secondo i miei studi, egli mette sotto accusa il borghese e il suo potere volendo, almeno teoricamente, contribuire alla costruzione di un modello metapolitico che, già a partire dai presupposti, si distingua nettamente sia dal liberalcapitalismo che dal collettivismo.

1. Forma e Tipo

Sfogliando L’operaio si ha la sensazione che temi di varia natura siano talmente e finemente interconnessi che appaia assai arduo procedere ad una de-composizione funzionale alla comprensione dei presupposti. Ad una lettura più attenta si “vede” invece perfettamente ciò che, nell’intento dell’acuto “sismografo”, si cela sotto la multiforme matassa. E’ utile a questo punto procedere alla illustrazione di quelli che mi sono sembrati i fondamenti metafisici del saggio del ’32.

Secondo Jünger esisterebbe un “solco” ineffabile definito di sovente eterno e immobile, di cui ogni forma (Gestalt) sarebbe il modo temporale. La Forma è una irradiazione (Strahlung) dell’Indistinto eterno ed immoto, è il modo tramite cui l’essenza numinosa della forma si fa tempo (2); la forma è un tutto che non si riduce alla somma delle sue parti (3). Ciò fa pensare che l’essenza della Gestalt non nasca e non muoia con gli elementi che ne garantiscono l’epifania, anche se il rapporto tra la forma e il suo evento è pressoché necessario (4). L’uomo non ha la possibilità di rappresentare la forma nella sua essenza, non la può cioè porre davanti a sé come un oggetto materiale o spirituale per poi misurarla razionalmente (5). Essa, in sé, è come l’Uno di Plotino (6). Ma l’uomo può “avvicinarsi” (7) alla forma vivendola, cioè incarnandola. Vivere la forma significa dis-porsi alla sovraindividualità che è la modalità grazie a cui la forma si appresta a dominare globalmente. L’uomo travalica la propria individualità facendo spazio al dipanarsi della forma, tras-formandosi in Tipo. La Forma si manifesta infatti nel tipo. Essa è il sigillo, dice Jünger, rispetto al tipo che è l’impronta (8).

Se la forma nelle sue vestigia mortali è una declinazione dell’eternità, il tipo deve, a mio avviso, essere considerato come la guisa temporale della forma. Esso infatti, in un certo senso, attualizza il Destino della Forma. Tale Destino, come suggerito dal titolo de L’operaio, è il Dominio della Forma. Un Dominio che, lo si diceva, non è parziale, che cioè non si espande in un solo piano della realtà, ma a livello del pensare, del sentire e del volere oltre che nello spazio tramite la tecnica e la distruzione che essa comporta. Nello scritto del 1963 Typus, Name, Gestalt si legge che “Tipo” è più di “individuo” nella stessa misura in cui è meno di “forma” (9).

La forma è più vicina all’Indistinto; il tipo, irradiazione della Forma, valicata l’individualità, spalanca le porte all’impersonalità. Questo discorso appare fin qui assai astratto. Per comprendere come effettivamente l’uomo, facendosi Tipo, possa rispecchiare totalmente la forma, è necessario riflettere sul linguaggio della manifestazione della forma. L’uomo infatti si fa tipo (forma nel tempo) praticando, in certo qual modo essendo, il linguaggio della forma. Divenendo tipo, e cioè qualcosa che supera gli esclusivi interessi della propria isolata individualità, si pro-pone al servizio dell’espansione totale della forma. Ora, a parere di Jünger, il linguaggio che la forma, tramite l’uomo, parla nell’epoca della “riproducibilità tecnica” (10) è naturalmente proprio quello della tecnica. Nel periodo de L’operaio la tecnica è un ingranaggio di questo sistema metafisico. Solamente tramite la tecnica infatti la forma può dominare in tutto il mondo. La tecnica è, in altri termini, il modo più efficace tramite cui la Forma può dominare totalmente.

2. L’elementare

Prima di procedere all’analisi del nesso che fonde inestricabilmente, nel pensiero di Jünger, la tecnica alla forma, è bene riflettere su un altro tema che è parimenti inserito nell’impianto metafisico di cui si discute. Mi riferisco alla nozione di “elementare” che, almeno in parte, costituisce uno degli argomenti più “attuali” del pensiero di Jünger (11). Ne L’operaio l’elementare è, da un certo punto di vista, una forza imperitura, sempre uguale a se stessa, ma imprevedibile, poco misurabile, refrattaria al calcolo della ragione strumentale, malamente oggettivizzabile; è dunque un’energia primordiale che non si riduce né all’uomo né alle sue leggi, morali o scientifiche che siano. L’elementare agisce sia come irrefrenabile forza naturale (inumana potenza dei quattro elementi naturali), sia nell’uomo come moto profondo dell’anima impossibile da ponderare, razionalizzare, cattivizzare. Secondo Jünger l’energia del cosmo è sempre uguale a se stessa. Risulta allora perfettamente inutile, anzi assai pericoloso, relegare nell’irrazionale le energie elementari che, in un modo o nell’altro, necessariamente troveranno una valvola di sfogo. Più vengono contratte, più aumenta la loro carica esplosiva, dirompente, agli occhi dell’uomo, terribile. Il borghese porterebbe avanti proprio questo tentativo: piegherebbe l’elementare all’assurdo o, al massimo, all’eccezione che conferma la regola della razionalizzabilità del tutto. A parere del borghese tutto ciò che non può essere ricondotto alla ragione strumentale e alla morale utilitaria deve essere per forza assurdo, dunque irrazionale; l’elementare è così, nell’ottica dell’uomo moderno, destinato ad essere s-piegato, calcolato. Il motivo di questa operazione matematica (12) è per Jünger essenzialmente uno: la paura. L’uomo moderno ha infatti come fine la sicurezza che, insieme alla comodità e all’aponia, vede come il presupposto della sua felicità. L’elementare introduce l’uomo nello spazio del pericolo e dunque lo apre all’esperienza inspiegabile, ma endemica all’umano, del Dolore (13). Crea così le premesse per lo sconvolgimento dell’ordine morale e sociale mettendo a repentaglio la sicurezza che, come si è detto, sarebbe il valore più caro all’uomo borghese. La contraddizione, la sofferenza, la violenza, ma anche la temerarietà, l’entusiamo eroico, fanno parte del sottobosco a cui l’elementare, secondo Jünger, dischiude l’animo umano. Il borghese crede che grazie al progresso, anche tecnico, la società umana possa un giorno pervenire alla costruzione di un paradiso terrestre in cui l’uomo universale, dotato di diritti inalienabili, possa essere rispettato in quanto tale; un paradiso terrestre da dove possa essere bandito il pericolo, il dolore. Jünger contesta l’equazione razionalità-borghese=razionalità. Quella borghese è infatti, ai suoi occhi, una forma di razionalità che strumentalizza ogni fenomeno alla sicurezza e alla comodità dell’uomo. Una forma di ragione che, dopo averlo oggettivizzato, fa di ogni ente un mezzo per raggiungere una forma di felicità terrena che risulterebbe riduttiva, poco appropriata alla grandezza destinale che l’uomo in passato sarebbe stato in grado di incarnare. Nel sistema jüngeriano l’elementare riveste quasi la funzione che in una macchina ha il carburante. E’ infatti l’energia del sistema, è una forza tellurica e immortale che agisce in sintonia con la Forma facendola muovere nello spazio, cioè consentendole di essere nel tempo. Ritornando allo schema generale: così come il tipo permette alla forma di esistere nello spazio, l’elementare permette alla forma di muoversi in esso e dunque, in virtù del legame che tradizionalmente stringe lo spazio col tempo, di essere tempo, cioè fenomeno, evento, Destino. L’Operaio sarebbe capace di scorgere l’elementare nella sua “realtà” senza giudicarlo e “castrarlo”. Non lo relega all’assurdo, ma cerca di amplificarne le potenzialità in vista del Dominio della Forma. Il modo più appropriato che questo eone della Forma ha per liberare la potenza di cui la Forma abbisogna è la tecnica. La tecnica, come è stato accennato e come verrà ribadito, non solo è il tramite che trasforma l’uomo in tipo, ma permette all’elementare di manifestarsi in tutto il suo vigore. La tecnica è dunque rigorosamente innestata nella metafisica elaborata da Jünger, essa appare, ne L’Operaio, come un suo meccanismo imprescindibile (14).

3. La tecnica

La tecnica è “la maniera in cui la forma dell’operaio mobilita il mondo” (15). L’Operaio è così quella Forma che mobilita il mondo tramite la tecnica. Heidegger commenta che allora la tecnica coincide con la mobilitazione -totale- del mondo attuata dalla forma dell’Operaio (16). Alain de Benoist, rifacendosi al saggio del 1930 intitolato Die Totale Mobilmachung, fa presente come ”mobilitare”, nel gergo di Jünger, non significhi solo mettere in movimento, ma vorrebbe indicare anche “essere pronto, rendere pronto”, Alain De Benoist aggiunge, “alla guerra” (17). Mobilitare può significare essenzialmente rendere qualcosa disponibile per qualcos’altro: la mobilitazione del mondo appresta il mondo alla conquista totale della Forma del Lavoro. La mobiltazione va da un lato di pari passo con la distruzione e si realizza nello spazio con la tecnica bellica (18); da un altro lato, già nella sua opera di demolizione, prepara il terreno per la parusia di una nuova Figura e innesca il meccanismo necessario affinché il nuovo Dominio della Forma si realizzi. Come si diceva, il tipo umano è altro dall’individuo. Ora, l’uomo si fa tipo tramite la tecnica, la quale incide sull’essenza dell’uomo grazie alla messa in moto di radicali processi spersonalizzanti che aprono l’individuo alla uni-formità e dunque alla sovra-individualità (19).

Perché lo strumento tecnico possa essere ad-operato dall’uomo, è necessario che questi faccia propria precisamente la razionalità strumentale. Se infatti l’uomo adotta la tecnica come strumento, non ha bisogno di mettere in gioco tutte quelle qualità che lo distinguono dagli altri uomini. Secondo una tradizione di pensiero che si impone già prima di Jünger (Sorel, Spengler, Ortega, Guénon) e che, dopo L’operaio, prosegue, seppur all’interno di concezioni filosofiche assai differenti, tramite Heidegger, Adorno, Arendt e molti altri, il mezzo tecnico (e la conoscenza come dominio) richiede esclusivamente la capacità meccanica e la razionalità sufficiente a farlo funzionare. Il funzionamento dello strumento sembra il fine del processo tecnico. L’uomo stesso appare come un ingranaggio finalizzato al funzionamento del mezzo che, alla stregua di un circolo vizioso, ha come fine la mera funzionalità. Capiamo così come, all’improvviso, l’uomo col suo retaggio di esperienze personali, qualità irripetibili, particolarità, ma anche “razza” (20), differenza etnica, conti poco. E’ invece importante l’esercizio della ragione che, prendendo in prestito la terminologia di Heidegger, definiamo “rappresentativa”. Il Tipo ergendosi a fondamento, a misura del mondo, pone il mondo medesimo davanti a sé come un oggetto. Il mondo è in quanto può essere misurato, forzato al metro umano. Il mondo è, ha valore (è valore, “immagine”) in quanto è strumentale al dominio del Tipo. Conoscere significa dunque misurare, cioè matematicizzare, pre-vedere, mobilitare, indirizzare al dominio (21). Il metro di valutazione del mondo è l’oggettivazione dello stesso ai fini della sua utilizzazione e la conoscenza in quanto tale, laddove si fa tecnica, è dominio. Questo processo è talmente radicale che, a un certo momento, pare che la tecnica come strumento, da mezzo si tramuti in fine e che, dunque, il fine del mobilitare sia strumentalizzare e utilizzare il mondo in vista del dominio. Il fine del mobilitare sembra il mobilitare (22). Il mezzo dell’uomo piega a sé l’uomo.

L’uomo che inizialmente crede di perseguire tramite la tecnica (strumento da lui inteso in senso neutrale) la felicità (la tecnica si propaga facilmente e velocemente e ingenera l’illusione che tramite essa si possa superare il dolore), poi diventa parte del dispositivo che accende.

La spersonalizzazione che la tecnica introdurrebbe prelude al totale oltrepassamento del modo che sino a quel momento, secondo Jünger, si aveva di interpretare la libertà intesa come “misura il cui metro campione venga fissato dall’esistenza individuale del singolo” (23). L’uomo è parte di un processo dove perdono di importanza le qualità e la vita del singolo, dove, come si diceva, risulta fondamentale rendere il mondo funzionante per lavorarlo in vista della produzione, cioè della mobilitazione. Il lavoro, mezzo che la forma utilizza per piegare a sé il mondo, si propaga in ogni settore della vita (24). Si riduce lo spazio che divide i sessi e quello che divide il lavoro in senso proprio dall’ozio; anche lo sport diventa lavoro; ogni cosa tende ad assumere una forma tipica e incarna lo stesso severo, freddo, ascetico stile. Farsi tipo tramite la tecnica significa dunque attualizzare tutta una serie di proprietà che rendono l’uomo adeguato al dominio della forma. Il dominio della forma nel tempo attuale si appaleserebbe così tramite segni inequivocabili che sono una conseguenza diretta dell’uso della tecnica e della mentalità che tale uso esige. Si fa strada una “rigidita’ da maschera” nel volto rasato del soldato, nella sua espressione glaciale e precisa, che non tradisce una differenza psicologica né alcun umano sentimento, ma che mostra una volontà oggettiva, impersonale, automatica, meccanica. L’uniforme fa la sua comparsa in ogni ambito della vita, gli operai assomigliano così ai soldati e i soldati sono operai. La cifra acquista la sua imprescindibile importanza in ogni settore dell’organizzazione statale, si fa strada l’anonimato, la ripetizione (che sostituisce la borghese irripetibilità, eccezionalità), garantisce la sostituibilità di un operaio con un altro. La quantità prevale sulla qualità.

Fin qui pare di leggere una critica alla tecnica e alla ragione che potremmo trovare in molti altri autori in quel tempo (25). Ma Jünger sembra essere originale proprio in quanto, dopo aver individuato le trasformazioni che la tecnica produce sull’uomo, non cede alla tentazione di condannare i mutamenti epocali di cui si è detto. Che l’uomo pensi di poter restare indenne da questi processi totali è infatti, a suo avviso, un’illusione. Egli, che si voglia o no, ne è mutato profondamente. Questa tras-figurazione distrugge negativamente l’individuo borghese; l’Operaio invece, consapevole della necessità dei processi in atto, sacrifica eroicamente i propri desideri contingenti e, nel Lavoro, considerato alla stregua di una missione rivoluzionaria, perviene alla coscienza di partecipare al Destino della Forma assurgendo a vessillo, “geroglifico” del suo totale Dominio. L’essenza della tecnica dunque, come dirà Heidegger, non sarebbe nulla di tecnico ma di nichilistico (26). Essa demolisce ogni vincolo e ogni consuetudinaria misura in quanto costringe ogni ente al suo utilizzo. Le cose perderebbero così il valore armonico, tradizionale, sacrale, cultuale che avevano e diventerebbero oggetti da dominare e da utilizzare facilmente e velocemente. Il fatto che il mobilitare appaia come un mezzo finalizzato al medesimo e cieco mobilitare, è appunto una apparenza che s-vela l’alto livello a cui la tecnica approda nella sua opera di conquista totale. In verità, il mobilitare finalizzato al mobilitare è, nel pensiero che si analizza, esattamente l’”astuto” modo che la Forma attualmente adotta per raggiungere il proprio Dominio. Il protagonista del mobilitare, il suo fine, non è infatti, contrariamente alle apparenze, in ultima istanza, il mobilitare, ma la vittoria totale della nuova Forma. Per questo Jünger distingue chiaramente tra fase dinamico-esplosiva (“paesaggio da officina”) e Dominio della Forma dell’Operaio. La prima è necessaria al secondo, ma il secondo conclude, nel suo compiersi, la fase “anarchica” in cui il mobilitare si esprime in modo tanto potente da ingenerare la credenza che il suo fine sia solo e soltanto la propria cieca, distruttiva e totale manifestazione (27). In questo processo totale, antikantianamente (28), l’uomo scoprirebbe la sua dignità, o, facendo nostro un gergo appropriato allo spirito del tempo in cui Jünger scrive, il suo “onore”, proprio nel trasformarsi in mezzo della manifestazione della forma. La tecnica è così esaltata precisamente perché tras-forma l’uomo da fine isolato a mezzo organico. L’Operaio risulta, nello spirito e nel corpo, glorificato, per così dire, alchemicamente risorto nella Forma.

4. Metapolitica

Questa analisi ci permette di planare dall’orizzonte metafisico a quello metapolitico. Jünger non condivide il presupposto che starebbe alla base del modello economico proposto dalla società liberal-capitalista, secondo cui la felicità e il benessere di una nazione si ottiene tramite la soddisfazione economica degli individui (atomi) che compongono la stessa società (29).

L’idea per la quale soddisfare i propri esclusivi interessi conduca alla felicità della nazione, è fermamente rifiutata da Jünger. Egli ritiene che l’interesse privato debba essere garantito nell’alveo degli interessi sovraindividuali dell’organismo comunitario. Fondare una ideologia che a partire dalla metafisica, tramite l’interpretazione altrettanto metafisica della tecnica, attacchi nei fondamenti l’individuo e la sua idea di libertà, significa chiaramente avere come bersaglio il liberalismo che sull’individuo e sulla tutela dei suoi diritti basa la propria dottrina. I rivoluzionari conservatori si sentivano “vitalisti” proprio nel senso che aderivano nichilisticamente alle contraddizioni della realtà, specialmente laddove queste conducevano alla demolizione dell’apparato politico ed ideologico delle classi dominanti (30). Essi ambivano ad una distruzione da cui potesse originarsi un nuovo gerarchico Ordine e una nuova forma di partecipazione politica. La stessa nozione di forma come qualcosa che non si riduce alla somma delle sue parti, trova riscontro in una comunità politica che non esaurisce la sua essenza nell’addizione dei singoli che la costituiscono. La comunità organica, come la forma, è altro dalle sue parti, è “un altro che si aggiunge”, un di più a cui non si arriva tramite la mera somma di vari elementi. Così l’agire, il pensare e il sentire degli individui non sarebbero in questo contesto finalizzati al possesso della felicità personale, ma al “bene”, alla potenza della comunità che trascende la somma.

Al tempo de L’Operaio la distruzione bellica, grazie alla tecnologia, assunse un livello mai raggiunto fino a quel momento, le lotte sociali si fecero, a causa della misera condizione della classe operaia, ma anche in virtù della diffusione della ideologia marxista, dell’avanzata dei partiti socialisti e dei sindacati, proporzionali all’industrializzazione e alla mobilitazione dei materiali (umani e non) in vista del dominio delle nazioni più sviluppate. Nel dopoguerra, specialmente a causa dell’inflazione e della fortissima svalutazione della moneta, buona parte della classe media perse ogni sua sicurezza e si produssero licenziamenti a catena nelle fabbriche; vari movimenti di destra e di sinistra e altri che si collocavano esplicitamente al di là di questi due cartelli ideali, ottennero così il favore della popolazione stremata dalla crisi economica. Se a ciò si aggiunge la polemica nazionalista contro i firmatari della pesante e probabilmente iniqua pace di Versailles, si capisce come il clima politico e sociale fosse confacente all’avanzata di partiti “radicali” che vedevano nella classe liberale al potere la responsabile dello sfacelo economico e politico della Germania. In un orizzonte in cui il “nuovo nazionalismo”, a cui Jünger aderisce già a partire dalla fine della Prima guerra mondiale, otteneva sempre più consensi, la metafisica delle Forme avrebbe potuto dunque acquistare un significato morale-politico: il superamento del concetto di individuo, negli intenti di Jünger, avrebbe potuto condurre alla creazione di un “Uomo nuovo” che fosse pronto a donare la propria vita e ad immolare i propri desideri per la potenza dello stato organico, per il risanamento totale “patria umiliata”. Nel pantano ideologico della Repubblica di Weimar questa metafisica politica poteva dunque servire, agli occhi del pensatore, a costruire un’etica che ponesse l’uomo in grado di salvarsi, anche a costo di profondi sacrifici personali, dalla grave crisi in cui versava buona parte delle nazioni europee in quel tempo. Il modernismo reazionario, di cui Jünger è “l’idealtipo” (31), ha un preciso fine politico che è chiaro al pensatore tedesco ben prima della stesura de L’operaio: “Chi potrebbe contestare che la Zivilisation è più intimamente legata al progresso della Kultur, che nelle grandi città essa è in grado di parlare la sua lingua naturale e sa utilizzare mezzi e concetti nei cui confronti la Kultur è indifferente o addirittura ostile? La Kultur non si lascia sfruttare a scopi propagandistici, e un atteggiamento che cerchi di piegarla in questo senso non può che esserle estraneo (…)” (32). Jünger crede che il “cupo ardore” che spinse migliaia di giovani ad andare in guerra gridando “per la Germania” offerto ad una nazione “inesplicabile e invisibile”, per quanto fosse bastato a far “tremare i popoli fino all’ultima fibra”, non potesse essere sufficiente per sconfiggere nazioni come quella statunitense che si erano rese disponibili alla mobilitazione totale di tutte le loro energie. Da qui la domanda retorica e assai significativa: “E se soltanto (il cupo ardore di cui si è detto) avesse avuto fin dal primo momento una direzione, una coscienza, una forma?” (33). Il fine politico de L’operaio può allora essere così inteso: creare le premesse metafisiche, dunque “kulturali”, ideali affinché l’ entusiasmo eroico potesse essere veramente efficace, cioè vincente. Jünger si è reso conto non solo del potere ineguagliabile degli strumenti tecnici applicati alla guerra, ma anche della necessità di trasformare la mentalità della nazione nella direzione della mobilitazione totale. Tale mobilitazione implica la fusione della vita col lavoro. Egli cioè pensa che solo se tutto diventa lavoro, tutto viene mobilitato alla potenza e dunque alla vittoria della Germania. Perché ciò accada è necessario che ogni cosa venga piegata allo strumento tecnico. La società diventa “lavoro” se prima è diventata macchina, tecnica. La Kultur tradizionalmente intesa non basta a questo che è chiaramente inteso come uno scopo epocale. C’è bisogno di una Zivilisation che non contraddica la Kultur ma che ne garantisca la vittoria reale. L’operaio ha l’obbiettivo eminentemente politico di sintetizzare la Kultur con la Zivilisation, in qualche modo di rendere culturale e politica la civilizzazione e di civilizzare, “modernizzare” la Kultur (34). Jünger contesta in maniera netta l’individualismo negli articoli scritti tra il 1918 e il 193335e, se si nota che L’operaio è del 1932, lo scritto può essere inteso in senso meramente apolitico molto difficilmente. Gli Operai, nel libro del ’32, sono uomini d’acciaio, incarnazione di un’etica oggettiva -realista-, che ha come fine il dominio della Forma del lavoro, e dunque il lavoro totale in ogni settore della produzione e dell’esistenza. L’individuo borghese che, in questa parabola di pensiero, ha come obbiettivo la comodità e la sicurezza, non sarebbe adatto a rappresentare senza rimpianti e con assoluto rigore un’etica che preveda la rinuncia alle proprie contingenti aspirazioni, alla propria esclusiva e “materiale” felicità. D’altra parte, non sarebbe adatto ad incarnare una simile etica neppure il “proletario” che si sente umiliato e combatte per migliorare le condizioni della sua classe e per ribaltare i rapporti di proprietà. Questi infatti lotta per gli interessi di una parte della nazione e ha un fine, che, dal punto di vista jüngeriano, resta sociale ed economico. L’Operaio invece, come si diceva, non bada al miglioramento della propria condizione economica, non ambisce ad impossessarsi dei mezzi di produzione né crede agli ideali di uguaglianza nei quali, seguendo la tradizione marxiana, il proletario dovrebbe credere. L’Operaio jüngeriano è al servizio della Forma e del suo Dominio; a questo servizio sacrifica ogni sua aspirazione, personale o di classe.

Secondo Jünger, si deve lavorare in primo luogo sullo spirito umano per poter ambire almeno ad una parziale rinascita. Il superamento dell’individualità è da Jünger perseguito tramite gli effetti distruttivi della tecnica che, in altri pensatori, sia di destra che di sinistra, sono abborriti in ogni senso. Jünger, nel periodo de L’operaio, ritiene puerili e dannose le tesi di chi pensa che la tecnica sia di per sé uno strumento del Male, qualcosa rispetto a cui l’uomo si sarebbe posto come un inesperto “apprendista stregone” che non è più in grado di controllare le dinamiche innescate dai suoi esperimenti (36) e, allo stesso modo, non ritiene che l’uomo possa divenire buono, giusto e dunque felice. In ogni quadro epocale domina un tipo di Forma che impregna tutto di sé; ogni cosa in un dato ciclo ha lo stile della forma che domina. Il ciclo sorge in quel periodo definito Interregno (37). L’Interregno è nietzscheanamente quel torno temporale in cui i vecchi valori non sono ancora morti e quelli nuovi che scalpitano non hanno ancora conquistato lo spazio necessario al Dominio. Accade così che alla fine di un ciclo le vecchie forme e i valori fino a quel momento dominanti si svuotino pian piano dal loro interno. Che i valori si s-vuotino significa che perdono la loro essenza di valori; il valore è ciò intorno a cui e grazie a cui l’uomo costruisce il suo senso. Alla fine di un ciclo i valori sono ancora formalmente intatti, il loro involucro è integro, splendente; ma perdono di sostanza: non sono più in grado di orientare la vita dell’uomo, è come se il loro corpo fosse ancora monoliticamente visibile a tutti, ma stesse perdendo il proprio vigore, il proprio potere di movimentare l’uomo e con esso il mondo. E’ così che in questo vuoto assiologico ed ontologico si insinuano nuove forze che aprono lo spazio al dominio inarrestabile di nuove forme. In siffatta dinamica di s-vuotamento delle forme che coincide con un nuovo riempimento, opera la tecnica. La tecnica si insinua in ogni dove, nello spazio e nello spirito, inizialmente come uno strumento puro, assolutamente neutro, grazie a cui l’uomo può vivere più comodamente; attraverso cui ha sempre più l’illusione di esorcizzare, depotenziare il dolore e tramite cui, giorno dopo giorno, trasforma la propria vita. Più l’uomo si innamora del suo strumento, più viene risucchiato nei suoi ingranaggi oggettivizzanti di cui sopra si è detto. La tecnica secondo Ernst Jünger risulta pericolosa proprio là dove si ignora il suo potere necessariamente distruttivo. Risulta pericolosa se la si valuta superficialmente come uno strumento neutrale che l’uomo può con la sua ragione utilitaria piegare ai suoi interessi e alla sua oggettiva felicità restandone essenzialmente immune. Ma risulta pericolosa anche là dove si tenti di negarla rifugiandosi in anacronistici sentimenti romantici. In altri termini, agli occhi dello Jünger del 1932, la tecnica è positiva solo se si è consapevoli del fatidico ruolo metafisico che riveste, se si accetta di intraprendere attraverso il suo utilizzo un percorso e-sistenziale che conduca al superamento dell’io, e se, quasi come si trattasse di una catarsi ontologica, attraverso questo superamento ci si renda poveri contenitori della Forma e del suo fatale Dominio.

Note

1 Der Arbeiter, Herrschaft und Gestalt appare nell’ottobre del 1932 presso Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt (Hamburg). Nello stesso anno si hanno tre nuove edizioni del saggio. Dopo la guerra, Heidegger convince Jünger a ripubblicare il saggio che infatti compare nel sesto volume delle sue opere uscite presso Klett-Cotta a Stoccarda. L’opera è tradotta in italiano solo nel 1984 da Quirino Principe (L’operaio, trad. it., Longanesi, Milano 1984.) dopo che, agli inizi degli anni ’60, Julius Evola la fece conoscere nel riassunto analitico intitolato L’operaio nel pensiero di Ernst Jünger, Armando, Roma 1961. Delio Cantimori preferì tradurre la parola Der Arbeiter con “milite del lavoro” per sottolineare il carattere guerriero della nuova figura (Cfr., Delio Cantimori, Ernst Jünger e la mistica milizia del lavoro, in Delio Cantimori, Tre saggi su Ernst Jünger, Moller van den Brück, Schmitt, Settimo Sigillo, Roma 1985, pp. 17-43.).

2 Qualora le forme, nel loro aspetto fenomenico, non fossero soggette all’annientamento, non si potrebbe agevolmente spiegare la differenza fra un ciclo caratterizzato dal dominio di alcune forme e un altro contraddistinto da forme diverse. Ci fossero sempre le stesse forme cosa muterebbe all’alba di un nuovo ciclo? La valorizzazione di questa dottrina tradizionale giustifica insieme ad altre importanti somiglianze un parallelo fra la metafisica di Jünger e quella a cui si richiamano Evola, Guénon ed in parte Eliade. In particolare, risulta interessante un confronto fra i segni che secondo questi autori caratterizzano il Kali Yuga (L’età Oscura, l’ultima età prima della fine di questo ciclo cosmico) e i segni che, ne L’operaio e in altre opere di Jünger, contraddistinguono l’“Interregno” in cui sorge ed agisce la Forma dell’Operaio. In questo senso, è assolutamente importante anche un paragone con Spengler per il quale si rimanda a: Domenico Conte, Jünger, Spengler e la storia, in A.A. V.V., in Ernst Jünger e il pensiero del nichilismo, a cura di Luisa Bonesio, Herrenhaus, 2002, pp. 153-198; Luciano Arcella, Ernst Jünger, Oltre la storia, in Due volte la cometa, Atti del convegno Roma 28 ottobre 1995, Settimo Sigillo, Roma 1998. Antonio Gnoli e Franco Volpi, I prossimi titani, Conversazioni con Ernst Jünger, Adelphi, Milano 1997, pp. 103, 104. Si veda anche Julius Evola, Spengler e il Tramonto dell’Occidente, Fondazione Julius Evola, Roma 1981. Sulla interpretazione jüngeriana del pensiero di Spengler si legga soprattutto: Ernst Jünger, trad. it., Al muro del tempo, Adelphi, Milano 2000.

3 “Nella forma è racchiuso il tutto che comprende più che non la somma delle proprie parti”. Ernst Jünger, trad. it., L’Operaio, Dominio e Forma, Guanda, Parma 2004, p. 32. “Una parte è certamente così lontana dall’essere una forma così come una forma è lontana dall’essere una somma di parti”. Ibidem.

4 Jünger definisce la storia dell’evoluzione come “il commento dinamico” della forma. Cfr., Ernst Jünger, L’operaio, cit., p. 75. La forma dunque “non esclude l’evoluzione”, la “include come proiezione sul piano della realtà”. Ivi, p. 125. Ciò implica l’avversione non solo alla dottrina del progresso (“ogni progresso implica un regresso”), ma il rifiuto netto di ogni prospettiva storicistica: “La storia non produce forme, ma si modifica in virtù della forma”, ivi. p. 75. Evola commenta: “Le figure non sono storicamente condizionate; invece sono esse a condizionare la storia, la quale è la scena del loro manifestarsi, del loro succedersi, del loro incontrarsi e lottare (…). E’ l’apparire di una nuova figura a dare ad ogni civiltà la sua impronta. Le figure non divengono, non si evolvono, non sono i prodotti di processi empirici, di rapporti orizzontali di causa e di effetto”. Julius Evola, L’operaio nel pensiero di Ernst Jünger, cit., p. 32. Si potrebbe allora sostenere con Eliade che la “valorizzazione” dell’esistenza umana non è “quella che cercano di dare certe correnti filosofiche posthegeliane, soprattutto il marxismo, lo storicismo e l’esistenzialismo, in seguito alla scoperta dell’ “uomo storico”, dell’uomo che si fa da se stesso in seno alla storia”. Mircea Eliade, Il mito dell’eterno ritorno, Archetipi e ripetizioni, Borla, Roma 1999, p. 8. Questa impostazione è molto simile a quella jüngeriana, infatti l’Operaio come Gestalt non può essere considerato un prodotto delle dinamiche storico-economiche. E’ la Forma a fare la storia, non viceversa.

5 Usando il linguaggio heideggeriano si può sostenere che la forma non può essere piegata alla scienza intesa come “ricerca”: “La scienza diviene ricerca quando si ripone l’essere dell’ente” nell’ “oggettività”. Cfr., Martin Heidegger, L’epoca dell’immagine del mondo, in id. Sentieri interrotti, La Nuova Italia, Firenze 1984, p. 83. La Forma non può essere oggettivizzata, non se ne può fornire una storia dettagliata né, tantomeno, se ne può calcolare in anticipo e con esattezza il corso futuro.

6 Plotino distingue l’essere che è costituito da forme sensibili e intelligibili dall’Uno che può essere considerato amorfo: “L’Uno non è “qualcosa”, ma è anteriore a qualsiasi cosa; e nemmeno non è essere, poiché l’essere possiede (…) una forma, la forma dell’essere. Ma l’Uno è privo di forma, privo anche della forma intelligibile”. Plotino, Enneade VI, in Plotino, Enneadi, Rusconi, Milano 1992, p. 1343. L’Uno “privo di forma” non può essere conosciuto “né per mezzo della scienza né per mezzo del pensiero”. Chi estaticamente ha “visto” o meglio è “stato” (è) l’Uno “non immagina una dualità, ma già diventato altro da quello che era e ormai non più se stesso, appartiene a Lui ed è uno con Lui”. L’Uno non può essere oggettivizzato. L’oggettivazione si fonda infatti sulla distanza e sulla differenza tra il soggetto che oggettiviza e l’ente oggettivizzato. Qualora ci fosse la distanza tra chi contempla l’Uno e l’Uno, quest’ultimo non si potrebbe cogliere come tale ma come “un altro”. Contemplare l’Uno significa farsi riempire dall’Uno, essere Uno. Stabilito ciò, si capisce come l’esperienza dell’Uno non possa essere adeguatamente raccontata. Manca infatti l’oggetto da ricordare. Ne L’operaio la tecnica è il modo attraverso cui l’uomo, superando la propria differenza, si avvicina a rappresentare la Forma che lo trascende.

7 Il concetto di “Avvicinamento” che scopriamo nel saggio del 1963 Tipo Nome Forma viene ripreso nello scritto del 1970 Avvicinamenti, Droghe ed ebbrezza: “L’avvicinamento è tutto, e questo avvicinamento, non ha uno scopo tangibile, uno scopo cui si possa dare un nome, il senso risiede nel cammino”. Ernst Jünger, Avvicinamenti, Droghe ed ebbrezza, Guanda, Parma 2006, p. 53.

8 “(…) nel regno della forma la regola non distingue tra causa ed effetto, bensì tra sigillo ed impronta, ed è una regola di tutt’altra natura”. Ernst Jünger, L’operaio, cit., p. 31.

9 “Il predicare della natura (…) muove dall’oggetto (il giglio indicato), attraverso il tipo (il giglio nominato), alla forma e infine all’indistinto”. Le risposte divengono sempre più ampie e, nel contempo, si riducono le distinzioni. Questa riduzione è il segno dell’avvicinamento all’Indistinto”. Ernst Jünger, Tipo, Nome, Forma, trad. it., Herrenhaus, 2001, p.93.

10 La perdita dell’aura nell’epoca della riproducibilità tecnica è un elemento che Benjamin giudica, al contrario di Adorno e di Horkheimer, funzionale alla possibilità di una rivoluzione sociale. Paradossalmente Jünger, che da Benjamin è stato aspramente criticato in relazione al suo scritto Die Totale Mobilmachung, nella dura recensione Teorie del fascismo tedesco, ritiene anch’egli fatale il sacrificio dell’autenticità dell’arte a favore del suo “uso” rivoluzionario. Naturalmente le prospettive sono opposte in quanto, alla stregua di Lukács (cfr. György Lukács, La distruzione della ragione, Einaudi, Torino 1959, p. 538.), gli “incatesimi runici” di Jünger sarebbero, secondo Benjamin, tesi al rafforzamento di una “classe di dominatori” che “non deve rendere conto a nessuno e meno che mai a se stessa, che, issata su un altissimo trono, ha i tratti sfingei del produttore, che promette di diventare prestissimo l’unico consumatore delle sue merci”. Walter Benjamin, Teorie del fascismo tedesco, in id., Benjamin, Critiche e recensioni, Tra avanguardie e letteratura di consumo, trad. it., Einaudi, Torino 1979, p. 159. Dunque, la rivoluzione di Jünger e dei suoi sodali nazional-rivoluzionari, sarebbe tesa “ideologicamente” a rafforzare lo status quo, cioè lo stato liberalcapitalista e i privilegi dei “padroni”. Secondo i miei studi, Ernst Jünger non critica falsamente (“ideologicamente”) la classe borghese per amplificarne paradossalmente il potere. Egli non ha il fine di favorire lo status quo. Nel corso dell’articolo avrò modo di ribadire come le posizioni di Jünger sono equidistanti sia dal materialismo collettivista sia dall’utilitarismo borghese.

11 Secondo Daniele Lazzari: “Siamo stati persuasi da quasi tre secoli di illuminismo che il pensiero moderno avrebbe piegato le forze elementari ormai scientificamente conosciute, analizzate ed “ingabbiate” dal razionalismo dell’umana specie, ma in barba a queste riflessioni, all’osservatore più attento non può sfuggire il persistere, se non l’accentuarsi, di queste forze elementari. Tra queste la Natura, mai dimentica di sé e della sua eterna potenza non perde occasione di ricordarci la sua grandezza, la sua inarrestabile forza distruttrice con le grandi alluvioni, trombe d’aria e vulcaniche eruzioni”. Daniele Lazzari, Il Signore della Tecnica, in A.A. V.V., Ernst Jünger, L’Europa, cioè il coraggio, Società Editrice Barbarossa, Milano 2003, p. 162.

12 Heidegger ricorda che “Τά μαθήματα significa per i Greci ciò che, nella considerazione dell’ente e nel commercio con le cose, l’uomo conosce in anticipo”. Martin Heidegger, L’epoca dell’immagine del mondo, in id., Sentieri interrotti, cit., p. 74. La scienza come matematica determina “in anticipo e in modo precipuo qualcosa di già conosciuto”. Ivi, p. 75. Questo processo che implica la pre-conoscenza di ciò che si conosce e dunque la pre-visione, è il modo tipico attraverso cui, anche per Jünger, l’uomo moderno conosce, calcola e domina il mondo. La verità del mondo sta nella sua esattezza, cioè nella corrispondenza rigorosa col procedimento che si adotta per conoscerlo. Questo modo di conoscere è valido massimamente per la tecnica. La forma tramite la tecnica e la scienza come matematica calcolano e dominano il mondo. Ma, nel pensiero di Jünger, la Forma in se stessa non può certo essere a sua volta misurata, pre-determinanta. La sua verità non è l’esattezza.

13 All’argomento del dolore che, come si sta ricordando, è intrinsecamente legato il tema dell’elementare, e che non è possibile affrontare in tutta la sua ampiezza in questo articolo, Jünger dedica un complesso e profondo saggio nel 1934 in cui si legge: “Là dove si fa risparmio di dolore l’equilibrio verrà ristabilito secondo leggi di un’economia rigorosa, e parafrasando una formula celebre, si potrebbe parlare di una “astuzia del dolore” volta a raggiungere in qualsiasi modo lo scopo”. Ernst Jünger, Sul Dolore, in id. Foglie e Pietre, cit., p. 149.

14 La revisione della tematica della tecnica, che comunque non mi pare possa intaccare nella sostanza i fondamenti della metafisica delle forme, è un argomento molto complesso a cui sarebbe bene dedicare un apposito studio all’interno del quale si analizzino nello specifico almeno i saggi Oltre la linea (trad. it., Adelphi, Milano 1989), Il trattato del Ribelle (trad. it., Adelphi, Milano 1995), Al muro del tempo ( trd. it., Adelphi, Milano 2000), il romanzo filosofico Eumeswil (trad. it., Guanda, Parma 2001) e La forbice (trad. it., Guanda, Parma, 1996). Ne L’operaio, che è l’oggetto di questo articolo, Jünger pensa che l’omonima Figura possa finalizzare alla Rinascita dell’uomo totale l’elementare; la tecnica è dunque vista come lo strumento necessario che l’uomo adotta per disporsi alla Trascendenza della Forma. Successivamente questo strumento, a cui già nel ’32 era stata associata una trasformazione della libertà, non è più adatto a garantire la comunicazione tra la Forma e l’uomo. Da qui l’esigenza di elaborare nuove figure come appunto quella del Ribelle (in Il trattato del Ribelle) o dell’Anarca (in Eumeswil) che arrivano alla propria libertà sovratemporale tramite percorsi individuali.

15 Ernst Jünger, L’operaio, cit., p. 140.

16 Cfr. Martin Heidegger, La questione dell’Essere, trad. it., in Ernst Jünger-Martin Heidegger, Oltre la linea, trad. it., Adelphi, Milano 1989, pp. 130, 131.

17 Cfr., Alain de Benoist, L’operaio fra gli dei e i titani, cit., p. 40.

18 Benjamin identifica con precisione il nesso tra la guerra e la tecnica specialmente riferendosi all’estetizzazione della politica che perseguirebbe il fascismo. La guerra imperialistica sarebbe lo sbocco naturale della società capitalista a causa “della discrepanza di poderosi mezzi di produzione e la insufficienza della loro utilizzazione nel processo di produzione (in altre parole, dalla disoccupazione e dalla mancanza di mercati di sbocco)”. Walter Benjamin, L’opera d’arte nell’epoca della sua riproducibilità tecnica, Einaudi, Torino 1966, pp. 46, 47. E’ probabile (anche se non necessario) che la Mobilitazione Totale così come è stata elaborata da Jünger possa sfociare nella guerra. E’ anche vero che i Rivoluzionari-conservatori non contestano la società a partire da idee economiche e che i rapporti di proprietà non costiuiscono il fulcro principale della loro riflessione. E’ infatti lo stesso Operaio “a rifiutare ogni interpretazione che tenti” di spiegarlo “come una manifestazione economica, o addirittura come il prodotto di processi economici, il che significa in fondo, una sorta di prodotto industriale”. Ernst Jünger, L’operaio, cit., p. 29. L’Operaio pronuncia una “dichiarazioone d’indipendenza dal mondo dell’economia”, anche se “ciò non significa affatto una rinuncia a quel mondo, bensì la volontà di subordinarlo ad una rivendicazione di potere più vasta e di più ampio respiro. Ciò significa che non la libertà economica né la potenza economica è il perno della rivolta, ma la forza pura e semplice, in assoluto”. Ibidem.

19 Secondo Evola il “mondo senz’anima delle macchine, della tecnica e delle metropoli moderne”, “pura realtà e oggettività”, “freddo, inumano, distaccato, minaccioso, privo di intimità, spersonalizzante, “barbarico””, non è rifiutato dall’Uomo differenziato. Infatti, “proprio accettando in pieno questa realtà (…) l’uomo differenziato può essenzializzarsi e formarsi (…) attivando la dimensione della trascendenza in sé, bruciando le scorie dell’individualità, egli può enucleare la persona assoluta”. Julius Evola, Cavalcare la Tigre, Edizioni Mediterranee, Roma 1995, pp. 103, 104. Rispetto al complesso rapporto fra Jünger ed Evola, oltre agli scritti evoliani L’operaio nel pensiero di Ernst Jünger ( Armando, Roma 1961), Il cammino del Cinabro (Vanni Scheiwller, Milano 1963) e Cavalcare la Tigre, si legga Francesco Cassata, A destra del fascismo, profilo politico di Julius Evola, Bollati Boringhieri, Torino 2003.

20 Ne L’operaio la caratteristica peculiare della tecnica consiste proprio nella sua capacità di modificare l’essenza dell’uomo verso l’uniformità. La tecnica, che è il più appropriato strumento di dominio dell’Operaio, frantuma ogni tradizione e ogni valore e dunque anche ogni differenza di carattere schiettamente biologico. Allo stesso modo, è vero che chi non avesse la capacità di sfruttare positivamente la distruzione tecnica, sarebbe, nell’ottica di Jünger, destinato alla massificazione amorfa, in altri termini ad una modalità di vita probabilmente inferiore rispetto a quella incarnata dall’Operaio. Solo quest’ultimo, esperita la distruzione di tutti i valori e consapevole della potenza inumana della tecnica, rinasce come eroe della Forma e come protagonista del suo destino di dominio.

21 Cfr., Martin Heidegger, L’epoca dell’immagine del mondo, in id. Sentieri interrotti, trad. it., La Nuova Italia, Firenze 1968, p. 87. Secondo Heidegger, dopo che l’uomo è divenuto sub-jectum issandosi a fondamento dell’essere e dunque a metro della verità, sapere significa dominare. Heidegger confessa che il suo scritto del 1953 La questione della tecnica “deve alle descrizioni contenute nel Lavoratore un impulso durevole”. Martin Heidegger, La questione dell’Essere, in Ernst Jünger-Martin Heidegger, Oltre la linea, cit., p. 118. In effetti, sia la strumentalizzazione del mondo attuata dalla ragione tecnica che il nesso profondo che fonde il darsi della verità col suo nichilistico ritrarsi sono, almeno in parte, tematiche già presenti ne L’operaio. (Cfr. Martin Heidegger, La questione della tecnica, in Saggi e discorsi, trad. it., Mursia, Milano, 1976.). Adorno e Horkheimer, in La dialettica dell’illuminismo, scrivono che “l’illuminismo nel senso più ampio di pensiero in continuo progresso”- cioè non solo come illuminismo del secolo XVIII- “ha perseguito da sempre l’obbiettivo di togliere agli uomini la paura e di renderli padroni”. Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, trad. it., Dialettica dell’illuminismo, Einaudi, Torino 1966, p. 11. La tecnica è “l’essenza” del sapere come potere”. Ivi, p. 12. Jünger anticipa questa analisi sul sapere moderno che ha la tecnica e la razionalità strumentale come essenza. I pensatori della Scuola di Francoforte però tendono a non considerare in senso positivo il potere catartico della strumentalizzazione della ragione e del sapere come dominio. Secondo Jünger invece, una volta constatata l’irreversibilità delle dinamiche descritte, non resta che viverle. Né per Heidegger né per Jünger si può prescindere dall’essenza nichilistica della tecnica: è proprio esperendo il nichilismo che ci si incammina verso un suo eventuale superamento. Entrambi non condannano la tecnica in quanto ne giudicano necessario l’avvento. Sull’argomento cfr., Michela Nacci, Pensare la tecnica, un secolo di incomprensioni, Laterza, Bari 2000, p. 44.

22 Questo aspetto è stato acutamente evidenziato dal nazionalbolscevico Ernst Niekisch: “(…) La mobilitazione totale, di cui Jünger si fa banditore, è l’azione la quale raggiunge i propri estremi limiti, le punte più alte cui si possa attingere; essa pretende di porre tutto in marcia, non tollera più nulla in stato di riposo, donna, bambino, vegliardo che sia. Incita i lattanti ad arruolarsi, chiama le ragazze sotto le armi, dà fondo alle più segrete riserve; niente ne resta escluso, ogni angolo è frugato, l’ometto più mingherlino viene trascinato al fronte. E’ il bagordo più sfrenato in cui si butta il nichilismo, quando gli è diventato quasi inevitabile dover finalmente fissare il proprio volto”. Ernst Niekisch, Il regno dei demoni, Feltrinelli, Milano 1959, pp. 117, 118. Niekisch descrive perfettamente la mobilitazione totale, ma tace sul fatto che, come più volte Jünger ripete, dietro al movimento si cela immobile la Forma.

23 Ernst Jünger, L’operaio, cit., p. 115.

24 Il lavoro non è interpretato come un fenomeno meramente sociale ed economico, né si ha la minima intenzione di porsi dalla parte degli operai sfruttati, che lavorano troppo. Viceversa, si tenta di introdurre il lavoro come un ideale, si tratta del lavoro come forma dell’uomo e, in un certo qual modo, come forma del mondo. Il mondo e l’uomo mutano la loro forma grazie al lavoro inteso come la missione propria dell’epoca moderna.

25 Si sente l’influenza di Weber laddove si parla della ragione strumentale che finalizza ogni ente all’utile umano, al profitto e che favorisce il superamento disincantato di quella ascesi intramondana che era all’origine del capitalismo medesimo ( cfr., Max Weber, L’etica protestante e lo spirito del capitalismo, trad. it., Rizzoli, Milano 1991, pp. 239, 240.) Ma, fa notare molto precisamente Herf, se “la critica della tecnica era moneta corrente nella cultura di Weimar”, “Ernst Jünger si distingueva, poiché sembrava accogliere positivamente il processo di strumentalizzazione degli esseri umani. Era come se Weber avesse accolto con gioia la prospettiva della gabbia di ferro”. Jeffrey Herf, Il modernismo reazionario, Il Mulino, Bologna 1988, p. 150. Per Jünger invero il fatto che la razionalità finalizzata al profitto si espanda in ogni settore della vita e che il lavoro si propaghi in ogni ambiente, non impedisce che l’Operaio possa, in un certo senso, tornare ad incarnare un’etica ascetica in cui non sia tanto importante il godimento di ciò che viene prodotto, quanto la dedizione totale al lavoro, dunque anche alla produzione. Egli cerca di dividere la missione del lavoro, funzionale al dominio della forma e alla nascita dell’Operaio (che non è un mero consumatore delle merci che produce), dall’etica utilitarista, propria del borghese che produce per raggiungere il suo isolato utile e piacere.

26 “Essere e niente non si danno uno accanto all’altro, ma l’uno si adopera per l’altro, in una sorta di parentela di cui non abbiamo ancora pensato la pienezza essenziale”. Martin Heidegger, La questione dell’essere, in Ernst Jünger, Martin Heidegger, Oltre la linea, cit., p. 157.

27 Ne L’Operaio, e in vari articoli che lo precedono (cfr., ad esempio, Ernst Jünger, “Nazionalismo” e nazionalismo, Das Tagebuch, 21 settembre 1929, in Ernst Jünger, Scritti politici e di guerra 1919-1933, trad. it., Libreria Editrice Goriziana, Gorizia 2005, p. 89.), Jünger loda alla stregua dei futuristi la velocità, la macchina, l’acciao, la violenza che genera distruzione, i paesaggi lunari e freddi tipici del mondo-officina, la guerra come fattore elementare attraverso cui poter esperire una nuova forma di esistenza rinvigorita dal pericolo e dalla morte. Il costante riferimento all’Ordine (all’Essere, all’Immobile) è stato invece interpretato come la differenza più profonda fra Jünger e i futuristi italiani. Secondo Fabio Vander ad esempio poiché “non può esservi calma dopo la tempesta della Krisis, se non come essere della tempesta ovvero essere del divenire, dialettica della differenza”, Jünger “deve rassegnarsi al “semplice dinamismo, attivismo”, deve considerarlo intranscendibile se rifiuta, come rifiuta, la prospettiva dialettica. Allora di fronte alla tragicità di Jünger, meglio il divertissement di Marinetti, che appunto della differenza assoluta non cercava trascendimento, salvezza”. Fabio Vander, L’estetizzazione della politica, Il fascismo come anti-Italia, Dedalo, Bari 2001, p. 55. Secondo Vander, Jünger, ma anche Heidegger, poiché restii ad accettare la dialettica della differenza, non sarebbero stati in grado di sintetizzare l’Essere col Divenire, mentre Marinetti, non avendoci neppure provato, sarebbe stato più coerente. Constatata nel pensiero di Jünger la presenza della nozione “forte” di Forma, ma considerata pure la complicata correlazione che fonde il sensibile al sovrasensibile, non mi sento di ridurre la metafisica delle forme a un fallito tentativo di coniugare l’Essere col Divenire.

28 “Agisci sempre in modo da trattare l’umanità, sia nella tua persona sia nella persona di ogni altro, sempre come un fine e mai soltanto come un mezzo”. Immanuel Kant, Fondazione della metafisica dei costumi, trad. it., Laterza, Bari 1992, p. 111. Cesare Cases scrive che “l’etica di Jünger si direbbe l’opposto dell’etica kantiana: l’uomo non vi è concepito come valore in sé, ma come “simbolo”, come mezzo per raggiungere un determinato scopo, in cui si invera e che è in funzione di un’entità metafisica che si chiama volta per volta “idea”, “Forma”, “destino””. Casare Cases, La fredda impronta della Forma, Arte, fisica e metafisica nell’opera di Ernst Jünger, La Nuova Italia, Firenze 1997, p. 39.

29 “E’ l’immensa moltiplicazione delle produzioni di tutte le differenti attività, conseguente alla divisione del lavoro, che, nonostante la grande ineguaglianza nella proprietà, dà origine, in tutte le società evolute, a quell’universale benessere che si estende a raggiungere i ceti più bassi della popolazione. Si produce così una grande quantità di ogni bene, che ve n’è abbastanza da soddisfare l’infingardo e oppressivo sperpero del grande, al tempo stesso, da sopperire largamente ai bisogni dell’artigianto e del contadino. Ciascun uomo effettua una così grande quantità di quel lavoro che gli compete, che può anche produrre qualcosa per quelli che non lavorano affatto e, al tempo stesso, averne in tale quantità che gli è possibile, attraverso lo scambio di quanto gli rimane con i prodotti delle altre attività, di provvedersi di tutte le cose necessarie e utili di cui ha bisogno”. Adam Smith, La ricchezza delle nazioni, trad. it., Editori Riuniti, Roma 1969, p. 14. Anche Jünger crede nella necessità della divisione del lavoro, dunque nella specializzazione e nel nesso che lega questi processi alla complessiva crescita economica della nazione. Non crede invece che il solo mercato, come fosse una “mano invisibile”, possa essere in grado di determinare la ricchezza della nazione e, in definitiva, il benessere complessivo del popolo.

30 L’avvicinamento della metafisica delle Forme alla metafisica della vita può essere pensato con cognizione di causa solo se accanto alle somiglianze si mettono in evidenza le profonde differenze. Fare alla stregua di Lukács della metafisica delle Forme un’enclave della filosofia della vita (cfr. György Lukács, trad. it., La distruzione della ragione, cit., p. 538.), può condurre a incasellare la prima nell’alveo dell’irrazionalismo e dunque può servire a ridurrre la complessa filosofia di Jünger a un sistema teso a criticare la ragione in quanto tale. Se Jünger concorda con filosofi come Simmel sull’importanza della vita intesa come un fiume da cui l’uomo trae i valori e in cui i valori fatalmente nel tempo sono riassorbiti, conferisce anche notevole importanza alla dimensione propriamente metafisica o meglio esattamente Trascendente. La Forma non è qualcosa che fuoriesce per caso dal divenire magmatico. Essa è eterna, immobile. Se non può essere paragonata all’idea platonica è solo perché, benché sia trascendente, la dinamica della sua e-sistenza si estrinseca come evento, ma l’essenza è e rimane atemporale. Questa atemporalità conferisce solidità all’impianto etico de L’Operaio. In questo senso, la riflessione di Jünger può essere avvicinata a quella dei pensatori della Tradizione, ad esempio ad Evola e a Guénon. Infatti questi studiosi, riproponendo la metafisica della “Tradizione”, sostengono che l’uomo, per agire in conformità al proprio destino, debba incarnare principi assoluti e trascendenti, impersonali. L’uomo della Tradizione abbandona i propri desideri, il proprio utile e persegue un’ attività sovraindividuale. La sua è un’ “azione senza desiderio”, un “agire senza agire”. (Cfr. Julius Evola, Cavalcare la Tigre, cit., p. 68.). Anche l’Operaio agisce senza agire, nel senso che è Forma: non è lui ad agire, ma la Forma di cui è impronta. Da qui la preminenza in questo pensiero di concetti “forti” come quello di disciplina, di sacrificio, di eroismo. Il vitalismo mutuato da Nietzsche è dunque inquadrato in un sistema metafisico in cui valori tipicamente guerrieri, aristocratici, tradizionali trovano forza e, nell’intento di Jünger, imperitura conferma.

31 Michela Nacci, Pensare la tecnica, Un secolo di incomprensioni, cit., p. 61.

32 Ernst Jünger, La mobilitazione Totale, in id., Foglie e Pietre, Adelphi, Milano 1997, p. 127.

33 Ibidem.

34 Herf fa presente che la prima guerra mondiale era stata per i rivoluzionari conservatori “il palcoscenico su cui si riconciliavano le dicotomie centrali della modernità tedesca: Kultur e Zivilisation, Gemeinschaft e Gesellschaft”. Jeffrey Herf, Il modernismo reazionario, cit., p. 130. Diversamente da Spengler e da altri “intellettuali di destra” vicini all’“antimodernismo völkisch, Jünger proponeva di assorbire la macchina e la stessa metropoli nella Kultur tedesca, anziché respingere entrambi come prodotti di forze estranee”. Ivi, p. 133.

35 Cfr., Ernst Jünger, Scritti politici e di guerra, Libreria Editrice Goriziana, Gorizia 2005.

36 “Si vorrebbe riconoscere all’uomo, a piacere, la qualità di creatore o di vittima di questa stessa tecnica. L’uomo appare qui o un apprendista stregone, il quale evoca forze i cui effetti egli non sa dominare, o il creatore di un progresso ininterrotto che corre incontro a paradisi artificiali”. Ernst Jünger, L’operaio, cit., p. 140.

37 Armin Mohler fornisce una chiara spiegazione del contesto in cui sorge il concetto di “interregno”: “Attraverso la nuova esplosione di movimenti che si determina nel secolo XIX il Cristianesimo (…) si disgrega. Nella realtà politica, conformemente al principio di inerzia, continua ad esistere; tuttavia là dove si prendono le decisioni esso ha perso la sua posizione dominante e rimane, anche nelle sue tradizioni consolidate (Neotomismo e Teologia dialettica), solamente una forza tra le altre. Questo processo è accelerato ulteriormente dalla decomposizione dell’eredità del mondo antico, che aveva aiutato nel corso dei secoli il cristianesimo a raggiungere una forma propria. Gli elementi della realtà precedente sussistono ancora, ma, isolati e senza punti di riferimento, si muovono disordinatamente nello spazio. L’antica struttura dell’Occidente quale unità di mondo classico, cristianesimo e forze di nuovi popoli penetrati nella storia con le invasioni barbariche, è frantumata. Ci troviamo così in questo stato intermedio, in un “Interregnum”, da cui ogni espressione culturale è influenzata”. Armin Mohler, La Rivoluzione Conservatrice in Germania 1919-1932, Una guida, cit., pp. 22, 23.

Konstantin Leontiev, l'inaudible

Konstantin Leontiev, l'inaudible

par Thierry Jolif

(Infréquentables, 10)

Ex: http://stalker.hautetfort.com/

«La flatterie politique [...] n'est absolument pas obligatoire en littérature.»
Konstantin Leontiev.


Leont%27ev.jpgInfréquentable, à coup sur, Konstantin Leontiev l'est. Non qu'il le fut, de son vivant. Certainement pas. Sûrement même le fut-il moins, bien moins, que Dostoïevski ou Tolstoï aux yeux d'une grande partie de la bonne société de l'époque. Actuellement, par contre, il l'est évidemment, pour la très simple raison qu'il est mort, et pour la tout aussi simple raison qu'il n'a pas eu l'excellente idée de laisser à la postérité une œuvre immortelle selon les actuels canon de l'immortalité.
Le voici donc bel et bien frappé d'oubli et, conséquemment, contraint de se voir classer parmi les infréquentables, non pas seulement en raison de son décès mais aussi, et surtout, à cause, précisément, de ses écrits. En fait, pas tant à cause de ses écrits mais bien plutôt en conséquence de son écriture ! De son style ! Style que lui reprochaient déjà ses contemporains, trop clair, trop «latin» pour les slavophiles, trop russe pour les occidentalistes. Politiquement concret et précis, sans sentimentalisme, extrêmement réaliste et profondément religieux, philosophiquement spirituel (et pas spiritualiste) et rigoureux, ni romanesque, ni romantique, aucunement utopique. Ainsi Leontiev, en dehors de son infréquentabilité physique due à son trépas, demeure stylistiquement infréquentable !
Il est hélas à peu près certain que, selon les très actuels critères qui font qu'un écrivain est «lisible» ou mérite d'avoir des lecteurs, notre très oublié Leontiev serait recalé. Il suffit, pour s'en convaincre, de relire une seule petite phrase du penseur russe : «L'idée du bien général ne contient rien de réel» (1).
Qui, parmi les lecteurs contemporains, souhaite encore lire de pareilles formules, et qui, parmi les marchands qui font profession de fournir de la matière imprimée, aurait encore envie de fourguer une telle camelote ? Non, soyons sérieux, ce genre de sortie, et plus encore le comportement qu'elle suppose, datent d'une autre époque, époque, fort heureusement, révolue pour nous, qui sommes gens évolués et accomplis. En outre, le bonhomme eu l'impudence de critiquer Dostoïevski ! Du moins, ce qui à notre époque revient au même, certaines idées avancées par l'auteur des Frères Karamazov. Ainsi l'obscur et impudent, à propos de Crime et châtiment, a-t-il osé écrire que «Sonia... n'a pas lu les Pères de l'Église» ! Voilà qui le rend «suspect» et par trop réactionnaire, même pour les chrétiens ! Pourtant Leontiev ne dit pas là autre chose que Chesterton lorsque celui-ci écrit qu’«En dehors de l'Église les Évangiles sont un poison», proposition raisonnable et si juste de la part d'un Britannique. «Toutes les idées modernes sont des idées chrétiennes devenues folles» : là encore, l'amateur éclairé opinera du chef et se régalera d'une telle sagacité bien audacieuse. Mais que ce grand Russe, petit écrivain compromis par sa «proximité avec le régime», se permette d'écorcher, pour les mêmes motifs, ce que la Russie nous a donné de meilleur, qu'il s'en prenne à ce style psychologique qui a fait, justement, le régal des belles âmes, voilà ce qui est proprement impardonnable.
J'aurais pu écrire «Leontiev l'illisible» mais alors je n'aurais pas touché juste. Notre époque peut tout lire, tout voir, tout entendre, et elle le veut d'ailleurs. En fait, plus qu'elle ne le veut elle le désire, et même ardemment ! Son incapacité est ailleurs : «J'entends mais je ne tiens pas compte.» Cela vous rappelle quelque chose ? Toute ressemblance avec des faits réels n'est nullement fortuite. Cette confession est révélatrice de cet autisme tant individuel que collectif et, à la fois, paradoxalement, volontaire et inconscient.
L'écriture de Leontiev est donc devenue inaudible. Notre temps désire tout entendre mais il ne sait plus écouter. Or, une telle écriture demande un réel effort d'attention et d'écoute. Leontiev, pourrais-je dire, a écrit, de son vivant, pour «ces quelques-uns dont il n'existe peut-être pas un seul». Depuis son décès, cette vérité est encore plus cinglante. Un autre écrivain russe, grand solitaire également, Vassili Rozanov, écrivait de Leontiev qu'il était plus «nietzschéen que Nietzsche».
Pendant une brève période ces deux contempteurs de leur époque entretinrent une correspondance. Ils se fréquentèrent donc, du moins par voie épistolaire. Rien de très étonnant à cela tant ces deux caractères, pourtant si profondément différents l'un de l'autre, se trouvèrent, tous deux, radicalement opposés à tout ce qui faisait les délices intellectuelles de leur siècle. Rien d'étonnant non plus à ce que leurs tombes aient été rapidement profanées et détruites par les persécuteurs socialistes; leur «infréquentabilité» devenait ainsi plus profonde, et plus large même, post-mortem. (Rozanov avait tenu à être inhumé auprès de Leontiev, dans le cimetière du monastère de Tchernigov à Bourg-Saint-Serge).
Inaccessible Konstantin Leontiev l'est, sans nul doute possible. Né charnellement en janvier 1831, né au ciel en novembre 1891 après avoir reçu la tonsure monastique sous le nom de Kliment à la Trinité Saint-Serge. Ce russe, typiquement XIXe et pourtant si terriblement, si prophétiquement «moderne» qui vécut en une seule vie les carrières de médecin militaire, de médecin de famille, de journaliste, de critique littéraire, de consul, de censeur..., côtoya aussi tous ceux qui, inévitablement, lui faisaient de l'ombre, Soloviev, Dostoïevski, Tolstoï. Inévitablement, à cause de leur talent, certes, mais aussi parce qu'ils furent toujours plus «libéraux» que lui, qui ne put jamais se résigner à l'être.
Inaccessible plus encore qu'infréquentable, car tout ce qui «sonne» un peu trop radicalement réactionnaire est, on le sait, furieusement réprimé par notre époque douce et éclairée et qui a su, si bien,
retenir les leçons du passé. Les excités tel que Leontiev ne peuvent qu'être dangereux (pensez donc, défenseur d'une ligne politique byzantino-orthodoxe : même un Alexandre Duguin, de nos jours, dénonce ceux de ces compatriotes qui se laissent aller à ce rêve-là). Même à leur corps défendant, même s'ils sont, par ailleurs, nous pouvons bien le reconnaître, des «êtres délicieux», nous ne saurions tolérer leur imprécations obscurantistes. De même qu'en France un Léon Bloy, c'est «amusant»; c'est, nous pouvons bien le concéder, stylistiquement admirable (surtout à le comparer à nos actuels littératueurs, pisse-copies patentés d'introversions fumeuses et professionnels de la communication et du marketing), mais non, philosophiquement, allons, soyons sérieux, tout cela est dépassé, dépassé parce que faux, pis : incorrect !
Oui, en quelque sorte, à nos oreilles éduquées par d'autre mélopées, plus suaves, la tonalité de Leontiev sonne méchamment; c'est bien cela ! Pour notre moralisme, que nous pensons si rationnel et si réaliste, les propos de Leontiev sont affreusement méchants, et ce d'autant plus qu'il y mit lui-même toute sa force de conviction non moins réellement réaliste, mais d'un réalisme qui sut rester non matérialiste et non idéologique, d'un réalisme outrageusement chrétien. Et c'est au nom de ce christianisme réaliste que Leontiev osa adresser ses reproches à Léon Tolstoï, à Dostoïevski, à Gogol aussi (l'un des buts littéraires avoués de Leontiev était de mettre fin à l'influence de ce dernier sur les lettres russes !). Comble de l'audace perfidement rétrograde, qui scandalise plus aujourd'hui qu'alors ! À tous ceux qui étaient tentés de justifier la mélasse socio-démocratique par le christianisme, voire à faire de celui-ci rien de moins que l'essence même de cette eau-de-rose truandée, Leontiev rappelait quelques utiles vérités. Tout comme les authentiques musiques traditionnelles des peuples sont, à l'opposé des soupes sirupeuses avariées du new age, fortes et rugueuses aux oreilles non-initiées et ne dévoilent leur vraie douceur qu'après une longue intimité dans la chaleur de la langue et de l'esprit, le christianisme, à l'opposé de la doucereuse tolérance socio-démocrate, est austère et exigeant avant que d'être accueillante et lumineuse bonté !
Et puis surtout, que pourrions-nous bien en faire de ce furieux vieux bonhomme qui a osé écrire
leontievcccccc.jpgL'Européen moyen, idéal et outil de la destruction universelle ? Puisque, ne l'oublions pas, la littérature «vraie» doit être, nécessairement, engagée; c'est-à-dire, au-delà de critiques de pure forme, aller, toujours, dans le sens du courant. Or, nous y sommes d'ores et déjà en la belle et unie Europe, nous y sommes depuis un bon bout de temps dans ce moment historique, dans cet événement des événements qui va durer encore et encore, en plein dans cette heureuse période de l'unification, dans l'heureuse diversité des êtres équitablement soumis aux choses. Certes, avec des heurts et quelques accidents de parcours, mais bénins en somme, insignifiants même, au regard du grand espoir de «paix universelle» vers lequel tous, dans une belle unanimité, nous tendons. En tout cas nous y sommes bel et bien, oui en Europe ! Alors, quel besoin aurions-nous de nous auto-flageller en lisant ce «grand-russien» décédé, dépassé, déclassé ?
Eh bien il se trouve que la distance s'avère souvent nécessaire pour mieux se connaître. Pour nous autres, très fréquentables européens moyens et contemporains, quelle plus grande distance que celle qui nous sépare de cet inclassable russe ?
Ce grand-russien qui, de son vivant, s'ingénia à se montrer implacable envers l'européen moyen pourrait bien s'avérer, par ses écrits, un viatique pour le même à l'heure d'une renaissance russe qui pourrait offrir à une Europe épuisée et ridiculisée par quelques décennies d'une politique frileuse, cupide et aveugle à son être authentique, de regagner une place qui lui est véritablement propre, possibilité à envisager sans fol optimisme puisque Leontiev lui-même insistait sur le fait que «la véritable foi au progrès doit être pessimiste».
Conservateur comme il l'était, Konstantin Leontiev faisait partie de cette race d'hommes qui savait encore que sentiments (et non sentimentalisme) et intelligence aiguisée, loin d'être antinomiques, sont intimement liés. Ainsi, c'est avec une acuité et une intelligence épidermique que notre auteur se montrait absolument et irrémédiablement opposé à l'idéologie du progrès, du bien et de la paix universelles, idéologie dont il avait su flairer les relents dans les différents partis en présence de son temps. Refusant cette idéologie comme une utopie mortifère qu'il identifiait à un état d'indifférence, degré zéro de toute activité humaine, il refusait aussi à la politique de se projeter vers un hypothétique futur, vers le lointain, lui assignant pour seul objectif le «prochain» : «[…] cette indifférence est-elle le bonheur ? Ce n'est pas le bonheur, mais une diminution régulière de tous les sentiments aussi bien tristes que joyeux.»
Dès lors, comme tout authentique conservateur, ce que Leontiev souhaitait conserver ce n'était certainement pas un système politique ou économique quelconque ou bien quelques grands et immortels principes : «Tout grand principe, porté avec esprit de suite et partialité jusqu'en ses conséquences ultimes, non seulement peut devenir meurtrier, mais même suicidaire.» Non, ce que Leontiev aimait et voulait voir perdurer c'était bien la véritable diversité humaine, les différences dont notre époque, si douce et éclairée, nous enseigne qu'elles sont sources de conflits et d'agressions tout en en faisant une promotion trompeuse : «L'humanité heureuse et uniforme est un fantôme sans beauté et sans charme, mais l'ethnie est, bien entendu, un phénomène parfaitement réel. Qu'est ce qu'une ethnie sans son système d'idées religieuses et étatiques ?» (2).
Toute la philosophie de l'histoire développée par Konstantin Leontiev projette sur ces questions une lumière qui, bien que crue, est loin d'être aussi cynique que ses contempteurs voudraient le faire croire.
«La liberté, l'égalité, la prospérité (notamment cette prospérité) sont acceptés comme des dogmes de la foi et on nous affirme que cela est parfaitement rationnel et scientifique. Mais qui nous dit que ce sont des vérités ? La science sociale est à peine née que les hommes, méprisant une expérience séculaire et les exemples d'une nature qu'ils révèrent tant aujourd'hui, ne veulent pas admettre qu'il n'existe rien de commun entre le mouvement égalitaro-libéral et l'idée de développement. Je dirais même plus : le processus égalitaro-libéral est l'antithèse du processus de développement» (3).
Pour Leontiev, cette loi de l'histoire qu'il nomme processus de développement est une «marche progressive de l'indifférencié, de la simplicité vers l'originalité et la complexité», mais loin de tendre vers une amélioration constante, vers un bonheur complet et épanoui, qui n'est, en définitive, qu'une abstraction, cette marche connaît une forme d'arrêt qui se traduit par une simplification inverse dont Leontiev analyse trois phases : le mélange, le nivellement et, finalement, l'extinction.
Selon lui, cette loi quasi cyclique s'observe dans tous les domaines des civilisations historiques. Et, ce que nous appelons unanimement progrès, il le distingue très nettement de ce processus de développement, le nommant «diffusion» ou «propagation» et l'attachant à cette phase dissolvante de «simplification syncrétique secondaire» : «[…] l'idée même de développement correspond, dans les sciences exactes d'où elle a été transférée dans le champs historique, à un processus complexe et, remarquons-le, souvent contraire au processus de diffusion, de propagation, en tant que processus hostile à ce mécanisme de diffusion» (4).
Ainsi, dans les pages de son maître-livre Byzantinisme et slavisme, Leontiev scrute scrupuleusement les mouvements, les courants, lumineux et obscurs de l'histoire, leurs lignes droites, leurs déviations, leurs dérivations, sans jamais se laisser prendre aux rets des lumières crépusculaires des idéologies. Admirateur avoué de l'idée byzantine et de sa réception créatrice en Russie, Leontiev refusera pourtant l'idéal slavophile, tout autant, mais cela paraît plus «logique», que l'occidentalisme. Profondément fidèle, quoiqu'avec une élégante souplesse, à la vision des lignes de force et de partage qu'il avait su dégager de l'histoire ancienne et récente, Leontiev repèrera dans tous les courants contemporains la même force agissante : «La marche tranquille et graduelle du progrès égalitaire doit avoir vraisemblablement sur le futur immédiat des nations une action différente de celle des révolutions violentes qui se font au nom de ce même processus égalitaire. Mais je prétends que, dans un avenir plus éloigné, ces actions seront similaires. Tout d'abord un mélange paisible, l'effondrement de la discipline et le déchaînement par la suite. L'uniformité des droits et une plus grand similitude qu'auparavant de l'éducation et de la situation sociale ne détruisent pas les antagonismes d'intérêts, mais les renforcent sans doute, car les prétentions et les exigences sont semblables. On remarque également que, partout, vers la fin de l'organisation étatique, l'inégalité économique devient plus grande à mesure que se renforce l'égalité politique et civique» (5).
Bien qu'il ait considéré, en littérature, le réalisme comme désespoir et auto-castration, c'est bien à cause de son réalisme qu'il ne voulut jamais sacrifier à aucune «idée supérieure», que Leontiev a vu se refermer sur lui la porte du placard étiqueté «infréquentables».
La grande faute de Leontiev fut de dire, comme le répétait Berdiaev lui-même, que «l'homme privé de la liberté du mal ne saurait être qu'un automate du bien» ou bien encore que «la liberté du mal peut être un plus grand bien qu'un bien forcé.»
Mais... énorme mais, Berdiaev ne cessa d'essayer de convaincre, et de se convaincre, qu'il était socialiste. Cela suffit pour qu'on entrouvre, même très légèrement, la porte.

Notes
(1) Toutes les citations de Leontiev sont tirées de l'ouvrage Écrits essentiels (L'Âge d'Homme, Lausanne, 2003).
(2) Op. cit., p. 108.
(3) Op. cit., p. 139.
(4) Op. cit., p. 137.
(5) Op. cit., ibid.

L’auteur
36 ans, père de famille, chanteur et auteur breton, créateur de la “cyberevue” bretonne Nominoë et du blog Tropinka, Thierry Jolif, après avoir fondé et animé, pendant plus de dix ans l’ensemble musical Lonsai Maïkov, a étudié la civilisation celtique, le breton et l’irlandais à l’Université de Haute-Bretagne. Il a scruté et médité, durant plusieurs années, les aspects tant pré-chrétiens que chrétiens de la civilisation celtique (religion, art, musique, poésie). Orthodoxe, ayant étudié la théologie, il s’est particulièrement penché sur les aspects théologiques, mystiques et ésotériques du Graal, ainsi que sur l’étude du symbolisme chrétien, de l’écossisme maçonnique, de la philosophie religieuse russe et de l'histoire et de la mystique byzantine.
Il a collaboré aux revues Sophia (États-Unis), Tyr (États-Unis), Hagal (Allemagne), Contrelittérature (France), Terra Insubre (Italie) et est l’auteur de Mythologie celtique, Tradition celtique, Symboles celtiques et Les Druides dans la collection B-A. BA. des éditions Pardès.

jeudi, 13 janvier 2011

Kritik an Zensur von "Tom Sawyer" wächst

Kritik an Zensur von „Tom Sawyer“ wächst

Ex: http://www.jungefreiheit.de/

tom%20sawyer.gifMONTGOMERY. Kritiker haben empört auf die „politisch korrekte“ Neuauflage von „Die Abenteuer von Tom Sawyer und Huckleberry Finn“ reagiert. Die New York Times schreibt in einem Leitartikel, dem Werk würde durch die zensierte Neuauflage „irreparabler Schaden“ zugefügt. „Das ist nicht Twain“, sagt die wichtigste Tageszeitung in den  USA.

Gegenüber dem auflagenstärksten Boulevardblatt USA Today sagte der Direktor des Mark-Twain-Museums in Hartford (Conneticut) Jeff Nichols über das gestrichene Wort „Nigger“: „Das Wort mag schrecklich sein, mag verletzend sein, aber es gibt einen Grund dafür, daß es da ist.“ Schließlich sei es dem Autor darum gegangen, die Welt der 40er Jahre des 19. Jahrhunderts in Missouri zu portraitieren. Der Jura-Professor Randall Kennedy von der Harvard Universität sagte mit Blick auf das N-Wort, es sei „grundfalsch ein Wort aus unserer Geschichte einfach auslöschen zu wollen.“

Fliegt Mark Twain aus dem Unterricht?

Hintergrund ist die Neuauflage des bekanntesten Romans des amerikanischen Schriftstellers Mark Twain „Die Abenteuer von Tom Sawyer und Huckleberry Finn“. Das vielgebrauchte Wort „Nigger“ wurde durch „Sklave“ ersetzt und das ebenfalls als Schimpfwort empfundene „Injun“ durch „Indianer“. Der Roman handelt in den amerikanischen Südstaaten in der Zeit der Negersklaverei.

Der kleine New South Books Verlag begründete die Neuauflage, die im Februar auf den Markt kommt, mit der drohenden Zensur durch amerikanische Bildungseinrichtungen. Andernfalls drohe das Werk Twains aus dem Unterrichtmaterial amerikanischer Schulen und Universitäten entfernt zu werden, teilte der Verlag aus Montgomery (Alabama) mit. Der Verlag war so verunsichert, daß er noch nicht einmal die Worte nennen wollte, die durch „weniger verletzende Worte“ ersetzt worden sind. (rg)

lundi, 10 janvier 2011

Drieu la Rochelle, poeta della decadenza

Drieu La Rochelle, poeta della decadenza

Pierre Drieu La RochelleVi sono scrittori che impersonano nella loro esistenza e nelle opere un’epoca intera con tutte le sue contraddizioni. Pierre Drieu La Rochelle è stato uno di questi enfants du siècle. E il fascino dei suoi romanzi è legato non solo alla loro efficacia letteraria, ma anche al fatto che lo scrittore francese è diventato il simbolo di una generazione, quella degli “anni ruggenti”, divisa fra una vita disordinata e la ricerca di un ordine personale e sociale. Personaggi e romanziere si sono identificati agli occhi dei lettori sino a perdere ogni distinzione. E così doveva avvenire perché tutta la sua narrativa è un lungo monologo autobiografico in cui fantasia e confessione si intrecciano inestricabilmente.

 Qualcuno lo ha definito il fratello di F.S. Fitzgerald, il poeta della decadenza, della disintegrazione di una civiltà. E la definizione è, in parte, esatta. Drieu infatti è fra gli scrittori francesi che hanno avvertito più tragicamente e intensamente la crisi dell’uomo occidentale. “Il suo spirito era abituato – ha scritto in un romanzo – a confrontare la vecchiezza di oggi, che si dibatte con scosse secche e nervose, alla giovinezza creatrice con le sue armonie calme e piene”.

Le sue opere letterarie più significative, come Drôle de voyage, Fuoco fatuo, Rêveuse bourgeoise, Gilles, sono tutte modulate su questo tema della decadenza. I personaggi ne sono partecipi e rivelano nelle loro vicende l’incapacità di avere rapporti costanti e normali con gli altri, donne, uomini e ambienti, in un’alternanza di desideri e delusioni, di decisioni e di rinnegamenti; spinti continuamente a fuggire, a evitare ogni legame per timore di dovere “scegliere”.

Le pagine più compiute della sua narrativa, in genere scostante come scostante era lo stesso scrittore, sono appunto quelle in cui Drieu esprime questa atmosfera di crisi attraverso un ritmo linguistico che passa da un periodare secco e duro a una prosa densa e contorta. Ma parlare in Drieu di un’unità e costanza stilistica sarebbe, a parer nostro, inesatto: per lui infatti lo stile era un puro strumento che doveva adattarsi alla materia che trattava. Mentre, per fare un esemio, Fuoco fatuo e La commedia di Charleroi sono costruiti in un linguaggio scabro ed essenziale, Drôle de voyage e la prima parte di Gilles, che descrivono invece una corruzione di sentimenti e un clima di disfacimento, sono modulati su un ritmo più contorto, denso, colmo di echi e di riferimenti. Ma il caso più significativo è quello di Rêveuse bourgeoise,dove l’autore, dovendo rievocare in chiave fantastica la storia della sua famiglia e l’ambiente della media borghesia durante la belle époque, adotta consapevolmente il linguaggio del naturalista.

Pierre Drieu La RochelleLa modernità di Drieu sta, a parer nostro, nella struttura costante di tutta la sua opera che, al di là delle differenze stilistiche sottolineate, fonde nel tessuto narrativo materiali di diversa estrazione, descrizioni di vicende, meditazioni interiori, annotazioni storiche e di costume, costruendo un vero e proprio tipo di “romanzo-saggio”. Ma, a differenza di altri narratori, Drieu descrive senza definire: tutta la sua narrativa manca cioè di corposità veristica, i personaggi non hanno volto, sono centri nervosi, temperamenti – o forse anime – e i loro rapporti non sono quasi mai visti direttamente, ma attraverso lo schermo dei loro riflessi emotivi.

Faremmo però un torto al romanziere francese se lo riducessimo a un puro descrittore della decadenza. La consapevolezza della decadenza non era per lui un alibi, una giustificazione per accomodarsi nella poltrona di un nichilismo senza speranza. In lui era viva l’esigenza di una rivolta per modificare una situazione personale e sociale che giudicava negativa. L’aveva già sperimentata durante la prima guerra mondiale, che gli ispirò il suo racconto più compiuto, quella Commedia di Charleroi, in cui i temi della guerra moderna come simbolo della decadenza, il desiderio di rivolta, l’eroismo e la paura si mescolano in un impasto linguistico di derivazione surrealista, spezzato, rotto, in cui passato e presente, azione e meditazione formano vari piani narrativi intrecciati fra di loro in una struttura armonica.

Questo bisogno però di una rivolta, invece di esprimersi, come sarebbe stato proprio per uno scrittore, in una ricerca e in un approfondimento interiore, lo spinse verso l’azione pubblica, nell’evasione dell’impegno politico attivo che si concluse, come si sa, nella sua adesione al fascismo e nel tragico suicidio. Ma – ed è bene sottolinearlo per comprendere appinero la sua personalità – negli ultimi anni lo scrittore francese stava maturando una meditazione che lo allontanava sempre di più, da un punto di vista psicologico, dalla politica, dagli aspetti più contingenti della storia, e lo portava a cercare certezze non condizionate dagli avvenimenti. L’ultimo Drieu, che fra l’altro ha scritto quella stupenda confessione che è Racconto segreto, viveva ormai orientato verso una prospettiva metafisica, nella lettura di San Paolo, dei Vangeli e dei testi sacri orientali.

Pol Vandromme ci offre in questo saggio un ritratto prevalentemente psicologico di Drieu nella sua epoca, molto importante per capire i temi fondamentali delle sue opere, e nello stesso tempo sottolinea i motivi originali di questo autore che ha anticipato, pur nei limiti della sua formazione culturale, non solo una certa letteratura dell’incomunicabilità del dopoguerra, ma anche una corrente letteraria francese, quella che è passata alla storia degli anni cinquanta come la scuola degli ussari e degli enfants tristes.

Presentazione di: Pol Vandromme, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Borla, Torino 1965, pp. 7-10

Louis Ferdinand Céline sur Radio Courtoisie

 

Louis Ferdinand Céline sur Radio Courtoisie

dimanche, 09 janvier 2011

Drieu on the Failure of the Third Reich

Drieu on the Failure of the Third Reich

Michael O'MEARA

drieu.jpgThe powers threatening our people became hegemonic in May 1945, when the liberal-Communist coalition known as the “United Nations” imposed its dictatorship on defeated Germany.

This dictatorship—whose defining characteristic, East and West, is its techno-economic worship of the Jewish Moloch—was subsequently imposed on the rest of Europe and, in the form of globalization, now holds the whole world in its grip.

For white nationalists, the defeat of National Socialist Germany is both the pivotal event of the twentieth century and the origin of their own movement—to save the white race from the rising tide of color.

White nationalists resume, in effect, the struggle of the defeated Germans. But they do so not uncritically.

As an idea and a movement, National Socialism (like Fascism) was a product of the late nineteenth-century political convergence that brought together elements from the revolutionary anti-liberal wing of the labor movement and elements from the revolutionary anti-liberal wing of the nationalist right. Hitler’s NSDAP was the most imposing historical offshoot of this anti-liberal convergence, but one not always faithful to its origins—which bears on the fact that Hitler shares at least part of the responsibility for the most devastating defeat ever experienced by the white race.

It’s not enough, then, for the present generation of white nationalists to honor his heroic resistance to the anti-Aryan forces.

Of greater need, it seems to me, is to identify and come to terms with his failings, for these, more than his triumphs, now effect our survival as a people.

The following is an excerpt from a piece that Pierre Drieu La Rochelle wrote in the dark days after August 1944, after the so-called “Liberation” of Paris and before the suicide that “saved” him from De Gaulle’s hangman.

It was written in haste, on the run, and never completed, but is nevertheless an illuminating examination of Hitler’s shortcomings (even where incorrect).

The central point of Drieu’s piece (and it should be remembered that he, like many of France’s most talented thinkers and artists, collaborated with the Germans in the hope of creating a new European order) is that Germany alone was no match for the combined powers of the British Empire, the United States, and the Soviet Union.

Only a Europe recast on the basis of National Socialist principles, he believed, could triumph against this coalition and the Jews who inspired and guided it.

Hitler’s petty bourgeois nationalism, critiqued here by Drieu, prevented him from mobilizing the various national families of Europe in a common front, proving that his distillation of the anti-liberal project was inadequate to the great tasks facing the white man in this period.

* * *

From Drieu’s “Notes sur l’Allemagne”:

I was shocked by the extreme political incompetence of the Germans in 1939, 1940, and 1941, after the victories [which made them Europe’s master]. It was in this period that their political failings sealed the fate of their future military defeat.

These failings seem even greater than those committed under Napoleon [in the period 1799-1815, when the French had mastered Europe]. The Germans obviously drew none of the lessons from the Napoleonic adventure.

Was German incompetence the incompetence of fascism in general? This is the question.

The imbecilic maxim guiding Hitler was: “First, wage and win the war; then, reorganize Europe.” This maxim contradicted all the lessons of history, all the teachings of Europe’s greatest statesmen, particularly those of the Germans, like Frederick and Bismarck. It was Clausewitz who said war is only the extension of politics.

But even if one accepts Hitler’s maxim, the German dictator committed a number of military mistakes:

1. Why did he wait six months between the Polish campaign and the French campaign?

2. Why did he squander another ten months after the French campaign?

3. Why in late 1940 did he wage a futile aerial assault on England, instead of striking the British Empire at its most accessible point, Gibraltar?

After July 1940 [when no European power opposed him on the continent], he could have crossed Spain, destroyed the [English] naval base at Gibraltar, and closed off the Mediterranean.

The armistice with Pétain [which led to the establishment of the Vichy regime] was [another] German disaster. If the French had followed [Paul] Reynaud [the last Premier of the Third Republic who advocated continued resistance from France’s North African colonies], the Germans would have been forced to do what was [militarily] necessary to win the war.

For once master of Gibraltar, Hitler would have rendered [the English base at] Malta useless, avoided the Italian folly in the Balkans [which doomed Operation Barbarosa in Russia], and assured the possibility of an immediate and relatively uncostly campaign against [English occupied] Egypt. Instead of bombing London, he should, have seized Alexandria, Cairo, and Suez.

This would have settled the peace in the Balkans, avoiding the exhausting occupations of Greece and Yugoslavia, [it would have cut England off from her overseas empire, and guaranteed Europe’s Middle Eastern energy sources].

These military failings followed from Hitler’s total lack of imagination outside of Germany.

He was [essentially] a German politician; good for Germany, but only there.

Lacking political culture, education, and a larger tradition, having never traveled, being a xenophobe like many popular demagogues, he did not possess an understanding of what was necessary to make his strategy and diplomacy work outside Germany.

All his dreams, all his talents, were devoted to winning the war of 1914, as if conditions [in 1940] were still those of 1914. . . He thus underestimated Russian developments and totally ignored American power, which had already made itself felt in the Great War.

He did understand the importance of the tank and the airplane [whose military possibility came into their own after 1918], but not in relationship to the enormous industrial potential of Russia and America.

He neglected [the role of] artillery, which was a step back from 1916-1918.

He is least reproachable in his estimation of submarine warfare, whose significance was already evident in 1916. But even here, the Anglo-Saxons [i.e., the Anglo-Americans] deployed their maritime genius in a way difficult for a European continental to anticipate.

Hitler’s political errors [, however,] were far worse and more thorough-going than his military errors. He hardly comprehended the problem, seeing it in terms of 1914—in terms, that is, of diplomacy, national states, cabinet politics, and [rival] chancelleries. His understanding of Europe did not even measure up to that of old aristocrats like Bismarck and Wilhelm II, who never forgot the tradition of solidarity that united Europe’s dynasties, courts, and nobilities. . .

It’s curious that this man who knew how to inspire the masses in his own country, who always maintained the closest contact with his people, never, not for a second, thought of extending his [successful] German policies to the rest of Europe. He [simply] did not understand the necessity of forging a policy to address Europe domestically and not just internationally.

Diplomats and ambassadors had lost command of the stage after 1940—it was now in the hands of political leaders capable of winning the masses with the kind of social policies that had succeeded in Germany and could succeed elsewhere.

Hitler didn’t understand this. After his armies invaded Poland, France, and elsewhere, he never thought of implementing the social and political practices that had worked in Germany . . . He never thought of carrying out policies that would have forged bonds of solidarity between the occupied and the occupiers. . .

These failures lead me to suspect that the Germans’ political stupidity . . . owed something to fascism—that political and social system awkwardly situated between liberal democracy and Communist totalitarianism.

In the fascist system there was something of the “juste milieu” that could only lead to the miserable failure awaiting the Germans. [A French term meaning a “golden mean” or a “happy medium,” “juste milieu” is historically associated with the moderate centrist politics (or anti-politics) of bourgeois constitutionalists—first exemplified by France’s July Monarchy (1830-48) and subsequently perfected in the American party system].

The Germans have no political tradition. For centuries, most of them inhabited small principalities or cities where larger political forces had no part to play.

However, there was Vienna and Berlin. In these two capitals, politics was the province of a small [aristocratic] caste. The events of 1918 [i.e., the liberal revolutions that led to the Weimar and Viennese republics] abruptly dislodged this caste, severing its ties from the new governing class.

Everything that has transpired in the last few years suggests that Germany remains what it was in the eighteenth century . . . a land unable to anchor its warrior virtues in politically sound principles . . .

[Part of this seems due to the fact that] the German is no psychologist. He is too much a theoretician, too intellectually speculative, for that. He lacks psychology in the way a mathematician or metaphysician does. German literature is rarely psychological; it develops ideas, not characters. The sole German psychologist is Nietzsche [and] he was basically one of a kind. . . Politically, the Germans [like the French] are less subtle and plastic than the English or the Russians, who have the best psychological literature and hence the best diplomacy and politics.

Hitler’s behavior reflected the backward state of German, and beyond that, European attitudes.

This son of an Austrian custom official inherited all the prejudices of his father’s generation (as had Napoleon). And like every German nationalist of Austrian extraction, he had an unshakable respect for the German Army and the Prussian aristocracy. Despite everything that disposed him against it, he remained the loyal Reichwehr agent he was in Munich [in 1919]. . . If he subsequently became a member of a socialist party [Anton Drexler’s German Workers’ Party]—of which he promptly became the leader—it was above all because this party was a nationalist one. Nationalism was always more important to him than socialism—even if his early years should have inclined him to think otherwise . . .

Like Mussolini, Hitler had no heartfelt commitment to socialism. [Drieu refers here not to the Semitic socialism of Marx, with its materialism, collectivism, and internationalism, but rather to the older European corporate socialism, which privileges the needs of family, community, and nation over those of the economy] . . . That’s why he so readily sacrificed the [socialist] dynamism of his movement for the sake of what the Wehrmacht aristocracy and the barons of heavy industry were willing to concede. He thought these alone would suffice in furnishing him with what was needed for his war of European conquest. . .

Fascism failed to organize Europe because it was essentially a system of the “juste milieu” —a system seeking a middle way between communism and capitalism. . .

Fascism failed because it did not become explicitly socialist. The narrowness of its nationalist base prevented it from becoming a European socialism . . .

Action and reaction: On the one side, the weakness of Hitlerian and Mussolinian socialism prevented it from crossing national borders and becoming a European nationalism; on the other, the narrowness of Mussolinian and Hitlerian nationalism stifled its socialism, reducing it to a form of military statism. . .

Source: Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Textes retrouvées (Paris: Eds. du Rocher, 1992).

lundi, 03 janvier 2011

Gottfried Benn und sein Denken

Gottfried Benn und sein Denken

Bewährungsprobe des Nationalismus

Arno Bogenhausen

Ex: http://www.hier-und-jetzt-magazine.de/

benn.jpgEine neuerschienene Biographie des Dichterphilosophen gibt uns Anlaß, über das Verhältnis von nationalem Bekenntnis und geistigem Solitär nachzudenken. Gunnar Decker, der mit seiner Arbeit weit mehr bietet als Raddatz („Gottfried Benn, Leben – niederer Wahn“) und auch gegenüber Helmut Lethens gelungenem Werk („Der Sound der Väter“) einen Zugewinn erbringt, ist als Angehöriger des Jahrgangs 1965 eindeutiger Nachachtundsechziger, damit weniger befangen und im Blick getrübt als die Vorgänger. Bei ihm finden sich Unkorrektheiten wie die beiläufige Bemerkung: „Es gehört zur Natur der Politik, daß sie jeden, egal wie gearteten, Gedanken konstant unter Niveau verwirklicht.“ Dennoch sind auch für ihn Benns Berührungen mit dem Nationalsozialismus und die folgende „aristokratische Form der Emigration“ im Offizierskorps der Deutschen Wehrmacht ein Grund zu längerer Reflexion; allein drei der sechs Kapitel sind den Jahren des Dritten Reiches gewidmet.

Benns Hinwendung zum NS, die 1933 in Rundfunkreden, Aufsätzen und dem Amt des Vizepräsidenten der „Union nationaler Schriftsteller“ zum Ausdruck kam, ist unbestritten. Sie war nicht äußerer Anpassung geschuldet, sondern beruhte auf der Überzeugung, an einer historisch folgerichtigen Wende zu stehen. Der Verächter des Fortschrittsgedankens und jeder programmatischen Erniedrigung des Menschen hoffte, „daß ein letztes Mal im Nachklang ferner dorischer Welten Staat und Kunst zu einer großen, einander begeisternden Form fänden“ (Eberhard Straub). Am 23. 9. 1933 schrieb er einer Freundin in die Vereinigten Staaten, „daß ich und die Mehrzahl aller Deutschen … vor allem vollkommen sicher sind, daß es für Deutschland keine andere Möglichkeit gab. Das alles ist ja auch nur ein Anfang, die übrigen Länder werden folgen, es beginnt eine neue Welt; die Welt, in der Sie und ich jung waren und groß wurden, hat ausgespielt und ist zu Ende.“
Diese Haltung wird ihm bis heute zum Vorwurf gemacht. Es beginnt 1953 mit Peter de Mendelssohns Buch „Der Geist der Despotie“, in dem zugleich Hamsun und Jünger in Moralin getaucht werden. Sehr schön liest sich bei Decker, warum die Vorwürfe ihr Thema verfehlen: „Auf immerhin fast fünfzig Seiten wird Benns Versagen behandelt, das letztlich in seinem Unwillen gegen ein moralisches Schuldeingeständnis gründet. Das überzeugt den Leser nur halb, denn de Mendelssohn argumentiert fast ausschließlich moralisch – und da fühlt Benn sich immer am wenigsten gemeint. In diesem Buch klingt einem ein Ton entgegen, wie später bei den 68ern mit ihrer ebenso ekstatischen wie pauschalen Anklage der Vätergeneration. Oder auch – auf anderer Ebene – wie bei manchem DDR-Bürgerrechtler, dem die DDR abhanden gekommen ist und der darum aus seinem Bürgerrechtssinn eine Ikone macht, die er pflegt.“
Benn hat seinen zahllosen Interpreten, die nach Erklärungen suchten, ihre Arbeit kaum erleichtert. Tatsächlich sind weder gewundene Rechtfertigungsversuche noch tiefenpsychologische Studien, wie sie Theweleit betrieb, vonnöten, um das angeblich „Unverständliche“ zu deuten. Der Denker selbst hat 1950 in öffentlicher Ansprache eine ganz schlichte, in ihrer Einfachheit allen Theorienebel beiseite fegende Aussage getroffen: „Es war eine legale Regierung am Ruder; ihrer Aufforderung zur Mitarbeit sich entgegenzustellen, lag zunächst keine Veranlassung vor.“

Das eigentliche Problem liegt somit nicht in Benns Entscheidung, mit der er – auch unter Intellektuellen – nun wirklich nicht alleine stand, sondern in der Unfähigkeit der Verantwortlichen, mit ihr umzugehen. Klaus Mann stellte als inzwischen ausländischer Beobachter nicht ohne Befriedigung fest: „seine Angebote stießen auf taube bzw. halbtaube Ohren … Benn hört vor allem deshalb auf, Ende 1934, Faschist zu sein oder zu werden, weil es keine passende Funktion für ihn gibt im nationalsozialistischen Züchtungsstaat.“
Vom NS-Ärztebund, der diskriminierende Anordnungen erließ, über fanatische Zeitungsschreiber, die ihm ungenügende völkische Gesinnung attestierten, bis zu Funktionären, denen der Expressionismus insgesamt undeutsch vorkam, schlug ihm Ablehnung entgegen. Seine virile Unbefangenheit in sexuellen Angelegenheiten wurde ihm 1936 von einem Anonymus im „Schwarzen Korps“ verübelt: „er macht auch in Erotik, und wie er das macht, das befähigt ihn glatt zum Nachfolger jener, die man wegen ihrer widernatürlichen Schweinereien aus dem Hause jagte.“ Benn sah sich danach zu der ehrenwörtlichen Erklärung gezwungen, nicht homophil zu sein. Die Parteiamtliche Prüfungskommission zum Schutze des nationalsozialistischen Schrifttums hielt der Deutschen Verlags-Anstalt vor, „völlig überholte Arbeiten“ zu publizieren und übermittelte der Geheimen Staatspolizei, Gedichte Benns zeugten von „pathologischer Selbstbefleckung“, weshalb zu bedenken sei, „ob der Verleger nicht zur Rechenschaft gezogen werden soll“. Ein mit der „Säuberung“ der Kunst befaßter Maler-Autor warf ihm „Perversitäten“ vor, die an „Bordellgraphik und Obszönitätenmalerei“ erinnerten; es sei angebracht, seine Aufnahme in das Offizierskorps „rückgängig zu machen“. Boshafte Unterstellungen gipfelten darin, seinen Familiennamen auf das semitische „ben“ zurückzuführen und ihm eine jüdische Herkunft anzudichten. Lediglich seinem Fürsprecher Hanns Johst, der bei Himmler intervenierte, verdankte Benn, nicht mit weiterreichenden Maßnahmen überzogen zu werden.

Worum es hier geht, ist nicht die Beweinung eines „dunklen Kapitels deutscher Geschichte“. Benn selbst schrieb 1930 an Gertrud Hindemith: „Vergessen Sie nie, der menschliche Geist ist als Totschläger entstanden und als ein ungeheures Instrument der Rache, nicht als Phlegma der Demokraten, er galt dem Kampf gegen die Krokodile der Frühmeere und die Schuppentiere in den Höhlen – nicht als Puderquaste“. Die Agonalität des Lebens war ihm vertraut, und angesichts der Praxis heutiger Bürokratien, die mißliebige Geister einer durchaus größeren Drangsal überantworten, als sie ihm widerfuhr, soll auch nicht leichthin der Stab über eine „offene Diktatur“ gebrochen werden. Daß aber die einmalige Gelegenheit vertan wurde, eine Persönlichkeit dieses Grades für den neuen Staat zu gewinnen, war kaum verzeihlich. Jene Nationalsozialisten, die Benn schlechthin verwarfen, begaben sich – man muß es so hart sagen – auf das Niveau des Bolschewismus herab. In kleinbürgerlich-egalitären Horizonten und ideologisch miniaturisierten Maßstäben befangen, erkannten sie nicht, daß ihnen ein Großer gegenüberstand, dessen Werk – was immer man im einzelnen ablehnen mag – den Deutschen zur Ehre gereichte. (Dasselbe gilt für eine Reihe weiterer, die alles andere als vaterlandslose Gesellen waren, aber ins Abseits gerieten; man denke nur an George, Jünger, Niekisch, Schmitt und Spengler, von dem übrigens Benn schon 1946 schrieb, er „wäre heute genauso unerwünscht und schwarzbelistet wie er es bei den Nazis war“.)
Das traurige Bild, das der Nationalsozialismus in diesem Punkte abgab, wird besonders deutlich im Vergleich mit dem faschistischen Italien, das es verstand, die vitalen Impulse des Futurismus aufzunehmen und in seine vorbildliche Pluralität zu integrieren. Benn versuchte in mehreren Aufsätzen, die futuristische Idee auch den Berliner Staatsmännern schmackhaft zu machen. Als Marinetti, der Verfasser des Futuristischen Manifestes, in seiner Eigenschaft als Präsident des italienischen Schriftstellerverbandes Berlin besuchte und ihm zu Ehren ein Bankett gegeben wurde, hielt Benn in Vertretung für Hanns Johst die Laudatio. Doch sein Mühen blieb vergeblich. Unterlagen doch selbst die weit weniger buntscheckigen Expressionisten, um deren Bewertung zunächst noch ein innernationalsozialistischer Richtungsstreit tobte, den Dogmatikern des Volkstümlichen.
Nach der sog. „Niederschlagung des Röhm-Putsches“ schreibt Benn seinem Lebensfreund Friedrich Wilhelm Oelze: „Ein deutscher Traum, wieder einmal zu Ende.“ Später wird er die Gebrechen des nationalsozialistischen Staates so beschreiben: „Ein Volk will Weltpolitik machen, aber kann keinen Vertrag halten, kolonisieren, aber beherrscht keine Sprachen, Mittlerrollen übernehmen, aber faustisch suchend – jeder glaubt, er habe etwas zu sagen, aber keiner kann reden, – keine Distanz, keine Rhetorik, – elegante Erscheinungen nennen sie einen Fatzke, – überall setzen sie sich massiv ein, ihre Ansichten kommen mit dicken Hintern, – in keiner Society können sie sich einpassen, in jedem Club fielen sie auf“.
Dennoch schließt sich Benn nach 1945 nicht den Bewältigern an. Seine Rückschau bleibt auf wenige Anmerkungen beschränkt und verfällt zu keiner Zeit in Hyperbeln. „Der Nationalsozialismus liegt am Boden, ich schleife die Leiche Hektors nicht.“ Die von den Siegern geschaffene Nachkriegsordnung analysiert er nicht weniger beißend: „Ich spreche von unserem Kontinent und seinen Renovatoren, die überall schreiben, das Geheimnis des Wiederaufbaus beruhe auf ‚einer tiefen, innerlichen Änderung des Prinzips der menschlichen Persönlichkeit’ – kein Morgen ohne dieses Druckgewinsel! –, aber wo sich Ansätze für diese Änderung zeigen wollen, setzt ihre Ausrottungsmethodik ein: Schnüffeln im Privat- und Vorleben, Denunziation wegen Staatsgefährlichkeit … diese ganze bereits klassische Systematik der Bonzen-, Trottel- und Lizenzträgerideologie, der gegenüber die Scholastik hypermodern und die Hexenprozesse universalhistorisch wirken“.
Anwürfe seiner „jüngsten Vergangenheit“ wegen lassen ihn kalt. Einem denunzierenden Journalisten teilt er mit: „Über mich können Sie schreiben, daß ich Kommandant von Dachau war oder mit Stubenfliegen Geschlechtsverkehr ausübe, von mir werden Sie keine Entgegnung vernehmen“. Und entschuldigt hat er sich nie.

Völlig falsch wäre es, Benns Haltung gegenüber dem NS als die eines Linksstehenden begreifen zu wollen. Was ihn von parteiförmigen Nationalsozialisten unterschied, läßt sich in derselben Weise von seinem Verhältnis zu den linksgerichteten Elementen sagen: eine erhabene Position gegenüber geistiger Konfektionsware und ein Bestehen auf der ehernen Reinheit des Wortes, das nicht im trüben Redefluß der Gasse untergehen soll. Im Todesjahr schreibt er: „Im Anfang war das Wort und nicht das Geschwätz, und am Ende wird nicht die Propaganda sein, sondern wieder das Wort. Das Wort, das bindet und schließt, das Wort der Genesis, das die Feste absondert von den Nebeln und den Wassern, das Wort, das die Schöpfung trägt.“
Bereits 1929 erregte Max Hermann-Neiße mit einer Rezension in der linksgerichteten „Neuen Bücherschau“ Aufsehen, in der er Benn anläßlich des Erscheinens seiner „Gesammelten Prosa“ so charakterisierte: „Es gibt auch in dieser Zeit des vielseitigen, wandlungsfähigen Machers, des literarischen Lieferanten politischer Propagandamaterialien, des schnellfertigen Gebrauchspoeten, in ein paar seltenen Exemplaren das Beispiel des unabhängigen und überlegenen Welt-Dichters, des Schöpfers eines nicht umfangreichen, aber desto schwerer wiegenden Werkes, das mit keinem anderen zu verwechseln ist.“ In dieser Distanz zur politischen Reklame liege aber nicht – und dies ist der entscheidende Punkt – ein Mindermaß an Radikalität, sondern vielmehr eine Größe, die weit über das kleinliche Tagesgeschehen hinausgehe: „Er macht den Schwindel nicht mit. Den hurtige, auf billigen Erfolg versessene Schreiber dieser niveaulosen Epoche schuldig zu sein glauben, sich dümmer stellen, als sie sind, und mit biederer Miene volkstümlich zu reden, wenn einem der Schnabel ganz anders und viel komplizierter wuchs. Und bleibt mit einem Stil, der das Gegenteil von populär ist, zuverlässiger, weiter gehend und weiter wirkend Revolutionär, als die wohlfeilen, marktschreierischen Funktionäre und Salontiroler des Propagandabuntdrucks. Statt des gewohnten ‚kleinen Formats’ der Sekretäre eines politischen Geplänkels um Macht- und Krippenvorteile spricht hier ein Rebell des Geistes, ein Aufruhrphilosoph, der in Kulturkreisen denkt und mit Jahrhundertputschen rechnet.“ Hermann-Neißes Darstellung rief bei den Kollegen des Redaktionskollegiums, den KPD-Funktionären Kisch und Becher, Empörung hervor. Beide traten unter verbalen Kanonaden aus der Schriftleitung aus, womit sie nachträglich bewiesen, zu eben jenen zu gehören, die kritisiert worden waren.
Zu einem gleichartigen Vorfall kam es zwei Jahre später, als Benn eine Rede zum sechzigsten Geburtstag Heinrich Manns auf einem Bankett des Schutzverbandes Deutscher Schriftsteller hielt und wenig später einen Essay über den Literaten veröffentlichte. Obgleich er viel Lobenswertes an ihm fand, bewies er erneut seinen klaren Blick, indem er feststellte, „daß harmlose junge Leute bei ihm den Begriff des nützlichen Schriftstellers ausliehen, mit dem sie sich etwas Rouge auflegten, in dem sie ganz vergehen vor Opportunismus und Soziabilität. Beides, was für Verdunkelungen!“ Nun war es so weit: beginnend mit dem schriftstellernden Architekten Werner Hegemann wurde das Etikett des „Faschisten“ an Benns tadellosen Anzug geklebt.
Der so Entlarvte antwortete mit einem Artikel in der „Vossischen Zeitung“ und mokierte sich, ob es ein Verbrechen sei, den Dichter als Dichter und nicht als Politiker zu feiern. „Und wenn man das in Deutschland und auf einem Fest der schriftstellerischen Welt nicht mehr tun kann, ohne von den Kollektivliteraten in dieser ungemein dreisten Weise öffentlich angerempelt zu werden, so stehen wir allerdings in einer neuen Metternichperiode, aber in diesem Fall nicht von seiten der Reaktion, sondern von einer anderen Seite her.“
Noch Jahre später, als Benn im Reich schon auf verlorenem Posten stand, versäumten es marxistische Ideologen nicht, ihn zu attackieren. 1937 brachte Alfred Kurella, der es einmal zum DDR-Kulturfunktionär bringen sollte, im Emigrantenblatt „Das Wort“ seine „Entrüstung“ über Benn zum Ausdruck und stellte fest, der Expressionismus sei „Gräßlich Altes“ und führe „in den Faschismus“.
Benn hatte seine weltanschauliche Verortung schon im Januar 1933 auf den Punkt gebracht, als eine linkstotalitäre Phalanx unter Führung Franz Werfels in der Deutschen Akademie den Antrag stellte, man müsse gegen Paul Fechters „Dichtung der Deutschen“ mit einem Manifest vorgehen. (Decker hierzu: „Nimmt man heute Paul Fechters Buch zur Hand, schüttelt man erstaunt den Kopf … Das große Skandalon, den Haß, die Geistfeindschaft, den Rassismus, gegen die eine ganze Dichterakademie glaubte protestieren zu müssen, sucht man in dem Buch vergeblich.“) Damals schrieb Benn in einer eigenen Manifestation: „Wer es also unternimmt, den denkenden, den forschenden, den gestaltenden Geist von irgendeinem machtpolitisch beschränkenden Gesichtswinkel aus einzuengen, in dem werden wir unseren Gegner sehen. Wer es gar wagen sollte, sich offen zu solcher Gegnerschaft zu bekennen und Geisteswerte wie etwas Nebensächliches oder gar Unnützes abzutun, oder sie als reine Tendenzwerte den aufgebauschten und nebelhaften Begriffen der Nationalität, allerdings nicht weniger der Internationalität, unterzuordnen, dem werden wir geschlossen unsere Vorstellung von vaterländischer Gesinnung entgegensetzen, die davon ausgeht, daß ein Volk sich … trägt … durch die immanente geistige Kraft, durch die produktive seelische Substanz, deren durch Freiheit wie Notwendigkeit gleichermaßen geprägte Werke … die Arbeit und den Besitz, die Fülle und die Zucht eines Volkes in die weiten Räume der menschlichen Geschichte tragen.“
In dieser Formulierung ist Benns Verständnis der Nation als eines geistig begründeten Raumes fokussiert. Unter Berufung auf die Großen der Vergangenheit (Schiller und Herder werden namentlich genannt) plädiert er schließlich für „unser drittes Reich“, weit oberhalb der von Klassen-, Massen- und Rassenpolitik durchfurchten Ebene.
Benn dachte nach 1933 nicht daran, Deutschland zu verlassen, und seine Meinung von denen, die es taten, war nie eine gute. 1949 schrieb er an Oelze: „Wer heutzutage die Emigranten noch ernst nimmt, der soll ruhig dabei bleiben … Sie hatten vier Jahre lang Zeit; alles lag ihnen zu Füßen, die Verlage, die Theater, die Zeitungen hofierten sie … aber per saldo ist doch gar nichts dabei zutage gekommen, kein Vers, kein Stück, kein Bild, das wirklich von Rang wäre“. Noch gegen Ende seines Lebens konstatierte er in Gegenwart von Freunden, die über die Grenzen gegangen waren, Emigration sei eine ganz und gar nutzlose Sache.
1948, als alle versuchen, sich als gute Schüler der Demokratie zu erweisen, wagt er es, im „Berliner Brief“ ebendieser „Vermittelmäßigungsmaschinerie“ für die künstlerische Existenz eine Absage zu erteilen: sie sei „zum Produktiven gewendet absurd. Ausdruck entsteht nicht durch Plenarbeschlüsse, sondern im Gegenteil durch Sichabsetzen von Abstimmungsergebnissen, er entsteht durch Gewaltakt in Isolation.“ Decker kommentiert lakonisch, es handle sich um „eine feine Unterscheidung, die ihm bis heute noch keiner widerlegt hat“, und: „Da ist er wieder, der Barbar, ohne den das Genie nicht vorkommt“.
Benns Geistesverwandtschaft mit Ernst Jünger ist hier unverkennbar, wenngleich vieles in Perspektive und Stilistik (im weitesten Wortsinne) die beiden trennt. Sie korrespondieren sparsam, doch bemerkt Benn 1950, „wie sehr sich seine und meine Gedankengänge z. T. berühren“, und berichtet über einen Besuch Jüngers – den wohl längsten, den er je zuhause gestattete: „Wir tranken ganz reichlich, und dabei kamen wir uns näher und wurden offen miteinander.“ So hat Decker recht, wenn er resummiert: „Sie haben gemeinsame Themen und im Alter eine ähnlich stoische Haltung zur Welt. Sie sehen in der Parteien-Demokratie einen untauglichen Versuch, das Überleben der Menschheit an der Schwelle zum 21. Jahrhundert zu sichern, verachten die Politik und kultivieren den Mythos als Erneuerung der Menschheit. Jüngers ‚Waldgänger’ und erst recht sein ‚Anarch’ sind Benns ‚Ptolemäer’ und dem ‚Radardenker’ verwandt.“
Der „Ptolemäer“, ein 1949 publizierter Essay, bekennt sich schon im Titel zu einem „erdzentrierten“, statischen Weltbild, dem jede Aufwärtsbewegung fremd ist. Diese treffliche Erkenntnis ist gleichwohl nicht mit Resignation zu verwechseln, sondern ruft zum Dasein nach eigenem Gesetz: „halte auch du dich in dem Land, in das dich deine Träume ziehen und in dem du da bist, die dir auferlegten Dinge schweigend zu vollenden“. Während die Masse im Strudel der Nichtigkeiten taumelt, ist es das Amt weniger, sich zu bewähren. In einer Vision des monologisierenden Sprechers findet sich das schöne Bild: „Die Orden, die Brüder werden vor dem Erlöschen noch einmal auferstehen. Ich sehe an Wassern und auf Bergen neue Athos und neue Monte Cassinos wachsen, – schwarze Kutten wandeln in stillem, in sich gekehrtem Gang.“

Als Exponent autonomen Künstlertums steht Benn beispielhaft gegen jede Art von Unterwerfung des Geistes unter politische Zwecke (was die Symbiose auf gleicher Höhe nicht ausschließt, also keineswegs eine apolitische Geistigkeit fordert). Damit ist er von der Ochlokratie unserer Tage ebenso weit entfernt wie von totalitären Systemen. „Was er nicht erträgt, ist eine falsche Gläubigkeit, die das Wesen der Kunst verkennt und diese auf ihre Nebenzwecke reduziert … Und eben inmitten von Konsum und Unterhaltung, den großen Verdurchschnittlichungsmächten, die aus der Verbindung von Kapitalismus und parlamentarischem System hervorgehen, schwindet das Wissen um diese elementare Gewalt der Kunst, die eine geistige Gegenwelt behauptet“ (Decker).
Heute ist der deutsche Nationalismus Äonen davon entfernt, die Hebel der Macht zu bedienen. Insofern stellt sich die Frage, ob er mit der Erfahrung der letzten siebzig Jahre gelernt habe, dem großen Einzelnen bedingungslose Freiheit zuzugestehen, nicht als praktische. Gegebenenfalls wird man einer geschichtlichen Verantwortung nur dann gerecht werden können, wenn nicht allein die „Banalität des Guten“ zugunsten einer „neuen deutschen Härte“ überwunden ist, sondern auch fatale Dummheiten nicht wiederholt werden – von denen Talleyrand bekanntlich gesagt hat, sie seien schlimmer als Verbrechen.

Decker, Gunnar: Gottfried Benn. Genie und Barbar, Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 2006, 544 S., 26,90 €

dimanche, 26 décembre 2010

Laurent Schang: la littérature est orphique

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La littérature est orphique

Entretien avec Laurent Schang pour la revue Carbone

Intégralité de l'entretien paru dans le premier numéro de la revue Carbone éditée par Le-Mort-qui-Trompe.

Ex: http://stalker.hautetfort.com/

Laurent Schang : Mais c’est qui, ce Stalker, à la fin ?

medium_Carbone.jpgJ. A. : Drôle de question. Juan Asensio, cher Laurent et, en même temps, personne. Attention, non par goût de l’anonymat, ce nuage malodorant expulsé par tous les lâches de la Toile, puisque mes prénom et nom sont parfaitement visibles sur mon site mais parce que je tente de proposer à tous des textes de qualité qui ne sont point absolument verrouillés par le cadenas du ridicule droit d’auteur. Regardez ainsi, sur les sites de nos personnalités littéraires, les précautions prises pour bien signifier que les textes, souvent minables d’ailleurs, mis à la disposition des lecteurs, ne le sont justement que dans des limites parfaitement établies. Mes textes ne sont protégés par rien puisque, par deux fois regroupés dans des recueils critiques publiés par A contrario et le Rocher, ils proviennent pour l’essentiel de mon travail sur Stalker. Je me moque ainsi, à ma façon, de l’aura de mythologie trouble qui entoure encore la figure de l’auteur même si, je le précise tout de suite, je ne crois pas, comme le pense un Derrida par exemple, que l’auteur soit une horrible réalité qu’il faut à tout prix éliminer. Je conteste simplement cet ignoble cirque dans lequel bien des bouffons, en France, n’ont pas honte d’exhiber (devant quel roi ?) leurs membres difformes, une poignée de journalistes, toujours les mêmes quelle que soit la salle de rédaction, étant désireux de capter un minuscule reflet de la lumière de ces nains pour s’en parer…
Seconde réponse : le titre de mon blog, appelé également la Zone, fait bien évidemment référence à l’un des chefs-d’œuvre de Tarkovski. Je suis donc une sorte de guide (un lanternarius, ai-je précisé dans ma Critique meurt jeune) qui conduit celui qui le souhaite dans la Zone de tous les dangers. Comme le mystérieux personnage du film, je suis un doux, parfois désespéré mais, à sa différence, je puis être très violent.

L. S. : La radicalité de tes jugements, la virulence surtout avec laquelle tu les rends ont contribué pour beaucoup à forger de toi l’image d’un pur, avec ce que cela comporte de positif comme de négatif. Faut-il forcément que le roman traite des questions essentielles à l’Homme, le mal, la mort, le silence de Dieu, bref qu’il soit cet objet tranchant, incommode et sans concession, pour avoir le droit d’être appelé littérature ?

J. A. : Laurent, je ne vois pas de quels autres sujets un livre consacré à la littérature, à tout le moins dit un tant soit peu littéraire pourrait traiter : la place du brushing dans l’œuvre de Florian Zeller, la thématique du moi clitoridien dans celle de Christine Angot, la métaphore de la truie albinos chez Darrieussecq ? Laissons cela à deux classes d’imbéciles : les journalistes et les étudiants qui doivent rédiger un mémoire de maîtrise. Pour ce qui est des romans, ma réponse sera franchement catégorique : toutes les grandes œuvres, je suis bien marri de devoir te le rappeler, n’évoquent que des questions qui, aux yeux de nos littérateurs, paraissent dépassées alors qu’elles sont bien évidemment éternelles, constituant l’essence même de l’art : l’amour, la mort, le mal, Dieu… Étant un affreux réactionnaire, nous y reviendrons, je ne vois absolument rien d’autre.

L. S. : Et que penses-tu de la rentrée «littéraire» de cette année ? Je suppose que par principe tu y es opposé ?

 


J. A. : Je n’en pense absolument rien. Beaucoup de bons livres noyés dans une écrasante majorité de nullités pathétiquement vendues à la criée, comme c’est le cas du dernier déchet angotien, par quelques poissonnières hystériques et ménopausées. La rentrée littéraire n’est, au mieux, qu’une rentrée d’argent. Je dois lire Les Bienveillantes mais, comme tout le monde ou presque décerne des éloges à ce roman d’un jeune premier, j’ai tendance à me méfier. J’ai évoqué sur mon blog le dernier roman de Maurice G. Dantec, Grande Jonction.

L. S. : Bien peu d’auteurs contemporains trouvent grâce à tes yeux, que ce soit dans tes livres ou sur ton site. Que manque-t-il donc aux écrivains d’aujourd’hui pour te plaire ?

J. A. : Un critique est d’abord un filtre, c’est là son office, complétant la mission de vigie que Sainte-Beuve lui avait assignée. Il manque à la littérature contemporaine, dans le cas qui nous occupe c’est-à-dire celui de notre pays, un souffle, une volonté réellement démiurgique de s’enfoncer dans la fosse de Babel évoquée par Kafka et Abellio. La littérature est orphique, avec Faulkner, Broch, Musil, Conrad, Benn, Céline, Sábato et les meilleurs livres d’un Dantec, d’un Védrines, d’un Dupré ou d’une Sarah Vajda. Elle n’est rien de plus qu’une aimable plaisanterie si elle se prétend autre chose. Certes, tu pourras me faire remarquer qu’il suffit de bien peu, aujourd’hui, pour que l’universel reportage se déchaîne à propos d’un livre qui sera immédiatement primé, quelle que soit sa valeur intrinsèque, grâce au phénomène parfaitement évoqué par Julien Gracq dans sa Littérature à l’estomac : une immense Bourse des livres, où bien des valeurs sont victimes d’un dangereux phénomène d’intumescence que l’on nomme une bulle spéculative... Or, tu n’es pas sans savoir que le sort de bien des baudruches est heureusement éphémère. Du reste, je t’invite de nouveau, comme je l’ai déjà fait à plusieurs reprises n’est-ce pas, à écrire des textes sur des auteurs contemporains qui recevraient tes faveurs puisque je ne peux, tout de même, étant donné la taille de l’immense cadavre sur lequel je suis penché, prétendre connaître toutes celles et ceux qui survivent, et même parfois, comme avec Guy Dupré, l’un des plus grands écrivains français vivants, qui vivent d’une vie plus belle et forte que celle, frénétique et vaine, qui agite tous nos petits Sollers électriques.

L. S. : D’aucuns te répondront que fidèle à son rôle, la littérature se contente d’être le reflet de son époque, et qu’on ne saurait par conséquent lui intenter un procès au simple prétexte des thèmes qu’elle aborde. En résumé : à période de crise, crise du roman.

J. A. : Ces belles âmes auront tort, puisque nous traversons une époque absolument fascinante, qui engage probablement, pour ce que nous pouvons savoir de ces signes mystérieux (apotropéens, disait Massignon) dissimulés de toutes parts, le destin de l’Occident comme bien peu d’autres époques l’ont fait avant la nôtre. Soyons sérieux cher Laurent car, si nous comparons, par exemple, les livres écrits actuellement par des auteurs français avec ceux de bien des romanciers anglo-saxons, ce sont des gouffres intersidéraux qui séparent les ambitions affichées par ces écrivains. L’épopée ridicule et affreusement égotiste tournant autour d’un nombril (lorsqu’il ne s’agit pas d’un orifice moins avouable…) chez les premiers, une vision de l’homme et de la société tout de même chez les seconds, avec Selby Jr., DeLillo, Tosches, Vollmann, Pynchon, McCarthy, etc. Considère d’ailleurs le fait, qui n’est sans doute pas dû au hasard, que les écrivains français les plus intéressants du moment, Dantec et Houellebecq, ont tous les deux quitté la France. Dantec, que j’ai revu à l’occasion de cette rentrée littéraire, me disait récemment qu’il revenait en France comme dans un pays qui lui était désormais étranger. Laurent, soyons sérieux. La tâche de la littérature, la tâche de l’art est et ne peut être que celle de forer une époque jusqu’à lui faire cracher son cœur obscur, certainement pas de s’amuser de tout. Dans chaque romancier doit ou plutôt, hélas, devrait se cacher une espèce de Marlow qui, comme le personnage de Conrad, n’hésiterait pas un instant avant de remonter le cours du fleuve dangereux qui le conduira, peut-être, vers le royaume des ténèbres. Le risque bien sûr, pour Marlow, est de mourir…

L. S. : Tu fustiges la presse. Crois-tu que la critique littéraire était d’un niveau tellement meilleur il y a vingt, trente ou cinquante ans ? N’est-ce pas là le travers propre à tous les conservateurs, en art comme ailleurs, de toujours considérer que «c’était mieux avant» ?

J. A. : Te répondre, c’est tacitement admettre que je suis ou serais un conservateur. Je ne conserve rien, ayant fait depuis longtemps mien le précepte d’un grand critique littéraire anglo-saxon, Harold Bloom, qui affirmait que tout grand artiste, pour produire ses propres œuvres, ne devait pas hésiter à «ruiner les vérités sacrées». Un critique doit faire de même et, pour détruire, il faut bien qu’il témoigne de quelque fort méchante humeur : je ne suis tout de même pas, Dieu m’en préserve, quelque espèce de clone sans chaleur comme Gérard Genette. Plus qu’un conservateur, je me vois davantage comme un «réactionnaire authentique», au sens que Gómez Dávila conférait à ces termes : comme lui, je quête les signes de Dieu. Ces signes sont disséminés dans le présent bien sûr, mais aussi dans le passé (d’où ma volonté, peut-être démoniaque et surtout vaine, de tout lire) et le futur : les plus grands livres sont comme des augures qui nous permettent, à condition de savoir lire, de lever quelque peu les brumes qui recouvrent notre avenir. Considère ainsi que la magistrale série de romans imaginés par Frank Herbert, Dune, annonçait dès les années 60, sous les ordres de Paul Atréides/Muad’Dib, un déchaînement de violence religieux qui est non seulement, à l’évidence, l’un des traits majeurs de notre présent mais surtout celui de notre avenir le plus proche. Certes, tu auras beau jeu de me faire remarquer que Frank Herbert a écrit des romans de science-fiction : il fallait donc bien, peu ou prou, que ses œuvres anticipassent quelque peu notre avenir. Prenons un autre exemple : Monsieur Ouine, l’un des plus grands romans sans doute du siècle passé. Notre avenir crépusculaire y est contemplé, comme si Bernanos s’était déplacé dans le paysage désolé peint par Rouault dans son Miserere. Autre exemple, la parabole célèbre du Grand Inquisiteur telle que l’a génialement imaginée Dostoïevski : eh bien, dans mille ans, je me dis que ce texte sera probablement médité par nos très lointains descendants, à condition qu’ils survivent au danger de l’uniformisation globale, cette dévolution peinte par Dantec dans Grande Jonction.
En outre, si le réactionnaire est du côté d’une certaine permanence de la tradition (quitte à ce qu’elle soit contestée, sous peine de se scléroser), il estime aussi que l’idée, portée en triomphe par la philosophie des Lumières, selon laquelle l’humanité est jetée dans une course infinie au Progrès, est dangereuse, voire meurtrière. C’est pour cette raison que je n’ai jamais aimé Maurras et sa clique de vieilles biques, tous ces impeccables fanatiques de la Raison, pour leur préférer, dans le domaine des sciences historiques tout du moins, des auteurs tels que Vico ou Herder. D’ailleurs, ce n’est sans doute pas un hasard si ces auteurs ont été sensibles à la beauté des langues, comme l’ont été Hamann, Benjamin ou encore Scholem. Maurras, lui, tu le sais, était sourd ; il devait être probablement myope aussi, nous poserons la question à son médecin traitant, Stéphane Giocanti (1), si l’on considère ses goûts en matière littéraire.

L. S. : Tu connais cette phrase de Kléber Haedens : «Un critique qui n’a jamais écrit de roman est un lâche.» Ton avis sur la question ?

J. A. : Phrase idiote s’il en est, qui plus est extraite de son contexte, donc doublement idiote. Les romans d’Haedens, qu’il s’agisse d’Adios ou de L’été finit sous les tilleuls, ne m’ont point laissé un souvenir impérissable d’ailleurs; il eût mieux valu peut-être, pour cet auteur, de demeurer lâche et de parachever son œuvre critique. Du reste, je ne vois guère de différence ontologique entre une critique inspirée (il y en a tout de même quelques-unes) et un grand roman (il y en a beaucoup) : la même volonté de création est à l’œuvre dans les deux cas, la forme seulement diffère.

L. S. : Tu te définis comme critique (et) chrétien – à toi de me préciser s’il y a lieu la nuance entre les deux. Ta foi déclarée – je pense en particulier à ta contribution au collectif Vivre et penser comme des chrétiens – intervient-elle en quelque façon dans ton analyse critique des oeuvres ?

J. A. : La tradition chrétienne, par sa pratique multi-séculaire de la lectio divina, formidablement développée et perfectionnée durant le Moyen Âge, est éminemment critique. Elle a bien évidemment nourri tous les écrivains, penseurs et philosophes occidentaux, y compris (peut-être même : surtout) ceux qui, comme un Derrida, ont prétendu combattre l’hégémonie d’une tradition logocentrique. Appartenir, par toutes mes racines, à cette tradition, peut-être est-ce là une chance unique pour qui prétend, comme moi, se nourrir de livres, poursuivre l’œuvre consistant à s’entregloser selon Montaigne. En outre, je ne me suis jamais défini que comme un chrétien paradoxal et un critique qui l’est tout autant. Chrétien et critique des marges ou, comme on le disait dans le temps, des marches : je me tiens aux marches du royaume, au seuil de la Chambre des miracles décrite par Tarkovski. Je ne crois pas qu’il y ait, en France, beaucoup de personnes faisant profession de critique qui ne soient pas des journalistes ni même des hommes de l’Alma mater. Je ne suis ni l’un ni l’autre, même si ma formation doit beaucoup à l’Université et aux classes préparatoires. Quant à ma foi, je ne l’ai jamais déclarée et je me demande en quoi pareille annonce intéresserait mon prochain. Je n’ai publié que mon doute et la violence de ma recherche, de mon désespoir peut-être qui, bien sûr, ne peuvent qu’influencer mon travail critique dans le choix des œuvres que je commente. Je cherche Dieu dans l’art et ne le trouve pas, nouvelle évidence qui a taraudé un Baudelaire, un Huysmans ou un Claudel, puisque l’art, icône du divin lorsqu’il accepte d’accomplir sa mission, se tient devant la Face du Créateur. Me reste donc à accomplir le saut qualitatif dont parlait Kierkegaard.

L. S. : Plus qu’une affirmation, une aspiration à la foi donc. À plusieurs reprises également, tu as affiché ton soutien à la politique d’Israël, dont tu expliques l’histoire, y compris la plus récente, par la métaphysique. Ne crains-tu pas de défendre une interprétation réductrice et peut-être même dangereuse, sachant que l’ambition première des fondateurs du sionisme avait été de faire du peuple juif enfin un peuple comme les autres ?

J. A. : Oui, une telle opinion est sans aucun doute dangereuse mais le rôle métaphysique d’Israël n’est-il pas de rester planté, comme une écharde dans la chair de l’humanité, pour nous obliger à nous souvenir que nous ne sommes que poussière ? Israël est un danger pour l’humanité, mais pas comme le pensent les fanatiques islamistes et les imbéciles dans nos propres pays : l’existence de ce petit pays est un danger en ceci qu’il nous empêche de sombrer dans l’animalité dédouanée de Dieu. Israël est une sorte d’impératif catégorique intimant aux hommes l’ordre de se tenir debout. Il constitue, à lui tout seul (qu’importe qu’il y ait, parmi ses habitants, comme dans n’importe quel autre pays, des putains, des crétins, des fous, des meurtriers; qu’importe encore que, par paresse, nombre de citoyens de ce petit État n’aspirent bien souvent plus qu’à vivre comme le dernier des beaufs européens…), il est comme l’image trouble du Reste métaphysique évoqué par les prophètes et récemment commenté par Agamben.

L. S. : Maintenant je te repose la question : qui faut-il lire aujourd’hui ?

J. A. : Lire ou relire, aujourd’hui comme hier, comme demain : les écrivains que j’ai cités, et Trakl, Celan, Dostoïevski, Shakespeare bien sûr, et Dante, Melville, Cervantès, Kraus, Bernanos, Canetti et Gadenne, Lowry, De Quincey, beaucoup d’autres encore. En fait, Claudel avait parfaitement raison d’affirmer qu’à mesure qu’il vieillissait, il ne faisait plus que relire. Ainsi, toutes les années ou presque, je relis Macbeth, Cœur des ténèbres, Monsieur Ouine et un des admirables romans de Paul Gadenne. Peut-être les relirai-je jusqu’à ma mort… Aujourd’hui, des auteurs tels que Sebald (décédé dans un accident de la route en 2001 je crois), Kertész ou, dans la sphère philosophique, Agamben et Legendre, les écrivains nord-américains que j’ai mentionnés plus haut, voilà quelques exemples d’auteurs qui me paraissent être dignes d’attention… Il serait plus pertinent, peut-être, de me demander celles et ceux qu’il ne faut absolument pas lire car tu te doutes que leur nombre est beaucoup plus élevé que ceux des écrivains de race.

Je remercie Axelle Felgine de m'avoir autorisé à reproduire cet entretien.

Note :
Stéphane Giocanti, Charles Maurras. Le chaos et l’ordre (Flammarion, coll. Grandes biographies, 2006).

samedi, 25 décembre 2010

Lovecraft? Perchè no...

Lovecraft? Perchè no...

di Marco Iacona

Fonte: scandalizzareeundiritto

 

 

lovecraftqqqq.jpgÈ appena nata all’interno della facoltà di filosofia dell’Università di Milano, Antarès, rivista bimestrale “indipendente di antimodernismo”, ideata e curata da Andrea Marini e Andrea Scarabelli. Il sottotitolo dice già molto… In un ambiente sottoposto a censura ideologica, aggiunge Scarabelli, si sente la necessità di creare uno strumento attorno al quale costituire un’associazione studentesca che si occupi dei “problemi” del moderno, grazie anche a internet e alle possibilità offerte dai caffè letterari.

 

Il primo numero – anzi il numero zero – della rivista uscito nell’ottobre scorso in novanta copie per la distribuzione “interna” ed “esterna”, è completamente dedicato a Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937), autore di narrativa fantastica fra i più singolari dei nostri anni. Un autore “assoluto”, per usare la terminologia di Michel Houellebecq che predilige la vita al di fuori della realtà, perché stanco del mondo e del suo contenuto. Lovecraft il gentiluomo, è probabilmente la scelta più azzeccata se si tiene conto, in profondità, del “significato” di Antarés e delle intenzioni dei due curatori. Leggiamo per capire il “manifesto” introduttivo del bimestrale (le firme sono quelle di Marini, Scarabelli e della “redazione”): «...l’opuscolo … si presenta come apice e coronamento di un percorso riflessivo, svolto dai membri del comitato centrale di Antarés intorno ai DOGMI della Modernità – intorno a quelle mitologie deputate dal Mondo Moderno a scandire la dignità di tutto l’esistente». E poi ancora: « Antarés invoca la molteplicità a discapito delle riduzioni. Reclama la molteplicità del pensiero e rifiuta che esso venga ridotto ad UNA sua modalità, vale a dire quella logico-discorsiva. Ammette la molteplicità dell’uomo e si oppone alla riduzione di quest’ultimo ad UNO dei suoi stati, vale a dire quello fisico e materiale. Ammette la molteplicità intrinseca alla storia delle idee e rifiuta ch’esse vengano ridotte a poche concettualità… Queste pagine intendono valorizzare – pensatori – sovente messi a tacere da cattedre ed accademie – che intravidero un DOPPIO volto della Modernità, sovente celato da materialismi, progressismi, analitiche etc., nonché intere regioni del pensiero consegnate all’oblio – in quanto non disponenti dei caratteri richiesti dalla scientificità e dall’esattezza del pensare moderno».

E infine: «Il progetto si muoverà … secondo topoi tematici, fulcri, a nostro avviso, di un sistema la cui crisi non può non preoccupare chi abbia a cuore una cultura continentale che deve, in misura crescente, fare i conti con un panorama tecno-scientifico sempre più onnicomprensivo e totalizzantesi. Ogni numero sarà dedicato ad una sfaccettatura del Mondo Moderno o a gruppi tematici di critiche allo stesso…». Pessimismo antropologico dunque, che si sposa alla perfezione con la parabola esistenziale di Lovecraft e del suo “disgusto” (per usare ancora le parole di Houellebecq) verso il mondo moderno; uno scrittore che riesce anche a far proprio un “sapere” scientifico e matematico, ma che vede la scienza come verità esclusivamente negativa, come ricorda Gianfranco de Turris.
Lovecraft è “vittima” di se stesso in quanto essere “reale” che odia il “reale” (per Houellebecq è un “masochista”), è profondamente razzista (“vittima” di un razzismo tipicamente “anglosassone”, in un mondo nel quale le coordinate culturali si sono incredibilmente moltiplicate), ed è fermamente convinto che l’essere umano – quello dotato di sensibilità autentica – perirà per mano degli scimpanzé (per l’esattezza di “scimpanzé bisunti”, ossia dei negri…). Un uomo tormentato (si legga la biografia…), il cui impegno nel mondo è meno che ridotto, ma un uomo che spinge i lettori, come altri autori dalla personalità e dal vissuto emblematici a una quasi emulazione… Non auguriamo, ovviamente, né all’“umanità” né agli autori di Antarés di subire o assumere, nel tempo, posizioni così “nette”, che lascino poco spazio alla luce dell’ottimismo. È anche vero, però, e da un versante opposto, che Lovecraft e gli altri antimoderni, pongono in discussione i dogmi (termine quanto mai appropriato), sui quali si fondano le società delicatamente totalitarie al cui interno ogni cosa è prevista secondo scale di “valori”, che possono legittimamente non soddisfare. E non è poco.
Se si assume un punto di vista estremo allora, fa piacere che ancora oggi ci sia chi non cedendo a quell’abitudine alla “moralità” che portò uomini e donne a scandalizzarsi per la morte violenta di Pier Paolo Pasolini, diriga i propri sforzi nella discussione dei principi del nostro vivere civile e della nostra società “fondata sul lavoro”. Ma l’errore esiziale – considerazione del tutto personale – è quello di cadere nell’abitudine (ancora una volta un’abitudine, ma di segno opposto alla prima), di “guardare” il mondo attraverso lenti colorate e di vederlo, dunque, sempre e solo di un unico colore. Che alcune università italiane, oggi, siano poco più che delle fogne (e i giovani le difendono!!), dei “comitati d’affari” per gruppi esclusivi e per famiglie prive di scrupoli è una verità fin troppo vera per essere negata, ma forse basterebbe Freud (e guarda caso Lovecraft non lo amava), per riflettere sul fatto che l’equazione modernità = schifezza non postula affatto l’esistenza di un’altra “realtà”, ove la “modernità” (nel senso però di attualità alla Sant’Agostino), sia invece piacevole, luminosa, armoniosa e quant’altro…
Forse, in alcune università (meno puzzolenti di altre) è proprio questo che si cerca di spiegare. Magari male, ma almeno si tenta… Facendo il verso a un “antievoliano” come Francesco Germinario potrei arrivare anche a concludere che con “Lovecraft non si va da nessuna parte…”, e che per dei giovani che stanno per affacciarsi sul “mondo moderno” i “valori” (seppur in negativo) che riempiono le esistenze di Lovecraft - malvagità ed egoismo - non sono proprio il massimo, o forse sono destinati, detti valori, a essere presto “traditi” (in senso bonario, ovviamente), o forse, essi stessi, “rischieranno” di essere frullati all’interno di un contenitore ove il malcontento e l’escapismo – non certo quello di Houdini ma quello, come dire, spirituale – la faranno da padroni per sempre… chissà, forse… speriamo di no dai…
La soluzione (la solita “benedetta” soluzione)? Né recitare una o due preghierine serali né leggere i romanzetti rosa della “Collezione Harmony”… sognare per sognare è preferibile la grande arte di chi accorda modernità e realtà come un direttore d’orchestra sposa una partitura del Settecento a un’orchestra dei giorni nostri: i grandi artisti, quelli che lasciano spazi liberi alla riflessione placida, seria o divertita (Giorgio Morandi, Jean Calogero, per citare due personalità che abbiamo “visitato” di recente). Per altro verso la grande tradizione laica (nel pensiero e nella fede), aperta al futuro e dalle scelte moderate (sempre). Infine, considerazione personale: una buona risata. Woody Allen il grande scettico (lo abbiamo detto, “scherzando” tempo fa a un amico: mille volte più “fascista” di un Clint Eastwood, oggi), Charlie Chaplin se si ha bisogno di una morale buona e mai sfacciatamente ottimista (a volte occorre dai…) e Stan Laurel che vale Tristan Tzara del quale, altra stranezza, solo in pochi conosco non solo le opere ma perfino la faccia. Anche loro percepiscono il “doppio volto” della modernità, e forse più di altri…

Detto questo, troviamo in Antarès una radice entusiasmante che metterà fiori e frutti. Il secondo numero, poi, (una portata molto ricca con Thoureau, Benjamin, Baudelaire, Evola, Daumal e Montale), promette davvero bene. Auguri!

 

 
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vendredi, 24 décembre 2010

Anche Mishima a volte ritorna nel futuro...

Anche Mishima a volte ritorna nel futuro...

di Errico Passaro

Fonte: secolo d'italia


mishimawwwwww.jpgYukio Mishima è un intramontabile della cultura mondiale, oggetto di ripubblicazioni a getto continuo, convegni di studio, rappresentazioni teatrali e altre forme di tributo. Un omaggio inconsueto ed inaspettato alla figura dello scrittore giapponese viene dal romanzo vincitore dell'ultimo Premio Urania, Lazarus di Alberto Cola (Mondadori, pp. 317, € 4,20).  
 

 

Cola ci porta in una Tokyo futuristica, dove gli scienziati del progetto Lazarus hanno "resuscitato" Mishima per farlo diventare vessillo di una parte politica, quella dei "nostalgici", nelle elezioni politiche alle porte; il simulacro dello scrittore, dotato del suo stesso corpo e dei suoi stessi ricordi, ma destinato ad una vita effimera come i replicanti di Blade Runner, si ritrova comparsa di una sofisticata messinscena, che arriva alla ricostruzione fedele del quartiere dove aveva vissuto la sua prima vita.

 

Mishima, tuttavia, sfugge al suo destino con l'aiuto della setta segreta dei Mistici, in un viaggio verso la "bella morte" intriso di atmosfere crepuscolari, fino ad un epilogo carico di una sovrumana serenità. Uno dei punti di forza del romanzo è la verosimiglianza dei personaggi. Su tutti svetta Gabriel, il Virgilio di Mishima nella sua nuova vita, dominato dal potere della Pulsazione, che gli consente di agire sulla mente degli altri, ma che lo lascia alla merce del Mostro dentro di lui, governabile solo a forza di dosi di droga: lo seguiamo per flashback nella sua formazione marziale e nella sua iniziazione al potere parapsicologico, fino alla sua trasformazione in «un ronin moderno, un samurai senza padrone… un uomo sull'onda… uno strumento senza fine». Intorno a Gabriel, ruotano antagonisti e comprimari: dalla parte dei "cattivi", Hitasura, padrone dello "zaibatzu" che gestisce il progetto Lazarus e che ingaggia Gabriel per recuperare il Mishima in fuga, e Yasuwara, il corrotto capitano della Polizia del Pensiero in combutta con Hitasura; dalla parte dei "buoni", solo per citare i principali, la tenutaria Madame Ho, l'allibratore Kano, Mama-San e Tori, le mentori di Gabriel nella Setta dei Mistici e, soprattutto, Miko, la compagna di casa non vedente di Gabriel, apparentemente indifesa, ma in realtà detentrice di un segreto che emergerà solo nel finale del romanzo. A parte, il "rigenerato" Mishima, «figlio dell'unione illecita tra illusione e tecnologia», spaesato, malinconico, esangue, diverso da quello spudorato e tonitruante consegnato alle cronache letterarie e politiche della storia reale, più vicino all'intimismo delle Confessioni di una maschera che alla belluinità di altre sue opere, un soggetto «attirato dal lato estetico di una sensibilità superiore», «perfetta fusione fra lotta e sacrificio, impeto e amore».

 

Una virtù del romanzo è, poi, la sua qualità stilistica. In Cola colpisce, soprattutto, il tratto preciso nella descrizione dei gesti, inusuale nella letteratura di genere; i suoi toni smussati; la tendenza all'introspezione, allo scavo psicologico, alla costruzione di una biografia credibile dei suoi attori. Un ulteriore pregio della narrazione di Cola è la ricostruzione del contesto futuro. La prima parte si svolge nella metropoli nipponica, sottoposta al controllo asfissiante dei rilevatori di onde cerebrali: davanti allo sguardo del lettore, si accavallano immagini di «una città sempre più puttana in cui è difficile conservare la memoria», fitta di grattacieli occupati abusivamente, bordelli, case di gioco, ring di sumo clandestini e tutta una serie di luoghi seminterrati, ambigui, formicolanti di un'umanità disumana, dove perfino gli alberi sono geneticamente modificati. La seconda parte del romanzo, invece, è ambientata fra campagna e mare, in un luogo che sembra anche un tempo diverso, aria pulita e lanterne invece che smog e neon. Il romanzo si segnala, ancora, per la sua attenzione al fattore sociale, di cui si fa portavoce Mishima stesso: «Vivevo in un Paese che era pieno di contraddizioni» dice «ed ero una delle sue espressioni».

Lo scrittore è costretto a vivere per una seconda volta ciò che, nella sua incarnazione naturale, aveva combattuto, prima, e rifiutato, poi, con l'estremo gesto del suicidio rituale: lo svilimento dei valori, il carrierismo sociale, l'arroganza della burocrazia, l'aggressività della speculazione economica, la corruzione della politica, che rendevano la sua amata-odiata Patria un mondo di relazioni inautentiche. Ma quello che è il vero tratto distintivo di Lazarus rispetto a tanti romanzi consimili e coetanei, anche non di filone, è la predominanza della riflessione filosofica, non di rado affidata a citazioni tratte dall'opera di Mishima. Tutta la vicenda umana dei protagonisti è impregnata di misticismo orientale e si svolge in uno stato di mezzo fra vita e morte, sogno e realtà, passato e presente; ma l'esperienza spirituale non rimane circoscritta alla prossimità con la dimensione sovrannaturale, ma si sostanzia in una serie di valori-guida cardinali: la "bellezza" e la "morte", come nell'etica e nell'estetica decadente; il dovere morale del giri («È la traccia che ci rende unici, che ci rende uomini…ciò che il giri richiede è lo spirito di un guerriero, cioè qualcosa di fiero e puro»); il koha («…la smania di affrontare prove spirituali di virilità») e il ninkyo («il codice d'onore personale»); la tensione al futuro («Quale futuro può attenderci se si vive nella continua nostalgia del passato?»), il potere dell'esempio («Ai miei tempi lottavo con la forza delle idee, e con l'azione dettata dall'esempio»), la forza dell'arte («La realtà trova sempre il modo di bloccare i tentativi dell'uomo di trasformare la vita in un attimo di poesia»), la critica al culto della memoria («La memoria è uno specchio capriccioso, perché le immagini riflesse ci illudono. È lo specchio degli inganni») e della vittoria («La sconfitta non è tale se è volta ad un ideale, e la si può tramutare in un seme di gloria futura»). Dopo tanti meritati complimenti, una sommessa critica: siamo sicuri che "rigenerare" un'icona non valga a distruggerla? Un mito, antico o moderno che sia, non vive forse della sua irraggiungibilità? Creare doppioni di personaggi archetipici non è come mettere in circolazione caricature dell'originale, parodie lontane anni-luce dal potere di attrazione e suggestione della matrice? Il romanzo sembra, invece, alludere ad un potere fascinatorio che, nel processo di duplicazione, non si perderebbe e continuerebbe a magnetizzare le masse. E di questo noi, nel nostro piccolo, ci permettiamo di dubitare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Die ungewöhnliche Beziehung von Ernst Jünger und Erich Mühsam

erich-muehsam-540x540.jpg

Kreuzweiser Austausch
Die ungewöhnliche Beziehung von Ernst Jünger und Erich Mühsam

Von Lars-Broder Keil (Friedrichshagen)

Ex: http://www.friedrichshagener-dichterkreis.de/


"Mühsam lernte ich bei Ernst Niekisch kennen, den ich häufig aufsuchte. Ich glaube, auch Toller war an jenem Abend dabei. Sie kannten sich aus der Zeit der Münchener Räterepublik, mit der sich die Linke eine ähnliche Absurdität wie später die Rechte mit dem Kapp-Putsch leistete. Wir kamen in ein angeregtes Gespräch, Mühsam begleitete mich auf dem Heimwege. Er war Bohemien vom Schlage Peter Hilles, weltfremder Anarchist, verworren, kindlich-gutmütig. (...) Er redete in flatterndem Mantel wild, beinahe schreiend auf mich ein, so daß sich die Passanten nach der seltsamen Erscheinung umwandten, die an einen großen unbeholfenen Vogel erinnerte. Wir tauschten einige Briefe, bis kurz vor seiner Verhaftung; schreckliche Gerüchte sickerten bald über sein Schicksal durch." (1)
Diese Schilderung seiner ersten Begegnung mit Erich Mühsam (1878-1934), die um 1930 herum stattfand, hielt Ernst Jünger (1895-1998) am 24. August 1945 in seinem Tagebuch fest. Glaubt man Jüngers Eintrag, blieb es nicht bei dieser Begegnung. Es ist eine Beziehung, die ungewöhnlich, fast unwahrscheinlich anmutet: der linke Anarchist Erich Mühsam und der bis heute umstrittene konserverative Schriftsteller und Käferforscher Ernst Jünger.

Schwierige Spurensuche

Erich Mühsam wurde 1878 in Berlin geboren, wuchs aber in Lübeck auf. Nachdem er dort eine Glosse über den Direktor seiner Schule in einer SPD-Zeitung veröffentlicht hatte, flog er wegen "sozialistischer Umtriebe" von der Schule und begann eine Apothekerlehre. 1900 zog er nach Berlin, fand Anschluss an die Neue Gemeinschaft der Gebrüder Heinrich und Julius Hart sowie an die Literatur-Bohemeszene und freundete sich mit Gustav Landauer an. In Friedrichshagen arbeitete er ab 1902 für die anarchistische Zeitung "Armer Teufel", bis er 1904 zu seinen Wanderjahren durch Europa aufbrach. Diese führten ihn schließlich nach München, wo sich Mühsam ab 1909 niederließ. 1918 beteiligte er sich führend an der Gründung der Münchener Räterepublik und musste nach deren Niederschlagung ins Gefängnis, wo er bis Ende 1924 einsaß. Anschließend zog Mühsam wieder nach Berlin und gab dort die Monatzeitschrift "Fanal" heraus. 1933 von der SA verhaftet, wurde er nach schweren Misshandlungen 1934 im KZ Oranienburg ermordet.
Ernst Jünger wurde 1895 in Heidelberg geboren. Wie ein Großteil seiner Generation meldete er sich 1914 als Kriegsfreiwilliger. Er wurde mehrfach verwundet und ausgezeichnet. Mehr als das prägte ihn die Materialschlacht an der Front, die er in Büchern, wie "In Stahlgewittern" (1920), verarbeitete. Auffallend dabei: zum einen die nüchternen Schilderungen des Grauens, andererseits die Begeisterung für den militärischen Kampf. Dieser Stil sowie die Mitarbeit in nationalistischen und militanten Gruppierungen wie Zeitschriften brachten ihm den Ruf des demokratiefeindlichen Reaktionärs und Kriegsverherrlichers ein. Dabei war auch der junge Jünger, wie viele seiner Generation, jemand, der sich erst durch den Krieg verändert hatte und der auch ein Suchender war: "Mein Weltbild besitzt durchaus nicht mehr jene Sicherheit, wie sollte das auch möglich sein bei der Unsicherheit, die uns seit Jahren umgibt", schrieb er über seine Kriegserlebnisse im Buch "Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis" (1922). Mitte der 20er-Jahre begann er Philosophie und Zoologie zu studieren, brach das Studium aber 1926 ab und lebte seitdem als Schriftsteller - unterbrochen durch seinen Militäreinsatz im zweiten Weltkrieg, den er unter anderem im Stab des Militärbefehlshabers in Paris verbrachte. 1944, nach dem missglückten Attentat auf Hitler, wurde Jünger aus der Armee entlassen. Der Autor zahlreicher Bücher, Tagebücher und Essays starb 1998 im Alter von 103 Jahren.
Leider sind die Briefe Mühsams an Jünger vernichtet - unter welchen Bedingungen dies geschah, soll zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt beschrieben werden. Daher lässt sich auch nichts über den Inhalt sagen. Neben dem etwas ausführlicheren Eintrag von 1945 tauchen nur wenige kurze Hinweise auf Mühsam in Jüngers Tagebüchern auf. Im Eintrag vom 10. September 1943 schrieb er über Mühsam, dass dieser "eine kindliche Neigung zu mir gefasst hatte" und dass man ihn "auf so schauerliche Weise ermordete". Am Ende findet sich die Einschätzung: "Er war einer der besten und gutmütigsten Menschen, denen ich begegnet bin." (2). Kurz erwähnte Jünger ihn noch am 20. Oktober 1972 und 20. Mai 1980 (3). Am 19. November 1989 notierte Jünger: "Hans Jürgen Frh. von der Wense (1894-1955). Ich lese in seinen Tagebüchern Notizen über die Novemberrevolution von 1918 und deren Folgen bis zur Niederschlagung der Münchner Räterepublik; sie erinnern mich an Gespräche mit Beteiligten wie Niekisch, Toller und Mühsam." (4)
Mühsam wiederum erwähnte weder in seinen Erinnerungen noch in Briefen seine Beziehung zu Jünger. Von der Bekanntschaft kündet lediglich der Eintrag im Notizkalender von 1930: "15.1. Begegnung mit Ernst Jünger bei Rudolf Schlichter" (5). Das Aussparen der Beziehung zu Jünger mag daran liegen, dass sie nur lose war und er ihr keine so große Bedeutung beigemesssen hat - was angesichts der verschiedenen Weltbilder der beiden nicht verwunderlich sein dürfte. Doch offenbar hinderte sie das nicht, Gespräche zu führen. Mehr Aufschluss könnte Mühsams Nachlass geben, doch der ist zu einem großen Teil zerstört. Chris Hirte, ein Mühsam-Biograf und -kenner, wundert sich über die Beziehung nicht. Zum einen habe sich Mühsam in seiner Zeitschrift "Fanal" ausführlich mit Kriegsliteratur befasst, und Jünger war einer der wichtigsten Vertreter. Zum anderen habe Mühsam viel Wert auf Kontakte quer durch alle Gruppierungen gelegt und mit diesen ausführlich kommuniziert, besonders gern mit prominenten Zeitgenossen, zu denen Jünger damals schon gehörte. Unter Mühsams Bekannten stammten laut Hirte viele aus dem bürgerlichen Lager. Ideologische Barriere gab es für den Anarchisten Mühsam hier offenbar nicht.
Auffallend an Jüngers knappen Überlieferungen der Kontakte ist der wohlwollende Ton, mit dem er über den "Friedrichshagener" Mühsam spricht. Daher scheint es interessant, das Klima zu beschreiben, das damals Treffen zwischen linken und rechten Intellektuellen möglich machte. Verzichtet wird, vor allem aus Platzgründen, auf eine Analyse der relevanten Werke Jüngers, die aber genannt werden sowie auf eine tiefere Analyse der nationalistischen Strömungen, die in der Beziehung eine Rolle spielen. Zu diesen gibt es eine erschöpfende Literatur.

Niekisch als Bindeglied der Beziehung

Wie in Jüngers Tagebuch angedeutet, war Ernst Niekisch (1889-1967) das Bindeglied in dieser ungewöhnlichen Beziehung. Niekisch, Sohn eines Feilenhauermeisters und in Schlesien geboren, las in seiner Jugendzeit neben Klassikern auch die Werke der Moderne von Gerhart Hauptmann, Henrik Ibsen, Frank Wedekind und Max Halbe, die zum Teil prägend für die "Friedrichshagener" waren. Er lernte Erich Mühsam zusammen mit Gustav Landauer 1918 während der Zeit der Räterepublik in München kennen, an der sich alle drei aktiv mitwirkten. Niekisch beschreibt Mühsam in dieser Zeit als sprudelnden, witzigen Geist, "ein guter Mensch, aber so ausgesprochen literarischer Bohemien, daß sich niemand ihn in einer würdigen Amtsposition vorstellen konnte" (6). Letztere Bemerkung zielt auf einen Versuch von Mühsam, sich selber als Volksbeauftragter für das Auswärtige im Kabinett der Räterepublik vorzuschlagen. Landauer war für Niekisch eine "geistig überlegene Persönlichkeit" (7), ein außerordentlicher und gedankenvoller Redner (8).
Die Zusammenarbeit lockerte sich mit dem Rücktritt von Niekisch vom Posten des Präsidenten des Zentralrats der Arbeiter-, Bauern- und Soldatenräte Bayerns. Trotzdem unterzeichnete er einen Aufruf zugunsten des seit 1919 inhaftierten Mühsam, der ärztliche Hilfe brauchte. Kurze Zeit später trafen sich beide wieder - in der Festungshaft. Dort zettelte Mühsam unter den Häftlingen einen Streik an, bei dem Essenreste auf die Gänge geworfen wurden. Niekisch, der angesichts der Lebensmittelknappheit dieser Zeit eine "schlechte Presse" für diese Aktion befürchtete, brach den Streik und säuberte am dritten Tag mit Hilfe anderer Häftlinge die Flure (9). Mühsam zeigte sich verbittert über die Streikbrecher und nannte Niekisch und dessen Umfeld in seinen Tagebüchern verächtlich die "Intellektuellen" (10).

Niekisch trat nach seiner Entlassung in den Schuldienst ein, war Landtagsabgeordneter der USPD und folgte im November 1922 dem Ruf in den Hauptvorstand des Deutschen Textilarbeiterverbandes nach Berlin, schied aber 1926 im Streit mit der SPD aus dem gewerkschaftlichen Verband aus und ging nach Dresden. Dort schloss er sich der Alten Sozialdemokratischen Partei (ASP) an und gab die Zeitschrift "Widerstand. Blätter für sozialistische und nationalrevolutionäre Politik" heraus.
Über diese Herausgeberschaft und die ASP bekam er zunehmend Kontakt zu bündischen Kreisen, zu reaktionären Gruppierungen, beispielsweise zum Jungdeutschen Orden, zu Konservativen, wie den ehemaligen Korpsstudenten Friedrich Hielscher, der zum Thema "Nietzsche und der Rechtsgedanke" promoviert hatte und sich später diffusen sozialrevolutionär-nationalistischen Tendenzen näherte, sowie zu bürgerlichen Intellektuellen, etwa zu Friedrich Georg Jünger, ein Bruder von Ernst Jünger (11).
Auf die Jünger-Brüder war Niekisch durch den Philosophen Alfred Baeumler gestoßen, der zugleich Mitglied des Kampfbundes für deutsche Kultur von Alfred Rosenberg war. Baeumler lobte Ernst Jünger als einen Mann, "der die technischen Tendenzen der Zeit in vollem Umfange begriffen habe" und nicht mehr in rückständiger Bürgerlichkeit stecke (12). Dies war wohl der Anlass, Jünger 1926 zur Mitarbeit am "Widerstand" aufzufordern, wie aus einem Brief Ernst Jüngers an seinen Bruder hervorgeht (13). 1927 erschien der erste Artikel.
Im Herbst des gleichen Jahres, so berichtet Niekisch in seinen Erinnerungen, sei er mit Baeumler nach Berlin gereist, der dann einen Besuch bei Jünger angeregt habe. Jünger habe beide freundlich in seiner Wohnung in der Nähe der Warschauer Brücke empfangen. "Wir tranken Kaffee und unterhielten uns über politische Vorgänge jener Tage", erinnert sich Niekisch (14).

Allerdings scheint er sich im Jahr geirrt zu haben, da Baeumler die Jüngers erst 1928 kennenlernte und auch die Briefe erst aus diesem Jahr stammen (15). Ob nun 1927 oder 1928, nach dem ersten Treffen entwickelte sich jedenfalls ein, laut Niekisch, freundschaftlicher Verkehr, gelegentlich schrieb Jünger für den "Widerstand" Aufsätze, und als Niekisch wieder nach Berlin zog, trafen sich beide, etwa bei einer Besprechung des Kreises "Neuer Nationalisten" mit dem Verleger Ernst Rowohlt oder bei Niekisch zu Hause. Bei einem dieser Besuche kam es dann zum Kontakt zwischen Mühsam und Jünger.
Jünger in Berlin

Rund sechs Jahre, von 1927 bis 1933, lebte Ernst Jünger in Berlin. Nach seinen Büchern über den Ersten Weltkrieg war er zum Hoffnungsträger und Wortführer der Gegner der Weimarer Republik im rechten Spektrum geworden.
Die unter dem Begriff "Neuer Nationalismus" zusammengefassten Gruppierungen bekannten sich einmütig zur Nation und einem wehrhaften Staat. Doch Jünger begann schnell, sich von den radikal-militanten Kreisen zu lösen. Wie schon die jungen Intellektuellen zur Jahrhundertwende zog Jünger das Geschehen der pulsierenden Hauptstadt an. Jünger versuchte sich in bohemhaftem Lebensstil, wohnte in möblierten Zimmern, wanderte nachts durch die Straßen, hielt seine Beobachtungen fest, nahm gelegentlich an Trinkfesten teil. Er suchte Kontakt zu Vertretern aller Couleur, zu Nationalisten und Rechten, beispielsweise zu Friedrich Hielscher und Otto Strasser, zu Linken, wie Bertolt Brecht, Erich Mühsam, Ernst Toller und zu Rudolf Schlichter, der Jünger 1929 und noch einmal 1937 porträtierte (16).
Der Maler, Zeichner und Schriftsteller Rudolf Schlichter (1890-1955), bei dem Mühsam laut seinem Notizkalender auch Jünger traf, erregte Anfang der 20er-Jahre mit seiner Plastik des an der Decke schwebenden "Preußischen Erzengels" in Uniform und Schweinskopf Aufsehen. Etwa 1927 wurde der kommunistische Künstler als genauer Zeichner der Berliner Halbwelt bekannt, war unter anderem mit George Grosz und Bert Brecht befreundet. Durch die Begegnung mit seiner späteren Frau Speedy wandte sich Schlichter jedoch dem Katholizismus und Nationalismus zu. In dieser Phase lernte er auch Ernst Jünger kennen, der den Maler sehr schätzte. Die erste Begegnung fand wahrscheinlich beim Verleger Rowohlt statt, der, wie Jünger notierte, "sich ein Vergnügen daraus machte, pyrotechnische Mischungen auszutüfteln, besonders an seinen Geburtstagen" (17).

Links-Rechts-Dialoge

Für die Weimarer Jahre war ein Wirrwarr von rechten und linken Gruppen, Bünden, intellektuellen Zirkeln und Sammlungsbewegungen kennzeichnend, die weniger in festen Organisationsformen oder gar Ortsverbänden agierten. Meist handelte es sich um Mitarbeiter einer Zeitschrift, die sich um den Herausgebe scharrten. Die Akteure waren oft junge, unzufriedene Kriegsteilnehmer, die nach einer Neuorientierung, einem "neuen politischen Leitbild eines nationalen Selbstbewusstseins" suchten - und zwar jenseits vom Parteiengezänk. (18). Die Frontgeneration der 1890-1905 Geborenen kritisierte und bekämpfte die Ideen des Liberalismus und des Parteiensystems. Sie stellten die Bindung an eine fast mystisch anmutende Nation in den Mittelpunkt, grenzten sich aber vom Nationenbegriff patriotischer Prägung ab.
Was bewegte die "rechten" Strömungen, die unter Begriffen wie Nationalrevolutionäre zusammengefasst wurden, zum gemeinsamen Vorgehen? Jürgen Danyel nannte auf einer Tagung der Evangelischen Akademie Berlin 1990 über den so genannten "Gegner"-Kreis drei wesentliche Handlungsanreize: Zum einen werden die Aktivitäten als Reaktion auf die Modernisierungprozesse der 20er-Jahre verstanden und auf die Erkenntnis, Anschluss an politische Massenbewegungen gewinnnen zu müssen. Allerdings waren die Vertreter des Nationalismus zumeist Einzelgänger und stolz auf ihre Isolierung. Geradezu mit Verachtung wiesen sie die Möglichkeit ab, sich von den großen politischen Strömungen tragen zu lassen. Sie sahen sich in Opposition, als Individualisten und auf dem Weg, für sich den Begriff Konservatismus neu zu definieren. Zweitens prägten die Strömungen das "Gemeinschaftserlebnis Krieg" und die revolutionären Nachkriegsauseinandersetzungen sowie das "Unvermögen zur sozialen Integration in eine ihnen fremde bürgerliche Welt". Drittens schließlich führte die nationale und soziale Problemlage Deutschlands nach 1918 zu einer Politisierung, verbunden mit dem Aufbegehren gegen die eigene bürgerliche Herkunft - gerade im letzten Punkt finden sich verblüffende Parallelen zu den "Friedrichshagener Dichtern" und den Motiven ihres Handelns um die Jahrhundertwende.
Die nationale Problematik bildete das Dach der oft gegensätzlichen Strömungen. Betont wurde der Charakter der "Bewegung", favorisiert eine "Verbindung von Nationalismus und Sozialismus", in der die Arbeiterschaft eine historische Trumpfkarte im Rahmen einer umfassenden Gesellschaftsveränderung werden sollte. "Rechte" wie "Linke" fanden auch eine gemeiname Basis in der Ablehnung des westlichen Imperialismus, dessen Hauptsymbol für sie der Versailler Vertrag war (19). Im Unterschied zum Marxismus bekannten sich die Nationalrevolutionäre, und besonders deren nationalbolschewistische Strömung, zu Nation und Staat (20).
In der außenpolitischen Betrachtung sympathisierten die Strömungen mit der nicht am Versailler Vertragswerk beteiligten Sowjetunion - mit einer häufig diffusen Zuneigung und Verklärung. So nutzte auch Jünger die Einladungen der "Gesellschaft zum Studium der russischen Planwirtschaft". Im Ergebnis entstand seine 1932 erscheinende theoretische Schrift "Der Arbeiter", die Unverständnis im rechten Lager und heftige Kontroversen auslöste.
Wechsel zwischen den Lagern und Kontakte waren nicht selten. In Gesprächszirkeln aller Art trafen sich offizielle und oppositionelle Kommunisten, sozialistische und konservative Intellektuelle, parteitreue bis parteifeindliche Nationalsozialisten. Bei allen Unterschieden, ja Hass zwischen den Flügeln, zog die gemeinsame Radikalität des Gefühls und des Denkens an.
Vor diesem Hintergrund sind auch die Kontakte zwischen Jünger und Mühsam zu sehen. Nach Ansicht des Jünger-Biographen Heimo Schwilk fühlte sich der nationalrevolutionäre Autor zu Personen hingezogen, die die herrschende Verhältnisse in Frage stellten, zu einem Radikalismus der Tat neigten, um aus der beengten Sphäre des Bürgerlichen auszubrechen. Auch Jünger verspürte früh diesen Drang, meldete sich als Jugendlicher in der Fremdenlegion, "ein früher, instiktiver Protest gegen die Mechanik der Zeit", nannte er diesen Schritt später. Eine mehr selbst-analytische Verarbeitung des ersten Ausbrechens lag jahrelang als unveröffentlichtes Manuskript in seinem Schreibtisch. Es trug den bezeichnenden Titel "Die letzte sentimentale Reise oder die Schule der Anarchie" (21) und wurde 1936 als "Afrikanische Spiele" veröffentlicht.
Mühsam wiederum suchte in seiner Vorstellung, die Regierung durch eine Revolution abzulösen, nach tatbereiten Leuten, um sie gegen die Weimarer Republik zu mobilisieren. Die meinte er offenbar auch unter den Vertretern der Nationalrevolutionäre zu finden, deren Wille zu Aktionen ihm näher lag, als das abwartende Verhalten der Funktionäre von SPD und KPD, die auf Parlamentarismus setzten, schätzt Mühsam-Forscher Hirte ein. Jünger zählte sich selbst zu den Nationalrevolutionären, bezeichnete sich öffentlich aber erst Anfang der 80er-Jahre so.
Das mag daran liegen, dass Jünger, der sich auf besondere Weise als elitärer Einzelkämpfer verstand, Distanz zu den Gruppen gewahrt hatte, weil er Zuordnung als Vereinnahmung verstand. Bereits als der "Arbeiter" erschien, hatte er sich aus dem aktiven Geschehen zurückgezogen, "in die Innerlichkeit", wie Niekisch das bezeichnete.
Trotzdem hielt er weiter Kontakt. Als das NS-Regime an die Macht kam, nahm Jünger beispielsweise Niekisch kurzzeitig bei sich auf und kümmerte sich nach dessen Verhaftung um die Niekisch-Familie.

Vernichtung der Mühsam-Briefe

Die Beschreibung der Kontakte zwischen Ernst Jünger und Ernst Niekisch hätte ergiebiger ausfallen können, wenn Jünger nicht so vorsichtig gewesen wäre. Als die Nationalsozialisten die Macht in Deutschland ergriffen und ihre Gegner zu verhaften begannen, vernichtete er in einer hektischen Aktion einen Teil seiner umfangreichen Briefsammlung und Tagebuchaufzeichnungen. Darunter auch die wenigen Briefe von Mühsam, die laut Jünger "harmlos waren wie der Mann selbst" und später die Briefe von Ernst Niekisch, bei dem Jünger Mühsam kennengelernt hatte. Mehrfach bedauerte er die Lücken, "die vor allem dadurch entstanden sind, daß ich in Anfällen von Nervosität Papiere verbrannt habe". Aber Jünger wusste um die Sprengwirkung, wenn sie bei ihm gefunden worden wären. "Wenn meine Bekannten durch mich Schwierigkeiten hatten, so galt das auch umgekehrt, es fand kreuzweis ein Austausch statt. Der Umgang mit Niekisch, Mühsam, Otto Strasser, Hofacker, Schulenburg, Heinrich von Stülpnagel und anderen warf ein ungünstiges Licht auf mich", schrieb er rückblickend in seinem Tagebuch am 24. August 1945. Wie recht er mit dieser Annahme hatte, musste Jünger kurze Zeit nach dem Vernichten der Briefe erfahren. Eines Abends, er saß in seiner Steglitzer Wohnung und las Beardsleys "Venus und Tannhäuser", klingelte es an der Tür. Zwei Gestapo-Beamte traten ein, überhörten Jüngers Frage nach den Ausweisen und begannen in den Zimmern nach Waffen und verbotenen Papieren zu wühlen. Jüngers Buch "Der Arbeiter" im Regal schien ihr Misstrauen zu fördern. Dann kamen sie zu ihrem Anliegen und fragten nach den Briefen von Erich Mühsam. Jünger reichte ihnen seine Briefmappe "H-M", in denen die Briefe Mühsams fehlten, aber nicht die von Hitler und Hess, und hielt die Reaktion der Beamten in seinem Tagebuch fest: "Sie begannen zu blättern, stießen dabei gleich auf einige Namen, die hoch im Kurs standen, und brachen ihr Unternehmen ab." (22)

Im nächsten Heft: Jünger und der Individualanarchismus von John Henry Mackay und Max Stirner

Quellen:

  1. Ernst Jünger: Die Hütte im Weinberg, Jahre der Okkupation, In: Strahlungen II., Verlag Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart, 1979, S. 516 f.)
  2. Ernst Jünger: Das zweite Pariser Tagebuch, In: Strahlungen II..., S. 146
  3. Ernst Jünger: Siebzig verweht II, Verlag Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart, 1981, S. 97 und S. 610ff.
  4. Ernst Jünger: Siebzig Verweht IV, Verlag, Stuttgart, 1981, S. 383
  5. Chris Hirte: "Erich Mühsam", Verlag Neues Leben Berlin, 1985, S. 419
  6. Ernst Niekisch: Gewagtes Leben, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Köln-Berlin, S. 43
  7. ebenda, S.68
  8. ebenda, S.78
  9. ebenda, S.96
  10. Erich Mühsam: Tagebücher 1910-1924, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, München, 1994, S.240f.
  11. Ernst Jünger in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten, Rowohlt Verlag, S.41
  12. Ernst Niekisch: Gewagtes Leben, S. 187
  13. Friedrich Georg Jünger: Briefwechsel mit Rudolf Schlichter, Ernst Niekisch und Gerhard Nebel, Klett-Cotta Verlag, Stuttgart, 2001, S. 59
  14. Ernst Niekisch: Gewagtes Leben..., S.187
  15. F.G. Jünger, S.59f.
  16. Horst Mühleisen: Ernst Jünger in Berlin, Frankfurter Buntbücher 20, S. 5
  17. Ernst Jünger und Rudolf Schlichter, Briefe 1935-1955, Klett-Cotta Verlag, Stuttgart, 1997, S. 307f.
  18. Jürgen Danyel: Alternativen nationalen Denkens vor 1933, In: Der "Gegner"-Kreis im Jahre 1992/33, Evangelische Akademie Berlin, 1990, S. 76
  19. ebenda, S.69
  20. Das Projekt Ernst Jünger, In: Forum Wissenschaft, I/95, S. I ff.
  21. Ernst Jünger in Selbstzeugnissen..., S. 12
  22. Ernst Jünger: Die Hütte im Weinberg..., S. 516 f.

 

mardi, 21 décembre 2010

Der Winter träumt die Schönheit des Frühlings

snowy-mill-creek-winter.jpg

Der Winter träumt die Schönheit des Frühlings

Die Schönheit bleibt
in unverfälschter Tiefe des Seins
in deren ewigwährendem Strom
das ferne Licht glitzert,
und die lebende Kraft versucht
aus den Gefahren unbekannter Tiefen hervorzugehen
aus endloser Schöpfung oder blendendem Zwielicht,
lange Streifen von hellem Rosa, oder Hellblau
der Götter Himmelsstufen, zur sinkenden Sonne führend,
erneuertes Leben und erhabene Nächte
glühen auf des Mondlichtes Zauberwegen,
das Reich des Blutes verstehend
durch die sonnigen Gärten der neuen Morgendämmerung,
die Seele fängt Feuer
durch die lodernde Röte des himmlischen Meeres
bevor sich die Dunkelheit erhebt, um die Sonne auszulöschen
und unsere eilenden Gefühle neu belebt.
Gefrorene Gänseblümchen bleiben zum Träumen zurück,
in ihrem kalten Winterschlaf,
von goldenem Glitzern des morgendlichen Taus,
der Wiederkehr der Wärme, und des Frühlings.

Xenia Sunic

Herzlichen dank für Ihre inspirierte Übersetzung, Christian S.

Ex: http://autonomotpol.wordpress.com/

The original and related:

THE WINTER DREAM OF THE SPRING BEAUTY

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dimanche, 19 décembre 2010

Les combats d'un Uhlan

Les combats d’un Uhlan

par Georges FELTIN-TRACOL

Ex: http://www.europemaxima.com/

uhlan.jpgLongtemps avant la glaciation de la liberté de pensée, les polémistes brillaient dans les journaux ou publiaient des pamphlets. Dorénavant, du fait de l’étroite surveillance des écrits dissidents et de la stérilisation marchande de la presse, les plumes les plus percutantes s’activent sur la Toile. C’est justement grâce à Internet que j’ai découvert André Waroch et ses articles explosifs. Je me félicite, aujourd’hui, que certains d’entre-eux constituent Les Larmes d’Europe.

Je m’attends que les articles d’André Waroch, Uhlan d’Europe Maxima, susciteront l’irritation, l’agacement, voire le mécontentement de ceux qui n’apprécient pas ses avis tranchés. Oui, Waroch ose – et sait – déplaire ! Je suis bien placé pour le savoir puisque je reçois régulièrement quelques courriels désobligeants volontiers dédaignés.

Les positions défendues par André Waroch sont loin d’être les miennes. Dès nos premiers échanges via Internet, je lui fis part de mes réticences, de mes divergences même, avec certaines de ses analyses. Pourquoi alors ai-je quand même accepté de le mettre en ligne (et de le préfacer) ? Tout simplement parce que je suis un homme libre, adversaire de tout dogmatisme et que je conçois, en outre, Europe Maxima comme un espace de confrontations intellectuelles, fussent-elles vives et polémiques. Il n’est pas anodin qu’on y lise en exergue sur la page d’accueil la belle citation de Dominique de Roux : Europe Maxima est le site où l’« on pourra s’exprimer avec la clarté de n’importe quelle pensée et de toute, à droite, à gauche, ailleurs, où l’on posera plus de questions qu’on n’en résoudra ». On a compris que j’exècre le conformisme ambiant, l’idéologie actuelle des « moutons de Panurge », le politiquement correct. Je partage souvent les dégoûts d’André Waroch envers notre hideuse société contemporaine.

Les Larmes d’Europe s’apparente donc à une Sturmgewehr indispensable aux combats métapolitiques. En dix articles, André Waroch esquisse sa vision du monde qu’il affine, rectifie et corrige par rapport à son premier ouvrage, France Terminus, un véritable abécédaire de la décadence (1). Il soutient que l’idéologie multiculturaliste marchande met désormais en péril l’homme européen. Conscient du risque d’extinction, Waroch s’y oppose de toutes ses forces à l’échéance et en appelle en un sursaut salvateur, d’où sa fougue et sa vindicte qu’il porte aux idoles médiatiques dominantes. En véritable tireur d’élite, il les vise et les abat d’un coup sûr. Au moment de l’affaire de mœurs de Frédéric Mitterrand, collatérale à l’affaire Polanski, Waroch se range immédiatement du côté des petites gens scandalisées par les multiples passe-droits que s’octroie une oligarchie vorace et sans foi. Il attaque aussi avec vigueur toute la clique de saltimbanques, d’acteurs de films abjects et de brailleurs de sons insanes qui encouragent les immigrés clandestins délinquants – les fameux « sans-papiers » – sans aller jusqu’à les héberger dans leurs cossus lofts du XVIe arrondissement, de Montmartre et du Lubéron ! Issu du peuple de France et vivant au quotidien les affres de la « cohabitation » multi-ethnique en banlieue francilienne, Waroch est bien plus habilité à traiter du terrible problème de l’immigration que tel ou tel footeux milliardaire ou chanteuse sans talent.

Outre le Neveu, André Waroch « flingue » magnifiquement Caroline Fourest qui, de Charlie Hebdo au Monde (soit d’une décadence l’autre !), symbolise à merveille l’idéal républicain hexagonal et les contradictions schizophréniques béantes de notre temps. Individualiste radicale et éclairée, Fourest promeut l’abolition de toutes les différences, de toutes les frontières, de tous les genres, bref, de toutes les spécificités essentielles qui donnent au monde sa complexité. Cette zélatrice de la théocratie totalitaire des droits de l’homme mérite pleinement d’être considérée comme la quintessence du « Quart-Monde de la pensée ».

Ces quelques convergences établies (il y en a d’autres !), je puis maintenant exposer mes différends avec notre chevau-léger. Je trouve par exemple que sa perception de l’islam est incomplète et maladroite. Un certain anti-islamisme en vigueur dans les milieux « identitaires » témoigne un aveuglement certain et d’une défaillance évidente de stratégie. Il est bien de contester les Quick hallal. Mais il aurait été plus judicieux de condamner l’existence même des fast foods en France et en Europe. On ne peut, à mon humble avis, refuser le tchador, le voile musulman ou la burqa quand on porte soi-même l’uniforme occidental qu’est le jean’s… Comme d’autres, plus ou moins inspirés, Waroch voit l’islam comme un vaste bloc, ignorant ou sous-estimant l’importance des tribus, des peuples, des États et des contentieux qu’ils engendrent. Les mahométans se réfèrent certes à l’Oumma comme les chrétiens se référaient jadis à la Chrétienté médiévale. On sait ce qu’est devenu l’œcumène euro-chrétien. Un même sort attend probablement l’Islam. André Waroch confond enfin islam et immigration. Or j’estime que le danger majeur pour le devenir des Européens reste le fait migratoire, l’islamisation indéniable du continent n’étant que l’effet immédiat de la « colonisation de l’Europe » contre quoi il faut se battre non pas en reprenant les thématiques de la Modernité laïque et décatie, mais en mettant en valeur nos principes d’enracinement, d’autochtonie et d’identité.

Les relations entre l’Europe et la Russie constituent un autre point d’achoppement. André Waroch est un russophile affirmé et voit, comme naguère Jean Cau dans son Discours de la décadence (2), dans la patrie de Poutine l’ultime recours des peuples autochtones d’Europe. Or il déclare aussi que la Russie et le monde orthodoxe forment une autre civilisation européenne, une civilisation jumelle mais distincte. Là encore, je reste dubitatif sur l’unité civilisationnelle de l’Orthodoxie. Moscou peut jouer de son nombre, mais il doit prendre en compte la susceptibilité des autres patriarcats dont ceux de Constantinople, d’Athènes, de Pec, de Bucarest ou, non reconnu, de Kiev. Par ailleurs, je persiste dans mon scepticisme au sujet d’une Russie, hypothétique sauveuse de l’Europe en déclin. Quand on consulte les essais de Jean-Robert Raviot (3), on constate que le Kremlin pourrait, un jour ou l’autre, se rallier à l’hyper-classe mondialiste. Qu’André Waroch se méfie des enthousiasmes à la fois géopolitistes et impolitiques !

Contre l’idéologie républicaine hexagonale, faut-il néanmoins revenir à une identité néo-gauloise ou celtique comme le souhaite Waroch le bien nommé ? Quand on retrace la généalogie de l’idée gauloise, on remarque qu’elle apparaît à la fin du XVIIIe siècle chez des nobles qui s’estimaient héritiers des conquérants francs sur les descendants des Gaulois. Si, malgré une très forte influence de l’Antiquité gréco-romaine, la Révolution ne s’inspire guère des Gaulois, ceux-ci retrouvent un regain d’intérêt sous le Second Empire d’un Napoléon III fasciné par Vercingétorix et le site possible d’Alésia, avant que la IIIe République en fasse quasiment ses maîtres tutélaires. Il s’agissait pour les républicains d’alors de se démarquer autant de Rome, matrice de la catholicité, que des Francs perçus comme trop germaniques : seuls les Gaulois montraient une compatibilité avec la laïcité, l’anticléricalisme et la « Revanche ». Certes, dans ces charmants lieux de convivialité, de « vivre-ensemble » et de fraternité que sont les « zones de non-droit », une population soi-disant « stigmatisée » et « victime du racisme institutionnel profond » n’hésite pas à qualifier les derniers Français de souche européenne de « Gaulois », de « Céfrans » ou  de « Fromage blanc »… Plutôt que de revenir à d’anciennes racines, il serait plus approprié de diffuser et de répandre une origine européenne commune, notre origine boréenne.

Rédigé au moment de la guerre de décembre 2008 – janvier 2009 entre le Hamas et Israël dans la Bande de Gaza, « Israël et la prophétie de Theodor Herzl » concerne l’interminable conflit israëlo-arabe. André Waroch n’a jamais caché son souhait d’une entente, voire d’une alliance, entre les « nationalistes » français et/ou européens et les sionistes (ou la communauté juive). Je crains qu’il fasse là fausse route. Je ne me définis pas comme nationaliste : le nationalisme procède de la Modernité et ne répond pas aux défis de notre époque fluide et mouvante. Waroch en est lui-même conscient puisqu’il observe le délitement irrémédiable de l’État-nation. Ensuite, on ne peut pas assimiler le sionisme au judaïsme et l’hostilité à Israël à de l’antisémitisme. Des juifs traditionalistes (Neturei Karta ou les Satmar) (4) dénient toute légitimité à l’État hébreux. A contrario, les sionistes les plus fanatiques se recrutent chez les fondamentalistes puritains étatsuniens qui n’en conservent pas moins une forte judéophobie. J’ai l’intime conviction qu’il existe – ou existera à terme – un accord tacite entre certaines franges de l’islam sunnite radical et Israël, car ils partagent la même haine de la civilisation européenne. Sur cette base négative minimale, Tel-Aviv entérinerait sa domination sur la Palestine et l’islam aurait le droit de conquérir notre Vieux Monde. Cela expliquerait pourquoi des groupes ultra-sionistes et les ligues de petite vertu n’ont jamais cessé de condamner tous les mouvements de résistance française et européenne, du raid sanglant au colloque du G.R.E.C.E. de décembre 1979 à l’attaque de la réunion – hommage à Saint-Loup en 1991 en passant par les condamnations judiciaires d’hommes politiques et historiens réfractaires au Diktat ambiant. En outre, comment peut-on être sioniste sur les rives du Jourdain et hostile au moindre patriotisme sur les berges de la Seine, du Tibre, de la Tamise ou de la Moskova ? C’est la raison pour laquelle le mot d’ordre « ni kippa, ni keffieh » reste d’actualité. Comme pour l’Europe, l’avenir du Proche-Orient ne passe ni par une fragmentation d’États minables, ni par le paradigme stato-national épuisé ou la solution fantaisiste d’une entité binationale. Seul, à mes yeux, un grand-espace régional s’étendant du Sinaï au sandjak perdu d’Alexandrette (Iskendenrun en turc) englobant le Liban, la Syrie, la Jordanie, la Palestine et Israël, résoudrait ce lancinant problème. On remarquera que cette vision s’inscrit dans la quête d’une troisième voie salutaire.

Or, dans son avant-propos, André Waroch se réclame du souverainisme européen. Ce serait une belle troisième voie au-delà d’une Europe des nations incapables de s’entendre sur l’essentiel, et de l’Europe de Bruxelles qui se singularise par une absence abyssale de volonté politique et une profusion de visages (présidences tournante semestrielle, du Conseil européen, de la Commission, de l’Euro-Groupe…) témoignant de leur impuissance congénitale. Il espère exposer ses idées sur ce point précis dans un prochain ouvrage et paraît pour l’instant en pleine recherche. Je puis lui annoncer dès à présent qu’il existe déjà une idée qui rejaillira tôt ou tard sous la pression d’événements terrifiants : c’est la notion traditionnelle, anti-moderne et post-moderne d’Empire ! Allez, Cher André Waroch, encore des efforts pour devenir un héraut gibelin, un Français d’Europe et un Gaulois d’Empire ! N’oubliez pas que « la vraie source des larmes n’est pas la tristesse, mais la grandeur (5) ». Il importera après, une fois ses larmes séchées, que l’Europe – notre Europe des peuples autochtones – s’arme.

Georges Feltin-Tracol

Notes

1 : André Waroch, France Terminus, 2008, 64 p., format Word. Ouvrage seulement consultable sur demande gratuite à Europe Maxima.

2 : Jean Cau, Discours de la décadence, Copernic, 1978.

3 : Jean-Robert Raviot, Qui dirige la Russie ?, Lignes-de-Repères, 2007, et Démocratie à la russe. Pouvoir et contre-pouvoir en Russie, Ellipses, 2008.

4 : Issus d’une scission en 1938, les Neturei Karta sont des juifs ultra-orthodoxes qui entendent respecter scrupuleusement la halakha (loi religieuse orthodoxe juive). Estimant que seul le Messie a le droit de restaurer Israël, ils pratiquent un antisionisme militant souvent plus radical que celui des Satmar. Partageant le même antisionisme, les Satmar sont des juifs hassidiques issus de la Transylvanie au début du XXe siècle. Ils n’hésitent toutefois pas à vivre en Israël sans servir dans Tshahal, reconnaître le système judiciaire, payer des impôts ou accepter les aides sociales.

5 : Pierre Gripari, Reflets et réflexes, L’Âge d’Homme, 1983, p. 29.

André Waroch, Les Larmes d’Europe, Le Polémarque Éditions, 2010, préface de Georges Feltin-Tracol, 118 p., 12 € (frais de port de 4 €).

À commander par la Poste aux Éditions Le Polémarque, 29, rue des Jardiniers, 54 000 Nancy, France, accompagné d’un chèque bancaire à l’ordre de « Laurent Schang – Le Polémarque Éditions » ou par courriel à <lepolemarque@gmail.com>.


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vendredi, 17 décembre 2010

D. H. Lawrence on Men & Women

D. H. Lawrence on Men & Women

Derek HAWTHORNE

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

1. Love and Strife

Lawrence.jpgIn a 1913 letter D. H. Lawrence writes that “it is the problem of to-day, the establishment of a new relation, or the readjustment of the old one, between men and women.” Lawrence’s views about relations between the sexes, and about sex differences are perhaps his most controversial – and they have frequently been misrepresented. But before we delve into those views, let us ask why it should be the case that establishing a new relation between men and women is “the problem of to-day.” The reason is fairly obvious. The species divides itself into male and female, reproduces itself thereby, and the overwhelming majority of human beings seek their fulfillment in a relationship to the opposite sex. If relations between the sexes have somehow been crippled—as Lawrence believes they have been—then this is a catastrophe. It is hard to imagine a greater, more pressing problem.

Lawrence came to relations with women bearing serious doubts about his own manhood, and with the conviction that his nature was fundamentally androgynous. Throughout his life, but especially as a boy, it was easier for him to relate to women and to form close bonds with them. Thus, when Lawrence discusses the nature of woman he draws not only upon his experiences with women, but also upon his understanding of his own nature. One of the questions we must examine is whether, in doing so, Lawrence was led astray. After all, Lawrence eventually came to repudiate the idea of any sort of fundamental androgyny and to claim that men and women are radically different. In Fantasia of the Unconscious he writes, “We are all wrong when we say there is no vital difference between the sexes.” Lawrence wrote this in 1921 intending it to be provocative, but it is surely much more controversial in today’s world, where it has become a dogma in some circles to insist that sex differences (now called “gender differences”) are “socially constructed.” Lawrence continues: “There is every difference. Every bit, every cell in a boy is male, every cell is female in a woman, and must remain so. Women can never feel or know as men do. And in the reverse, men can never feel and know, dynamically, as women do.”

Lawrence saw relations between the sexes as essentially a war. He tells us in his essay “Love” that all love between men and women is “dual, a love which is the motion of melting, fusing together into oneness, and a love which is the intense, frictional, and sensual gratification of being burnt down, burnt into separate clarity of being, unthinkable otherness and separateness.” The love between men and women is a fusing—or a will to fusing—but one that never fully takes place because the relation is also fundamentally frictional. Again and again Lawrence emphasizes the idea that men and women are metaphysically different. In other words, they have different, and even opposed ways of being in the world. They are not just anatomically different; they have different ways of thinking and feeling, and achieve satisfaction and fulfillment in life through different means.

Lawrence’s view of the difference between the sexes can be fruitfully compared to the Chinese theory of yin and yang.  These concepts are of great antiquity, but the way in which they are generally understood today is the product of an ambitious intellectual synthesis that took place under the early Han dynasty (207 B.C.–9 A.D.). According to this philosophy, the universe is shot through with an ultimate principle or power known as the Tao. However, the Tao divides itself into two opposing principles, yin and yang. These oppose yet complement each other. Yang manifests itself in maleness, hardness, harshness, dominance, heat, light, and the sun, amongst other things. Yin manifests itself in femaleness, softness, gentleness, yielding, cold, darkness, the moon, etc.

Contrary to the impression these lists might give, however, yang is not regarded as “superior” to yin; hardness is not superior to softness, nor is dominance superior to yielding. Each requires the other and cannot exist without the other. In certain situations a yang approach or condition is to be preferred, in others a yin approach. On occasion, yang may predominate to the point where it becomes harmful, and it must be counterbalanced by yin, or vice versa. (These principles are of central importance, for example, in traditional Chinese medicine.) The Tao Te Ching, a work written by a man chiefly for men extols the virtues of yin, and continually advises one to choose yin ways over yang. Lao-Tzu tells us over and over that it is “best to be like water,” that “those who control, fail. Those who grasp, lose,” and that “soft and weak overcome stiff and strong.”

Like the Taoists, Lawrence regards maleness and femaleness as opposed, yet complementary. It is not the case that the male, or the male way of being, is superior to the female, or vice versa. In a sense the sexes are equal, yet equality does not mean sameness. The error of male chauvinism is in thinking that one way, the male way, is superior; that dominance and hardness are just “obviously” superior to their opposites.

Yet the same error is committed by some who call themselves feminists. Tacitly, they assume that the male or yang characteristics are superior, and enjoin women to seek fulfillment in life through cultivating those traits in themselves. To those who might wonder whether such a program is possible, to say nothing of desirable, the theory of the “social construction of gender” is today being offered as support. According to this view, the only inherent differences between men and women are anatomical, and all of the intellectual, emotional, and behavioral characteristics attributed to the sexes throughout history have actually been the product of culture and environment. (And so “yin and yang,” according to this view, is really a rather naïve philosophy which confuses nurture with nature.) Clearly, Lawrence would reject this theory. In doing so, he is on very solid ground.

It would, of course, be foolish not to recognize that some “masculine” and “feminine” traits are culturally conditioned. An obvious example would be the prevailing view in American culture that a truly “masculine” man is unable, without the help of women or gay men, to color-coordinate his wardrobe. However, when one sees certain traits in men and women displaying themselves consistently in all cultures and throughout all of human history it makes sense to speak of masculine and feminine natures. It is plausible to argue that a trait is culturally conditioned only if it shows up in some cultures but not in others. Unfortunately, the “social construction of gender” thesis has achieved the status of a dogma in academic circles. And, in truth, ultimately it has to be asserted as dogma since believing in it requires that we ignore the evidence of human history, profound philosophies such as Taoism, and most of the scientific research into sex differences that has taken place over the last one hundred years.

I said earlier that Lawrence believes men and women to be “metaphysically different,” and in his essay “A Study of Thomas Hardy” he does indeed write as if he believes they actually see the world with a different metaphysics in mind:

It were a male conception to see God with a manifold Being, even though He be One God. For man is ever keenly aware of the multiplicity of things, and their diversity. But woman, issuing from the other end of infinity, coming forth as the flesh, manifest in sensation, is obsessed by the oneness of things, the One Being, undifferentiated. Man, on the other hand, coming forth as the desire to single out one thing from another, to reduce each thing to its intrinsic self by process of elimination, cannot but be possessed by the infinite diversity and contrariety in life, by a passionate sense of isolation, and a poignant yearning to be at one.

So, men seek or are preoccupied with multiplicity, and women with unity. What are we to make of such a bizarre claim? First of all, it seems to run counter to the Greek tradition, especially that of the Pythagoreans, which tended to identify the One with the masculine, and the Many with the feminine. However, if one looks to Empedocles, a pre-Socratic philosopher Lawrence was particularly keen on, one finds a different story. Empedocles posits two fundamental forces which are responsible for all change in the universe: Love and Strife. Love, at the purely physical level, is a force of attraction. It draws things together, and without the intervention of Strife it would result in a monistic universe in which only one being existed. Strife breaks up and divides. It is a force of repulsion and separation. Now, Empedocles seems to identify Love with Aphrodite, and we may infer, though he does not say so, that Strife is Ares. In other words, he identifies his two forces with the archetypal female and male. This can offer us a clue as to what Lawrence is up to.

In Lawrence’s view, it is the female who wants to draw things, especially people, together. It is the female who yearns to heal divisions, to break down barriers. “Coming forth as the flesh, manifest in sensation” she seeks to overcome separateness through feeling, primarily through love. In the family situation, it is the female who tries to unite and overcome discord through love, whereas it is the male, typically, who frustrates this through the insistence on rules and distinctions. The ideal of universal love and an end to strife and division is fundamentally feminine—one which men, throughout history, have continually frustrated. It is characteristic of men to make war, and characteristic of women, no matter what cause or principle is involved, to object and to call for peace and unity.

Now the male, as Lawrence puts it, suffers from a sense of isolation, and a “yearning to be one.” He yearns for oneness, in fact, as the male yearns for the female. Yet his entire being disposes him to see the world in terms of its distinctness, and, indeed, to make a world rife with distinctions. Lawrence implies that polytheism is a “male” religion, and monotheism a “female” one. It is easy to see the logic involved in this. Polytheism sees the divine being that permeates the world as many because the world is itself many. Further, societies with polytheistic religions have always been keenly aware of ethnic and social differences, differences within the society (as in the Indian caste system), and between societies. Monotheism, on the other hand, tends toward universalism. Christianity especially, however it has actually been practiced, declares all men equal in the sight of God and calls for peace and unity in the world. (Lawrence, as we shall see later on, does indeed regard Christianity as a “feminine” religion, and blames it, in part, for feminizing Western men.)

This fundamental, metaphysical difference has the consequence that men and women do, in a real sense, live in different worlds. But perhaps such a formulation reflects a male bias towards differentiation. It is equally correct to say, in a more “feminine” formulation, that it is the same world seen in two, complementary ways. Indeed, it may be the case that it is difficult to see, from a male perspective, how the two sexes and their different ways of thinking and perceiving can achieve a rapprochement. Lawrence believes, of course, that they can live together, and that their opposite tendencies can be harmonized. In this way he is like Heraclitus, Lawrence’s favorite pre-Socratic, when he says “what is opposed brings together; the finest harmony is composed of things at variance, and everything comes to be in accordance with strife.” Heraclitus also tells us that “They do not understand how, though at variance with itself, it [the Logos] agrees with itself. It is a backwards-turning attunement like that of the bow and lyre.” In order to make a lyre or a bow, the two opposite ends of a piece of wood must be bent towards each other, never meeting, but held in tension. Their tension and opposition makes possible beautiful music, in the case of the lyre, and the propulsion of an arrow, in the case of the bow. Both involve a harmony through opposition.

In a 1923 newspaper interview Lawrence is quoted as saying “If men were left to themselves, they would rush off . . . into destruction. But women keep life back at its own center. They pull the men back. Women have enormous passive strength, the strength of inertia.” Here Lawrence uses an image he was very fond of: women are at the center, the hub. This is because they are closer to “the source” than men are.

womeninlove.jpgIn Fantasia of the Unconscious, Lawrence tells us “The blood-consciousness and the blood-passion is the very source and origin of us. Not that we can stay at the source. Nor even make a goal of the source, as Freud does. The business of living is to travel away from the source. But you must start every single day fresh from the source. You must rise every day afresh out of the dark sea of the blood.” Lawrence believes that men yearn for purposive, creative activity, which involves moving away from the source. However, the energy and inspiration for purposive activity is drawn from the source, and so there is a complementary movement back towards it.

In The Rainbow, Lawrence describes how Tom Brangwen, besotted with his wife, seems to lose himself in a sensual obsession with her, and with knowing her sexually. But gradually,

Brangwen began to find himself free to attend to the outside life as well. His intimate life was so violently active, that it set another man in him free. And this new man turned with interest to public life, to see what part he could take in it. This would give him scope for new activity, activity of a kind for which he was now created and released. He wanted to be unanimous with the whole of purposive mankind.

Sex is one means of contacting the source. Men contact the source through women. This does not mean, of course, that blood-consciousness is in women but not in men. Rather, it means that in most men the blood-consciousness in them is “activated” primarily through their relationship to women. Second, in women blood-consciousness is more dominant than it is in men. Women are more intuitive than men; they operate more on the basis of feeling than intellect. It should not be necessary to point out that whereas such an observation might, in another author, be taken as a denigration of women, in Lawrence it is actually high praise. Women are also much more in tune with their bodies and bodily cycles than men are. Men tend to see their bodies as adversaries that must be whipped into shape.

When Lawrence continually tells us that we must find a way to reawaken the blood-consciousness in us, he is writing primarily for men. Women are already there—or, at least, they can get there with less effort. There is an old adage: “Women are, but men must become.” To be feminine is a constant state that a woman has as her birthright. Masculinity, on the other hand, is something men must achieve and prove. Rousseau in Emile states “The male is male only at certain moments, the female is female all of her life, or at least all her youth.” We exhort boys to “be a man,” but never does one hear girls told to “be a woman.” One can compliment a man simply by saying “he’s a man,” whereas “she’s a woman” seems mere statement of fact. The psychological difference between masculinity and femininity mirrors the biological fact that all fetuses begin as female; something must happen to them in order to make them male. It also articulates what is behind the strange conviction many men have had, including many great poets and artists, that woman is somehow the keeper of life’s mysteries; the one closest to the well-spring of nature.

In “A Study of Thomas Hardy,” Lawrence states that “in a man’s life, the female is the swivel and centre on which he turns closely, producing his movement.” Goethe tells us “Das ewig Weiblich zieht uns hinan” (“The Eternal Feminine draws us onwards”). The female, the male’s source of the source, stands at the center of his life. The woman as personification of the life mystery entices him to come together with her, and through their coupling the life mystery perpetuates itself. But he is not, ultimately, satisfied by this coupling. He goes forth into the world, his body renewed by his contact with the woman, but full of desire to know this mystery more adequately, and to be its vehicle through creative expression.

Without a woman, a man feels unmoored and ungrounded, for without a woman he has no center in his life. A man—a heterosexual man—can never feel fulfilled and can never reach his full potential without a woman to whom he can turn. As to homosexual men, it is a well-known fact that many cultivate in themselves characteristics that have been traditionally usually associated with woman: refined taste in clothing and decoration, cooking, gardening, etc. What these characteristics have in common is connectedness to the pleasures of the moment, and to the rhythms and necessities of life. Men are normally purpose-driven and future-oriented. They tend to overlook those aspects of life that please, but lack any greater purpose other than pleasing. They tend, therefore, to be somewhat insensitive to their surroundings, to color, to texture, to odor, to taste. They tend, in short, to be so focused upon doing, that they miss out on being. Heterosexual men look to women to ground them, and to provide these ingredients to life—ingredients which, in truth, make life livable. Homosexual men must make a woman within themselves, in order to be grounded. (This does not mean, however, that they must become effeminate – see my review essay of Jack Donovan’s Androphilia for more details.)

Homosexual men are, of course, the exception not the rule. Lawrence writes, of the typical man, “Let a man walk alone on the face of the earth, and he feels himself like a loose speck blown at random. Let him have a woman to whom he belongs, and he will feel as though he had a wall to back up against; even though the woman be mentally a fool.” And what of the woman? What does she desire? Lawrence tells us that “the vital desire of every woman is that she shall be clasped as axle to the hub of the man, that his motion shall portray her motionlessness, convey her static being into movement, complete and radiating out into infinity, starting from her stable eternality, and reaching eternity again, after having covered the whole of time.” Man is the “doer,” the actor, whereas woman need do nothing. Just by being woman she becomes the center of a man’s universe.

The dark side of this, in Lawrence’s view, is a tendency in women towards possessiveness, and towards wanting to make themselves not just the center of a man’s life but his sole concern. In Women in Love, Lawrence’s describes at length Rupert Birkin’s process of wrestling with this aspect of femininity:

But it seemed to him, woman was always so horrible and clutching, she had such a lust for possession, a greed of self-importance in love. She wanted to have, to own, to control, to be dominant. Everything must be referred back to her, to Woman, the Great Mother of everything, out of whom proceeded everything and to whom everything must finally be rendered up.

Birkin sees these qualities in Ursula, with whom he is in love. “She too was the awful, arrogant queen of life, as if she were a queen bee on whom all the rest depended.” He feels she wants, in a way, to worship him, but “to worship him as a woman worships her own infant, with a worship of perfect possession.”

Woman’s possessiveness is understandable given that the man is necessary to her well-being: she is only happy if she is center to the orbit and activity of some man. Again, for Lawrence, such a claim does not denigrate women, for he has already as much as said that a man is nothing without a woman. Nevertheless, some will see in this view of men and woman a sexism that places the man above the woman. From Lawrence’s perspective, this is illusory. It is true that the man is “doer,” but his perpetual need to act and to do stands in stark contrast to the woman, who need do nothing in order be who she is. It is true, further, that men’s ambition has given them power in the world, but it is a power that is nothing compared to that of the woman, who exercises her power without having to do anything. She reigns, without ruling. The man does what he does, but must return to the woman, and is “like a loose speck blown at random without her” – and he knows this. Much of misogyny may have to do with this. From the man’s perspective, the woman is all-powerful, and the source of her power a mystery.

Many modern feminists, however, conceive of power in an entirely male way, as the active power of doing. Lawrence recognized that in trying to cultivate this male power within themselves, women do not rise in the estimation of most men. Instead they are diminished, for men’s respect for and fascination with women springs entirely from the fact that unlike themselves women do not have to chase after an ideal of who they ought to be; they do not have to get caught up in the rat race in order to respect themselves. They can simply be; they can live, and take joy just in living.

One can make a rough distinction between two types of feminism. The most familiar type is what one might call the “woman on the street feminism,” which one encounters from average, working women, and which they imbibe from television, films, and magazines. This feminism essentially has as its aim claiming for women all that which formerly had been the province of men—including not only traditionally male jobs, but even male ways of speaking, moving, dressing, bonding, exercising, and displaying sexual interest. Ironically, this form of feminism is at root a form of masculinism, which makes traditionally masculine traits the hallmarks of the “liberated” or self-actualized human being.

The other type of feminism is usually to be found only in academia, though not all academic feminists subscribe to it. It insists that women have their own ways of thinking, feeling, and relating to others. Feminist philosophers have written of woman’s “ways of knowing” as distinct from men’s, and have even put forward the idea that women approach ethical decision-making in a markedly different way. It is this form of feminism to which Lawrence is closest. Lawrence’s writings are concerned with liberating both men and women from the tyranny of a modern civilization which cuts them off from their true natures. Liberation for modern women cannot mean becoming like modern men, for modern men are living in a condition of spiritual (as well as wage) slavery. In an essay on feminism, Wendell Berry writes

It is easy enough to see why women came to object to the role of [the comic strip character] Blondie, a mostly decorative custodian of a degraded, consumptive modern household, preoccupied with clothes, shopping, gossip, and outwitting her husband. But are we to assume that one may fittingly cease to be Blondie by becoming Dagwood? Is the life of a corporate underling—even acknowledging that corporate underlings are well paid—an acceptable end to our quest for human dignity and worth? . . . How, I am asking, can women improve themselves by submitting to the same specialization, degradation, trivialization, and tyrannization of work that men have submitted to? [Wendell Berry, “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine,” in The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, ed. Norman Wirzba (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2002), 69–70.]

I will return to this issue later.

Having now characterized, in broad strokes, Lawrence’s views on the differences between men and woman, I now turn to a more detailed discussion of each.

2. The Nature of Man

As we have seen, Lawrence believes that men (most men) need to have a woman in their lives. Their relationship to a woman serves to ground their lives, and to provide the man not only with a respite from the woes of the world, but with energy and inspiration. However, this is not the same thing as saying that the man makes the woman, or his relationship to her, the purpose of his life. In Fantasia of the Unconscious Lawrence writes, “When he makes the sexual consummation the supreme consummation, even in his secret soul, he falls into the beginnings of despair. When he makes woman, or the woman and child, the great centre of life and of life-significance, he falls into the beginnings of despair.” This is because Lawrence believes that true satisfaction for men can come only from some form of creative, purposive activity outside the family.

women1.jpgHaving a woman is therefore a necessary but not a sufficient condition for male happiness. In addition to a woman, he must have a purpose. Women, on the other hand, do not require a purpose beyond the home and the family in order to be happy. This is another of those claims that will rankle some, so let us consider two important points about what Lawrence has said. First, he is speaking of what he believes the typical woman is like, just as he is speaking of the typical man. There are at least a few exceptions to just about every generalization. Second, we must ask an absolutely crucial question of those who regard such claims as demeaning women: why is being occupied with home and family lesser than having a purpose (e.g., a career) outside the home? The argument could be made—and I think Lawrence would be sympathetic to this—that the traditional female role of making a home and raising children is just as important and possibly more important than the male activities pursued outside the home. Again, much of contemporary feminism sees things from a typically male point of view, and denigrates women who choose motherhood rather than one of the many meaningless, ulcer-producing careers that have long been the province of men.

Lawrence writes, “Primarily and supremely man is always the pioneer of life, adventuring onward into the unknown, alone with his own temerarious, dauntless soul. Woman for him exists only in the twilight, by the camp fire, when day has departed. Evening and the night are hers.” Lawrence’s male bias creeps in here a bit, as he romanticizes the “dauntless” male soul. Men and women always believe, in their heart of hearts, that their ways are superior. Nevertheless, Lawrence is not here relegating women to an inferior position. Half of life is spent in the evening and night. Day belongs to the man, night to the woman. It is a division of labor. Lawrence is drawing here, as he frequently does, on traditional mythological themes: the man is solar, the woman lunar.

Lawrence characterizes the man’s pioneering activity as follows: “It is the desire of the human male to build a world: not ‘to build a world for you, dear’; but to build up out of his own self and his own belief and his own effort something wonderful. Not merely something useful. Something wonderful.” In other words, the man’s primary purpose is not having or doing any of the “practical” things that a wife and a family require. And when he acts on a larger scale—Lawrence gives building the Panama Canal as an example—it is not with the end in mind of making a world in which wives and babes can be more comfortable and secure (“a world for you, dear”). He seeks to make his mark on the world; to bring something glorious into existence. And so men create culture: games, religions, rituals, dances, artworks, poetry, music, and philosophy. Wars are fought, ultimately, for the same reason. It is probably true, as is often asserted, that every war has some kind of economic motivation. However, it is probably also true to assert that in the case of just about every actual war there was another, more cost-effective alternative. Men make war for the same reason they climb mountains, jump out of airplanes, race cars, and run with the bulls: for the challenge, and the fame and glory and exhilaration that goes with meeting the challenge. It is an aspect of male psychology that most women find baffling, and even contemptible.

Now, curiously, Lawrence refers to this “impractical,” purposive motive of the male as an “essentially religious or creative motive.” What can he mean by this? Specifically, why does he characterize it as a religious motive?

It is religious because it involves the pursuit of something that is beyond the ordinary and the familiar. It is a leap into the unknown. The man has to follow what Lawrence frequently calls the “Holy Ghost” within himself and to try to make something within the world. He yearns always for the yet-to-be, the yet-to-be-realized, and always has his eye on the future, on what is in process of coming to be. Yet there seems to be, at least on the surface, a strange inconsistency in Lawrence’s characterization of the man’s motive as religious. After all, for Lawrence the life mystery, the source of being is religious object—and women are closer to this source. Man is entranced by woman, and with her he helps to propagate this power in the world through sex, but his sense of “purpose” causes him to move away from the source. So why isn’t it the woman whose “motives” are religious, and the man who is, in effect, irreligious?

The answer is that religion is not being at the source: it is directedness toward the source. Religion is possible only because of a lack or an absence in the human soul. Religion is ultimately a desire to put oneself at-one with the source. But this is possible only if one is not, originally or most of the time, at one with it. In a way, the woman is not fundamentally religious because she is the goddess, the source herself. The sexual longing of the man for the woman, and his utter inability ever to fully satisfy his desire and to resolve the mystery that is woman, are a kind of small-scale allegory for man’s large-scale, religious relationship to the source of being itself. He is, as I have said, renewed by his relations with women and, for a time, satisfied. But then he goes forth into the world with a desire for something, something. He creates, and when he does he is acting to exalt the life mystery (religion and art), to understand it (philosophy and science), or to further it (invention and production).

Lawrence speaks of how a man must put his wife “under the spell of his fulfilled decision.” Woman, who rules over the night, draws man to her and they become one through sex. Man, who rules the day, draws woman into his purpose, his aim in life, and through this they become one in another fashion. The man’s purpose does not become the woman’s purpose. He pursues this alone. But if the woman simply believes in him and what he aims to do, she becomes a tremendous source of support for the man, and she gives herself a reason for being. The man needs the woman as center, as hub of his life, and the woman needs to play this role for some man. Without a mate, though a man may set all sorts of purposes before him, ultimately they seem meaningless. He feels a sense of hollow emptiness, and drifts into despair. He lets his appearance go, and lives in squalor. He may become an alcoholic and a misogynist. He dies much sooner than his married friends, often by his own hand. As to the woman, without a man who has set himself some purpose that she can believe in, she assumes the male role and tries to find fulfillment through some kind of busy activity in the world. But as she pursues this, she feels increasingly bitter and hard, and a terrific rage begins to seethe beneath her placid surface. She becomes a troublemaker and a prude. Increasingly angry at men, she makes a virtue of necessity and declares herself emancipated from them. She collects pets.

In Studies in Classic American Literature Lawrence writes:

As a matter of fact, unless a woman is held, by man, safe within the bounds of belief, she becomes inevitably a destructive force. She can’t help herself. A woman is almost always vulnerable to pity. She can’t bear to see anything physically hurt. But let a woman loose from the bounds and restraints of man’s fierce belief, in his gods and in himself, and she becomes a gentle devil.

If a woman is to be the hub in the life a man, and derive satisfaction from that, everything depends on the spirit of the man. A few lines later in the same text Lawrence states, “Unless a man believes in himself and his gods, genuinely: unless he fiercely obeys his own Holy Ghost; his woman will destroy him. Woman is the nemesis of doubting man.” In order for the woman to believe in a man, the man must believe in himself and his purpose. If he is filled with self-doubt, the woman will doubt him. If he lacks the strength to command himself, he cannot command her respect and devotion. And the trouble with modern men is that they are filled with self-doubt and lack the courage of their convictions.

Lawrence, following Nietzsche, in part blames Christianity for weakening modern, Western men. Men are potent—sexually and otherwise—to the extent they are in tune with the life force. But Christianity has “spiritualized” men. It has filled their heads with hatred of the body, and of strength, instinct, and vitality. It has infected them with what Lawrence calls the “love ideal,” which demands, counter to every natural impulse, that men love everyone and regard everyone as their equal.

Frequently in his fiction Lawrence depicts relationships in which the woman has turned against the man because he is, in effect, spiritually emasculated. The most dramatic and symbolically obvious example of this is the relationship of Clifford and Connie  in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Clifford returns from the First World War paralyzed from the waist down. But like the malady of the Grail King in Wolfram’s Parzival, this is only (literarily speaking) an outward, physical expression of an inward, psychic emasculation. Clifford is far too sensible a man to allow himself to be overcome by any great passion, so the loss of his sexual powers is not so dear. He has a keen, cynical wit and believes that he has seen through passion and found it not as great a thing as poets say that it is. It is his spiritual condition that drives Connie away from him, not so much his physical one. And so she wanders into the game preserve on their estate (representing the small space of “wildness” that still can rise up within civilization) and into the arms of Mellors, the gamekeeper. Their subsequent relationship becomes a hot, corporeal refutation of Clifford’s philosophy.

In Women in Love, Gerald Crich, the industrial magnate, is destroyed by Gudrun essentially because he does not believe in himself. Outwardly, he is “the God of the machine.” But his mastery of the material world is meaningless busywork, and he knows it. Gudrun is drawn to him because of this outward appearance of power, but when she finds that it is an illusion she hates him, and ultimately drives him to his death. For Lawrence, this is an allegory of the modern relationship between the sexes. Men today are masters of the material universe as they have never been before, but inside they are anxious and empty. The reason is that these “materialists” are profoundly afraid of and hostile to matter and nature, especially their own. Their intellect and “will to power” has cut them off from the life force and they are, in their deepest selves, impotent. The women know this, and scorn them.

In The Rainbow, Winifred Inger is Ursula’s teacher (with whom she has a brief affair), and an early feminist. She tells Ursula at one point,

The men will do no more,–they have lost the capacity for doing. . . .  They fuss and talk, but they are really inane. They make everything fit into an old, inert idea. Love is a dead idea to them. They don’t come to one and love one, they come to an idea, and they say “You are my idea,” so they embrace themselves. As if I were any man’s idea! As if I exist because a man has an idea of me! As if I will be betrayed by him, lend him my body as an instrument for his idea, to be a mere apparatus of his dead theory. But they are too fussy to be able to act; they are all impotent, they can’t take a woman. They come to their own idea every time, and take that. They are like serpents trying to swallow themselves because they are hungry.”

In Fantasia of the Unconscious Lawrence writes, “If man will never accept his own ultimate being, his final aloneness, and his last responsibility for life, then he must expect woman to dash from disaster to disaster, rootless and uncontrolled.”

It is important to understand here that the issue is not one of power. Lawrence’s point not that men must dominate or control their wives. In fact, in a late essay entitled “Matriarchy” (originally published as “If Women Were Supreme”) Lawrence actually advocates rule by women, at least in the home, because he believes it would liberate men. He assumes the truth of the claim—now in disrepute—that early man had lived in matriarchal societies and writes, “the men seem to have been lively sorts, hunting and dancing and fighting, while the woman did the drudgery and minded the brats. . . . A woman deserves to possess her own children and have them called by her name. As to the household furniture and the bit of money in the bank, it seems naturally hers.” The man, in such a situation, is not the slave of the woman because the man is “first and foremost an active, religious member of the tribe.” The man’s real life is not in the household, but in creative activity, and religious activity:

The real life of the man is not spent in his own little home, daddy in the bosom of the family, wheeling the perambulator on Sundays. His life is passed mainly in the khiva, the great underground religious meeting-house where only the males assemble, where the sacred practices of the tribe are carried on; then also he is away hunting, or performing the sacred rites on the mountains, or he works in the fields.

Men, Lawrence tells us, have social and religious needs which can only be satisfied apart from women. The disaster of modern marriage is that men not only think they have to rule the roost, but they accept the woman’s insistence that he have no needs or desires that cannot be satisfied through his relationship to her. He becomes master of his household, and slave to it at the same time:

Now [man’s] activity is all of the domestic order and all his thought goes to proving that nothing matters except that birth shall continue and woman shall rock in the nest of this globe like a bird who covers her eggs in some tall tree. Man is the fetcher, the carrier, the sacrifice, and the reborn of woman. . . . Instead of being assertive and rather insentient, he becomes wavering and sensitive. He begins to have as many feelings—nay, more than a woman. His heroism is all in altruistic endurance. He worships pity and tenderness and weakness, even in himself. In short, he takes on very largely the original role of woman.

Ironically, in accepting such a situation without a fight, he only earns the woman’s contempt: “Almost invariably a [modern] married woman, as she passes the age of thirty, conceives a dislike, or a contempt, of her husband, or a pity which is near to contempt. Particularly if he is a good husband, a true modern.”

3. The Nature of Woman

In Fantasia of the Unconscious Lawrence writes, “Women will never understand the depth of the spirit of purpose in man, his deeper spirit. And man will never understand the sacredness of feeling to woman. Each will play at the other’s game, but they will remain apart.” But what is meant by “feeling” here? Lawrence is referring again to his belief that women live, to a greater extent than men, from the primal self. In the case of most men today, “mind-consciousness” and reason are dominant—to the point where they are frequently detached from “blood-consciousness” and feeling.

In describing the nature of woman Lawrence once again draws on perennial symbols: “Woman is really polarized downwards, towards the centre of the earth. Her deep positivity is in the downward flow, the moon-pull.” The sun represents man, and the moon woman. Day belongs to him, and night to her. However, another set of mythic images associates the earth with woman and the sky with man. The “pull” in women is towards the earth, and this means several things. First, the earth is the source of chthonic powers, and so, as poetic metaphor, it represents the primal, pre-mental, animal aspect in human beings. In a literal sense, however, Lawrence believes that women are more in tune than men with chthonic powers: with the rhythms of nature and the cycle of seasons. Further, the “downward flow” refers to Lawrence’s belief that the lower “centres” of the body are, in a sense, more primitive, more instinctual than the upper, and that women tend to live and act from these centers more than men do. Lawrence writes, “Her deepest consciousness is in the loins and belly. . . . The great flow of female consciousness is downwards, down to the weight of the loins and round the circuit of the feet.”

Finally, to be “polarized downwards, towards the centre of the earth” means to have one’s life, one’s vital being fixed in reference to a central point. If Lawrence intends us to assume that man is polarized upwards then we may ask, toward what? If woman is oriented towards the center of the earth, then–following the logic of the mythic categories–is man oriented toward the center of the sky? But the sky has no center. Man is less fixed than woman; he is a wanderer. He is a hunter, a seeker, a pioneer, an adventurer. Woman, on the other hand, lives from the axis of the world. Mircea Eliade writes that “the religious man sought to live as near as possible to the Center of the World.” Woman is at the center. Man begins there, then goes off. He returns again and again, the phallic power in him rising in response to the chthonic power of the woman. And his religious response is an ongoing effort to bring his daytime self into line with the life force he experiences when in the arms of the woman.

Woman, Lawrence tells us, “is a flow, a river of life,” and this flow is fundamentally different from the man’s river. However, “The woman is like an idol, or a marionette, always forced to play one role or another: sweetheart, mistress, wife, mother.” The mind of the male is built to analyze and categorize. But the nature of woman, like the nature of nature itself, defies categorization. Even before Bacon, man’s response to nature was to force it to yield up its secrets, to bend it to the human will, or to see it only within the narrow parameters of whatever theory was fashionable at the moment. The male mind attempts to do this to woman as well–and the woman, to a great extent, cooperates. She fits herself into the roles expected of her by authority figures, whether it is dutiful daughter-sister-wife-mother, or dutiful feminist and career-woman.

Lawrence writes, “The real trouble about women is that they must always go on trying to adapt themselves to men’s theories of women, as they always have done.” Two opposing wills exist in women, Lawrence believes: a will to conform or to submit, and a will to reject all boundaries and be free. In Women in Love, Birkin compares women to horses:

“And of course,” he said to Gerald, “horses haven’t got a complete will, like human beings. A horse has no one will. Every horse, strictly, has two wills. With one will, it wants to put itself in the human power completely—and with the other, it wants to be free, wild. The two wills sometimes lock—you know that, if ever you’ve felt a horse bolt, while you’ve been driving it. . . . And woman is the same as horses: two wills act in opposition inside her. With one will, she wants to subject herself utterly. With the other she wants to bolt, and pitch her rider to perdition.”

Ursula, who is present at this exchange, laughs and responds “Then I’m a bolter.” The trouble is that she is not.

Lawrence’s fiction is filled with vivid portrayals of women (arguably much more vivid and well-drawn than his portrayals of men). The central characters in several of his novels are women (The Rainbow, The Lost Girl, The Plumed Serpent, and Lady Chatterley’s Lover). All of Lawrence’s major female characters exhibit these two wills, but frequently he presents pairs of women each of whom represents one of the wills. This is the case in Women in Love. Ultimately, in Ursula’s character the will to surrender emerges as dominant. In her sister Gudrun the will to be free and wild dominates, with tragic results. In Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Connie Chatterley exhibits the will to surrender, and her sister Hilda the will to be free. The two lesbians in Lawrence’s novella The Fox are cut from the same cloth. Similar pairs of women also crop up in Lawrence’s short stories. In each case, one woman learns the joys of submitting, not to a man but to the earth, to nature, to the life mystery within her. The man is a means to this, however. The best example of this in Lawrence’s fiction is probably Connie Chatterley’s journey to awakening. In John Thomas and Lady Jane, an earlier version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Lawrence has Connie speak of the significance of her lover and of his penis: “I know it was the penis which really put the evening stars into my inside self. I used to look at the evening star, and think how lovely and wonderful it was. But now it’s in me as well as outside me, and I need hardly look at it. I am it. I don’t care what you say, it was penis gave it me.” As to the other woman in Lawrence’s fiction, she tends to be horrified by the primal self in her, and its call to surrender. She lives from the ego. She rages against anything in her nature that is unchosen, and against anything else that would hem her in, especially any man. She views herself as “realistic” and hardheaded, but the general impression she gives is of being hardhearted and sterile.

In his portrayals of the latter type of woman, Lawrence is partly depicting what he believes to be a perennial aspect of the female character, and partly depicting what he regards as the quintessential “modern” woman. It is in the nature of woman to counterbalance the will to submit with an opposing will that “bolts,” and kicks against all that which limits her, including her own nature. Lawrence believes that modern womanhood and all the problems of women today arise from the over-development of that will to freedom.

A “will to freedom” sounds like a good thing, so it is important to realize that essentially what Lawrence means by this is a negative will which tries either to control, or to destroy all that which it cannot control. Lawrence’s critique of modernity is a major topic in itself, but suffice it say that he believes that in the modern period a disavowal of the primal self takes place on a mass, cultural scale. The seeds of this disavowal were sown by Christianity, and reaped by modern scientism, which becomes the avowed enemy of the religion that helped foster it. Individuals live their lives from the standpoint of ego and mental-consciousness, and distrust the blood-consciousness. The negative will in women seizes upon reason and ego-dominance as a means to free herself from the influence of her dark, chthonic self, and from the influence of the men that this dark, chthonic self draws her to. The will to negate, using the mind as its tool, thus becomes the path to “liberation.”

Lawrence writes in Apocalypse:

Today, the best part of womanhood is wrapped tight and tense in the folds of the Logos, she is bodiless, abstract, and driven by a self-determination terrible to behold. A strange ‘spiritual’ creature is woman today, driven on and on by the evil demon of the old Logos, never for a moment allowed to escape and be herself.

And in an essay he writes, “Woman is truly less free today than ever she has been since time began, in the womanly sense of freedom.” This is, of course, exactly the opposite of what is asserted by most pundits today, when they speak of the progress made by woman in the modern era. Why does Lawrence believe that woman is now so unfree? The answer is implied in the quotation from Apocalypse: she is not allowed to be herself.

In Studies in Classic American Literature Lawrence tells us

Men are not free when they are doing just what they like. The moment you can do just what you like, there is nothing you care about doing. Men are only free when they are doing what the deepest self likes.

And there is getting down to the deepest self! It takes some diving.

Because the deepest self is way down, and the conscious self is an obstinate monkey. But of one thing we may be sure. If one wants to be free, one has to give up the illusion of doing what one likes, and seek what IT wishes done.

aaron'srod.jpgWhat Lawrence says here is applicable to both men and women. “To be oneself” in the true sense means to answer to the call of the deepest self. We can only achieve our “fullness of being” if we do so. The mind invents all manner of goals and projects and ideals to be pursued, but ultimately all that we do produces only frustration and emptiness if we act in a way that does not fundamentally satisfy the needs of our deepest, pre-mental, bodily nature.

Lawrence writes further in Apocalypse: “The evil Logos says she must be ‘significant,’ she must ‘make something worth while’ of her life. So on and on she goes, making something worth while, piling up the evil forms of our civilization higher and higher, and never for a second escaping to be wrapped in the brilliant fluid folds of the new green dragon.” Earlier in the same text, Lawrence tells us that “The long green dragon with which we are so familiar on Chinese things is the dragon in his good aspect of life-bringer, life-giver, life-maker, vivifier.” In short, the “green dragon” represents the life force, the source of all, the Pan power. Lawrence is saying that modern woman, in search of something “significant” to do with her life, falls in with all the corrupt (largely, money-driven) pursuits that have brought men nothing but ulcers, emptiness, and early death. “All our present life-forms are evil,” he writes. “But with a persistence that would be angelic if it were not devilish woman insists on the best in life, by which she means the best of our evil life-forms, unable to realize that the best of evil life-forms are the most evil.” Like men, she loses touch with the natural both within herself and in the world surrounding her. Lawrence’s dragon symbolizes both of these: primal nature as such, and the primal nature within me. It is this dragon which Lawrence seeks to awake in himself, and in his readers. The tragedy of modern woman is that she has renounced the dragon, whereas she would be better off being devoured by it.

In John Thomas and Lady Jane Lawrence also links the ideal of fulfilled womanhood to the dragon. Following Connie Chatterley’s musings on the meaning of the phallus (which I quoted earlier), Lawrence writes:

The only thing which had taken her quite away from fear, if only for a night, was the strange gallant phallus looking round in its odd bright godhead, and now the arm of flesh around her, the socket of the hand against her breast, the slow, sleeping thud of the man’s heart against her body. It was all one thing—the mysterious phallic godhead. Now she knew that the worst had happened. This dragon had enfolded her, and its folds were pure gentleness and safety.

Make no mistake, Lawrence believes that women can adopt the ways of men; he believes that they can succeed at traditionally male work. But he believes that they do this at great cost to themselves. “Of all things, the most fatal to a woman is to have an aim,” Lawrence tells us. In general, he believes that the ultimate aim of life is simply living, and that we set a trap for ourselves when we declare that some goal or some ideal shall be the end of life, and believe that this will make life “meaningful.” This applies to men, but even more so to women. Why? Because, again, women are so much closer to the source that men tend to regard women as the life force embodied (“Mother Nature”). For a woman to live for something other than living is to pervert her nature, and her gift. Again, Lawrence’s position is not that a woman is incapable of doing the work of a man, but ultimately she will find it deadening: “The moment woman has got man’s ideals and tricks drilled into her, the moment she is competent in the manly world—there’s an end of it. She’s had enough. She’s had more than enough. She hates the thing she has embraced.”

In our age, many women who have forgone marriage and children in order to pursue a career are discovering this. The body has its own needs and ends, and the organism as a whole cannot flourish and achieve satisfaction unless these needs and ends are satisfied. With some exceptions, women who have chosen not to have children regret it, and suffer in other ways as well (for example, they are at higher risk for developing ovarian cancer than women who have given birth). The same goes for men, many of whom spend a great many “productive” years without feeling a need to reproduce–then are suddenly hit by that need and launch themselves on a frantic, sometimes worldwide search for a suitable mate able to father them a child. Lawrence wrote the following, prophetic words in one of his final essays:

It is all an attitude, and one day the attitude will become a weird cramp, a pain, and then it will collapse. And when it has collapsed, and she looks at the eggs she has laid, votes, or miles of typewriting, years of business efficiency—suddenly, because she is a hen and not a cock, all she has done will turn into pure nothingness to her. Suddenly it all falls out of relation to her basic henny self, and she realizes she has lost her life. The lovely henny surety, the hensureness which is the real bliss of every female, has been denied her: she had never had it. Having lived her life with such utmost strenuousness and cocksureness, she has missed her life altogether. Nothingness!

This quote suggests that Lawrence believes that the woman, the hen, ruins herself by taking up the ways appropriate and natural for the cock – but this is not exactly what he means. In Lawrence’s view, the modern ways of the cock are destroying the cock as well, but they are doubly bad for the hen. What’s bad for the gander is worse for the goose. Lawrence believes that in order to achieve satisfaction in life, we must get in touch with that primal self that the woman is fortunate enough always to be closer to.

4. A New Relation Between Man and Woman

So what is to be done? How are we to repair the damage that has been done in the modern world to the relation between the sexes? How are we to make men into men again, and women into women?

Lawrence has a great deal to say on this subject, but one of his oft-repeated recommendations essentially amounts to saying that relations between the sexes should be severed. By this he means that in order for men and women to come to each other as authentic men and women, they must stop trying to be “pals” with each other. In a 1925 letter he writes, “Friendship between a man and a woman, as a thing of first importance to either, is impossible: and I know it. We are creatures of two halves, spiritual and sensual—and each half is as important as the other. Any relation based on the one half—say the delicate spiritual half alone—inevitably brings revulsion and betrayal.”

In order for men and women to be friends, they must deliberately put aside or suppress their sexual identities and their very different natures. They must actively ignore the fact that they are men and women. They relate to each other, in effect, as neutered, sexless beings. They can never truly relax around each other, for they must continually monitor the way that they look at each other or (more problematic) touch each other. Sitting in too close proximity could awaken feelings that neither wants awakened. If, with respect to their “daytime selves,” men and women are forced to relate to each other in this way regularly, it has the potential of wrecking the ability of the “nighttime self” to relate to the opposite sex in a natural, sensual manner. Once accustomed to the daily routine of suppressing thoughts and feelings, and taking great care never to show a sexual side to their nature, these habits carry over into the realm of the romantic and sexual. Dating and courtship become fraught with tension, each party unsure of the “appropriateness” of this or that display of sexual interest or simple affection. The man, in short, becomes afraid to be a man, and the woman to be a woman. “On mixing with one another, in becoming familiar, in being ‘pals,’ they lose their own male and female integrity.” Writing of the modern marriage, Wendell Berry states

Marriage, in what is evidently its most popular version, is now on the one hand an intimate “relationship” involving (ideally) two successful careerists in the same bed, and on the other hand a sort of private political system in which rights and interests must be constantly asserted and defended. Marriage, in other words, has now taken the form of divorce: a prolonged and impassioned negotiation as to how things shall be divided. During their understandably temporary association, the “married” couple will typically consume a large quantity of merchandise and a large portion of each other.

If we must suppress our masculine and feminine natures in order to be friends with the opposite sex, in what way then do we actually relate to each other? We relate almost entirely through the intellect. Lawrence writes, “Nowadays, alas, we start off self-conscious, with sex in the head. We find a woman who is the same. We marry because we are ‘pals.’” And: “We have made the mistake of idealism again. We have thought that the woman who thinks and talks as we do will be the blood-answer.” Modern men and women begin their relationships as sexless things who relate through ideas and speech. The man looks for a woman, or the woman for a man who thinks and talks as they do; who “knows where they are coming from,” and has “similar values.” They might as well not have bodies at all, or conduct the initial stages of their relationships by telephone or email. Indeed, that is exactly the way many modern relationships are now beginning. But the primary way men and women are built to relate to each other is through the body and the signals of the body; through the subtle, sexual “vibrations” that each gives off, through the sexual gaze (different in the male and in the female), and through touch. No real, romantic relationship can be forged without these, and without feeling through these non-mental means that the two are “right” for each other. We cannot start with “mental agreement” and then construct a sexual relationship around it.

Lawrence, like Rousseau, had a good deal to say about education, and in fact much of what he says is Rousseauian. His ideas on the subject are expressed chiefly in Fantasia of the Unconscious and in a long essay, “The Education of the People.”

In Fantasia of the Unconscious, in a chapter entitled “First Steps in Education,” Lawrence lays out a new program for educating girls and boys: “All girls over ten years of age must attend at one domestic workshop. All girls over ten years of age may, in addition, attend at one workshop of skilled labour or of technical industry, or of art. . . . All boys over ten years of age must attend at one workshop of domestic crafts, and at one workshop of skilled labour, or of technical industry, or of art.” The difference between how boys and girls are to be educated (at least initially) is that whereas both are required to attend a “domestic workshop,” only boys are required to attend a “workshop of skilled labour or of technical industry, or of art.” Keep in mind that Lawrence is laying down the rules for education in his ideal society. He anticipates that whereas all males will work outside the home (in some fashion or other), not all females will. His system is not designed to force women into the role of homemakers, for he leaves it open that girls may, if they choose, learn the same skills as boys. As to higher education, Lawrence leaves this open: “Schools of mental culture are free to all individuals over fourteen years of age. Universities are free to all who obtain the first culture degree.” The system is designed in such a way that individuals are drawn to pursue certain avenues based on their personalities and natural temperaments. Unlike our present society, in Lawrence’s world there would be no universal pressure to attend university: only individuals with certain natural gifts and inclinations would go in that direction. Similarly, the system leaves open the possibility that some women will pursue the same path as men, but only if that is their natural inclination. The intent of Lawrence’s program is not to force individuals into certain roles, but to cultivate their natural, innate characteristics. And as we have seen, Lawrence believes that males and females are innately different.

Lawrence makes it clear elsewhere that in the early years education will be sex-segregated. This is intended to facilitate the development of each student’s character and talents. Males, especially early in life, relate more easily to other males and are better able to devote themselves to their studies in the absence of females. The same thing applies to females. Sex-segregated education in the early years also has the advantage, Lawrence believes, of promoting a healthier interaction between males and females later on. In Fantasia of the Unconscious he states, “boys and girls should be kept apart as much as possible, that they may have some sort of respect and fear for the gulf that lies between them in nature, and for the great strangeness which each has to offer the other, finally.” After all, “You don’t find the sun and moon playing at pals in the sky.”

But this is, of course, all in the realm of fantasy. Lawrence’s system would be practical, if modern society could be entirely restructured, and he is aware that this is not likely to occur anytime soon. So what are we to do in the meantime? Here we encounter some of Lawrence’s most controversial ideas, and most inflammatory prose. He writes, “men, drive your wives, beat them out of their self-consciousness and their soft smarminess and good, lovely idea of themselves. Absolutely tear their lovely opinion of themselves to tatters, and make them look a holy ridiculous sight in their own eyes.” It is this sort of thing that has made Lawrence a bête noire of feminists. Yet, in the next sentence, he adds “Wives, do the same to your husbands.” Lawrence’s intention, as always, is to destroy the ego-centredness in both husband and wife; to destroy the modern tendency for men and women to relate to each other, and to themselves, through ideas and ideals.

As a man and a husband, however, he writes primarily from that standpoint: “Fight your wife out of her own self-conscious preoccupation with herself. Batter her out of it till she’s stunned. Drive her back into her own true mode. Rip all her nice superimposed modern-woman and wonderful-creature garb off her, Reduce her once more to a naked Eve, and send the apple flying.” Does he mean any of this literally? Is he advocating that husbands beat their wives? Perhaps. Lawrence and Frieda were famous for their quarrels, which often came to blows, though the blows were struck by both. Lawrence states the purpose of such “beatings” (whether literal or figurative) as follows: “Make her yield to her own real unconscious self, and absolutely stamp on the self that she’s got in her head. Drive her forcibly back, back into her own true unconscious.”

As we have already seen, Lawrence believes that healthy relations between a man and a woman depend largely on the man’s ability to make the woman believe in him, and the purpose he has set for himself in life. Sex unites the “nighttime self” of men and women, but the daytime self can only be united, for Lawrence, through the man’s devotion to something outside the marriage, and the woman’s belief in the man. This is just the same thing as saying that what unites the lives of men and women (as opposed to their sexual natures) is the woman’s belief in the man and his purpose. And so Lawrence writes:

You’ve got to fight to make a woman believe in you as a real man, a pioneer. No man is a man unless to his woman he is a pioneer. You’ll have to fight still harder to make her yield her goal to yours: her night goal to your day goal. . . . She’ll never believe until you have your soul filled with a profound and absolutely inalterable purpose, that will yield to nothing, least of all to her. She’ll never believe until, in your soul, you are cut off and gone ahead, into the dark. . . . Ah, how good it is to come home to your wife when she believes in you and submits to your purpose that is beyond her. . . . And you feel an unfathomable gratitude to the woman who loves you and believes in your purpose and receives you into the magnificent dark gratification of her embrace. That’s what it is to have a wife.

Friends of Lawrence must have smiled when they read these words, for he was hardly giving an accurate description of his own marriage. As I have mentioned, Lawrence and Frieda frequently fell into violent quarrels, and she would often demean and humiliate him, and he her. Yet, ultimately, Frieda believed in Lawrence’s abilities and his mission in life; he knew it and derived strength from it. Those who may think that Lawrence’s prescriptions for marriage require an extraordinarily submissive and even unintelligent wife should take note of the sort of woman Lawrence himself chose.

Now, some might respond to Lawrence’s description of marriage by asking, understandably, “Where is love in all of this? What has become of love between man and wife?” Yet Lawrence speaks again and again, especially in Women in Love, of love between man and wife as a means to wholeness, as a way to transcend the false, ego-centered self. In a 1914 letter he tells a male correspondent:

You mustn’t think that your desire or your fundamental need is to make a good career, or to fill your life with activity, or even to provide for your family materially. It isn’t. Your most vital necessity in this life is that you shall love your wife completely and implicitly and in entire nakedness of body and spirit. Then you will have peace and inner security, no matter how many things go wrong. And this peace and security will leave you free to act and to produce your own work, a real independent workman.

Initially in these remarks Lawrence seems to be taking a position different from the one he expressed in the later Fantasia of the Unconscious, where he asserts that the man derives his chief fulfillment from purpose, not from the home and family. But Lawrence’s position is complex. He believes that the man requires a relationship to a woman in order to be strengthened in the pursuit of his purpose. Recall the lines I quoted earlier, “Let a man walk alone on the face of the earth, and he feels himself like a loose speck blown at random. Let him have a woman to whom he belongs, and he will feel as though he had a wall to back up against; even though the woman be mentally a fool.” Man fulfills himself through having a purpose beyond the home, but he must have a home and a wife to support him. Through romantic love (which always involves a strong sexual component) the man comes to his primal self, and emerges from the encounter with the strength to carry on in the world. Lawrence is telling his correspondent—and this becomes clear in the last lines of the passage quoted—that in order to accomplish anything meaningful he must first submerge himself, body and soul, into love for his wife.

Of course, this makes it sound as if Lawrence regards married love merely as a means to an end: merely as a means to pursuing a male “purpose.” Elsewhere, however, he speaks of it as if it were an end in itself. This is particularly the case in Women in Love. Early in the novel Birkin tells Gerald, “I find . . . that one needs some one really pure single activity—I should call love a single pure activity. . . . The old ideals are dead as nails—nothing there. It seems to me there remains only this perfect union with a woman—sort of ultimate marriage—and there isn’t anything else.” Again, Lawrence is seeking a way to get beyond idealism, and all the corrupt apparatus of modern, ego-driven life. To get beyond this, to what? To the true self, and to relationships based upon blood-consciousness and honest, uncorrupted sentiment. In Women in Love, Lawrence’s plan for achieving this involves a “perfect union” with a woman (and, as he states in the same novel, “the additional perfect relationship between man and man—additional to marriage”).

Birkin wants to achieve this with Ursula, but he keeps insisting over and over (much to her bewilderment and anger) that he means something more than mere “love.” The reason for this is that Birkin and Lawrence associate “love” with an ideal that is drummed into the heads of people in the modern, post-Christian world. We are issued with the baffling injunction to “love thy neighbor,” where thy neighbor means all of humanity. Any intelligent person can see that to love everyone means to love no one in particular. And any psychologically healthy person would find valueless the “love” of someone who claimed also to love all the rest of humanity. Lawrence is reacting also against the lovey-dovey, white lace, sanitized, billing and cooing sort of “love” that society encourages in married couples. Lawrence’s disgust for this sort of thing is expressed in his short story “In Love.” The main character, Hester, is repulsed by the “love” her fiancé, Joe, shows for her. They had been friends prior to their engagement and got on well

But now, alas, since she had promised to marry him, he had made the wretched mistake of falling “in love” with her. He had never been that way before. And if she had known he would get this way now, she would have said decidedly: Let us remain friends, Joe, for this sort of thing is a come-down. Once he started cuddling and petting, she couldn’t stand him. Yet she felt she ought to. She imagined she even ought to like it. Though where the ought came from, she could not see.

Birkin (like Lawrence) wants to avoid at all costs falling into this sort of scripted, stereotyped love relationship, but Ursula has a great deal of difficulty understanding what it is that he does want. He tries his best to explain it to her:

“There is,” he said, in a voice of pure abstraction, “a final me which is stark and impersonal and beyond responsibility. So there is a final you. And it is there I would want to meet you—not in the emotional, loving plane—but there beyond, where there is no speech and no terms of agreement. There we are two stark, unknown beings, two utterly strange creatures, I would want to approach you, and you me. And there could be no obligation, because there is no standard for action there, because no understanding has been reaped from that plane. It is quite inhuman—so there can be no calling to book, in any form whatsoever—because one is outside the pale of all that is accepted, and nothing known applies. One can only follow the impulse, taking that which lies in front, and responsible for nothing, giving nothing, only each taking according to the primal desire.”

The “final me and you” refers to the primal self. “The old ideals are dead as nails” and so is modern civilization. Birkin does not want his relationship to Ursula to “fit” into the modern social scheme, to become conventional or “safe.” He also fears and abhors the impress of society on his conscious, mental self. He does not want to come together with Ursula “though the ego,” as it were. He wants them to come together through their primal selves and to forge a relationship that is based on something deeper and far stronger than what the overly socialized creatures around him call “love.” Yet, at the same time, one could simply say that what he wants is a truer, deeper love, and that what passes for love with other people is usually not the genuine article. They are doing what one “ought” to do, even when in bed together.

In The Rainbow (to which Women in Love forms the “sequel”), Tom Brangwen offers his views on love and marriage in a famous passage:

“There’s very little else, on earth, but marriage. You can talk about making money, or saving souls. You can save your own soul seven times over, and you may have a mint of money, but your soul goes gnawin’, gnawin’, gnawin’, and it says there’s something it must have. In heaven there is no marriage. But on earth there is marriage, else heaven drops out, and there’s no bottom to it. . . . If we’ve got to be Angels . . . and if there is no such thing as a man or a woman among them, then it seems to me as a married couple makes one Angel. . . . [An] Angel can’t be less than a human being. And if it was only the soul of a man minus the man, then it would be less than a human being. . . . An Angel’s got to be more than a human being. . . . So I say, an Angel is the soul of a man and a woman in one: they rise united at the Judgment Day, as one angel. . . . If I am to become an Angel, it’ll be my married soul, and not my single soul.”

À la Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium, men and women form two halves of a complete human being. Human nature divides itself into two, complementary aspects: masculinity and femininity. A complete human being is made when a man and a woman are joined together. But they cannot be joined—not really—through the mental, social self, but only through the unconscious, primal self.

In Women in Love, this view returns but in a modified form. Now Birkin tells us, “One must commit oneself to a conjunction with the other—for ever. But it is not selfless—it is a maintaining of the self in mystic balance and integrity—like a star balanced with another star.” And Lawrence tells us of Birkin, “he wanted a further conjunction, where man had being and woman had being, two pure beings, each constituting the freedom of the other, balancing each other like two poles of one force, like two angels, or two demons.” Tom Brangwen’s view implies that men and women, considered separately, do not have complete souls, and that a complete soul is made only when they join together in marriage. There is a suggestion in what he says that the “individuality” of single men and women is false, and that only a married couple constitutes a true individual. Birkin’s ideal, on the other hand, involves the man and the woman each preserving their selfhood and individuality and “balancing” each other.

Despite the fact that Birkin frequently, and transparently, speaks for Lawrence we cannot take him as speaking for Lawrence here. I believe that it is Brangwen’s position that is closest to Lawrence’s own. When Women in Love opens, Birkin is in a relationship with Hermione, who Lawrence portrays as a woman living entirely from out of her head, without any naturalness or spontaneity. Yet there is a bit of this in Birkin as well, which is perhaps why he reacts against it so violently when he sees it in Hermione. After the passage just quoted from Women in Love, Lawrence writes of Birkin, “He wanted so much to be free, not under the compulsion of any need for unification, or tortured by unsatisfied desire. . . . And he wanted to be with Ursula as free as with himself, single and clear and cool, yet balanced, polarised with her. The merging, the clutching, the mingling of love was become madly abhorrent to him.” Lawrence then goes on to describe Birkin’s fear and loathing of women’s “clutching.” Birkin is a conflicted character. He wants to lose himself in a relationship with a woman, but fears it at the same time. He wants Ursula, and talks on and on about spontaneity and the evil of ideals, yet he is continually preaching to Ursula about his ideal relationship which, conveniently, is one in which he can unite with her yet preserve his ego intact. This at first bewilders then infuriates Ursula, who never understands what it is that he wants. In the end, the problem resolves itself, probably just as it would in real life. Drawn to Ursula by a power stronger than his conscious ego, Birkin eventually drops all of his talk, surrenders his will, and settles into a married bliss that is marred only by his continued desire for the love of a man.

Ultimately, Lawrence believes that the “establishment of a new relation” between men and women depends upon a return to the oldest of relationships, and that this is possible only through a recovery of the oldest part of the self. We must, he believes, drop our ideal of the unisex society and be alive again to the fundamental, natural differences between men and women. Men and woman do not naturally desire to enjoy each other’s society at all times. We must not only educate men and women apart, but re-establish “spaces” within civilized society where men can be with men, and women with women. We must not force men and women together and command them to forget that they are men and women. Education and, indeed, much else in society must work to cultivate and to affirm the natural, masculine qualities and virtues in men, and the feminine qualities and virtues in women. Having become true men and women and having awakened, through their apartness, to the mystery and the allure that is the opposite sex, they will then come together and forge romantic alliances that are not based upon talk and “common values” but upon the “pull” between man and woman. Lawrence is not referring here simply to lust. A sexual element is, of course, involved, but what he means is the mysterious, ineffable attraction between an individual man and a woman, what we often call “chemistry,” which has nothing to do with the words they utter or the ideals they pay lip service to. And once this attraction is established, if the two desire to become bound to each other, then they must surrender themselves to the relationship. They must overcome their fear of the loss of ego boundaries. They must drop all talk of “rights” and not fall into the trap of treating the marriage as if it were a business partnership. For both, it is a leap into the unknown but in this case the unknown is the natural. When we plant a seed we must close the earth over it and go off and wait in anticipation. But we know that nature, being what it is, will produce as it has before. If all goes well, in that spot will grow the plant we were expecting. Similarly, marriage is not a human invention but something that grows naturally between a man and woman if its seed is planted in the fertile soil of the primal selves of each.

mercredi, 15 décembre 2010

Antonin Artaud: Sul suicidio e altre prose

Antonin Artaud: SUL SUICIDIO E ALTRE PROSE

di Andrea Ponso

Ex: http://www.camarillaonline.com/

artaud.jpgIl “blocco Artaud” ci permette di entrare nel vivo di una crisi, una crisi di pensiero e di rappresentazione, con un movimento che non può non chiamare in causa il rapporto con il mondo e con il reale, la lucidità e le mille trappole del letterario: tutto il suo lavoro è un vero e proprio corpo a corpo con il sistema delle conoscenze occidentali e non solo, con la religione (certo Artaud non era un ateo: un ateo non lotta così a lungo con Dio) e con le varie suddivisioni dei saperi. Partendo dalla tematica principale attorno alla quale si raccolgono questi scritti (frecciabr.gif Sul suicidio e altre prose, Via del vento, 4 euro) cercheremo di dimostrare, entrando nel vivo di questi brevi ma veramente preziosissimi testi, le frizioni che la macchina da pensiero produce a contatto con la mobilità e il corpo del nostro autore.

La morte è vista da Artaud come un eterno presente:

"… il sentimento dell’uniformità di ogni cosa. Un assoluto magnifico. Avevo senza dubbio appreso ad avvicinarmi alla morte..."
In realtà, la morte è quindi in sé l’abolizione della differenza, dello smembramento (ricordiamo l’invenzione artaudiana del corpo senza organi) ma, tramite il suicidio, non si può raggiungere che attraverso un atto di smembramento, di distacco, di rottura di una uniformità, che ci rende prigionieri ancora una volta del pensiero che lo ha pensato, dividendo e preparando, tra l’altro, l’infiltrazione del divino e di ogni trascendenza che, insinuandosi, crea continuamente il due, la divisione, il “non”, rubandoci il dolore-essere in cambio di una rappresentazione, espropriandoci, eternizzandoci:
"il suicidio non è che la conquista favolosa e lontana degli uomini che pensano bene."
Non una preclusione morale quindi, bensì una impossibilità: il non poter risolvere l’organicità e la differenza con una ulteriore divisione-differenza; non ci sono vie di fuga per il rigore di Artaud e per un pensiero che pensa l’unità di un corpo senza organi da una prospettiva (ma anche qui, di nuovo, ogni prospettiva è una parzialità) che esclude risolutamente ogni metafisica.
In realtà, è da sempre troppo tardi:
"non sento l’appetito della morte, sento l’appetito del non essere, di non essere mai caduto in questo trastullo d’imbecillità, di abdicazioni, di rinunce e di ottusi incontri che rappresenta l’io di Antonin Artaud"
; nonostante ciò, Artaud si rende conto che in questa insofferenza si nasconde la tentazione della trascendenza: 9788887741162g.jpgè in fondo la stessa visione di certo cristianesimo (e non solo) che svaluta la terra e propone prospettive salvifiche future (è lo stesso meccanismo che nella testualità promette un senso a venire e nello stesso momento instaura e salva una oscurità strategica?).
Allora Artaud tronca ogni possibile via di fuga e nello stesso tempo accetta i mille rivoli che smembrano ogni uomo, poiché neanche il corpo senza organi deve essere visto in prospettiva, ma anche (rompendo l’ordine della logica, come succede sempre nei punti di maggiore tensione della scrittura artaudiana) non può che essere visto così: è un In – stante per chi sceglie di rimanere nel cortocircuito, nel punto in cui ogni rappresentazione persiste e non smette di crollare:
"questo io virtuale, impossibile, che si trova tuttavia nella realtà."
Tutta la speculazione di questo autore, il suo continuo cortocircuitare nel pensiero che lo pensa, non è altro che una lotta sul posto, contro il "pensare ciò che mi vogliono far pensare" (del resto, lo ricorda lui stesso nel suo Van Gogh "mi si è suicidato"), infatti ci si sente
"fin nelle ramificazioni più impensabili (…) irriducibilmente determinati ( … ) e il fatto che mi ucciderò è probabilmente inscritto in un ramo qualsiasi del mio albero genealogico"
(viene in mente il lavoro di liberazione dalle ‘parti’ e dal ‘modo’ del teatro di Bene).
Artaud arriva quindi alla perentorietà di questa bruciante affermazione:
"Dio mi ha collocato nella disperazione come in una costellazione di vicoli ciechi il cui irradiamento approda a me stesso. Non posso ne morire, ne vivere, ne desiderare di morire o vivere. E tutti gli uomini sono come me."
C’è una ricerca di chiarezza in questa scrittura, davvero sconvolgente (soprattutto se pensiamo alla vita dell’uomo Artaud, ai suoi dolori, all’elettrochoc e ai vari internamenti psichiatrici) - una chiarezza che, per illuminarsi non accetta la logica e il pensiero sul mondo in vigore ma che non li accantona sbrigativamente ma li vive dal di dentro, li porta come abiti che continuamente si è costretti a togliere e a rimettere: per arrivare alla chiarezza, Artaud non vuole semplificare, bensì adattare il suo sguardo e il suo corpo alla complessità della materia e all’ordine non rappresentativo del mondo poiché
"la vita non mi appare che come un consenso all’apparente leggibilità delle cose e alla loro relazione nello spirito"
e ancora,
"la nostra attitudine all’assurdo e alla morte è quella della migliore ricettività"
, sgombrando da subito il campo da atteggiamenti di passività o maledettismo, e spostando lo sguardo verso l’attenzione e la lucidità, verso un mondo in movimento, privo d’ombra e di rifugi (soprattutto rifugi letterari, artistici: ad Artaud non basta più essere un artista, poiché l’artista è diventato un uomo della consolazione o della rassegnazione infinita; poiché l’artista è anch’esso determinato e inserito nella casella che la divisione aristotelica dei saperi ancora gli impone ).
Insomma, si tratta di scegliere la lucidità, il proprio dolore, la propria pulizia anche (e si badi bene: tutto ciò non presuppone l’accantonamento di quel "trastullo d’imbecillità, di abdicazioni (…) che rappresenta l’io di Antonin Artaud" e, aggiungiamo noi, di tutta l’armatura del nostro occidente …) oppure di rimanere passivi all’esproprio del nostro essere ( del nostro dolore senza motivo) in cambio di una rappresentazione che non è il mondo e che si frappone tra noi e il nostro oggetto.
E a questo proposito, fatte naturalmente le dovute proporzioni, verrebbe forse da pensare agli immensi depositi di larve umane del film Matrix, derubate e risucchiate della propria energia, della propria vita vera (ha senso usare questo aggettivo?), sezionate e aperte da fori, in cambio di una vita che è rappresentazione e spettacolo. E tuttavia questa sorte, che tocca ai poveri umani del film, ricade anche, aldilà della finzione, su ogni singolo spettatore, sommerso da un numero imprecisato di effetti speciali: insomma, sono gli stessi cattivi di Matrix a creare il film, Matrix è il programma e il film stesso.
Il lavoro di Artaud ingloba le dicotomie e le aporie del pensiero senza parificarle, non procede per disgiunzioni ed esclusioni, non sostituisce alla prepotenza della materia un sistema simbolico convenzionale : in questo suo vagabondaggio eversivo, non poteva non approdare ai bordi, alle valvole di sicurezza che il sistema stesso ha ideato, quindi alla medicina e in particolare alla psichiatria – anche qui Artaud soccombe e vince:
"Ecco psichiatri (…) radunatevi attorno a questo corpo (…) è intossicato, vi dico, e si attiene alle vostre inversioni di barriere, ai vostri vuoti fantasmi (…) tu hai vinto, psichiatria, hai vinto ed egli ti oltrepassa"
ed è proprio quel “ed” che mette in crisi il tutto
Sotto l’insopprimibile ombra del dover essere, dietro alla parte determinata, dietro ai modi che ci perseguitano e ci salvano
"in fondo dunque a questo verbalismo tossico, c’è lo spasmo fluttuante di un corpo libero e che riguadagna le sue origini, la muraglia di morte essendo chiara, essendo capovolta e rasente il terreno. Poiché è qui che la morte procede, attraverso il filo di un’angoscia che il corpo non può finire di attraversare."

dimanche, 12 décembre 2010

Le Bulletin célinien n°325

Le Bulletin célinien n°325

 
Décembre 2010
 
Vient de paraître : Le Bulletin célinien n°325 de décembre 2010.
 
Au sommaire :

- Marc Laudelout : Bloc-notes
- M. L. : Lucien Descaves au « Club du Faubourg »
- Claude Duneton : Céline et la « tourbe » du langage populaire
- V. M. : Une adaptation théâtrale exemplaire
- Benoît Le Roux : Anouilh et Céline
- Laurence Viala : Illustrer le texte célinien (1)
- Ramon Fernandez : « L’Église » (1933)
- Les souvenirs de Maurice Gabolde
- Willy de Spens : Un après-midi chez L.-F. Céline

Un numéro de 24 pages, 6 € frais de port inclus à :
Le Bulletin célinien
Bureau de poste 22
B. P. 70
B 1000 Bruxelles
 
Bloc-Notes:
 
À propos du « refus de parvenir », expression (rendue célèbre par Albert Thierry et les syndicalistes révolutionnaires) traduisant une volonté d’être fidèle à ses origines populaires, Paul Yonnet trace un parallèle avec la figure de Céline : « ...C’est une exigence du même ordre qui traverse Voyage au bout de la nuit, mais aussi l’œuvre entière de Céline, jusque dans les images qu’il nous donne de lui, durant les dix dernières années de sa vie, asilaires (1)». Et de renvoyer aux pages que le psychiatre Yves Buin consacre à ce thème : « Sa déshérence, Céline tient à la montrer. Plus qu’au clochard exhibé, au hâbleur volontaire du déclin, c’est à l’asilaire que Céline fait penser si l’on s’en réfère aux photographies de l’ère Meudon se déroulant tel un film. Un asilaire ? C’est-à-dire un de ses falots personnages d’hospice, de foyer social hors le monde, et plus encore des grandes concentrations carcérales où, au milieu des déments et des agités que l’on enferme, subsistent des êtres atones, ravinés, habitacles d’une vie éteinte, des êtres lassés, revenus de tout et de nulle part, que rien ne dérange plus et qui ne dérangent plus personne. (…) Il est de l’humanité invisible. Le Céline des trois ou quatre dernières années est de cette confrérie d’abandonnés. Probablement n’y siège-t-il pas en permanence. Aux parutions de ses livres, et entre elles, il doit concéder à la représentation mais avec les habits de scène qu’il s’est choisis pour le dernier acte et, l’asilaire, en lui, affleure (2). » En d’autres termes, Céline donnerait à voir, de manière spectaculaire, qu’il n’est pas parvenu, qu’il a refusé de parvenir, qu’il a tout fait pour qu’il en soit ainsi.
 
Cette vision du Céline de la fin contraste avec celle d’un autre biographe, Philippe Alméras, qui voit en l’ermite de Meudon un épigone de Chodruc-Duclos : « Sous la Restauration, Chodruc-Duclos, l’“homme à la longue barbe”, exhibait chaque jour au Palais-Royal sa misère et sa saleté pour exposer l’ingratitude des Bourbons. Céline, aidé par l’incurie des artistes, et grâce à Match ou à L’Express, confronte route des Gardes ses contemporains d’une façon pas tellement différente (3). »
 
Et si au lieu de voir l’intention de témoigner de ceci ou de cela, il ne fallait pas tout uniment constater chez lui une totale indifférence à son aspect vestimentaire ? Sauf durant une brève période – des années vingt au début des années trente –, Céline ne s’est jamais préoccupé de sa mise. Certains le lui reprochaient d’ailleurs (4). Exilé au Danemark, il s’en est encore moins soucié et cette attitude, qui n’était nullement une pose, n’a fait que s’accentuer durant les dix dernières années de sa vie. Cela en fit un personnage aussi pittoresque que Paul Léautaud avec, comme autres points communs, un attachement profond pour les animaux allant de pair avec une misanthropie foncière (5). Et surtout une volonté farouche de demeurer libre.

Marc LAUDELOUT

1. Paul Yonnet, « La sortie de la révolution » in Le Débat, n° 160, mai-août 2010, pp. [37]-46. Rappelons que Paul Yonnet est l’auteur du Testament de Céline (Bernard de Fallois, 2009).
2. Yves Buin, Céline, Gallimard, coll. « Folio biographies », 2009, pp. 436-437.
3. Philippe Alméras, « Céline vu de gauche, vu de droite » in Nouvelle École (« Les écrivains »), n° 46, automne 1990, pp. 40-48.
4. « On me fait volontiers grief de bouder les assemblées… (…) On m’y trouve mal habillé… N’est-ce pas, Monsieur Ménard ? » (Lettre à Jean Lestandi, 10 septembre 1942. Reprise dans Cahiers Céline 7, 2003 [rééd.], p. 171.)
5. Sur ce parallèle, voir Pierre Lalanne : « Louis-Ferdinand Céline et Paul Léautaud » sur le blog L’ombre de Louis-Ferdinand Céline à la date du 15 février 2010. À Jacques Chancel, en juillet 1957, il confie : « Je ne suis qu’un bouffon. Paul Léautaud est mort. Il fallait un pauvre qui pue. Me voilà. ». Repris dans Cahiers Céline, 2 (« Céline et l’actualité littéraire, 1957-1961 »), 1993 (rééd.), pp. [95]-99.

 

samedi, 11 décembre 2010

Ezra Pound, maître d'une poésie romanesque et brutale

Ezra Pound, maître d'une poésie romanesque et brutale

Ex: http://racinescharnelles.blogspot.com/

Qu'on ne s'y trompe pas. Malgré son prénom aux consonances bibliques et les airs de prophète qu'il prenait volontiers vers la fin de sa vie, Ezra Pound n'a été ni dans son œuvre ni dans son existence l’enfant de cœur tourmenté par la notion de péché ou d'humilité. Dis­sident de l'Amérique, du mauvais goût et des valeurs approximatives d'un pays où la Bible et le dollar tiennent lieu de référence, Pound l'est déjà dès son plus jeune âge. « J'écrirai, déclare-t-il à l'âge de 12 ans, les plus grands poèmes jamais écrits ». En cette fin de XIXe siècle, en plein Wild West américain, il se découvre une vocation poétique pour le moins incongrue si l'on en juge par les préoccupations de ses compatriotes de l'époque, plus soucieux de bâtir des empires financiers que de partir en guerre contre des moulins à vent. Pendant des années, en subissant les vexations des cuistres, il va se consacrer à l'étude du provençal et à l'art des ménestrels et troubadours précurseurs de la littérature moderne.

Des poèmes comme "L'arbre", témoins, comme le note Tytell, d'un paga­nisme croissant, et sa haine de l'Amérique sont le signe avant-coureur que sa vie entière allait devenir un défi lancé aux systèmes occidentaux et une dénonciation de la religion moderne qu'il tenait pour la servante de ces systèmes. Les conflits incessants avec le monde universitaire qui lui refuse quelque chaire, l'ordre moral et l'étroitesse d'esprit de ses contemporains vont avoir pour conséquence le départ de Pound pour l'Europe. Venise, tout d'abord, où il s'exerce au dur métier de gondolier, puis Londres, où son talent va enfin éclore. C'est pour lui le temps des amitiés littéraires avec George Bernard Shaw, puis James Joyce, T.S. Eliot.

Le Londres aux mœurs victo­riennes ne nuit en rien pour l'heure à l'effervescence d'un génie que l'on commence à voir poindre ici et là dans les revues auxquelles il collabore. La guerre de 14 éclate et nombre des amis de Pound n'en reviendront pas. « C'est une perte pour l'art qu'il faudra venger », écrit-il, plus convaincu que quiconque que cette guerre est une plaie dont l'Europe aura bien du mal à cicatriser. Peu après, il se met à travailler à un nouveau poème, « un poème criséléphan­tesque d'une longueur incommen­surable qui m'occupera pendant les quatre prochaines décennies jusqu'à ce que cela devienne la barbe ». Les Cantos, l'œuvre maîtresse et fondamentale de Pound, était née.

Puis, las de la rigueur anglaise et des Britanniques qu'il juge snobs et hermétiques à toute forme d'art, Pound décide de partir pour la France.

Il débarque dans le Paris léger et enivrant de l'après-guerre lorsque brillent encore les mille feux de l'intelligence et de l'esprit. Les phares de l'époque s'appellent Coc­teau, Aragon, Maurras et Gide. Pound s'installe rue Notre-Dame­-des-Champs et se consacre à la littérature et aux femmes. À Paris toujours, il rencontre Ernest Hemingway, alors jeune joumalis­te, qui écrira que « le grand poète Pound consacre un cinquième de son temps à la poésie, et le reste a aider ses amis du point de vue matériel et artistique. Il les défend lorsqu'ils sont attaqués, les fait publier dans les revues et les sort de prison. »

La France pourtant ne lui convient déjà plus. À la petite histoire des potins parisiens, il préfère l'Histoire et ses remous italiens. L'aura romanesque d'un D'Annun­zio et la brutalité de la pensée fas­ciste l'attirent comme un aimant.


Pound obtient une tribune à la radio de Rome. L'Amérique, « Jew York » et Confu­cius vont devenir ses chevaux de bataille. Pendant des années, le délire verbal et l'insulte vont tenir lieu de discours à Pound, un genre peu apprécié de ses compatriotes...

En 1943 le régime fasciste s'écroule, mais la République de Salo, pure et dure, mêlera la tragédie au rêve. Les GI's triomphants encagent le poète à Pise avant de l'expédier aux États-Unis pour qu'il y soit jugé. « Haute trahison, intelligence avec l'ennemi », ne cessent de rabâcher ses détracteurs nombreux. Pound échappe à la corde mais pas à l'outrage d'être interné pendant douze ans dans un hôpital psychiatrique des environs de Washington. Lorsqu'on lui demanda de quoi il parlait avec les toubibs, il répondit : « D'honneur. C'est pas qu'ils y croient pas. C'est simplement qu'ils n'en ont jamais entendu parler. »
Le 9 juillet 1958, le vieux cowboy revient à Naples et dans une ultime provocation répond à l'attente des journalistes par le salut fasciste, dernier bras d'honneur du rebelle céleste.

• Ezra Pound, le volcan solitaire, John Tytell, Seghers.