November 25, 2013

The Forest Passage - old freedom in new clothes

Another short excerpt from the forthcoming publication of "The Forest Passage" by Ernst Jünger, naturally with the permission of the publisher Telos Press. It will be available from Telos sometime in December - stay tuned!

(... from Chapter 31)

"As we see, predicaments arise which demand an immediate moral decision, and this is most true where the vortex is deepest and most turbulent. 
This has not been, and will not always be the case. Generally speaking, the institutions and the rules associated with them provide navigable terrain; what is legal and moral lies in the wind. Naturally, abuses occur, but there are also courts and police. 
This changes when morality is substituted by a subspecies of technology, that is, by propaganda, and the institutions are transformed into weapons of civil war. The decision then falls to the individual, as an either-or, since a third position, neutrality, is excluded. From this point forward, a particular form of infamy lies in non-participation, but also in making judgments from a non-participating position. 
The ruling powers, in their changing incarnations, also confront the individual with an either-or. This is the curtain of time, which rises perpetually on the same, ever-recurring spectacle. The figures appearing on the curtain are not the most important point - the either-or facing the individual has a quite different aspect. He is led to the point where a choice must be made between his directly bestowed human nature and the nature of a criminal.

How will the individual stand up to this interrogation? Our future hangs in the balance on just this point. Perhaps it will be decided just where the darkness appears blackest. Alongside the autonomous moral decision, crime forms the other option for preserving sovereignty in the midst of the loss, in the midst of the nihilistic undermining of being. The French existentialists recognized this much correctly. Crime has nothing to do with nihilism; on the contrary, it offers a refuge from nihilism’s destructive erosion of self-awareness, a way out of the wastelands to which it leads. Chamfort already said: “L'homme, dans l'état actuel de la société, me paraît plus corrompu par sa raison que par ses passions.” *

November 16, 2013

The Forest Passage - into the concrete jungle

Looking forward to the publication of this first translation of Ernst Jünger's Der Waldgang from Telos Press in December! Until then the cover image also provides food for thought. 

Visually, I find it original and eye-catching. More importantly, it communicates in a nicely condensed form much of what Jünger has to say in the text; any reader ripe for the author's message should understand to pick it off the bookshelf. 

The image makes it clear that a forest passage is not an historic Icelandic phenomenon (the origin of the term), but rather a live-saving possibility in the concrete jungle too. It suggests that the grey facade of technological civilization can be torn aside by a resolute individual, and that behind it will he will find an eternally intact wilderness, a forest of primal freedom, and of dangers that are worth the risk. When his hunger for a personal destiny, his hatred of being a number, a statistic in the machine of Leviathan is strong enough, or when he is simply driven to the adventure by desperate circumstances, he will discover that the apparent omnipotence of society and state is only an intimidating bluff, a veneer that avails itself of showy technology. He will discover that a lone brave heart can stand up to this Goliath too.

The tear that he makes in the fabric of society, openly or secretly, lets new light shine into his world, light from an infinitely greater and older source than the artificial power "illuminating" and impelling modern civilization on its brief, fiery trajectory. This light reveals to him for the first time the possibility of his own true path, of a destiny that he was uniquely born to fulfill, of which the state and even Google can know nothing at all.