• Books

    Eumeswil by Ernst Junger

    From my notion book template

    What It’s About

    Part philosophical ramble, part science fiction, all world building – Eumeswil is a book of fiction posing as the diary/notes/ruminations of a full time history grad student and part time bartender to the tyrant (the term tyrant is used descriptively, not pejoratively) of a city state somewhere in North Africa in the far, far future. This weird position to both history in the past (via education) and history in the making (the tyrant does most of his business with his underlings at the bar) spawns weird ruminations and insights into the relationship between the individual, state, and society.

    Junger also creates one of his signature concepts, namely “The Anarch” – defined as “The Anarch is to the anarchist what the monarch is to the monarchist.”. A more useful definition would be something like “An Anarch is someone who is unaffected inwardly by government and society, even if outwardly affected”. If that sounds like a stoic “sage”, i.e. one who has mastered stoicism, then you’re pretty close. The main difference between the sage and the anarch would be that the sage concerns himself with serenity, emotional control and happiness whereas the anarch resists all influence. Hey, Germans!

    How I Discovered It

    Amazon was kind enough to suggest it to me as “Something you might like”

    Thoughts

    Reading this book time me quite a long time – I found myself reading and then rereading whole pages just to make sure I was understanding things correctly. The Kindle highlight word for a definition feature was extremely helpful on this book.

    As I write this I’m struck by the utter absence of any Old and New Testament influences in the book. Biblical influence, in one way or the other seeps into any sort of moral lesson or redemptions arcs (that’s what we’re used to, and there is no other way to do moral lessons or redemption arcs, the bible as literature and all that.) There was none of that in Eumeswil. Instead there were lots of lessons from Greek and Roman mythology, and a smattering of Norse. Classical Roman and Greek leaders were raised to near mythological levels as well. The most prominent example was the narrator’s discovery of letters from his dad attempting to pressure his mom to have an abortion and the mythological story of Zeus, Rhea and Kronos.

    A thought I had was the Junger is a classically educated writer who was educated on other classics.

    This book was yet another example of “fully formed observer looks out at the world” genre I’m so fond of.

    What I Didn’t Like About It

    The biggest negative about the book was that pretty much nothing happens – Eumeswil is 99% world building, 1% plot. Other massive negatives are what I can only presume are unavoidable translation problems and a mind boggling use of archaic terms (which is odd for a sort of sci fi novel written in the 1970s). I’m normally a fan of such things, but this was a lot, even for me.

    Who Would Like It?

    I liked it, but I’m not sure I can think of anyone else that would. It appealed to my sense of rationalism, fondness for magical realism in fiction, dystopias, works by people born before 1920, and legions of baroque historical references.

    Related Books

    On the Marble Cliffs by Ernst Junger, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man by Albert Jay Nock

    Highlights

    But if an utterance begins with a lie, so that it has to be propped up by more and more lies, then eventually the structure collapses. Hence my suspicion that Creation itself began with a fraud. Had it been a simple mistake, then paradise could be restored through evolution. But the Old Man concealed the Tree of Life.

    The Condor sets great store by visual acuteness: seldom does a candidate who wears glasses stand a chance with him.

    So one can comfortably let time pass—time itself provides enjoyment. Therein, presumably, lies the secret of tobacco—indeed, of any lighter drug.

    The Condor feels that the presence of women, whether young or old, would only promote intrigue. Still, it is hard to reconcile the rich diet and leisurely life-style with asceticism.

    When we look back, our eyes alight on graves and ruins, on a field of rubble. We are then inveigled by a mirage of time: while believing that we are advancing and progressing, we are actually moving toward that past. Soon we will belong to it: time passes over us. And this sorrow overshadows the historian.

    Among the animals, he says, the bees have rediscovered this kinship. Their mating with the flowers is neither a forward nor a backward step in evolution, it is a kind of supernova, a flashing of cosmogonic eros in a favorable conjunction. Even the boldest thinking has not yet hit on that, he says; the only things that are real are those that cannot be invented.

    The goal was the copper flasks in which King Solomon had jailed rebellious demons. Now and again, the fishermen who cast their nets in the El-Karkar Sea would haul up one of these flasks in their catches. They were closed with the seal of Solomon; when they were opened, the demon spurted forth as smoke that darkened the sky.

    This emir, the conqueror of Northwest Africa, may be regarded as their prototype. His Western features are unmistakable; of course, we must bear in mind that the distinctions between races and regions vanish on the peaks. Just as people resemble one another ethically, indeed become almost identical, when approaching perfection, so too spiritually. The distance from the world and from the object increases; curiosity grows and with it the desire to get closer to the ultimate secrets, even amid great danger. This is an Aristotelian trait. One that makes use of arithmetic.

    Evil becomes all the more dreadful the longer it is deprived of air.

    The loss of perfection can be felt only if perfection exists.

    As the word is weighed by the poet, so, too, must the deed be weighed by the historian—beyond good and evil, beyond any conceivable ethics.

    I contented myself, as I have mentioned, with shaking my head; it is better, especially among men, for emotions to be guessed rather than verbalized.

    Yellow highlight | Location: 553 These are the suspicions with which two sorts of faculty members operate here: they are either crooks disguised as professors or professors posing as crooks in order to gain popularity. They try to outdo one another in the race for infamy,

    Basically, it is beauty that he serves. Power and riches should be its thralls.

    To be sure, extremely importunate persecutorial types thrive in our putrid lagoon. “Each student is a viper nursed in the bosom,” Vigo once said to me in a gloomy moment when speaking about Barbassoro, who, granted, belongs more to the species of purebred rats.

    He has an instinct for conformity and for irresistible platitudes, which he stylizes in a highbrow manner. He can also reinterpret them, depending on which way the wind is blowing.

    No salvation comes from exhumed gods; we must penetrate deeper into substance.

    A man who knows his craft is appreciated anywhere and anytime. This is also one of the means of survival for the aristocrat, whose diplomatic instinct is almost irreplaceable.

    They cut their finest figure in their obituaries. As survivors, they soon become unpleasant again.

    Distinctions must be drawn here: love is anarchic, marriage is not. The warrior is anarchic, the soldier is not. Manslaughter is anarchic, murder is not. Christ is anarchic, Saint Paul is not. Since, of course, the anarchic is normal, it is also present in Saint Paul, and sometimes it erupts mightily from him. Those are not antitheses but degrees. The history of the world is moved by anarchy. In sum: the free human being is anarchic, the anarchist is not.

    The anarch can lead a lonesome existence; the anarchist is sociable and must get together with peers.

    The positive counterpart of the anarchist is the anarch. The latter is not the adversary of the monarch but his antipode, untouched by him, though also dangerous. He is not the opponent of the monarch, but his pendant. After all, the monarch wants to rule many, nay, all people; the anarch, only himself.

    According to Thales, the rarest thing he encountered in his travels was an old tyrant.

    My mother died young, during my early school years. I regarded the loss as a second birth, an expulsion into a brighter, colder foreign land—this time consciously.

    My mother had been the world for me; she gradually became a person.

    When I could no longer be thought away, he tackled me physically. I do not wish to go into detail. In any case, while floating in the amniotic fluid, I was menaced with dangerous adventures, like Sindbad the Sailor. He tried to get at me with poisons and sharp instruments and also with the help of an accomplice on the medical faculty. But my mother stuck by me, and that was my good fortune.

    The ancients depicted time as Cronus, who eats his own children. As a Titan, the father devours his engendered son; as a god, he sacrifices him. As a king, he squanders him in the wars that he instigates. Bios and myth, history and theology offer any number of examples. The dead return not to the father, but to the mother.

    When he swaggers, I sometimes feel like reminding him of the map room and the tricks he harassed my mother with. She sheltered me from him in her cavern just as Rhea shielded her Zeus against the gluttonous Cronus.

    There are truths that we must hush if we are to live together; but you cannot knock over the chessboard.

    The person who teaches us how to think makes us lords over men and facts.

    Bruno, too, considers the situation in Eumeswil favorable: the historical substance is used up. Nothing is taken seriously now except for the gross pleasures and also the demands of everyday life. The body social resembles a pilgrim who, exhausted by his wanderings, settles down to rest. Now images can come in. These ideas also had a practical meaning for my work.

    Florence was enough for a Machiavelli.

    Once, people got fed up with pure dynamics, and so technology declined in the larger areas. This was matched on the other side by its plutonian concentration in the hands of a small, now autonomous personnel.

    Although an anarch, I am not anti-authoritarian. Quite the opposite: I need authority, although I do not believe in it. My critical faculties are sharpened by the absence of the credibility that I ask for. As a historian, I know what can be offered.

    In the animal kingdom, there are parasites that clandestinely hollow out a caterpillar. Eventually, a mere wasp emerges instead of a butterfly. And that is what those people do with their heritage, and with language in particular, as counterfeiters; that is why I prefer the Casbah, even from behind my counter.

    I am curious by nature; this is indispensable for the historian. A man is a born historian or else he is boring.

    I consider it poor historical form to make fun of ancestral mistakes without respecting the eros that was linked to them. We are no less in bondage to the Zeitgeist; folly is handed down, we merely don a new cap.

    I therefore would not resent my genitor for merely believing in a fallacy; no one can help that. What disturbs me is not error but triteness, the rehashing of bromides that once moved the world as grand utterances. Errors can shake the political world to its very core; yet they are like diseases: in a crisis, they can accomplish a great deal, and even effect a cure—as hearts are tested in a fever. An acute illness: that is the waterfall with new energies. A chronic illness: sickliness, morass. Such is Eumeswil: we are wasting away—of course, only for lack of ideas; otherwise, infamy has been worthwhile.

    Thus, it is the language of a man who knows what he wants and who transfers this wanting to others: Dico: “I speak”; dicto: “I speak firmly, dictate.” The t concentrates.

    The Domo said, “Whatever a man does in bed or even in a stable is his own business; we do not interfere. Bien manger, bien boire, bien foutre—by giving our blessing to all that, we relieve the police and the courts of an enormous workload. This way, aside from lunatics and gross criminals, we only have to deal with do-gooders, who are more dangerous.

    Tyranny must value a sound administration of justice in private matters. This, in turn, increases its political authority. The latter rests on equality, to which tyranny sacrifices freedom. Tyranny is intent on overall leveling, which makes it akin to rule by the people. Both structures produce similar forms. They share a distaste for elites that nurture their own language and recognize themselves in it; poets are even hated.

    The idea of the Eternal Return is that of a fish that wants to jump out of the frying pan. It falls on the stove plate.

    As I have already said, I have nothing against authority, nor do I believe in it. Rather, I need authority, for I have a conception of greatness. That is why, although not without skepticism here too, I associate with the top rank.

    We play on slanting chessboards. If some day his pontiffs—and I do not doubt it—topple the Condor, then Eumeswil will once again celebrate liberazione—the transition, that is, from visible to anonymous power. For a long time now, soldiers and demagogues have been spelling one another.

    How, then, shall I classify the Condor? Among the tyrants—though not to be doubted, it says little. According to linguistic usage, tyrants find a more fertile soil in the West and despots in the East. Both are unbounded, but the tyrant follows certain rules, the despot his cravings. That is why tyranny is bequeathed more easily, though at most to a grandchild. The bodyguard is likewise more reliable, as is one’s own son. Despite profound disagreements, Lycophron, the son of Periander, rebels against his father only in spirit but not in deed.

    Such is the role of the anarch, who remains free of all commitments yet can turn in any direction.

    Gullibility is the norm; it is the credit on which states live: without it, even their most modest survival would be impossible.

    Tiberius is remarkable for his character; the sheer fact that he, virtually as a private citizen, could hold on to the reins for such a long time verges on witchcraft.

    was reckless enough to broach this topic at the family table, only to reap an answer worthy of my genitor: namely, that the invention of the phonograph has rendered such speculations null and void. The inventor was, I believe, an especially disagreeable American, a disciple of Franklin’s named Edison.

    Action is more easily emulated than character; this is borne out by the bromidic reiterations in world history.

    The special trait making me an anarch is that I live in a world which I “ultimately” do not take seriously. This increases my freedom; I serve as a temporary volunteer.

    The world civil war changed values. National wars are fought between fathers, civil wars between brothers. It has always been better to fall under the father’s hand than into the brother’s; it is easier being an enemy of another nation than another class.

    For the anarch, little is changed when he strips off a uniform that he wore partly as fool’s motley, partly as camouflage. It covers his spiritual freedom, which he will objectivate during such transitions. This distinguishes him from the anarchist, who, objectively unfree, starts raging until he is thrust into a more rigorous straitjacket.

    Now, I am not putting down fear. It is a foundation of physicality, indeed of physics. If the ground wobbles or if the house so much as threatens to collapse, one looks for the door. This, too, creates a selection—say, of those people who did not fall into the trap. In this respect, Odysseus is one of our greatest models—the whiffer par excellence. Fear is primary: the instinctive whiffing of danger. It is joined by caution, then canniness and also cunning. Odysseus’ caution is so extraordinary because he also has courage and curiosity. He is the harbinger of Western man’s intellect, boldness, and inquiring mind.

    “Dear friend, where have you been? We haven’t seen you in ages.” “I’ve been living.”

    Man is a rational being who does not like sacrificing his safety to theories. Placards come and go, but the wall they are pasted on endures. Theories and systems pass over us in the same way.

    Incidentally, I notice that our professors, trying to show off to their students, rant and rail against the state and against law and order, while expecting that same state to punctually pay their salaries, pensions, and family allowances, so that they value at least this kind of law and order. Make a fist with the left hand and open the right hand receptively—that is how one gets through life. This was easier under the tribunes; it is also one reason for my dear brother’s nostalgia for their splendor. Yet he himself helped to saw off their branch.

    The political trend is always to be observed, partly as a spectacle, partly for one’s own safety. The liberal is dissatisfied with every regime; the anarch passes through their sequence—as inoffensively as possible—like a suite of rooms. This is the recipe for anyone who cares more about the substance of the world than its shadow—the philosopher, the artist, the believer.

    The last time must have been after the Second World War—that is, after the final triumph of the technician over the warrior.

    There is simply nothing new in the cosmos; otherwise the universe would not deserve its name.

    The difference will be obvious when I go to my forest shack while my Lebanese joins the partisans. I will then not only hold on to my essential freedom, but also gain its full and visible enjoyment. The Lebanese, by contrast, will shift only within society; he will become dependent on a different group, which will get an even tighter hold on him.

    The partisan operates on the margins; he serves the great powers, which arm him with weapons and slogans. Soon after the victory, he becomes a nuisance. Should he decide to maintain the role of idealist, he is made to see reason.

    As I have said, I have nothing to do with the partisans. I wish to defy society not in order to improve it, but to keep it at bay no matter what.

    As for the do-gooders, I am familiar with the horrors that were perpetrated in the name of humanity, Christianity, progress. I have studied them. I do not know whether I am correctly quoting a Gallic thinker: “Man is neither an animal nor an angel; but he becomes a devil when he tries to be an angel.”

    The partisan wants to change the law, the criminal break it; the anarch wants neither. He is not for or against the law. While not acknowledging the law, he does try to recognize it like the laws of nature, and he adjusts accordingly.

    The difference is that the forest fleer has been expelled from society, while the anarch has expelled society from himself. He is and remains his own master in all circumstances.

    Incidentally, most revolutionaries suffer from not having become professors. The Domo knows this, too: once, at the night bar, I heard him telling the Condor: “We’ll make him a professor—that should take him off our backs.”

    I began with the respect that the anarch shows toward the rules. Respectare as an intensive of respicere means: “to look back, think over, take into account.” These are traffic laws. The anarchist resembles a pedestrian who refuses to acknowledge them and is promptly run down. Even a passport check is disastrous for him. “I never saw a cheerful end,” as far back as I can look into history. In contrast, I would assume that men who were blessed with happiness—Sulla, for example—were anarchs in disguise.

    Cadmo, to enlighten me, often takes me along to his “Storm Companions.” I am not really welcome there—perhaps they even regard me as an agent of the Domo, who, by the by, knows about their meetings but considers them irrelevant, indeed almost useful. “A barking dog never bites.”

    The true historian is more of an artist, especially a tragedian, than a man of science.

    Let me repeat that I prefer the history of cultures to the history of states. That is where humanity begins and ends. Accordingly, I value the history of royal courts and even back courts over that of politics and parties. History is made by people and at most regulated by laws; that is why it is so inexhaustible with surprises.

    intellectual rank was no longer to be identified by a mastery of language. The result is a banal chitchat defective in both its heights and its depths.

    Similarly, when elites have grown rare or shrunk down to a few individuals, the clear, unadulterated word convinces the uneducated man—indeed, precisely him, the non-miseducated man. He senses—and this puts his mind at ease—that the ruler still observes rules despite his power. Caesar non supra grammaticos. A solace in periods of decline.

    large-scale demagogue, who turned up when the planet Pluto was discovered, dabbled in painting just as Nero did in singing. He persecuted painters whose works he did not like. He dabbled in other areas, too—for instance, as a strategist who doomed many people, but was technically perfect; as a chauffeur in all directions, who eventually had himself cremated with the help of gasoline. His outlines melt into insignificance; the torrent of numbers wipes them out. The pickings are slim for both the historian and the anarch. Red monotony, even in the atrocities.

    The anarch thinks more primitively; he refuses to give up any of his happiness. “Make thyself happy” is his basic law. It is his response to the “Know thyself” at the temple of Apollo in Delphi. These two maxims complement each other; we must know our happiness and our measure.

    At times, I suspect the Condor of hoping to turn Eumeswil into a small-scale Florence; he would then have his Machiavelli in the Domo.

    Transcendence is the side track of reason. The world is more miraculous than as depicted by sciences and religions. Only art has any inkling of it.

    One error of the anarchists is their belief that human nature is intrinsically good. They thereby castrate society, just as the theologians (“God is goodness”) castrate the Good Lord. This is a Saturnian trait.

    will content myself with his maxim: “Primal image is image and mirror image.” His actual strategem was to reduce the platonic idea to phenomenon, thereby reanimating matter, which had been emasculated by abstract thinking. A miracle, he said, could not be expected from above or from the future—say, from a world spirit ascending from level to level; despite its variable elements, he said, a miracle always remains the same, in every blade of grass, in every pebble.

    A little generosity is worth more than a lot of administration. The tribunes were redistributors; they raised the prices of bread for the poor in order to make them happy with their ideas—say, by building extravagant universities whose jobless graduates became a burden to the state (hence once again to the poor) and never touched another hammer. The pauper, so long as he does not think parasitically, wishes to see as little government as possible, no matter what pretexts the state may use. He does not want to be schooled, vaccinated, or conscripted; all these things have senselessly increased the numbers of the poor, and with them, poverty.

    I stand before the mirror and view Emanuelo: clothing, physical appearance, smile, and movements must be casual and pleasant. It is important—we can learn this from women—to look the way others picture us in their wishes.

    Like many young men with time on their hands, he occupied his mind with the “perfect crime”—about which he also had a theory.

    I have noticed that a cat will turn up her nose at a piece of meat if I hand it to her, but she will devour it with gusto if she has “stolen” it. The meat is the same, but the difference lies in the predator’s delight in recognizing itself.

    Opposition is collaboration; this was something from which Dalin, without realizing it, could not stay free. Basically, he damaged order less than he confirmed it. The emergence of the anarchic nihilist is like a goad that convinces society of its unity.

    In Eumeswil, abortion is one of the actions that are punishable but not prosecuted. They include, among other things, gambling, smoking opium,

    A demonological literature à la The Witches’ Hammer still exists, but underground. Whenever it has an effect, whenever it turns virulent, one can assume other causes—above all, a cosmic angst in search of objects.

    “The hunter has companions, but tillage brought slavery, killing became murder. Freedom ended; the game was driven away. In Cain a descendant of the primal hunter was resurrected, his avenger, perhaps. Genesis supplies only a rumor about all this. It hints at Yahweh’s bad conscience regarding the slayer.”

    Otherwise the Inuits were thoroughly corrupted by dealing with the whalers, who, next to the sandalwood skippers, were notoriously the worst villains ever to plow the seas. From them, they had learned how to smoke, drink, and gamble. They gambled away their dogs, boats, weapons, and also their wives; a woman might change hands five times in a single night. *

    But this did not seem to be Attila’s point. His guiding thought in that discussion (which, as we recall, concerned abortion) was, more or less: It is reprehensible to delegate a misdeed. The hunter takes his son to the mother’s grave and kills him. He does not assign the task to anyone else—not his brother, not the shaman; he carries it out himself.

    My father hounded me when my life was frailest. This may be our most exquisite time. My mother concealed me from him in her womb, like Rhea hiding Zeus in the grotto of Ida to shield him from the clutches of a voracious Cronus. Those are monstrous images; they make me shudder—conversations between matter and time. They lie as erratic boulders, uninterpreted, beneath the surveyed land.

    Such are the standards in Eumeswil, a fellah society that periodically suffers moral harassment from demagogues until generals come and insert an artificial spine.

    And revolutions lose their charm if they become permanent fixtures. Tyrannicide, the killing of the tyrannus absque titulo, presumes the existence of underdogs of quality.

    The Casbah has a rule that an execution must be done by hand and that blood must flow. Criminals are decapitated, politicals shot. The public viewing is guaranteed, but limited.

    Above all, I believe, Salvatore owed his life to the Domo’s secret sympathy with criminals. I notice that his head begins swaying almost benevolently whenever the conversation turns to major felonies. This happens less with fraud and property offenses than with armed robbery and violence, which have stirred the imagination since time immemorial. In spreading terror, the forces they unleash confirm the ruler and his justice. Such observations could support theories that power per se is evil.

    “Most offenses can be taken care of quickly and painfully with a flogging. Who would not prefer that to a longer incarceration? Everyone is unanimous on this issue—the culprit, the judge, the opinio publica. Certain offenses simply cry for a flogging. It clears the air. While the deterrent effect may be arguable for capital punishment, it is beyond all question for corporal punishment. Besides, the latter makes reparation possible—compensation makes more sense for pain than for false imprisonment.”

    The rulers change, the prisons abide; they are even overcrowded with each new regime.

    Protection against aerial landings was assured by permanently revolving projectiles, which had come down to our era along with other remnants of the age of high technology.

    The selection of inmates for the individual islands has led to sociological experiments. But, whatever the mixture of deportees, the initial “anything goes” situation soon developed into an authoritarian system.

    The original and semi-mythical Brutus killed the last Roman king, his historical descendant killed the first caesar—both with their own hands. One commenced and one concluded the five-hundred-year history of the republic.

    But when something that was already boring in the editorials read at breakfast is passed off as elite wisdom, then you feel annoyed.

    The anarch is no individualist either. He wishes to present himself neither as a Great Man nor as a Free Spirit. His own measure is enough for him; freedom is not his goal; it is his property. He does not come on as a foe or reformer: one can get along with him nicely in shacks or in palaces. Life is too short and too beautiful to sacrifice it for ideas, although contamination is not always avoidable. But hats off to the martyrs.

    The Domo has a sharp eye for anything concerning greetings and clothing, and rightly so, for therein lies the start of insubordination. If a man is not reprimanded for leaving his top button open, he will soon walk in naked.

    At first blush, the anarch seems identical with the anarchist in that both assume that man is good. The difference is that the anarchist believes it while the anarch concedes it. Thus, for the anarch it is a hypothesis, for the anarchist an axiom. A hypothesis must be confirmed in each individual case; an axiom is unshakable. It is followed by personal disappointments. Hence, the history of anarchism is a series of schisms. Ultimately, the individual remains alone, a despairing outcast.

    So much for the transmission of texts and their combination. The Tower of Babel was dismantled brick by brick, quantified, and rebuilt. A question-and-answer game leads to the upper stories, the chambers, the details of its appointments. This suffices for the historian who practices history as a science.

    A conversation with someone who introduces himself as a realist usually comes to a vexatious end. He has a limited notion of the thing, just as the idealist does of the Idea or the egoist of the self. Freedom is labeled. This also holds for the anarchist’s relationship to anarchy.

    In a town where thirty anarchists get together, they herald the smell of fires and corpses. These are preceded by obscene words. If thirty anarchists live there without knowing one another, then little or nothing happens; the atmosphere improves.

    As in everyone, as in all of us, the anarch is also concealed in the anarchist—the latter resembling an archer whose arrow has missed the bull’s-eye.

    Above all, the anarch must not think progressively. That is the anarchist’s mistake; he thereby lets go of the reins.

    Merlino, one of the disillusioned, hit the nail on the head: “Anarchism is an experiment.”

    Taking part in civil but not national wars is consistent with anarchist logic.

    This revolution is bizarre in that throughout the European countries where it took place, it achieved the exact opposite of its goals, thereby damming up the world torrent for nearly a hundred years. The reasons have been examined from different vantage points. In medicine, such a process is known as maladie de relais: a disease providing new impulses—in this case, say, Bismarck and Napoleon III.

    The anarch can face the monarch unabashedly; he feels like an equal even among kings. This basic mood affects the ruler; he senses the candid look. This produces a mutual benevolence favorable to conversation.

    Spain is one of the great strongholds of reactionism, just as England is a bulwark of liberalism, Sicily of tyranny, Silesia of mysticism, and so forth. “Blood and soil”—this inspired muttonheads, who amused blockheads.

    State capitalism is even more dangerous than private capitalism because it is directly tied to political power. Only the individual can succeed in escaping it, but not the group.

    The most obvious things are invisible because they are concealed in human beings; nothing is harder to evince than what is self-evident. Once it is uncovered or rediscovered, it develops explosive strength. Saint Anthony recognized the power of the solitary man, Saint Francis that of the poor man, Stirner that of the only man. “At bottom,” everyone is solitary, poor, and “only” in the world.

    This recalls a certain philosopher’s judgment of solipsism: “An invincible stronghold defended by a madman.”

    Now just what are the cardinal points or the axioms of Stirner’s system, if one cares to call it that? There are only two, but they suffice for thorough reflection: 1. That is not My business. 2. Nothing is more important than I.

    It is especially difficult to tell the essential from that which is similar to and indeed seems identical with it. This also applies to the anarch’s relation to the anarchist. The latter resembles the man who has heard the alarm but charges off in the wrong direction.

    The milk of human kindness has gone sour; no Cato will make it fresh again. Besides, any present time is grim; that is why better times are sought partly in the past, partly in the future.

    It makes no difference to me whether Eumeswil is ruled by tyrants or demagogues. Any man who swears allegiance to a political change is a fool, a facchino for services that are not his business. The most rudimentary step toward freedom is to free oneself from all that. Basically each person senses it, and yet he keeps voting.

    Two steps, or rather leaps, could get me out of the city in which evolution has run its course.

    a human being is revealed more in his lies than in his banal truth—his measure is his wishful thinking.

    Sometimes the warrior caste is disempowered by the demos or by the senate and it then migrates to remote territories. That is how the motherland gets rid of its agitated minds, aristocrats, and reactionaries; in those areas, as in nature reserves, they can wage old-fashioned wars against nomads and mountain tribes. Adventures in service. On the other hand, they can turn dangerous when they, like Caesar, create their Gaul or, like an Iberian general named Franco, return with their legionnaires during a crisis.

    “The heir to the Last Man is not the primitive, but the zombie.”

  • Books

    My Confession by Samuel Chamberlain

    The Book in 3 Sentences

    1. This book is a bizarre travel memoir mostly concerning the Mexican American War. The author gets kicked out Boston at a young age and rambles the country more or less witnessing war crimes and fighting cavalry fights. It serves as a dramatic lesson in how the world has changed if nothing else.

    Summary + Notes

    Now while I was ready to forgive the sinner for his insult to me, I felt it was my Christian duty to punish him for his blasphemy.

    Thus I lost confidence in woman’s love, and faith in religion, and went forth shunned as if I was another Cain.

    She was sorry I was a Yankee, but when I assured her that I had never made a wooden Nutmeg or peddled a wooden Clock in my life she thought better of me. She

    made an objection to having his Sable majesty ride inside, but I was verdant to Southern customs. A young Virginian, the master of the Negro, got into a rage and swore, “that the boy was worth twelve hundred dollars, and doggone his buttons if he would allow him to catch his death a cold for all the cursed Yankees that ever wore Store Clothes.”

    the frightened inmates thought the whole house was on fire. I cried out that the fire was in the roof and seeing a row of Fire Buckets hanging in the Hall, I threw them down, rushed with two to the well, filled them, and run up the Stairs, asking one of the teachers to see they were all filled and brought up.

    We formed a plan to elope to the North, and without waiting for the tie to be severed that bound her to Laboyce we would marry and be happy for life!

    Our company, the Alton Guards, elected our own officers, as did all the other volunteers.

    The Company was composed of the floating population of a Mississippi River town, wild reckless fellows, excellent material for soldiers, but requiring strict discipline to curb their lawless spirits.

    The Rangers were the Scouts of our Army and a more reckless, devil-may-care looking set, it would be impossible to find this side of the Infernal Regions. Some

    Take them altogether, with their uncouth costumes, bearded faces, lean and brawny forms, fierce wild eyes and swaggering manners, they were fit representatives of the outlaws which made up the population of the Lone Star State.

    The warm body was carried out, sawdust was sprinkled over the bloodstained floor, Glanton carefully wiped his knife on the leather sleeve of his jacket, and matters in the Bexar Exchange resumed their usual course.

    We went for each other, and he very foolishly run onto the point of my “Arkansas toothpick” and was badly cut for his want of judgement. I was seized by the guard, old Spanish irons were placed on me, and I was thrust into the “Callaboose,” a room about twenty feet square, inhabited by a very select society of Indians, Texans, Horsethieves, Murderers and the vilest characters of the lawless frontier.

    This family placed me under the greatest obligations by their extreme kindness.

    But I resisted and triumphed and the honor of the house of Ritter suffered not at my hands.

    strolling under the shade of the sheltering woods. Katherine lay reclining in my arms, her arms pressed around me as of old, and I—well, my nature is too volcanic to play the Joseph too often!

    Here I have listened to thrilling stories of Napoleon’s campaigns, related by an old cavalryman of fifty years’ service who had served in Italy, Egypt and in the Russian campaign, and at the age of seventy was still a vigorous soldier in the United States service.

    On seeing us the “Rackensackers” broke ranks, and surrounded us yelling and whooping like Indians. Their officers had no control over them, and only our bold front saved our defenseless prisoners from being massacred by these brave chivalric sons of the South. Finding they could not butcher our charge, they went off at a jump to find other victims. Woe to the cripples and sick women who fell in their way, for their cruelty was only exceeded by their insubordination.

    No man of any spirit and ambition would join the “Doughboys” and go afoot, when he could ride a fine horse and wear spurs like a gentleman.

    No one was punished for this outrage; General Wool, in a general order, reprimanded the Arkansas Cavalry, but nothing more was done. The direct cause of the massacre was the barbarous murder of a young man belonging to the Arkansas Regiment. But this murder was undoubtedly committed in retaliation for the outrages committed on the women of the Agua Nueva ranch by the volunteers on Christmas day.

    Most of them were wild reckless young fellows, with the most inflated ideas of their own personal prowess and a firm belief that their own State could whip the world and Mexico in particular. This independence of character, and self-confidence was fatal to their efficiency as soldiers. Many of them were duelists and desperados of the frontier, quite famous in their own locality as fighting men, to whom the wholesome restraints of discipline seemed tyranny in its worst form. The battles of the Alamo, San Jacinto and Mier, with the exploits of their demigods Crockett, Travis, and Bowie, caused them to religiously believe that a dozen Southern gentlemen armed with the Kentucky rifle and that southern institution, the Bowie Knife, could travel all over Mexico.

    They took no care of their arms—not one Carbine in fifty would go off—and most of their Sabres were rusted in their scabbards. This shameful state of affairs seemed to have no remedy; the War was a southern democratic one, and ex-Governor Yell of the great and sovereign State of Arkansas, and ex-Senator Marshall, of the immaculate and still greater State of Kentucky, were men of too much importance to take advice, much less orders, from a little Yankee general like Wool. “We come here to fight sir!

    Sergeant Gorman was reduced to the ranks for seeing a Ghost.

    Under the cliffs at the pass the Surgeon and his assistants were busy preparing amputating tables.

    The air was so clear we could see every movement: The Infantry knelt down, the Cavalry lowered their lances and uncovered, and their colors drooped as the benedictions were bestowed. This ceremony offered a striking contrast to conditions in our lines; there was not a Chaplain in our army!

    I heard General Taylor say, “Steady boys! Steady for the honor of Old Mississippi!”

    The Mexicans had a heavy battery of three guns, manned by Irish deserters from our army. These desperadoes were organized as a battalion known as the Battalia San Patricio, or Legion of Saint Patrick; the commander was the notorious Reilly, who ranked as a Colonel in the Mexican Army.

    The gallant Colonels, not having time to settle their debate, decided to act independently, so when the enemy was within five hundred yards, Marshall gave the order to “Fire!” and Colonel Yell cried out, “Hold! Don’t fire until they are nearer!” The consequence was, some fired, others did not, but all turned and fled excepting Colonel Yell and a few officers of both regiments. Colonel Yell was killed—pierced by lance thrusts in the mouth and breast—and Marshall was senior beyond all dispute! Captain Porter of Arkansas and Adjutant Vaughan of Kentucky were also slain. Our column gave a wild Hurrah and charged the foe in the flank, taking them by surprise, and at a disadvantage.

    On examining his body it was discovered that the shot which broke his thigh bone was fired by his own men (there being Buckshot in it). This was considered accidental, but believed otherwise, as battles often decide private grievances, as well as those of nations.

    I halted at a spring and found my good steed apparently as fresh and as lively as when we set out. I raised up his head and gave him a drink of the whiskey (he was a regular old soldier), took some myself, let him drink at the spring, in which I bathed my head, and then tightening the saddle girth I was off again.

    The guerillars, if possible, were guilty of worse acts than the Rangers, and the conflict was no longer war but murder, and a disgrace to any nation calling itself Christian. Our officers became disgusted with the many revolting acts committed by volunteers and Rangers, and no reports were ever made of these cruel raids.

    This “Yankee” regiment was essentially an Irish one, the best material in the world to make infantry of, but requiring great efficiency on the part of the officers to enforce discipline. Unfortunately,

    Visions of prize money flitted through our brains when a dignified little yellow-faced man, dressed in a suit of Nankeen, cut English fashion, came from the cuartel and stuck a pole surmounted by the Union Jack of England in one of the piles and, in the most pompous manner, informed our officers the silver was the property of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, and that the United States Government would be held to a strict accountability if it was molested! How potent is the power of Great Britain! Here thousands of miles away from all apparent power of that nation a miserable little cockney, with only the insignia of his country’s greatness, defies and threatens three hundred of Uncle Sam’s roughest riders. I believe that one of the Silver Pigs was sequestered by a graceless artillery officer, who not having the fear of Her Majesty’s displeasure, hid one in one of his guns, and thus it was brought to camp.

    was already far gone in love; wild schemes flittered through my brain to adopt her as a sister, but alas!—man proposes and God disposes—platonic attachment between a wild Dragoon not yet out of his teens, and a young, passionate daughter of Mexico was an impossibility.

    They were tried by a Court Martial, fifty sentenced to be hanged, the rest to dig the graves of their executed comrades, and “to receive two hundred lashes on the bare back, the letter D to be branded on the cheek with a red hot iron, to wear an iron yoke weighing eight pounds with three prongs, each one foot in length, around the neck, to be confined to hard labor, in charge of the guard during the time the army should remain in Mexico, and then to have their heads shaved and be drummed out of camp.”

    During the war many of the females of the country had proved firm friends of “Los Gringos,” and we were often indebted to them for valuable information regarding the movements of the enemy, their own countrymen. Our fair female friends showed the utmost contempt for the weak dissolute “greasers,” and were public in their outspoken admiration of the stalwart frames, fair skins, blue eyes, and the kind and courteous demeanor of Los Barbarianos del Norte. This feeling was not confined to the lower classes; the señoritas ricas and the “doñas puros Castillanas” of the towns shared it with the poblanas and margaritas of the villages.

    As might be supposed, this did not increase the love of the hombres for us, or render the position of the “Yankedos” now that their protectors were leaving the country, a pleasant one. They suffered fearful outrages from the returned Mexican soldiery and the ladrones of the country—they were violated, ears cut off, branded with the letters “U.S.” and in some cases impaled by the cowardly “greasers,” who thus wreaked their vengeance on defenseless women.

    Through her influence I obtained the position of wagon master, at sixty-five dollars per month and two rations—a much better arrangement than the $7 a month I had been receiving as a Dragoon.

    The bearer of this, Miss Ellen Ramsey, is desirous of going to California, and I have recommended you to her as a suitable party for her to contract a ‘Scotch marriage’ with, to enable her to do so. She will explain all. Yours, &c, Hugh Elmsdale.” This extraordinary epistle was written by a friend of mine, a clerk in the commissary Dept.

    At Santa Cruz de Rosales, about 60 miles from Chihuahua, I sketched a monument built to commemorate a victory over the Comanches, who terrorize the country.

    Colonel Washington, Majors Graham and Rucker gave the fair bride a chaste salute and the happy couple departed, hand in hand, to the bridegroom’s home, i.e., his tent.

    Glanton had made two raids in the Indian country, with but small profit, and had met with considerable loss. There was in camp drying thirty-seven of those disgusting articles of trade, Apache scalps, cut with the right ear on, to prevent fraud, as some Indians have two circles to their hair.

    Holden’s lecture no doubt was very learned, but hardly true, for one statement he made was “that millions of years had witnessed the operation producing the result around us,” which Glanton with recollections of the Bible teaching his young mind had undergone said “was a d——d lie.”

    The Great Canyon of the Colorado at last!

    I am satisfied that we were the first white men who ever saw the Great Canyon from this point. What is very singular in regard to it is that the cut is not through mountains, but through a level plain, with mountains rising above it from three to twelve thousand feet.

    Their fields are irrigated by a system of canals from the Gila, the women doing the work of the fields while the men take care of the children and do the weaving.

  • Travel

    Random thoughts from a week in San Francisco

    1. I realize that my ideal vacation consists of taking long walks somewhere scenic in some way – as the sole meaningful vote stuff decisions tended towards that
    2. the only Biden/Trump stuff was some weird guy dancing in a Trump mask in Union Square – I don’t know if he was pro or con – it seemed very neutral
    3. No Israel/Gaza graffiti at all.  No BLM or “In this house” signs either.
    4. Everything was very clean
    5. I did not encounter a single panhandler
    6. The homeless that were visible in public places were all tragic cases.  There were noticeably more homeless than the last trip, but all kept to themselves
    7. The combination of Golden Gate Park plus Lands End was totally awesome, one of the best afternoons of my life, and it’s odd that no one suggested that until this trip
    8. With a little more preparation and forethought in terms of food and bike rental we could have done everything much cheaper – it’s the add ons that are terribly pricey, not the main course
    9. We spoke to the hotel check-in person for a good 20 minutes when we got there – she more or less planned our entire trip for us when we got there.  I was very happy I had not planned anything before then.
    10. We were explicitly told to avoid the Tenderloin district by more than one person – I saw a little of the outskirts of that from Union Square – and the reputation seemed correct.  I would have explored that a bit more, but I had Marleigh with me
    11. SF is the world’s capital of unleashed, well behaved dogs
    12. It is the whitest city I’ve ever been in this trip – much more so than last year.  I have no idea how that’s possible.
    13. It is probably the best city in the world to be 25 years old, or wealthy 65 years old.  We saw very few kids
    Comments Off on Random thoughts from a week in San Francisco
  • Uncategorized

    Lifestyle update -carrots

    Starting on March 20, 2024 I started eating carrots and am stopping drinking protein shakes – we’ll see if my general health trends improve.

    Just a record of change.

    Comments Off on Lifestyle update -carrots