How can one be a rebel today? How can one not! To exist is to defy all that threatens you. To be a rebel is not to accumulate a library of subversive books or to dream of fantastic conspiracies or of taking to the hills. It is to make yourself your own law. To find in yourself what counts. To make sure that you’re never “cured” of your youth. To prefer to put everyone up against the wall rather than to remain supine. To pillage in this age whatever can be converted to your law, without concern for appearance. By contrast, I would never dream of questioning the futility of seemingly lost struggles. Think of Patrick Pearse. I’ve also spoken of Solzhenitsyn, who personifies the magic sword of which Junger speaks, “the magic sword that makes tyrants tremble.” In this Solzhenitsyn is unique and inimitable. But he owed this power to someone who was less great than himself. To someone who should gives us cause to reflect. In “The Gulag Archipelago,” he tells the story of his “revelation.” In 1945, he was in a cell at Boutyrki Prison in Moscow, along with a dozen other prisoners, whose faces were emaciated and whose bodies broken. One of the prisoners, though, was different. He was an old White Guard colonel, Constantin Iassevitch. He had been imprisoned for his role in the Civil War. Solzhenitsyn says the colonel never spoke of his past, but in every facet of his attitude and behavior it was obvious that the struggle had never ended for him. Despite the chaos that reigned in the spirits of the other prisoners, he retained a clear, decisive view of the world around him. This disposition gave his body a presence, a flexibility, an energy that defied its years. He washed himself in freezing cold water each morning, while the other prisoners grew foul in their filth and lament. A year later, after being transferred to another Moscow prison, Solzhenitsyn learned that the colonel had been executed. “He had seen through the prison walls with eyes that remained perpetually young. . . . This indomitable loyalty to the cause he had fought had given him a very uncommon power.” In thinking of this episode, I tell myself that we can never be another Solzhenitsyn, but it’s within the reach of each of us to emulate the old White colonel.
- Taken from an interview with Dominique Venner.
[Jünger] had rightly perceived that the age beginning in the West with the advent of mechanical civilization and of the first “total” wars is characterized by the emergence of “elementary” forces operating in a destructive manner, not only materially, but also spiritually, not only in the vicissitude of warfare, but also in cosmopolitan mechanized life. The merit of Jünger in that first phase of his thought is that he had recognized the fatal error of those who think that everything may be brought back to order, that this new menacing world, ever advancing, may be subdued or held on the basis of the vision of life of the values of the proceeding age, that is to say of bourgeois civilization. If a spiritual catastrophe is to be averted modern man must make himself capable of developing his own being in a higher dimension – and it is in this connexion that Jünger had announced the above-mentioned watchword of “heroic realism” and pointed out the ideal of the “absolute person,” capable of measuring himself with elementary forces, capable of seizing the highest meaning of existence in the most destructive experiences, in those actions wherein the human individual no longer counts: of a man acclimatized to the most extreme temperatures and having behind the “zero point of every value.”
Taken From: East and West, V, 2, July 1954
“You all know the wild grief that besets us when we remember times of happiness. How far beyond recall they are, and we are severed from them by something more pitiless than leagues and miles. In the afterlight, too, the images stand out more enticing than before; we think of them as we do of the body of a dead loved one who rests deep in the earth, and who now in his enhanced and spiritual splendour is like a mirage of the desert before which we must tremble. And constantly in our thirst-haunted dreams we grope for the past in its every detail, in its every line and fold. Then it cannot but seem to us as if we had not had our fill of love and life; yet no regret brings back what has been let slip. Would that this mood might be a lesson to us for each moment of our happiness.
Sweeter still becomes the memory of our years by moon and sun when their end has been in the abyss of fear. Only then do we realise that for us mortals even this is great good-fortune – to live our lives in our little communities under a peaceful roof, with pleasing discourse and with loving greeting at morning and at night. Alas!.. always too late do we grasp that, if it offered no more than this, our horn of plenty brimmed with riches.”
- Excerpt From: On The Marble Cliffs, by Ernst Jünger
“Among the signs of the epoch we have now entered belongs the increased intrusion of danger into daily life. There is no accident concealing itself behind this tact but a comprehensive change of the inner and outer world.
We see this dearly when we remember what an important role was assigned to the concept of security in the bourgeois epoch just past. The bourgeois person is perhaps best characterized as one who places security among the highest of values and conducts his life accordingly. His arrangements and systems are dedicated to securing his space against the danger that at times, when scarcely a cloud appears to darken the sky, has laded into the distance. However, it is always there: it seeks with elemental constancy to break through the dams with which order has surrounded itself.
The peculiarity of the bourgeois’ relation to danger lies in his perception of it as an irresolvable contradiction to order, that is, as senseless. In this he marks himself off from other figures of, for example, the warrior, the artist, and the criminal, who are given a lofty or base relation to the elemental. Thus battle, in the eyes of the warrior, is a process that completes itself in a high order; the tragic conflict, for the writer, is a condition in which the deeper sense of life is to be comprehended very clearly; and a burning city or one beset by insurrection is a field of intensified activity for the criminal. In turn bourgeois values possess just as little validity for the believing person, for the gods appear in the elements, as in the burning bush unconsumed by the flames. Through misfortune and danger late draws the mortal into the superior sphere of a higher order”
- Excerpt From: On Danger, by Ernst Jünger