Monday, June 19, 2017

Prometheanism and the brothers Jünger (excerpt from The Titans)

The brother of Ernst Jünger (1895-1998), Friedrich Georg Jünger (1898-1977), is known for his Prometheanist text The Titans (1943), second only to his master treatise The Failure of Technology (1953) (HERE).

Ernst Jünger's The Worker: Dominion and Form (1932) is similar to both of his brother's most famous books and is due to be published in English translation this coming fall of 2017 through Northwestern University Press (HERE), however an alternate translation was once proposed but never made it through.  You can see that alternate translation in its entirety HERE. The alternate translation is very, very rare and I had the privilege of finding it after having been seeking it out for years.  I finally made contact with Dirk Leach, the original translator, and asked for the page proofs that were eventually rejected by Northwestern UP in favor of another translation.  So the original is quite rare and a gem to have.

Below is an excerpt from The Titans, perhaps interesting for those interested in proto-accelerationist texts or NrX texts of "right-accelerationism" so-called (whatever that might mean).

Friedrich Georg Jünger

Die Titanen (1943)

* * *


….The Titans are not the Gods even though they generate the Gods and relish divine reverence in the kingdom of Zeus. The world in which the Titans rule is a world without the Gods. Whoever desires to imagine a kosmos atheos, i.e. a godless cosmos, that is, a cosmos not as such as depicted by natural sciences, will find it there. The Titans and the Gods differ, and, given that their differences are visible in their behavior toward man and in view of the fact that man himself experiences on his own as to how they rule, man, by virtue of his own experience, is able to make a distinction between them.

Neither are the Titans unrestrained power hungry beings, nor do they scorn the law; rather, they are the rulers over a legal system whose necessity must never be put in doubt. In an awe-inspiring fashion, it is the flux of primordial elements over which they rule, holding bridle and reins in their hands, as seen in Helios. They are the guardians, custodians, supervisors and the guides of the order. They are the founders unfolding beyond chaos, as pointed out by Homer in his remarks about Atlas who shoulders the long columns holding the heavens and the Earth. Their rule rules out any confusion, any disorderly power performance. Rather, they constitute a powerful deterrent against chaos.

The Titans and the Gods match with each other. Just as Zeus stands in for Kronos, so does Poseidon stand in opposition to Oceanus, or for that matter Hyperion and his son Helios in opposition to Apollo, or Coeus and Phoebe in opposition to Apollo and Artemis, or Selene in opposition to Artemis.


What distinguishes the kingdom of Kronos from the kingdom of Zeus? One thing is for certain; the kingdom of Kronos is not a kingdom of the son. The sons are hidden in Kronos, who devoured those he himself had generated, the sons being now hidden in his dominion, whereas Zeus is kept away from Kronos by Rhea, who hides and raises Zeus in the caverns. And given that Kronos comports himself in such a manner his kingdom will never be a kingdom of the father. Kronos does not want to be a father because fatherhood is equivalent with a constant menace to his rule. To him fatherhood signifies an endeavor and prearrangement aimed at his downfall.

What does Kronos want, anyway? He wants to preserve the cycle of the status quo over which he presides; he wants to keep it unchanged. He wants to toss and turn it within himself from one eon to another eon. Preservation and perseverance were already the hallmark of his father. Although his father Uranus did not strive toward the Titanic becoming, he did, however, desire to continue his reign in the realm of spaciousness. Uranus was old, unimaginably old, as old as metal and stones. He was of iron-like strength that ran counter to the process of becoming. But Kronos is also old. Why is he so old? Can this fluctuation of the Titanic forces take on at the same time traits of the immovable and unchangeable? Yes, of course it can, if one observes it from the perspective of the return, or from the point of view of the return of the same. If one attempts it, one can uncover the mechanical side in this ceaseless flux of the movement. The movement unveils itself as a rigid and inviolable law.


How can we describe the sufferings of the Titans? How much do they suffer anyway, and what do they suffer from? The sound of grief uttered by the chained Prometheus induces Hermes to derisive remarks about the same behavior which is unknown to Zeus. In so far as the Titans are in the process of moving, we must therefore also conceive of them as the objects of removal. Their struggle is onerous; it is filled with anxiety of becoming. And their anxiety means suffering. Grandiose things are being accomplished by the Titans, but grandiose things are being imposed on them too. And because the Titans are closer to chaos than Gods are, chaotic elements reveal themselves amidst them more saliently. No necessity appears as yet in chaos because chaos has not yet been measured off by any legal system. The necessity springs up only when it can be gauged by virtue of some lawfulness. This is shown in the case of Uranus and Kronos. The necessary keeps increasing insofar as lawfulness increases; it gets stronger when the lawful movements occur, that is, when the movements start reoccurring over and over again.

Among the Titanesses the sadness is most visible in the grief of Rhea whose motherhood was harmed. Also in the mourning of Mnemosyne who ceaselessly conjures up the past. The suffering of this Titaness carries something of sublime magnificence. In her inaccessible solitude, no solace can be found. Alone, she must muse about herself — a dark image of the sorrow of life. The suffering of the Titans, after their downfall, reveals itself in all its might. The vanquished Titan represents one of the greatest images of suffering. Toppled, thrown down under into the ravines beneath the earth, sentenced to passivity, the Titan knows only how to carry, how to heave and how to struggle with the burden — similar to the burden carried by the Caryatids.


The Olympian Gods, however, do not suffer like the Titans. They are happy with themselves; they are self-sufficient. They do not ignore the pain and sufferings of man. They in fact conjure up these sufferings, but they also heal them. In Epicurean thought, in the Epicurean world of happiness, we observe the Gods dwelling in-between-the-worlds, divorced from the life of the earth and separated from the life of men, to a degree that nothing can ever reach out to them and nothing can ever come from them. They enjoy themselves in an eternal halcyon bliss that cannot be conveyed by words.

The idea of the Gods being devoid of destiny is brought out here insofar as it goes well beyond all power and all powerlessness; it is as if the Gods had been placed in a deepest sleep, as if they were not there for us. Man, therefore, has no need to think of them. He must only leave them alone in their blissful slumber. But this is a philosophical thought, alien to the myth.

Under Kronos, man is part of the Titanic order. He does not stand yet in the opposition to the order — an opposition founded in the reign of Zeus. He experiences now the forces of the Titans; he lives alongside them. The fisherman and boatman venturing out on the sea are in their Titanic element. The same happens with the shepherd, the farmer, the hunter in their realm. Hyperion, Helios and Eos determine their days, Selene regulates their nights. They observe the running Iris, they see the Horae dancing and spinning around throughout the year. They observe the walk of the nymphs Pleiades and Hyades in the skies. They recognize the rule of the great Titanic mothers, Gaia, Rhea, Mnemosyne and that of Gaia-Themis. Above all of them rules and reigns the old Kronos, who keeps a record of what happens in the skies, on the earth, and in the waters.


The course of human life is inextricably linked to the Titanic order. Life makes one whole with it; the course of life cannot be divorced from this order. It is the flow of time, the year’s course, the day’s course. The tides and the stars are on the move. The process resembles a ceaseless flow of the river. Kronos reigns over it and makes sure it keeps returning. Everything returns and everything repeats itself — everything is the same. This is the law of the Titans; this is their necessity. In their motion a strict cyclical order manifests itself. In this order there is a regular cyclical return that no man can escape. Man’s life is a reflection of this cyclic order; it turns around in a Titanic cycle of Kronos.

Man has no destiny here, in contrast to the demigods and the heroes who all have it. The kingdom of Zeus is teeming with life and deeds of heroes, offering an inexhaustible material to the songs, to the epics and to the tragedies. In the kingdom of Kronos, however, there are no heroes; there is no Heroic Age. For man, Kronos, and the Titans have no destiny; they are themselves devoid of destiny. Does Helios, does Selene, does Eos have a destiny? Wherever the Titanic necessity rules, there cannot be a destiny. But the Gods are also deprived of destiny wherever divine necessity prevails, wherever man grasps the Gods in a fashion that is not in opposition to them. But a man whom the Gods confront has a destiny. A man whom the Titans confront perishes; he succumbs to a catastrophe.

We can say, however, that whatever happens to man under the rule of the Titans is a lot easier than under the rule of the Gods. The burden imposed on man is much lighter.

* * *

What happens when the Gods turn away from man and when they leave him on his own? Wherever they make themselves unrecognizable to man, wherever their care for man fades away, wherever man’s fate begins and ends without them, there always happens the same thing. The Titanic forces return and they validate their claims to power. Where no Gods are, there are the Titans. This is a relationship of a legal order which no man can escape wherever he may turn to. The Titans are immortal. They are always there. They always strive to reestablish their old dominion of their foregone might. This is the dream of the Titanic race of the lapetos, and all the Iapetides who dream about it. The earth is penetrated and filled up with the Titanic forces. The Titans sit in ambush, on the lookout, ready to break out and break up their chains and restore the empire of Kronos.


What is Titanic about man? The Titanic trait occurs everywhere and it can be described in many ways. Titanic is a man who completely relies only upon himself and has boundless confidence in his own powers. This confidence absolves him, but at the same time it isolates him in a Promethean mode. It gives him a feeling of independence, albeit not devoid of arrogance, violence, and defiance. Titanic is a quest for unfettered freedom and independence. However, wherever this quest is to be seen there appears a regulatory factor, a mechanically operating necessity that emerges as a correction to such a quest. This is the end of all the Promethean striving, which is well known to Zeus only. The new world created by Prometheus is not.