Ludwig Klages: Cosmogonic Reflections, part 4
by Ludwig Klages
translated by Joseph D. Pryce
301. On the Ontological School. If the ontological school had been relentlessly serious in its attempt to develop a logic without a subject, then ontology itself, if we do not err, would have perished in the very hour of its birth! (SW 5 p. 369)
302. The Key to Spirit. In our metaphysics, we separate the life-cell from the spirit–that power from outside the world–and, with Nietzsche, we find the key to the nature of spirit not in the intellect, but in the will. (PEN p. 144)
303. Goethe on Passion. Goethe has no rival as the poet of passion and passionate love; but he permits his disciples of passion, almost without exception, to experience a tragic downfall: recall Werther, Clavigo, Eduard, Ottilie, Egmont, Tasso, Faust, Gretchen, Weislingen, and so on. He never wearies of assuring his readers that limitless passion results in misfortune. (SW 5 p. 228)
304. The Foolishness of “Pantheism”. Pantheism, taken as literally as so many people appear to take it, is certainly the most idiotic of all the “isms” that have ever been concocted. According to this doctrine, the greatness of heroes is divine, the lying of the hypocrite is divine, the treachery of the plotter is divine, the malice of the slanderer is divine, the scent of the rose is divine, and even the stench of acetylene is divine! Now if the pantheist is utilizing such terms as “God,” “Godhead,” and “Godliness” as mere synonyms for being, then he would be well-advised to come right out and say so! (SW 5 p. 228)
305. Thought and Wisdom. The oldest wisdom of mankind was the possession and sole prerogative of woman, as we can see from the tales of the Pythia, the Sibyls, the priestesses of Ida, the swan-maidens, and the Valkyries. That which the unique disposition of woman has contributed to our attempts to discover wisdom is betrayed even now in the expression “mother wit” [Mutterwitz]. The exaggeratedly masculine West created a culture of thought, whereas the more feminine Asian world (China especially) gave birth to a culture of wisdom, whose most delicate bloom is Taoism. SW 5 pp. 221-2)
306. The “Mysterious Road”. When Novalis contemplated the unique research conducted by the Romantics (which proceeded along the same lines as the research of Goethe, but which also went beyond it), and pronounced the strangely Sibyline sentence: “The mysterious road leads inward,” he did not mean to say that, like someone staring at his own navel, we should focus our gaze upon our own person and away from the phenomenal world. He did mean to say that only through devotion to the world of images could the eye of spirit be opened, whereby it could perceive amid the appearances the soul to whom they appear; and in the same way it could perceive in the outer world the inner life that expresses its ever-changing vitality there. (SW 5 p. 234)
307. Tones and Noises. The science of acoustics treats of tones and tonal combinations; but in reality we never truly hear tones, but exclusively noises, since even the pure tone of the tuning fork can only strike the ear as does any other noise. Thus, language has no precise notation-system whereby it can denote tone-qualities in general, although language is indeed able to differentiate between innumerable noises: howling, rolling, roaring, booming, thundering, bellowing, cracking, clattering…and so forth. (SW 1 p. 180)
308. Image and Thing. The perceived image…constitutes an event; the thing figures in the event, but only as the unchanging fragment of duration inhering in that event. (SW 1 p. 181)
309. Time and Space, Images and Things. Events are species of happenings, and all happenings entail a spatio-temporal aspect. In the perceived image, whether it is seething and hissing, or only a fixed, linear array, the image comes to us as an immediately present spatio-temporal actuality, in which space and time are the connected poles, indivisible and without location, formed but without limit. Before things comes to us, on the other hand, space and time must be mediated by the connectedness of extra-spatio-temporal points existing in-themselves and for-themselves [an und für sich]. (SW 1 p. 181)
310. Dead Things, Living Powers. In the world of things, whatever is moved necessarily receives that movement from without; thus, the thing is never self-moved. This insight may provide a hint as to why physics neglects, as it must, a consideration of the distinction between activity and passivity (just as geometry omits the distinction between right and left).
“Powers,” on the other hand, initiate movement from within. Only they can act; only they can suffer. (SW p. 187)
311. Knowledge and Mortality. The consciousness of existence is one and the same with consciousness of mortality. We can acquire foreknowledge, but we can only purchase it at the price of our conscious anticipation of death. (SW 1 p. 448)
312. Formalism and Substantialism. Formalism rules physics, just as it rules the human sciences. The apparent successes that formalism can display have more or less enabled it to drive true science out of many areas of research. But formalism is debarred from one particular field: that of psychology and characterology! Here in fact we must walk upon the soil of experience. One can expel experience from formalistic thought, but formalistic thought cannot interpret experience!
Two types of thinking thus stand in an attitude of mortal enmity: the formalistic type, which claims to celebrate its supreme triumphs in mathematics—and finance; and substantial thought, which is on the verge of extinction, and which has its homeland, so to speak, in—the soul. Thus, I am one of the “last Mohicans” of substantial thought; [Melchior] Palágyi sought to introduce substantialism into physics; the attempt was doomed to failure. Physics will die—after the final paroxysms of technology—and it will die at the hands of relativistic formalism. (LK GL p. 1105)
313. The Death of Germany (From a Letter Written in 1947). An evil star reigns over this year. A great shadow has darkened my world since I learned on January 23rd of the death of my beloved sister, a death that was her final release from dreadful suffering. Her loss has been unendurable, and I see her death almost as an impersonal and tragic symbol of my dying homeland. Both of us had requested permission to say our sad farewells in person, since we both knew that delay would be fatal. In vain! The Allies are granting passports only to industrialists, known collaborators, and, finally, to those creatures who, in lieu of visas, brandish the slanderous diatribes that they have scribbled against the German people. (LK GL pp. 1361-2)
314. On Will as Servant of Life. The expressive potential in the formative movements of talented individuals is in sharp contrast with what we find in the merely mechanical movements of the willful, in whom spirit has released itself from its connection with the soul; and the expressive movements of the talented also differ from the restless, rhythmical motions that we find in primitive peoples, in that the talented individuals have been able masterfully to press the will into the service of life, so that even in the historical phase, the “head” spontaneously avows its adherence to the “heart,” to the extent that it is energized by the pulsation of the heart. (SW 6 pp. 654-5)
315. On Expression-Research [Ausdruckskunde]. Expression-Research is the scientific discipline that investigates the psychical content [vom seelischen Gehalt] of the functional transformations occurring in the bodily constitution of man and animal. Among such transformations we have: the acceleration and the retardation of pulsatory and respiratory movements, the prolongation or the shortening of pulse-rate and respiratory-rate, the dilation and contraction of the pupils, changes in digestion, muscular spasms, the emission of sweat, and so on. Many of these phenomena can be satisfactorily investigated only within the controlled conditions of the experimental laboratory; others are readily visible in normal environments. Among the latter we have changes in pulse and respiration, blushing and becoming pale, and so on. Among the most visible and, therefore, the most easily dealt with conceptually, are the involuntary expressive movements. Basically, these movements pervade the entire body (along with other functional alterations). Joyous excitement can find expression in such phenomena as: the acceleration of the gait, the liveliness of the gestures, the raising of the voice, the lifting of the head, the easing of the facial musculature, the heightened gleam in the eyes, an elevated redness of the complexion (resulting from the distention of the blood-vessels), and so on. Then we have the contrasting group of expressions that accompany the condition of sadness (the relaxation of the muscles, bowed posture, the retardation of movement in general, increased pallor, and so on). Above all, this science has turned its attentions to the investigation of the expressive movements associated with the sentiments (rages, affects, emotions).
Among the host of researchers who were involved in expression-research in the latter half of the 19th Century (Duchenne, Gratiolet, Spencer, Bell, Mosso, Lehmann, Wundt, Lange, James), the two towering figures are Darwin and Piderit. It was Darwin who first established the essential equivalence of emotional expression in all of the human races, by means of an ingeniously designed questionnaire, which he distributed to 36 explorers, colonial officials, and missionaries. In addition, through careful observation of the behavior of a multitude of animals, Darwin demonstrated—at the very least—the comprehensive similarity that exists even between the expressive movements of man and those of the animal. He was, unfortunately, less successful in his theoretical forays. Here, Piderit was more effective, although he limited his investigations to the study of facial mimicry. These studies anticipated the most recent work in the field, which goes beyond an analysis of merely transitory conditions in order to arrive at a comprehensive study of the organism that produces the expressive movement. In our own publications, the author of these lines has transformed expression-theory into a comprehensive physiognomics of functional transformations. (SW 6 pp. 687-8)
316. The Symphonic Rhythms of Earth. Whoever attends to the great symphony of rhythms, sooner or later has occasion to observe that organic and cosmic tides constitute polarized forms of a rhythmical totality that corresponds to rhythms that occur in both the organic and the super-organic realms. At the very least we can affirm that our earth stands under the sign of an enduring pulsation. We think of the rhythm (never regular!) of the melting of winter’s snow, of the annual rhythm of rising and falling rivers, of the rhythm of commingling waters as springs pour forth their floods, of the rainy seasons in tropical regions, of the periodic fluctuation in the depth of the water-table, of the day-to-day periodicity of atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity, and electrical conductivity, of the daily, yearly, and centennial rhythms of magnetic declination and inclination, of the monthly, biannual, and yearly periodicity of the polar aurora, of the periodicity of windless “doldrums,” and so on. When we consider the rhythms in forms, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the rhythm (never regular!) of the oceanic tides provides an apt paradigm for a whole host of telluric formations. We recall sand dunes (both consolidated and shifting), the oceanic interior of continental deserts, the wave-like patterns formed by cirrus clouds, the wave-crests of mountain and mountain-chain.
Typical plant-forms recur in certain classes of animals as they do in the contours of the earth itself. Who can be unaware of the similarities between the rhythmical branching of the tree and the ramifying of the great river networks, or the tree-like ramification of the human nerve-centers! (SW 2 p. 827)
317. False Philosophers. Restless, rambling, enthusiastic spirits invariably lack the slightest trace of a profound originality. Their speculations either degenerate into a hollow species of rationalism, or they lead to a superficial game of wits that is played out with phantoms in which even they do not seriously believe.
From Plato to Hegel, the entire host of so-called philosophers can be divided into two camps: first, we have those half-sober, and therefore uncritical, phantom-mongers; and second, we have these arrogant hyper-rationalists, i.e., such fellows as are shallow enough to convince themselves that life is a rational phenomenon! (RR p. 346)
318. The Two Styles of Art. When we avert our gaze from the almost demonic primitive modes of art (Egyptian, Assyrian, Aztec, Peruvian, and primitive), we realize that for us there are really only two types of art: the Apollonian-Ancient and the Gothic-Germanic. The first signifies the road to the appearances, while the second marches down the road to actions. (RR p. 329)
319. Loss of Meaning. How will we ever be able to elicit the full content of words that we can no longer really comprehend, such as the “will” of Schopenhauer, the “absolute” and the “infinite” of Schelling, the “a priori” of Kant, and the “pneuma” of the Gnostics?! In the strictest sense, philosophy has as little chance of being translated out of its tongue and its time as poetry has. (RR p. 365)
320. The Faith in the Images. We have access to countless examples of the faith in the images as it existed during pre-history in the surviving emblematic forms of non-conceptual, symbolic thought. We are able to arrange in a chronological series a great range of evidence: from the sagas and faiths, from the fetishes and magical practices, from the soothsaying and the superstitions, from sacred customs and celebrations, and, in brief, from the entire heritage of prehistory, to demonstrate the fact that life-bound spirit’s limitless creative variety—both in the degenerate and falling and in the healthy and perfect—is based upon the rule of the faith in images over the faith in the actuality of things; and this irrefutable fact enables us to understand, with a certitude that is beyond the reach of discursive consciousness, the following fundamental truths: the essential unity of the images with the active powers of the world in general; the essential unity of the images with each other according to the measure of their elementary similarities; the essential unity of specific images with their symbolic signs; and, finally, the essential unity of the image-receiving with the symbol-imparting, soul of man. (SW 2 pp. 1257-8)
321. Eternally Valid. The soulless lust for power of Rome was massively amplified by the surreptitious addition of the Jewish lust for power, and henceforth these two have magnified the empire of the papacy: The papacy is nothing but Judaised Caesarism. (SW 2 p. 1243)
322. The Body-Soul Unity. Just as the soul is the formative principle of the living body, so is the living body the phenomenon and revelation of the soul. (AC p. 304)
323. From Heroism to Modernity. The fate that befell the Indo-Europeans can immediately be comprehended when we look at the four “epic” peoples: the Indians, the Persians, the Greeks, and the Germans. In all of these cultures, the vital activity bifurcates into two forms of expression, i.e., the heroic and the poetic…Both were and are possible without the will to power, and the participation of these “epic” peoples in both modes of expression is recalled in the bloody battlefields filled with the shining deeds of heroic, self-sacrificing warriors, as well as in their artistic creations that are still bathed in the light of their poetic immortality.
But when the Indo-Europeans fell into the clutches of spirit, heroism degenerated into rationalism and technology. The Anglo-Saxon peoples stood in the vanguard of this disastrous development. Its pinnacle is reached in today’s Americanism.
Even among the Semites there was a people whose essential soul reveals certain affinities with the soul of the Indo-European: the Arabs, who, in certain limited areas, can be said to stand in polar contrast to the Indo-European peoples. Just as one can compare the Viking essence to the surge of the storm-tormented North Sea, one can similarly compare the essence of the Islamic Arab to a desert storm. Who knows whether Spain could have functioned as the connecting link in that wondrous synthesis of Eastern and Western actuality that the great Friedrich II Hohenstaufen had in mind, had Spain not already tied herself to that revolution which Nietzsche called the victorious “slave revolt in morality,” which was brought about by the instilling of the spirit of Jahwistic Judaism in all the downtrodden dregs of the Roman Empire? The Jew Saul—”St. Paul”—made the great advance when he made the world safe for his beloved “spirit.” And the spirit of Pauline Judaism is still around today, although it calls itself—Christendom. (SW 2 p. 1242)
324. Rome and Power. No one will dispute the greatness of the history of Rome. The inferiority of Rome to Greece in heroism and poetry can only be matched by Rome’s superiority in her unbridled will to power. (SW 2 pp. 1242-3)
325. The West I. We can only understand alien races when we take the Germanic nature as normative; this direction of apprehension cannot be reversed.
The Oriental soul manifests a sickly exaltation and has nothing whatever in common with the force of soul that radiates from the audacious and mild luster of Germanic eyes.
Even the Greek soul differs from the Germanic. The Greek soul is weaker, more southern, more hermaphroditic, and more plastic. The Germanic soul is bolder, more Nordic, more masculine, more wandering, more profound, and more cosmic. Beauty has a more difficult birth in the Germanic realm than it has in the Greek, but the content housed in Germanic beauty is far more powerful. (RR p. 249)
326. The West II. A profound abyss yawns between the priestly races and the heroic ones; the noble races also pray, but only to their heroes. Demonic powers inhabit these gigantic warriors, who scorn the spiritual devotion of the Catholic saints. The Aryans who conquered ancient India sprang from a heroic, primordial race, whereas the sanctity of the Indian priests originated in a purely Asiatic, “peasant” spirituality. But every peasantry is obviously gentler than an adventurous aristocracy. (RR p. 251)
327. The Syrian Infection. Even before the advent of Christianity, the Romans had already succumbed to Stoicism, whose springs also arose in Syria. (RR p. 251)
328. The Western Nature. In the East, in the South, and also in the world of antiquity, color, light, “form,” and vision rule the scene; in the western Germanic world, it is moderation, sound, and pleasing scents. The dense texture of actuality in its greatest breadth is also “Western.” Its essence is heavier, harder, more metallic, and, in the work area, it is more pitiless, more formed, and more enduring. The hardness of the North is the hardness of metal, i.e., a supple hardness. The south-east has conquered us, however; and we still have not given birth to our authentic essence. (RR p. 311)
329. On Masters. The master has the power; he doesn’t have to seek it out. He binds and even alters the stream of power solely in the interests of life. (RR p. 293)
330. Symbolism. The unity of life is not individual, it is divine. It was only in later times that the gods first assumed the guise of individuals. This is made obvious in the allegorical interpretations concocted by an already partially mechanized mankind. The primordial microcosmic symbol is the swastika; animal symbols are also microcosmic. However, trees, monoliths, pyramids, sphinxes, and prehistoric grave-sites are all macrocosmic. (RR p. 317)
331. Politics. Among the pagans, only the Romans were able to develop the grand style in politics, and Rome perished because Roman politics, like the politics of our own age, finally succumbed to the contagion of Judah. And Judah’s politics is now the politics of the whole world. (RR p. 322)
332. Actualities. That there are for us two actualities, one of customary consciousness and one of the soul, is the philosophical expression of the cleft in our inner being, which entered the sphere of life with Plato and Christ. (RR p. 475)
333. In the “Year of Salvation.” The most impudent Jewish attempt to blot out the prehistoric world succeeded when Christianity identified the birth-year of its founder with the birth-year of time itself. (RR p. 349)
334. On Characterology. [Charakterkunde]. Two basic modes of psychology have co-existed alongside each other for quite some time: one type of “psychology” devotes its energies to the investigation of the facts of consciousness; whereas the other school of thought investigates the nature of the whole personality; the latter discipline first received its designation as “Characterology” during the 19th Century. There is a wealth of material to be discovered in the poets, sages, and moralists of the ages that has only been systematically worked over in recent years. We especially recall the pronouncements of Democritus and those of the more important Greek Sophists, as well as the contributions of the later Stoics, most especially those of Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus. Then we have Theophrastus, a student and disciple of Aristotle, who, in his renowned “Ethical Characters,” presented a series of fragmentary analyses of 30 character-types; unfortunately, the acumen of Theophrastus is seriously impaired as a result of his attending to the siren-song of his consistency-mania. This work was translated into French in the 17th Century by La Bruyère, who himself published an outstanding treatise entitled “Characters.” We also recall the French moralists and skeptics who flourished during the 16th and 17th Centuries: Montaigne, Pascal, and, above all, De la Rochefoucauld, the author of the dazzling “Maxims.” The problems of characterology first came into view in Germany during the intellectual Renaissance of our classical age. Goethe’s “Elective Affinities” and, above all, Jean Paul’s “Levana” both provide unsurpassed treasures of the greatest interest for the characterologist. Likewise, there were many useful characterological observations in the “Aphorisms” of Lichtenberg, and even the prominent epistemologist Immanuel Kant discussed the foundations of characterology in his “Anthropology.” The investigations of these students soon intersected with the physiognomical studies of Lavater, Camper, and Gall; the soil was thus well prepared for the biocentric psychology of the German Romantics. Towering above them all, is the recently re-discovered late Romantic physician Carl Gustav Carus, whose masterworks are the “Psyche: On the Developmental History of the Soul” and the “Symbolism of the Human Anatomy.” There are many worthwhile discoveries to be found as well in the works of Arthur Schopenhauer. From Schopenhauer the thread of tradition leads directly to the philosopher and pedagogue Julius Bahnsen, who brought out his 2-vol. treatise, the “Contributions to Characterology,” in 1867, in which the learned author first gives the illustrious child its proper name. After Bahnsen’s time, however, the thread of the characterological tradition was snapped.
Eventually, the pre-dominant natural-scientific, “experimental” psychology drove the science of character almost completely from the field. Works by French students, such as the “Characters” by Paulhan, and the “Temperament and Character” by Fouillée, remained without influence. One began to hear on all sides that a complete revolution in psychology was at hand.
At that time, it was customary to demand that psychology furnish the correct instructions to employers regarding the suitability of job-applicants for specific vocations. Under the pressure of this demand, a field of research was developed which devoted itself to the study of human aptitudes and “Psychotechnics” (Münsterberg, Stern, Meumann, and others). Thereupon characterology began to penetrate psychiatry. The results of the investigations undertaken in this area by neurologists, for the most part in close conjunction with “psychoanalysts,” are still somewhat murky.
But now, a powerful revolution really did break out, a revolution that had its origins in the psychological doctrines of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Basing itself firmly upon these doctrines, there soon appeared—under the illustrious name that Bahnsen had first bestowed upon the science—the first modern, systematic treatise on characterology, which was published by the author of these lines in 1910, under the title “The Principles of Characterology.” The doctrines propounded in this concise, but epoch-making work, for the first time established, as they will continue to determine, the future direction of characterology. (SW 4 pp. 708-9)
335. On Hysteria and Sanctity. Imitation is the common characteristic of all hysterical phenomena. When we read reports concerning the monks and nuns of the Middle Ages who were declared blessed, or saints (most especially if we read their own accounts!), we are amazed at the startling similarity of the ecstasies that are recounted, and at the grotesque lack of mythopoeic imagination that characterizes these stories. Thus, regarding the phenomenon of stigmatization, over and over again we encounter the following: the Christ appears, either in the guise of a child, or as the crucified adult, and he offers the choice of a floral crown or a crown of thorns; of course, the latter is chosen. The Christ then touches the region of the heart with a rod, a spear, or a beam of light (in order to mark the lateral wound). Later, he will grant the full stigmata, with its familiar five rays that emanate from the lateral wound, the hands, and the feet. The rays may be blood-red or they may be a dazzling white. The impression of the wounds will reach its high point on Good Friday. In brief, the same series of phantoms arrives on cue, and is repeated, over and over again, always in strictest obedience to the scriptural authorities established by the church.
Further, the types of phenomena that occur in eras that were stirred unto their very depths (which are merely the incubation periods of the mechanism of hysteria) throw light, not so much on this mechanism as on the condition, based on racial history, of its origins. These “saints” will to resemble their savior as closely as possible, just as they wish to enjoy all of his sufferings. Above all, they will to be tortured by him. But such instances of willing could never produce the internal image unless that, of which the willing is but a conscious symptom, had already occurred in the person’s vital stratum, i.e., as an internal cleavage, or schism, which thenceforth we can examine very conveniently in its conscious results. Why do the saints desire to suffer such torments and pains? Because they wish to punish the body, because they wish to mount an extreme resistance to its requirements, to its claims, and to its desires. Let us now consider the significance of these facts.
Every living being is a totality possessing two poles, body and soul: body the manifestation of soul, and soul the meaning of the manifested body. The movements (in part locomotor and in part formative) constitute expressions, urges, and intuitions of that which is expressed in them. The crucial experience of the body is sensual pleasure, the central experience of the soul the joy of exultant creativity. The pre-condition for the highest development of the body, as well as of the soul, can only be maintained in the equipoise of these two poles. To wage war against the body entails making war upon such joy, and to wage war against such joy also means to expel the soul and leave it homeless, to drain its creative enthusiasm, to dry up the springs of creativity. But why do these saints wish to wage war against the body? Why do they crave (at least unintentionally) that which is the inevitable consequence: to expel the soul, to extirpate creative exaltation, to paralyze creativity? It is because the soul was sundered by the a-cosmic power of spirit (logos, pneuma, nous), whose very essence is will, the adversary and murderer of life. Either one understands this, and then the supernatural visions, the examples of demonic possession, the hysteria, and, finally, personality itself, are understood; or else one cannot understand all this, and nothing at all will result but additional confusion of speech by means of that Babylonian tower of emergency concepts that dire need constrains us to erect as a substitute for thought. A hundred attempts have been made to derive the repression of body and life from life itself, but all such attempts are more blind than would be the attempt to demonstrate of the flame that is extinguished by pouring water upon it that the flame has extinguished itself by transforming a part of itself into the water that is being utilized to extinguish it! (SW 4 pp. 333-4)
336. The Crucifixion of Soul and Body. The mankind of heathen temples and festivals, of Gothic cathedrals and shining twilights, of pomp and circumstance and organ-tones, is finished, yielding place to a generation that reveals itself in the Stock Exchange, radio, airplane, telephone, movies, factories, poison gas, precision instruments, and newspapers. The pilgrim’s path has its stations, but all of them end up at Golgotha. Similarly, the story of spirit in Europe has its crucial chapters, which announce themselves as follows: the war of body and soul, disembodiment of the soul, or condemnation of joy, or paralysis of creative force; extinction of the soul in the body, or the blinding of intuition, or the body as machine; and man as the instrument of the will to power, which replaces the soul with soul-mimicry, phantoms, and masks. (SW 4 p. 336)
337. The Blood-Glow and the Demonic Powers. The blood-glow ([Alfred] Schuler) is an uninterrupted, profoundly disturbing access of awe. A dark atmosphere throbs and ferments within hidden hovels. Wild, raucous cries blend with the crashing of storms. Being speaks in a demonic voice out of the murky twilight; but the glowing crimson of a winter evening is encircling the world, and a blazing fire directs its light upon the pursuing powers. The flame and smoke of the hearth fire shudder in the holy night before the savage force of the winds.
Blood-glow is Eros and child, is the golden unity of life, and through the eyes of the child, the blood-glow gazes far back into the golden distance (could that be the true significance of the mirror in the Corybantic ring?). In the blood-glow, the mysteries of the maternal universe are revealed. (RR p. 270)
338. On the Dæmonic Vision. Just as messages are transmitted between dæmon and soul, so are dæmon and soul intimately bound together with the dæmonic and primordial source of images, in the living, in a way that transcends the possibility of a purely verbal revelation, for at the moment when the visionary event overwhelms us, we experience, again and yet again, an ever-renewable, cyclical series of “world-beginnings.”
We would like to draw the reader’s attention to a particularly fiery and colorful strophe composed by Alfred Schuler. It is entitled “Corybantic Dithyramb” (from his “Cosmogony”:
What are you that is more than this my candle-wick,
Than my lamp that boils with its Balsamic oils?
What are you more than my own gentle blossom,
My mosaic of the hyacinths,
Which glow beneath my feet?
I am the light that nurtures you.
I am the eye that feigns, at dead of night, a gleam for you.
I am the pearl that shaped its globe within the shell.
I am the rush that youthens our old world,
For I am life!
The world stands in its shining, instantaneous presence there. In the distances of space as well as in the distances of time, everything has, now and forever, its bright light and its sense—even if not so swiftly apprehended within the images. (SW III pp. 426-7)
339. Schuler’s Scholarship. As an archaeologist, Alfred Schuler, whom I first met in 1893, was already in possession of an astonishing wealth of knowledge; he had devised, as it were, a religion of the Magna Mater; he had accumulated, through the most rigorous study of the entire literature of Imperial Rome, a massive amount of material relating to the “chthonic” cults; and he spent all of his time in this enthusiastic frame of mind, whilst he prepared his massive treatise on the swastika for publication (of course, he never finished this work!). Basically, Schuler added nothing that was completely new to the theories devised by Bachofen: but what an astounding fund of material was his! (LK GL p. 1072)
340. George and Schuler. I have occasionally overheard conversations dealing with the George-“Circle”; and I have heard, of course, the story that relates how the name-giver conferred the title “Master” upon himself and the title “young men” upon his acolytes. I have nothing to say regarding the events that transpired in that “circle.” But I must insist, in the most decisive terms, that I was the last person in the world to submit to such a “Master.” One might even go so far as to say, with equal justice (or injustice!), that Stefan George belonged to the “Klages-Circle”! What can be demonstrated conclusively (and with accompanying documents) is this: by pure chance, during the decade from 1894-1904, several scientists, artists, and writers congregated in Munich, who sought, by uniting their forces, to present a common front against the spirit of the age. George was an occasional guest of this group of intellectuals. He seldom became involved in the endless (and often profound) discussions that transpired, but he was the only person present who could point to the works of his that had already been published; and he did actually seem eager to provide a focal point to us “new spirits” when he established his renowned journal, the Blætter für die Kunst. That is how I became involved with the man. But let there be no misunderstanding here: if any one person stood at the very center of things at that time, if there was indeed a master-spirit in our midst, one who could justly speak of his “following,” it was Alfred Schuler. From him, and from him alone, did I receive the decisive impetus that determined forever the direction that I would follow in my metaphysical speculations. (AC p. 381)
341. The Mysticism of Alfred Schuler. The only true mystic whom I have ever encountered utterly scorned the idea of “making” anything out of his inspirations. Thus, the notes that Schuler has set down in the course of his fifty years, which comprise his so-called “aphorisms” and “fragments,” remain, for the most part, almost incomprehensible. Yet to the student of symbols these fragmentary remains speak in such an astounding manner as one seldom encounters even in the works of the great poets! (LK GL p. 698)
342. An Age Unworthy of Alfred Schuler. Bachofen successfully liberated the image of the primordial soul from the layers of varnish with which the millennia had covered the remains of pre-history, so that we were enabled to obtain some inkling as to the inexpressible beauty of that image. The mission of my own life is to provide the epistemological key with which to open up the eyes of man to the profundity and the truth of Bachofen’s discoveries. I was assisted in this mission by the great good fortune of my encounter with a contemporary thinker, Alfred Schuler, the student of the ancient “Mysteries,” whose investigations were based in part on the “chthonic” element studied by Bachofen, and in part on still deeper strata. Schuler was able to walk about like a native on the landscape of symbolic thought, and the most obvious demonstration of the authentic nature of his discoveries is surely revealed in the fact that hardly any of his contemporaries were even aware of the mere fact of their existence! (SW 3 pp. 496-7)
343. Alfred Schuler on the Blood. Schuler located the spring of every creative power in the blood, which he saw as a glowing substance whose potency could be renewed only by those who were capable of bringing cosmic rebirth to a degenerate age. (LK GL p. 182)
344. Alfred Schuler and Stefan George. On one occasion, Schuler initiated his lecture with a reading of his most striking fragments; he began powerfully, but he very quickly became seized by an ever-increasing pathos. One might almost say that he began to generate a magnetic field, that he seemed as if transfigured. George would stand behind his chair, becoming increasingly disturbed, until he could no longer conceal his agitation. He finally became extremely pale, and seemed as if he was about to lose his faculties. The psychical atmosphere radiated by Schuler did indeed become overpowering: no one could comprehend precisely whatever it was that took possession of Schuler, but out of that droning voice there suddenly erupted a volcanic flood of glowing lava, and out of the molten stream there arose purple images, unconscious, rapturous.
When the lecture ended, and how it ended, no one could say, but as the visitors began to disperse they were startled to find themselves holding some tattered fragments of a coronal that Schuler had torn to pieces in order to bestow them on his guests as he said his farewells.
I then found myself alone with George on the nocturnal streets; he was clutching at my arm, saying: “That’s insanity! What have you done, taking me to such a place? It’s madness, I tell you! It’s unbearable! Take me to a restaurant where the commonplace bourgeois citizen is smoking his cigar and drinking his beer!”
And that’s just what I did. (KGL pp. 359-60)
345. On Stefan George. His soul was essentially Empire; this fact accounts for the indirectness of his words, his “impuissance,” and his French rigidity; a latter day epigone of the 18th Century. His character was scheming, destitute, and treacherous: a blend of Catholicism and Renaissance. His character was the coffin that housed his soul. (RR p. 312)
346. Magna Mater. The womanly essence is simply the soul of space, just as the Magna Mater is the soul of the reestablishment of space in the center of time. (SW 2 p. 1350)
347. Man, Gods, and Cosmos. The most profound proposition of all natural law was crystallized in these words of the poet Pindar: “The race of men is one thing, and the race of gods is another; but both receive their life and their breath from the same mother.” We broaden the scope of that proposition to state that animals, plants, stars, clouds, and winds are all divine, just as all of the creations that appear within the Cosmos are but leaves upon one stem, and limbs of the same symbiotic formation. (SW 2 p. 1352)
348. On Racial Consciousness and Community. It is affinity, and not the codification of property law, that moulds the souls of earth’s heathen children; the young are formed in the community established by the mother of the tribe, but the adults are formed in the community shaped by the Great Mother of the Cosmos. This affinity manifests itself in the selective breeding that is based upon racial consciousness; it is conquered through actual—or even symbolical—mongrelization of the blood. (SW 2 p. 1355)
349. Cosmos of Mind, and Cosmos of Life. The thought Cosmos is a mechanical confusion of things; the living Cosmos, on the other hand, to which our languages can only allude, cannot be conceptually grasped, for it only reveals itself in the instantaneousness flash of its here and now appearance. (SW 2 p. 1367)
350. “Mother Right”. Light may still be shed on the phenomenon of the so-called “gynæcocracy” of prehistory through the application of matriarchal thought to the symbols of water, tree, and moon. Inasmuch as the sensual images of the nocturnal-polar side of the world are at the same time those of the pole-connected “middle,” the night must be elevated over the day, the darkness over the light, the below over the above, the fixed over the wandering, space over time, left over right, and so on. Within the human shape, the sensual image of woman-as-mother must be elevated over the poles of man-and-woman. (SW 2 p.1374)
351. Life and Spirit. We have bestowed the name life upon the all-weaving power of primordial imagery. (SW 2 p. 1239)
352. We have given the name spirit to the hostile power that turns all primordial images into hollow phantoms. (SW 2 p. 1239)
353. Types of Criminality. There is a potential criminality, which is satisfied merely to peer at naked images of atrocities; and there is even—if one may apply to a strange fact an even stranger name—an apocryphal criminality that occurs in those who will not confess their criminal impulses even to themselves. Indeed, whoever closely examines society swiftly discovers the existence of many associations and organizations that provide their clients with a gratuitous satisfaction of criminal impulses. But we must now abandon the soil of true criminality, which always lies in deed and will, and never in the more circumspect devilry of philosophy, for this question has now taken us beyond our theme, although it is connected with it. It often seems to the psychologist that every halting-station turns out to be a confrontation with the knots in the manifold, interwoven threads of his discourse! (AC p. 222)
354. Thought and the Driving Forces. For the benefit of those students who have not as yet achieved complete familiarity regarding the leading motives of characterological thought, we will here introduce a few remarks that will hopefully enable them to avoid certain misunderstandings.
When we say that the spirit of a thinker is chiefly determined by a “general current” of human vitality, we are speaking of the inevitable part that his personal system of driving forces plays in this general current; one thing that we must do is to ascertain the degree of the dependence of his thought on his personal driving forces; another, is that we must ascertain the degree of his thought’s dependence on the side of his nature that is connected with vitality as such. In brief: the personal precondition of thought is not the same as the vital precondition of thought. (AC p. 386)
355. Hostage to Fortune. Doubts and misgivings should certainly be the thinker’s priorities; but if a philosopher persists in his doubts, he may place himself in a dangerous position: for a later generation may discover that what it values most in him is his—backwardness. (AC p. 3)
356. Socrates the Loathsome. We hear that Socrates was loathsome and impotent, and that he never allowed himself to become intoxicated; we understand thereby how the soil was prepared wherein the faith in the exaggerated worth of the ego could flourish. The rupture must be torn open in the blood before the norms that are hostile to the blood could arise in the spirit…Socrates was a man without contradictions, and, in his eyes, no respect for good breeding could compete with the transcendent value of the rootless individual being. Socrates was a man of the mob, a man without a racial homeland. He was indifferent even to the cycles of the celestial spheres. To Socrates, the torrent, the star, and the cloud were irrelevant. (RR p. 425)
357. Primary and Secondary Feelings. We must distinguish between the primary feelings, which flow into the act of judgment, and the secondary, which spring out of that act. The primary feelings, as is self-evident, comprise any immediate motives, whether they are predominantly internal or whether they arise in the external world. The secondary, on the other hand, are reflexes of already extant feelings. (RR p. 368)
358. The Act of the Spirit. The spiritual act, flashing out at the stationary point in the swing of the pendulum, seizes the fact within the concept; but flashing out at the instant of the highest animation, the spiritual act seizes, at one and the same moment, object and subject; the bearer of experience and experience itself; the thing, but as habitation of the soul (Idol); and the soul, but as the form of being (Fravashi, “genius,” “idea”). Putting the matter somewhat paradoxically, the spiritual act seems to seize the inconceivable, primordial image inasmuch as the image can allow its being conceived. (RR p. 365)
359. The Poet and the Images. The poet is the spiritual form of the ecstatic soul. He breaks through the person to become image. Through him speaks the actual character of the Cosmos. The road of degeneration leads from the poet to the metaphysician. The concept is the Caesar of the image, just as logic is the Papacy of the soul. (RR p. 322)
360. Stefan George. We see in Stefan George a poet divided against himself: pagan Eros alongside Christian charity. (LK GL p. 330)
361. Life, and Nothing But Life. Life is everything, and, in reality, what my writings record, and what they will always record, is the tree of life and its golden leaves. (LK GL p.331)
362. On the Dreams of Friedrich Huch [From a Letter to Huch]. Three of your dreams I consider to be more or less “Cosmic”—the one that recounts the far-distant music of the Italian children; the one that deals with the staircase of death; and the one about the vertiginously distant whirling of the solar disc.
Music is a primordial experience, which emerges in manifold guises: but it is always accompanied by nagging, disturbing spectacles. In comparison with all of the ineluctably vanished things, the remainder of life begins to wear a desolate grimace: the pallid face of the specter. One awakens at the beginning to the distant sounds that betoken all of the deepest, most inexpressible experiences of love and beauty; then everything sinks once again into an unfathomable abyss. (LK GL p. 335)
363. The Certainties of Kant. We must reject as logically untenable Kant’s classification of judgments according to their degree of truth, judgments that have been founded in fact upon themselves; although Kant believes that he has comprehended, through the force of his convictions—which he characterizes as “apodictic” certainties—the conditions that validate cognition, he actually has his eye not on the actuality of space, but only on the being of space, i. e., space as the object of thought, or our so-called space-object. His incredibly stubborn advocacy of the “a priori” status of perceived space answers the question—or believes, at least, that it has done so—regarding the inviolable nature of the postulates of mathematics, and the Kantian concept of space stands from the outset in the service of Kant’s compelling need to provide sufficient grounds to validate the necessary truths of geometry. (SW 1 pp. 142-3)
364. Kant Condemned Out of his Own Mouth. Jakob Burckhardt has best accounted for that conjunction of greatness and comprehensiveness in Greek spirituality when he noted that without the art of conversation the development of the Greek spirit would have been inconceivable; he said that it was out of the Agora and the Symposium—those favored haunts of Athenian conversationalists—that philosophy itself sprang into being. Regarding this point, we must certainly reject as unjustified (although it is understandable when we consider its source!) Kant’s ridicule of ancient Greek thought as a mere “wordy babbling.” Without a doubt, a talent for creative thought was originally a function of the talent for lively conversation. (SW 6 p. 659)
365. Contra Kant. We are unable to determine how many other sagacious students share our opinion of Kant, but we can never proceed very far in our reading of the “Critique of Pure Reason” without being astonished that a thinker who devotes himself explicitly to the task of discovering the grounds that make cognition possible should convince himself that he has ascertained those grounds—in cognition itself! When Nietzsche, in “Beyond Good and Evil,” says that Kant responds to the question as to how cognition possible by telling us of a “faculty of a faculty,” that is only a more drastic expression of the very astonishment that we ourselves experience. (SW 1 p. 141)
366. Kant and Leibniz. Kant’s investigations give the false impression that he has established the grounds for the possibility of cognition, when what he has really done is to split cognition into two modes, one of which is merely “empirical,” while the other allegedly deals with universally valid and necessary truths. This shows us that Kant is merely spinning out the threads of the bungled fabric of Leibnizian thought, which also entails two classes of thought, viz., the class comprising truths of fact and that comprising truths of reason. (SW 1 p. 142)
367. Thing and Time. We have in the thing the inextensible point of connection for the understanding of the temporally fleeting manifold of images; and we have no difficulty in understanding this point as being, as it were, anchored in time. But while the mere temporal site remains where it is, so the thing demands the exact opposite, to be thought of as participating in a span of time, the extreme maximum of which may be as great as the duration of the universe, and the extreme minimum of which may be as brief as the duration of a flash of lightning; but the thing can never be contracted into a tangible point, for there is no “existence” in the mathematical point. (SW 1 p. 23)
368. Time and Duration. Too few thinkers have devoted their attentions to a successful clarification of the indisputable fact that we do not measure the approximate duration of a thing by means of time, but time by means of the duration of a thing. (SW 1 p. 25)
369. The Blindness of Faust the Capitalist. Without going into the whole question of the visionary symbolism of Faust II, we should still draw attention to the disturbing fact that Faust, after a fruitless, storm-tossed life devoted to his own delight, immediately before his death expresses his belief that he experiences his “highest moment” in the consciousness of the praiseworthiness of his labors as a capitalist entrepreneur—and here the poet’s vision plunges straight into the abyss—but Faust is too arrogant to hear, at that very moment, the sound of the spade that is digging his own grave! (SW 1 p. 65)
370. Existence and Predicates. The thing is the original “entity” and the immediate paradigm and exemplar of the substantive in general; hence, the history of human thought provides countless instances which illustrate the misleading thing-status of such concepts as: process, fate, life, childhood, age, youth, morning, evening, spring, enmity, sin, and so on ad infinitum. Precisely herein lies the basis of the fact that in so many languages the utilization of the word “exists” [G. Sein] signifies the mere connection of the predicate-word with the affirmative statement. Every judgment regarding time as well as every judgment regarding space is so constructed as to mislead us into the belief that there actually is a “time-thing,” and that there really exists a “space-thing”! (SW 1 pp. 24-5)
371. Soul and Spirit. The character of the soul is sometimes impulsive, and at other times it may be enthusiastically abandoned; by contrast, the character of spirit appears in the light of an obstruction that realizes its potential in the intentional binding of a psychical emotion! Accordingly, an equilibrium between soul and spirit can never be reached; and what may seem to us to be an example of an achieved and gracious balance between soul and spirit in an outstanding personality, e.g., the poise of a Goethe, can be shown, under more rigorous scrutiny, to be merely a matter of compromise, an instance of artistic “style.” As such, this state can never be attained without a patent loss in psychical immediacy. (SW 1 p. 74)
372. Connections. The error of the “Panlogicians,” if we might just borrow their favorite expression for a moment, stems from the “equivocation” that confuses connection in general with a perceived connection. The Panlogicians have correctly stated the fact that only the spiritual act can establish connections; but they have overlooked the fact that there are two species of connections which can be established through comprehension: the conceptual connection of one point to another point; and the non-conceptual connection of point to happening. (SW 1 p. 85)
373. This is our Truth. There is a being from outside the world of space and time, to which we have applied the name “spirit” (logos, nous), which is capable of driving every critical nature into one and the same conceptual scheme, i.e., one that is based on unity, quantification, and measurement, and which also forces critical individuals to observe the temporal actuality under the guise of a system of interconnected quantifiable points. An excessive emphasis upon factuality and upon the universally binding force of truth is from the outset the expression of the monotonous quality of the faculty of judgment in every nature who yields to this impulse and who possesses this capacity. (SW 1 p. 62)
374. Truth and Discovery. All truths are equally valuable—or equally valueless—if we value them merely because they are true. In other words, we possess no general yardstick that can accurately evaluate a truth, so long as we focus exclusively upon the finished product instead of upon the process whereby that truth came into existence. (SW 1 p. 122)
375. Different Modes of Thought Entirely. Such thinkers as Giordano Bruno and Carl Gustav Carus seldom augment the fund of empirical knowledge that was accumulated by such scholars as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. Conversely, it is only rarely that we find the second pair adding to the knowledge of the first. (SW 1 p. 127)
376. Seekers After Truth. The alleged lack of bias in those who “search for truth” is a pious deception concocted by a superficial mentality that is overawed by the mere title of “science.” (SW 1 p. 130)
377. The Indivisible Union. We take this opportunity to venture our explanation as to why we arrange colors and seeing, sounds and hearing, and smells and smelling in polar contrast to each other. We all recognize that we can never achieve a satisfactory philosophical demonstration when we are required to associate the following expressions: invisible colors, inaudible sounds, and smells that cannot be perceived; it is thereby conceded that not only can there be no seeing without colors, no hearing without sounds, and no smelling without smells; but there are also no colors without visibility, no sounds without audibility, and no smells without a capacity to smell them. The appearance and the faculty that enables one to experience it thus occur in an indivisible union. (SW 1 p. 103)
378. Philosophical Arrogance. Ever since the discovery of the Platonic “Doctrine of the Ideas,” there has obviously never been a definitive settlement of the controversy between those who hold that the “universals” exist only in the thinking consciousness and those who maintain that they constitute the driving and formative powers of actuality itself. Modern thinkers have only picked up where the medieval scholastics left off. Today’s philosophers, who pride themselves on having solved the great riddle that split all the best philosophical heads in medieval Europe into the two great camps of “realists” and “nominalists,” are only fooling themselves. (SW 1 p. 109)
379. Man and Woman. We avert our gaze from the “emancipation” movement of modern times, to see that woman, throughout all of recorded history, is the bearer of the powers of life and soul, just as man is always the bearer of the powers of spirit and productive activity; this holds true even today for the vast majority of men and women. (SW 6 p. 664)
380. Tears and Crying. It astonishes us that Darwin, whose chapter on weeping [in “The Expression of the Emotions…”] provides the richest fund of material whereby we can establish a conclusive demonstration of the detachability of the act of shedding tears from the act of crying, could not free himself, on speculative grounds, from a need to maintain the inseparability of the two phenomena. (SW 6 p. 667)
381. Vital and Mechanical Movements. Darwin, along with his predecessors and his disciples, basically recognizes only one species of movement, the mechanical, and he is involuntarily led by a compulsion to cancel out the vital movement and to put mechanical movement in its place. (SW 6 p. 199)
382. Expressive Movement. To every inner activity belongs its analogous movement; or, if one uses “movement” instead of activity: every inner movement entails its analogous outer movement. (SW 6 p. 681)
383. Physiognomical Interpretation. Lavater already understood the principle whereby we can evaluate mimicry physiognomically. Thus, whoever possesses the quality of an energetic will, often finds himself in a condition of nervous tension; he who is by nature fearful, will find himself, again and again, in a condition of anxiety; and the habitually short-tempered man will more often than not find himself in a condition of anger. (SW 6 p. 679)
384. Expressive Movements. To every inner condition there corresponds, as its expression, those bodily movements that portray that condition. (SW 6 p. 678)
385. The Science of Fact and the Science of Appearance. General logic, as it is understood today, reveals itself as a skeletal structure, within which an almost endless series of philosophical procedures find a place, and in which every logical proposition find its application. That which had been inaugurated as a mere “methodology,” is now the most informative jumping-off point for differentiating between the intellectual technique employed by the practical man and that employed by the theoretical, the technique of the manual worker and that employed by the scholar, the musician’s technique and the mathematician’s, and so on. However, in our own field of research, that which we hold to be securely established…is the sharp distinction that must be drawn between two species of thought: the predominantly conceptual and the predominantly allusive modes, or the study of fact and the study of appearance. (SW 6 p. 656)
386. Psychology and Metaphysics. Some students renounce even the possibility of a significant conceptualization of the soul, and they assure us that we have immediate access only to the “phenomena of consciousness”; others refer to psychology as the science of “inner” (immediate) experience, from which viewpoint it is not any very great distance to today’s repeated revivals of the doctrine of “inner perception”; others remain encamped in the antiquated “Doctrine of the Soul [Seelenlehre],” notwithstanding the fact that they cannot provide a satisfactory explanation of the unique nature of that soul. And, once again, there are still others for whom psychology appears to constitute merely one branch of neurology; and again, others, who, scenting in every one of these doctrines a false “naturalism,” promise to bestow upon us a novel and refined species of thought, sometimes of the “intuitive” variety, and at others of the “subjective” type, which we are told will enable us to avoid every stumbling-block that is placed on our path by erroneous preconceptions. All honor to the rigor of our investigators! But we think that here a great expense will be unprofitable due to the prevalence of a mindless hostility to the perpetually unavoidable metaphysics. Whichever of the renowned—or obscure—conceptual determinations that one adopts, one will find oneself in the midst of metaphysics, and one will become so much more seriously entangled in self-contradictory basic assumptions, the more one feels obliged to repudiate metaphysics.
Consider: The discussion of the “phenomena of consciousness” leads one directly to the question regarding the nature of consciousness, and then to the nature of the unconscious, and, before one realizes it, one is confronted with questions regarding monism, dualism, or even “psycho-physical parallelism”…But the believer in the soul, on the other hand, is already graced by the seal of “ontology,” and he already manifests as well the clearest antithesis to the materialism of the neurologists.
The odd thing about the speculations of our “intuitionists” and “subjectivists” is the fact that both types remain united in their habitual, albeit unconscious, Platonism…
No one has the right to discuss psychology unless and until he has become a metaphysician. (SW 1 pp. 5-6)
387. The Rage of Heracles. The spirit, once it had liberated itself from servitude to life, proceeded autocratically, becoming the unchained force of destruction; the activity of thought becomes hereafter the tool of the will to power. During this Heracleic phase, life becomes dependent upon spirit, thought becomes dependent upon will, and the main purpose of mankind, without as well as within, is to enslave “nature,” so that man may celebrate the triumph of spirit in the “miracles of technology.” Thus, we realize that it was no accident when the first disciples of the rule of an alleged “world-principle,” the Stoics, chose Heracles as their examplary hero. (SW 1 p. 753)
388. Scholar and Philosopher. The scholar feels the greatest affection for that which is certain; the philosopher, on the other hand, loves the hypothetical above all else. (SW 4 p. 26)
389. Abstraction and Expression. So-called abstract thought is the most introspective manifestation of affective life, i.e., it is the least likely to be converted into visible bodily movements. (SW 4 p. 26)
390. Burckhardt as Characterologist. Now and forever, Jakob Burckhardt’s greatest service was in applying—perhaps unintentionally—the characterological approach to the cultural historiography of diverse ages and nations. Therefore, for every characterologist, Burckhardt’s “History of Greek Civilization,” “The Culture of the Renaissance in Italy,” and “The Age of Constantine the Great,” are required reading. (SW 4 p. 479)
391. East and West. The extra-spatio-temporal power to which we have applied the name “spirit” strives to kill the unity of life by severing the poles that bind body to soul; by binding itself to the body-pole in order to exorcise the soul, spirit deprives the body of that soul. Here, however, a question arises: might not spirit form an alliance with the soul, in order to cause the body to wither, thus disembodying the soul? Might it not be upon that path that we must locate the interpretation of actuality that ascribes different degrees of being to the character of (deceptive) appearances? With the affirmative answer we have probed the deepest reasons for the opposition of every species of Platonism to Chinese Taoism, and, what’s more, we have reached the very point at which the Asian style of approach to actuality diverges most sharply from that of the West. (SW 1 p. 339)
392. Soul and Mask. The entity that places so many obstacles before us as we attempt to devise a science of the soul is not—the soul, but the masquerade of the soul, which the will to power thrusts between the soul and the observer. Thus, the student who insists upon penetrating every mask in order to approach the soul’s true visage, has already proceeded far along the path to an authentic comprehension of characterology. (PEN p. 62)
393. What is Life? Although the natural scientific theory of life (“Biology”) places the problem of life in the forefront, science has certainly not been able to solve it. Biologists occupy themselves with two groups of entities, i.e., the living and the non-living, but they have come up with no answer as to whence the “living-ness” of the living entity originates. There are no sensual qualities through which the living may be conclusively distinguished from the non-living. All colors, sounds, tastes, scents, textures, formal configurations, and types of movement, can be found in both spheres. The first substantial solution to this problem was hit upon, centuries before the common era, by the Pythagorean physician Alkmaion, who held that only the living being possesses the capacity to “move itself.” But even here, although we will concede that self-motility may well be an expressive indication of life, it is certainly not a characteristicquality of living things. (SW 3 pp. 250-1)
394. Things in Space and Time. Every thing, in every moment, has its place in space; and a thing may “exist” for a shorter, or a longer, duration in time. Every quality of a thing, since it participates in that thing (even when that quality is merely “mediated”), has, in turn, its necessary connection to space and time. Thus, whether it is a thing, or a quality, or a process, every conceivable “it-point” must be distinguished from the vitality of the happening in that it has that very character of a point; in addition, it has the character of a point-of-connection. (SW 1 p. 84)
395. The Type and the Instance. When we scrutinize the lives of the various individuals to whom Nietzsche applied the name “master-type”—in addition to [Mirabeau and Napoleon], mention must be made of Julius Caesar, Friedrich II, Hohenstaufen, Cesare Borgia, and Frederick the Great—we can scarcely avoid the impression that this “master-type” is merely an ingenious and poetic day-dream, to which none of the aforesaid individuals bore even the remotest resemblance. (PEN p. 126)
396. The Ultimate Thule. The life of Nietzsche’s soul, in comparison with that of our Classical and Romantic writers, because of its unrealistic needs and the glittering filigree of its thought, stands at the border: one step beyond, and we are in a world of the hollow ornament, the side-show, the mask. (AC p. 375)
397. Nietzsche and “The Man of Feelings.” There can be no greater error than to confuse Nietzsche’s restless vibrancy with the temperamental ebullition of the “man of feelings,” to whom Nietzsche is the most extreme contrast that the mind can conceive. As one who is in his inmost core a-social, who stands wholly within his own…vital nature, the “affairs of the heart” only interest Nietzsche to the extent that he is their critic and judge. (AC p. 374)
398. The Elemental Vision. I marvel at the greatness of Nietzsche’s humanity…Nevertheless, regarding greatness as well as smallness, strength as well as weakness: life never reveals its secrets in such things…What Nietzsche has to say about such matters is great, viewed from the standpoint of humanity, but his words are certainly not a revelation of life. What I have always sought in life—and what I have also found—leads me to the following reflection: if only there still lived within my soul that primordial homeland of which I received such a spectacular vision in vanished years; if only there were still men upon the earth who possessed the power that could renew the mysteries of the cosmic night; if only there still were eyes that could penetrate to the ocean floor above which pulsates the surging of metallic billows. Such things as these are life to me. Such things allow me to plunge myself into the hot glow of the elemental forces. (RR p. 522)
399. On Nietzsche’s View of the Priestly Caste. Nietzsche sees the Jews as the race that has devised the most powerful and influential priestly caste in history…We will now provide a tentative explanation that might account for what seem to be peculiar discrepancies in his estimation of the Jews. He directs his gaze upon the depth, strength, endurance, absolutism, and relentlessness of the priestly will to power; upon its incomparable sagacity, cunning, and craftiness in the selection of mediators; and upon its ingenious flair for adaptation and re-interpretation: thus, he admires the priest and, consequently, the Jew, as the consummate manifestations of the priestly caste. On the other hand, he faces the fact that the priestly will, which is based upon life-envy, is directed against life; this will infects life, poisons life, and causes life to degenerate: thus, Nietzsche becomes the passionate enemy of the priest and, again, of the Jew, as the most extreme embodiments of diseased life. We consider the admiration and the opposition to be two inseparably linked sides of one and the same fact, and we therefore conclude that neither the priestly embodiment nor the Jewish embodiment constitute a comprehensive representation of that which they both serve. Therefore, just as Nietzsche borrowed the name of a renowned god for his cult of Dionysus, so are we justified in borrowing the name of a hostile counterpart in speaking of the cult of Jahweh. There is no disputing the fact that Nietzsche was inflexible in his conviction that historical Christianity is the religion of St. Paul. And the religion of St. Paul is merely a particular version of the cult of Jahweh. (PEN pp. 152-3)
400. What German Literature Lacks. There is no German prose as yet…We still do not possess a creative writer whose deep feeling for the German language has enabled him to escape this dilemma. Goethe is “Rococo”—Jean Paul is downright old-fashioned—Hoelderlin has the strongest rhythmic sense of the three, but he devoted himself primarily to poetry—and Stefan George is scarcely to be mentioned in this connection. Of all our great writers, only Nietzsche had sufficient talent to repair the omission, but even he sabotaged his greatest achievement, the “Zarathustra,” by adulterating his own style (alas!) with the Germanic idioms of Luther’s Bible. In brief: we still await the creator of a German prose. (LK GL p. 341)
to be continued
Translated by Joseph D. Pryce from the original sources. For reference, notes refer to the more easily obtainable texts:
AC=Klages, L. Zur Ausdruckslehre und Charakterkunde. Heidelberg. 1926.
AG=Klages, L. Ausdrucksbewegung und Gestaltungskraft. Munich. 1968.
LK GL=Schroeder, H. E. Ludwig Klages Die Geschichte Seines Lebens. Bonn. 1966-1992.
PEN=Klages, L. Die psychologischen Errungenschaften Nietzsches. Leipzig. 1926
RR=Klages, L. Rhythmen und Runen. Leipzig. 1944.
SW=Klages, L. Sämtliche Werke. Bonn. 1965-92.