Eumeswil by Ernst Jünger

Eumeswil by Ernst Jünger

I’m not sure what to say about this. This is nominally about a ‘utopian state’ that is ruled by a military dictator. It really is a treatise on life, and part of it feels like a memoir of the author.

Anyone who writes history would like to preserve the names and their meanings, indeed rediscover the names of cities and nations that are long forgotten. It is like placing flowers on a grave: Ye dead and also ye nameless - princes and warriors, slaves and evildoers, saints and whores, do not be mournful: ye are remembered lovingly.

Some parts of the book were great. It’s a slog to get through, but only because it is so dense, and full of references to classical literature.

I can barely distinguish between work and leisure. I like them equally. This is consistent with my principle that there can be no empty time, no minute without intellectual tension and alertness. If a man succeeds in playing life as a game, he will find honey in nettles and hemlock; he will even enjoy adversity and peril.

The author wrote this when he was 82 years old which is pretty incredible in of itself. I can feel the echoes of the war in this novel; Jünger lived through two world wars, and fought in WW1, and that experience has to change a man.

Man is born violent but is kept in check by the people around him. If he nevertheless manages to throw off his fetters, he can count on applause, for everyone recognizes himself in him.

There were some nuggets of gold in here, but it didn’t ultimately feel worth the effort. It is amazing how some of these quotes about dictators could be applied today to people in power. It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In regard to these jottings, I considered burning them; they weigh on my mind if only because they are incomplete. A sense of inadequacy casts a shadow on my existence both as a historian and as a man.

Maybe he should’ve burned this one.

Rating: ★★

Book #16 in my #ReadingChallenge2021

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