Patriotism and Decadence -- Junger, Mishima, D'Annunzio, and Spengler

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Patriotism and Decadence -- Junger, Mishima, D'Annunzio, and Spengler

heinäkuu 4, 2015, 3:17 pm

Since today is July 4th, I thought it would be fascinating to open a discussion on the intersections between Patriotism and Decadence. Four writers stand out -- Ernst Junger, Yukio Mishima, Gabriele D'Annunzio, and Oswald Spengler. Mishima wrote a short story entitled Patriotism and Junger wrote the memoir Storm of Steel. D'Annunzio wrote decadent novels and became a proto-fascist military adventurer and Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West is a lengthy diatribe against moral decadence and a piece of the intellectual genealogy of modern fascism. Patriotism is an outward-facing act of ritual devoted to a specific piece of geographic territory, while Decadence is an inward-facing, solipsistic act of contemplation in a self-made hermetic universe.

Do Patriotism and Decadence need to be thought of in terms of binary oppositions? Can one be a Decadent Patriot? Can a Decadent Patriotism be a viable thing?

heinäkuu 4, 2015, 7:15 pm

I consider patriotism to be the first and last refuge of scoundrels, and as being a scoundrel seems common enough among the decadents, in fact or affectation--why not?

Besides, given that many if not most famous decadent writers were of right wing disposition, an inclination to "patriotism" would seem almost inevitable.

Wilde is the only great counterexample I can think of.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 4, 2015, 7:33 pm

2: Besides, given that many if not most famous decadent writers were of right wing disposition, an inclination to "patriotism" would seem almost inevitable. That's very true, given the writers of the left seem more keen on wearing hairshirts and ashes.

Personally, I see the revolution being glam:

Another good source text is The Bullet's Song: Romantic Violence and Utopia by William Pfaff His Wrath of Nations: Civilization and the Furies of Nationalism is also worth reading. "Bullet's Song" has great profiles of D'Annunzio and DH Lawrence, among others. "Wrath of Nations" asks the important question, Is fascism a national or international phenomenon?

heinäkuu 4, 2015, 7:37 pm

I don't see how you deduce anything at all about "writers of the left" from what I said. Associating the left with "hairshirts and ashes" is especially funny considering that the Big Daddy-o of decadence, Huysmans, was terribly afflicted with Catholicitis and given to mortifiying the flesh. That sort of thing is more typical of those glum hysterical clericals than anyone on the left.

heinäkuu 4, 2015, 10:25 pm

Juenger is in my Favorite Authors List.
although I havenʻt read much of him
beyond his great Auf den Marmorklippen.
I hate to see him on the same list as
Yukio Mishima.

Curiosity: what was "decadent" about him?

heinäkuu 4, 2015, 11:20 pm

Junger and Mishima aren't decadents but critics of decadence. Junger was afflicted with the nostalgia of defeat, although that shtick plays well in this country. Decadence (as a moral attribute, not the specific movement per se) gets a routine drubbing from the careerist Neros and Caligulas in our local, state, and national offices. Then again, my view of life is more in line with DAF Sade and Octave Mirbeau, although both were moralists, satirists, and quite funny.

heinäkuu 5, 2015, 12:30 am

"critics of decadence . . ." 5>6

Thanks, kswolff.

heinäkuu 19, 2015, 6:39 pm

Patriotism (and its derivations) are a fascinating intersection (or collision) of militarism, masculinity, and ideology.

heinäkuu 22, 2015, 12:05 am

I like the militaristic and hypermasculine aesthetics of fascism and how absolutely queer they are (i.e. Mishima, Genet's Funeral Rites, the musical stylings of Death in June). Beyond that, I scoff at any notions of "traditon" or "values". Pffft.

heinäkuu 22, 2015, 9:09 am

Seems a sort of sports-bar variant of tribalism (totemism?), patriotism.

heinäkuu 22, 2015, 11:02 am

Poetontheone: You would probably enjoy Henry de Montherlant, if you haven't read him already. He was contemptuous of ideology but supported nationalism and fascism for individualistic reasons: the opportunity for self-exertion they provided a man who was willing to embrace them actively while remaining internally aloof from them.
His militarism, like Mishima's, was homoerotic, and like Mishima he was a reactionary, homosexual, misogynist, and pseudo-macho queen, but a far more unsavoury character. He also committed suicide.

heinäkuu 28, 2015, 11:18 am

10: Isn't the sports bar the monument to tribalism in our enlightened modern Western civilization? Considering how the winning the involved cheering on the streets and general frat boy mayhem were similar in reaction to the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Clearly we live in a Golden Age.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 28, 2015, 3:20 pm

There is clearly (my eyes are worse than my outlook, so a qualified adverb) an economy at work. So many things that are awful and vulgar and so many possibilities that might prove more enlightened or more tasteful. What an hallucination. I imagine that only a great pestilence can curb the excesses of a top-level predator: a Messiah microbial, cosmic, or in the talons and fangs of its fellows.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 28, 2015, 5:33 pm

In the best of stories, a god who required animal and human blood sacrifice sends down his son to die in order to wash away some strange and special sin with his blood.

It can be presumed that Christ's teeth also tore flesh to satiate that part of him that was man.

Perhaps "transcendence" is deep estrangement, psychosis.

Kenneth Patchen, from A Letter to God:

"I first went to school in a town of steel. The boys had faces like thin cats - the geography of evil; the history of monsters - I want to remind you that I understand little in your sense. Some times I pick up a stone in the street, and just hold it in my hand. That may have nothing to do with present difficulties in the world; but it gives me pleasure and can cause no ultimate harm to anyone. I was fifteen before I got all of myself in. Until then I seemed to smile when I felt angry, grit my teeth together when expected to talk. My clothes never pleased me in color or in the way they felt when I took them off at night. They were like the skin of an animal I knew nothing about. The same with my teeth: often they were cold and felt too sharp in my mouth."

heinäkuu 29, 2015, 3:09 pm

How come Maurice Barrès hasn't been mentioned yet? Earth-worshipping neo-fuedal nationalism.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 30, 2015, 11:40 pm

Anyone ever read Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates?

I think I meant it more as an indictment of American life in the 1950s. Because during the Fifties there was a general lust for conformity all over this country, by no means only in the suburbs—a kind of blind, desperate clinging to safety and security at any price. -- DeWitt Henry

Or is it gauche to see the book as nothing more than wealthy suburbanites whining about First World Problems?


"Must we agree with Baudelaire, speaking about Choderlos de Laclos, that revolutions are always made by voluptuaries?" -- Bernard-Henry Levy on Philippe Sollers

elokuu 19, 2015, 3:18 pm

Stormtrooper Families is worth a look:

In brief, the myth of the Gay Nazi has been overblown and lacks historical credibility. Although Ernst Rohm's homosexuality -- and the homosocial nature of military life -- complicates the picture.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 9, 1:03 pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 5, 10:43 pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

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