The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:32 am

The Glass Bees
by Ernst Junger
translated from the German by Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Mayer
© 1960 by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy




Grateful acknowledgment is made to the resourceful and acute editorial help of Ruth Limmer, in the final stages of this translation.

-- Louise Bogan

Table of Contents:

• I
• II
• IV
• V
• VI
• IX
• X
• XI
• XV
• XX
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:34 am


When we were hard up, Twinnings had to step in. This time I had waited too long: I should have decided to see him sooner, but misery undermines tire will. As long as one still has some small coins to jingle together, one hangs around the cafes, staring into empty space. My run of bad luck seemed endless. I still had one suit in which I looked reasonably presentable, unless I crossed my legs. There were holes in my shoes. In such a situation solitude is preferable.

I had served with Twinnings in the Light Cavalry, and he frequently had given me and other comrades advice. He had good connections. After listening to me, he pointed out that I could count only on jobs with a catch to them. I knew this was the truth; I could not afford to be fastidious.

We were friends, which did not mean much, since Twinnings was friendly with nearly everyone he knew, except those with whom he was on bad terms at the moment. That was his business .. He spoke to me without reservation, which did not embarrass me because it was rather like consulting a doctor who makes a thorough examination and does not waste words. He felt the lapel of my coat, testing the material. Suddenly I saw the spots on it, as if my vision had been sharpened.

He then discussed my situation in detail. A good part of me was, as it were, consumed, and though I had experienced much, I had accomplished little that might serve as reference. I had to admit that. The best jobs, those coveted by everyone, brought in a large income without involving too much work. But I did not have relatives who could bestow honors and commissions, like Paul Domann, for example, whose father-in-law built locomotives and earned more money at breakfast than people who, year in year out, slaved on Sundays and weekdays. The larger the objects you peddle, the easier it is; a locomotive can be sold quicker than a vacuum cleaner.

But I did have an uncle -- a former senator, long since dead -- nobody remembers him now. My father had lived the quiet life of a civil servant; the little he left me had long since disappeared, and I had married a poor girl. I could not make a great show of a dead senator or of a wife who comes to the door herself when the doorbell rings.

Jobs existed which involved much work and decidedly little pay. You sold refrigerators and washing machines from house to house until you were almost seized with doorbell panic. If you visited old war-comrades, they were, of course, resentful when you attacked them, all unsuspecting, with a life insurance policy. Smiling, Twinnings avoided saying anything about this sort of job, and I was grateful. He could, with reason, have asked me if I hadn't learned anything better. He knew, of course, that I had once been employed in testing tanks, but he also knew that I was on the black list. Later I shall come back to this episode.

The rest were jobs with a risk attached. They provided a comfortable life, sufficient means, but troubled sleep. Twinnings mentioned a few of these -- they resembled police jobs. Who nowadays did not have his own police? Times were unsafe. Life and property had to be protected, real estate and transportation closely guarded, blackmail and crime counteracted. Presumption increased in proportion to philanthropy. Anyone who reached a certain prominence could no longer rely on public protection; he had to have a cudgel in the house.

But even in this special field supply was greater than demand. All the good jobs were already filled. Twinnings had a great many friends and times were not propitious for ex-soldiers. There was, for instance, Lady Boston, an immensely rich and still youthful widow, who continually trembled for her children's safety, particularly since capital punishment for kidnapping had been abolished. But Twinnings had already attended to this.

Another case was that of Preston, the oil magnate, who was obsessed with horses. Like an ancient Byzantine, he was crazy about his stables -- a hippomaniac, who did not spare any expense to satisfy his passion. His horses were treated like demigods. Everyone tries to distinguish himself in some way and Preston considered horses more satisfying to his ambition than fleets of oil tanks and forests of derricks. His horses also drew royalty to his house. At the same time this passion brought with it a lot of trouble. Everyone had to be closely watched in the stables, and during transport as well as on the race track. Conspiracies among the jockeys, jealousies of other horse-fanciers, passions linked with high betting. were constant menaces. No diva has to be so carefully guarded as a race horse entered for the grand prix. This is a job for an old cavalryman, a man with a good eye and a heart for horses. But Tommy Gilbert already had the job and had found work for half of his cavalry unit too. He was the apple of Preston's eye.

Twinnings ticked off these jobs one after another, as a chef would name the most delicious items no longer on a menu. This is a trait peculiar to all agents. He wished to whet my appetite. Finally he arrived at tangible offers; now you could be sure that there was more than one fly in the ointment.

The person in question was Giacomo Zapparoni, one of those men who have money to burn -- although his father had crossed the Alps, penniless and on foot. You couldn't open a newspaper or a magazine or sit in front of a movie screen without coming upon his name. His plant was quite near, and by exploiting both his own and foreign inventions, he had achieved a monopoly in his field.

Journalists wrote fantastic stories about the objects he manufactured. "To those who have, shall be given." Probably their imagination ran wild. The Zapparoni Works manufactured robots for every imaginable purpose. They were supplied on special order, and in standard models which could be found in every household. It was not a question of big automatic machines as one might think at first. Zapparoni's' speciality was lilliputian robots. With a few exceptions their scale increased to the size of a watermelon and decreased to something the size of a Chinese curio. On the smaller scale they gave the impression of intelligent ants, distinct units working as mechanisms, that is, not at all in a purely chemical or organic fashion. This was one of Zapparoni's business principles or, if you will, one of the rules of his game. When faced with two solutions, it seemed as if he almost always preferred the more subtle one. This choice corresponded with the trend of the times, and he was not the worse for it.

Zapparoni had started with tiny turtles -- he called them "selectors" -- which were designed for picking and choosing. They could count, weigh, sort gems or paper money and, while doing so, eliminate counterfeits. The principle involved was soon extended; they worked in dangerous locations, handling explosives, dangerous viruses, and even radioactive materials. Swarms of selectors could not only detect the faintest smell of smoke but could also extinguish a fire at an early stage; others repaired defective wiring, and still others fed upon filth and became indispensable in all jobs where cleanliness was essential. My uncle, the senator, who all his life suffered from hay fever, no longer had to retreat to the mountains after Zapparoni had put selectors, trained for pollen, on the market.

His apparatuses soon became irreplaceable, not only to industry and science but also' to the housewife. They saved labor and introduced a human atmosphere, unknown until now, into the factory. A resourceful mind had discovered a gap which no one had seen, and had filled it. This is the best way to do business, the best way to make a fortune.

Yet in Zapparoni's case the shoe pinched. Twinnings, for one, did not know the exact details, but one could roughly guess. Now and then he had difficulties with his workers. If someone is ambitious enough to force dead matter to think, he cannot do without original minds. Moreover, the measurements in question were infinitesimal. In the beginning, probably, it was less difficult to create a whale than a hummingbird.

Zapparoni had a staff of highly skilled experts. He greatly preferred that the inventors, who brought him their models, take on permanent employment with him, where they either reproduced their inventions or modified them. This was chiefly necessary in those departments where the objects, toys for instance, were dependent on fashion. Before the era of Zapparoni, no one had ever seen such fantastic toys -- he created a lilliputian realm, a pygmy world, which made not only children but grown-ups forget time in a dreamlike trance. The toys went far beyond human imagination. But every year, for Christmas, this lilliput theater had to be redecorated with new settings and a new cast of characters.

The wages of Zapparoni's employees equaled those of professors or even government officials. He was amply repaid. Should any of his workers give notice, it would mean irreparable loss, if not catastrophe for him, particularly if they chose to work elsewhere, either in this country or, still worse, abroad. Zapparoni's wealth and monopoly rested not only upon his firm's secret but upon a special technique, which could be acquired only in the course of decades and then not by everyone. And this technique was dependent on the workers, upon their hands, upon their brains.

To be sure, they had little inclination to quit a place where they were so well-treated and so royally paid. There were, however, exceptional cases. It's an old truth that man cannot always be satisfied. Apart from that, the people employed by Zapparoni were an extremely difficult lot. Engaged in a most peculiar kind of work -- the handling of minute and often extremely intricate objects -- they gradually developed an eccentric, over-scrupulous behavior, and they developed personalities which took offence at the motes in a sunbeam. They could find flaws in everything. They were artists who had to measure objects of the size of a flea, provide them with horseshoes, and screw them on. This was very close to pure fantasy. Zapparoni's world of automatons, sufficiently uncanny in itself, was the setting for minds which indulged in the strangest whims. It was rumored that scenes frequently took place in his private office similar to those which occur in the office of the chief physician of a lunatic asylum. Unfortunately, capable of manufacturing robots do not yet exist. That would be the philosophers' stone, the squaring of the circle.

Zapparoni had to face the facts. His geniuses were part of the character of his factory, and he handled them with diplomatic skill. He left the models to them while he reserved for himself the manipulation of men, displaying all the charm and flexibility of an Italian impresario. In doing so, he reached the limit of the possible. To be exploited by Zapparoni was the dream of every young man with a technical bent. Zapparoni hardly ever lost his self-control or his affability, but when he did, terrifying scenes followed.

Naturally, he tried to protect himself in the employment contracts, though in a most agreeable manner. The contracts were drawn up for a lifetime, with provisions for gradual wage increases, for premiums, insurance, and, in the case of breach of contract, penalties. The employee who had signed a contract with Zapparoni and could call himself "master" or "author" was a man whose success was assured. He had his own house, his own car, and his paid vacation on Teneriffe or in Norway.

There were some restrictions, it is true -- scarcely noticeable however -- that actually added up to a well-devised control system. Various arrangements served this purpose: they were marked with the innocent labels which today disguise a secret service -- one of them was called, I believe, the Clearing House. The lists kept on every single employee in the Zapparoni Works resembled police dossiers. Only they went into more detail. Nowadays a person has to be mentally X-rayed in order to find out what to expect from him, because the temptations are enormous.

All this was perfectly correct. To take precautions against breaches of confidence is one of the duties of the manager of a great industry. To assist Zapparoni in protecting the secrets of his firm proved that one was on the side of the law.

What happened, then, if one of the experts gave notice, or simply left and paid the penalty? Here was a weak point in Zapparoni's system. After all, he could not detain anyone by force; it was a great risk. It was in his own interest, therefore, to demonstrate that either form of absconding would prove undesirable. There are, we know, many ways and means to turn the screws on a person, particularly when money doesn't count.

In the first place, you can saddle him with lawsuits. They have already taught many a man a lesson. The law, however, was not without gaps; for some time now it lagged behind technical development. What, for example, could the right of "authorship" be called in such a case? Wasn't it the glory, which the head of a team radiated, rather than personal merit, a glory that could not simply be detached and taken along? And wasn't it the same with artistic skill, developed in the course of thirty or forty years with the help and at the expense of the plant? This skill was not the property of a single individual. The individual was indivisible -- or wasn't he? These were problems which the primitive mind of a policeman could hardly solve. Confidential positions presuppose independent thinking. The essential has to be guessed at; it was not mentioned, either in writing or by word of mouth. It must be grasped intuitively.

All this I roughly gathered from Twinnings' remarks, which were a mixture of logic and guesswork. Perhaps he knew more, perhaps less. In such cases the less said, the better. I already understood enough; Zapparoni was looking for a man to do the dirty work.

The job was not for me. I shall not speak of morality -- that would be ridiculous. I had served through the whole Asturian civil war. In that kind of warfare no one's hands stay clean, high or low, right or left. You met types with a list of sins which would have staggered case-hardened father confessors. Of course, they would not have dreamed of going to confession; on the contrary, when they got together they were high-spirited, even boastful, as the Bible says, of' their misdeeds. People with tender consciences were not popular with them. But they had their own moral code. Not one of them would have accepted the job that Twinnings proposed to me -- not so long as he wished to keep the respect of the others, whatever the color of his skin. He would have been excluded from their comradeship, from their drinking bouts, from their camp. His comrades would not have trusted him, would have been tongue-tied in his presence, and would not expect his aid in an emergency. Even prisoners and galley slaves are extremely sensitive on this point.

Therefore, after listening to the story of Zapparoni and his querulous workers, I would have left at once, if Teresa had not been sitting at home, waiting for me. Twinnings was my last straw, and she had set all her hopes upon our meeting.

I am not suited to deal with money or to earn it. Probably Mercury's aspect is unfavorable. This fact becomes more conspicuous as I get older. In our first years together Teresa and I had lived on my demobilization checks, and later we had sold some of our belongings; now there was nothing left to sell. In every household there is a corner where once the lares and penates were assembled, and where today the unsalable objects are kept. In our case these objects were a few racing trophies and other engraved silver left me by my father. Teresa believed I had been sorry to give them up. Her chief worry was that she might be a burden to me; it was her idee fixe. But it was I who should have done something long ago -- our misery was entirely the result of my own inertia. The sole reason was that I loathed anything connected with business.

I cannot bear the role of a martyr. It makes me furious to be taken for a good man. But Teresa had just this habit: she moved around me as if I were a saint. She saw me in an entirely false light. She should have scolded me, raged, broken vases -- but unfortunately she was not that kind of person.

Even as a schoolboy I disliked work. If I was in trouble up to my neck, I wriggled out by developing a temperature. I knew a way to do it. Then I was sent to bed and nursed by my mother with juices and compresses. My cheating didn't worry me at all -- I even enjoyed it, but I felt guilty at being pampered like a poor sick child. So in return, I tried to behave intolerably; but the more effectively I acted up, the more everyone worried about my health.

It was almost the same with Teresa; I could not bear to think of her face should I come home without any prospects. When she opened the door, she would instantly read everything in my face.

Possibly I was regarding the whole matter too unfavorably. I was still one mass of useless and antiquated prejudices. Since everything was now supposed to be based on a contract -- which was founded neither upon oath nor atonement nor Man -- trust and faith no longer existed. Discipline had vanished from the world. It had been replaced by the catastrophe. We were living in permanent unrest, and no one could trust anyone else. Was it my responsibility?

Twinnings, watching me sit there, unable to make up my mind, seemed to know my weak point; he said:

"Teresa would most certainly be pleased if you came home with something definite."
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:35 am


This reminded me of the time-long ago -- when we had been cadets. Twinnings sat next to me. Even then there was a touch of the middleman about him, and he was on good terms with everybody. It had been a tough time; we weren't treated with kid gloves. Our instructor was Monteron; his presence always cowed us.

Monday was the worst. It was the day of reckoning, the day of judgment. At six in the morning we rode in the manege, our heads heavy with sleep. I remember often wishing to be thrown by the horse and taken to the infirmary, but so long as no bones were broken this was out of the question. A "slight temperature" -- as at home -- did not exist here. Monteron thought these falls very healthy. They were good training and taught you to keep a firm seat.

Our next class was strategy at the sandbox, but the lesson rarely materialized. Monteron, who held the rank of a major, usually entered the classroom scowling like a threatening archangel. Today, naturally, there are still people one is afraid of; but his kind of authority no longer exists. Today one is simply afraid; in those days one had, in addition, a guilty conscience.

The Military Academy was not far from the capital, and the cadet whose pass had not just been canceled, or who was not in the guardhouse, spent his leave there, going by local train, by the horse-drawn streetcar, or in a carriage. Others went on horseback and stabled, their horses with relatives: there were still countless stables in town. We would all be in fine fettle, with money in our pockets, since there was no occasion to spend it on the drill grounds. No happier moment existed than the moment when the gates were opened.

On Monday morning everything had a different look. When Monteron entered his office, a pile of unpleasant letters, notices, and reports waited for him on his desk. In addition, there was the sentry's never-failing report that two or three cadets had overstayed their leave and that a fourth hadn't returned at all. Trifles were also reported -- the name of a cadet had been taken down because he had smoked in front of the sentry of the Royal Castle, and of another because he had saluted the commanding officer of the city in a careless way. More often than not, however, something truly striking occurred. Two cadets had kicked up a row in a bar and had demolished the furniture' another had resisted arrest by drawing his sabre. These cadets were still locked up somewhere m town and had to be sent for. Two brothers, on leave of absence for a funeral, had gambled away all their money in Homburg.

At roll call every Saturday Monteron reinspected our uniforms. After having assured himself that nobody had appeared in "fancy" uniform,. by which he meant the slightest deviation from the regulation, he dismissed us with a few parting words. He warned us against temptations. And each time, we rushed off in all directions, convinced of our immunity.

But the city was bewitched -- a labyrinth. It laid its snares cunningly. Each day of furlough was divided into two halves, one light, the other dark, supper being the fairly exact demarcation line. It recalled certain children's books, where on one page the good, on the other the bad boy is depicted, the only difference being that in our case the two boys were combined in one person. During the afternoons we visited relatives, sunned ourselves at sidewalk cafes, or strolled m the Tiergarten. Some of us could even be seen at concerts or lectures. We presented the ideal picture -- Monteron's picture -- youthful, well-behaved, and as neat as a new pin. It was simply delightful.

In the evenings we had our dates. Either we spent them alone with our girls or we joined the others. Drinking started and the atmosphere became, shall we say, more animated. Later we separated, but at midnight we all met again at Bols or the English Buffet. As the evening wore on, the places we visited were more and more doubtful or even explicitly forbidden. At the Viennese Cafe, frequented by demimondaines, it was easy to clash with the insolent waiters. In the big beer-halls we had encounters with students, who were keen on picking quarrels. Eventually only a few places were still open, the Everburning Light, for example, and the waiting rooms of the railway stations. Here, most of the people were drunk; in the ensuing brawls there was no glory in winning. At Headquarters these places were notorious, and it was no accident that the military police would arrive at the exact moment when we were involved in a riot. When the spikes of their helmets were seen above the melee, the signal was given: Sauve-qui-peut. Often it was too late. They took you along, the patrol leader happy to have nabbed another cadet.

On Monday morning Monteron found the reports on his desk. They arrived by the early train or were telephoned in. Monteron was one of those superior officers who have an especially bad temper in the morning. The blood rushed easily to his head. Then he had to unbutton the collar of his uniform. A bad omen. He could be heard muttering:

"It's incredible where these fellows knock about."

It seemed incredible to us too. There is no difference greater than the one between a thick, aching head in the morning and the identical exuberant head of the night before. Yet it is the very same head. But that we should have been here or there, should have said -- or even done -- this or that, seemed to us like a story about some third person. It could not and should not be so at all.

Nevertheless, while being chased over the jumps by our riding instructor, we had dark misgivings that something was wrong. When you jump the hurdles with knotted snaffle elbows tightly propped on your hips, you must have your wits about you. In spite of everything, we sometimes galloped as if in a dream, our minds preoccupied with the events of the night before, which now seemed a bewildering puzzle.

The solution was provided by Monteron at the sandbox, but in a way that exceeded all our fears. Occurrences, which we remembered only dimly and in fragments, now appeared in a blinding light as an extremely unpleasant whole. Twinnings, who in those days already showed a nimble wit, once declared that it was really unfair to allow sober patrols to hunt for tipsy youngsters on furlough -- the police should be given a handicap.

Be that as it may -- there was hardly a week that did not begin with a terrible dressing-down. Monteron could still open all the floodgates of authority; this too is a long-lost art. He was still capable of evoking in us a genuine acceptance of our misconduct. We had not simply perpetrated this or that. We had struck at the root of the State; we had endangered the monarchy. Actually there was a grain of truth in what he said -- though the whole world did what it pleased, without exciting much notice, freedom being large and general -- if a cadet deviated only slightly, that same world, that same public opinion, swooped down on him unanimously. This prefigured the enormous changes which took place soon afterwards. Monteron probably foresaw them; we cadets were simply thoughtless.

Looking back, it seems to me that these dressing-downs turned out, for the most part, far milder than we had expected. We lived in the fear of the Lord. When after the riding lesson, we changed hurriedly while the room senior goaded us on -- "You are in for something; the Old Man has already loosened his collar" -- it was worse than later when the order came: "Stand at attention."

Fundamentally, the Old Man had a heart of gold. And in our hearts we knew it; this explained our intense respect for him. When he said: "I'd rather keep a bagful of fleas in order than a class of cadets," he was right, for it wasn't an easy job. There are superiors who gloat over someone who gets himself into a hopeless spot since then they can show their power. Monteron was deeply grieved. And since we knew this, a cadet who was in a complete fix could go to him in the evening and confess. When Gronau had gambled all his money away, Monteron drove to the city that same evening to take care of the matter; although when he returned the next afternoon, it was already too late.

Well, he wanted to harden us, but without injuring our inner core. On Monday mornings orders used to drum upon us like hail -- arrest, cancellation of furlough, stable duty, line-up in fatigue dress. But by noon the storm had passed, and we tried, of course, to do our utmost on the drill ground.

In our class two or three cases carne up where things took a different turn. Something happened that arrest couldn't remedy. Yet it was remarkable how many things the Old Man could repair by putting us under arrest. In the cases I'm now thinking of, the storm never broke. On the contrary, an oppressed atmosphere prevailed, as if something had happened that should not be referred to or that was only a rumor. There was a corning and going; something went on behind locked doors and afterward the culprit disappeared. His name was never mentioned again, or if it was mentioned, it seemed to happen by mistake, and everyone pretended not to have heard it.

On such days the Old Man, usually relentlessly alert, could be absent-minded, absorbed in his own thoughts. In the classroom he would stop mid-sentence and stare at the wall. Then fragments of a soliloquy might be heard involuntarily rising to his lips; for example: "I could swear that at the bottom of any dishonorable action there is always a woman."

All this rose to the surface of my memory while Twinnings waited for my answer. It had, of course, only a remote relation to the present situation, since Monteron, muttering that sentence, would certainly never have thought of a woman like Teresa. It is nevertheless true that a man will do things for a woman which he would never do for himself.

Such a thing was the job Zapparoni had to offer. I could not say why, yet there are some premonitions which rarely deceive you. No doubt there is a difference between protecting secrets of the State and those of an individual -- even in our times, when most States have gone to the dogs. A position like the one offered by Zapparoni would sooner or later lead to an automobile accident. Anyone inspecting the wreckage would find twenty or thirty bullet holes in the back of the car; no case here for the highway patrol. And about the funeral there would be less in the obituaries than on the front page. Teresa would not meet the best people at the open grave, and certainly no one from our better days -- not even Zapparoni -- would be present. At nightfall, a stranger would deliver an envelope to her.

When my father was buried, things were quite different. He had led a quiet life, but at the end he hadn't been too happy either. Lying sick in bed, he said to me: "My boy, I am dying at just the right moment." Saying this, he gave me a sad, worried look. He had certainly foreseen many things.

These and other matters came into my mind while Twinnings waited for my answer. It is incredible what an avalanche of thoughts can unroll in such a moment. Like a painter, one should be able to compose it all into a picture.

But my mind's eye saw our sparsely furnished apartment, our cold hearth -- if I may use this poetic expression to paraphrase the fact that for days now the electricity had been cut off. In the mail were only reminders, and when the doorbell rang, Teresa did not dare answer it, afraid of insolent bill collectors. I had small reason to be fastidious.

On top of everything, I felt ridiculous -- I sensed that I was being old-fashioned, one of those people who still wasted their time with scruples, while all the others, who pocketed whatever profit was offered, looked down on me. Together with a great number of others I had twice paid the piper for inefficient governments. We had carried off neither pay nor glory -- just the opposite.

It was high time that I discarded my fossil judgments. Only the other day someone had called my attention to the fact that my conversation teemed with superannuated expressions like "old comrades" and "swear on one's sword-knot." These phrases sound funny nowadays, like the affectation of an old spinster who still prides herself on her stale virtue. Hang it all, I had to stop that.

My stomach felt unpleasantly empty. It was, quite simply, hunger; my mouth had a bitter taste. At the same time I felt a slight sympathy for Zapparoni rise in my heart. After all, here at last was someone who showed interest in me. Apart from the great difference in our financial status, he was probably in much the same situation as I was: he too had to pay the price and, to boot, was judged by moral standards. He was fleeced, robbed; and yet he was the exploiter. The government, unhesitatingly obliging to the majority, pocketed his taxes, and allowed him to be bled.

In any case, if "old comrades" sounded funny, why should words like "government" still be taken seriously? Did those figureheads have a monopoly, perhaps, on being serious? Were they an exception to the devaluation of words? Was there, in fact, a person still alive who could teach others the meaning of decency? Even a veteran was no longer respected; but this had its advantages too. The time had come for thinking of one's self -- for once.

You see, I had already begun to justify myself -- this is the first step when one intends to venture upon something crooked. Strangely enough, no one can simply go ahead and do another person harm. You first have to convince yourself that the other has deserved it. Even a holdup man, about to rob a stranger, will first start a quarrel with him in order to work himself up to real anger.

This was easy for me, since my feelings had reached such a boiling point that almost anyone -- no matter how innocent -- would be a suitable target for my anger. Even Teresa had once been my victim.

Although I had by now almost decided to accept the offer, I made one last attempt to back out. I said to Twinnings: "I can't imagine that Zapparoni has been waiting just for me. He must find it rather hard to choose."

Twinnings nodded: "Most of the candidates are people," he said with a gesture, "with a long list of convictions." And he repeated the gesture like a fisherman catching a pike in still waters. Again he had touched a sore spot. Finally my temper gave out.

"Who doesn't have a record, today? Perhaps you, because you've been a smart guy all your life. But otherwise there are only those who were shirkers in war and in peace."

Twinnings laughed. "Don't get excited, Richard -- we all know you don't have a flawless record. But in your case there's a difference: your previous convictions are the right ones."

And he should know, since he had sat as one of my judges in the court of honor -- not in the first one, when I was discharged after having been already sentenced by a court-martial because of preparation for high treason. (I first heard of the two verdicts in Asturia, where they were useful to me.) No, I am thinking of the second court of honor, though even the word "honor" belongs to those terms which have become thoroughly suspect.

So I was rehabilitated by people like Twinnings, who, wisely, had been living with his English relatives. By rights, it was he who should have had to justify himself. Something else strange: in my records the verdict is still listed. Governments change, files remain. The paradox remained: in the dossiers of the State the fact that I had risked my neck for it was simultaneously listed forever as treason. When my name was mentioned, the exalted file clerks in the government offices, who sat on their chairs only because I and people like me allowed them to, made a wry face.

Apart from this significant item, I admit that a few other trifles were listed also in my papers. Among them was one of those pranks we think up when we feel high-spirited -- it happened when we still had a monarchy. "The desecration of a monument" was listed -- a time-honored phrase in periods when monuments are no longer monuments. We had toppled over a concrete block with a name on it; I have forgotten which name. To begin with, we were a little drunk, and secondly, nothing is easier to forget nowadays than both the names which, only yesterday, were the talk of the town and the notables after whom the streets were named. The eagerness to erect monuments in their honor is extraordinary and, more often than not, hardly outlasts their lifetime.

All this not only damaged my reputation but had been entirely unnecessary. I didn't like to think of it now. But others had a remarkable memory.

Well, Twinnings seemed to think that my former convictions had been the right ones. On the other hand, I didn't like the idea that Zapparoni might also consider them the right ones. For what would that mean? It would mean that he was looking for someone with, as it were, two handles: not only a solid one which can be grasped, but another one too. He needed someone who was solid but not through and through.

A popular proverb calls the kind of factotum required in this case, a person "with whom you can steal horses." This expression perhaps had its origin in times when the stealing of horses was risky but not disreputable. If it came off well, the affair was creditable; if not, you were hanged from the willow tree or forfeited your ears.

The adage was fairly apposite to my situation. There was, of course, a slight difference: although Zapparoni was evidently looking for a man with whom he could "steal horses," he himself was far too important a person to go on a scouting trip with him. But what could I do? There was still another proverb applicable to my situation: that the devil puts up with flies when he has nothing else to eat. So I said to Twinnings: "Well, I shall try, if you think I should. Perhaps he'll take me. But, just between old comrades, I'll tell you: I refuse to get involved in anything shady."

Twinnings set me at ease. After all, I was not applying for a job with just any odd person but with a firm of world-wide repute. He would call Zapparoni this very day and would let me know. I had a chance. Twinnings rang the bell, and Frederick appeared.

Frederick, too, had grown older; he walked with a slight stoop, and the bald patch on his head was encircled by a thin, snowy-white fringe. I still knew him {wm the good old days, when he took care of Twinnings' uniform. If you visited Twinnings you always met Frederick in the anteroom; usually he had in his hands an instrument, now antiquated and only fit for a museum, called a buttonhole scissors. Incidentally, whatever opinion you may have arrived at concerning a man like Twinnings, the fact that a valet sticks to his job with him for decades, is a plus for his master.

When Frederick entered the room, his face lit up with a smile. It was a wonderful moment, this moment of harmony, uniting the three of us. A glimmer of our carefree youth came back in a flash. Good God, how the world had changed since then! I sometimes thought that this sentiment had something to do with getting older. Each generation, after all, looks back on the good old days. But in our case it was something quite different, something horribly different. Of course, differences existed between military service under Henry IV, Louis XIII, or Louis XIV, but one always served on horseback. Today these magnificent creatures were doomed. They had disappeared from the fields and streets, from the villages and towns, and for years they had not been seen in combat. Everywhere they had been replaced by automatons. Corresponding to this change was a change in men: they became more mechanical, more calculable, and often you hardly felt that you were among human beings. Only at rare moments did I still hear a sound from the past -- the sound of bugles at sunrise and the neighing of horses, which made our hearts tremble. All that has gone.

Twinnings ordered breakfast: toast, ham and eggs, port, other things. All his life he had breakfasted heartily; often the sign of positive natures. He had suffered much less from the hardships of the times than I and many others had. Without making great compromises, people like Twinnings are useful everywhere; they make light of any government. They take things only as seriously and importantly as is necessary; a change in circumstances goes only skin-deep with them. He had been one of the judges at my trial. It was my destiny that those for whom I had taken risks passed judgment upon me.

He filled my glass with port. I washed down my resentment. "Here's to you, old Mercurian."

He laughed. "When you work for Zapparoni, you won't lead a dog's life either. We'll call Teresa at once."

"Very kind of you to think of it -- but she went out shopping."

Why didn't I tell him that, together with all the rest, they had disconnected our telephone. It probably wouldn't be news to him. He certainly knew, cunning fox that he was, that I had an empty stomach. But he had not ordered breakfast until I agreed.

After all that has been said, surely nobody has gained the impression that Twinnings went to all this trouble gratuitously. The only exception he made with former comrades was that they did not have to pay him a commission. But, of course, he compensated himself. To men like Zapparoni, a few pounds did not matter.

Twinnings was doing well in his business. The advantage of It was that It hardly looked like a business. It consisted in his knowing a lot of people and profiting thereby. I, too, knew many people, but this did not help my economics; I had even more expenses. But Twinnings knew Zapparoni and myself: It meant business for him. Moreover, it was easy work; no one else I knew had a more pleasant and regular mode of life. He did business while he was breakfasting, dining, and when he went to the theater in the evening. There are people to whom money flows easily and inconspicuously; they do not know the difficulties others have. As long as I had known Twinnings, he had been one of these, and he had not changed. Even his parents had been well-to-do.

I don't want to put him in too unfavorable a light; everyone has his weaknesses and his strengths. Twinnings, for example, did not have to do what now occurred to him -- go into the next room, and return with a fifty-pound note, which he handed to me. I needed little persuasion to accept it.

Beyond any doubt he did not want me to show up at Zapparoni's completely broke. But yet another matter underlay this gesture -- our old comradeship. It was Monteron's training, which no one who had ever received it could belie. How often had we cursed him, lying dog-tired on our beds after a day when one drill had followed on the heels of another -- on foot, on horseback, in the stables, and on the endless sandy tracks. Monteron recognized these moments of despair and took a delight in capping it all with some night drill -- for instance, an alert.

I have to admit that the lazy flesh disappeared. Our muscles became hard as steel, refined on the anvil of an experienced blacksmith. Even our faces changed. Among other things, we learned to ride, to fence, to take a fall. And these we learned for life. On our characters, too, Monteron left his permanent mark. He could become especially disagreeable when he heard that one of us had left a comrade in a tight spot. If a drunken cadet had got into a scrape, Monteron's first question was: Was anyone with him? And God have mercy on the fellow who had abandoned his comrade and who had not looked after him as though he were a small child. That you must never, under any circumstances, leave a comrade alone in danger -- whether in the city or in combat -- was one of the basic principles which Monteron hammered into our heads, either at the sandbox or during the field exercises or on those formidable Mondays.

Although we were a lightheaded bunch of youths, in this regard he was successful -- nobody can deny that. When we were gathered around him on the evening before we joined our regiments -- he became very genial and gay -- our dinner was more than an ordinary farewell gathering. He would perhaps say: "There has been no shining light in this year's class, and in other respects it has been hard work. But there is not one of you on whom the King could not rely. That ,is, after all, the main point."

None of us drank too much that evening. We clearly understood that something more than the King, more than his office, stood behind the Old Man; this knowledge remained with us for life and perhaps even longer. It lasted even when no one any longer remembered who the King had been. Monteron, too, was long since forgotten -- actually, ours had been the last class he had charge of. He was among the first to be killed -- before Liege, I believe, at night. Of his pupils, too, only a few are alive.

But you could still recognize his stamp on all of us. Later we used to meet once or twice a year in the backroom of small eating places, in the middle of cities so strangely changed, having been twice destroyed and rebuilt in the meanwhile. On these evenings Monteron's name inevitably came up in our talk as through curtains of flame, and the atmosphere of that farewell celebration, of that last evening, was for a moment recaptured.

Once Monteron had said: "Twinnings, you are really more 'light than 'cavalryman' " -- stinging words indeed; but even on such a businessman, Monteron had left his distinctive mark. I am convinced that T winnings acted against his true nature when, seeing me sit at his table like a poor relative, he went into the next room to fetch me some spending money. But, after having forced me to swallow a bitter pill, he could not act otherwise, for Monteron was reawakened in him. Twinnings remembered one of the basic patterns which Monteron had stamped on our minds, namely, that I stood in the front line -- though it was not a respectable one -- and he in the reserve.

So we were agreed, and Twinnings walked me to the door. Then something else flashed into my mind:

"And who had this job up to now?"

"Another Italian, Caretti; but he left three months ago."


"Something like that. Never heard of again, vanished into space, and nobody knows where he is now."
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:35 am


This conversation took place on a Saturday. On Monday morning I took a taxi out to the plant. On Saturday evening Twinnings had given me an affirmative answer. At Zapparoni's they worked, of course, on Sundays.

Teresa had put my things in order. She was overjoyed by the news and immediately saw me in a high position; she had made up a fantasy for herself. She had much too high an opinion of me; she probably needed it. Timid about herself, she was convinced that she was a drag on me, a burden damaging to my career. The opposite was true. If, in this increasingly dismal world, I still had something like a home, it was with her.

When we were in trouble -- and this was the rule recently -- I often felt at night, beside me, that almost inperceptible trembling of a woman who wants to conceal her weeping. When I urged her to tell me the reason, she always told the same story: first, that it would have been much better had she never been born and that she and I had never met; then, that she had spoiled my career and ruined me. It did no good to tell her that I had always been man enough to ruin myself without help; in fact, that my greatest success came in just this -- but I could not talk her out of her absurd ideas.

We derive, it's true, a certain moral support from being overrated. It stimulates the good in us. As I've said before, I was used to this sort of thing from my mother, whose image, incidentally, as I held it in my memory, had fused imperceptibly with that of Teresa. How often, during the frequent stormy scenes at home, had my mother sided with me against my father. She would say: "But our boy is not a bad boy," to which my father retorted: "He is and always will be a good-for- nothing." Then mother would say again: "But bad he definitely is not," -- because a woman must always have the last word.

The Zapparoni plant was some distance outside the city. In almost every town there were large and small affiliated establishments -- branches and licensed firms, warehouses, replacement and repair shops -- but this plant was the head, the master workshop for the models, from which year by year novel and miraculous surprises flooded the world as if poured from a cornucopia. Here Zapparoni himself lived when he was not traveling.

Twinnings' telegram had arrived on Saturday: I was to come for an interview. On Sunday since I was haunted by what Twinnings had told me before I had left, I succeeded in running to earth Caretti's family doctor. The consultation had set me at ease. The doctor did not think he was betraying a confidence when he told me what had been the matter with Caretti; in any case it was generally known. Like so many overscrupulous people at Zapparoni's, Cru:etti had gradually become peculiar, eventually beyond the admissible limit. A manic disturbance, diagnosed by the doctors as a compulsion neurosis coupled with a persecution mania, was nourished by hallucinations about automatons. In such cases the patients believe themselves threatened by cunningly devised machinery, and their world slowly transforms itself into a phantasmagoria, similar to the imaginings of medieval painters. Caretti had suffered from the delusion of being encircled by minute, evilly-intentioned airplanes.

It is not unusual that such disturbed people disappear and never turn up again . The doctor, a slightly built nervous psychiatrist, remembered a patient whose remains had been found after some years in a badger's burrow: he had crawled into it and killed himself. The doctor was very voluble, describing the symptoms pedantically but with such relish that on my way home I almost I' cache the point of imagining myself threatened by similar phantoms. Actually, I was much relieved.

The plant now appeared in the distance: low white towers and flat-roofed ateliers in great numbers, all without antennas or chimneys. The buildings were surrounded by bright colors, since the all-encircling wall was covered with innumerable posters. A side line of the business, cultivated by Zapparoni with special devotion, was the cinema, which he had brought to an almost fabulous perfection with his robots and automatons.
Prognoses which have been made contend that our technology will terminate in pure necromancy. If so, everything we now experience would be only a departure and mechanics would become refined to a degree that would no longer require any crude embodiment. Lights, words, yes even thoughts, would be sufficient. Clearly, the Zapparoni films had very nearly realized such a future. The dreams of old Utopians were coarse-grained in comparison. With the freedom and elegance of dancers, the automatons had opened up a world of their own. Here a principle operative only in dreams -- namely, that matter thinks -- seemed to be realized, Naturally, these movies had a strong attraction, Children, in particular, were held spellbound. Zapparoni had dethroned the old stock figures of the fairy tales. Like one of the storytellers who sits down on a carpet in an Arabian coffeehouse and transforms the room, he spun out his fables. He created novels which could not only be read, heard, and seen but could be entered as one enter a garden. In his opinion, nature was inadequate, both in its beauty and logic, and should be I surpassed. He created, in fact, a style which became a model for the actors who adapted themselves to it. Among his creations were the most charming puppets -- truly enchanting visions.

These movies had contributed to Zapparoni's popularity in a very special way. He had become the kind grandfather who tells stories. One thought of him as having a long white beard like an old-fashioned Santa Claus. Parents even complained that their children were too preoccupied with him. They could not fall asleep, were overexcited, had nightmares. But after all, life was a strain everywhere. Pressure molded the race, and one had to put up with it.

Advertisements for such movies completely covered the wall which enclosed the plant on all four sides. And a street, so wide that it resembled the approach to a fortification, ran around its whole length. Without the colorful posters, the wall would, undoubtedly have looked too sober, too much like a fortress, chiefly because of the pale towers which rose above it at intervals. Over the whole complex of buildings a yellow balloon floated.

Along the road, bright signs indicated that we were entering a restricted area. The driver dutifully called my attention to them. We had to drive slowly and were not permitted to carry either weapons, or Geiger counters, or cameras, binoculars, etc. Protective suits and sunglasses were also prohibited. There was a lively traffic both on the road and around the wall; the byways, on the other hand, were completely empty.

Gradually the posters became more distinct. They depicted the visit of Heinz-Otto to the Queen of the Termites: Tannhauser in Venusberg, adapted to a child's mind. Here Zapparoni's robots appeared as rich and powerful gnomes: the splendor and the marvels of her subterranean palace no longer showed the slightest trace of artificiality. This type of movie ran in twelve chapters through the whole calendar year and children were consumed with curiosity about each episode. This serial influenced their way of dressing and their tastes. You could see them in the playgrounds -- now as space travelers, now as speleologists, another time as sailors in submarines or as cowboys. With these technically-tinged fairy tales and adventure stories, Zapparoni aroused strong and lasting enthusiasm . The children lived in his world. Parents and teachers were of two minds: some felt that children learned easily from them, while others were afraid that they might become too excited. And it is true that strange and alarming effects were often observed. But you cannot stop the trend of the times. In any case, is the real world any less fantastic? What doesn't overstimulate children?

We turned into the employees' parking lot. Compared to their limousines, my hired cab looked like a crow that had strayed among pheasants. I paid the driver and set off for the reception desk. Although it was midmorning, the traffic was lively at the main entrance. The best proof that Zapparoni's workers were actually masters was the fact that they kept no hours. They came and went as they pleased, provided they were not working on a team -- which was exceptional in the workshop for models. As a matter of fact, this regulation or rather non-regulation had advantages for Zapparoni. His personnel policies left nothing to be desired; work was done after the fashion of artists who are obsessed with their creation. No time limit existed -- so work went on almost continuously. The workmen dreamed of their works of art. That they were their own bosses was evident from the fact that they had time of their own. But this did not mean that they wasted it. They possessed time in the way rich men possess money. The rich man's wealth is founded on his purse, and not on his manner of spending money. You sense his wealth by the way he carries himself.

Those who entered and left the plant wore white or colored laboratory coats and passed through the gate with out any ceremony. One could conclude from this that they were well known, for the gate, which was also the entry to the reception office, was closely guarded by small groups which stood around as if receiving passengers on an ocean liner. As these newcomers cross the gangplank, they are faced by sailors, stewards, and other ship's personnel, who watch them closely and discreetly. The entrance in this case was wide and low. On either side of the corridor were doors -- I read "Reception," "Caretaker," "Guard," and other signs.

At the reception desk they seemed to expect me. As soon as I mentioned my name, a page boy stepped forward. He had been waiting for me.

To my surprise, instead of leading me into the factory he led me back through the gate to a small underground station which opened off the parking lot. After descending into it, we stepped into a very small car, which stood on rails and was operated like a self-service elevator. In two minutes we had reached our goal. We stopped in front of an old-fashioned building within a walled park. I was standing before Zapparoni's private residence.

The most I had expected was to be taken to the employment office and from there -- should my application, thanks to Twinnings' recommendation, be well received -- perhaps to the chief of personnel himself. It took my breath away, therefore, when, emerging from the earth, I suddenly found myself before the Holy of Holies, in the sphere of a man who -- some people contended -- did not exist at all but was perhaps the most cunning invention of the Zapparoni Works. A servant came down the stairs and took me over from the page boy. "Mr. Zapparoni is expecting you," he said.

There was no possible doubt; I was in the residence of Zapparoni. Formerly his principal factory had been situated elsewhere, until, tired of the constant need to alter and add to the buildings, he had decided to bring the plant, newly designed, to that degree of perfection which distinguished all his creations, whether large or small. When they inspected the new building site, they discovered a Cistercian abbey in the vicinity. For many years now it had been public property, but was rarely used. The church and the main building had fallen victims to time, but the monastery wall and the refectory were intact. Apart from the monks' large dining hall, the refectory building contained still other rooms which had once served as kitchens, store -- and guestrooms. This building Zapparoni had taken over and made his home. The house had imposing proportions. Now and then, I had seen reproductions of it in illustrated magazines.

The large gate in the monastery wall was always locked; the people who lived in the house and any guests came and went by the little underground train. It had struck me that I had not boarded the train at a terminal. Most likely, it ran not only to the parking lot, but also into the plant.

Thus Zapparoni didn't need to leave his own grounds, and a Strict control of all visitors was possible. In this way the master of the house was protected against the impudence of reporters and particularly of photographers. His person and his habits he carefully kept in semi-obscurity, since he was aware of the wearing and consuming force of publicity. He wanted to be talked about a great deal, but only vaguely and allusively. (In the same way, his contraptions were meant to give the impression that their visible parts were by far the least important. ) The selection of published pictures and reports was made by himself and his experts.

His director of public relations had developed a system of indirect reportage which stimulated but never quite satisfied curiosity. A famous person whose face one does not know is generally thought of as being handsome and imposing. A person who is much discussed but whose residence is unknown is suspected of being everywhere -- he seems to multiply himself miraculously. A person so powerful that one does not even dare speak of him becomes almost omnipresent, since he dominates our inner life. We imagine that he overhears our conversations and that his eyes rest on us in our closest and most private moments. A name that is only whispered is more powerful than one shouted from the rooftops. All this Zapparoni knew. On the other hand he could not ignore publicity completely. This fact introduced mystifying surprises into his propaganda. It was a new system.

I cannot deny that I was gripped with fear when I heard the servant say: "Mr. Zapparoni is expecting you." I felt the crass disproportion between one of the mighty of the earth and a man who had scarcely enough money in his pocket to pay his fare home. All at once I was overcome by the feeling that I was not equal to this confrontation. It was a sign that I was, in fact, on the downgrade -- a feeling that I had never known before. Monteron had often told us that, under no circumstances, was a cavalryman allowed to indulge in this feeling. He would also say: "Only when the captain leaves the ship is the ship lost and derelict. The true captain goes down with his ship."

All this went through my mind while my knees trembled. I also thought of the times, long ago, when movies and automatons did not yet exist for us -- except perhaps at the annual fairs -- and we had looked down our noses at those steel, textile, and coal tycoons. A small landowner with two-hundred acres, whose sleep was troubled by the thought of his debts, was more easily accepted by the Light Cavalry than those fellows who drove the first automobiles which made the horses shy. The horses sensed what was in store for them. Since then the world had changed.

Because Zapparoni was taking the time to receive me personally, I concluded that he thought I could be a partner. This thought stung me. Could I really be a partner in some regular business? If, for example, a poor girl gets a j ob with a big firm, where she has to keep the files in order, take shorthand or type, she may never see the head of the firm face to face. She is not his partner. But should she someday be seen with him on the beach or in a night club, she would grow in importance while, at the same time, losing respect. She would then have become an irregular partner as a consequence of entering into a power relationship. On the legitimate side she would have become weak, but on the illegitimate, strong.

Zapparoni's reception of me in his private residence -- me, the hungry, discharged cavalryman -- put me in a similar situation. He could not make a great show of me. Neither in his offices nor in his workshops could I be of any use. And even if I could handle these positions brilliantly, he would scarcely make a personal effort to get hold of me. Clearly, therefore, he was expecting something different of me -- some work which one doesn't imagine everybody capable of or wanting to do.

With these thoughts in mind, I felt very much like taking to my heels, although I was already halfway up the stairs. But there was Teresa, there were my debts, there was my hopeless situation. Most likely he required a man in just this kind of fix. If I turned back now, I would regret it.

And there was something else. Why should I pretend to be a better man than I am? Monteron scarcely ever occupied himself with philosophy -- unless one wants to consider Clausewitz a philosopher -- but he liked to quote as one of his favorite maxims: "There are, once and for all, matters I do not wish to know." His predilection for this maxim betrayed a straightforward singleness of mind, without subterfuges or bypaths. The phrase, "to understand is to forgive," did not exist for him. Both the master and the moralist are revealed in restraint.

Although I learned and adopted a great deal from Monteron, in this respect I never followed his example. On the contrary, there are very few things into which I haven't poked my nose. But you cannot change your nature. My father had often reproached me for this. When we were dining out, for example, and he handed me the menu, he would say: "Isn't it strange that the boy always selects the most unusual dishes, though the ordinary menu is excellent."

He was right: the restaurant offered a good bill of fare. The cadets used to dine there. But the menu was boring. I studied it carefully, looking for bamboo sprouts and Indian birds' nests. Father then relented and only said to my mother: "He cannot have inherited it from me."

He was right as always (my mother had good and simple tastes too) . In any case, it is doubtful whether such idiosyncrasies are inheritable. I rather think that they are drawn like prizes in a lottery.

To go back to the menu: the dishes I selected on account of their names usually were a disappointment. Later on, when traveling, I had the same experience with exotic delicacies and stimulants. I rarely let them pass. Houses of ill-repute and bars, sinister streets and neighborhoods, obscene antique shops also attracted me. And it was hard to resist the type who beckoned me to follow him into a dark doorway on Montmartre with the intention of leading me to his sister. This would not have been unusual if, at the same time, I had not felt a strong aversion to these situations. But my curiosity got the upper hand. Yet I was never satisfied; in the same way that I choked over those distasteful and strangely named dishes, so the sight of human degradation could not satisfy me. Vice left a melancholy, painful, and lasting memory. This explains why it never got a hold on me. Yet I am still puzzled why I searched for it again and again. Only after I met Teresa did I learn that a handful of water gives more strength than any magic potion.

Incidentally, my curiosity was sometimes an asset to me, for a cavalryman's chief task is reconnaissance. When patrolling an unsafe terrain, I frequently reconnoitered far beyond what was necessary and ordered. This led to unsuspected discoveries, and the front-line officers were impressed. Well, there is no defect without its own virtue and vice versa.

In short, on Zapparoni's staircase I felt that I was venturing upon an ambiguous adventure, though from necessity. My old fatal curiosity, however, stirred again and goaded me on. I was itching to hear what the Old Man had up his sleeve, and why he had condescended to take an interest in me. Curiosity provoked me almost more strongly than the prospect of profit. After all, hadn't I often wriggled my head out of the noose, and hadn't I frequently nibbled the bait without getting hooked?

So I followed the servant into the old house which gave the impression of a country seat. The entrance led into a hallway where not only hats and coats but fowling pieces and fishing tackle were kept. Then we came into a large hall, two stories high, hung with trophies and with engravings by Riederer. Two or three additional chambers followed, larger than a room but smaller than a hall.

All the rooms were on the south side of the house, and the sunshine, subdued by the opaque window panes, filtered down upon the carpets. I was shown into the library. At first sight all of the furniture seemed within the means of any well-to-do person, and it did not come up to my expectations. Influenced by newspaper reports, I had expected to see a kind of magician's study, where the visitor is partly amazed and partly nonplussed by mechanical surprises. In this I saw at once I had been completely mistaken. Of course I should have guessed that a magician and lord of automatons would not want that sort of thing in the privacy of his home. Certainly, we all relax in ways as utterly different from our occupations as possible. A general will hardly play with toy soldiers and a mailman will not willingly march for miles on a Sunday. It is also said that clowns are almost always grave, if not melancholy, within their four walls.

Here, one's eyes were not hurt by the bad taste of the furnishings, as in rooms of the newly rich. There was no display of wealth in the manner of Trimalchio. Zapparoni must not only have employed an excellent interior decorator but must be a man of taste himself. The style of the furnishings showed this. Harmony such as this cannot be made to order; it is created by an inner need, by the character of the man who had made this his home. Here was no chilling splendor, no wish merely to show off; the rooms were inhabited by an intelligent and cultivated human being who felt at home in them.

Natives of southern countries -- they may come from a Sicilian village or be the descendants of a Neapolitan basso -- frequently possess a taste as infallible as that handed down by long family tradition. They have an unerring ear for melody and, in the fine arts, an incorruptible eye for the hand of the master. I had often observed this. The only danger lies in their vanity.

The whole house bore the mark of sensible moderation: it was not pompous but radiated a breath of life. This was especially noticeable in the works of art. On occasion I'd had the chance to see famous paintings and sculpture, otherwise known only from calendars or museums, in the houses of men who had recently come into wealth or power. The sight of these works had been disappointing, because they had lost their expression and their language, just as birds, imprisoned in a cage, forfeit their song and their brilliance. A work of art wastes away and becomes lusterless in surroundings where it has a price but not a value. It radiates only when surrounded by love. It is bound to wilt in a world where the rich have no time and the cultivated no money. But it never harmonizes with borrowed greatness.

Zapparoni, however -- I saw that in passing -- obviously had time. The five or six paintings which hung on the walls impressed me as objects upon which their owner's eye rested daily with love. None of them could have been painted after 1750. Among them was a Poussin. They all gave off a breath of peace, and disclaimed any effect. By this I do not mean the effect of modern painters, who limit themselves to pure invention, but the effect produced by masters. These paintings, assembled here by Zapparoni, could never have seemed surprising, not even to their contemporaries. From the very beginning they must have seemed familiar.

This impression, transmitted to the entire house, was linked with another impression, concerning the problem of pure power, and was intensified by it. As I said before, we live in times when words have lost or changed their meaning and have become ambiguous. This also holds true for the word "house," formerly the very essence of stability and permanence. For some time now a house has become a sort of tent, but without giving the freedom enjoyed by nomads. Buildings are pushed up high, and jerry-built structures rise by the thousands. This would not be so bad if, at least for a short while, one could feel safe in one's own and untouchable home. The opposite is true: today the man who has the courage to build himself a house constructs a meeting place for the people who will descend upon him on foot, by car, or by telephone. Employees of the gas, the electric, and of the water- works will arrive; agents of life and fire insurance companies; building inspectors, collectors of the radio tax; mortgage creditors and rent assessors who tax you for living in your own home.

When the political climate grows harsher, quite different people turn up and know at once where to find you. In addition to these nuisances, the odium of being a proprietor clings to you.

It was easier in the old days. Even though you had fewer conveniences, you felt at peace when you stretched your legs under your own table. This was the very feeling I had about Zapparoni, namely, that he was still master in his own house. I could have bet that no gas meters or other connections existed here. at least not the kind that lead out of the premises. Probably Zapparoni had transferred the pattern of a feudal state to his household, and his automatons had enabled him to do this. In the automaton, abstract power becomes concrete' and returns into the object. I noticed nothing of this directly it was more a question of atmospheric perception. Candles stood on the table and there was even an hourglass on the mantelpiece.

Quite obviously, the person who lived here did not live on a pension; he distributed pensions. Here no police could intrude, no matter what the order or what the pretext. Not only did Zapparoni have his own police to carry out his, and only his, instructions, but the whole plant and its connecting roads were guarded by policemen and engineers of State and Army, who, true to the letter, had to act with him "in agreement," but actually could have no opinion of their own.

The question. of course, arises: why was a man with such prerogatives dependent upon me, of all people -- someone up to his neck in difficulties. Here lay that mystery of which I have already spoken. The fact is -- and it must be a strange, deeply-rooted one -- that a person, however many legal methods of action he has at his disposal, is still dependent on loop holes for carrying out his plans. The legal sphere, small or large, always borders upon the illegal one. The borderline advances with the prerogatives. For that reason transgressions are found more frequently among those on top than among those on the bottom. When prerogatives become absolute, the frontiers tend to blur, and it is difficult to distinguish between right and wrong. At this point people are needed with whom one can "steal horses."
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:35 am


After the servant had shown me into the library, he left me alone. He had behaved with the utmost politeness. I mention this because it shows how suspicious I had become. I had come to watch everyone I met, and was much more quickly hurt than I used to be. In any case, I could draw no conclusion from the behavior of the servant: perhaps his master had made a derogatory remark concerning my visit; perhaps not. Well, I still doubted that I would meet Zapparoni face to face -- one of his secretaries would probably enter at any moment.

It was peaceful in the library. The books gave the room a quiet dignity. They lined the shelves in bindings of light parchment, flamed vellum, and brown morocco. The volumes bound in parchment were inscribed by hand; the leatherbacks bore red and green labels or had their titles printed in gold. In spite of its age, the collection of books did not give the impression of being there as decoration. I examined a few titles -- early technical treatises, books on the cabala, Rosicrucianism, and alchemy -- but they didn't tell me much. Perhaps in such books a mind could relax reading about the ancient false trails.

The thick walls would have made the room gloomy, had not the high windows, which almost reached to the floor, let in a flood of light. The French doors were open; and led out onto a large terrace.

Looking out over the park was like looking at an old painting. The trees sparkled in the brilliance of their fresh foliage; the eye sensed their roots drawing moisture from deep down in the soil. They formed a border along the little brook, which ran lazily, at times widening into pools which glistened with a green coat of algae. These had once been the fishponds of the monks; the Cistercians had built in the marshland like beavers.

It was a piece of luck that the wall was still intact. In the vicinity of cities, these rings of stone have generally been demolished and now serve as quarries. But now' and then one saw here the gray stone showing through the leaves of the trees. The wall even seemed to enclose a field, since in the distance I could see a peasant walking behind his plow. The air was clear; the sun glinted on the coats of the horses and on the clods which were broken up by the plowshare. It was an idyllic picture, although a surprising one to find on the premises of a man who, among other things, dealt in tractors which loosened the topsoil of flowerbeds like moles. But everything in his household clearly indicated museum tendencies. Most likely he did not want to see machines when, from his terrace, he looked at his trees and ponds. There was the additional advantage that only garden produce grown in the old manner appeared on his table. Here, the saying that words have changed is still valid, since bread is no longer bread and wine no longer wine. They are doubtful chemicals. At present one really has to be unusually rich to avoid being poisoned. No doubt about it: this man Zapparoni was a sly fox who understood how to live in his Malpertuis -- and at the expense of fools. He was like the pharmacist who asks the most exorbitant prices for his pills and miracle-drugs, while he, himself, keeps in good health as his forefathers did.

No doubt, there was peace in this place. The steady roar of the plant, the rumble from the parking lot and the driveways reached me only as a low murmur across the treetops. I could, on the other hand, hear the melodies of the blackbirds and finches, and the woodpecker rap with its beak against rotting tree trunks. Thrushes hopped and lingered on the lawns, and now and then the plop of a leaping carp could be heard from the ponds. On the flower-crowded borders and medallions in front of the terrace, bees crossed to and fro, sharing with the butterflies the sweet loot. It was a May day in its full glory.

After I had examined the paintings and the books with their odd titles, I sat down on one of the two chairs which stood by a small table, and gazed through the wide-open door. The air was purer here than in the city and almost intoxicating. The eye rested on the old trees, the green ponds, and on the brown field in the distance, where the peasant made his furrows, turning his plow about at the end of each.

Just as we still feel the winter in our bones on a warm day in spring, I felt, before this vista, the deep discontent which had clouded my life in these last years. A retired cavalryman cuts a poor figure in the middle of these cities, where the neighing of a horse is no longer heard. How things had changed since Monteron's death! Words had lost their meaning; even war was no longer war. Monteron would turn in his grave if he could hear what they called war nowadays. After all, peace was no longer peace.

Two or three times more, we were to ride our horses on the plains where, ever since the Great Migration of the Peoples, armed horsemen had moved, time and again. Soon we were to learn that this was no longer possible. We had proudly worn our handsome and colorful uniforms, which could be seen glittering from a distance, but we could no longer see our opponent. Marksmen, invisible to us, took aim at long range and unhorsed us. If we managed to reach them, we found them within a web of wires which cut through the fetlocks of the horses and was impossible to jump. This was the end of the cavalry. We had to dismount.

In the tanks it was close, hot, and noisy, as if one sat in a boiler on which steamfitters hammered. It smelled of oil, gasoline, rubber, scorched insulating tape, asbestos and -- should we come into the firing zone -- of powder, which puffed out of the cartridges. We felt concussions in the soft ground, then sharper and nearer impacts, then direct hits. These were not the great days of the cavalry, which Monteron had described to us, but hot machinework, obscure and without glory, always accompanied by the prospect of death by fire. I was repulsed by the thought that the spirit should in this manner submit itself to the power of flame -- a deep-seated natural feeling.

Naturally our profession wok on a disreputable character. Soon I recognized that soldiers were no longer soldiers. The distrust was mutual and the whole service was affected. Formerly, the pledge to the flag had sufficed; now it became necessary to enlist numerous policemen. This was a disturbing change. What once had been duty became, overnight, an error or even a crime. We noticed this when, after the war had been lost, we returned to our homeland. Words had lost their meaning -- should fatherland no longer be fatherland? For what, then, had they all died -- Monteron and the others?

This question weighed on all our minds. We began to brood but didn't find a solution. Apparently our education, though severe, had been too narrow. We didn't understand the simplest matter. It is indisputable, for example, that of two warring armies one is bound to lose, unless it comes to a draw. But that defeat had fallen to our lot was too much for us. We couldn't assimilate it; somewhere within us there must have been a blind spot. Although it was obvious and palpable, we did not accept our defeat.

We could not have been more wrong. We should have swallowed and digested defeat like a bitter medicine. Instead we began to convince ourselves that only treason could have caused our downfall, and that we had been defeated contrary to the rules of the game. This was bound to lead us on a wrong track.

I do not like to think of those years when everything had changed; I should like to wipe them out of my memory like a bad dream. Everyone suspected everyone else. When hate is in the seeds, you can only harvest weeds.

A horrible incident made me sick of all intrigues. It happened at the time when we had overturned the monument that had been erected for one of the new tribunes who already had become unpopular. ("Tribune" is one of those words based on the fact that there once was a Roman Empire.) We had been drinking; it was past midnight, and the monument stood in the glaring lights of a building site. The workmen lent us their pickaxes, and we did such a thorough Job that we left only two huge boots of concrete looming up from the pedestal. I only vaguely remember the place and the names of my companions in this obscure iconoclastic sacrilege; whoever might take an interest in it, as Zapparoni perhaps did, can look it up in my papers.

We used to meet in the room of a comrade who lived on the top floor of one of those tenements which were being built quickly and badly. The room had one large window, from which one looked down, as through a deep shaft, into the courtyard which, from this height, appeared not much larger than a playing card. This comrade's name was Lorenz, a slender, slightly nervous fellow who had also served in the Light Cavalry. We all liked him; there was an air of the old freedom and ease about him. In those days almost everyone was possessed with an idea: this was a peculiarity of the years following that war. Lorenz' idea consisted in seeing the machine as the source of all evil. Therefore, he intended to blow up the factories, to redistribute the land, to transform the country into a large peasant commune in which everyone would be peaceful, healthy, and happy. In substantiation of his opinion, he had assembled a small library -- two or three shelves full of well-thumbed books, chiefly by Tolstoy, who was his saint.

The poor boy did not know that at present there is only one kind of land reform: expropriation. Indeed, he himself was the son of an expropriated farmer who had not survived his losses. Oddest of all, Lorenz advocated these ideas on the top floor of a tenement, in the midst of a group which, if not lacking in confused schemes, was, at least in technical matters, up-to-date.

As a result, he was constantly interrupted as he developed his ideas: "Back to the Stone Age," we'd mock, or, "Neanderthal, I love you. " But we overlooked, or failed to recognize, that our friend was consumed with something like a holy if helpless wrath; for life in these burnt-out cities, which smoldered as if gutted by metallic beaks, was ghastly. Lorenz shouldn't have been in our rowdy company; in those days he should have been in the care of a family or a wife who loved him. Monteron had been especially fond of him.

On that terrible evening -- it was actually almost early morning -- we had been drinking heavily, and our heads were flushed with excitement. Empty bottles stood along the walls, and from the ash trays wreaths of smoke drifted out the open window, through which one saw a sickly sky. All this was far removed from the peace of villages.

I was half-asleep and only the noise of the conversation kept me awake. Suddenly I gave a start; I felt that something was taking place in the room that called for the utmost attention. In the same way, a receiving instrument starts to vibrate when a message is transmitted and music is interrupted by the distress signals of a ship in danger of sinking.

My comrades had stopped talking; they were looking at Lorenz who had risen from his chair in extreme agitation. Perhaps they had been teasing him again, treating as a joke a condition that called for an experienced doctor. Only later did they realize how unusual all this had been.

Since Lorenz was a teetotaler, it was obvious that he was not drunk but in a sort of trance. He no longer defended his idea; instead, he complained about the lack of men of good will -- his plans could be so easily realized if only such men existed. Our fathers had set an example. It would be so easy to consummate the sacrifice which the times expected from us. Only when it was consummated would the crack which split the world in two be closed.

We looked at him, not understanding what he was driving at; at one moment we felt like spectators of a senseless tirade, at the next like witnesses to an incantation in which something uncanny flickered up.

He became quieter, as if weighing in his mind a particularly convincing phrase. He smiled and repeated: "But it's so easy. I'll show you." Then he shouted: "Long live -- " and jumped out of the window.

I shall not repeat the name he spoke. We thought we were dreaming, but at the same time we felt as though we were connected by an electric current; we sat in the suddenly empty room like an assembly of ghosts, our hair standing on end.

Although the youngest of us, Lorenz had been a leader in gymnastics; I had often seen him vaulting over the parallel bars or the horse. In exactly the same way he disappeared from that attic; he had lightly placed his hand on the window sill and then turned round, so that his face looked once more into the room. Did the great silence which followed last five or seven seconds? I do not know. In any case, even in remembering, one would like to drive a wedge into that inexorable moment, so that it might lose its logic, its inevitability. Then we heard that dreadful, dull, hard thump out of the depth of the courtyard; there was no doubt possible -- the fall had been fatal.

We rushed down the stairs and out into the narrow, dim courtyard. I shall not speak about the Thing that huddled in a heap. From such height a body usually lands head first -- that Lorenz had managed to land on his feet proved that he had been a good gymnast. From the second, even the third floor, the jump might have been successful. But some things are impossible. I saw two pallid clamps from which hung threadlike shreds: under the impact the thighbones had pierced the hips and now shone white in mid-air.

Someone called for a doctor, another for a pistol, a third for morphine. I felt on the verge of madness and ran away into the night. !he tragic act had shocked me deeply and permanently; It had also destroyed something in me. I cannot treat it as just an episode and I cannot dismiss it with the remark that the world is full of senselessness.

Really, doesn't everything make sense? There are, of course, things from which we more or less recover, although some of them are too harsh even for saints. But that is no reason to accuse God. Even if there are reasons to doubt him, the fact that he did not arrange the world like a well-ordered parlor is not one of them. It rather speaks in his favor. This used to be much better understood.

As for Lorenz, he did indeed set an example, though different from the one he intended. 10 one single moment he was able to illustrate and accomplish something which most of our circle took a lifetime to do. If a person of strength and good will who draws his nourishment from the past isn't able to find firm ground under his feet in the present, he is doomed to impotence. If he strives for the impossible, he must destroy himself.

It was then that I fully grasped the terrible words "in vain." After our defeat, I had suffered agonies at the sight of superhuman exploits and immeasurable suffering, above which the words loomed in the red blaze of the night like a rock crowned with vultures. But this incident inflicted a wound which left scars forever.

My comrades apparently took it less seriously. Among the actual participants that night were a number of strong-minded men who, at a later period, were much talked about; it was as if a demon had united them. The next day they met again and decided to cross Lorenz' name from their lists. Suicide was for them an impermissible homage paid to the spirit of the age.

The funeral, held at a suburban cemetery, was a pitiful affair. As the people attending it dispersed, embarrassed remarks could be heard: "Jumped out of the window when drunk," and the like.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:36 am


As for the others, they were soon involved in extraordinary activities. From the Baltic, from Asturia, and from even more remote places, wherever trouble broke out they appeared on the scene. Although they set astonishing things in motion, one could not say that the times encouraged them, except when they were needed to ward off countermoves.

In those years I began to be preoccupied with history. I was curious to learn if anything similar had happened in the past. Among historical characters, I was particularly impressed by the younger Cato, who preferred defeat to victory. To me, as well, it was the recurring shadows in the huge world-canvas which seemed the more impressive, and sadness seemed the true contemplative approach -- Hector and Hannibal, the American Indians and the Boers, Montezuma and Maximilian of Mexico. Probably in this interest lay another of the reasons for my failures: misfortune is contagious.

The more active and influential my comrades became, the more they enlisted my assistance. They were good at sizing up potentiality, and in their opinion I was an able instructor. This was true: I had the advantage of being a specialist. But I must modify their view by indicating how far I deserved this title and how far I did not.

There is no doubt that I had a natural gift for teaching, that is for introducing young people to matters which they had been told to learn and must later master. Horsemanship in the manege, then in the open country; an intimate understanding of tanks and how to drive them in combat; behavior in fallout zones and other dangerous places -- to present information like this methodically, giving both theory and practice was not difficult for me. I have mentioned once before that my generation was nearly perfect in matters of technology. Whenever I attended a training course in a new invention, you could be sure I'd make the most of it. I even became a member of the board of tank inspectors. We visited factories and bargained with the engineers for their inventions.

These inventions became, incidentally, increasingly revolting to me, for I was ineradicably marked by a touch of the old cavalryman's primitive evaluation. I will admit that in the earliest times the horseman had a considerable advantage over the foot soldier. (On the other hand considerably higher expenses were involved.) But the advantage was balanced by the invention of gunpowder, so rightly lamented by Ariosto. It was the end of glorious armies like those led by Charles the Bold. Cavalry charges still took place of course -- and I cannot consider it unjust for the infantryman to load and fire two or three times before he received his comeuppance -- but after that, death came to the cavalry.

The old Centaurs were overpowered by the new Titan. I had seen my own conqueror at close hand when I lay bleeding on the grass. He had unhorsed me -- a sickly fellow, a pimply lad from the suburbs, some cutler from Sheffield or weaver from Manchester. He cowered behind his rubble heap, one eye shut, the other aiming at me across the machine gun which did the damage. In a pattern of red and gray, he wove an evil cloth. This was the new Polyphemus or, rather, one of his lowest messenger boys with a wire mask before his one-eyed face. This was how the present masters looked. The beauty of the forests was past.

All this puts me in mind of Wittgrewe, one of my first instructors. He taught me the elements of horseback riding, before I came to Monteron. Wittgrewe broke in the new horses, and no riding tournament was conceivable without him. His thighs were hard as iron and his hands, when controlling the reins, were soft as velvet. Within an hour even the most difficult horse, the most untrained colt, recognized him as master. I took part in my first maneuver under his supervision. In the evenings I liked to visit the stables where he had put himself up with his horses. I was in my element there, even if I had been in the saddle all day long, from dawn to the final dismount.

The stables were warm and cozy, and the horses stood belly-deep in the straw. You always met two or three other Light Cavalrymen with Wittgrewe, all seniors in their third year. There I learned how to take care of my horse after a long ride: how to fill its stall with fresh straw, bringing it water with chaff scattered on top to prevent it from drinking too hastily, how to rub it warm, feeling its fetlocks, nursing it tenderly till it would put its head on my shoulder and nuzzle me with its nose. I was also initiated into the mysteries of the stable-watches which we kept whether we were billeted in a manor or with peasants. I learned to drink schnapps and to smoke a meerschaum, its bowl painted with faces, to play cards and to do the other things which are the ultimate tests of being a soldier. Wherever Wittgrewe appeared, whenever he crossed the farmyard with relaxed, sauntering steps, his coat unbuttoned, the girls soon came from all sides -- blondes, brunettes and girls with jet-black hair, girls with pointed shoes or high boots, girls with or without kerchiefs. He took them for granted and did nothing; the girls came like cats when somebody has scattered catnip. They even came into the stable when the peasant and his wife had gone to bed. Then there was much lively drinking, sausages were taken from the larder and cut up, riddles were proposed and favors drawn-in short, Wittgrewe was an all-round man. And he had a splendid singing voice.

Incidentally, my first maneuver was his last; that very same autumn he quit the army and took a civilian job. Some time later I saw him again in, of all places, the streetcar which took me out to Treptow. I bought my ticket and could not believe my eyes when I recognized him as the conductor; but there was no doubt -- it was Wittgrewe. He wore a stiff green cap, which looked like a small percussion cap, and a leather pouch over his shoulder; he sold tickets for ten pfennigs, rang a bell every three minutes by pulling a strap, and called out the stops. The sight upset me; I felt distressed, as if a free-roaming animal had been imprisoned in a cage and taught a few pitiful tricks. So this was the splendid Wittgrewe.

Wittgrewe had recognized me too. But he didn't seem pleased -- he evidently disliked being reminded of our common past, and to my increasing surprise, he looked upon our riding days as something inferior and insignificant, while regarding his present occupation as a promotion.

Although he didn't seem to attach much importance to it, I visited him at his home. Young people dislike losing sight of persons who have served them as models. And Wittgrewe bad certainly been a model cavalryman. The swiftness with which he jumped obstacles, his use of any and all occasions to jump -- these presuppose a full-blooded physique and a sanguine temperament. A certain recklessness also has to be taken into account; even Monteron silently tolerated it.

The sight of Wittgrewe's apartment was still more depressing. He lived in the Stralau district -- Berlin, "as it cries and laughs." He took me into a room with a heavy buffet of Caucasian walnut, crowned by a crystal bowl. He was married. For the first time in my life I realized that the cocks of the roost have the most unattractive wives. I was particularly surprised that there was not a single engraving or photograph of a horse in the whole apartment, and no sign of the prizes he had won at the contests. Of the old wine-women-and-song atmosphere nothing was left but his membership in the Stralau Glee Club. This was the limit of his social needs.

And on what did he base his hopes for the future? He wanted to become a supervisor, perhaps even an inspector; his wife expected a small legacy, and he himself might some day be elected to the Board of Directors of his club. His scrawny wife sat with us in silence while we drank our light beer, and I left feeling that I had chosen the wrong moment for my visit. Perhaps it would have been better had I invited him to a beet garden or to the races at Hoppegarten; surely somewhere deep-down the memory of the past was still slumbering -- he could not have forgotten everything. Perhaps in his dreams, I thought, Wittgrewe mounted his horse again and, singing, galloped across the open plains, until in the evening the tug framework of draw wells on the horizon beckoned to him with the promise of bodily comfort and pleasure.

It was when I mentioned the Polyphemus from Sheffield or Manchester that I suddenly remembered Wittgrewe. When he had kowtowed to the new gods, Taras Bulba must have turned in his grave. Soon I was to learn that his case was not isolated. When we had been stationed in one of the Eastern Provinces, only young recruits from the villages joined us, sons of peasants and farmhands, who from childhood were used to dealing with horses. The years in the cavalry were a treat for them. Later, more and more were absorbed by the big cities and ended up like Wittgrewe. They were hired to do piecework, which was beneath a man's dignity. It could have been done just as well by a woman or a child, or even by a part of the machinery at which they worked.

What they had done in their youth, and what for millenniums had been man's vocation, joy, and pleasure -- to ride a horse, to plow in the morning the steaming field, to walk behind the oxen, to mow the yellow grain in the blazing summer heat while streams of sweat poured down the tanned body and the women who bound the sheaves could hardly keep in step with the mowers, to rest at noon for a meal in the shade of green trees -- all this, praised by the poets since times immemorial, was now past and gone. Joy in labor had disappeared.

How can one explain this trend toward a more colorless and shallow life? Well, the work was easier, if less healthy, and it brought in more money, more leisure, and perhaps more entertainment. A day in the country is long and hard. And yet the fruits of their present life were worthless compared to a single coin of their former life: a rest in the evening and a rural festivity. That they no longer knew the old kind of happiness was obvious from the discontent which spread over their features. Soon dissatisfaction, prevailing over all other moods, became their religion. Where the sirens screamed, it was horrible. And soon there was hardly a corner left where sirens could not be heard.

Everyone had to become resigned to this. If not, if you wanted to persist in an outdated way of life as we horsemen did, the people from Manchester came for you. The old way of life had disappeared. Now the slogan was: Do or die. Wittgrewe had idealized this before I did. I am, therefore, far from criticizing him and the others; I myself was forced to take the same turn.

Here was our situation: the men from Manchester had shown us what was what. We had to give up our horses. So we arrived with tanks "to smoke them out"; whereupon they treated us with a new surprise.

I admit that this succession of ever new models becoming obsolete at an ever increasing speed, this cunning question-and- answer game between overbred brains, had fascinated me for a while, especially when I was employed as a tank inspector. You see, the struggle for power had reached a new stage; it was fought with scientific formulas. The weapons vanished in the abyss like fleeting images, like pictures one throws into the fire. New ones were produced in protean succession.

The spectacle was fascinating -- on this point I agreed with Wittgrewe. When new models were displayed to the masses at the great parades in the Red Square in Moscow or elsewhere, the crowds stood in reverent silence and then broke into jubilant shouts of triumph. What was the meaning of this thunderous roar, when on the ground turtles of steel and serpents of iron rolled past, while in the sky triangles, arrows, and rockets shaped like fish, arranged themselves with lightning rapidity into ever-changing formations? Though the display was continual, in this silence and these shouts something evil, old as time, manifested itself in man, who is an out-smarter and a setter of traps. Invisible, Cain and Tubalcain marched past in the parade of phantoms.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:36 am


Now I should describe how all this gradually filled me with disgust; but to do so would lead me too far afield. If I have spoken chiefly of the power aspect of the events, I meant to take a short cut. Everywhere hubris is dominant and great danger threatens.

I was now employed as an instructor, without definite rank, at the tank-inspecting station: I was one of the "new men" -- a specialist -- but my field was one which, though indispensable, is not particularly respected. On the other hand, I had little respect for my employers. Every master has the servant he deserves. The drawbacks of the profession are well known, but the work also has its advantages; among others, one does not immediately have to play the role of an accomplice. One can withdraw behind facts.

In my free time I was mainly occupied with my historical studies. Since my job made it almost impossible to carry books around with me, apart from a small "iron ration," I used to go to libraries and lectures. I also formed a theory. I imagined that we were living during the period before Actium, burdened with the curse of a universal war, and that this period would be followed by another, in which Actiades would be celebrated -- a series of great and peaceful centuries. Of course in our lifetime we would only see misery.

As an instructor I had no difficulty with the technical side of the job, and neither did most of my friends. I even felt a certain passion for it. But anyone who has taught knows that this is not the principal point. In order to penetrate the subject matter there must be, in addition, the love of teaching and the love of learning, the give and take between teacher and student, example and imitation. Beyond the technical problem, there is a personal encounter similar to that of a savage training his sons in the use of bow' and arrow, or of an animal guiding its young. I am firmly convinced that one of the high orders of the universe is a pedagogical order.

I felt an inner need to associate with young people. Since 1 lacked Monteron's super-personal authority, I had to rely on my personality alone. In the beginning, my relation with them was comradely; later 1 intensified it with a fatherly affection. I had been denied a son though I wished for one, and I was excited to learn how these young men would master their lives. They had been born into an atmosphere of insecurity and had never known men with the absolute assurance of a Monteron. I could, therefore, realize better than they the measure of their threatened situation, their loneliness in uncharted seas, their dreadful position on the brink of nothingness.

1 do not refer to physical dangers, though these, too, weighed heavily upon my mind on the last evening before we had to separate. The young men were sitting close together, huddled like birds in a nest. Of course, the usual phrases had been uttered: "We'll show them," and the like; but there was also an undertone of anxiety, a dark shadow, impossible to banish. And I thought, seeing them sit before me: "Yes, soon you will leave -- for a place where no teacher can follow you. But what will await you there?"

It became more and more unbearable for me to know of their loneliness out there. Two or three times I succeeded in getting permission to accompany them; although this was frowned upon and, indeed, was of scant use, since all too soon the moment comes when we have to abandon those close to us. As if separated from them by an ocean, we can not bring them aid. I would have been happy to risk my own life for them, since I no longer had much to expect in this world -- I had amortized myself. But the bullets passed me by.

Time and again I was amazed at their courage, their capacity for endurance. When the politicians were at their wits' end, these young men had to step in and pay the debts of their fathers and forefathers. Remember: it was no longer a question of cavalry charges; they were sent into miserable furnaces! And they went without a word of reproach. In this respect I believe I saw slightly more than Monteron would have, because the zone of profound, anonymous suffering that begins below the established orders was bound to be hidden from him.

I didn't think much about politics. I had a feeling that like Lorenz we were all jumping out of windows, and sooner or later we were bound to crash. At the moment we were, so to speak, suspended in mid-air. I mentioned before that a number of my friends had advanced into high military and political positions. I stayed modestly in their wake. It was, after all, necessary to join something.

No doubt, there are some insights which are not only useless but rather harmful. He who looks too closely into the kitchen spoils his appetite. That our cause had its seamy side, and that not everything on the opponent's side was as black as it was painted -- to know this and to express it was unnecessary for me. My attitude made me suspect both sides and deprived me of the advantages of partisanship.

I was a skeptic, and my chief weakness was that I lacked the unscrupulousness of the party member -- a weakness soon recognized. Very closely connected with this trait was my bias toward the underdog, which frequently caused me to make strange changes of position. Later I shall return to all this when I talk about Spichern Heights.

Such peculiarity and weakness of character did not remain a secret; so in spite of my satisfactory work, I did not get ahead. Charges of sophistry, hairsplitting and indecision accompanied me in all my service records. In any office or organization, there are clever chaps with whom one must be cautious: during the Asturian campaign a chief of staff distinguished himself by writing on my conduct sheet: "Outsider with defeatist inclinations." Since he really expressed it concisely, I shall profit from his mental feat and talk of my defeatism whenever this quality, which complicated my career, has to be mentioned in the future.

It was at this point that my listing changed from party member to specialist -- although this corresponded with my inclinations, the identification was nevertheless unfavorable for my prospects. There was an additional obstacle, which I realized only by degrees: the fact that I could be sure of reaching an audience of a hundred or two but not of a thousand or more. This seems strange at first sight, since if one has the ability to make an impression, a quantitative extension of it should be irrelevant. But that is not the case, though it took me many years to find it out.

As matters stood, I could manage well enough with my specialist's knowledge on the one hand and my personal inclination on the other, but all this was not sufficient when I was confronted by more than my two hundred students. Facing larger units, a conclusive judgment on the state of the times is expected in addition to everything else. This judgment needn't be right, but it should be conclusive. Monteron could deliver such judgments; therefore he was the right person to head a military academy. I lacked them -- I had the perspective of a man who is jumping out of the window. Too intelligent for the vulgar certainty of a party member, I nevertheless failed to reach any stable valuations of my own. A secret is attached to inner certainty, and one needs too many big words to express it; but it may be described as an armor which protects one, at whatever level of intelligence, against the world. If I may say a word for myself, at least I have never simulated 1 certainty.

As for the chief of staff in Asturia -- he reached the same conclusion with less effort when he supplemented my record with the postscript: "Unsuited for positions of leadership." His name was Lessner; he belonged to the younger generation and made amazing, instantaneous judgments which for some time have been admired, if not idolized, to an increasing degree.

These were the reasons why I accomplished little. I spent those years in ever-changing theaters of action but with consistent inclinations. We ourselves are the last to notice that we are not making any headway. It is brought to our notice from the outside; former students suddenly emerge as our superiors. As we grow older, the respect we receive diminishes: the disproportion between our age and our position becomes evident, first to other people and finally to ourselves. Then it is time to retreat.

Help, if it comes, frequently turns up from an unexpected quarter: from the weak. This happened to me when I met and married Teresa. My defeatism reached a climax: I went the whole distance, finally turning my back on the struggle for power. It all seemed meaningless and futile, a wasted effort, time lost. I wanted to wipe it from my memory. I came to recognize that one single human being, comprehended in his depth, who gives generously from the treasures of his heart, bestows on us more riches than Caesar or Alexander could ever conquer. Here is our kingdom, the best of monarchies, the best republic. Here is our garden, our happiness.

My taste returned to simple, natural things, to the always accessible pleasures. Why was it, then, that the past now returned like a wave that seizes and sucks under the swimmer who has already reached his island? And why did it have to happen in an ugly, discreditable form? Was it a bill presented me for intelligence wasted in the turmoil of the times? Or did I feel so uneasy because my vision had been sharpened?
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:36 am


These were the thoughts that oppressed me while I looked out over the meadowland with the brook running through it. The peasant was still drawing his furrows, and little by little the brown surface of the plowed-up earth increased in extent. His was a better balance sheet than mine.

Thoughts do not assail us in the way I have been reporting them, assembled coherently and all accounted for. We arrange them in a logical juxtaposition which they do not have when they rise in our mind. There they shine like meteors in the firmament -- now as places, now as names, now as amorphous signs. The dead mingle with the living, and dreams with actual experiences. What are these portents; where do we wander at night? I saw the noble face of Lorenz who jumped out of the window. Wasn't this our common destiny, our own reality? Some day, we too would bash our heads in. There had been times when life was almost exclusively concerned with preparation for this moment; perhaps those times had been less senseless than the present.

A slight noise made me start. Someone must have entered the room. Jumping to my feet, I found myself confronted by an old man who was contemplating me. He must have come from his study. Its door stood open, and I could see the corner of a large table, which, in spite of the hour, was still lit by a lamp. The table was covered with papers, written and printed, and with opened books.

The stranger was a little old man -- but while I was registering these facts, I felt that they did not mean anything. Was he really a stranger? And was he really old and little? Of a great age, certainly, because I could see his hair shining white under the green visor which shaded his eyes. Moreover, his features revealed a cast that is molded and imparted by a long life. A similar cast can be observed in the faces of great actors who have mirrored the spirit of their times. In them, however, destiny works, as it were, in the hollow mold. It had worked in this man at the core. He was not an impersonator.

Establishing his age was of secondary importance, since spirit is ageless: this old man was more capable of taking risks -- whether physical, moral, or spiritual -- than a great many young people, and he would come off better, because he combined power and insight, acquired cunning and innate dignity. What was his heraldic beast? A fox, or lion, or one of the large predatory birds? I rather imagined it to be a chimera, like those which roost on our cathedrals and look down on the town with a knowing smile.

In the same way that he seemed to be old and yet not old, he was also small and yet not small; his whole bearing belied the impression of smallness and age. I had often met eminent persons -- I think of those involved with the innermost wheels of our machinery of state and who are very close to the invisible axle. Some were men whose names appear in all the newspapers, some were total strangers. Good or evil, active or inactive, they all had something in common, something imposing, which is recognized, if not by everyone, then by a great many people, especially those with simple rather than complicated natures. A philosopher, for instance, a rearranger of facts and ideas, who is endowed with this spirit, can fascinate his listeners even when they don't understand a word of his lecture. Spellbound, they will hang on his lips. The same effect is possible in other fields. Apparently a direct recognition of greatness exists, wholly independent of intellectual comprehension. We react like magnets to an electric current. That his impact is composed of letters, words, texts is another matter -- often they even weaken the power of attraction. But although the phenomenon is not easy to describe, since it has no definite form, it translates itself into works and action, into mental and moral symbols. It may even exert its influence through inactivity -- perhaps through asceticism, sacrifice, and meditation. In any case our recognition underlies the disclosure and precedes it. A dim feeling corresponds to the undifferentiated impression. It's as though we said to ourselves: "He's got something," or we simply sense a breath of mystery.

And this is what I felt at the sight of Zapparoni. I thought: "That man has the formula" or, "He is an initiate, one of the elect." Suddenly, "knowledge is power" took on a new, immediate, and dangerous meaning.

Above all, his eyes were extremely powerful. They had the royal look, the open gaze, revealing the white of the eyeball above and beneath the iris. The impression was at the same time slightly artificial, as if it resulted from some delicate operation. Moreover the eye had a fixed stare, peculiar to people of southern countries. It was the eye of a big, blue, century-old parrot, with the nictitating membrane twitching over it. This was not the blue of the sky, not the blue of the sea, nor the blue of precious stones -- it was a synthetic blue, fabricated in remote places by a master artist who wished to excel nature. Such a bird had flashed on the edge of primeval streams and flown over the clearings. Sometimes a shrill red and a fabulous yellow darted out of its plumage.

The iris of its eye was the color of amber; exposed to the light, it showed a tinge of yellow, while in the shadow, it looked brownish-red with age-old inclusions. This eye had seen enormous copulations in realms where procreative power is not yet sporadic, where land and sea intermix and phallic rocks loom up at the delta. It had remained cold and hard like yellow cornelian, untouched by love. Only when it looked into the shadow did it become dark and velvety. The beak, too, had remained hard and sharp through having cracked nuts, hard as diamonds, for more than a hundred years. Not a single problem remained unsolved. The eye and the problems -- they fitted one into the other like lock and key. His look cut like a blade of flexible steel. Then the objects moved back into their accustomed places.

I had always believed that Zapparoni's monopolies rested upon the skillful exploitation of inventors -- but one look was sufficient to see there was more at work in him than a mercurial intelligence which derives profit from Plutonian zones. Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune were in powerful conjunction. It was probably more true that this little old man knew how to invent the inventors -- that he found them whenever his mosaic required.

Only later did it strike me that I had immediately known who it was that confronted me. This was remarkable because the great Zapparoni, as every child knew him, did not in the least resemble the person whom I was facing here in the library. Zapparoni films had developed a picture of a benign grandfather or a Santa Claus, with workshops in the snow-covered forests, where he employed gnomes and racked his brains to find out how to amuse all the children, great and small. "Once again and year by year --": on this note the catalogue of the Zapparoni Works was tuned, a book which was looked forward to every October with an eagerness never enjoyed by any fairy tale or utopian novel.

Zapparoni must certainly have had a deputy to play this role, perhaps an actor, perhaps a robot. It was even possible that he employed several such shadows or projections. This is one of mankind's ancient dreams, and has given rise to special turns of phrase: "I cannot be in four places at once," for instance. Evidently Zapparoni not only believed it to be possible, but considered the division a profitable extension and intensification of his personality. Now that we are able to enter apparatuses and leave parts of ourself within them -- for instance, our voice and our image -- we enjoy certain advantages of the antique slave system without its drawbacks. If anyone understood this, it was Zapparoni, the connoisseur and developer of automatons as objects of play, entertainment, and luxury. One of his likenesses, elevated to an ideal paraded in the Sunday supplements and on the television screen with a more convincing voice and a more genial appearance than those nature had given him; another gave a lecture in Sydney, while the Master, comfortably meditating, rested in his study.

I was slightly shaken in the presence of this un-likeness which affected me like an optical illusion and made me doubt the man's identity. Was this the right man? But he must be, and the good grandfather was his deputy-director. His voice was pleasant, by the way.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:37 am


"Captain Richard," he said, "Mr. Twinnings has recommended you to me, and I value his judgment. He thinks that you'd like to devote yourself to better, more peaceful things, just as he has done. Well, it is never too late for that."

As he spoke, he stepped out onto the terrace and motioned me to a chair. I sat down, dazed: the dentist's first probe touched the sensitive nerve at its root and at the seat of the inflammation. The interview began in the most unpromising way possible.

In Zapparoni's eyes I was, of course, a doubtful character, as I undeniably was in my own. That he had gently shown his lack of respect should not have offended me; indeed, in my present situation, it was entirely appropriate for me to be oversensitive.

But with his contemptuous allusion to my former profession he had touched an old unhealed wound. I knew that the affairs I had been engaged in were, in the eyes of inventors and builders like Zapparoni, things only one step removed from the "stealing of horses." One would do well to dissociate one's self from them, but I could not imitate Twinnings.

A man like Zapparoni could say what he wanted to -- it sounded well. It had authority, not only because he could buy up the press, which paid homage to him in the editorial and the advertising departments, but principally because he was an embodiment of the spirit of the age. This homage had, therefore, the advantage that it was not only paid for, but that it was, at the same time, sincerely felt -- it demanded nothing but wholehearted approval from both the intelligentsia and the moralists of the press.

I must, of course, admit that Zapparoni really could pass for the showpiece of that elated technical optimism which dominates our leading minds. With him, technology took a new turn toward downright pleasure -- the age-old magicians' dream of being able to change the world by thought alone seemed almost to have come true/In addition, there was the enormous effect, which any head of state could envy, produced by those photographs of him always surrounded by crowds of children.

Everything devised, constructed, and mass-produced at Zapparoni's made life much easier. It was not considered good form to mention that these things were at the same time dangerous, but it was difficult to deny this danger. Although during the last decades, no major conflagration had occurred, a series of local crises which had flared up caused the Great Powers to make a careful estimate of the harm they were confident of bringing about. It was clearly evident then that the Zapparoni Works played a leading role on this balance sheet and that, without much alteration, all his lilliputian robots and luxury automatons could contribute not only to the improvement but also to the shortening of life. The only thing these Great Powers had in common was the disgusting habit of mutual spying -- the cowardly triumph of calculating brains over courage to live.

By and large, the Zapparoni Works resembled a temple of Janus with one bright and one dark portal, and when clouds were gathering on the horizon, a stream of fiendishly devised, murderous tools began to pour forth from the dark gate. At the same time this dark gate was taboo; actually it should not have existed at all. But time and again extremely disquieting rumors leaked out of the construction department, and it was with good reason that the workshop for models was located in the innermost restricted area. The job opening was very likely connected with such matters.

I am certainly far from eager to contribute to that favorite theme: "Why do all the wrong things happen? " Eventually the worst will happen. Rather I am concerned with a particular query which often haunted me before and which I was again acutely aware of after Zapparoni's humiliating words of welcome. My query is this: Why are those who have endangered and changed our lives in such terrifying and unpredictable ways not content with unleashing and controlling enormous forces and with enjoying their consequent fame, power, and wealth? Why must they want to be saints as well?

This question had especially bothered me when I was employed as a tank inspector. Among the few books I carried with me at that time (along with Flavius Josephus) was The Conquest of Mexico by Prescott. The fascination of this book lies in its evocation of man's rigid taboos and obsessions during a late stone-age civilization where priesthoods and sun temples and human sacrifices abounded. We see, as through a narrow chink, impassive faces seemingly carved of stone, and the streams of blood which flow down through the grooves an drains of the altar in the Great Teocalli. No wonder the Spaniards believed that one of the vast abodes of Satan had opened up before their eyes.

But isn't it possible that, when once again the curtain of the great world stage has fallen, no less horrified eyes may be directed on us and on our saints? We do not know how we shall appear in the history books of future centuries or at the great judgment of the dead on civilizations. Perhaps such a wizened old blood-priest will be preferred to any of our saints.

For instance, our increasing speed, which began at the end of the eighteenth century like the start of a salto mortale -- how shall it be judged? At a certain point in time we can begin to speak of a dynamite civilization (it is no accident that the highest prize for cultural achievements is provided from a dynamite fund): the world is filled with the noise of explosions -- from the rapid, diminutive explosions which set in motion myriads of machines, to the explosions which threaten continents. We walk through a panorama of pictures, which, if we have not fallen under its spell, reminds us of a large lunatic asylum -- here we see an automobile race, in the course of which a car drives among the spectators like a missile, mowing some dozens of them down; and there, a "pattern bombing," by which a squadron of bombers rolls up a city like a carpet, in a few minutes dissolving in smoke a work of art which took a thousand years to complete. A luxury airliner crashes to the ground, wrapping itself in red flames. Crew and passengers -- men, women, and children -- are charred into mummies within the blazing fuselage. Beauty and radiance, jewels, silk, and diamonds evaporate in the blaze.

And such flares illumine our planet daily. After having seen one of them at close range in all its grisly hideousness, I boarded airplanes only reluctantly. At times I was forced to participate in a flight called, in professional jargon, a "flying carrousel" -- a circling flight over the training fields for the purpose of observing and discussing the movements of the tanks. I was aware of the risk. But I was not adventuresome enough to put up with this risk in order to save a little time on a pleasure trip. In such a lottery, one is much more likely to draw a blank than the first prize.

We marvel at Mexico and Babylon and overlook the no less astonishing things in our own world. We marvel that a man like Caligula laid claim to divine tribute and overlook how often similar incense is offered in our day. High honors are given to those who discover a formula or contrivance which will shake the foundations of the universe. Perhaps this tendency aims at a grand prix that can be no longer conferred by human beings.

That Zapparoni should feel superior to a cavalryman and patronize him was as absurd as a shark passing judgment on its own teeth, which are, after all, its most efficient part. Horsemen have existed for thousands of years, and the world has continued to exist in spite of Genghis Khan and other gentlemen who came and went like the tides. But when saints like Zapparoni began to appear, the earth itself was threatened. The peaceful stillness of the forests, the depth of the ocean, the outermost part of the earth's atmosphere were in danger. Even in peace they had brought about greater evils than an tyrant or warlord had ever imposed; they prepared poison which no one before had imagined or even known by name. Each day their machines took a toll equal to the casualty list of a single battle, and the yearly toll equaled that of a war -- and in what a ghastly manner.

Behind all this was a brutal and ruthless use of intellect which basically recognized only one tendency -- that which at the same time shortened, mechanically increased, and accelerated production. But could they create an olive tree or a horse? With all their enormous potentialities they could, of course, build cities, but not the smallest dwelling of the kind once built by a simple mason or a carpenter. Certain naive souls even commissioned them to build churches, though one would not want even a garden pavilion as a gift from them. The churches they got were built in a style suitable only for pillboxes, airplanes, and refrigerators; there they celebrated their religious rites before a congregation that considered penicillin more effective than any sacrifice of the Mass.

I had admired these super-philistines long enough -- these servants of forces unknown to them. As long as such admiration lasts, destruction will increase and human standards decrease. A mind that endangers worlds cannot create a fly. The huge scaffolding reveals itself as a scaffold indeed. If knowledge is power, one must know first what knowledge really is. That Zapparoni had reflected on this was clear by his look -- he was an initiate; he knew. His thoughts went far beyond techniques; I saw it in his eye. Like a chimera, he looked across the gray roofs; he had flashed over the primeval forest in light blue plumage. A glimmer of the immaterial color had splintered off into our times. His scheme and ambitions were bound to aim at something higher than satisfying the ever-increasing hunger of the masses for power and luxury.

His eye had primeval inclusions. Did it recognize the inclusion of timelessness in a new cosmic moment, in the delusion of Maia with its infinite abundance of images that fall back into the basin like drops of water from a fountain? Did his eye look back with nostalgia to the immense forests of the Congo where new races are growing up? Perhaps he would return there after his bold flight into the super-worlds. Black historians would then evolve their theories about him, as we do about the palace of Montezuma.

I should have liked to discuss these questions with him, since we are all haunted by the possibility that there may be some hope for the future. A great physicist is always a metaphysician as well; he has a higher concept of his knowledge and his task. I should have liked to look at Zapparoni's map of operations. These plans would have been more valuable to me than even the fulfilment of the request which had led me to him.

However, far from asking me to join him in his study, the great man received me as a chief Brahmin might, when, in the temple of the goddess Kali, he is asked for alms. He received me with a platitude.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:37 am


For a moment I had forgotten that I was here as a job applicant, but only for a moment. If anything could have lifted me out of my misery it would have been a word about our world and its meaning from the mouth of one of its augurs: a brief hint from an authority.

Zapparoni had as man faces as his work had meanings. Where was the Minotaur in this labyrinth? Was he the kind grandfather who made children, housewives, and small gardeners happy? Was he the contractor who moralized about the army and, at the same time, equipped it with ingenious weapons? Was he the daring engineer who was concerned solely with the play of the intellect and who wanted to describe a curve which led back to basic forms? Or was he simply trying to devise a new armature such as those observed in all classes of the animal kingdom, an armature by which nature harnessed the intellect, drawing upon it as means? It would explain many a naive trait, surprising in the protagonists.

Above all what was his attitude toward man, without whom all his work was meaningless? It originated in man and must return to him. A rose or a vine may be conceived without a trellis, but never the other way round. Did he want to dominate man, to paralyze him, or to lead him into fabulous realms? Was automation, in his eyes, an enormous experiment, a test to be passed, a question to be answered? I thought him capable of theoretical, even theological reflections; I had seen his library and had looked into his eyes.

It is a great privilege to hear from the mouth of an initiate what struggles we are ensnared in and what the meaning is of the sacrifices we are required to make before veiled images. Even if we should hear something evil, it would still be a blessing to see our task as something beyond a senseless cycle of recurrence.

But it was not for me to question -- quite the contrary. Zapparoni's first words had acted on me like a cold douche. For a short moment I was tempted to defend myself. But since this would have been unwise, I contented myself with saying: "It is very kind of Your Excellency to receive me personally."

From Twinnings I gathered he was entitled to this form of address and to many others as well.

"Do call me simply by my name as all the workers in our plant do." He did not say my plant or my workers. We had settled down in two garden chairs and looked out over the meadows. Zapparoni crossed his legs and regarded me with a smile. Wearing slippers of soft leather, he gave the impression of a man who spends his mornings comfortably within his four walls. But he looked more like an artist, a successful novelist, or a great composer -- someone who has been without material worries for a long time and who is sure of his means and his appeal.

The hum of the plant came to us from the distance. I felt that in a moment he was going to ask me questions. I was prepared for them, but had not arranged any answers, as I once used to do for similar interviews. Surely, every applicant wishes to make a special impression, one which represents the ideal picture of himself he carries in his mind. He submits his own advertisement. In this case any such presentation was out of the question simply because I didn't exactly know what was expected of me. Besides, interviewing techniques have made enormous progress in our time. Even though the interviewer scarcely ever finds out what the man is, he grasps with great perspicuity what he is not and what impression he struggles to give. In such a situation, therefore, it is always best to answer quite extempore.

"You came at just the right moment," he said, "to help me clear up a detail which has struck me in a book I am reading." He pointed to his study. "I've begun to read the memoirs of Fillmor, whom you probably know -- you must have been near-contemporaries at school.

This remark was more apposite than Zapparoni supposed, unless he had meant to provoke me. Fillmor was now one of our high commanders. I knew him well; we had both been in Monteron's class. He had served with the Parchim Dragoons and had been sent by them to the military academy. Like Twinnings he was attracted to Anglo-Saxon manners: both were from Mecklenburg. The Court of this little grand duchy modeled itself on the English pattern, and many who came from there had a London touch.

Fillmor was very much like Lessner, but far superior to him, a typical "First" -- even at that time it was taken for granted that a brilliant career was in store for him. Even Monteron, who didn't like him particularly, never questioned that he had a first-class intelligence. In general, Fillmor had no friends; he exuded a frosty atmosphere, in which he himself felt at ease. This distinguished him from warmhearted characters like Lorenz or from bons vivants like Twinnings, whose friendship was coveted. Accordingly, Lorenz was drawn to the troop, Twin nings to the post of staff officer, and Fillmor to a commanding position.

We had started together -- he, the man of success; I, the man of failure. It was easy to draw parallels, and I had often drawn them myself. How could his quiet, assured rise be explained -- a rise that surmounted catastrophies as if they were rungs in a ladder? I suppose the main reason was his prodigious memory. He was a pupil who never needed to study since everything he heard became permanently fixed in his head -- forever imprinted on his memory. If you read a poem to him slowly, later he could recite it by heart without a single mistake. No one learned languages more easily: all were child's play. After he had memorized a thousand words, he began to read foreign books and newspapers, broadening the range of his historical and political knowledge at the same time. It was as though he vaulted into the spirit of a language instead of working his way into it. He showed a similar ability in mathematics, and even with large numbers, he could solve arithmetic problems in his head.

All this frequently led to clashes with our instructors when, for instance, he made an unprepared translation at sight or when he handed in given problems, having written down only the problem and the solution. The instructors suspected him of cheating, until they realized whom they were dealing with. A long passage from a difficult author, which the instructors had painstakingly chosen in order to torture their pupils, word by word, for a whole lesson -- this Fillmor would have translated in one minute (had they not curbed him) . Such natures are the terror of schoolmasters. Since they could not prove him guilty, they tried to change to the argumentum ad hominem. This was also difficult, since Fillmor's conduct was distinguished by an unobtrusive superiority. Later, on Monteron's formidable Mondays, no shadow was ever cast on him. When he had been treated unjustly, he would take his revenge by waiting patiently for a flagrant error and then reporting it, but only after politely asking permission to speak. It then became evident that the pedants were less concerned with knowledge than with showing their own superiority. But his prank had been well prepared and they began to feel uneasy. In order to ignore his superiority, they had to ignore him. So the class often presented the spectacle of a "First" who listened in silence and was never asked a question. The instructors were overjoyed when they got rid of him. But there could be no doubt about his receiving a summa cum laude.

His astonishing gift accompanied him in his profession. One is liable to underestimate its advantages, but a good memory for names, for example, is an asset in many fields. We have a direct influence, a personal power, over people whom we know by name, especially in the great world of affairs. Human beings set great value on their names. I was, in this respect, always too definitely guided by my emotions. I knew the names of people I liked or disliked, but forgot those of others or confused them, which is more embarrassing still. Fillmor surprised even people he had never seen before -- telephone operators, for instance -- by addressing them by their names, thereby giving them the impression that they were his equals.

No one could match his ability to deal with time, space, and facts. His mind must have looked like a control panel. He mastered positions like a blindfolded chessplayer who simultaneously engages in fifty games and is capable of calling up from memory one after another of the chessboards and the position of every single piece. Thus, at any moment, he was informed about military potentialities and reserves, and knew what was possible and which the shortest route to take. He had what is nowadays called "genius," a talent which has universal approval. Moreover, except for an ambition that didn't aim at flashy display, he was almost without passion. He wished only to set forces in motion; he craved only the power of control.

Since Fillmor had no idiosyncrasies and always knew what was possible, he survived effortlessly all the changes in political climate and governments. The waves which beat others down lifted him up. Men like him were always needed by monarchies, republics, and dictatorships of any kind. While I had become a specialist, in order to be only just tolerated, he was the indispensable expert. Those who gain power quickly often remind us of brigands who requisition a locomotive only to discover they can't run it. While they are standing about helplessly, experts like Fillmor arrive and show them how to operate the levers. One sound of the whistle and all the unmoving wheels begin to turn again. On minds like Fillmor's rest the pure continuity, the uninterrupted functioning, of power; without them revolutions would come to nothing, remaining a mixture of crimes and meaningless talk.

It stands to reason that Fillmor's old comrades regarded him as a renegade, while he considered them to be fools. There was probably a good deal of optical illusion in this attitude, since Fillmor stood firm; he remained true to himself as a prototype of the Zeitgeist by which all were moved, but the changes did not touch his integrity. A fixed star of dogged persistence must have influenced him as well. I sometimes thought of Talleyrand Of Bernadotte in connection with Fillmor, but he lacked their charm and zest for life. He did not even keep a good table; I know because he sometimes invited his old comrades to dinner, in order to "cultivate the tradition." On these occasions all those who were down on their luck flocked together and let him stuff them with doctored wines and American horrors. This was all he did, and the man who really needed help would have done better to go to Twinnings.

From all this one may conclude that Fillmor was a man without any imagination, since the person who always knows what is possible doesn't occupy himself with the absurd or the impossible -- which had been my mistake: even as a child I had never been satisfied with the menu of the day; I had always looked for the impossible. All the systems which explain so precisely why the world is as it is and why it can never be otherwise, have always called forth in me the same kind of uneasiness one has when face to face with the regulations displayed under the glaring lights of a prison cell. Even if one had been born in prison and had never seen stars or seas or woods, one would instinctively know of timeless freedom in unlimited space.

My evil star, however, had fated me to be born in times when only the sharply demarcated and precisely calculable were in fashion. There were many days when I had the impression of meeting only prison wardens -- wardens, more-over, who voluntarily crowd to these positions, are satisfied with them and enjoy them. "Of course, I am on the Right, on the Left, in the Middle; I descend from the monkey; I believe only what I see; the universe is going to explode at this or that speed" -- we hear such remarks after the first words we exchange, from people whom we would not have expected to introduce themselves as idiots. If one is unfortunate enough to meet them again after five years, everything is different except their authoritative and mostly brutal assuredness. Now they wear a different badge in their buttonhole and mention their relationship to another monster; and the universe now shrinks at such a speed that your hair stands on end. In this mountain range of narrow-mindedness, Fillmor was one of the highest peaks.

For a long time, I could also be counted among the admirers of this kind of briskly disposing intelligence. I even admit I had expected much from it, particularly during the years when I was employed as a tank inspector. My attitude may seem that of a man who finds himself coveting a doubtful post because he sees a former comrade in the glare of celebrity. I rest my case. Fillmor had gone from triumph to triumph and had now published his memoirs. Since he calculated everything, this publication was undoubtedly intended to usher in a new phase in his career. In our day, a successful general, a high commander on the winning side, stands the best chance of becoming top dog in industry or politics. This is one of the paradoxes of an age that is unfavorably disposed toward the soldier.

If Zapparoni had spent his morning studying this fellow's memoirs, it was certainly no sheer pastime. What kind of judgment was I meant to pass on this book? The problem was the following--
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