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.

Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:41 am

X

At the very beginning, Zapparoni had been struck by a passage dealing with the start of the era of world wars. Fillmor mentioned the initial great losses, which he attributed partly to the inexperience of the troops and partly to the fact that the enemy had first shown white flags and then, when the soldiers had abandoned precautions and approached without cover, they had opened fire. Zapparoni wanted me to tell him whether I had witnessed similar occurrences and if this was a customary stratagem in war.

His question suited me; I had weighed it in my mind before. Evidently Zapparoni intended, after the unfortunate first words of welcome, to turn the conversation toward a field in which he knew I was on solid ground. This was not a bad start.

White flags? Well, they can be counted among the rumors which always turn up soon after the opening of hostilities. In part, they are inventions of journalists whose task consists in painting the opposite side black, but there is a grain of truth to them.

In a garrison under attack, the will to resist is not so uniformly distributed as it appears to the attacker. When the situation becomes threatening, cells begin to form -- some groups will want to defend their position at any cost, others will regard the cause as lost. Therefore situations can arise in which the attacking troops are alternately lulled into security by signs of surrender and then are fired upon. They suffer the effect, without recognizing the diversity of the impulse, and they confuse juxtaposed with consecutive action. They necessarily conclude that they have been lured into a trap. It's an inevitable optical illusion. Objectively seen, they have engaged in a dangerous affair, without using sufficient caution. It's much the same when we cut ourselves on a double-edged knife and then hurl it in anger against the wall. The person who acts is responsible for the acted-upon -- not the other way round. The fault lies with the attacker. The commander who allowed his men to advance imprudently hadn't mastered his business. He had maneuvers in his head.

With an occasional kindly nod, Zapparoni listened to my comments.

"Not bad, even though all too human -- and it's good that you find a remedy at once. Heaven protect us against such intrigues. The Field Marshal does not indulge in such circumstantial considerations."

He laughed contentedly and then went on.

"If I have understood you, the situation is somewhat as follows: Let's suppose I am negotiating with a business rival -- a firm. I drive these people into a corner -- and they make me a favorable offer. I make my arrangements, provide liquid assets, and make reserves available. At the very moment when the agreement is due to be signed I am notified that I have negotiated with a subsidiary company and that the principal firm has no obligation whatsoever. Meanwhile the market has recovered and they have hawked my offer around. Now the whole deal has to begin all over again."

After a short pause be continued: :This sort of maneuver happens not infrequently. Perhaps I negotiated with partners who overstepped their authority, or maybe they decided to shelve the whole matter in order to worm a better offer out of me later. Or perhaps the agreement was made when all the participants were up to their necks in trouble. Meanwhile the market revives and they try to back out."

He looked at me with a worried expression and shook his head.

"Is it my duty to brood over the things that go on behind the scenes? I was allowed to take for granted that the man with whom I negotiated had authorization to sign. I had losses; I wasted time and incurred expense. Now I have other worries. Who is liable for redress?"

I didn't know what he was driving at; and Zapparoni, in whose voice was an almost threatening note, gave me no time to think about an answer, but began asking me one question after another.

"Whom would you hold liable in my case?"

"In the first place, the firm."

"And if that didn't work?"

"The partner who signed."

"You see, it's quite obvious. One thinks much more clearly when money is at stake. That's one of the good things about money."

He leaned back comfortably in his chair, looking at me with a twinkle in his eyes: "And how many of the fellows did you dispose of when you caught them?"

Damn it -- it looked as if I was the one who had been caught. Memories of past hells woke up in me, memories one would like to forget.

Zapparoni did not wait for my answer. He said: "I should suppose that only a few got off. And rightly so. In these cases everyone is responsible for everyone else, and stakes his life on it."

I had the impression that the conversation was changing more and more into a cross-examination: "Now, if you hold one of the partners accountable -- shouldn't those who waved the white flag also have to face the consequences?"

"It seems obvious."

"Do you really mean that? Wouldn't it be more to the point first of all to dispose of those who have been caught redhanded?"

"I must admit that."

"In practice, then, it looks as if in the first heat of anger one neither discriminates nor hesitates."

"Unfortunately you are right."

There was a moment of silence. The sun shone hotly onto the terrace, and only the hum of the bees which pastured on the flowerbeds could be heard. 1 felt that in this question-and-answer game 1 was being driven onto a plane whose significance I did not understand. So many pitfalls existed that I was not even able to judge whether I was falling into them. Perhaps the signs were wrong. At last Zapparoni took up the thread again.

"I have faced you with three decisions. You have decided in favor of none, and in each case have given me an indefinite answer."

"I thought you wished to discuss the legal position with me."

"Is it your opinion that every position is a legal position?"

"No, but every position has its legal aspect as well."

"Quite right. But this legality can become unimportant; you'll realize that when you have to deal with contentious people. Besides, any position has both a social and a military aspect, as well as a pure position of weight, and much else. But enough of this. It would lead too far -- to the atomic weights of power and law, to the squaring of the moral circle -- it is not our problem. Incidentally -- even your theoretical opinion on the case is unsatisfactory."

Zapparoni said all this not sharply but in rather a kind tone. Then he took up in detail the statements I had made at the beginning of our talk. They were absurd, he said; if you put yourself into the totality of the situation, you'd discover that they would benefit your opponent. Did I really mean that the affair, described by Fillmor as a perfidious trick of the enemy, was a question of optical illusion? Wasn't it rather that the attacker was confronted by a number of groups, who acted according to different principles yet without cunning, without malicious connivance? He, Zapparoni, would show me how this might at least be possible.

What if the attack in the open field should fail? Would those groups, who had shown the white flag, insist on surrender? On the contrary, they would be very quick to take up arms again, and a feeling of triumph would run high all along the line. Here their unity would become manifest -- I am quite certain of it. A defeated force tends to fall apart; a victorious one feels and acts homogeneously. Nobody wants to remain with the vanquished; everyone goes to the victor.

Only in regard to the tactical procedure, the double-edged knife, was Zapparoni willing to agree with me. One must expect anything from one's opponent, he said; it was perfectly obvious that you had to approach him with caution. When Fillmor accused his opponent of treacherous behavior, it was an effective pedagogical simplification, which the troops and the public would immediately understand, while my presentation was academic.

"Did you follow the debate on the Army Bill? They intend to fleece us again of monstrous sums of money for medieval equipment, fit only for boy scouts. Even horses, dogs, and pigeons are listed on the budget. Well, at least the Field Marshal clearly knows why he has to look around for a new occupation."

And so he struck his initial note again. I had not followed the debate in the Chamber of Deputies. I had not followed these debates even in my good days. I preferred reading Herodotus or, when I was bored, Vehse's Court Chronicles. In the newspapers I used to skim over the headlines the news and the magazine supplement, sparing myself the rest. Lately: under the pressure of circumstances, I lacked the time, money and inclination even for these. At most I studied the want ads pasted up on billboards. After all, nothing is more dated than yesterday's newspaper. Besides, I was exclusively occupied with thinking up ways and means of eluding my creditors. This was more important to me than politics.

In any case, I wasn't eager to hear Zapparoni's opinion of the army. Very likely he thought of it as a department of his factory, where teams of scientists and engineers worked in overalls -- a company of non-horsemen and vegetarians with sets of false teeth who loved to press buttons -- and where a half-witted mathematician could cause more damage in a second than Frederick the Great in his three Silesian campaigns. In those days people like Fillmor had not yet become field marshals; they would sooner have appointed a half-crazy man, like Blucher, if his heart was in the right place. The head still remained a servant. But here, on the terrace, I was worried by more than retrospective glances into the historical past.

My introduction had not been successful -- there could be no doubt about that. Zapparoni had led me into expressing my opinions, and then had walked around them like a gardener around a tree, detecting its bare branches. Our session had resembled a critique over some superannuated army captain, when all the participants of the military board, with the exception of the captain himself, know from the start that he will never be promoted to major. Leaving such a session, you ask yourself why the whole performance has been put on at all. The joke was that Zapparoni should actually have held my opinion, and I his. Instead of which he had exposed me as a liberal windbag.

Zapparoni rose to his feet; I was sure he would now dismiss me. But to my surprise he granted me a respite. He pointed toward a thatched roof, whose gable emerged out of the foliage at the bottom of the garden.

"I still have a few things to do, Mr. Richard. Perhaps you will wait there for me. You won't be bored. It is a pleasant spot."

He gave me a kindly nod, as if we had finished a stimulating conversation which he was hoping to resume later. 1 descended the stairs to the garden, surprised and perplexed about the length of time he had given me. Probably it was a whim of his. The interrogation had been a strain and I was exhausted. Glad that it was over, I walked down the path with the feeling we have when, at an examination, we hear the bell announcing recess.

At the first bend of the path I turned around. Zapparoni was still standing on the terrace, looking after me. He waved to me and called: "Beware of the bees!"
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:41 am

XI

In the house and on the terrace a kind of temporal slow motion had prevailed. It was a sensation comparable to that of walking through old clearings in a forest. One might be living in the early nineteenth or even in the eighteenth century. The masonry, the paneling, the textiles, the pictures and books -- everything gave evidence of solid craftsmanship. One sensed the old measurements: the foot, the ell, the inch, the rod. One felt that light and fire, bed and board were still managed in the old way; one sensed the luxury of human care.

Although it was pleasant to walk in the soft, golden-yellow sand, out here it was different. After I had taken two or three steps, my footprints vanished. I noticed a small eddy, as if an animal, burrowed m the sand, had shaken itself. Then the path stretched out smoothly as before. But even apart from this, I felt at once that time ran faster here, and that it was necessary to be more on guard. In the good old days one sometimes came upon places which "smelled of powder." Now a threat is more anonymous, more atmospheric; but it can be sensed. One enters "zones."

The road was tempting; it invited dreams. In places the brook ran so close that it formed a border. Yellow iris bloomed at its edge and there was butterbur on the sandy banks. Kingfishers flew so low over the water that their breast-feathers became wet.

The ponds in which the monks had bred carp were overgrown with a green mat, and framed with clear borders. There yellow duckweed floated, and pond mussels and spiral snail shells lay whitening. It smelled of mud, of mint, and of the bark of elder trees -- like a damp, muggy swamp. I remembered sultry summer days in my childhood when we used to fish with little nets in similar ponds. We had a hard time pulling our legs out of the sucking marsh, and the same rank smell had risen from our footprints.

Soon I arrived at the boundary wall. The brook continued its course through a grating. At the left a thatched roof emerged, resting on red pillars without connecting walls between and topping an arbor rather than a pavilion. It seemed designed to give shelter against sun or rain, but not wind and cold. Part of the roof jutted out like a visor. Under it stood wicker chairs and a green garden table. Here I was to await my destiny.

Very rich people love simplicity, and it was easy to see that my host felt at ease here. Implements, leaning against or hanging from the pillars, indicated agreeable pastimes: fishing rods, nets, eel baskets, crayfish catchers, tins for bait, bull's-eye lanterns -- in short, the inventory of the inland fisherman who fishes by day and night. Hanging from one of the pillars was a fowling piece next to a beekeeper's mask; on another, a golf bag filled with clubs. A pair of field glasses lay on the table. I could not help being impressed by this idyllic sight, though I was still aware of a "zone" amidst the array of still life. Around the pavilion grew a border of tiger lilies.

The field which the peasant had been plowing was now quite close but empty; he had finished his work. It was high noon; he had plowed during the classical morning. Bordering this field was a meadow, so tenderly green that it might have been imported from Devonshire. A path led to it over a slender bridge. This was undoubtedly the golf course. I took up the field glasses to examine the lawnlike expanse, clipped short like velvet. Apart from the holes, not a bare patch or the smallest weed could be seen.

The glasses, incidentally, were excellent; they sharpened the sight surprisingly well. 1 was able to judge because the testing of optical instruments had been part of my duties during the years when I was with the Panzers. These field glasses, like opera glasses, were constructed for sighting within a restricted periphery, and they not only brought distant and semi-distant objects closer, but magnified them at the same time.

On this side of the brook the meadow continued but was not yet mown. The grass stood high and was gay with flowers which, to amuse myself, I brought into my line of vision. The dandelion already bore its globes of silken down; I could see each minute hair of the tiny parachutes. Here and there the ground was boggy with stagnant water. Around these water holes rushes grew, still bearing last year's spikes. I tested the precision of the glasses by focusing them on places where the wool1y fibers appeared. It brought the finest fibrils into view. On the peaty edge of the water hole, a sundew plant, true to its name, showed tiny dewdrops sparkling in the noonday light. One of its small leaves had caught a fly, entrapping it with red tentacles. These were magnificent glasses.

Close behind me, the wall, overgrown with ivy, shut off my field of vision. It looked as if it would be easy to scale, but of course, Zapparoni didn't need a wall -- or locked iron gates or ferocious dogs either, since everyone within the area kept to the permitted roads, as they well might.

The beehives stood within the deep shadows cast by the wall. Although I had no intention of moving from the spot where I was sitting in the warm sun, r .remembered Zapparoni's warning. Do bees rest at noon? In any case, only a few were to be seen.

That Zapparoni had cautioned me against the bees, spoke well for him -- it was a kindly remark. Bees are peaceful creatures; one need not be afraid of them, unless one deliberately provokes them.

There are, to be sure, exceptions. When we were stationed in East Prussia, a country where riders and horses feel their ease and where there is a good deal of beekeeping, we had to be cautious during the time of swarming. Then bees are irritable and sensitive to various odors: to the smell of horses sweating after a long ride, for instance, or to men who have been drinking heavily.

One day we breakfasted in an orchard. It must have been a festive occasion, perhaps a birthday, since wine and goldwasser stood on the table. A state of intoxication in the early morning has its special attraction. We had just come from a ride and were soon in high spirits. Wittgrewe was also present. The air was delicious, filled with the fragrance of innumerable blossoms. Bees were busily humming back and forth. We soon noted that they were less peaceful than usual and that every so often one of us was stung.

At that age anything can become an occasion for a joke. We'd wait for someone to become King of the Bees: whoever got the greatest number of stings would have to stand treat. Since there was enough to drink on the table, we now sat as motionless as dolls and raised our glasses very slowly to our lips. But the bees continued to attack. Now one of us was stung on the forehead by an insect which had got itself entangled in his hair, now another ran his hand into his collar and a third scored a fiery red ear. We gave up and left, after a stout, red-haired quartermaster, already sweating profusely, had gotten twelve stings and was almost unrecognizable. His head looked like an orange-yellow pumpkin -- almost frightening.

"You should never become a beekeeper," the proprietor of the inn told him. Since all the others were stung only once, twice, or not at all, it's reasonable to conclude that bees are selective. I myself was never stung.

Remembering this scene was like hearing an anecdote from the days of our forefathers, and it put me in a gay mood. We were stationed close to the frontier then; on the other side of the boundary a regiment of Cossacks was encamped. Visits and invitations to races or hunts were frequently exchanged. On these occasions horsemen came together in a way we're not likely to see again.

How was it possible that the times darkened so quickly -- more quickly than the brief span of a lifetime, of a single generation? It often seems to me that only yesterday we sat together in a beautiful hall, laughing and chatting ; then, one crossed a suite of three or four rooms and everything became ghastly. Who would have dreamed when we were carousing with the hetmans that death stood so close behind almost all of us. Though we later fought on apparently different sides one and the same machine mowed us down. Where are the; now, all those young men who, then, had still been trained to fight with lances and sabers, and where are their Arab and Trakehnen horses and the little Cossack ponies from the steppes which so gracefully and yet untiringly carried their masters? Perhaps all this was only a dream.

Zapparoni kept me waiting for some time. My thoughts went back to Our talk on the terrace, and my good mood left me. Two questions, three questions -- and he had unveiled that side of my character which was important to him! He had led me into my own field, the field where I was competent, and in scarcely a quarter of an hour he had found my weak point, my defeatism -- the characteristic which explained why I was not an Important man like Fillmor, but a discharged captain without prospects. As for Fillmor, he had never shed a tear over the disappearance of horses. Although, as I remembered, he had cut a good figure on horseback, he had always remained one of those attitudinizing gentlemen we find in paintings by Kobell. The great, the godlike union with the animal he had never experienced.

It takes one a long time to realize one's faults, and some people never recognize them. My fault was that I deviated from the generally accepted codes. In my judgments and, often, even in my actions I differed from those around me' this had been conspicuous in the circle of my family and it continued to be so throughout my life. Even long ago, as a child, I had not liked to eat what was set before me.

We approve of people who have firm convictions, but we do so only partially. Actually, our approval is limited to the manner in which the convictions are expressed. When a great man like Fillmor speaks, he generally expresses platitudes. But he pronounces them with great precision and authority. Hearing him, everyone thinks: "There's something I could have said." In this lies his power.

When the rest of us have a personal opinion about a legend such as the white flags, we'd do better to keep it to ourselves, particularly if strong feelings are involved. Most likely I had roused in Zapparoni a suspicion that, in engaging me, he would only get one more contentious person. Meanwhile Teresa was sitting at home waiting.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:42 am

XII

The birds grew silent and I again heard the murmuring sound of the brook in the sultry meadowland. Then I came awake. I had been walking about since early morning with the restlessness of a man running after his daily bread. In such a state, sleep surprises us like a thief.

It must have been a light sleep because the sun had scarcely moved. Sleeping under the midday glare had dazed me and I had trouble in re-orienting myself: the place was unfriendly. The bees seemed to have finished their siesta; the air was filled with their humming. They were searching for food in the meadow, sweeping in clouds over the foaming flood of whiteness which stood high over the grass, or dipping into its colorful depth. They hung in clusters on the white jasmine which bordered the path; and out of the blossoming maple beside the pavilion their swarming sounded as if it came from the interior of some huge bell which reverberates for a long time after its midday peal. There was no lack of blossoms; it was one of those years when beekeepers say that "the fenceposts give honey."

And yet there was something strange in these peaceful activities. With the exception of horses and wild game, I know few animals, never having found a teacher who inspired me with an enthusiasm for them. It was different with plants, since we had a passionate teacher of botany who frequently took us with him on field trips. How much our full development depends on such early contacts. If I had to list the animals I know, I wouldn't need more than a small slip of paper. As for vermin, whose number is legion, this would be especially true.

In any case, I do know more or less how a bee or a wasp or even a hornet looks. As I sat there, watching the swarms, I sometimes saw creatures flying past which seemed to differ in an odd way from the usual types. I can rely on my eyesight: I have tested it -- and not only when hunting game birds. Now, it wasn't difficult for me to follow one of these creatures until it descended upon a flower. Then I saw, with the help of my field glasses, that I had not been deceived.

Although, as I said before, I know only a few insects, I at once had the impression of something undreamed-of, something extremely bizarre -- the impression, let us say, of an insect from the moon. A demiurge from a distant realm, who had once heard of bees, might have created it.

I had plenty of time to examine this creature, and similar ones were now arriving from all directions like workmen at the gate of a factory when a siren blows. At first I was struck by the large size of these bees. Although they were not as big as those which Gulliver met in Brobdingnag -- he defended himself against them with his little sword -- they were considerably larger than a normal bee or even a hornet. They were about the size of a walnut still encased in its green shell. The wings were not movable like the wings of birds or insects, but were arranged around their bodies in a rigid band, and acted as stabilizing and supporting surfaces.

Their large size was less striking than one might think, since they were completely transparent. Indeed, my idea of them was derived mainly from the glitter of their movements as seen in the sunlight. When the creature I now watched hovered before the blossom of a convolvulus whose calyx it tapped with a tongue shaped like a glass probe, it was almost invisible.

This sight fascinated me to such a degree that I forgot time and place. We are gripped by a. similar astonishment when we I see a machine which reveals a new concept in form and function. Suppose that a person from the early nineteenth century could be transported magically to one of our traffic intersections: for a moment the confusion and hurry would fill him with bewilderment, but after a short interval of perplexity, a certain understanding -- some vague notion of the principles involved -- would dawn upon him. He would see, for example, the difference between motorcycles, passenger cars, and trucks.

In the same way I grasped the fact that what I saw was not a new' species but a new mechanism. Zapparoni, that devilish fellow, had once again trespassed on nature, or rather, had contrived to improve nature's imperfections by shortening and accelerating its working methods. Eagerly I moved my field glasses this way and that to follow his creatures whizzing through space like diamonds projected by strong catapults. I also heard their fine whistling break off abruptly when they came to the blossoms and stopped short. Behind me, however, in front of the hives, which now stood in full sunlight, these sounds gathered into one high continuous whistle. It must have taken subtle deliberation to avoid collisions when the swarms of automatons were massed before they sluiced into the hives.

I must admit that the whole process filled me with pleasure -- the kind which technical solutions evoke; At the same time, this pleasure was an acknowledgment between initiates of the triumph of a kindred spirit, for my pleasure was heightened when I noticed that Zapparoni worked with several systems. I distinguished diverse models -- almost colonies -- of automatons which combed the surrounding fields and shrubs. Creatures of especially strong structure bore a whole set of proboscises which they dipped into umbels and flower clusters. Others were equipped with tentacles that closed around the tufts of the blossoms like delicate pincers, squeezing out the nectar. Still others remained a puzzle to me. In any case, Zapparoni had made this corner a testing ground for brilliant inspirations.

Time passed quickly while I feasted my eyes on this spectacle. Little by little I began to grasp the construction of the system. The beehives were placed in one long row along the wall. Some of them showed the customary shape; others were transparent and apparently made from the same material as the bees. The old hives were inhabited by natural bees, which served perhaps as a measure of the magnitude of Zapparoni's triumph over nature. He had certainly seen to it that calculations were made of the quantity of nectar which one colony of bees gathered per day, hour, and second. Then he had installed this colony next to the automatons.

I had the impression that he had upset these little natural bees with their antediluvian economic system, because I frequently saw one of them approach a blossom which had been previously touched by a competitor of glass and immediately fly away. If, on the other hand, a true bee had sucked first from the calyx, at least a dessert remained. It would seem, then, that Zapparoni's creatures proceeded more economically; that is, they drained the flower more thoroughly. Or, could it be that the vital force of the flowers was exhausted after they had been touched by the glass probe?

In any case, to all appearances here was another of Zapparoni's fantastic inventions. I now saw that the comings and goings near the glass hives betrayed a high degree of methodical planning. It has taken centuries, I believe, to discover the secret of the bees. But I gained a definite notion of Zapparoni's invention after having watched it from my chair for scarcely an hour.

At first glance, the glass hives were distinguished from the old pattern by a larger number of entrances. They resembled less a hive than an automatic telephone exchange. But the entrances were not real; the bees never entered the structure. I could not see where they rested or parked -- or had their garage, as it were -- certainly they couldn't always be at work. Whatever the situation, the glass bees had nothing to do within the hive.

The entrances functioned rather like the apertures in a slot machine or the holes in a switchboard. The bees, magnetically attracted, inserted their tongues and emptied their glass bellies which were filled with the nectar. After that they were ejected with a force that almost resembled the discharge of a firearm. Given the flying speed, the fact that no collisions occurred during these flights back and forth was a masterly feat. Although scores of units were involved, the whole process was conducted with perfect precision; no doubt, some central control or principle regulated it.

It was evident that the natural procedure had been simplified, cut short, and standardized. For instance, everything that had to do with the production of wax had been eliminated. There were neither small nor large cells or any arrangements related to the differentiation of sexes; indeed, the whole establishment radiated a flawless but entirely unerotic perfection. There were no eggs or cradles for the pupae, and neither drones nor a queen. If one insisted on pursuing an analogy, Zapparoni approved only of sexless workers and had solved this problem brilliantly. Even here he had simplified nature which, as we know, has already attempted a certain economical approach in the "slaughtering" of the drones. From the very beginning he had included in his plan neither males nor females, neither mothers nor nurses.

If I remember the natural process rightly, the nectar which bees suck from the blossoms is worked up in their stomachs where it undergoes various changes. Zapparoni had saved his own creatures this trouble as well, by substituting a centralized chemical process. I saw how the colorless nectar, spurted into tl1e connecting channels, accumulated in a system of glass tubes where it gradually changed color. Having first turned cloudy with a tinge of yellow, it became straw-colored and reached the bottom of the tube in the superb yellow of honey.

The lower half of the hive obviously served as a tank or storeroom which was rapidly filling with the delicious stuff. I could follow the increase on the levels etched on the glass, and during the time that I ranged my field glasses over the shrubs and the meadow, and then refocused them on the beehives, the stores had increased by several degrees.

It is very unlikely that this increase and the work in general was watched by me alone. I distinguished still another type of automaton which flew back and forth alongside the hives or lingered in front of them, as foremen or engineers do in a workshop or at a building site. They contrasted with the other bees by their smoke-gray color.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:42 am

XIII

Absorbed in the commotion around me, I had completely forgotten that I was waiting for Zapparoni. But he was present as the invisible master. I sensed the power on which this spectacle was based.

When we come under the spell of the deeper domain of techniques, its economic character and even its power aspect fascinates us less than its playful side. Then we realize that we are involved in a play, a dance of the spirit, which cannot be grasped by calculation. What is ultimately left for science is intuition alone -- a call of destiny.

This playful feature manifests itself more clearly in small things than in the gigantic works of our world. The crude observer can be impressed only by large quantities -- chiefly when they are in motion -- and yet there are as many organs in a fly as in a leviathan.

This is what fascinated me in Zapparoni's experiment, and I forgot time and place as a child forgets his school. And although the creatures frequently whizzed past me like projectiles, I also entirely forgot the possibility of danger. The way they radiated from the hives in clusters, threw themselves like a glittering veil over the display of bright flowers, then darted back, stopped short, hovered in a compact swarm -- from which, by inaudible calls and invisible signs, the gatherers, one by one, were swiftly summoned to deliver their harvest -- all this was a spectacle which both enthralled and mesmerized. It put one's mind to sleep. I cannot say what astonished me more -- the ingenious invention of each single unit or the interplay among them. Perhaps it was essentially the dancelike force of the spectacle that delighted me -- power concentrated within a superior order.

I should not like to omit mentioning a matter which is characteristic of insights of this kind. After I had closely attended the operation for an hour, I thought I understood, if not the technical secret, at least the system -- at which moment I began to criticize and to contemplate improvements. This unrest, this discontent, is peculiar, although characteristic of human nature. Let us assume we come upon, perhaps in Australia, a new animal species we have never seen before; we'd be stupefied, but we wouldn't immediately begin to speculate about improving it. This indicates a different attitude toward creative authority.

A critical attitude, like activity, is one of the fundamental characteristics of our time. Both are interdependent. If the critical attitude should dwindle, there would be more peace and less intelligence, to the benefit of the essential. Neither criticism nor activity, however, can steer the course in such a direction -- this means that superior forces are involved.

Today every boy who has been given a motorcycle is capable of technical criticism. As for me, I had been trained in it during the years when I tested tanks. There was always something to criticize, and I was famous in the factories for demanding the impossible. The basic requirements are simple: the tanks must be built with the most favorable potential for attack, mobility, and safety. Each of these factors can be intensified only at the expense of the others. With private vehicles, it is quite different; there cost, safety, and comfort come first. The demands meet only in relation to speed, which belongs to the principia. Sacrifices are made to speed, not only in times of war but in times of peace.

As to Zapparoni's setup -- after my first stupefaction, the question of expense at once suggested itself. In every respect the glass creatures gave the impression of being luxury automatons. For all I knew, each one of them might have cost as much as a very good automobile or even an airplane. But, like all his other inventions, as soon as they were perfected, Zapparoni would certainly mass-produce them. It was. also obvious that from this sort of colony -- perhaps from a single glass bee -- he could retrieve more honey in one day of spring than from a natural swarm in one year. After all, his bees could probably work as well in rain or in darkness. But how would he be able to cope with the queen bee, the great mother, who gives birth to thousands?

Bees are not just workers in a honey factory. Ignoring their self-sufficiency for a moment, their work -- far beyond Its tangible utility -- plays an important part in the cosmic plan. As messengers of love, their duty is to pollinate, to fertilize the flowers. But Zapparoni's glass collectives, as far as I could see, ruthlessly sucked out the flowers and ravished them. Wherever they crowded out the old colonies, a bad harvest, a failure of crops, and ultimately a desert were bound to follow. After a series of extensive raids, there would no longer be flowers or honey, and the true bees would become extinct in the way of whales and horses. Thus the goose would be killed which laid the golden eggs; the tree felled, from which the apples were plucked.

Granted that honey is a delicious food, an increase in its production is not the business of the automaton industry; it is more a task for chemistry. I thought of laboratories in Provence in Grasse for instance, where I had seen them extract perfume from millions of blossoms. There, broadly massed, are forests of bitter-orange trees, fields of violets and tuberoses, slopes covered with blue lavender. By similar processes it would be possible to extract honey as well. Meadows could be exploited like coal seams from which not only fuel but countless chemicals are obtained: essences, dyes, all sorts of medicinal drugs, and even textile fibers. I wonder why no one has thought of this.

Zapparoni had, of course, long since carefully considered the question of expense; if he hadn't, he would have been the first multimillionaire to be ignorant of these most astute calculations. A great many people have learned, often to their own detriment, how cleverly rich people count their pennies. They would never have become rich had they been lacking in the talent.

And so one could assume that this experiment had a significance far beyond economics. It might have been the hobby of a nabob who amuses himself after a round of golf or a day of fishing. In a technical age you have technical toys. Even millionaires have ruined themselves with such games, for in these matters no one tightens his purse strings. .=

The assumption that all this was a hobby was, however, most unlikely, for if Zapparoni wanted to waste time and money for his menus plaisirs, his cinema industry offered him enough occasion. Zapparoni films were his big hobby. and he risked experiments there which would have driven anyone else into the poor house. The idea of plays acted by automatons was, of course, an old story; such plays had often been tried in the history of the cinema. But formerly there had never been any doubt about the automaton-character of the figures, and for that reason the experiments had been limited to the field of fairy tales and grotesqueries -- with the basic effects of a puppet show or the old magic lantern. Zapparoni's ambition, however, was to re-create the automaton in the old sense, the automaton of Albertus Magnus or of Regiomontanus; he wanted to create artificial people, life-sized figures which looked exactly like human beings. People had taken this idea as a joke, but some had been shocked, declaring it to be in bad taste -- the conceit of an immensely wealthy man.

But they had all been mistaken, since even the very first of these plays had an enormous success. It was a luxury puppet show without puppeteers and wires; it was the first performance not only of a new play but of a new genre. The figures, it is true, still differed slightly from the human actors we are used to seeing, but they differed pleasantly: the faces were more brilliant, more flawless; the eyes of a larger cut, like precious stones; the movements slower, more elegant, and in moments of excitement even more violent and sudden than anything in our experience. Even the ugly and abnormal had been transposed into new, amusing, or frightening but always fascinating domains. As presented by Zapparoni, a figure like Caliban, like Shylock, like the Hunchback of Notre Dame could not have been begotten in any bed; even if she had been frightened by something strange and terrible, it could not have been borne by a human woman. And every now and then one came upon the most fantastic creatures: a Goliath, a Tom Thumb, or an angel of the Annunciation through whose transparent body and wings the surrounding objects could be seen.

Thus one might say that these figures did not simply imitate the human form but carried it beyond its possibilities and dimensions. The voices reached a pitch that put any nightingale to shame, and a depth that outrivaled any bass; the movements and expressions indicated that nature had been studied and surpassed. The impression was extraordinary. The public now admired what it had ridiculed only yesterday. (I shall not repeat the praise of enthusiastic critics who saw in this play, performed by marionettes, a new art form presenting ideal types.) One has, of course, to allow for the naive spirit of the age, which snatched at any daring invention as eagerly as a child at a new doll. The newspapers deplored the fate of a young man who had jumped into the Thames: he had taken Zapparoni's leading puppet actress for a woman of flesh and blood and could not get over his disappointment. The management, expressing regrets, implied that it might not have been impossible for the fair robot maid to have responded to the young man's courtship. He had acted too impulsively; he had not grasped the ultimate possibilities of technology. At any rate, the success was tremendous and certainly repaid the original expense. Zapparoni had the golden touch.

Anyone who could play with artificial human beings surely had enough entertainment; he need not amuse himself with glass bees. The place where I found myself was no playground, but there are, of course, still other fields where money becomes unimportant. A conversation with a Brazilian came to mind; he once said to me: "It is not yet certain who will gain the upper hand in our country-man or termite."

That these glass bees were collecting honey was, of course, a kind of game, an absurd task for such ingeniously contrived mechanisms. But creatures capable of doing this could be used for almost any purpose, and it would probably be easier for automatons of this sort to collect small grains of gold and diamonds than to extract the nectar from blossoms. But even for the most lucrative business they were still too expensive. Economic absurdities are produced only when power is at stake.

And, indeed, the person who had such colonies at his disposal was a powerful man -- more powerful perhaps than a man who commanded the same number of airplanes. David was stronger and more intelligent than Goliath.

On this level economic considerations were entirely unimportant; here one had to enter into another sphere of economy -- the titantic. One had to make a different accounting. I couldn't guess the price of such a bee; but supposing it to be a hundred pounds, its cost would seem sheer lunacy to a beekeeper. Other viewpoints are, however, possible: a spaceship, for instance, might cost a million pounds; to both a beekeeper and a Light Cavalryman this was equally absurd. Considering the weird cargo which such a ship was intended to carry, the price was fantastic; yet the cost again became minimal if one considered the damage it was meant to do. Consequently, billions of pounds evaporated into the air without anyone taking into consideration the attack on life and limb. If one could fix only a single little bee to the wings of such a monster and wreck it, the cost of even a thousand pounds would seem only a bagatelle. We must admit that people calculate in our world with great shrewdness, even in the case of machines. Still there are exceptions. Sometimes people are more wasteful, more extravagant even than August the Strong and his minister Bruhl, and are none the better for it.

Well, there was no doubt about it -- I had come upon a testing ground of the Zapparoni Works, an airfield for testing micro-robots. My suspicion that it was a question of weapons probably hit the mark. We always think first of something of that sort, and of plain utility. But by reducing his bees to workers, Zapparoni had not robbed them of their sting -- quite the contrary.

While I was turning all these factors over in my mind, a profusion of more subtle possibilities came into view. What I had been observing was not so much a new medium as a new dimension, opened up by an inventive brain; it was a key which unlocked many rooms. For instance, what if these creatures could be used -- as they are used in the world of flowers -- as messengers of love between human beings . . . ? But we had better keep to more solid chapters of zoology. And where could a Parliament be found willing to grant even ten pounds for that purpose?
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:43 am

XIV

The sight that at first had amused me as a spectacle finally came to delight me as an example of teamwork. But now I began to realize its powerful significance, and like a gold seeker who has entered the land of Ophir, I was intoxicated. Why had the Old Man permitted me to enter this garden?

"Beware of the bees!" How strange that everything he said had a meaning different from the one I assumed. Perhaps he had meant that I should keep a cool head -- heaven knows I felt that the spectacle had shaken the hinges of my mind. Very likely the master was testing me. For practical purposes, he wished to see if I could grasp consequences, if I would be equal to his idea. Had Caretti's mind become unsettled in this garden?

"Beware of the bees!" -- it might also have been a warning against curiosity. Perhaps he wanted to know' how I would behave when confronted with the revealed secret. But up to this moment I hadn't moved from my chair.

My mind was much too occupied to think about my own behavior; I was completely under the spell of the goings on. Back in the old days when an invention was made it was a stroke of luck, and frequently even the inventor himself was unaware of its significance. The models and the gimcrack constructions in the museums evoke a smile. But here the consequences of a new idea had not only been understood, but had been immediately carried out on a large scale and in detail. A model had been created which exceeded practical demands, and since its existence pointed to many co-workers and people who must have known its secret, I understood Zapparoni's worry about security.

The number of flying objects considerably increased in the course of the afternoon. Within two or three hours a process developed such as I had observed during one human lifetime -- the change from the exceptional to the typical. I had experienced this change with automobiles and airplanes. At first one is amazed at a phenomenon that emerges sporadically; finally its flashing past is multiplied into legions. Even the horses no longer turn their heads. The second look is still more amazing than the first, but we have entered the law of series -- into habit.

Clearly Zapparoni had pushed the development of these automatons ahead and was manufacturing them in series, as far as that was possible in his workshops. But it did not look as if he were preparing a new commodity -- one of the surprises which he announced to the public year by year in his catalogues. Though it might at some later time become a byproduct, here was an entirely independent enterprise; that much was dear to me when I observed the increased commotion, reminiscent of the time of swarming or the rush hour in a city. In different formations the moving mass now branched out into other sections of the park.

Considered as organization, this activity could be interpreted in several ways. One could hardly assume the existence of a central control panel: such a device would not be in the Zapparoni style because for him the quality of an automaton depended on its independent action. His international success rested on the fact that he had made possible in a small area -- his house, his garden -- a dosed economic project; he had declared war on wires, circuits, pipes, rails, connections. It was a far cry from the hideous aspects of nineteenth-century industrial style.

I imagined instead a system of distributors, of laboratories, accumulators, and filling stations where materials could be delivered or received, as they were here at the beehives, which not only received nectar but obviously delivered power. I saw how the glass creatures were literally shot off, after having emptied themselves.

The air was now filled with a high-pitched, uniform whistling sound, which, if not exactly soporific, at least blurred my perception; it was not unlike the effect produced by hypnosis. I had to make an effort to distinguish between dream and reality in order not to succumb to visions which spun out Zapparoni's them on their own.

As I said before, I had noticed a variety of models among the glass bees, but for some time now still other apparatuses had emerged in the general swirl, differing greatly among themselves in size, form, and color. They dearly hadn't the slightest connection with bees and beekeeping. I had to accept these new creations as they came -- I couldn't keep up with the task of interpretation. Much the same thing happens when we watch aquatic animals from a cliff -- we see fish and crabs and even recognize jellyfish; but then creatures rise up out of the depth which set us insoluble and disquieting riddles. I was like a man of a former civilization who stands at a traffic intersection. After the momentary bewilderment he guesses easily enough that the automobiles are a new species of coach. But now and then he will be frightened by structures which seem to him designed in the manner of Callot.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:43 am

XV

I had, therefore, scarcely penetrated Zapparoni's installation before I thought of improvements. As I said before, this reaction is characteristic of our times. As soon as the opaque figures emerged, I began to become uneasy and puzzled; this, too, is typical of an age when hierarchy is determined by mastery of technical apparatuses and when technics have become destiny. It is a disgrace not to be up-to-date in this field or to be as bewildered as a moron before whose eyes one strikes a match and against whose ear one holds a ticking watch. Such morons, it is true, no longer exist. From childhood on we are trained to make associations.

When I was in school and when I served under Monteron, things were slightly different, although we, too, were drilled in methodical conquest. At that time, however, there was still a preoccupation with what is going on in man. I do not, of course, mean psychology. After the man from Manchester had put me out of action, I knew what really mattered, and I began to make up for what I had neglected. By giving me a fresh incentive, he had taught me to think.

What could they mean, these new apparatuses which now mingled with the swarms of bees? It was always the same: hardly had one grasped a new technical device, when it created, as it were, its own antithesis. The streams of glass bees were joined, like opaque beads in a glass necklace, by multicolored individuals which moved faster as ambulances, fire engines, and police cars may do in a column of automobiles. Still others circled above the traffic. They must have been of a much larger size, but I lacked standards of comparison. I was particularly intrigued by the gray apparatuses that took off from the hives and now closely reconnoitered the terrain. Among them was one which seemed to be carved from a dull horny substance or from smoky quartz. It circled the pavilion clumsily, almost touching the tiger lilies and now and then hovering motionless in the air. When tanks deploy in a terrain, observers fly above them in a similar fashion. Here perhaps was a controlling force or a cell transmitting orders. I kept an especially sharp eye on this Smoky Gray and tried to find out whether changes in the crowd of swarming automatons corresponded to its movements or followed upon them.

A judgment of the ratio of size was difficult for me since the objects in question were beyond my experience, and there was, moreover, no norm in my consciousness. Measure depends upon previous experience. When I see, no matter at what distance, a rider, an elephant, or a Volkswagen, I know their measurements. But here my senses were confused.

In such cases we usually fall back on experience and consult test objects. When, therefore, the Smoky Gray was moving about in my field of vision, I tried, at the same time, to catch with my eye a familiar object that would provide a standard by which it could be measured. This was not difficult, since the gray creature had for some time been flying back and forth between me and the nearest water hole. But when I slowly moved my head in order not to lose sight of the quartz thing, I experienced a particularly narcotic effect. As a result, I could not say whether the changes I thought I noticed on the surface of the automaton were actually taking place. I saw changes of color as in optical signals, a fading out followed by a sudden blood-red flash. Black excrescences appeared like the horns of a snail.

At the same time, when the Smoky Gray suddenly reversed its motion and hovered for a second over the water hole, I did not forget to estimate its size. Had the swarms of automatons left or did I no longer see them now that my attention was riveted on one point? In any case, it was now completely quiet in the garden and there were no shadows, as in dreams.

"A cut quartz, the size of a duck egg," I concluded, after having compared the Smoky Gray with the spike of a bulrush it almost touched in passing. I knew these rushes well from my childhood; we had called their spikes "chimney-polishers," and used to ruin our clothes in the mud when we tried to pick them. We should have waited till frost had set in, but even then it was dangerous to get to the plant, since the ice around the sedge-lined water was brittle and full of duck holes.

An ideal object for comparison was the fly which adorned a leaf of the sundew plant like a miniature etched in a ruby. This plant, too, was an old friend. On our excursions into the moor we had dug it up and planted it in our terrariums. The botanists list this plant as "carnivorous" -- a barbaric exaggeration that has made this graceful little herb famous. When I brought the smoky fellow, which was now flying quite low, back and forth, and almost touching the edge of the water hole, into focus together with the sundew, I saw that, compared to the bees, he was, in fact, of a considerable size.

An exacting, monotonous observation brings on a danger of visions, as everyone knows who has ever pursued a goal in the snow or in the desert, or has driven on endless highways which run straight as though drawn with a ruler. We start dreaming; images get hold of us. . . .

"So the sundew is, after all, a carnivorous plant, a cannibal plant."

Why should I have thought that? I imagined seeing the red leaves with their fringes of sticky tentacles enormously enlarged. A keeper threw food to them.

I rubbed my eyes. A vision had deceived me in this garden where the diminutive became large. But at the same moment I heard inside me a shrill signal like that of an alarm clock, like the warning signal of a car approaching with brutal speed. I must have seen something prohibited, something vile.

It was an evil spot. Greatly alarmed, I jumped to my feet for the first time since I had been sitting here and directed my glasses toward the water hole. The Smoky Gray had again come closer; he no longer flew back and forth but circled around me, his feelers quivering. I paid no attention to him. I was fascinated by the sight toward which he had directed me like a pointer to partridges.

The sundew was as tiny as before. A fly should be a hearty meal for 1t. But close to the plant, lying in the water, was something red, and obscene. I brought it into sharp focus. Now I was wide awake: this was no delusion.

The water hole was encircled by rushes as by a fence, through the gaps of which I saw the muddy, brown puddle. Leaves of aquatic plants formed a mosaic on it. On one of these leaves was the red, obscene object. It stood out in clear relief. I examined it once again; there could be no doubt: it was a human ear.

An error was impossible: a cut-off ear. And it was equally indisputable that I was in my right mind and that my faculties of judgment were undimmed. I hadn't drunk any wine or taken a drug; I hadn't even smoked a cigarette. Partly because of my empty pockets I had lived a very sober life for a long time. And I do not belong to the kind of person, like Caretti, who suddenly see what is not there.

Now I started scouring the water hole methodically and with increasing horror: it was dotted with ears. I distinguished large ears and small, well-shaped and ugly, and all had been severed with neat precision. Some, like the first one I had detected when pursuing the Smoky Gray, were lying on the leaves of the aquatic plants. Others were partly covered by the leaves; still others gleamed upward indistinctly through the brown marsh water. At this sight, like a wanderer who walks along the seashore and suddenly comes upon the abandoned remains of a cannibal fire, I was suddenly seized by nausea. I realized the provocation, the shameless challenge, that was intended here. It led to a lower level of reality. It seemed to me as if the activities of the automatons, which only a short time before had held me completely spellbound, had now ceased; I was no longer aware of them. For all I knew, everything might have been a mirage.

At the same moment a chilling breath touched me -- the closeness of danger. My knees suddenly felt weak and I sank back into the chair. Could it be that my predecessor had sat here before he disappeared? Could one of these ears have been his? I felt a burning sting close to my hair. Now there was no longer a job at stake: it was a matter of life and death, and I could call myself lucky indeed if I left this garden safe and sane.

The case had to be thought over carefully.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:43 am

XVI

The moment has now come when I ought to speak of morality. This is one of my weak points: therefore I shall be brief. My unlucky star had destined me to be born when there was much talk about morality and, at the same time, more murders than in any other period. There is undoubtedly . " some connection between these two phenomena. I sometimes asked myself whether the connection was a priori, since these babblers. are cannibals from the start -- or a connection a posteriori since they Inflate themselves with their moralizing to a height which becomes dangerous for others.

However that may be, I was always happy to meet a person who owed his touch of common sense and good manners to his parents and who didn't need big principles. I do not claim more for myself, and I am a man who for an entire lifetime has been moralized at to the right and left -- by teachers and superiors, by policemen and journalists, by Jews and Gentiles, by inhabitants of the Alps, of islands, and the plains, by cutthroats and aristocrats -- all of whom looked as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths. I could no longer bear the sight of a white vest. Zapparoni was right: when the going is bad, you hear shouts of triumph all along the line. But he had not allowed for the fact that not only one's enemy triumphs. All those who have cheerfully fought side by side with you while the going was good, now assume a hostile attitude. They present themselves in white vests. And you stand in the midst of them like a person shipwrecked among penguins. The unlucky star is in the zenith. This experience belongs to the navigation of the new world.

Actually, the enthusiasm I had felt when I gained an insight into Zapparoni's garden should have made me suspicious: it did not bode well. I had been off guard, in spite of my experiences. But who doesn't have these experiences?

The brutal exhibition of the severed ears had shocked me. But it was inevitable as motif. Wasn't it necessarily the result of a perfection of technique to whose initial intoxication it had put an end? Had there been at any period in the history of the world as many mutilated bodies, as many severed limbs as in ours? Mankind has waged wars since the world began, but I can't remember one single example in the entire Iliad where the loss of an arm or a leg is reported. Mythology reserved dismemberment for the subhuman, for monsters like Tantalus or Procrustes.

You need only stand in front of beggars collected outside a railroad station to see that in our midst other rules prevail. We have made progress since Larrey, that surgeon of the Napoleonic Wars -- and not only in surgery. It's an optical illusion to attribute these injuries to accident. Actually, accidents are the result of injuries that took place long ago in the embryo of our world; and the increase in amputations is one of the indications of the triumph of a dissecting mentality. The loss occurred before it was visibly taken into account. The shot was fired long ago; and when it later appears in the guise of scientific progress -- though it be on the moon -- a hole is inevitable.

Human perfection and technical perfection are incompatible. If we strive for one, we must sacrifice the other: there is, in any case, a parting of the ways. Whoever realizes this will do cleaner work one way or the other.

Technical perfection strives toward the calculable, human perfection toward the incalculable. Perfect mechanisms -- around which, therefore, stands an uncanny but fascinating halo of brilliance -- evoke both fear and a Titanic pride which will be humbled not by insight but only by catastrophe.

The fear and enthusiasm we experience at the sight of perfect mechanisms are in exact contrast to the happiness we feel at the sight of a perfect work of art. We sense an attack on our integrity, on our wholeness. That arms and legs are lost .or harmed is not yet the greatest danger.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:43 am

XVII

I have said this much in order to indicate that this sequence of pictures and moods in Zapparoni's garden was more significant than it had seemed to me in my first consternation. The intoxication with which I had witnessed the gradual unfolding of Zapparoni's technical ingenuity was followed by a headache, a hangover, and then by the sight of the cruel mutilations. One provokes the other.

Zapparoni could not, of course, have intended to convey this realization to me. He had other plans. Nonetheless, any fresh turn in the struggle for power conceals a lesson which leads far beyond the intention of either partner -- it indicates a higher interest.

Beyond any doubt, Zapparoni had meant to frighten me. In this he had been highly successful, and I was certain that, in his study, he was enjoying his triumph: I had walked into his trap. Very likely he was sitting there comfortably with his books, now and then following the messages of the Smoky Gray on his television screen. He would see how I reacted. Fortunately I had not talked to myself. I had enough experience for that. But I had been stupid to jump up.

Formerly, my first -- and also best -- reaction in a similar case would have been to report what I had seen. Anyone who made such a horrid discovery while walking in the woods would have done the same: you called the nearest police station.

This I ruled out at once. The years when I showed a taste for such bravura were past. To report Zapparoni to the police amounted to accusing Pontius to Pilate, and it was as plain as daylight that it was I, accused of cutting off ears, who would disappear this very evening behind bolts and bars. It would be a fat morsel for the night editions. No -- only a person who had slept away thirty years of civil war could advise me to act thus. Words had changed their meaning; even police were no longer police.

Incidentally, to come back to the wanderer -- even today he would report finding a single ear. But what would he do when he came to a part of the forest where a profusion of ears were lying around like poisonous mushrooms? You can be sure he would sneak away. And perhaps neither his best friend nor his wife would hear about his discovery. In such a situation we are cautious.

"Leave well enough alone" -- this was the principle I had to follow. True, it exposed me to another danger. I would have ignored a crime and neglected my first duty to my neighbor. From there to inhumanity is only one step.

In any case, my situation was critical, whether I met it by action or inaction. The best thing would be to follow the advice I had once heard in a cafe in Vienna: "Don't even begin to ignore" . . . This was the dictate of prudence.

Even then unpleasant prospects remained. Zapparoni might be unsuccessful or go bankrupt. He would not be the first superman to disappear in this fashion. What I had seen in his garden resembled a rehearsal for total mobilization more than an exhibition of models by an international firm. As such, it might come to a bad end, and if that happened a storm of indignation would break loose; and the indignation of those who today sat in a safe corner would outdo those who had fawned on the powerful Zapparoni. The first would wish to compensate, the others to vindicate themselves. But all these penguins would be unanimous in their view of the depraved Cavalry captain who was involved in the scandal of the cut-off ears. "Nothing seen, nothing heard -- the classical case," said the chairman, and the heads of the jurors nodded over their white vests.

Since my evil star inevitably guided me toward the defeated, I had been taught a similar lesson more than once -- even by people who, for years -- even on the eve of the defeat -- had been guests at my table. Now in the white vests of lackeys they served the victors at the festive banquet held in their destroyed ancestral home.

As for me, I preferred to continue wearing my old vest; I was used to it and had become fond of it, although it had been damaged on long marches and on hot days when sparks leaped from our tin hats. The vest showed traces of the mud of the trenches, the dust of the barricades, and there were holes in it as well. These went deeper than the vest and deeper than the skin. Even though is was not a white vest, it was a good, trusty garment; it had survived monarchies and republics. I wished to be buried in this vest, and they could save their comments.

I always liked to imagine my funeral -- another of my weaknesses. I would die poor and inglorious, but I supposed two or three cavalrymen would stand by my grave with Teresa. In the evening they would have a glass of wine. Tommy Gilbert would probably get drunk again. Since only a few drops were sufficient to make him drunk, I used to wonder why he never had any money. The solution of this riddle was that actually he was always slightly tipsy. It was his normal condition. Even in East Prussia he used to have a tumbler of brandy with his breakfast, before we left for the ice-cold riding academy, lit up by smoke-stained lanterns, where the breath of the men and the horses looked like exhalations from silver trumpets. The smallest amount of alcohol was sufficient to make Tommy sentimental. He was then a source of high amusement. Since he knew me well, he would tell about the things we had done together, not only because he loved to tell anecdotes, but also to cheer up Teresa a little; and, indeed, a smile would lighten her face like a ray of sunshine after a cloudy day. I preferred this to the sermon of a clergyman. I had never allowed Teresa to wear dark clothes. It would certainly be a delightful day.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:44 am

XVIII

For the time being I was still far removed from such a pleasant end. I was in a situation where one can only make mistakes. The only question now was to figure out which was the least important one and to get my head somehow out of the noose, so that I could return to Teresa. I could not leave her alone. It was a good thing that I hadn't moved from the spot. Jumping to my feet did not, after all, imply much; I might have done It because of the gray thing. I turned my glance away from the water hole and buried my head in my hand, as if I were tired.

The most important thing now was to get out of the park safe and sound, as Caretti had evidently not been able to do. They might cut off as many ears as they liked; moral scruples were not going to trouble me. My head was swimming not because of them but because of a physical nausea which contracted my diaphragm.

I tried to overcome this feeling which I had known since I was a child. Lying below the moral sphere, it did not deserve any praise, just as aversion to a certain food is nothing to be proud of. Some people are allergic to strawberries or lobster or any red foods and cannot even look at them. Others, like myself, for instance, cannot bear to see cut-off ears.

On the other hand, at least in my better days, I never had the least objection to violence. But I preferred it to take place between relative equals; there had to be parity. If, for example, an ear had been lost in a saber fight, it would have certainly affected me as unpleasant but not -- as in this case -- as revolting. There are nuances, now hardly distinguishable, but nuances frequently make all the difference.

With the absence of equality, the repulsive element gained ground, and this lack of balance produced a sensation of seasickness. The opponent has to be armed or he is no longer an opponent. I loved hunting and avoided slaughterhouses. Fishing was my passion. I became disgusted with it when I heard that brooks and ponds can be fished out by electricity down to the last stickleback. The plain fact, even mere hearsay, was enough for me: from that moment I never again touched a fishing rod. A cold shadow had fallen on the swirling trout streams and backwaters, where moss-grown carp and catfish dream, and had robbed them of their charm. One of our mathematical idiots had been at work again, characteristically confusing fight and murder. Undoubtedly he had been presented with a very high official decoration for it.

When I saw several thugs attack a lone man, or a larger man a small one, or even when a mastiff attacked a toy Pomeranian, not virtue but plain disgust upset my insides. This early variety of defeatism later became an obsolete trait -- damaging to me in today's world. I often blamed myself for it, telling myself that, after all, when one has dismounted the horse and climbed into a tank, one's mental attitude should change as well. But these matters are difficult to overcome rationally.

When in Rome, do as the Romans, otherwise you'll have a hard time. This piece of wisdom was taught me first by Atje Hanebut, and with a vengeance. Since this first experience clearly revealed the plain malice of my evil star, it will be mentioned here as an example of all subsequent experiences.

When we think back to all the people who have taught us lessons, we come upon one person who led us from childhood into adolescence. For me and other neighborhood boys this person was Atje Hanebut. At that time he was about sixteen or seventeen, and he ruled absolutely over a gang of twelve-year-olds. He instilled in us a new concept of authority -- the admiration for a leader whom one obeys blindly. Such a leader occupies not only our thoughts and ambitions by day, but our dreams by night. This domination, reaching into the world of our dreams, is an unmistakable symptom. As soon as one begins to dream of someone -- whether pleasantly or in a nightmare -- one becomes a captive. One is even expected to dream of a good author: then he begins to become a force.

We lived on the outskirts of the city, on Wine Street where each house was surrounded by a large garden. At the end of the street was a meadow which every year was flooded for ice skating. When winter set in early, many parts of the meadow were left unmown, and then I could see flowers, a frozen summer, through the icy surface. My mother complained about these inundations because they drove numerous mice into our home every autumn.

Behind Forrester's Pond, the meadow led into the Uhlenhorst Moor, which was bordered, along one whole side, by a colony of small gardeners; these colonists we called "Cossacks." Our nearest neighbor was Doctor Meding, an eminent physician of the old school, who lived in the grand style. He employed a cook and a coachman as well as the regular domestics. In his consulting room stood a high mahogany desk, on the leaf of which prescriptions used to lie, weighted down by gold coins. He treated poor patients for nothing.

We were allowed to play in his large, much neglected garden. The chief attraction was, of course, his horses. We knew every corner of the stable, the coachhouse, and the hayloft; and we were also quite at home in the living-quarters of the coachman. We were lucky to be friends of Wilhelm Bindseil, the son of the coachman.

In the Bindseil family, horses had played an important role since time immemorial. Old Bindseil had served with the dragoons in Tilsit; he could still be seen 'With a dashing mustache in the photograph of his squadron which hung in the living room. Their motto: "The Dragoons of Lithuania spare no one and do not wish to be spared" was inscribed beneath the picture. To look at old Bindseil, the motto was hard to believe. His talk was rather confused; and the only thing he didn't spare was the bottle of schnapps.

His brother, Wilhelm's uncle, was janitor at the Riding Academy. He wore the Iron Cross, First Class, and had taken part in the cavalry charge at Mars-la-Tour. Wilhelm sometimes took us to visit him, and we admired the great man from a respectful distance. My father approved of this, since he gave us presents of books, which stimulated us in a military direction. We read The Life of a German Rider, Memoirs of a Lutzow Rifleman, The Great King and his Recruit.

By that time we had already extended our roving expeditions as far as the moor. But these forages were always bound up with risks, and after the business at the barn, we limited our play to the gardens. We had built a little fire on a bank of the moor. Hermann, my younger brother, began to fool around with some smoldering sticks. All of a sudden we saw a dry cluster of reeds flare up. At once, the heather caught fire. First we tried to beat it with branches, but it ate itself into the moor which was dry as tinder; then, when we were already exhausted from our attempts to extinguish the fire and faint from the heat, and the soles of our shoes were redhot, then the flames began to lick at the barn.

We dropped the branches and ran toward the city as if the devil were after us. But even there we did not calm down: our guilty conscience drove us on. Eventually we consulted our savings and climbed the Gothic tower of our local church, which was a hundred meters high. The fee for going up was ten pfennigs. For this price we had a bird's-eye view of the grim spectacle of the burning moor and of the three fire brigades that had rushed out to extinguish it. Our knees were shaking from the climb up the countless rickety stairs, and when we heard from far away the tooting of the firehorns and saw the sky all aglow, we almost collapsed. Trembling, we climbed down, crept through the streets of the old part of the town and into our beds. Fortunately no one suspected us. But for a long time afterwards, tortured by dreams of a fire, I would wake up at night screaming; my parents called the Doctor, our neighbor, who eased their anxiety and prescribed an infusion of valerian. In his opinion it was a symptom of puberty.

All this happened when I was still a child. A few months later, when Atje Hanebut had established his reign over us, he would probably have turned the incident into an heroic deed. He set great value on resourcefulness, on not leaving any tracks behind you, and he gave us tasks where we had to prove ourselves. For instance, soon after we became acquainted, he learned that Clamor Boddsiek, son of another neighbor, had stolen a taler from his parents, which he was suspected of having hidden somewhere, so that some time might elapse before he spent it. Atje ordered us to search for it. Today I am still surprised that we found out Clamor's hiding place. By subtle combinations, which would have done credit to a clairvoyant, we divided the area of his movements into squares which we then scoured. He had concealed the coin in one of the flowerpots in his parents' front garden. We took it out and delivered it to Atje. This may indicate the degree of our eagerness to curry favor with him. Viewed from the moral angle, this was, of course, worse than the whole conflagration in the moor; but when we saw Boddsiek for days afterward still vainly digging into the flowerpots, we were only proud of our scouting shrewdness.

There were frequent changes of coachmen at Dr. Meding's -- the service was exacting. They often had to wait for him a long time in the open air, while he' visited his patients; and particularly in winter, they would help themselves to their bottles, until their master had enough of it. Then they stepped down from their high positions as coachmen to become plain cabmen, who waited in lacquered top hats for travelers in front of the railroad station. This was the reason why old Hanebut had taken the place of Wilhelm Bindseil's father. Old Hanebut, too, stayed hardly a year, since the Doctor lost his temper when he noticed that his horses were losing flesh. He did not take too seriously that his coachmen were boozers, but the animals should have what was due them.

Mother Hanebut was a woebegone woman who waited upon the Doctor. Father Hanebut scarcely enforced any discipline in his family. Either he drove the Doctor on his rounds or was occupied in the stable; the rest of his time he spent in the pub. Sometimes when the Doctor was called in an emergency, he sent for him there.

The son was his own master. He took small, occasional jobs, delivered magazines for the booksellers and books for the lending libraries. In the fall he accompanied the peasants, who arrived in the city with their carts full of peat or cried "White sand" in the streets. The youngsters who tried to ingratiate themselves with him were high school students of a different social class. This did not prevent him from treating them tyrannically.

My father, who had approved of our friendship with Wilhelm Bindseil, was not too pleased about the new connection. Once I heard him say to my mother in the next room: "This new coachman's son is bad company -- he teaches the boys real proletarian manners."

He probably meant the jackboots which Atje wore and for which we had pestered our mothers so long that they finally bought them for us; for we imitated him in everything. In these boots one could walk through thick and thin, through swamp and underbrush: they were indispensable for "pathfinders."

This word, which Atje had brought into use among us, was used by him to mean red pathfinders rather than white . When he saw us running to the Riding Academy, he made no bones about his dislike of soldiers.

"They have to stand at attention. A pathfinder does not, except at the stake."

He would also say: "Soldiers have to lie down. A pathfinder lies down only when he wants to stalk someone, and not by command -- a pathfinder never accepts any commands at all."

And so we were introduced to the jungle. Soon after, some Indians were exhibited at the shooting match of a country fair. They were introduced, in front of a tent, by a barker who called each one by his name and praised him chiefly for the number of scalps he had taken . Sounding as if he had a hot potato in his mouth, the barker cried : "Black Mustang, little chief -- a very bright fellow who has taken the scalp of seven white men."

The warriors, who presented themselves impassively to the gaze of the public', were decorated with war paint and wore feathered headbands. Atje Ranebut had taken us there. It was certainly different from the Riding Academy and Uncle Bindseil -- the more so, since the Indians held their own on horseback as well. One of our favorite topics was whether or not they could cope on horseback with the Mexicans and other white men. We were convinced they could, and these long talks served the purpose of confirming their superiority against any possible objection. Another result was that we began to read different books.

After supper we used to gather in the loft above the stable, where the harness hung. We sat on the trestles, or on a pile of horse blankets which was Atje's bed, and he read to us Son of the Bear Hunter. What a book! High up there it smelled of horses, hay, and leather, and in winter the iron stove glowed, for the Doctor had plenty of wood. Atje sat with the book near the stable lantern; we listened to him all agog. A door opened into a new world. Dressed only in shorts and our jackboots, we crouched half-naked in the overheated loft; now and then, to make us tough, Atje made us run around the ice-cold park.

In summer we were again on the moor. We knew every corner, every peat bog, every ditch. We also could build a fire which did not smoke. On sultry days we lay in wait to catch the poisonous adders which were one of our chief's sources of income. The Mayor of Uhlenhorst paid three pfennigs per head. Atje Hanebut combined this hunt with testing our courage.

The adders came out at certain times and lay on the banks of the moor, either stretched out or in a coil. It took an experienced eye to see them. At first we caught them by holding them down with a forked willow twig and killing them by blows with a switch. Then we learned how to grab them behind their heads and to hold them, still alive, until Atje let them slide into a bag. These were specimens for the terrarium; they were worth more. Finally we had to pick up the swift-moving reptile by its tail and lift it high with outstretched arm. This was a safe grip; the adder, hanging free, could raise itself only a third of its length. In this position it was submitted to the expert judgment of Atje. If it was a specimen for a terrarium, that is, if it was distinguished by its large size or its coloring, it went into the bag; otherwise it was hurled to the ground and massacred. There were pure black specimens, the "hell-adders," whose zigzag band blended with their ground color. They were particularly in demand by snake fanciers.

Anyone who had taken part in these excursions into the moor for some time and was thought worthy by Atje Hanebut, was allowed to enter the great test of courage. Atje knew what is common knowledge among snake catchers: that a snake which is lowered on the supporting hand, settles on it as on any other surface, provided one doesn't move one's hand. The reptile does not regard the hand as a hostile object.

Atje then selected the most skillful of us, and the test became a question of picking up an adder, pointed out by the Chief, and lowering it slowly with one's right hand to the palm of the left, on which the adder was supposed to nestle. It was a miracle that no one was ever bitten; but, as I said, Atje did not allow just anyone to take the test. He knew what he could impose on a person.

As for me, I remember these as some of the most disagreeable moments in a life full of such moments; I disliked these creatures from the bottom of my heart, and they appeared in my dreams as nightmares. A sensation of annihilation ran through me like a blade when I felt the cool, triangular head on my hand. But I stood as motionless as a statue, so great was my desire to please my Chief, to catch his smile, to distinguish myself in his eyes. Having passed this test, we were then allowed to call him by his war name, which we pledged never to betray to others; we also received names and joined his inner circle. Already as a boy he had known how to get a hold on others.

From the past Atje had inherited a quarrel with the Cossacks. This had existed for generations, perhaps even from prehistoric times when different tribes had settled on both shores of the swamp. But Atje, although he was really much better suited to the other side, made himself our leader. Over there was a jumble of miserable huts, sheds, gardens, and small pubs into which we, as high school students, couldn't intrude without causing brawls. Because of our red caps they called us stupid bullfinches. No one from either faction would have dared to enter the territory of the enemy alone. The clashes took place mostly during the skating season or sometimes in early autumn when we flew kites.

When Atje Hanebut joined us in our feuds, he introduced some improvements, among which were scouting duty as "pathfinders" and a new weapon, the slingshot -- a V-shaped twig equipped with a rubber band. For shot we used marbles or pellets of lead. And as always happens with such improvements, slingshots soon turned up in the camp of the Cossacks, who simply shot with pebbles. All this led to never-ending skirmishes.

Brawls of this kind are usually crowned by excess and also terminate with it when neutral powers intervene. Here it was the same. One morning, rumor spread that a third-grade student -- of all people Clamor Boddsiek, the boy of the taler story -- had lost an eye because of a slingshot. It turned out later that the injury was less serious than was first believed, but on that first day feeling ran high.

Immediately after lunch we gathered at Atje Hanebut's place; he at once ordered a punitive expedition. It was my mother's birthday, and we were going to have a big coffee-party; my parents had also bought me a new suit. But after I had swallowed my last mouthful, I slipped, like all the other boys, into my jackboots, without changing my clothes, and put the slingshot in my pocker. The business of the eye occupied my whole mind. There was no room for other things.

After we were all assembled, we left the Doctor's garden through the defective hedge, following Atje in Indian file. It was a hot day and we were boiling with rage, Ag e perhaps the least of all.

Bordering the Doctor's property, on the meadow side, was the garden of a Privatdocent. On very warm days, he used to study in his conservatory, which jutted out into the garden, its two doors always wide open. Since we were in a great hurry and since a straight line is the shortest, Atje Hanebut burst into the study. The horrified scholar jumped to his feet to save his papers which were flying about, and before he realized what had happened, Atje had stormed out through the other door, a dozen boys in jackboots rushing after him. Then we broke through the bordering hedge, and crossed the large meadow to invade the Cossack territory.

The paths between the hedges and fences lay bright in the midday light. We were now in the forbidden domain. Our band had split. With three or four others I ran along behind Atje Hanebut. At a bend in the road, we saw a Cossack coming toward us. He was alone, a schoolboy, with a knar sack slung over his shoulder. Most likely he had been kept m after class; if so, it was an unlucky day for him.

As soon as he recognized us, he turned around and, quick as a weasel, ran back the same way. We rushed after him. He could certainly have escaped had not another bunch of our gang burst out from a side path, barring his passage. He was rounded up. One boy got hold of him by his knapsack, the others arrived from both sides, and blows fell as thick as hail. Our wrath was tremendous.

At first I thought it was quite right that he should suffer -- and with a vengeance -- for Clamor Boddsiek's eye. A slightly built boy, who hardly defended himself, he first lost his knapsack and then his cap. His nose also began bleeding, though not violently. Incidentally, it was not I who first noticed it, but a boy who hadn't passed the test of courage and who didn't care either; he had joined us rather by accident. His name was Weigand; he wore glasses and, strictly speaking, didn't belong with us. It was this Weigand who first noticed the blood; I heard him call: "But he's already bleeding."

Now I saw it too and the whole scene disgusted me: the forces were distributed too unequally. I saw our Chief lifting his arm for another blow; the Cossack was now standing with his back against a garden fence. He really had had enough. I hung onto Atje's arm and kept repeating: "But he's already bleeding."

It wasn't insubordination that moved me. I simply thought that Atje hadn't yet noticed that the Cossack was bleeding, and I wanted to point the fact out to him. I seized his arm and said those words not in order to stop him, but only to call his attention to an oversight. Weigand had been the first to notice the mistake, and I only passed his news on to the Chief. I was convinced it really was only a mistake; there couldn't be two minds about it. Atje would immediately correct it.

In this belief, however, I was completely wrong. Atje shook me off and looked at me with utter stupefaction. Obviously for him not only wasn't it wrong but it was absolutely right that the Cossack was bleeding. Now he lifted his arm again and struck me in the face. At the same time I heard him shout "beat him," and all the others pounced upon me. They were my best friends and they had known me much longer than they had Hanebut. But one word from him was sufficient for them to treat me like an enemy. Only Weigand stayed m the background. But he didn't take my side; he just slipped away. I paid for his liberality.

My horror was so great that, although I realized blows were showering upon me, I actually didn't feel them. My new suit was treated roughly as well. But the torn garment belonged in the picture.

While the others were busy with me, the Cossack had snatched up his cap and knapsack and had scurried away. At last. they left me alone and marched off. I remained, leaning against the fence, my heart beating in my throat. The sun glared down on the bushes, but I had the impression that its rays blackened the green foliage. In my mouth was a bitter taste.

After I had stood by the fence for a long while, recovering my breath, I pulled myself together and walked in the direction of the city. Because I had never been there before it took me some time to find my way out of the tangle of gardens. But at last I came to the road.

Confused as I was, I thought I heard them corning back. I heard the tramp-tramp of nailed boots and hurried shouts.

"There he is -- a bullfinch; that's him, he did it." And before I fully realized what had happened, the Cossacks, roused by our invasion, suddenly fell upon me. In no time they had seized me. I heard a big fellow, their leader, shout: "You pigs, the whole gang of you attacking a sick boy -- we're going to cure you of that."

This time I felt the blows, and the kicks too, as I lay on the ground. The only luck I had, if you can call it that, was that they blocked each other's movements in their zeal.

On occasions like this, it is amazing how sharply we observe details. I saw, for instance, that in the scramble, one boy was never able to get at me. Again and again he was pushed back; once I saw his face quite clearly between the legs of the others. It was the boy whose nose had been bleeding; I recognize him. Several times he tried to jab me with a slate-pencil, which he had taken out of his schoolbag, but his arm was not long enough to reach me.

Since they were firmly convinced of their right, I would undoubtedly have come to a bad end in this affair. I even heard others come running toward us with dogs. But fortunately, a cart loaded with beer barrels approached on the main road, and two drivers in leather aprons leisurely climbed down from their seat. They flourished their whip among the crowd, taking alternate turns. They established order and had great fun doing it. I, too, was painfully hit over the ear. The crowd scattered in a hurry, and I staggered home more dead than alive.

As I crept through the hall and to the stairs, my father came out of the living room. The birthday party had been over for some time. I faced him in my outfit, of which nothing was intact but the jackboots, with tousled hair and a dirty, unrecognizable face. He assumed that on this festive day I had again been in a scuffle with the gang led by the coachman's son, and this was, of course, an entirely accurate conclusion. I had not only spoiled my mother's birthday but had also ruined, on the very first day, my expensive suit, which had pleased him so much at noon. Moreover, the scholar already had made complaints.

My father was a kind, even-tempered man. Up to now he had never beaten me, although he probably had provocation on more than one occasion. This time, however, he stared at me, his face red with anger. He boxed my ears energetically.

These blows again I did not feel, for my surprise was too great. I was more shocked than hurt. My father evidently noticed this at once, since he turned around angrily and ordered me to bed without my supper.

This was the first night I felt alone. In later years I had many such nights. The little word "alone" took on a new meaning for me. Our time has provided frequent opportunity for people to endure this aloneness; still, it's difficult to describe.

Later my father must have learned some details of what had happened, because, some days after, he attempted to set the matter between us to rights, quoting a verse:

"Three times while bullets whizzed,
We took the mountain by storm."


These lines were from one of the poems we had to learn by heart. It was dedicated to a long-forgotten battle, the assault on Spichern Heights. And it was true: I had been in action three times -- not including the draymen.

We were soon on friendly terms again, but such a blow can never be quite forgotten, even if both sides have no greater wish than to do just that. A physical touch creates a new relationship. One has to resign one's self to it.

I have dwelt at length on this experience because it encompassed more than an episode. It repeated itself in my life in the same way that a woman an enemy, or an accident can return. It recurred, though in a different disguise, with the same cast of characters. When the Asturian affair began, we knew that, although we were used to a good deal of trouble, this time it would be no joke. In the first town we entered, the monasteries had been raided, the coffins in the vaults forced open and the corpses set up in the streets in grotesque groups. Then we knew we had come to a country where no mercy could be expected. We passed a butcher shop in which the corpses of monks hung from meat hooks with a sign "hoy mo tado ," meaning "freshly killed." I saw this with my own eyes.

On that day a great sadness overcame me. I knew with certainty that this was the end of everything we had respected and honored. Words like honor and dignity became ludicrous. Again the word "alone" loomed up out of the night. An outrage has an isolating effect, as though our planet were threatened with extinction. I was feverish and thought of Monteron. What would he have said, entering such landscapes? But Monteron's time was past, and men of his type would not have entered in any case. They would have already fallen before the gate, because -- "once and for all there are matters I do not wish to know."

At that time my "Day of Spichern" repeated itself with its personnel unchanged; there was but one difference -- the Chief whom I tried to seize by the arm was no longer called Hanebut. Neither was the matter in question a bleeding nose. It had more to do with ears. Those whom I helped (as I had the Cossack) again gave me no thanks. On the contrary. Even Weigand reappeared on the scene; now he conditioned the moral climate in a famous newspaper. Without him no one would have known exactly how things should be managed. Incidentally, on the school playground once, I asked the first Weigand where he had been when the scuffle started. He said that he bad suddenly remembered he hadn't done his homework yet, adding: "It was nasty the way you all pounced on him." He had cut out for himself exactly the piece which suited his purpose. Cosi fan tutte; later, too, that was his favorite motto.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:44 am

XIX

All this came back to me when, after my unpleasant discovery, I was seized more and more irresistibly by weakness. The nausea which I tried to fight off promised nothing good; I had a foreboding that there would be a repetition of what I had endured when I tried to stop Atje Hanebut. And Zapparoni would not let me off so cheaply. I tried, therefore, to comfort myself as one does a sick child. For instance: "Severed ears are lying about on any highway." Or: "You've certainly seen other things before, and these are not your concern at all. You'd better take French leave."

Then I tried to recollect episodes from the History of the Jewish Wars by Flavius Josephus, who had always been my favorite historian. In those times events happened quite differently. With what massive conviction, with what certainty of a higher mandate and a correspondingly clear conscience did [he partners arrive on the scene! The Romans, the Jews in their various factions, the auxiliary peoples, the mountain garrisons which defended themselves to the last man, to the last woman! No decadent blabber here as there would be a hundred years later in Tertullian. Titus had given harsh orders, yet with a dignity as sublime as if he were the spokesman of destiny. Time and again in history there had been periods when action and conviction of right tallied perfectly with each other, a feeling that was shared by all the belligerents and factions concerned. Perhaps Zapparoni had already returned to such a period. Today one had to be pan of the game. The closer one stood to the center of the game, the less significant its victims became. People who were in the game, or only thought to be in it, swept away millions, and the masses cheered them. Compared to them, a dismounted cavalryman who had never lifted his weapon against any but other armed men, cut a disreputable figure. It had to stop. Even mentally one had to climb into the tank.

By the way, I still had the rest of Twinnings' money in my pocket; I should have liked to take Teresa out for dinner tonight. I'd take her to the "Old Sweden" and be nice to her. Lately I had neglected her because of my worries. Now I'd tell her that the job with Zapparoni hadn't come off, but that I had a chance of a better opening. She was always afraid I would accept an offer that was beneath me. She had far too good an opinion of me; it had often made me ashamed. Tomorrow I would go to Twinnings and talk with him about the jobs he had not yet mentioned because he did not think I would take them. I might take charge of a gambling table. I'd certainly get involved in scandals that might turn out badly if one wasn't slippery as an eel. Then, one had to accept tips. Old comrades who couldn't stop doing a little gambling -- they had learned how in the Light Cavalry -- would at first be surprised to see me, but if they had had a run of good luck, they'd slide toward me a red or even a blue chip. One would have to get used to it. But I would know for whom I did it. And I would enjoy it, and would even take on other work. I would tell Teresa that I had an office job.
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