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 8:45 am

XX

All these matters I turned over in my mind, but I found no resting place. The whole ship rocked right up to the top of the mast. Though I strictly avoided looking in that direction, my thoughts kept breaking away toward the water hole. My head was still buried in my hands. The Smoky Gray described wide figures of eight in front of me.

My situation had certainly been planned with a purpose. This was obvious if only because the master of the house still failed to appear. Evidently he was either waiting for some result or postponing it. But what kind of result could possibly make sense? I would never be able to leave the park. Should I get up and return to the terrace? Unfortunately I may have shown my reaction too strongly after I had made my discovery.

If, however, my situation had been arranged and, what is more, intended as a dilemma, much depended on the degree of my ability to see through the planned stage effects; then I could choose a direction for my behavior. I might be able to deny that I had seen the object, but perhaps it would be more profitable to respond to the provocation, as was expected. In any case, my remaining in a reflective mood could do no harm, since it was probably anticipated that I would take the discovery seriously and be alarmed. I had to think hard, review the case again, and use all my wits.

The possibility that I had come upon a nest of evil, as I had thought in my first consternation, I now excluded not only as being improbable but as emphatically out of the question. Such an oversight, such an error in staging, was unimaginable in Zapparoni's domain. Nothing took place here that was not part of the plan, and in spite of all the apparent disorder, one had the impression that even the molecules were controlled. I had sensed this at once on entering the park. Besides, who would leave ears lying around, quite near his house, from sheer forgetfulness?

But if it was a question of the horrible sight having been arranged, it was bound to have something to do with my presence here. It must have been included in the parade of automatons as a calculated caprice. To rouse admiration and terror has at all times been a concern of the great. But there must have been stage directions. And who had provided the stage properties?

One could hardly assume that Zapparoni's plant -- where even the impossible was possible -- kept a supply of ears on hand. Where such things can happen, although they may be kept as secret as possible, rumors inevitably spread. Everyone knows what no one knows. That notorious Nobody walks around freely.

Of course, many things that were discussed behind the scenes at the good grandfather Zapparoni's -- like Caretti's disappearance -- were not blazed abroad. But mostly they were ordinary things. This business did not fit into Zapporoni's style. And it was out of all proportion to my circumstances. Who was I to be honored by the cutting off of two or three dozen ears? Even the boldest imagination wouldn't dream of such a thing. And as a joke it was beneath the taste of a sultan of Dahomey. I had seen the interior of Zapparoni's house, had seen his face and his hands. These ears must have been a delusion; I must have been the victim of a vision. The air was sultry; the garden seemed to be bewitched and the swirl of automatons had intoxicated me.

Again I put the field glasses to my eyes and focused them on the water hole. The sun was now in the western sky, and all the red and yellow tints became more spectacular. The superior quality of the glass and the proximity of the object left no possible doubt: they must be ears, human ears.

Were they, however, genuine ears? Supposing they were imitations, skillfully contrived frauds? No sooner had this idea flashed through my mind than it seemed very likely. The expenditure was minimal, and the intended effect of a test remained. I had once heard that the Freemasons lay out a corpse of wax, and that the novice, about to be initiated, is brought before it in a dimly lighted room and ordered by the Grand Masters to thrust a knife into the body.

Indeed, it was possible, even probable, that I was faced with some sort of puzzle. In a place where glass bees fly about, why shouldn't wax ears lie around as well? The moment of terror was suddenly followed by the solution, by a feeling of gaiety, almost of relief. This was even a witty touch, although at my expense; perhaps it was meant to indicate that in the future I would have to deal with practical jokers.

I now decided to fall in with the joke and play the fool; I'd pretend not to have seen through the trap. Again I buried my face in my hands, but now in order to conceal my growing amusement. Then I took up the field glasses once more: the objects were infernally well done -- I might almost say that they surpassed reality. But I was not going to be taken in. After all, one was used to things like these from Zapparoni.

True, I now saw something that took me aback and again sickened me. A big blue fly descended on one of these shapes, a fly like those one used to see around butcher shops. But, although unpleasant, the sight did not shake my confidence. If I had judged Zapparoni rightly -- which I did not in the least pretend to do -- this move of his, these ears, could only be artificial. Heads or tails -- Zapparoni or King of Dahomey.

We cling to our theories and fit the phenomena to them. The fly? The work of art was to all appearance so perfect that not only my eyes but the insect itself was deceived. It is generally known that birds pecked at the grapes painted by Apelles. And I had once watched a small fly hovering around an artificial violet I wore in my buttonhole.

Moreover, who in the garden would swear on oath that this was natural, that artificial? Had any person, had any pair of lovers in an intimate conversation passed me, I would not have liked to stake my life and declare whether or not they were flesh and blood. Only recently I had admired Romeo and Juliet on the television screen, and had occasion to see for myself that a new and more beautiful era in dramatic art had started with Zapparoni's automatons. How tired one had become of the heavily made-up actors who became more insignificant from decade to decade, and how badly heroic action and classical prose, to say nothing of verse, suited them! In the end, one would no longer have known what a body, what passion, what singing really was, had not Negroes been imported from the Congo. Zapparoni's marionettes were of a quite different proficiency. They needed neither make-up nor beauty contests where chests and hips are measured and compared -- they were made to order.

I am not, of course, going to proclaim that they excelled human beings -- that would be absurd after all I have said about horses and riders. On the other hand, I think that they set man a new standard. Once upon a time statues and paintings influenced not only fashion but man. I am convinced that I Botticelli created a new race and that Greek tragedy enhanced the human body. That Zapparoni attempted something similar with his automatons revealed that he rose far above technique, using media as an artist to create works of art.

For magicians like those Zapparoni employed in his work shops and laboratories, it was a trifle to create a fly. In an inventory which included artificial bees and artificial ears, one must admit the possibility of an artificial fly as well. Therefore, even though loathsome and needlessly realistic -- this sight could not disconcert me.

In any case, during this strenuous testing and watching, I had lost the capacity of distinguishing between the natural and the artificial. I became skeptical of individual objects, and, in general, I separated imperfectly what was within and what without, what landscape and what imagination. The layers, close one upon the other, shifted their colors, merged their content, their meaning.

This was pleasant after my previous experiences. And most welcome was the fact that the business of the ears had lost its inner weight. I had been needlessly nervous. Of course they were artificial -- or artificially natural -- and, as with marionettes, pain becomes meaningless. Because this is indisputable, it even stimulates people to cruel jokes. It does not matter much so long as we know that the doll, whose arm we tear out, is of leather, or that the Negro we use as a target is of papier-mache. We like to aim at human forms.

But here the world of marionettes became very powerful and developed a subtle, carefully reasoned out play of its own. The marionettes became human and stepped into life. Leaps, drolleries, caprices -- which only rarely had been thought of before -- now became possible. Defeatism no longer existed. I saw the entrance to a painless world. Whoever passed into it was protected against the ravages of time. He would never be seized by a feeling of awe. Like Titus he would enter the destroyed temple, the burnt-out Holy of Holies. Time held its trophies and its wreaths ready for him.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:45 am

XXI

Out of this trip could come my chance for a great career at Zapparoni's. I had only to intimate that I was delighted with the spectacle he had staged -- that it whetted my appetite. I would take the whole thing as a symbol of sovereignty, as the fasces and axes proper to the Consul Romanus. If I succeeded in overriding my scruples and shaking off my defeatism, I need not walk before Zapparoni as a minor lictor -- I could with confidence compete with Fillmor.

However, I had often reached this point before, when my failures made me miserable. In those cases, as here, I would Waste my time, in an embarrassing situation, in doing nothing, and then shrink back from some kind of brutality that is nowadays quite inevitable. One could be sure that even here, while developing the ideas of a municipal tyrant, I would not be capable of even touching one of these ears, artificial or not. It was really ridiculous.

What would Zapparoni think if I touched an ear? He had warned me only against the bees. Probably he was looking for exactly that man who is capable of touching ears. I took up one of the hand nets, which was leaning against the pavilion, and walked toward the water hole. There I selected one of the ears and fished it out. It was a large, well-shaped, perfectly reproduced ear, the ear of a grown man. I was sorry not to have a magnifying glass with me, but my eyesight was good enough.

I placed my catch on the garden table and touched it confidently with my hand. I must admit that the replica was excellent. The artist had gone so far in his naturalism that he had not even forgotten the tiny tuft of hair, characteristic of the ear of a mature man, which is generally trimmed with a razor blade. He bad, moreover, indicated a small scar -- a romantic touch. It was clearly evident that Zapparoni's workers did not work for money alone. They were craftsmen of a supernatural precision.

The Smoky Gray had again come close, and only slightly vibrating, it now hovered almost motionless in mid-air, its feelers jutting forth. I did not pay any attention to it, keeping my eyes fixed on my object, which stood out in bold relief against tile green table top.

In school we learned that any object we gaze at for a long time, appears again, when we turn our eyes away from it, as a kind of afterimage. We see it on the wall when we stare at it, or on the inner side of our lids when we close them. It frequently limns itself sharply against a background and even reveals details we did not consciously perceive before. Only the color has changed, reflecting the phenomenon on the retina in a new light. Similarly, when I looked at this ear, I felt for a short moment slightly dizzy, since it wavered before my eyes in a delicate green brilliance while the table top stood out in red.

Objects which enthrall us also present a mental afterimage, an intuitive counterimage which reveals that part of perception which we have suppressed. Suppression takes place in any perception; to perceive means to eliminate.

When I had examined the ear, I had done so wishing that It were a hoax, an artifice, a doll's ear, that it had never known pain. But now that it appeared to me as an afterimage, it revealed that from the very beginning -- for all the time since I had been looking at it -- I had comprehended it as the focal point of this garden, and that the sight of it had formed in my mind the word "hear." When in Astoria they had dragged the corpses out of their tombs in order to abjure humanity, we knew that after such a reception only evil could be in store for us -- that we had entered through the gates to the nether world.

In this place, however, a mind was at work to negate the image of a free and intact man. The same mind had devised this insult: it intended to rely on man power in the same way that it had relied on horsepower. It wanted units to be equal and divisible, and for that purpose man had to be destroyed as the horse had already been destroyed. The signals flashed at the entrance gates. Anyone who approved of them, or who only failed to recognize them for what they were, would be unsuitable.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:45 am

XXII

It was a terrible signal, a ticket for admission. In the same way, procurers who wish to lead us into disreputable places press into our hands an obscene picture. My daemon had warned me.

When I saw through the plot, I was seized with a blind fury. An old soldier, a Light Cavalryman and pupil of Monteron, waited obsequiously before a shop where cut-off ears were displayed while in the background someone chuckled. Up till now I had always fought with decent weapons and I had quit the service before the abominable warmongers contrived their murderous incendiaries. But here the new subtleties were prepared in a lilliputian style. As always, the primary concern was with the lowering of "curtains" in order to let the surprises ripen. There'd be no lack of policemen; indeed, countries already existed where everyone shadowed everyone else and, should that not be enough, denounced himself. This was no business for me. I had seen enough; I preferred the gambling casino.

I knocked the table over and kicked the ear out of the way. Now the Smoky Gray became very lively and flew up and down like a scout who wants to enjoy an operation from every perspective. I grabbed the golf bag, pulled out one of the stronger irons, and made a wide sweeping stroke. As I took my stance, 1 heard a short warning call, like the ones heard in air-raid shelters. But I ignored it and, having turned round on my axis, I hit the Smoky Gray with the flat end of the iron and smashed it. I saw a coil of wire spring out of its belly. Several sparks followed, as if a toy frog were exploding, and from the iron golf club rose a rust-brown cloud. Again I heard a voice: "Close your eyes." A splash hit me, burning a hole in the sleeve of my coat. Another voice called that there was a skin ointment in the pavilion. I found it in a sort of air-raid emergency kit, which I remembered having seen before. My arm showed not a sign of injury; the explosion hadn't left a single suspicious mark.

The calls sounded synthetic, as if they were coming out of a mechanical dictionary. Like traffic signals, they had a sobering effect. I had been acting on impulse without consulting my reason. It was the mistake I always made when provoked. l had to correct it. I promised myself even to swallow insults at the casino, and was confident that I'd be able to do so. First, however, I had to get out of here; the job, of course, now being out of the question.

Moreover, I had completely lost any desire to occupy myself with Zapparoni's private hobbies. Possibly I had seen too many of them already.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:45 am

XXIII

The sun, now on the decline, was still shining warmly on the paths, and it was again quiet, even peaceful, in the park. Bees, real bees, were still humming about the flowers, while the weird automatons had vanished. Very likely the creatures of glass had been enjoying a field day, a grand review.

The day had been long and hot; slightly dazed I stood in front of the pavilion and stared down the path. At its turn I saw Zapparoni walking toward me. Why, seeing him, was I seized with fear? I do not mean the kind of terror a dictator spreads at his approach. This was more a vague feeling of guilt, of bad conscience, as I waited for him. In the same way I once stood, dirty faced, in my tattered suit in our hall at home, when my father came in. And why should I try to push the ear under the overturned table with my foot so he'd not see it. I did it less to conceal my curiosity from him than from a feeling that the ear was not a sight fit for him.

Slowly he walked along the path and came up to me. Then he stopped before me and fixed me with his amber-colored eyes. They had now turned to a deep, dark brown, with light inclusions. His silence oppressed me. At last I heard his voice. "But I told you to beware of the bees."

He took the golf club in his hand and examined the corroded metal head. It was still spluttering. He cast a cursory glance at the smoky-gray splinters and then looked at the sleeve of my coat. I had the impression that nothing escaped his notice. He said: "Well, at least you caught one of the harmless ones."

It did not sound unkind. I hadn't the slightest idea of the price of such a robot. But since it had most likely been a model piece, probably it far exceeded the total of all the wages I would have earned if I had been hired. The thing must have been crammed full of apparatuses.

"You've been imprudent. These mechanisms aren't golf balls."

Even this sounded benevolent, as if he didn't overly disapprove of my golf stroke. I could not even contend that the Smoky Gray had an evil design on me. I had lost my nerve, as the saying goes. Its fluttering about, while I examined the ear, had exasperated me. But the ear alone, or rather ears, would have been ample reason for losing your nerve. For most people, after all, a sight like that is not exactly amusing. However, I did not wish to defend myself. It would be best not to let Zapparoni see the ear at all.

Meanwhile he had already discovered it. He touched it lightly with the golf club and then turned it round with the point of his slippers, shaking his head. His face now completely took on the expression of an irritated parrot. His eyes brightened to a clear yellow and the inclusions disappeared.

"Here you have an example of the crowd I'm cursed with -- in a madhouse you can at least lock them up."

After I had righted the table and sat down with him, he told me the story of the ears. Once more the ears had to go through a transformation in my mind. In fact they were cut off, though painlessly, and even my presence here had something to do with this mutilation.

I should know, Zapparoni explained, that the extraordinary impression of life-sized marionettes like Romeo and Juliet, which I had admired, rested less on the faithful reproductions of their bodies than on deliberate deviations. In the matter of faces, ears play an almost greater role than eyes, which can be easily surpassed in shape, mobility, and, of course, color. For noble types one tries to reduce the size of the ears, to improve their shape, their color, and their placement, as well as to give them a certain mobility which intensifies facial play. This mobility, while lost among civilized peoples, can be observed still in animals and primitive races. Moreover, both ears should be slightly asymmetric. For an artist, one ear is unlike another. In tins respect it was necessary to educate the public. It had to be taught a higher anatomy. This could only be done over an extended period of time. Neither time nor effort could be spared. Decades would hardly be sufficient.

Well, he did not wish to digress. All these details, and others as well, had been, in the case of the marionettes, in the hands of Signor Damico, a Neapolitan by birth, past master in the fashioning of ears.

Such ears are, of course, not simply stitched on or manufactured by the piece, as a wood carver, a sculptor, or a wax molder would do. On the contrary, they must be organically joined to the body by a method that belongs among the secrets of the new-style marionettes.

The difficulty of this work is still further intensified by the fact that many hands are employed on a single figure. This teamwork leads to quarrels and petty jealousies among the artists, who loathe the collective work. So Signor Damico had made an enemy of everyone, and that because of trifles not worth mentioning. In short, he refused to have anything to do with the others. But since he did not want them to derive any profit from his work, he cut off with a razor blade all the ears of the marionettes they had collectively manufactured. After that he went off and away, and it was now feared that he would practice his art elsewhere, for, since the success of the new movies, other countries had started experimenting in the construction of marionettes.

What could be done? If you reported him, he would appeal to his copyright. You would make a fool of yourself. It would be a scoop for the press. And to marionettes of this type you could not simply attach a severed ear, any more than you could to real human beings.

When all this had taken place, Zapparoni had again realized his vexatious dependence. Had Signor Damico returned, he would have forgiven him. The man was irreplaceable, since one does not make ears as easily as one makes children. The incident had further shown that the supervision in his plant was not all he could wish. This was the reason why he had turned to Twinnings. And Twinnings had sent for me.

Incidentally, Zapparoni had actually ordered the ears to be thrown into the water hole for my benefit, and he had watched me. This was. the practical pan of my visit to him. As to the result -- I had not passed; I was unsuited for the position he had in mind; but he did not supply me with any further information about the kind of work he had intended. Caretti, too, had been unfit; he was now in a lunatic asylum in Sweden. He could not be discharged. It was at least an advantage that the doctors took his pronouncements as pure imagination, the ravings of a man frightened by hallucinations.

I could go home then. I would remember this day. A load was off my mind, although I thought of Teresa. She would be sorry.

I was to sit down once more, however. Zapparoni was ready with another surprise. Although I had looked at everything from a different angle than the required one, it seemed that he had. found some merit in my statement about the white flags which he had challenged me to give in his library. He thought I had a certain sense of parity, of the balance that is due to the parts of a whole -- that probably I had Libra in my horoscope. He also knew that during the years when I had been testing tanks, I had shown a sharp eye for inventions, although my name was in the Service's black books.

In his plant, he said, new inventions were daily announced, improvements suggested, simplifications devised. Even though the workers were difficult to handle and, like the Neapolitan, were frequently querulous, they were highly gifted craftsmen. And one had to put up with their weaknesses which were the dark side of their excellences. I could certainly imagine (he aid) that with these ambivalent gifts, there was no lack of feasible projects along with the quarrels and feuds so common among artists. Each man considers his solution the best, and everyone claims to have been the first to have had a bright idea. It was impossible to bring all this to court; what was wanting was an internal court of arbitration. For this he needed a man who combined a sharp eye for technical matters with a power of discrimination: a combination rarely found in one person. He might even be slightly old-fashioned in his views.

"Captain Richard, would you accept this offer? Very well. Then I'll make the arrangements. I trust you will not resent an advance?"

In this way, Twinnings would, after all get his commission but he'd get it from Zapparoni; Twinnings helped his comrades gratuitously.
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Re: The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger

Postby admin » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:46 am

XXIV

I might now conclude my story as in those novels where one presses on to a happy ending.

Other principles hold good here. Today, only the person who no longer believes in a happy ending, only he who has consciously renounced it, is able to live. A happy century does not exist; but there are moments of happiness, and there is freedom in the moment. Even Lorenz, suspended in nothingness, still had a moment of freedom; he could change the world. They say that during such a fall your whole life passes before you once again. This is one of the mysteries of time. The moment is wedded to eternity.

Soon perhaps, I shall describe in detail the consequences which my position as an arbitrator involved, and my experiences within Zapparoni's domain. (Until now I had been only in the outer courts.) Only a person who does not know the force of destiny will assume that my evil star faded out. We do not escape our boundaries or our innermost being. We do not change. It is true we may be transformed, but we always walk within our boundaries, within the marked-off circle.

That surprises would never be wanting at Zapparoni's should be manifest from this report. He was an enigmatic man, a master of masks, who came out of the virgin forest. When I saw him approaching me in the garden, I had even felt reverence, as if he were preceded by lictors. His footmarks vanished behind him. I sensed the depth on which he rested. Nearly everyone today is a slave to material means. For him it was a game. He had captivated the children: they dreamed of him. Behind the fireworks of propaganda, the eulogies of paid scribes, something else existed. Even as a charlatan he showed greatness. Everyone knows these people from southern countries over whose cradle Jupiter stands in strong aspect. They often change the world.

All the same, I have repaid his kindness. When he tested me and afterwards gave me my position, I felt something like affection growing in me. It is a good thing when someone comes and says: "We are going to play the game -- I'll arrange it. "We have confidence in him.

There were rooms into which I had never looked before, and there were also great temptations; until finally my evil star triumphed again. Who knows, however, if my evil star might not be my lucky star? Only the end will tell.

But that evening, driving back to the plant in the little underground train, I firmly believed that my bad luck was over. One of the cars which I had admired that morning took me back to the city. Fortunately some shops were still open here and there; I could buy myself a new suit. For Teresa I bought a nice summer dress with red stripes, which reminded me of the one in which I had seen her for the first time. It fitted to perfection -- I knew her measurements. She had shared many hours with me, mainly the bitter ones.

We went out for dinner; it was one of the days one never forgets. Quite Soon the happenings in Zapparoni's garden began to fade in my memory. There is much that is illusory in techniques. But I never forgot Teresa's words, and her smile when she spoke. Now she was happy about me. This smile was more powerful than all the automatons -- it was a ray of reality.
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