Ernst Junger, “On Danger”

Ernst Junger, “On Danger”, New German Critique, 59: Spring/Summer 1993.
Stable JSTOR link.

This is my first experience reading Junger–have been catching up a lot on the context. Shows how spotty my European cultural history really is–British and French contexts so dominate my understanding due to the connection to modern empire.

Can’t help but think of the Patton speech, but also of Lawrence and the Spanish Civil War–seems a kind of carry-over of one lineage of Counter-Enlightenment romanticism, that war or violence are one kind of spectacular rupture that disrupts bourgeois rationalism. In certain ways also reminds of Fanon’s thinking on violence.

“the securing of life against fate, that great mother of danger, appears as the truly bourgeois problem”. p. 28 The way that some cultural historians have approached the role of gambling (and metaphors of gambling) in American history comes to mind here as another version of this–the deep attachment to the possibility of great luck is what keeps some people from demanding the security of equity.

Almost proto-Foucauldian reading of danger as the necessary partner of the production of order–that claims about order must produce danger in equal measure and then reproduce danger as ubiquitous spectacle, an environment out of which order must be constantly saved and produced. And the orderly have to be reminded of danger, risk, violence?

As in the photography essay, Junger is taken by the ubiquity of recording, documentation, visuality, that soon everything will be seen, photographed, archived.

“Our time is prompted by human need–which explains,among other things,the success of war literature. We already possess a new style of language, one which gradually becomes visible from underneath the language of the bourgeois epoch. The same, however, is true of our style altogether; it is reminiscent of the fact that the automobile was for a long time constructed in the form of a horse-drawn coach, or that a wholly different society has already long since established itself beneath the surface of bourgeois society. As during the inflation,we continue for a time to spend the usual coins, without sensing that the rate of exchange is no longer the same. In this sense, it may be said that we have already plunged deeply into new, more dangerous realms, without our being conscious of them.” p. 32

Really interesting. Worth talking about the “new, more dangerous realms”.

I really feel a need to read comprehensively the Counter-Enlightenment.