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Thread: Oswald Spengler: Man, His Destiny, His Role In History

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    Oswald Spengler: Man, His Destiny, His Role In History

    Oswald Spengler: IN The Hour of Decision

    http://www.alphalink.com.au/~radnat/...r/hourtwo.html

    There is a Nordic world-feeling, reaching from England to Japan, which is full of joy just because of the burden of human destiny. One challenges it for the sake of conquering it, and one goes under proudly should it prove stronger than one's own will. This was the attribute depicted in the old, genuine parts of the Mahabharata which tell of the fight between the Kurus and Pandus; in Homer, Pindar, and Aeschylus; in the Germanic sagas and in Shakespeare; in certain songs of the Chinese Shu king, and in the world of the Samurai. It is the tragic view of life, which is not yet dead, but will blossom anew in the future just as it blossomed in the World War. All the very great poets of the Nordic Cultures have been tragedians, and tragedy, from ballad and epic onward, has been the deepest form of this brave pessimism. The man who is incapable of experiencing or enduring tragedy can never be a figure of world significance. He cannot make history unless he experiences it as it really is - tragic, permeated by destiny, and in consequence meaningless, aimless, and unmoral in the eyes of the worshippers of utility. It marks the parting of the ways between the superior and subordinate ethos of human existence. The individual's life is of importance to none besides himself: the point is whether he wishes to escape from history or give his life for it. History recks nothing of human logic. Thunderstorms, earthquakes, lava-streams: these are near relatives of the purposeless, elemental events of world history. Nations may go under, ancient cities of ageing Cultures burn or sink in ruins, but the earth will continue to revolve calmly round the sun, and the stars to run their courses.

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    Quite an inspiring post. Seeing tragedy as essential is equal to believing that struggle strengthens the individual, which in most cases is true. That that does not kill me can only make me stronger.

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    Post Spengleriana

    Here are some more fragmentaric notes and thoughts of Oswald Spengler. Spengler writes here about the "world of the North", what meaning it had for the rise of northern European mankind. Spengler's culture theories touch here racialism:

    Die nordische Landschaft in der Eiszeit ist tot, lebensfeindlich, dann erwacht sie langsam für das Leben: wasserreich, dichte Walddecke, Tierschwärme, Menschen. Sie ist aber immer lebensfeindlich, durch harte Winter, Schneedecke, Eismassen. Hier behauptet sich das Leben nur im Kampf gegen die Landschaft, in Winterschlaf sinkend, kahle Bäume, Pelztiere. Die Menschenseele behauptet sich von Anfang an gegen die Seele der Landschaft, [sie ist] härter, kälter, winterlicher als andere im Süden. Die griechische Seele taut auf und schmilzt an der Sonne hin, die indische verdorrt und erstickt, jene lässig sich legend, diese im Nichts verdunstend. Denn der Mensch ist, was immer er sonst auch sein mag, nämlich Erbe von Generationen, doch ein Produkt und Ausdruck der Landschaft, sich ihr hingebend, sich gegen sie behauptend, denn er nährt sich von der Erde, die er wieder wird. Nicht nur sein Leib - die Seite seines Wesens, die fremden Sinnen sich spiegelt, gesehen, getastet, gerochen -, sondern auch die Seele - die Art wie das Wesen von Fremden erfühlt, erlebt wird - ist ganz wesentlich eine Frucht des Landes. Ihr Schicksal - in Schnee und Eis sterbend, im Frühling erwachend, von Regen, Sturm gepeitscht, überschwemmt, verwüstet - spiegelt sich auch im menschlichen Sosein, das daran leidet und sich dagegen behauptet. Die Härte dieses Schicksal, hier geboren zu sein, hat die Stärke der Seele herausgebildet, und aus dieser Seele sind die Seelengestalten der einzelnen Kulturen mit ihren Völkern, Staaten, Religionen, Künsten erwachsen. [...]

    Um 2000: Mit diesen Urvölkern des Nordens, den Heldenstämmen, von einem sittlichen Heldentum, Pathos der Distanz, Idee der persönlichen Tapferkeit, Gefolgstreue und Mannesmut, tritt eine neue Blüte in der Menschenwelt ein: In Ägypten und Babylonien war menschliche Größe etwas mit den furchtbaren Göttern und Sternen über sich, der Erde unter sich. Mit den Söhnen kalter Länder, den harten, an Entbehrung gereiften, durch Entsagen gewachsenen, tritt das Ideal einer eigenen Schöpfung ein: der Staat, das eigene Volk, das Vaterland. So empfanden Ramses und Hammurabi nicht. Die sonnenwarmen Seelen des Südens lieben nicht, was sie nicht am Entbehren achten gelernt haben. Heimatliebe ist Liebe zur kargen Heimat. In China, Indien und am Mittelmeer wird diese Liebe schöpferisch: Das Land der Wahl, die neue Heimat ist es, an welcher das Herz hängt. Keine Ehrfurcht vor Göttlichem ändert es, daß eine tiefe Ehrfurcht vor der eigenen Schöpfung besteht. Man nennt den Himmelsgott, aber man meint den Gott, dem man seine eigene Heimat innerlich geweiht hat. Der homerische Stolz: Göttern, die man neben sich sieht, ist man verwandt.


    Source: Oswald Spengler: Frühzeit der Weltgeschichte. Fragmente aus dem Nachlaß, ed. Anton Mirko Koktanek, Munich 1966, p. 273, 275f.

    Sorry for the German, but I'm surely not the one who could translate such sentences in a way that they would sound even as half as good. Many here at least are able to read German.

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    If someone could please translate that into English I would much appreciate it.
    All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream at night, in the dusky recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams, with open eyes, to make it possible.

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    Okay, I hoped, someone else would but nobody...
    I'll try my best.

    "The northern landscape in the Ice Age is dead, hostile towards life, then it slowly awakes for life: rich of water, dense wood cover, animal swarms, men. But it's always hostile towards life, due to severe winters, snow covering, masses of ice. Here, life only holds its own in the struggle against the landscape, sinking into hibernation, leafless trees, fur-bearing animals. Right from the beginning, the human soul holds its own against the soul of the landscape, [it is] harder, colder, wintrier than others in the South. The Greek soul thaws and melts away in the sun, the Indian dries up and stifles, that one easing off easily, this one evaporating in nothing. Because man is, whatever else he may be, heir of generations namely, after all a product and an expression of the landscape, giving himself to it, holding his own against it, because he lives on the soil which he will become again. Not only his body - the part of his nature that is mirrored to alien senses, seen, touched, smelt -, but also the soul - the way the nature of aliens is felt, experienced -, is very essentially a fruit of the country. Its [the soul's, T.)] destiny - dying in snow and ice, waking up in spring, lashed, flooded, devestated by rain and storm - is mirrored in the human being-so, that suffers from and holds its own against it. The severety of this destiny, being born here, has created the strength of the soul, and from this soul the soul forms of the single cultures with their peoples, states, religions and arts arose."

    I don't think I always found the best expressions and terms, but I hope, it'll do. The other one tomorrow, it's half past one in the night here... :sleep
    Man ſei Held oder Heiliger. In der Mitte liegt nicht die Weisheit, ſondern die Alltäglichkeit.

    SPENGLER

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    "About 2000 [B. C.]: With these origin peoples of the North, the heroic tribes, of an ethical heroism, emotion of distance, idea of personal bravery, loyality of following and brave courage, a new heyday in man's world takes place: In Egypt and Babylonia human greatness has been something with the dreadful gods and stars above and the earth beneath oneself. With the sons of the cold countries, with the hard ones, matured in privation and grown through renunciation, the ideal of an own creation arises: the state, the own people, the fatherland. That's not how Ramses and Hammurabi felt. The sunwarm souls of the South do not love what they did not learn to respect through privation. Love for the home country is the love for the barren home country. In China, India and at the Mediterraneis this love becomes creative: It is the country of choice, the new home country, on which the heart is setted on. No awe of the divine can change that there exists a deep respect for the own creation. One calls the god of the sky, but one means the god to whom one has devoted internally one's home country. The Homerian pride: One is related to gods, who one sees at the side of oneself."
    Man ſei Held oder Heiliger. In der Mitte liegt nicht die Weisheit, ſondern die Alltäglichkeit.

    SPENGLER

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    Indeed, the little I can read and understand in German makes much more sense and carries a lot of weight and meaning, with purposefulness, which perhaps a translation cannot effectively do.

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    Do you mean this only refering to my translation "skills" () or to Spengler works that are translated into English generally?
    Man ſei Held oder Heiliger. In der Mitte liegt nicht die Weisheit, ſondern die Alltäglichkeit.

    SPENGLER

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tryggviulf
    Do you mean this only refering to my translation "skills" () or to Spengler works that are translated into English generally?
    Latter one.

    German is not a language which gives in to word-play. If there is something really worthwhile and sincere only then can we express it in words, and it reaches the mind like a thunderbolt and has the impact.

    Not so with most other languages.

    But this is my own opinion.

    And Spengler brought into the pages of only two volumes that whole paradigm of history which carries more truth than the wasteful excesses of university-historians of our day.

    I hope to learn some reasonably good German so that I may read the original work, in its true spirit.

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    Spengler himself can be used for learning and improving German. His thoughts are extraordinary deep, rich, but he writes in quite an unusal clear, vivid and overwhelming, not unnecessarily complicated language - other as many university scholars who often have their scientific "jargon".

    Of course it affords a good and safe knowledge of German before venturing on Spengler.
    Man ſei Held oder Heiliger. In der Mitte liegt nicht die Weisheit, ſondern die Alltäglichkeit.

    SPENGLER

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