Flight from freedom: philosophic myth-making and the literary avant-gardism - Yuri Davydov

Yuri Davydov (1929–2007) was a philosopher, sociologist and literary critic, specialised in the history of social research on the Arts. The present book analyses the origins of literary avant-gardism, with special reference to the problems of personality during the crisis of bourgeois humanism.

English translation by Laura Beraha and Alex Miller (under the title: Myth, philosophy, avant-gardism). Raduga Publishers 1983. Бегство от свободы. Философское мифотворчество и литературный авангард. 1978. (taken from here)


A note from the author 5
Preliminary remarks 11

PART ONE: From 'The decline of the West' to 'The last utopia'

Introduction. An eyewitness account 27

Section one. Is man overcome? 38
Chapter one. Prospects and limits of the Faustian soul 38
1. The bourgeois individual and the bankruptcy of traditional ideals 38
2. Faustian man in 'The decline of the West 49
Chapter two. The death of god and the agony of man 63
1. The individual stripped of personality 63
2. The agony of man 75
3. Moral aestheticism and aestheticising moralism 85

Section two. Beyond despair 94
Chapter one. The bourgeois individual after the decline of the West 94
1. Between individuality and its negation 94
2. The fall of the individual and western culture 102
3. The suicide of art: A model for individual emulation 111
Chapter two. Breaking into the pre-individualist state 117
1. Covetous man (Left-wing Freudianism and the consumer society) 117
2. Marcuse on the left-wing Freudian myth of man 128
3. Fantasy turned against individuality 136
Conclusion 139

PART TWO: From the end of utopia to the beginning of anti-utopia

Section three. Revolt in the depths of despair 142
Chapter one. The revolt Aagainst the principium individuationis 142
1. Art as a means of expelling the personality from itself 142
2. Neo-Marxist nihilism and literary leftism 158
[Chapter two.]
3. The Frankfurt criticism of the conception of committed literature 173
4. The end of written literature? 183

Section four. The flight from freedom 199
Chapter one. Man enjoying the orocess of self-liquidation 202
1. Negation of the personality as a mystic cult 202
2. Neo-avant-gardism and LSD, the two latest drugs 213
Chapter two. Hedonism and cruelty 225
1. Non-restraint of urges 225
2. Politicisation of eroticism or ``sexualisation'' of politics? 230
3. The end of anti-utopia 237
4. The inner life and something about Goethe (contemporary moods in West Germany) 244
5. The shade of The Grand Inquisitor 262

Conclusion 268
1. The latest anti-humanism and the fate of the Renaissance-individualist conception of man 268
2. The adversary culture and the consumer society 276
Bibliography 288
Name index 293


A note from the author
Preliminary remarks
PART ONE: From 'The decline of the West' to 'The last utopia'
Introduction. An eyewitness account


It would seem appropriate, in this foreign edition, to add a few comments on the theoretical background–the ideational context, as it were–from which the present work emerged. It represents the crossing of the two basic themes I have been working on for the past fifteen years. The first involves the 'historical sociology' of art and literature, a framework I have used to investigate the 'history of social thought' on art and literature from Plato and Aristotle to the philosophers and sociologists of our own day in three separate books: Art as a Sociological Phenomenon: On the Aesthetic and Political Views of Plato and Aristotle (Moscow, 1968), Art and the Elite (Moscow, 1966) and finally, The October Revolution and the Arts: Tolstoy, Blok, Mayakovsky, Eisenstein (Moscow, 1967, English and 1970, Japanese translations).1 These studies attempted to understand art (literature) as a social organism or, in other words, a specific system of social relations, a specific system for the division of labour–as the product of certain social groups and the pleasure-object of others. Various concepts of art and literature formed by historians of philosophy and sociology, by critics of art and artists themselves, were considered as they reflected the social relations prevalent in the sphere of art, primarily those between the producers and the consumers of aesthetic issue.

Put in these terms, the question presents its own theoretical difficulties: how is the sociological analysis of literature and art (or the history of sociological thought on both) to avoid the pitfall once known in the Soviet Union as vulgar sociologism, the reducing of cultural phenomena to fit social structures, to the point where all distinguishing features are completely effaced and culture is ultimately 'stripped of meaning'. It was this predicament which inspired me to view the specific object of the sociology of art and literature as a subject matter of art, wherein art is taken to be a sociological phenomenon. My concept encompasses an entire complex of phenomena interconnected within the bounds of art and literature to ensure their existence as entities unique unto themselves, without however determining the aesthetic sense of either or violating the integrity of the creative act.

At the same time, I was made more and more aware of a trend diametrically opposed to my own efforts, that aggressive attempt, pursued to this day in West European philosophy and sociology, to reduce the meaningful (and meaning-determinant) in culture to the 'meaningless' and sordid. This, with its far-reaching consequences for West European culture as a whole, I sensed as a persistent 'nihilistic' drive.

Hence the second theme, which became all the more acute as I read about the Maoist cultural revolution in China on the one hand and the New Left movement in the West on the other; both revealed not only the theoretical but also the practical effects on living culture of nihilistic reductionism. The result was a second series of books: 'A Critique of the Socio-Philosophical Views of the Frankfurt School' (Moscow, 1977), 'The Aesthetics of Nihilism: Art and the New Left' (Moscow, 1975) and 'Neo-Marxism and Problems in the Sociology of Culture' (Moscow, 1980), which drew on the assistance of my students, as well as 'The Sociology of the Counter-Culture: Infantilism as a World-View and a Social Disease' (Moscow, 1980). Together these books represent an attempt to analyse a type of nihilistic consciousness observed in the culture of today's West, traced to its theoretical roots and socio-cultural premises and considered to pertain to art and literature, and to express certain concrete goals. The analysis in turn inspired an introduction to the philosophy (or, to be more precise, social philosophy) of contemporary Western literature as set against the struggle between nihilistic and antinihilistic trends which, in my opinion, defines the contemporary Western ideological scene.

The twentieth-century brand of nihilism I would ascribe to Nietzsche. The ``self-overcoming'' '(Selbst-Uberwindung)' he offered was actually one if not the most insidious of the forms of nihilistic personal and cultural disintegration. Nietzsche's self-overcoming is in fact achieved only through consistent, thoroughgoing liberation, not simply from traditional moral values or even morality as such, but from the very impulse behind these absolutes–'the ideal measure of human existence'–with the ideal itself exposed as a lie, as subterfuge, illusion and propaganda. This perspective identifies Nietzsche as twentieth-century nihilism's most immediate precursor and, what is more, a harbinger of vulgar sociologism at its most brutal and virulently iconoclastic, which re-confirms, or at least as far as I am concerned, the genetic bond between contemporary nihilism and the entire gamut of vulgar reductionism, from vulgar-sociological to Neo-Freudian, structuralist and that advocated by Foucault.

Thus, among the nihilistic currents presently affecting Western culture (particularly art and literature, my chief concern), I focus on those formed under the direct or indirect influence of Nietzschean nihilism. I examine, in this connection, the literary and artistic phenomena, as well as their general interpretation in theory, which emerged in the Philosophy of Life–a philosophic mood of the first quarter of our century, inaugurated by none other than Nietzsche. It was, incidentally, this very mood which prompted (and was closely affected by) Freudianism's propagation, not as a psychiatric trend (an aspect I do not presume to judge), but as a distinct philosophy of culture, of an art and literature obsessed with reducing the sublime to the petty and downright sordid. The Nietzschean-Freudian complex formed at the beginning of our century in the "social unconscious" of the West, its unconscious cultural stratum, gave rise to the existentialism of the 1940s and 1950s, the Neo-Marxism of the 1950s and 1960s, the counter-culture of the 1960s and first half of the 1970s, consecutively and, at times, concurrently of considerable impact on the literature of the West.

These philosophical, socio-philosophical, cultural-philosophical and literary-philosophical trends compete one with the other and yet move in the same basically nihilistic stream; they have occasionally advanced to the forefront of Western intellectual conscience to spark veritable epidemics, which by no means implies a total lack of resistance in that same West. Resistance there was, often within the nihilistic trends themselves, as an existentialist, for example, or a Neo-Marxist suddenly "saw the light" and the ultimate end of his half-digested Nietzschean or Freudian persuasions. Counter-trends outside the nihilistic mainstream (such as those associated with Guardini) are also considered, though not as a separate theme.

Much more attention is paid to the problem of selfovercoming in nihilism as a whole, to the potential and limits of contending forces generated from a common source both within and without the nihilistic ethos. Here too the Renaissance consciousness is discussed. Without undertaking an exhaustive inquiry, I note simply that nihilism strikes me as an extreme development of the Renaissance view of man and the world about him, following Nietzsche before me, who believed 'his' problem (that of the Superman) to be the very crux of the Renaissance. Nihilism does, in fact, take 'man's deification of man' to its logical extreme; man, according to Nietzsche, Camus and Sartre in his wake, Horkheimer, Adorno and finally the ideologues of the counter-culture, longs to be God and yet retain his humanness as a finite, mortal being.

This, however, makes the anti-nihilistic trend born of the Renaissance ethos and represented in this book by Marcel on the one hand, and Domenach on the other, inconsistent, fatally contradictory to its core and hence insoL vent. Both Marcel and Domenach (though the latter went much further, on a much deeper understanding, in his criticism of nihilism to link it with the many developments in Western culture, and of what could be said to constitute the "intellectual ethos" of our age)–both limit themselves in the final analysis to the model of man established by the Renaissance.

The human model, or the concept of man, is central to the theoretical structure of the present work. It is introduced on the premise that that which consciously or unconsciously attracts the artist or writer during the creative act, shapes the essence of that work. Equally important, for the philosopher of culture or the sociologist of literature, the art or literary critic, is the concept of man (fully assimilated or not, as the case may be). My analysis of trends in modern Western literature and art in general, of the philosophical-sociological thought on both, accordingly seeks the human model at their source. It focuses on the question of whether or not the nihilism observed in the trends themselves and their socio-philosophic interpretation alike is connected with the reductionist nature of the concept of man.

The nihilist reduction of man, should it triumph in art 'per se' or in its philosophic interpretation, drags his highest potential down to its mean (and where possible sordid) opposite, thereby depriving the individual of freedom, not in the sense of capricious choice, but the capacity to realise that which he considers highest within himself and higher than his own finite being, Nihilism I see as a flight from this very freedom* for all its advocates may proclaim themselves the champions of man.

My last comment concerns not so much content as form, which in this case should strike the reader immediately. The book abounds in references to rather notorious texts characteristic of nihilistic trends current in Western art, literature and their socio-philosophic interpretation between the late 1950s and 1970s. The passages cited can and often do speak for themselves, insofar as there is little to add by way of appraising the negative features under consideration. Naturally, I wished to present the material as fully as would permit the reader to form his own opinion. There was, however, a second, none too insignificant factor.

The troubles loosed by the energy and other crises have led, paradoxically as it may seem at first glance, to the decline in the West of the attitudes expressed in the unabashed nihilism now being replaced, as so many times before in the West European consciousness, by a more covert rejection of culture. This in turn has prompted some to pronounce nihilism dead and others to doubt it ever existed, dismissing the phenomenon as a mere gibe at the powers-that-be from a starry-eyed youth blessed by equally starry-eyed fathers in the faith. There is, moreover, a new generation of Western readers inclined to accept this view for not having experienced the 1960s and their testimony to the deep-lying links between philosophic and literaryartistic nihilism on the one hand and its political, practical offshoots on the other. The younger reader, then, should find the somewhat didactic tone of this book useful; points which might appear self-evident to those schooled in the 1960s (to the extent each has managed to forget his own dramatic initiation) are demonstrated over and again. Much of the evidence I adduce is now being consigned to oblivion in the West, or so it seems; most advanced in the effort are, typically enough, those who were once the most indebted to the cause–yesterday's nihilists themselves.

Consideration for the reader, and the intellectual ambience this book emerged from, account for several omissions in the text. Were I to write it now, I would deal much more closely with the nihilist trend in ethics from Nietzsche, via Heidegger, to Sartre and Camus.

Preliminary remarks

Not many eyebrows are raised today when told of the intellectualisation of twentieth-century Western literature, of its intimate and at times far-ranging ties with philosophy (followed by theoretical psychology, culturology, sociology and so on). It has long been standard practice to complain that a significant if not overwhelming amount of serious literature (with pulp production at its heels) cannot possibly be deciphered without the key to its secret code, to the metaphysical or ``depth-psychological'' sense between the lines. As it now stands, no critic or student of literature will risk analysing a new work, however trivial, unless persuaded (summarily or otherwise) he has stumbled on some underlying philosopheme. And if, beyond all expectation, he should take that risk anyway, his analysis would be inevitably discredited as utterly naive or wholly incompetent. Nor will many writers today venture down the perilous path of creative endeavour without first latching on to some chic philosophical authority for unassailable protection.

Fashion and its inescapable dictates aside, though, we cannot deny that a serious and well-argued study of Joyce would seem to be unthinkable without reference to the "depth psychology" of Freud and Jung, Nietzschean influence in the case of Hemingway and Camus, the Philosophy of Life in that of D. H. Lawrence and Faulkner or, finally, when considering Marcel, Sartre or Simone de Beauvoir, to their fundamental bonds with existentialists Jaspers and Heidegger and phenomcnologist Husserl. The point is particularly well taken with Thomas Mann, father of the so-called "intellectual novel" of the twentieth century: virtually every one of his works translates into the language of images, that interpersonal sphere of multifold collision which set the intellectual climate in Europe between the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries.

Thomas Mann was also one of the first to detect this convergence of fiction and philosophy, as well as its bivalent nature, the impulses flowing from one pole to the other and back again. "For most," he maintained, '"belles lettres' in the narrow sense clearly takes second place to critical philosophical literature, that of the intellectual essay. More precisely, the blending of the critical and poetical spheres begun by our Romantics and vigorously stimulated by the philosophic lyric of Nietzsche is now complete; this process blurs the distinction between science and art, pours a living, pulsing blood into abstract thought and spirit into form and creates that type of novel which, unless I am mistaken, is now supreme and may be called `intellectual'. It includes such works as Count Hermann Keyserling's 'Reisetagebuch eines Philosophen' [A Philosopher's Travelogue], Ernst Bertram's superb 'Nietzsche' and the monumental 'Goethe' by Friedrich Gundolf, prophet of Stefan George. Here too, by virtue of its literary polish and the intuitively rhapsodic art of its description of culture, we may certainly list Spengler's 'Untergang [des Abendlandes]' [Decline of the West].2

The trend Mann identified as early as the 1920s stood witness to the fundamental processes then affecting Western culture and was therefore soon to flower. This was the process, highly advanced under capitalism, by which the ``spontaneous'' (Marx's term) relations between men and of man to nature are made artificial, dependent on the commodity-money system and the entire complex known among sociologists as the "bourgeois rationalisation" of the world. It was best described in the 'Communist Manifesto', which had a profound impact on cultural, let alone proletarian and revolutionary, awareness in the West.

``The bourgeoisie," say Marx and Engels, "wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his 'natural superiors', and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous 'cash payment'. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentinientalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom–Free Trade...

``The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage-labourers.'' 3

Marx expands this thought in another context: " Capital-based production . . . creates a system for the universal exploitation of natural and human qualities; even science, like all physical and spiritual human traits, is a mere vehicle in this system of universal utility; there is nothing beyond this sphere of social production and exchange which would act as an 'entity superior in itself', justified in and of itself.'' 4

He is referring to the process spreading ever deeper roots over an ever expanding front, the so-called ' Entzauberung' (Max Weber) and demythologising of reality itself, of the relations, that is, between men and of man to nature (including his own inner and outer worlds). Naturally, inevitably, the consequences reach far into social consciousness as well, to affect culture and particularly art and literature. Here the demythologising has been so radical as to demystify the very fabric of cognition by which the world is theoretically and practically (in the artist's sense) absorbed. A mighty and, under the pre-bourgeois mode associated by Marx with ``spontaneous'', ``traditional''5 interpersonal relations, impregnable foundation, the mythological consciousness of tradition was chipped stone by stone out from under literature and art.

The erosion and ultimate destruction of traditional mythological structures under the bourgeois rationalisation of the world and its interpersonal relations was a long, hard and far from straightforward process. The results in several instances proved diametrically opposed, at first glance, to those anticipated, among them a heightened interest on the part of artists and their public alike to mythology, its themes and apperceptive devices. A second, closer look, however, cannot fail to expose in this attitude to the traditional mythological forms of consciousness the predetermination and purpose, the rationality and formalising reflection which reduced its return to myth to a mere variant in the 'Entzauberung' and demythologisation of human consciousness. That the attitude ever arose was nonetheless symptomatic of the deep-rooted ties between the artistic and the mythological consciousness. It is as art grows more and more demythologised that myth–"not only the arsenal but the very ground of art'',6 to quote Marx's shrewd comment on the Greek legacy–acquires a third and indeed determinative function. The traditional mythological consciousness established a stable system of moral and, more generally, value coordinates which ensured mutual understanding between the artist and his public or art and society and which moreover lent the product of the artist's fantasy its first aesthetic weight, if not simply to say weight alone.

These value coordinates may to a certain extent be compared with the spatio-temporal scale (cf. Kant's 'a priori' sensualities), without which no object is conceivable '(Vorstellung' literalised into 'Vor-stellung)' as impinging on the individual consciousness. It is equally impossible, outside the moral and aesthetic coordinates which program the distinctions between good and evil, fine and unsightly or simply left and right in any given socio-culture,–impossible, I say, to perceive any work of art as an aesthetic or even meaningful object. In pre-bourgeois societies (termed ``traditional'' by Marx) value coordinates were prescribed by the myth with which the individual absorbed from childhood a more or less integral reference complex (absolutes) to view the whole of his environment, the world of interpersonal relations and meaningful objects, as an ordered cosmos of set and hence single-valued placings. To the art developed within this traditional mythological system, capitalism's on-going modernisation and demythologisation of the sociocultural world must have been particularly catastrophic. As this all-embracing process advanced to provoke in turn art and literature's ever more frequent and extensive retreat to their mythological roots, it became increasingly obvious that artistic consciousness (our sole concern at the moment) could 'neither' expand without the value coordinates once inseparably wed to traditional mythological constructs, 'nor' maintain anything of sort, given the universal demystification of myth. Hence art's gravitation towards philosophy or rather, those of the newer philosophical trends which promised to resurrect, discover or if nothing else, re-create myth.

It must, however, be stressed that not all art or literature faced with a crumbling mythological ethos ( including that recognised by historians of religion as the Christian brand) has rushed with cap in hand to philosophy for a new myth to light creative endeavour. In the first place, not all artists and writers have assumed, in my terminology, their value coordinates to be based exclusively on myth or, in other words, inextricably bound to this particular mode of apprehension. Secondly, of those convinced value coordinates are in fact unthinkable without some structural analogue to the mythological consciousness type, not all have linked the new mythology to come with the latest in philosophical development.

There were, on the whole, three alternatives, of which only the last gave rise to philosophic myth and the intellectual novel:

1. To continue to hope that the rationalisation and modernisation of the system of relations between men and of man to the external world would stop short of interpersonal communication at its most elemental, ``cellular'' level, that associated with the nature of social existence and basic to what Marx called "the simple laws of morals"7; to hope, in the event art does penetrate to this level, it will be able to rely on the value coordinates related to these same simple laws, of equal significance to the pre- and post-bourgeois eras alike and posited on the mythological as well as the disjunct, articulated structures of social consciousness which followed; to hope that in relying on the simple laws of morals as on the first precepts which promote within a coordinate system the primary distinction between good and evil or simply good and had in their broadest (aesthetic as well as ethic) sense, the writer and the artist will always find an audience, whatever the difficulties in the world of bourgeois rationalisation or modernisation.

2. To hope the "lance that wounds may also heal", that the very principle of rationalisation and modernisation might generate new value coordinates to guide human conduct, artistic creation and aesthetic perception; to hope in the words of the author of this theory, that "an inexhaustible source of new poetic grandeur" would emerge from the "positive conception of man as supreme master in a kingdom of nature he may constantly readjust to his own advantage according to a wise resolve entirely free of idle scruple, oppressive fear and disregarding all general limits except those imposed by the set of positive laws revealed to active reason"8; that the "necessary advance of universal reorganisation [i.e. rationalisation and modernisation] would spontaneously offer modern art both inexhaustible replenishment in the general spectacle of human wonders and an important social aim in improving our appreciation of the new society"9; that "the basic obligation imposed of necessity on modern art, science and industrial production, that of subordinating all conceptions to the set of real laws, should in no way arrogate its precious fund of fantasy, but merely channel this powerful logical device into a new direction consistent with that received from the two other universal aspects mentioned above".10

3. Finally, rejecting all these hopes and expectations, to turn with a will to those of philosophy's more recent experiments which claimed to have evolved a new, no longer ``naturally-formed'' but rather artificial myth of man, his destiny and place in the cosmos, together with a value coordinate system re-appraised accordingly. The prospect, for many Western writers and artists, was made especially attractive by its proponents pointing to its two-fold movement of literature and art towards philosophy and vice versa. Artistic creation, in this context, was considered closely akin to mythopoesis, requiring only philosophy's modest assistance in deciphering the new, art-generated myth. Philosophic and artistic creation, in other words, were seen to converge, potentially at least, with the latter taken as a model of the true apprehension and authentic image of a reality glimpsed through the magic crystal of its mythic transformation. Yet the artist was presumed ignorant of the actual content of his vision and work, and the content itself inaccessible to common intelligence unless ``translated'' by the philosopher, called upon to tell the world which myth any given creative act has produced. Or, to put it another way, the cult of Art and the Artist thus engendered with some claim to replacing its religious precursor made of the artist a latter-day Christ and the philosopher, an apostle no worse and perhaps better informed of the latter's own ``passion'', to take on an additional role very much like that of the interpreter-priest to a soothsaying pythoness.

Obviously, of these three alternative answers to the riddle posed Western art by the Sphinx of galloping bourgeois rationalisation and modernisation, only the last bears directly upon the merger of art and philosophy best illustrated in the intellectual novel (drama, lyric, etc.). The first was manifest in the realistic art of the West evolved (and evolving still) in a direction very similar to that taken by the great Russian writers Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. The second, positivist alternative worked through ever-popular science-fiction on the one hand, and on the other, the science-oriented trends of thought to offer, in their specific mode of apprehending reality, a genuine model of artistic creation (a view supported by Emile Zola and, in the avantgarde of this century, considered attractive, primarily from the theoretical standpoint, by the Futurists).

To be sure, these alternatives are purely theoretical distinctions, ideal types, as it were, existing only as greater or lesser deviations from their own norms or, in the multicoloured tapestry of literary and artistic processes, as only the broadest of trends. All three can easily intersect in one and the same seeker, whose creative evolution thus endorses their various responses to the challenge of formal rationality. Insofar, however, as each displays its own structural unity and logic of development, they cannot, in principle, combine in a single creative act unless, of course, simple eclecticism is to be recognised as artistically valid. The ideal types are therefore perfectly capable of distinguishing among contradictory yet logically self-contained creative potentials, both where they should happen to intersect in the creative evolution of a single artist and where consistently, separately observed in a variety of artistic trends. West European writers choosing the third, philosophicmythical alternative expressed, on the one hand, utter despair in the first, which turned to the bedrock structures of rudimentary interpersonal relations and their attendant value coordinates, and on the other, a decided rejection of the bourgeois rationalisation and modernisation, which, they' were convinced, destroyed both elemental structures and their value systems. It was no accident that the philosophic-mythical alternative was first chosen where the bourgeois demystification of all human bonds was particularly advanced and the traditional value system apparently eradicated so that myth-making could be seen as wholesale moral reassessment. Western writers and artists were drawn to the philosophic-mythical alternative for having sensed the dead-end bourgeois rationality had driven their culture into, as well as a mounting thirst to breakthrough into a new cultural dimension founded on the new myth.

Paradoxically enough, the intellectual art born of the convergence of the artistic and philosophic modes of apprehension (in the perceptive and creative senses) rests on the gravitating towards the non- and the anti-intellectual which enabled it to withstand the bourgeois rationalisation of the world, interpersonal relations and consciousness. It was only natural, in this light, that Thomas Mann, patriarch of intellectual Romanticism in the twentieth century, should have turned to the German Romantics in tracing its historical and cultural roots: the Romantics were indeed the first, in the culture of the new age, to see philosophy as a basic tool in the seeking and making of a myth lent objectively, commonly accessible form by art and literature. Those of their novels built on the presumption stand as prototypes to modern intellectual prose, where the key to comprehension is knowing the author's philosophic myth of the moment.

Even the German Romantics, anything but averse, in the main, to philosophy, embodied the ambivalence of artistic and metaphysical impulses noted by Mann in the intellectual novel of our century; even then, art strained towards metaphysics, and metaphysics towards art. The next, and in many respects critical step was taken by Nietzsche, termed in the above-mentioned essay by Mann a philosophic lyricist. He adopted the philosophy of Schopenhauer (via Wagner) to rediscover and reinterpret Greek myth in accordance with the European mood of the second half of the nineteenth century. This indeed imparted to his own, violently anti-rationalistic speculation a note of rhapsody and poetry, the attempt to create in the true spirit, from the very heart and, in a certain sense, in collaboration with ancient myth. Judging by the unfinished and posthumously published 'Urfragen', Spengler too conceived of his own work as art in the true spirit of myth, if not myth-making.

Nietzsche on the spirit and significance of Nietzsche notwithstanding, his contribution to bourgeois Western culture had little to do with unearthing the essence of ancient myth. He who traced the birth of tragedy to the spirit of Music was to influence Western art primarily through a new concept of man drawn from his (idiosyncratic) reading of Schopenhauer; to it he owed the new vision of myth he then adapted, circling back to his source, in support and substantiation. Contrary to Nietzsche again, philosophy (one's concept of man) neither follows nor proceeds from but rather anticipates myth, though it did in this case promote a reinterpretation of the myth closest in spirit, promptly enlisted to reinforce its own underpinnings! Content in the Nietzschean myth, in other words, was no longer ``naturally-formed'' but artificial, mediated through philosophic reflection, whatever its self-perception, and thus no different in this aspect from any other product of all-encompassing bourgeois rationalisation–though more of a negative than positive product at that.

Several questions crucial to the following chapters may now be set forth: why is art traditionally attracted to myth? where does the concept of man fit in the philosophic edifice? which of its variants best fulfils the inner needs of art? what changes were introduced by the art-philosophy convergence?

The first question was answered above: the 'mythologems' derived by the art of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from various philosophical constructs (of a predominantly Nietzschean-poetic cast) reveal that art required above all else a specific concept of man duly sought in myth then, as in the demythologising age (affecting last of all the Christian myth as well), when it turned to philosophies of a more or less openly myth-making bent.

No single work of art–and this includes the multivolume novel–can present a whole concept of man; it, and the reader or viewer, is limited to a fragmentary glimpse. Were it even theoretically possible, there is no guaranteeing the public's proper comprehension; quite the contrary: the more original the concept of man set forth by the writer or artist, the less chance he has of being either understood or even faithfully read.

Hence the paradox: if the writer wishes first to produce and then to make contact with his public, he must base his work on a concept of man pre-established in some other context. It is in seeking to resolve this paradox, then, that literature approaches the philosophy which offers a concept of man expounded in the mythologising terms most intelligible to writer and to his public as well. This, not some primordial attachment to the irrational, is what drives the art faced with a "dead God" (or wholesale demythologisation of the mythic consciousness of tradition) to the West's mythologising schools, if not the mythologising brand of philosophy in general.

When still alive (or at least accepted by the majority of the public to whonv art and literature were addressed), when still imparting to the individual, in its myriad ways, a well-defined concept of man oriented on a single, integral centre, 11 myth considerably lightened the artist's load. The artist could bury himself, so to speak, in pure technique to embody in stone, metal, word or sound a fragmentary image borrowed from the mythological whole, from myth as the universal work of art. He was well aware of the place his particular fragment occupied in art's macrocosmos of myth and fairly well convinced (or well enough to dispense with any special speculative effort of his own) that his client, the public at large, shared precisely his point of view. His sole concern was to do his job well, faithfully reproduce the image (or fragmentary system of images) of the myth lodged in his imagination, and leave all else to that same living entity, to the mythologising ethos of his people and the sudden light it shed to make his fragment a whole complete in and sufficient unto itself.

Far more complex was the task of the artist working in the twilight of the gods heralded by Wagner. Picture a sculpture (termed fragment above) of antiquity torn from its niche of ancient myth (or rather today's `memory' of the same) and set, naked and dead, against an empty museum wall; dismiss all associations lingering in the modern consciousness and what is the–hypothetical, mind you–result? Detached from its immanent, intimate relation with the living whole of Greek myth, this professionally chiselled piece of marble will evoke no profound emotion apart from those stimulated by reference to other studies in the nude. It will simply remain a fragment hinting at some unknown whole, this, art's most popular, most generally accessible subject, beauty incarnated in the human form. What, then, is to become of twentieth-century art, Avith its far more esoteric themes?

The cultural function assigned philosophic concepts of man, their substituting for traditional mythology and religion, suggests something more than a purely philosophic nature. They are to come of the vital but not quite legal marriage of art and philosophy, be born of philosophy and raised by art, which retains all rights of parenthood. To inherit, from philosophy, its eternal passion for the "accursed questions" (Spengler's 'Urfragen' or primary questions), and from art, the urge to translate them, without delay, into the language of life as it is lived, with all its mundane conflict and drama. In this dichotomy lies the power and allure of the concept of man which has more to say to those innocent of metaphysical nuance, far more than speculation on other, more abstract themes. The ambiguity–inevitable when the language of philosophy, with its strict monosemantics, blends into the metaphorical polysemantics of art and all its modulations–contains as well the hazardous philosophic mythologem. As rich in meaning as myth, the mythologem nonetheless forfeits all claim to universal significance, due to the abundance of competition, especially in today's Western consciousness. It can play an equally ambivalent role in art, as indispensable, in the face of rampant demythologisation–that of anchor of salvation or a phantom, lethal illusion.

Once appreciated as vitally important to literature and art, the mythologems engendered by philosophic interpretation of the cursed questions of human existence cannot help but produce writers and artists of a philosophic bent (semi-, non- or completely professional, as the case may be); ultimately, the philosopher-novelist, or novelist-philosopher typifies literary and artistic life in the West (cf. Sartre and Iris Murdoch). The superficiality which dogged non-metaphysical art and literature in the reign of positivism and scientism had, by the middle of the twentieth century, yielded all too clearly to philosophism, which threatened to swallow the creative element entirely, to turn works of art into philosophic puzzles for the critic to unravel, armed with the collected works of Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger and Jung.

Thomas Mann, in the essay on Spengler cited above, registered a process of immense prospect and equally immense hidden dimensions, which lent it particular weight, if not symbolic significance in Western culture of the twentieth century. A fundamentally dual process, as noted above, it includes to this very day the proliferation, on the one hand, of the philosophic novel, tale and drama (cf. Mann's 'Doctor Faustus, Joseph and His Brothers, Lotte in Weimar' and others, Camus and Simone de Beauvoir in prose, Marcel and Sartre in drama, lonesco and Beckett in the dramatic allegory, and so on), and on the other, of philosophic studies in the intellectual-novel key ( Horkheimer and Adorno's 'Dialektik der Aufklarung', Adorno's ' Philosophic der nenen Musik', Fromm's 'Escape from Freedom' and other works, Marcuse's 'Eros and Civilisation' and ' OneDimensional Man', Reisman's 'The Lonely Crowd', Reich's 'The Greening of America', Brown's 'Life Against Death' and finally Roszack's 'The Making of a Counter-Culture)'.

Over a century's experience in the development of Western intellectual letters would indicate that the inevitable marriage of philosophy and art was of less than equal benefit to both parties. Specifically, philosophy would seem to have got "the short end of the stick". Having lost its traditional turn for strict definition in adopting arts as the higher mode of apprehension, having absorbed the irony and playfulness of art, philosophy nonetheless retains all pretensions to full, contemplative weight, to the status of ersatz religion for a sceptic public no longer willing to accept the religious concept of man; ironically aware of its own optional nature, it offers itself as a substitute for the faith which knows no doubt. Hostile in its radical and extremist offshoots to the Protestant spirit of seriousness, it nonetheless presents itself as a platform of revolutionary, if not to say immediate or non-reflective transformation.

Does this not account for the precedence assumed, among the philosophic concepts of man dominant in Spengler's day and resurrected in the 1950s and 1960s, by the historicist, vulgar-sociologistic and Feudian postulates? It was Freudian psycho-analysis, moreover, which supplied the psychological devices used to this day by the Western scepticism defined in 'The Decline of the West'. The aesthetisation and the relativisation of philosophy, its sceptical fascination with the relativity of all human values and ideals, have proven to be parallel developments or, more to the point, alternative aspects of one and the same process: the rapprochement and ultimate fusion of the philosophic and artistic perspectives on man and his world at a time when, to quote Marx, nothing is recognised as '"superior in itself', justified in and of itself".12 For this reason, the mythologems generated by various philosophic trends to bear upon man and the meaning of his existence are 'ab incipio' stamped by scepticism and relativism. Thus, more or less set definitions of man, his vocation, his relation to- good and evil, are replaced by a play-construct prolonging the glass-bead game 'ad infinitum' to pick, through all the various historically existent (ai?'l historically exhausted) explanations.

Art, in turn, looks to the mythologems of philosophy for more or less concrete pronouncements on human nature and is cruelly, irrevocably disappointed, doomed to pursue its ironic, playful bent to an unhindered end. Absolute values are no longer maintained; instead, the very concept is endlessly and exhaustively discussed. The writer refuses to uphold any categorical or even decisive commitment, hedging or ironically distancing his every thesis–given the opportunity to distribute his innumerable vacillations between ``yes'' and ``no'', or the various characters of the novel, tale or drama thereby lent a special metaphysical depth (cf. Murdoch's 'The Black Prince)'.

For the culture which lost faith in itself (to the extent its absolutes and truths no longer seem either absolute or true), which forgot that its sense derives from reality, from something higher and more meaningful than itself, the new leftist movement of the 1960s was an act of retribution, much like the many anti-culture waves (such as Fascism) visited upon this twentieth century of ours. Based, as all revenge, on a real offense and implemented by a specific, identifiable entity, the anti-culture wave of the 1960s was both inevitable (its grounds and justification) and glaringly unjust: it did not attack the real flaws of Western culture but culture in general, the very principle of spiritual '(geistige)' endeavour. Notably, in this context, the pogrom the New Leftists unleashed on the culture of the elite on slogans borrowed from the mass culture of the bourgeoisie (based on a simultaneous envy and hatred for all things select) proved in the long run to be a more extension of the bourgeois rationalisation of consciousness whose ultimate goal is to manufacture (!), on scientific, technological and mass lines, an entire cultural outlook.

Curiously enough, this class war on culture (as the New Left saw their nihilistic assault on what they called the bourgeoisie's last stronghold) was mounted by vulgar sociologism working hand in glove with structuralism. The alliance, founded on an unbridled reductionism, spawned a notion popular at the turn of the 1960s that the novel–the genre as a whole, and not just the intellectual variant (hopelessly entangled, by that point, in the convolutions of the glass-bead game)–was dead. And the slogan, "Down with the Novel", which so shocked the reading public, was but the herald of greater shocks in store. It was all too soon replaced by the still more radical, more brutal "Down with Literature" as bourgeois to its very core (as related, that is, to idealistic vs. material production). Before the unfortunate reading man could adjust to a concept which released him from all obligation to open any book whatsoever (lest he remodel himself in the bourgeois spirit) but left him. the right to 'hear' any text broadcast through the mass communication channels of radio and television–before he could adjust, there came the final blow. The structuralists of the Tel Quel group came to the ``scientific'' conclusion that words themselves were ideologically loaded and hence bourgeois. In the interests of the cultural revolution, the word was ordered to acquire substance, preferably stoney, for hurling at the class enemy. Enticing, to say the least.

The greatest paradox, however, is that this rather primitive (and less than morally attractive) flirting with the destruction of the novel, of literature in general and ultimately of the word as the vehicle of cultural content, should have rested on a specific concept of man–that ever-present factor. While the concept in turn took as its fundamental postulate the reification '(Verdinglichung)' of man, his conversion into a thing among others no less thingish, whereby all definitions of sense or spirit are reduced to a corrosive mould (facilitating the natural "man-thing`s'' transformation into the consummate bourgeois idealist-individualist bound by all manner of ideological taboo). Hence the inevitable thoroughly ``revolutionary'' idea that man was doomed to dissolve into the faceless mass, lose all individual (read "individualistic, bourgeois") features and discard at last all that stood between him and that most magnificent of all things, the machine.

Nevertheless, this deplorable if enlightening upshot of twentienth-century mythopoesis exposed its most sacred secret: its scepticism and relativism was based on identifying philosophic myth and practical activity, the human and the objective sense of reality, one's perspective on and the substance behind man's relation to nature and to his fellow man. It is this primary identification of being and consciousness which drives Western philosophers and artists working in the intellectual stream to the sin, either of pride–in ascribing to myth absolute power over reality–or, alternatively, of despair–upon watching their mythological constructs, universally recognised only just yesterday, fold like so many houses of cards, never to be recalled. Having failed in their failing attempt to pluck God by the beard, they immediately conclude he is dead, which is to say, deny the existence of objective reality for some sort of projection on the public consciousness of subjective, mutually exclusive myths.

As philosophical myths arise and are one after the other cast down or feverishly varied to reveal a derivative nature, the opposite effect is achieved: objective reality is shown to exist in the laws governing nature and society, as a ``resilience'' sensed day in, day out and willy-nilly coped with. Grim reality dictates the forms and modes of practical consciousness and conduct, and thwarts all would-be transgressors or subjective ``exorcists'' of societal life in the spirit of philosophic mythology. The historical process of establishing social mores, which overrides any and all mythologems in its path, appeals, not to the mythologising view (destined, according to Nietzsche, to yield to the realisation that "there is no truth") but rather to the true perception of the world. Its perception, in other words, as objective reality, as opposed to myth or spirit, as the necessary product of the past as given, the present as moulded and the future as neither manufactured myth nor ideal but rather the objective outgrowth of human effort, which expands its historical horizons in concrete activity to generate a wealth of truth-bearing and morasse of false-breeding ideal reflections in the mind of man.

PART ONE: From 'The decline of the West' to 'The last utopia'


In the late 1950s and early 1960s, at the dawn of the New Left movement, the death of man was widely debated in the West, quite the rage in intellectual circles and the subject of a curious rivalry in the development of a startling idea.

Jean-Marie Domenach, a leading figure in contemporary bourgeois personalism, notes among its first participants in the arts such prominent avant-gardists as Beckett, lonesco and Robbe-Grillet; they not only stood witness to the annihilation of man and the entire human principle but sought to affirm it as the starting point in a creative quest and so became its willing or unwilling apologists.13

In philosophy, says Domenach, focusing chiefly on the French schools, the "death of man" concept, with its all too obvious leanings towards the provocative slogan, was supported by: Levi-Strauss and the "ethnological savage" he adapted to deny humanism and its ideals; Foucault, whose 'Les Mots et les choses' (1966) eliminated the human principle as ruthlessly as 'Histoire de la folie' had the distinction between reason and insanity; Althusser, who claimed Marxist thought amounted to "theoretical antihumanism"; and the neo-Freudian Jean Lacan.

In the political sphere, Domenach continues, the death of man becomes the individual's ecstatic dissolution in the act of Mutiny as represented by the Gauchist students later to spawn left extremism 'a la anarchiste, maoiste' and 'neotrotskiste'. The common denominator divvying all these movements into the clear coinage of mass consciousness Domenach identifies as "the barbarism of the counter-culture", today's version, in the West, of the youth sub-culture (that subdivision of the mass culture founded on the idols of the young).

All these figures, representing, over the past fifteen to twenty years, the entire gamut of French if not to say Western culture as a whole, are seen by Domenach as intimately connected, testimony to the anything but fortuitous nature of what he terms a veritable ``epidemic''. lonesco and Beckett, those absurdists in theory as well as practice, who cannot be said with any certainty either to bemoan the "degree zero" of humanity they themselves proclaimed, to arouse their contemporaries to withstand its dehumanising trend or, instead, accept it as the sole possible and hence unassailable verdict of history, are deemed the forefathers of modern anti-humanism.14

The New Wave of anti-humanism, Domenach maintains, was directly heralded by a writer for whom the death of man was neither one of several alternatives nor something to be mourned as before but simply stated as a fact destined to launch all further cultural development–by the famous French neo-avant-gardist, Alain Robbe-Grillet. His criticism, in 1958, of the humanistic survivals in French existentialism is considered significant, if somewhat in the infamous spirit of Herostratus.

Beckett, lonesco and Robbe-Grillet are then regarded as the practical forerunners, in art, of Levi-Strauss, Foucault and Lacan in the theoretical sphere of philosophy. France's leading personalist stresses that the 'nouveau roman' in which Robbe-Grillet and his school eliminated not only the individual, but time and history altogether, may well be considered the prototype, long anticipated in literature, of the then-emergent structuralism.

Christian humanism's most prominent exponent sees all these philosophers as participating in the concerted attack on humanism mounted, in French and other cultures over the past fifteen years, under the ``death-of-man'' banner. Well remembering the nightmare of Fascist barbarism, Domenach rightly calls the slogan provocative. He is particularly alarmed that the harbingers of anti-humanism should have been culture's most refined spokesmen thus converted to its fiercest opponents, that the about-face, moreover, should have met with such widespread enthusiasm in intellectual and academic circles. The convoluted argument presented by the structuralists and neo-Freudists to defend the death-of-man concept lent a pseudo-scientific form to the anti-culture revival; the younger generation took it as theoretical grounds for a revolt against culture 'per se', a nobly justified revolt linking its under-educated participants to the intellectual elite. In short, anti-humanists and anticulturalists are seen to form, in theory and practice alike, a fairly broad front, ensuring the support of the still broader bourgeois intelligentsia.

This would seem to indicate the importance, the immediate need for a critical analysis of the philosophical, literary, aesthetic and sociological questions currently raised in the West on the death-of-man issue. The problem is clearly more than academic, for how the West has judged the human predicament has all too often prompted conduct in kind: preaching the death of man is one short, unavoidable step to attempting, at least, to practise it. It becomes painfully evident that thought is much closer to action than was once supposed. Thought has become, in this day and age, legally accountable–that is our basic premise in studying, below, the supersedence of man, as a symptom and, moreover, catalyst of the crises now affecting bourgeois culture.

We shall therefore focus not only on the pessimistic prognoses for the individual identity so prevalent these days in the West, but as well on the place of each in a specific concept of man.

This is not the first time the "death of man" has dominated bourgeois thinking. The 1960s Domenach finds so stunning were simply more determined to match theory to practice, to make the idea central not only to philosophy and the arts, but political action as well, in the case of the extremists on the New Left. The West has been debating the "death of man" ever since Nietzsche called for his ' Uberwindung' in priming the soil for 'Ubermensch' to come.15 Books on philosophy, journals on literature and the arts will not, in the capitalist West, drop the subject, which occasionally spills over into newsprint, onto the stage and even screen.

All is symptomatic here: from where and through whose offices the notion arose to where it spread and is topical still. Indeed, the sudden obsession that one has lost all human features and might do well to take active part in iinishing them off altogether, speaks ill of the person obsessed. That many of those supposed to promote Nekrasov's "the good, the wise and the eternal" should come to see themselves as humanly obsolete and harp on the fact for a hundred years, would point to trouble, not just with the individual, but with his society and culture as a whole. Obviously, the crisis strikes at the very root (the human element) of society, signalled (and triggered!) by a diseased social ethos.

No wonder, then, but significantly if not ominously, the first thinker to insist, in the West, that man in his present cultural, anthropological type must be superseded, soon slipped, literally, into the dark night of unreason.

Western culture was therefore fated, as free-market capitalism shifted into state-monopoly capitalism, to see the notion which signalled and catalysed the fall of consciousness in the author of 'Zarathustra' capture its most prominent minds and, ultimately (in the 1950s), obsess an entire generation of artists and thinkers.

To be sure, not all who ponder the end of Western man reach Nietzsche's categorical conclusion that '"der Mensch ist Etwas, das überwunden werden muss' [man is something to be surmounted]".16 Not all have chosen to follow the lead of a thinker euphoric in the loss of his reason and identity to call upon man to "sacrifice himself to the earth so that it may one day bear the Superman".17 Not all have found the ecstasy-minded philosopher's courage to exhort the individual to perish in sacrifice, as he longs for death, as, moreover, the death wish is his highest virtue.18 For not all thinkers to have convinced themselves, in the age of slate-monopoly capitalism, of the death of man were able to view the prospect with any degree of rapture. Some were desperate, others–sceptically resigned, still others–- adamantly opposed. Despite this variety of response, West European artists and philosophers were, in the main, inclined to accept its grim necessity in ever-increasing numbers.

The cultural and historical significance of this mood found striking expression in the post-revolutionary work of Alexander Blok. He reduced its despairing, ecstatic and hostile outcries to their common denominator, glimpsed in the ``crisis'', if not collapse of humanism, as the individualistic (i.e. bourgeois) culture and outlook.

``By 'humanism"' he wrote, "we commonly mean that powerful movement which swept through Italy and then all of Europe at the close of the Middle Ages under the banner of 'man' or the untrammeled individual. Thus, the basic, the primary mark of humanism is 'individualism.''19 "The movement sprung from and aimed at the individual was able to expand as long as the individual was the prime mover of European culture. We know the first humanists, the fathers of independent science, secular philosophy, literature, art and education to have felt unabashed contempt for the coarse and ignorant rabble. Blameworthy from the Christian standpoint, they were nonetheless true to the spirit of music since the masses were not, at the time, a moving force in culture, nor was their voice, in the chorus of world history, dominant. Yet when a new force–that of the mass, not the individual–emerged in the theatre of European history, humanism quite naturally came to a crisis.''20

The situation, which by the turn of the century West European cultural and philosophical thought had only begun to appreciate (in varying degrees), was for the Marxist neither desperate nor unexpected. The issues evoked by Blok's pregnant, foreboding "collapse of humanism" were never so morbidly or belligerently flogged in Marxism as was typically the case in the cultural philosophy of West. Marx and Engels never failed to stress either the antagonism embedded in the very principles of Renaissance humanism or the dramatic conflicts it was bound to (and did) produce when effected in the capitalist context. That the Renaissance was a most complex phenomenon is evident in simply listing the historical figures it, and its humanistic offshoot, is associated with in the European consciousness, to wit; Dante and Machiavelli, Petrarch and Clement VI, Boccaccio and Piccolomini, Titian and Cesare Borgia, Botticelli and Lorenzo Medici (the Magnificent), Melanchthon and Ulrich von Hutten, Erasmus and Luther, Raphael and Benvenuto Cellini, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Savonarola and Thomas More.

In describing a mere one of its stages, the so-called High Renaissance, Engels noted that none of the terms then applied–Quinquicento in Italian, Renaissance proper in French, and the Reformation in German–is adequate. Each merely reflects and abstracts a single aspect of this "momentous era". Those who left their mark, he wrote, "had anything but bourgeois limitations", which did not, however, prevent their establishing "the modern rule of the bourgeoisie" as opposed to any other class.21 They "were not yet in thrall to the division of labour... Hence the fullness and force of character that makes them complete men".22 But these are only formal traits, devoid as yet of content, of 'direction', for strength and fullness were equally apparent in Medici, Machiavelli and Leonardo. Typical of the Renaissance man as a whole was a certain adventurism which, like his freely moving from one pursuit to another, like his Conquistador and experimentative spirits was indelicately indifferent to the choice of means, especially when attaining a coveted end. And the ends, if only in the three instances above, were by no means identical or uniformly sublime.

Admittedly, ethics were 'not' the Renaissance's strongest point: in tackling Christian morality, its advocates were often inclined to throw out the baby with the bathwater, to substitute Beauty for the Good, and aesthetics for ethics outright. As Marx, however, pointed out, the moralism they attacked was anything but upheld hy the Popes and their cardinals: "Clement VI was enslaved to his mistress, the Vicomtesse de Turenne, his home in Avignon–Babylon's chief brothel, the `ideal' Petrarch notwithstanding"23; " enthusiasm for the grandeur of ancient Rome (and the writers of antiquity)" revived "at a time when the Eternal City had become a den of iniquity".24 Public morals were in no better state during the next Classical revival: clearly, the Renaissance development of consciousness was 'not' concerned with a stronger moral order, certainly not among those most closely associated with humanism.

No less contradictory is the Renaissance's social face. While noting that the period saw humankind's "greatest progressive revolution"25 to date, Engels reveals the other side of the coin: "the first phase of bourgeois enlightenment, the humanism of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries later turned into Catholic Jesuitry".26 Moreover, he finds nothing extraordinary in the development. "This transformation," he continues, "this about-face culminating in the direct antithesis of its starting-point, is the natural inevitable outcome of all historical movements where the participants have only the vaguest notion of the underlying causes and conditions and therefore set wholly chimerical goals. The 'irony of history' works in its own relentless adjustments.''27 It was this aspect which particularly interested the founder of Italy's Communist Party, Antonio Gramsci, in his famous 'Quaderni del carcere' ( Prison Notebooks).

Gramsci asked why the Renaissance should have stepped so casually into the Counter-Reformation,28 why "a movement founded on humanism should have grown into the Counter-Reformation".29 He stressed in reply that the Renaissance witnessed "humanism's break with the national life" of an Italy "launched with the close of the tenth century", to make of humanism "a progressive process for the culturally `cosmopolitan' classes, and a regressive step in Italian history".30 The social advance then begun and lent enormous significance by the urban communes, "fell into decline together with humanism and the Renaissance, as regressive movements in Italy, whereas crowned throughout the rest of Europe in national states and the world-wide expansion of Spain, France, England and Portugal".31 Accordingly, the Renaissance gave birth to a "new intellectual class", which in Italy's case split instantly into two vastly different groups with vastly different cultural-historical roles.

``The Renaissance," in Gramsci's view, "may be taken as the cultural expression of a historical process which produced in Italy a new intellectual class of European significance and composed of two sub-groups, the first performing within its borders a cosmopolitan function as associated with the Papacy and thereby reactionary, the second formed of political and ecclesiastical exiles abroad and either performing a progressive cosmopolitan function each in his country of settlement or helping establish modern states as the technical element in the military, political, engineering and other spheres.''32 To this sociological factor he links the "revival of Latin as the language of the intelligentsia entirely distinct from the vernacular", as well as humanism and "the Renaissance in its cultural aspect", with the latter said to have quashed "Italy's spontaneous Renaissance proper, dated to the end of the tenth century and culminated in Toscana".33

The ``spontaneous'' Renaissance he sees as diametrically opposed to its ``cosmopolitan'' offshoot, in "the emergence of a national idiom" attractive to culture (or its most prominent agents) and indicative "not so much of a harking back to as a total break with antiquity".34 "Does this not point," he adds, "to the clash of two outlooks–the bourgeois-popular set forth in the vernacular and the feudal-aristocratic expressed in Latin and oriented on ancient Rome, to this, and not the creation of culture triumphant as the definitive factor of the Renaissance as a whole?''35

In short, the ethical, cultural-historical and class approaches all show the Renaissance to have been a highly discordant, conflict-riddled phenomenon, open as such to a variety of discrepant if not mutually exclusive readings. This indeed accounts for the inspiration the movement (and its humanistic branch) is generally known to have given poetry and, in the theoretical sphere, a broad range of ethically and socio-politically incompatible artistic and philosophic endeavours. To attempt to list its every effect on modern Western culture would be sheer folly. The present study focuses instead on a single, specific line of impact.

This, in its sociological and socio-psychological aspect, involves both individualism and aristocratism, the latter made peculiarly elitist by the combination. The line itself was revealed in Jacob Burckhardt's 'Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien', the first study in a "voluminous literature particularly widespread in the North, on the artists and 'condotierri' of the Renaissance, a literature proclaiming the individual's right to a fine and heroic life, to freedom of action irrespective of moral bounds, [a literature) . . . incarnating the Renaissance in Sigismondo Malatesta, in Cesare Borgia, Leo X, in Aretino, with Machiavelli as its theorist and Michelangelo its lone wolf," and represented in Italy by D'Annunzio,36 that philosopher of Fascism and the avant-garde to boot.

That it was inherent to the Renaissance and Renaissance humanism is confirmed by the many historical and cultural studies of the era. Corroboration is found in the West European cultural tradition which, in continually re-thinking from German Romantic times its relation to the Renaissance and humanism, deals continually in motifs connected with this and no other facet of the period's ethos. Finally, and most importantly, its evolution (of significance to modern Western culture) is given theoretical proof in the Marxist dialectical analysis of the tragic contradictions affecting the Renaissance principle of 'personal independence', taken to mean the absolute freedom of the individual.

The principle, fixed in the West European consciousness by Renaissance humanism as its inspirational ideal, could according to Marx not be effected without ``reifying'' all human contact under the commodity-money system. It concerns the historical process whereby the personal dependencies characteristic of traditional societies, with their natural interpersonal relations, dependencies '(personliche Abhangigkeitsverhaltnisse)' attached to a specific individual (family head, spouse, blood relative, suzerain, priest and so on), are transformed into the material dependency '(sachliche Abhangigkeit)' of bourgeois society, with its chaotically formed commodity-money structures, on the anonymous, universal object of money.37

The further the transformation progressed, the more obviously contradictory was the Renaissance principle subsiding on the very negation of its own original premises. For the Renaissance man strove to assert his 'individuality via relations' that excluded all personal elements for the impersonal and material. Ultimately the individual was obliged to assert himself in an abstract world and manner; as Marx put it: '"material' as opposed to 'personal' tendencies operate such . . . that individuals are now dominated by 'abstractions' where once they depended one upon the other".38

For the Renaissance individual determined to develop his unique talents, the commodity-money relations were both a liberating and a limiting force. The Renaissance goal of all-round development (incorporated, if radically altered, by the Communist ideal), said Marx, could only be attained, in the capitalist context, as its opposite : "The total development of the inner essence of man is his total reduction, . . . the universal process of reification '( Vergegenstandlichung)' becomes his total alienation, while the setting aside of all specific, one-sided ends introduces an end-in-itself into sacrifices made for wholly external ends.''39

The tendency becomes more pronounced as capitalism enters the monopolistic and state-monopolistic phase (now in decline), analysed in all its political, economic and social aspects in Lenin's 'Imperialism, the Highest Stage of 'Capitalism'. Under the monopolistic and state-monopolistic system, all interpersonal ties are ``reified'' at a hundred times the intensity seen with the old commodity-money relations. Whereas ``liberal'' capitalism at least left the individual infinite though illusory political and economic elbow-room, the illusion dissolves before the surfacing, in social life, of the undisguised, or virtually undisguised conflict of class or group political and economic interests, which reduced all personal initiative and private risk to the negligible, comic remains of an irretrievable past. Competition among legally competent persons on the capitalist market, as well as their battle for prestige at Vanity Fair, is supplanted by bloodless if subvert and bloody if not, warring among corporations, monopolies, trusts and political blocs. Personal virtues are credited if backed by more or less significant (group) economic, political and other interests, and considered without consumer or exchange value if not.

This is a crucial factor in the crisis of individualism bruited about ever since the dawn of the twentieth century, ever since Nietzscheanism became fashionable among the "many, the too many" scorned in 'Zarathustra'. That indeed marked a turning point in Western culture, as processes vital to the fate of mankind were at long last recognised, not only by philosophers and sociologists, but as well by students of aesthetics, art and literature. Because the processes were to mature and spread throughout the imperialist period, the crisis of individualism was long to be discussed with utter resignation and a complete lack of faith in man.

Significantly, the Nietzschean tradition, which from its very inception so shrilly proclaimed the Crisis of Man, had by the first decades of this century taken two approaches to its own "accursed questions", the first represented by the mature Max Weber, whom Karl Jaspers, founder of the most liberal humanistic school of existentialism, hailed as his mentor. The second was advanced by Oswald Spengler in 'The Decline of the West'. Since both approaches have influenced aesthetic theory and artistic practice throughout the past hundred years, they would seem an appropriate starting point in the present discussion.


Section one. Is man overcome?
Chapter one. Prospects and limits of the Faustian soul
1. The bourgeois individual and the bankruptcy of traditional ideals
2. Faustian man in 'The decline of the West
Chapter two. The death of god and the agony of man
1. The individual stripped of personality
2. The agony of man
3. Moral aestheticism and aestheticising moralism



1. The Bourgeois Individual and the Bankruptcy of Traditional Ideals

The inner world of Max Weber was rocked by the confrontation of two diametrically opposed views, and rocked all the harder for his inability to choose between them. Weber the rationalist was convinced the principle of Reason (or Truth) could not be proven primary or supreme. Weber the liberal was all too well aware that historical development can shake the very foundations of liberalism. Weber the humanist agonised over his failure to find a scientific basis for a single cherished ideal and would accept no substitute. Finally, the Weber who supported the Renaissance-Romantic concept of man made no secret of its poor prospects.

Weber stands as one of the nineteenth century's last spokesmen. Officially laid to rest by World War I, the age took one last look about and found its beloved kingdom of Truth, Beauty and the Good in ruins. Weber confirmed the discovery by noting that Truth had detached itself from Beauty and the Good, the Good–from Truth and Beauty, and Beauty–from Truth and the Good, that a kingdom of harmony and light had become a jungle in the process, a chaotic battlefield of the gods fighting each against all and all against each.

``We now know," he declares in "Wissenschaft als Beruf", "an object to be sacred to the extent it is not beautiful. .. We also know it as beautiful for not being good, we've known it since Nietzsche's day and earlier, since 'Fleurs du mal. .'. It is something of a platitude that a thing can be true, though neither beautiful, sacred nor good. These are but rudimentary instances in the battle of the gods of separate orders and values.''1In other words, the world of values perceived by such Neo-Kantians as Rickert as an integral whole opposed to the elements of life has disintegrated into a welter of warring fiefdoms to deprive the "Western man" of his last remnants of wholeness.

Two factors were involved. The first and most general is summed up in Nietzsche's pithy "God is dead". With the single God of Christianity gone, and humanity's continuing need for ideals (taken by Weber as simple, empiric fact), the latter became gods themselves, each demanding his share of piety. Christian monotheism thereby reverts, in a sense, to a polytheistic past. Granted, the ancient pagan gods are somewhat tarnished in the process: "The many gods of old, shorn of their magic and thus reduced to impersonal forces, rise from their graves to claim our lives and resume their eternal internecine strife.''2 With no one principle supreme over all, a pecking or even elementary order is out of the question. Insofar, moreover, as "God is dead", there is no distinguishing the forces of light and darkness. Each god claims absolute status, each maintains a value so sublime as to absorb, ostensibly, the full human potential in service. The universal sun has vanished to reveal a multitude of stars, each now shining with its own light, each at last visible in all its singularity. But it remains a moot point as to which is supreme. The individual and the individual alone must henceforth choose, as his own absolute, whichever strikes his fancy.

The second factor in the fall of the kingdom of Truth, Beauty and the Good is more concrete. It becomes paramount when the accent shifts from the Christian context considered above to the history of rationalism in general and its torchbearer, science.

Weber lists here three stages, or rather three historical forms, in the advance of learning. The first encompasses classical or Greek science, which discovered logic and, utterly enchanted, declared it the sole key to the Truth, eternal, ultimate and identified with Beauty and the Good. The second takes us into the Renaissance, discoverer of the scientific experiment, now seen to lead to the true perception of nature, "divine Nature", at once true, beautiful and good. The third is Protestant science, still taken to lead to God the Creator, who is now to be known "by his fruits" as his Son taught: [the Protestant] "hoped in the natural sciences, where his [God's] creations are tangible, to trace his purpose for the world".3In all three historical forms, Reason is held to be supreme, divine and the synthesis, though a varying synthesis, of Truth, Beauty and the Good. Science accordingly becomes the basis of an entire outlook, the unity of divine Reason in its three hypostases. It continues in this vein right up to the advent of modern science, whose development parallels the disintegration of that same unity in a deepening crisis ending with the fall of rationalism 'per se'.

Modern science is unique, according to Weber, in its utter indifference to Truth as once thought identical to the higher sense of the object studied, to the Truth whose discovery would reveal the sense of human existence and of life itself. Modern science stakes no claim on Truth with a capital T, but is content instead with the lower case of "minor truths". It assumes a far more modest task in drawing certain conclusions from other premises, in recording the phenomena observed under certain conditions and determining how to turn certain means to desired ends. It accepts its basic premises as axiomatic, neither sets nor judges them but is rather set and judged itself by them in the problems, the general direction and specific methods of research assigned. Still less does it question the goals of research as latent in its pre-set basic premises. Science thus becomes a mental exercise, the truths it bestows upon us–mere instruments, technical devices in the mastering of ``life''.

This, however, would imply that scientific or technical reason can no longer claim to guide man's speculating on the Truth of ``life'', taken in the old sense, not as something to be mastered or made to yield certain results, but rather as a matter to be questioned in and of itself–why should a lifetime be spent, if it comes to that, in mastering life? Weber maintains science (provided it is fully aware of what the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have made of it) is best left mute. The scholar of conscience must refer the questioner to other ``gods'': art, morality, religion, etc. Yet this would indicate that scientific reason (the only kind there is, in Weber's strict opinion) can no longer hope to encompass the ideal but must surrender its sovereignty to the equal rights of all.

Thus does Weber account in his non-religious, soberly scientific way, in his conscientious attempt to remain impartial to good and evil alike,4for the fall of the Kingdom of Truth, Beauty and the Good. And here he raises a most urgent tangle of problems. For to accept that "man does not live by bread alone" is to concede that these issues are vital indeed.

The point is, Weber set down in black and white the West European's dangling between the heaven of ideals and the earth of empirical reality, in the very halfway zone where the devil is said to lie in wait. He is faced, on the one hand, by a real world devoid of sense, if only as the creation of science and its offshoot technology, of a purely ``technical'' science to boot. High above him, on the other hand, soars the kingdom of the Ideal, cut off from the earth below and, what is more, shaken to its very core by the rivalry of the gods moving from a hierarchical to an egalitarian order.

It is man's most urgent task to link, to the best of his ability, heaven and earth, to impart meaning to existence through the higher values, to bring to the empirical world all that he can of the ideal. This he must fulfil in the sober awareness there is no one else to turn to: the earth transformed by a science and technology founded on the utilitarian principle will move no closer to the ideal unaided; heaven, drained by divine internecine strife, can barely stave off collapse, let alone ennoble the earth below. Man is forced, as so many times before, to cry after Hamlet: "The time is out of joint:–O cursed spite/That ever I was born to set it right!''

The mood is uncannily Nietzschean. Hore too, a heroic stance is assumed on a heroism far from exuberant. True, the underlying aim is to "set it right", to reaffirm ideals anything but Nielzschean.

Insofar as Weber deals with traditionally humanistic, liberal values, rationalism and humanism may be said to have traded places with their irrational and cynical opposites. Nietzsche had to affirm his anti-ideals "in reason's spite"; Weber follows suit, traditional idealist and scientific thinker that he was. Insofar as the ``reason'' prevailing in post-war Europe reflected the Dionysian Philosophy of Life, its opponent was bound to feel very much like the author of 'Untimely Thoughts'. Where Nietzsche spoke of "heroic pessimism", Weber has every right to echo him, if only in form, as opposed to the heroic scientism and tragic liberalism of his content.

One aspect carries the formal identity into content as well: Wober too sees man poised between heaven and earth in an isolation just as acute as Nietzsche's, if not more so. As for making a ``value-sense'' of existence, Weber's Everyman can rely neither on the value-neutral utilitarian principle behind technicised science and ``scienticised'' technology, nor on values exhausted, neutralised and paralysed by internal strife. Having despaired of the gods of heaven and earth ever revealing the meaning of existence, Weber's Everyman must turn to himself, to the fate that tossed him to his present halfway point. This is his only hope of lending his fate, once perceived and accepted, the universally significant form of some ideal. And that, in turn, should set him a place in this earthly life. Weber's Everyman stands all the more alone in solving the riddle of existence for expecting no answer from either biology or physiology, whereas Nietzsche often overestimated, on the positivist's side, the powers of science.

A second factor makes Weber's stance by far the more complex: his Everyman perceives himself as abandoned by history, looks heavenward to choose the god closest to him, to cry for a universally meaningful shape to existence–and is thwarted by Weber, guardian of scientific honour. In his article on the vocation of science, he leaves West European man no hope for making any universally meaningful choice among the warring gods. For it is the fate and hence the universal significance of the era to assign equal rights to the gods in their conflict. And if European man is to choose himself in any universally significant way, he must link his fate, not to one god, but to the whole warring lot of them, to nothing other than their war itself.

He is to impart true meaning to his existence by recognising this war, since his every action is open to a multitude of contradictory readings. He may not hide behind the god of good from knowing that his act of virtue is aesthetically ugly and politically senseless or even harmful. Or seek refuge with the goddess of beauty before admitting his work of art is immoral and illogical. His choosing any one deity, in other words, entails the enmity of all others. And his referring to any one chosen god relates that same act, if only in a negative sense, to all the others as well. He cannot escape the fate mapped out for him beneath the sign of the warring gods.

Thus, each individual is to choose a personal god alone, to seek a purely personal sense to existence. Woe to him who would foist his god on others, however philanthropic his aims. The. god foisted upon humanity in the age of equality and gods at war is of necessity the fiercest of all to have gone before him, thirsting as he does for the blood of millions. Modern gods are good enough to confine themselves to small communities, which recognise the right of all others to pray, so to speak, as they choose. "It is the fate of our era," says Weber, "to see the last and most subtle values abandon the public domain for either the ethereal kingdom of the mystic life or the fraternal immediacy of all. Nor is it by chance that our highest art is intimate, not monumental, that only in the narrowest circles, the person-to-person context and pianissimo tones is there any pulse approaching the prophetic breath that once swept like a raging fire through entire communities and bound them. Were we to impose or `invent' a taste for the monumental, the results would be as miserably grotesque as so many of the monuments of the past twenty years.''5

Because, in Weber's opinion, such is the fate of our era, the earth beneath a god-warring sky must seek its meaning first and foremost in those interpersonal and intergovernmental relations which leave the individual to make whatever sense he chooses of his own life. The only political arrangement conforming to this ideal is, again to Weber's mind, bourgeois-liberal democracy. Recall the Germany to emerge shortly thereafter and Weber's political, existential ideas are clearly progressive. Not by chance were most of his students to take an antifascist stand. The extreme demands he made of the individual, however, the excessive responsibility placed on the single citizen, reveal an all too conspicuous Utopian slant.

Weber left the West European no choice in the matter of facing himself, his freedom and his fate–though, to be sure, the latter two were identical, made no extrapersonai demands and offered no guarantees. The burden of freedom proved immensely cruel, as did the trial by conceit, one's own passing fancy.

This was Weber's antidote to the mood originally formulated by the Philosophy of Life movement and soon adopted far beyond its professional ranks as the pursuit of. enervating ``experience'' '(Erlebnis)'. Under its amorphous banner, the youth of Germany and many another country besides sought the very support and binding force for a crumbling world that Weber meant to deny them. They sought, in the process of intensifying, refining, aestheticising and finally converting experience into symbol, a synthesis which would reconcile the irreconcilable gods; they sought a new god to restore order to the strife-torn kingdom of Truth, Beauty and the Good.

The chaotic, ill-defined and highly ambivalent nature of this experience was taken by many young intellectuals for a positive value, pregnant in promise. The eclecticism and lack of principle thus disguised were seen to indicate flexibility, dialectical drive, immediacy–all that promotes contact with the truest wellsprings of life. Such. expectations and premonitions could only outweigh Weber's proposition. His "trial by freedom" promised no shining future to those who preferred to surrender, in the feminine spirit, to the flow of a life which placed no inordinate demands on will. Weber opposed this feminine trend with sober predictions of what its ascendancy in the German social ethos would lead to–and was obviously doomed to the tragic role of Cassandra.

This debilitating plunge into the muddy waters of experience was made all the more alarming, in Weber's eyes, by its concomitant hankering for a Prophet to herald the birth of a new, true god. To the chilling sobriety of Weber's view, the post-war European, and particularly the post-war German preferred the "metaphysical solace"6of plunging into life, of the philistine's 'que sera sera'. Few had the strength to withstand post-war Germany's `` flowing'' into the arms of a new prophet. A horrible end is preferable to endless horror, a horrible god to the horror of perpetually warring gods, a false prophet to a never-tomaterialise true one–such was the mood Weber found among his fellow Germans.7

In such a hysterically lax atmosphere, Weber's announcing that "the prophet so many of our young folk long for has yet to appear", that the religiously musical man who craves the ecstatic dissolution of self in the experience of God must "live in a godless, prophetless age", was doomed to fall on deaf ears. Torn between its warring gods and the longing for a single, supreme deity to restore order to the shaken world of ideals, post-war Germany could not bear such seemingly endless tension. Weber's warnings it simply ignored.

The mood is eloquently evoked by Robert Musil in 'Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften;' of the Germanic Christian youth circle encountered by a central figure in the novel, he writes: "Just what these young people believed in was hard to say: they formed, one of those infinitesimal, infinitely free sects rampant among German youth since the fail of the humanist ideal. They were not anti-Semitic racists but rather opposed to what they lumped under the catchphrase of 'the Jewish spirit', as capitalism, socialism, science, reason, parental authority and arrogance, self-interest, psychology and scepticism. Their chief doctrine was the `symbol', . . . [by which they meant] the magnificent image of gracious goodwill that turns the confusion and pettiness of life into clarity and grandeur, the goodwill which sweeps away emotional chaos and cools the brow with the breath of another world. So they spoke of the altar of Isenheim, of the pyramids of Egypt, of Novalis; to Beethoven and Stefan George, they conceded the status of augury; while symbol, in sober terms, never crossed their lips; first, because the concept defied sober terms; second, because Aryans could not soberly say why they had, in the past hundred years, achieved no more than the auguring of symbol; and third, because ours is the century when divine moments of mercy far beyond the human scale are yet so rarely met in men far beneath the human mark.'' 8

Weber's warnings, however, were doomed to failure, both by the spiritual context of the time and as well by the alternatives they proposed. Karl Jaspers, the contemporary West European philosopher, did not lightly call him thinker in the lino of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche–nihilist, daemonic and ultimately defeated. For Weber belonged to the crisis era: he could see no solution and, what is more, advocated an attitude of stoic calm, as to a necessary turn of fate.

``Those who look today for new prophets and new saviours," he writes, "are in the same position as that described in the prophecies of Isaiah, in the song of the watchman of Edom and the time of Exile: 'He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come'.''9 Weber does not ask how soon the dawn: convinced as he was the night would stretch over more than one generation, he tried to teach his fellow man to take his bearings by the stars, knowing many might well be dead though shining still to guide the weary traveller.

Has he plunged headlong into the "stream of life" and failed to see his act as the product of a crisis in culture and the European identity? Or is he only too well aware of the crisis but afraid there is simply no escape? The two possibilities are related. Both involve "men of crisis" and the daemonic, destructive principle inherited from the ailing age that gave them birth. It is this kinship which reveals Weber's latent link to his opponents on the scent of experience.

Weber's Everyman, released from his traditional obligations to heaven and earth and left to his fate and his time, is actually very close to the individual released by the Philosophy of Life from any and all duties except that of living life to its fullest. The only puzzling point is why the former, tied to history, could not abandon the quest for a meaning to existence, as did the latter, tied to life; why he should know himself fated to live in a godless age and yet continue to look up to azure ideals, to rely on the stars instead of his own dark "life instinct''?

Weber gives no answer, for therein lies the secret behind the freedom of choice enjoyed by Weberian man who seeks a meaning to existence, to the flow of life and his own fate in history not 'for' sufficient cause but 'despite' the total lack of any cause whatsoever. His quest is the unadulterated product of his will.

This was, in every respect, too fragile a base on which to resurrect the kingdom of Truth, Beauty and the Good. Yet it and no other was chosen by Weber's existentialist disciple, Karl Jaspers. Having milked the master's concept of man for every conclusion to be had, Jaspers founded the existentialist line in West European philosophy of the twentieth century to influence the literature and indeed entire cultural process of the Western world.

In point of fact, Weber's conceptual system reflected the reification of interpersonal relations described earlier by Marx, albeit at a later stage, as ``free'' capitalism shifted into its state-monopoly phase and the traditional bourgeois forms of self-alienation took on the added pressure of a pseudo-collective spirit. From Weber's statement on the status of Western man, Jaspers derived a concept of the individual designed to survive in the face of aggravated alienation.

Hence Jaspers' (or the existentialist's) distinction between personality '(Personlichkeil)' and individuality '( Individualitdt)', reminiscent of the apophastic definition of God.10All formalised, reified or alienated elements are discarded from the personality; because everything under late capitalism is to some extent formalised, reified or alienated, the individual is left without positive definition–all traits are negative. The inherent leaning to Husserl's phenomenological reduction is only too apparent: one aspect after another is dismissed to reveal the phenomenon in its purest state, impinging unadorned upon consciousness. The two methods quite naturally combine in existentialism.

Hence in turn the ever-widening breach between what the existentialist saw as the ``authentic'' existence of the personality and the individuality's own ``empiric'' or even `spurious' muddling through interpersonal relations and the reality of social time and space. And the wider the breach in the existentialist's view, the more tragic he found the personality's lot under modern capitalism. Finally, this unbridgeable gap between authentic and spurious existence cast an ambiguous pall over authenticity itself,11fatally limited by an antipode (spuriousness) which drove it further and further, and irrevocably, into the thick of subjectivity to reign itself triumphant.

Man's division against himself into authentic and spurious, and the truly metaphysical rupture it precipitated, could not but raise an insurmountable barrier between him and the rest of a humanity met exclusively on his own, spurious terms. This is what lies behind the existentialist's no-communication cry, raised in the late 1930s arid early 1940s, by Camus, Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir to become the raging fashion in the West of the following decade. The theme expanded into the catchphraso of Western cinematography through Fellini's 'La Strada', Bergman's 'Wild Strawberries', Antonioni's 'L'eclisse, La Notte' and others.

This, however, bears on the later history of the climate so tellingly conveyed, under the impact of World War I, by Max Weber. Nor should the existentialist (Jaspers', Heidegger's and Marcel's) response to the human predicament in the post-war years be considered a historical first or anything but unique. By no means is Weber's philosophy to be identified with existentialism (either the German or still less the French school), though his mood in the post-war years as witnessed by "Wissenschaft als Beruf", was strikingly close to the subsequent emergence of that same teaching. Fixed only with the close of the 1920s, existentialism was anticipated by the Philosophy-of-Life response to World War I, the general philosophical mood inspired by Nietzsche and in all but Weber's interpretation hostile to science and the scientific spirit 'per se'. The first postwar years saw the sentiment expressed in 'The Decline of the West',12which Spengler began before, finished during and proofread after Germany's defeat in the war.

Spengler focused on a different aspect of Nietzsche, ignoring the Apollonic, individualist strain for its Dionysian opposite, the brute collectivism which transformed the author's concept of man into a mandate, not for self-perfection but rather for surmounting or altogether doing away with the individual, seen to dissolve in a biologicalised power-drive. Accordingly, he slighted such details as the human entity and its individual nature–mere instances of the anonymous, impersonal forces he considered to bear the only real weight.

2. Faustian Man in The Decline of the West

While Spengler represents the bourgeois antithesis to Weber's concept of man, both philosophers insist on his "historical fate"–however their interpretations of the latter may differ. The stance, in Weber's case, was the necessary, logical outcome of a peculiar brand of polytheism, taken to mean the perpetual war of the gods (ideals or values). A host of gods incapable of reaching any internal agreement must settle its feuds by lot and let fate be the judge.

National cultural values are now seen to hinge on fate. "How anyone can draw a `scientific' distinction between the cultural 'worth' of France and Germany, I do not know," he confessed. "This too is disputed among the gods and eternally disputed at that... And both the gods and their dispute are ruled by fate and certainly not `science'..." 13 Weber's verdict, like that of such liberal thinkers as Croce in his war-time articles, thus coincides entirely with Spengler's basic postulates and could even, as such, be included in 'The Decline of the West'.

Spengler's 'Anschluss', in other words, his annexing the philosophy of history to the philosophy of life was anticipated by Weber in the doctrine of absolute historicism–so well hM the Trojan horse of ``life'' performed.

Just what did this 'Anschluss' do to the philosophy of man and its affiliate philosophy of art, to the status '(Sein)' of art and the kingdom of ideals?

Spengler's concept of culture as set forth in 'The Decline of the West' rests on two postulates, the first derived from Goethe's distinction between 'das Werden' or "coming into existence" and 'das Gewordene', the product of that same process and a product wholly determined by its origins.14He shares the conviction with Henri Bergson, metaphysician and the systematising head of the Philosophy of Life (though Bergson and indeed all other contemporary thinkers are mentioned in a purely derogatory context). Like Bergson, Spengler emphasises not so much the formative link as the radical difference between 'Werden' and ' Gewordenes'. Where, in the notion of 'Werden', both are aligned to the German classical tradition, on 'Gewordenes' they part company. From 'Gewordenes', moreover, sprang a whole new outlook on life, based on a permanent rupture between becoming and being, which renders every act of creation tragic. As well it might, if the product of 'Werden' is to take up arms against its suffering parent to become its primordial antithesis, relentless negation–in short, its very destruction.

The outlook, in fact, merely generalises the philosophic mood of the early German Romantics, who were plagued by the contradiction between the universal essence of the Prime Artist's design (the cosmic nature of the creative impulse) and the limitations imposed on its products as divorced from their creator's individual identity. The Romantic irony, which set a buffer between creating and the created end-result, had given way to the unabashedly tragic sense of their root incompatibility. Humour yielded to sarcasm, the ironic mood to the tragic, the Divine Comedy to the Divine Tragedy and a pan-tragic view of life. The feeling gave rise to Spengler's second postulate, a natural corollary to the first.

Thus, Spengler goes on to distinguish between two " primary facts of consciousness"–``self'' '(eigentliches)' and ``other'' '(anderes)'. These are easily identified with the emotional attributes of 'Werden' and 'Gewordenes' (the act of creation and its product) sensed by the individual experiencing his own inner world '(Innerlichkeit)' as forever in creation. This applies most of all to the artist, and the Romantically-inclined artist at that.

The distinction contains the profound antithesis between life and death itself. And as the chief experience '( Erlebnis)', upon perceiving this rift in its entirety, Sprengler points to fear '(Angst)', to cosmic horror, that most basic of all human emotions. Fear enters the human soul at birth, he maintains, and the human soul is no more than the awakening of the cosmic soul from the unconscious, vegetative state, the triggering of the contradiction between its primal urge to life and all that would thwart it.

The soul and fear, in Spengler's opinion, have one and the same birth, the soul in its vegetative state being identical to the basic urge to life (cf. Bergson's "elan vital"). This in turn amounts to non-existence, to a sleeping state that marks the very absence of life.15Not until life in its push towards self-realisation encountered the insurmountable obstacle of radical negation, not until the opposition pressed upon life itself, did the soul emerge from nonbeing. And its first sensation was fear, inspired by that very antithesis, by something wholly other, by a 'Gewordenes' drained of life and organic heat.

``When from the universal chaos of impressions and before the startled gaze of primitive man there appear the first rough outlines of this glimmering world of ordered lengths and reasoned 'Gewordenes,"' Spengler writes, "when the deep-felt contradiction between this external world and the individual soul lends shape and direction to conscious life, a 'proto-sense of longing (Urgefühl der Sehnsucht)', together with all the other new cultural prospects, stirs within that soul in its sudden awareness of solitude. This is a longing for, a straining towards the goal of becoming, the exhaustion of all inner potential and the development of the notion of individual existence. It is the longing of a child that breaks with growing lucidity into consciousness as the sense of necessary 'direction' and stands before the adult mind as the horrific, enticing, insoluble 'riddle of time'. `Past' and `present' are suddenly full of deadly significance.

``Yet this longing, born of the wealth and bliss of the inner act of becoming, is also, in the depths of every soul, a sense of fear. Just as every instance of becoming is aimed at and culminated in being, the proto-sense of becoming, longing, touches upon the final sense of fear. . . This is the deep-rooted -terror of the world that preys upon the childish soul and haunts the superior man, the believer, the poet and the artist in his infinite solitude, a terror of vast, eternal, threatening powers invested in the sensible images which impinge upon our glimmering world.''16

Our two antithetical pairs–'Werden' vs. 'Gewordenes' and self vs. other–are now joined by a third and fourth, or actually two new hypostases of the first. 'Werden', seen in its psychological aspect as pertaining to the self, becomes on a deeper level the proto-sense of longing, the soul's straining to realise its full potential, and straining because it conceives of itself as bearing some cosmic life force swelling within as though fit to burst and revert to chaos. The tension is associated as well with the ``fatedness'' '( Schicksal)' of it, the soul's dominant vital drive, oriented as of the dawn of time, now and forever, from past to present, beginning to end, becoming to being. Hence the highly dramatic cast to this, the soul's most intimate, most primeval aspiration, the sense of external command by an immeasurably higher being: "The direction of all becoming '[Werden]' in its implacability–its 'irreversibility'–is confidently assumed to be an external element. Something external to the self transforms the future into the past, which lends to time as opposed to space that paradoxical quality of horror and oppressive ambiguity no eminent man may ever entirely escape.'' 17

And there is the word we were looking for: 'Werden', manifest as the "proto-sense of longing", has been defined as 'time'. Spengler sees man as symbolising that proto-sense through a concept of time pre-set in terms of direction, irreversibility and fate, though we who use it seldom appreciate its full mystic sense.

This chain of intuitive perceptions generated by the original intuitive sense of 'Werden' is paralleled by a second, which imagines 'Gewordenes' to be both primary and definite. The anxious sense of a vital, irreversible, fated drive entering the awakening soul is considered by Spengler analogous to the sense of a counter-drive, of all that has become, is complete, exhausted within and taken by man for a pre-set image of the world. Spengler identifies it as fear of the world and dubs it the most creative of all primeval experience. The soul's congenital 'Angst' thus takes on a dual aspect: the horror inspired by the irreversibility of one's individual fate is expressed in the concept of time, whereas that instilled by the world without, by an inescapable, implacable opposition, by the categorical negation of that same drive, works through the medium of extension ultimately fixed in the concept of space.

The two aspects could conceivably be reintegrated as two faces of one and the same fear–that inspired by the finite, by non-being, by nothingness (cf. Heidegger). That Spengler could well have done it is evident in 'The Decline of the West', where both are linked to the soul's attitude to its negation, with the first termed fear of immutability and finality and the second–that of the materialising factor in both. But he could take no such step unless he held the vital drive born by the soul to be innate to the human race. Because, on the contrary, he thought of it as a cosmic force pre-dating mankind and merely triggered by the soul's awakening, Spengler thought it totally impossible.

The fear attendant upon the act of becoming, or life creation as the experience of implacability, irreversibility and the finitude of existence (whether affecting the individual or an entire culture) is seen by Spengler to dissolve into and tinge with tragedy the greater experience of becoming proper. The life drive is on the whole more joyous than fearful, more extrovert than introvert, more likely to forget than exorcise or conceal the horrors of existence. The second has to do with the fear that is separate from the experience of becoming.

Put in Schopenhauer's terms, this second form of fear is seen to emerge for that facet of the human soul which, disengaged from the process of becoming, is able to observe from without. And to an observer unmoved by its pathos, impervious to its hypnotic charge, all things becoming are obviously bound to end in being, all life surges doomed to utter negation in death. Yet the soul made aware of this carries on irregardless, pursuing its full potential step by step unto death. For its advance is not a matter of self-will but of fate, which instils in all living beings a lust for life and a direction to the span allotted each individual or culture. Where the individual has disengaged his conscious soul from the process, its unconscious half is all too thoroughly absorbed and rendered dominant for it.

Therefore, the soul aware of its finite fate has no other option but to disarm it through either resignation or making sense of the inevitable. This, in Spengler's view, is the true source of culture, whose first act, born of the soul's fear of the world without and its own mortality therein, is to create a "symbol of extension" as canvas for the images of a culture which has exorcised being '(Gewordenes)', lent it meaning and restored its long-lost living heat.

The exorcism is in itself ambivalent, in the Freudian sense of the word, the ambivalence stemming from the dual meaning of enchanted submission by the exorcised to the exorcist, on the one hand, and, on the other, of supplication, replete with sacred awe and humility. It is best conveyed, according to Spengler, by the notion of taboo, based on the "primal emotion which invariably 'precedes' perception and comprehension of one's environment and for that matter, any and all self-conscious distinction between the soul and the world without''.18The emotion comprises "distraught fear, sacred awe, profound helplessness, despair, hatred and vague stirrings towards intimacy, unity and withdrawal [eventually lapsing into] mute indecision".19

The feeling is regarded by Spengler as the true origin of all formative human endeavour, of rudimentary form in general and by extension, human culture as a whole. All young cultures are manifestly linked to taboo, suffused with prohibitions no less abstruse than sacred, whose transgression is unthinkably, indescribably horrible. This is the source of "hieratic ornament and petty ceremony, the strict codes of primitive custom and curious cults",20 all permeated with an acute sense of form directly perceived as linked to taboo.

As a culture develops away from categorical restrictions, the connection between its forms and taboos fades. It nonetheless perseveres, as does the artist's awareness of the same.

To the extent that all these developments stem from the soul's striving to exorcise the foreign element of death, Spengler takes as culture's most meaningful phenomena those of immediate relevance to death. Hence the decisive role assigned to the Temple, symbol of every culture's means of exorcising death through creating its own image of space. In fact, Spengler traces the originality of every cultural 'form he happens to consider to its particular spatial organisation in interior and exterior templar architectonics–this includes the pyramids of ancient Egypt, the Parthenon, the Moorish mosque and the Gothic cathedral. The Temple, for Spengler, reveals the proto-phenomenon behind every culture that will generate its own unique art, philosophy, religion, ethics, science, technology, politics, economics and what have you.

The above description of Spengler's deriving culture from the experience of otherness and fear of the world conveys as well his concept of the origin and function of art. For he is concerned with culture as an integral phenomenon which resists, if indeed it permits at all, dissection into art vs. science, or science vs. religion, religion vs. politics and so on.

All these forms may be considered different hypostases of religious emotion: each springs from the awesome experience of death embodied in the architectonics of the Temple, its interior and exterior decor, as well as the rites performed in and at its doors. Yet each could just as well derive from the aesthetic sense. Spengler, for that matter, is very much inclined to treat his Temple as a purely aesthetic phenomenon, an aesthetic ordering of the chaos of impressions bombarding the soul into a harmonious cosmic whole. When it is recalled that Spengler holds man's other primal symbol of otherness converted into cultural space –mathematics–to be an art form, the aesthetic sense must be recognised as a basic, if not 'the' basic building block in the cultural cosmos by virtue, if nothing else, of the arch it supplies to join the separate into a whole, and the formless into form.

Spengler, then, returns to the principle, lost and longed for in Europe, of the unity of culture, of Truth, Beauty and the Good. Granted, the resurrection is as ambiguous as any other achievement in the Philosophy of Life. Truth, Beauty and the Good are united in a single–and most singular–function, that of exorcising the other or, as Spengler so eloquently puts it, tossing the veil of Maya over death, the true end of the life drive in any form. The truth of mathematics and the other sciences, the good of religion and ethics, the beauty of art (philosophy, mathematics, religion and ethics too) align in the common (false!) effort to conceal reality from the human soul, to distract it from the true countenance of death, a Gorgon's head turning all who look upon it to stone.

This is what produces the primal split described above; it goes on to penetrate all forms of culture to the very core. In postulating that all cultural forms seek to exorcise the other, that which annuls the soul's life drive, Spengler has sketched in a basic scheme of severance. His proposition clearly attributes a shadow-for-the-substance slant to culture: creative activity based on something quite irrelevant, on relieving the living of their cosmic fear of the dead, the finite of its dread of fmitude. Culture is thus adapted as a cathartic tool of sorts, though the human soul can never be purged of fear altogether.

But let us take a closer look at Spengler's concept of the fear-culture alliance. Is fear inherent to the life drive, to life itself, to Schopenhauer's ``will-to-life''? Obviously, ``life'' in this sense (Spengler's or Schopenhauer's, as the case may be) does not know fear; it simply longs for itself, for limitless self-realisation. It is, after all, immortal in itself, or so Schopenhauer and Spengler (in Nietzsche's wake) contend; it need fear death only but invariably in the individual instance, in its organic incarnations and exclusively those whose individualisation (i.e. mortality) has been actualised in the specific experience of the soul, the individual or human consciousness. Spengler's concept of fear, in other words, is associated with the individualisation principle, no less of an illusion, in the final analysis, than the culture erected on fear.

Human finitude, expressed in an abiding sense of fear of the inevitable end, casts a shadow over the culture based on that same emotion–it too is made finite, mortal. True, its lifespan is a great deal more generous, according to Spengler, than that accorded the individual; nevertheless, both face the same, mortal fate, both eventually 56 sink into the waters of Lethe. To the extent that the individual's fear of death is somewhat ephemeral–life itself being immortal–culture is tinged accordingly. The chief paradox, however, is this: culture, the ostensible product of the individualisation principle and the by-product of life's individualisation in the human being, develops, in Spengler's view, independently of the individual or at least of his conscious intent. Just as life in the aggregate works through the individual organism towards its eternal goal, the supra-individual organism of culture uses the individual to attain its fundamental proto-phenomenon. The individual, even (or rather, particularly) the genius cannot and must not know whose tool he is; like a mere bystander, he must leave all the decisions to the particular culture pursuing its principle through him and realising its best where he is least conscious of the purport of his own actions. Culture grows through him, discarding generation after generation as each serves its purpose without ever letting any know what purpose was actually served in the pursuit of their conscious goals.

In other words, Spengler's individual, a self-conscious being setting his own conscious goals, is doubly ephemeral as the unconscious agent of the self-realisation of a culture, which is in itself illusory, dependent in all major aspects on the life force at its base; its self-realisation is a fiction, a mere vessel for the self-realisation of life. Although, therefore, Spengler's individualisation principle is the true source of fear and its outgrowth, culture, the individual conscious of himself as such is denied any role in his cultural-historical construct. Spengler's individual is not of little, but of no value whatsoever, a nonentity when set apart from all others; he only acquires significance as he sheds his individuality to become the faceless drone of culture (and life in general), blindly furthering whichever tendencies arise at his given point in its evolution.

Spengler, in 'The Decline of the West', conceives of the individual as the being furthest removed from the fount of cosmic, elemental life. The closest is the plant, which lives in time totally ignorant of space, totally absorbed in the cosmic rhythm of life and totally unaware of any separate freedom. There is no relation between it and elemental life–so wholly are the two identified. In contrast, the animal enjoys freedom of movement in space and thus a certain measure of self-detachment to form its own microcosm or life withdrawn into the individual organism and thereby detached from itself as an immediate, self-sufficient drive. Hence the tension between the all-embracing cosmos of life and its microcosmic offshoots: "Everything microcosmic exhibits polarity. The word `anti' captures its full essence. It has 'tension."'21

The tension separating the organism from life as a whole to dampen its own life thrust reaches an extreme in the individual human being. He is removed from the immediate element of life not only by the freedom of movement in space he shares with all animate creatures, but as well by every fibre of the consciousness which turns his life into a problem, for consciousness deals first and foremost with the finitude and mortality of the individual. Where vegetable matter is simply at one with existence at hand or its own life drive, the animate being is removed by a waking state intent on the world about it. In man, this waking state subsumes the relationship between ego, where the human microcosm acts as a light source of sorts, and the world without so lit; the nocturnal world of the plant becomes the diurnal world of human individualism. Fear of the invisible, says Spengler is congenital to the ego, testimony to the "distinctiveness of human religiosity".22

The further the individual (as opposed to the animal and especially the vegetable worlds) from life unalloyed, the greater the role played in his own existence by death and its attendant fear. "The animal knows only life, not death" (in which respect the plant is more closely attuned to life as simply living, ignorant of death). Man -not only observes the death of others, as does any animate creature; he knows it to await him too. Consequently, the animal fears not death but the world about it; only in the human animal is this anxiety transferred to death;23 only the human knowledge of death endows man, of all the animals, with an outlook on the world '(Weltanschauung)'.24 'In fine', man is far more profoundly, more universally mortal than the plant or the animal, the special role of death in his life accounting for his 'Weltanschauung' and culture– both of which have removed him still further from the immediate element of life to reduce the vitality and magnetism of its rhythm.

To the extent this all derives from the ultra-individualisation attained by life in the human, ego-endowed entity, man's greater alienation from life and enthrallment to death is seen to hinge entirely on the " individualisation principle": it enters the life element simultaneously with death, peaks and falls in its derivative, individual microcosms to begin the cycle anew. On these grounds, the author of 'The Decline of the West' is suspicious of and even hostile to the individual and individuality 'per se', with its eye on something bigger than the status of unconscious, faceless vessel to the life or race element working towards self-realisation through culture and history much as it works through the ant or the bee.

Spengler accordingly concludes that the "great moments in history" are utterly irrelevant to the microcosm of the lone individual, effected as they are by supra-individual forces. These he terms ``cosmic'', as opposed to `` microcosmic'' essences, and relates to "peoples, parties, masses and classes".25While he does insist on a 'Führer' for each, this is by no means to be taken as an outstanding individual or microcosm at constant loggerheads with the cosmic elements of senselessly self-devoted life. Spengler's 'Fiihrer' is rather a clean copy of the race element he represents; there is nothing of the individual as commonly understood in him. The entire argument is, without a doubt, the logical extreme of the "crisis of man", Spengler having pronounced the European concepts of individual and personality exhausted of value and liquidated the principle itself as a suspected counter-charge to life, an instrument of death.

Clearly this, Spengler's definitive pronouncement, is closely allied to Domenach's "end of man" theory, which has fuelled cultural evolution in the West, particularly in the arts, for the past ten to fifteen years. There is nothing new under the sun, as they say; what the crisis of man began with in West Europe fifty years ago has been taken up by such "new thinkers" as Marshall MacLuhan, such writers as Beckett and Robbe-Grillet, Roland Barthes and his Tel Quel disciples among the structuralists, Foucault and Lacan of the theoretician set, not to mention the cultural activists responsible in the 1960s for a complete about-face from tradition to the counter-culture. Much of the criticism addressed to Spengler fifty years ago can be applied to statements made by counter-culturalists over the past fifteen years.

In essence, Spengler takes culture and human individuality too, for that matter, as the personification of finitude, mortality and perishability in the infinite, immortal lifestream. Culture symbolises death by the very fact of its being. The history of cultural forms is thus seen to record branchings-off from the stream of life–life's individualisation, in other words, its dessication in the institutional labyrinths that riddle all cultures, its destruction as the price for specialisation.

The Decline of the West, as of any other cultural form in history's constant succession, acquires in this light a pre-determined air. It was the natural, logical outcome of Spengler's premises, which resurrected the ancient god Ghronos, devourer of his own children.

This bloodthirsty god of time sprung from the loins of cosmic Life to exploit the human soul dominates Spengler's system. He was to be loved and prayed to, if only for want of any other deity. Each of his children–culture and the historical forms of human existence–was granted 1,100 years. Within this span all cultures were to complete their life cycle–childhood, youth, maturity and old age– and then vanish forever into the belly of time. This is the highest purpose of every culture: the obvious lack of any purpose whatsoever.

Such is the conclusion necessarily drawn from Spengler's premises. Nor could he argue otherwise, for once the vicious Chronos had invaded his thinking, he was bound to demand sacrifice. The first to fall was Truth, Beauty and the Good, and the rite left Spengler defenceless before his implacable god. The 1,100 years allotted each culture lost all meaning. Culture and the individual too had no choice but to toy with a chimeric beauty, truth and goodness in 60 the vain attempt to forget their inevitable end in the jaws of time.

From culture's ambiguous relation to life Spengler proceeded to its utter senselessness under heartless Chronos. Or perhaps it was the other way on: doubting culture in general led him to an ambiguous view on its relation to Life.

Whatever the case may be, any thinker who had retained his faith in the meaning of culture must, upon closing 'The Decline of the West', have longed Zeus-like to overthrow Chronos. Significantly, among Spengler's critics of the 1920s stands Thomas Mann with his "Uber die Lehre Spenglers" (1924). He particularly objected to the marked fatalism that prompted Spengler to dismiss the creative role played by personality in history "Spengler claims he is no pessimist. Still less would he appreciate the label of optimist. He is a fatalist. But his fatalism, as expressed in 'we must want either the historically inevitable or nothing' is a far cry from tragic heroism of the Dionysian principle Nietzsche used to reconcile pessimism and optimism. Rather it exhibits a wickedly apodeictic, hostile attitude to the future, disguised as scientific implacability. It is not 'amor fati. Amor', in fact, is the least part of it–that is what makes it so repulsive. Pessimism and optimism are beside the point. One can take a very dim view of the fate of man, doomed or called upon to suffer till the end of time; one could, at the mention of `happiness' lying in some unspecified future, affect a profound scepticism and still have no taste for the pedantic indifference of Spenglerian fatalism. Pessimism is not heartlessness. It does not by any means imply a cold, `scientific' view of evolution or inimical contempt for such imponderables as spirit and will, which just possibly impart to evolution an irrational element beyond the grasp of the exact sciences. Yet such is the arrogance, the contempt Spengler shows for all things human. If only he were fiendishly cynical! But he is simply fatalistic. And quite wrong to name Goethe, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche his forerunners in hyena-like prophecy. They were men. Whereas he is a mere defeatist.''26 ``It is ludicrous," says Mann, paraphrasing Spengler, ``to be full of goodwill and the self-flattering confidence that spirit, the good and a will to establish a social order worthy of man is 'likewise' related to the concept of fate and could have a salutary effect on the course of history. The future is set to hold colossal wars among the Caesars for power and booty, rivers of blood and, for the felaheen, silence and suffering. Man, sunk back into the zoological cosmos void of history, will be a farmer bound to his mother-earth, or vegetating amidst the ruins of world capitals. His beggared soul will invent the narcotic of a socalled 'second religion', a surrogate for the first, which was rich in culture and creativity; it will be powerless in all but helping him bear his suffering in silence."27

Spengler, Mann continues, refers to the laws of nature simply "for scientific convenience, and the sake of an arrogant, apodeictic indifference! . . He is also motivated by the smug conceit which, in lusting after treachery, haughtily sides against spirit and man with nature, in whose name he speaks of merciless laws and considers himself marvellously staunch and noble".28 The same could be said of the extra-personal trend in bourgeois philosophy of the twentieth century, represented in the 1960s by Levi-Strauss, Lacan and Foucault.

I shall return to this issue below. What interests me now is how Weber's and Spengler's prospects for man affected the development of the philosophic and artistic ethos in Western Europe.

1. The Individual Stripped of Personality

Could man be surmounted was a controversial issue in the West of the 1910-1920s, temporarily dropped in the 1930-1940s as progressive mankind threw all its physical and spiritual might into battling an all too real barbarism, the brown plague of nazism. Western intellectuals gravitated at the time to thinkers advocating a balanced, more sober view of man's prospects, though to be sure, such inclinations were seldom acted upon. Among the voices then raised was the Catholic philosopher Romano Guardini, author of that remarkable book, 'Das Ende der Neuzeit' (1950).29

If Guardini's study is to be properly understood, a few words must be said on its underlying assumptions, taken for granted by the European intellectual of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Today, some quarter of a century after its first appearance in print, commentary is in order on several important points. First, the feeling long dominant in Guardini and his middle-class readers, that European culture, or at any rate, its post-Renaissance configuration was actually in decline, that Europe itself, now past its twilight years, desperately needed some guiding light in the darkness (not quite conducive to the optimistic outlook!). Second, the conviction, based on considerable practical and political experience, as well as numerous attempts to articulate both, that this European decline was intimately connected with the "rebellion of the masses" (Nietzsche's term, popularised by Ortega y Gasset),30that the masses' entry into the theatre of history signalled the end of an era and the dawn of a new age of mass movements, in which case the mass was a problem to be solved, and not simply or negatively formulated as Ortega had done, if any serious outlook or significant creation were to be achieved.

Curiously enough, Guardini uses the term ``mass'' exactly as described by the phenomenon's fierce, frank enemy in his study of rebellion, by the author o! the elitist concept of culture, Ortega y Gasset. Like Ortega, Guardini associates its emergence in modern form with the development of machine production in the large-scale standardised industry that churns out its very own ``mediocritised'', impersonalised–in short, standardised–``mass-man''. He also concurs in viewing this creature, with its aversion to independent self-realisation and its meek manipulability, as the antithesis to the spontaneous individual attentive only to his own genius, cultivated throughout Europe ever since the Renaissance and raised to an apogee in the Romantic age. In this light, Guardini's every remark on the depersonalisation of man in the twentieth century may be taken to pursue Ortega's Critique of the Capitalist civilisation which mass-produces the mass-man as any other consumer good.

Whereas Ortega did not think the mass-man would inevitably prevail, but rather hoped he would fade, together with his antecedent, modern technology, "much faster than might now be supposed",31 Guardini, on the other hand, was confident both developments were serious, long-term and but a taste of things to come. He was therefore- anything but inclined to carry on with the Renaissance-Romantic censure of the mass-man (which in any case had been fairly well exhausted by Ortega before him). On the contrary, he worked for a radical re-orientation in bourgeois thought by demanding it understand and accept the mass-man as fated and of special significance to the new era. This significance might well escape the Renaissance man or Romantic, who owed their very existence to the new age and lost all creative spirit with its end, but it was real nonetheless and intelligible only by looking to the root causes of the phenomenon: the mass-man was human too, 'obliged' to live by the fate that created him and anxious as any man to find meaning in existence.

On this point Guardini is at fundamental variance with Ortega and the entire Renaissance-Romantic tradition of censuring the mass-man. His chief complaint is against identifying "the mass of today" with the "amorphous human multitude"32of the new age serving in turn as a backdrop for the "highly-advanced individual". The ``common'' man of the new age, "he continues, was after the self-realisation sought by his contemporary ``aristocrats'' (taken in a much broader sense than that of blood inheritance) ; he failed for an infinite number of reasons to attain inner personal development and self-realisation in the external ``material'' of history. Therein lies the definitive difference, according to Guardini, between the amorphous multitude of individuals deprived of any chance at self-fulfilment and the "masses as now understood" to have no inner need for any such thing or indeed set any ideal value on it as lending sense to existence or awakening any will to struggle.

If the amorphous multitude of the new age (which is no less Renaissance than individualistic) was created by man's emancipation from any and all (and none too few necessary) dependencies, the mass' heralding the end of that era sprang from an entirely different source. This Guardini sees as the ``structurising'' of the by then astronomic multitude via scientific and technical progress to correlate forces and capacities, human interests and needs with the "functional form of the machine" and machinepatterned production in general. Correlation of this sort is characteristic of the "most advanced representatives of the masses", those who set the prevailing mores as fashion and in the Renaissance era would have risen to the aristocracy of self-fulfilment.

The mass-man in Guardini's sense is beyond Renaissance individuality or subjectivity (which accentuated the expansive, infinite, immeasurable aspects of self-realisation). As a socio-historical type, he does not in any way aspire to distinction in manner, appearance or life-style, but is on the contrary quite willing to have his existence rationally planned and normalised to meet the demands of mechanised production as the logical, proper and perfectly natural yardstick of self-realisation. Nor is he any more anxious to "base his life on personal initiative". No, the mass-man prefers to follow the programmes set him by a welter of organisations: plugged into and run by these, this non-individual knows no bitter conflict with what he considers a means to live by.

Guardini has introduced a noticeable shift of emphasis in discussing individuality, the autonomous subject, the freedom enjoyed of the personality and manifested in its •cultural output, considered primary in the Renaissance era and painfully exacerbated towards the end of the new age with the onset of big business, monopoly capital and mass rebellion. Neither freedom nor individual worth developed to an inimitable full–prevalent concepts both in the Renaissance period–are granted absolute significance. What is more, he comes dangerously close to vulgar sociologicism in associating these concepts with a specific social structure, "none other than the bourgeois". Technological progress in Guardini's view ensures the universal, predominance of an entirely different social order no longer posited on the creative, autogenous individual or his full, spontaneous and wholly unique self-development.

Nevertheless, Guardini's vision of the birth of that- new socio-historical species, the mass-man, is far from rosy. It encompasses the losses to be incurred in its establishment, losses measured against the less-than-exalted (in Guardini's eyes) Renaissance man, so utterly untrammeled in his egocentric self-assertion. He is unmistakably sad to state that the mass-man instinctively avoids the limelight, preferring to remain the anonymous bearer of some collective spirit and act at all times as though distinction were fraught not only with danger but "all manner of falsity" as well. He is, moreover, clearly alarmed by the total loss, in bourgeois society, of respect for privacy, sacrificed to the ever-expanding might of statistics and administration. This last trend dances on the razor's edge of fascism.

Unlike those of his colleagues more existentially bound to the Renaissance image, however, Guardini does not think these losses have degraded either the true essence of the individual (the core-self) or its divine principle. The mass-man, in this sense, yields nothing to his Renaissance predecessor, who owes his more impressive appearance to aesthetics and certainly not ethics.

The aesthetic view of the Renaissance man who battled for unimpeded self-realisation throughout the new age is limited in its underlying ignorance–conscious or unconscious, as the case may be–of "the many, the too too many" who footed the bill for these "titanic individuals". (Nietzsche, one of the few to think the question through, set forth its monstrous practical consequences without flinching.) Profoundly religious philosopher that he was, Guardini could not help but stress the ethical and in this case alternative viewpoint, not to be distracted, not even by fate's darlings in all their heroic splendour, from the tormenting question of the ``many'': was it fair that they should have had no chance to penetrate the meaning of their existence, to discover and affirm the divine principle latent in each of us?

In the mid-twentieth century, this approach found further support in the not unreasonable assumption that the "too too many" numbered not in the hundred thousands or even millions but rather in the ten and hundred millions. Such were the stakes to be played by the new Caesar intent as ever on self-realisation in the Renaissance spirit. It came to be taken for granted that his unique talent and creative potential were best left to wither in the bud if the multitudes could survive, that their right to life was far more incontrovertible than his right to limitless self-realisation. The argument, in Guardini's case, seems to appeal for self-limitation, for a new sense of discipline opposed in the polemic spirit to the Renaissance cry for unbounded self-fulfilment, unchallenged throughout the new age. All too obvious now was the price inevitably paid and inflated with every decade of the twentieth century. Guardini calls for an act of ascesis as a countercheck to the "will to power" Machiavelli and Nietzsche raised to an absolute, to man's highest potential.

But can the individual survive in a mass-age that has stripped the word ``anonymity'' of its frightening, repulsive overtones? Isn't Guardini's concept of the mass-man at much greater odds with the core-individual than even he suspects? Not that Guardini sidesteps the questions–he makes it central to his discussion on the future of man. The mid-twentieth century offers two alternatives: either the personality surrender all distinguishing features and dissolve without a trace into the mechanical sum of his mechanical functions (in material or cultural production, as the case may be) or stave off disintegration by concentrating on the inner self at the expense of the outer, if need be, renouncing the extensive development of " external form" (presumably as the product of society and " social production" in general, now independent of distinctive, individual talent).

True, the individual who chooses to preserve his coreself via self-limitation has little in common with the allround ideal of the Renaissance. And Guardini is generally inclined to reject the type of personality '(Personlichkeit)' he ties to the Renaissance, the new age and, by extension, the whole notion of expansive self-development. He prefers, in this instance, the concept of the 'core-self', to which he links the metaphysical 'core' of personality, seen as surviving personality (and even pre-dating today's Renaissance-influenced perception of the same). The crucial distinction between 'personality' and the 'core-self', he argues, is the latter's inward concentration, or concentration on God as opposed to the world without. (Relating to the world without could no longer link man to God as the more pantheistic of the Renaissance thinkers had. supposed.)

Guardini identifies this inward concentration with the self-definition of man and opposes it to the "loss of self" which threatens and indeed ruins the outward-oriented individual (personality). The core-self, in other words, gathers into a "scant but sturdy" shell all that was scattered by the personality, conqueror of the world without (but a somewhat debatable conqueror at that), having surrendered his soul, his identity and all ties with the absolute. The socio-historical consequences are best revealed in contrast with the contemporary concept, advocated by Western sociologists, of role-playing and the individual as the sum of the roles he assumes.33

This conglomerate of various and often mutually exclusive roles–from the general who orders civilians bombed while active in charity to the devoted husband and father who faithfully discharges all family obligations while developing undeveloped potential by philandering far from home–this Protean individual is forever plagued by cruel necessity: "optimal functioning" in any one role demands he forget all others or at least those most incompatible with his present choice. He is, in other words, compelled to forget himself as embodied in the roles abandoned but days, hours or even moments before and soon to be adopted over and over again. This is the only way to avoid slips: calling his wife by his mistress' name, addressing his fellow charity workers in militaristic tones or pausing at the moment of command, to wonder if this bomb target might not include innocent women, children and senior citizens.

But what does it mean to forget one's self of a moment before in the very next, to cultivate this selective sort of amnesia? It amounts to losing the sense of identity achieved only through the reference of a constant inner experience to a constant absolute. To cultivating the bad and dangerous habit of experiencing the loss as freedom–the freedom to renew one's self-realisation in a steady succession of changing roles. To forfeiting the integral self, to frittering one's selfhood away on a surfeit of mutually-exclusive roles, to forgetting it is possible, necessary arid one's moral obligation to retain the right to use the 'same' first-person-singular at all times and thereby affirm a formal self-identity and, what is more, responsibility before one's fellow man.34 It was this outward self-development, impressive as its results may seem (the Renaissance man of broad horizons 'a la' Cesare Borgia could play both the loving father and the power-hungry tyrant who murdered a rival offspring and wept over his grave), that Guardini sets against self-limitation, the definition of the core-self by turning back to one's stable heart and burrowing into the inner man achieved through the act of ascesis and the resolute suppression of all thirst for power.

Guardini's core-self, however, is vague, especially its role in his concept of the end of the new age. The concept is described primarily through metaphor, with man's vocation to God '(Angerufen von Gott)' predominant. Personality as preserved in the core-self is concentrated in every man's being called or simply relating to God, whether or not he achieves self-realisation; the relationship indeed defines the core-self to be retained. This is the minimum left by the Renaissance individual, who luxuriated in his many manifestations, the minimum whereby a man's, even the mass-man's humanity is preserved.35The core-self is not an aristocratic privilege, a gift of fate granting self-fulfilment to the chosen few; it does not call for unbounded self-realisation at any price, nor does it justify titanic wilfulness. It simply asks that a man be true to his innate obligation to bear a higher essence than his own, outstanding as he may or may not be.

Guardini's esoteric thoughts are perhaps better expressed–for the time being, at least–in poetic form. Boris Pasternak's "There is no honour got of fame" seems to spring from a similar mood:
'There is no honour got of fame,
And glory comes of other things,
No need to hoard for history's gain
Each slip, each scrap, each scribbling'.

'The aim of art is the giving
Of self and not sensation, fuss;'
'There is shame in the legend called living
And based on idle emptiness'.

'You must live without imposture'–'such'
'To have won by the end of all in all'
'The love of space spreading many to much'
'And the sound full struck of the future's call'.

'You must learn to leave the gaps to yawn
In fate and not your reams of print,
To note life's parts and chapters with
A tick in the margin'–'and on'.

'You must leap into anonymity'
'And hide all trace of all therein',
'As the landscape hides when you cannot see'
'In the thick of a fog full bound and in'.

'Where you have walked there'll be others to
Take each step as took again,
But which were won is not for you
To know, nor which shall loss attend'.

'And not for you to part leastwise.
From the self that lies withal within,
But live, just live, always, allwise
And live till life has done living'.


Evidently Pasternak, like Guardini, draws a close parallel between the question of ``self'' (Guardini's core-self) and the purpose of an act of creation. There is no mistaking here the motifs of burrowing into or limiting the self–acts of ascesis both and entirely alien to the Renaissance concept of culture. Artistic creation is not a matter of shouting from the rooftops to all mankind (whether to proclaim truth to the world or simply assert oneself is hard to tell). The poet "must leap into anonymity", into the unknown of intimate contact with another real, living being. This is his only hope of ever seeing his writings have any real impact on fate–his own and his reader's alike. That way he is limited to the true inner essence he must have in order not to "part .,, with, the self that lies within", in order to "live, just live". Anything written for a specific individual will have meaning for all. Anything written for all has none, for having lost the ``self'' addressed.

Guardini takes a stoic attitude to what the West sees as 'the' twentieth-century predicament: the inevitable lowering of Renaissance standards in the age of mass movements. Put in these terms, he suggests, the organically inseverable correlation between "great values" and small numbers (the aristocracy, elite, etc.) cannot help but slip from a primary into a second-rate, secondary issue. Instead of asking whether culture can save the core-self facing the 'end' of the new age, the threat to millions of total depersonalisation (if not outright starvation), this crucial question is ignored for the minor issue of realising individual wealth and might (made doubly immoral for the loss of ``self'' entailed). What profit a man his editions in the millions if he has lost his core-self and his works–their soul? How nightmarish, this Napoleonic sweep of the cultural market, this victory paved with soulless beings, with living corpses! Modern culture Guardini defines as a means to save the core-self available to all and not just the chosen few, for all respond, not only the manifest geniuses among us. Everyone is guaranteed and expected to cherish above all others this personal chance; it is up to culture to see it is not missed.

Every core-self is unique, but not in the Renaissance sense so largely influenced by the notion of the innate and its chaotic diversity. Uniqueness in Guardini's system means inalienable, indivisible responsibilty, the solemn understanding that no one may make any individual's moral choices for him.

The Renaissance viewpoint, which prevailed throughout the new age, sides categorically with the chosen few; the rest simply should not have been born in the first place, but might as well serve their betters as sustenance and historical raw material. The consistently anti-Renaissance Guardini comes to the opposite conclusion: if every coreself is absolutely unique and able to assert the same whatever the circumstances, humanity would do well to increase. In other words, the mass-society of hundreds of millions compelled to get along is, according to this Catholic thinker, both inevitable and morally justified.

The picture Guardini paints is not too inspiring. No wonder his book, so close to the official Catholic line, was so long ignored in the West, despite a number of reprintings–nine by 1965, to be precise. The West European bourgeois intellectual raised on the Renaissance and Romanticism had to work through all the alternative solutions to the problem of twentieth-century man before turning to that proposed by Guardini.

Appreciating how highly contradictory are the perspectives outlined in his study of the end of the new age should not obscure their chief and–compared to other modern bourgeois philosophies of culture–distinguishing feature. Besides regarding the mass-man as the basic phenomenon and hence central issue in state-monopoly capitalism, Guardini considers the whole question crucial and indeed, in the twentieth-century context, identical to the problem of man: it cannot be skirted 'a la' Ortega and neoRomantic company, by dividing the masses from a specially-provided elite. Such is Guardini's anti-Romanticism, ever seeking a sober or at least unflinching outlook on reality.

On the end of the new age and its attendant socio-anthropological changes Guardini is best understood in the historical perspective he himself adopts. The human type spawned by this age is neither obligatory nor optimal, in his view, nor even superior to those of any other, particularly the medieval era. Quite the contrary, Guardini continues the medieval Catholic criticism of the then-emergent bourgeois money-grubber in stressing the losses incurred over the gains accruing in the Renaissance individual's historical pursuit of self-realisation under capitalism. It is on this point that he parts company with all those still tied, consciously or unconsciously, to the Renaissance model of individuality.

The difference is seen at its sharpest in comparing Guardini's concept with that set forth by Nikolai Berdyaev, in the latter's 'Meaning of History' (Berlin, 1928). Unlike Guardini, Berdyaev assumes the " Renaissance period" (concurrent with the new age) to have contributed a factor now inseparable from our concept of man–the individual's autonomous development of creative powers to the point of declaring independence from God.

In this respect, Berdyaev's Renaissance (or new age) proceeds from medieval times on a rising line, despite his general view of historical progress as highly contradictory if not meaningless in both theory and the ethics of religion. Insist as he would that the "Renaissance epoch" had, like all preceding eras, failed to meet its basic objective– in this case, absolutely untrammeled creative development for the individual–he could not conceive of the human norm apart from the qualities bestowed by that same age. Hence the tragic overtones in his contemplating the fate of human individuality at the close of the Renaissance and dawn of a new Middle Age–a mood otherwise absent in 'Das Ende der Neuzeit'. Berdyaev departs so little from the Renaissance type (perhaps for having inherited its ideals–his insisting that human freedom is the freedom to work evil could, after all, be said to ``ontologicise'' the Renaissance model) as to dentify his demise, in a perfectly apocalyptic spirit, with that of humankind in general. "We are entering the night of a new Middle Age," he proclaimed, his imagery underscoring a certain sympathy with, a certain inability and unwillingness to divorce himself from, the Renaissance attitude to the same. Guardini takes an entirely different stand, never once associating, never even dreaming to associate the Middle Ages with nocturnal imagery of any sort. Berdyaev's formal analogy between the era preceding and that following the new age fills him with more hope (if timid hope) than despair. Guardini is 'not' a Renaissance man or, unlike Berdyaev, even renegade; he would hardly identify himself with Dostoyevsky's devilish Stavrogin as Berdyaev had done in the" "revolutionary period" of his youth. Guardini never once broke with Catholicism, its ritual or the ecclesiastic discipline still steeped in the medieval image of man; nor is he entirely alien to new trends, carefully as he may choose among them those compatible with the Catholic tradition he considers more productive, at the 'end' of the new age, than its Renaissance forerunner. This accounts for his so calmly accepting the organisational, disciplinary thrust of the mass-age, for his marked reluctance to consider a matter of life and death for the individual or the principle of individuality much of that thus interpreted by thinkers more closely bound (like Berdyaev, through common sin and common remorse) to the Renaissance model of man. And even where he shares their alarm, he puts the problem in entirely different terms.

2. The Agony of Man
It is hardly surprising that Guardini's vision should have struck the Renaissance-minded as neither convincing nor inspiring. Their reaction is more than evident in Gabriel Marcel, a religious philosopher himself and author of 'Les hommes contre I'humain,'36 published one short year after 'Das Ende der Neuzeit'.

Marcel concentrates on what may be rightly considered Guardini's Achilles heel. Just how free is twentieth-century man, he asks, is he really as irreplaceable as before in moral decision-making? in choosing (to take Marcel's extreme example) between life and suicide? Marcel assumes the modern technocrat has at his disposal the means to manipulate the individual even at that crucial moment. Thus, twentieth-century man has lost what the Stoics counted their final freedom–the freedom to cease to be when life no longer measures up to human dignity, the freedom to avoid submitting to another's will, however overwhelming. The Orwellian world Marcel accuses technocrats of leading the West into, precludes the Stoic stance by exploding this last, fundamental freedom; there is no escape into non-being.

In contrast to Guardini, Marcel is certain that psychological pressure brought to bear on the individual and backed by modern science and technology can now replace the personal act of moral decision by a choice no less impersonal than immoral and highly convenable to the authorities at that. A man desiring only to live can be persuaded the time has come to die and actually commit suicide fully confident the choice is his own, anything but imposed or ``signalled'' from without. Conversely, the latterday Stoic determined to kill himself rather than act under coercion can, by the same, purely technical means, bo convinced beyond all doubt that suicide is immoral and its rejection–the truest, the supreme act of freedom and responsibility. Thus, the Stoic age is gone, forever: "There is no stoicism without faith in an inalienable, inner sovereignty, in absolute mastery of the self by the self.''37Kirillov in Dostoyevsky's 'The Possessed' could put off his suicide 'ad infinitum' only in the gentle-paced nineteenth century–the twentieth, in Marcel's estimate, would have hurried him on with it, what with Big Brother liable to burst in at any second and ``guide'' him to an entirely different, no less unquestionably ``freely-made'' decision.

Given this extreme instance, what of the utterly banal situations encountered daily with no thought whatsoever for the dividing line between truly free (and in this respect authentic) deeds and those dictated from without, by circumstance, injunction, dogma and the like? And if Marcel's arguments hold true for the Stoic maverick clinging in vain to a stand once thought (and rightly thought) unassailable, what of the masses created by the technology of the appropriation of human dignity, whereby the individual is replaced in the act of free resolution and removed to beyond the core of self?

Unlike Guardini, Marcel is certain the mass-man has lost all trace of personality and indeed anything even remotely resembling it. The loss, moreover, is permanent. Strictly speaking, he uses ``mass-man'' to mean the individual stripped of all personality and in so doing virtually abandons the Catholicism he would be so faithful unto, as well as all other Christian precepts besides.

This concept does, in point of fact, bring him much closer to that which in the pagan Hellenic world divided mankind into freeborn citizens on the one hand and slaves and savages on the other, the former possessing a self and all its juridical and moral consequences, the latter denied both.38 It reveals the limits in his notion of twentieth-century human degradation: he could not remain within the Christian teachings, much as he wanted to; the more he expanded his concept of the mass-man, the more obviously it diverged from the Christian view of human nature.

'Les hommes conire t'humain' exposes the utter discrepancy of its two basic postulates: first, that "the individual alone ... is educable"39and second, that the mass-man or common integer of mass-society is not and cannot be considered an individual, founded as he is on the absence of individuality 'per se'.

The contradiction all but pervades every dimension, the logical and the mood-oriented included, of Marcel's theoretical construct. The ``masses'' haunting his thoughts are summed up with the force of categorical dictum: "Man is in agony." This evokes a mood beyond even Nietzsche's heroic pessimism, that of utter despair in ever transcending the self for some positive alternative. That offered modern man by Marcel is often, in his own eyes no less, seen as the condemned man's last meal, an analogy which makes us wonder just how positive his alternative really is.

Like so many other Christian critics of mass-society (and Guardini, no doubt, as well) Marcel believes the individual's sole pledge of freedom lies in his connection with the transcendental, beyond the world of things the mass-man thinks too vital to renounce. The connection, indeed, defines his inner world, his very identity as an individual. This is what sets Marcel (and, for that matter, all es' chatologically-inclined philosophers, Christian and non-Christian alike) apart from Guardini: he takes the connected in too narrow a light, denying the "too too many" any relation to the transcendental or all part of individuality.

From what model does Marcel draw his concept of the connection between the finite individual and the transcendental; who best realises or perceives it as the Romantic poet perceives the presence of genius? "The genuine artist . ..," he writes, "has the most authentic and profound sense of this relation to the transcendental.''40 To be sure, he does go on to stipulate that "there is nothing more false or dangerous than the attempt to base on this remark some or any sort of aestheticism", given the "creative modes extraneous to the aesthetic order and intelligible to all". 41 But the stipulation remains secondary to the notion that "it is as a creator ... that any man can call himself free"–creative in the sense of "genuine artist". And the model itself is limited, not only to the Renaissance type (raised to new heights by the Romantics): it excludes, in principle, all possibility of establishing contact with the transcendental for those ordained to mechanical, as opposed to creative functions, for what, in fact, has been the majority in the West since the close of the nineteenth century. Marcel's scheme condemns them to eternal facelessness as incapable of ever communing with the higher principle or knowing the true sense of freedom. What is more, it counts among those denied all chance of ever attaining personality, 'any' man who happens to be engaged in ``reproduction'' or repetition as opposed to creation, in the daily or yearly round of such routine practices as compose the agricultural cycle, for example.

Marcel's model of personality, based on creativity and original creativity alone, is limited in its total disregard for every man's chance at sensing the transcendental, at knowing his own selfhood, in other words, when faced with such prosaic occurrences as the birth of a child and its education, in the business of living and not creation, as anxiety for others near and far, as disease, death and the like–factors no religion or world view would ignore. This highlights the sectarian or elitist (what the Russian poet Andrei Bely would have termed ``cerebral'') character of his criterion for selfhood (or the withholding thereof) in the modern era. He restricts the privilege to the creative intellectual–which is as flattering to that class as fraught with dire (and, needless to say, anything but Christian) temptation. It is on this privilege that Marcel builds the concept of a "new aristocracy" he hopes will save mankind from the levelling of mass-society.42

Symptomatically, Marcel's bourgeois-individualistic features come to the fore just as he begins to explain what he means by the ``aristocracy'' or "aristocratic ethic" he seeks. It becomes apparent that he is more impressed by the class' aesthetic and not ethic side–its honour, pride and so on, specifically as portrayed by the Renaissance.

By an emotion Jacob Burckhardt, the leading authority on the Italian period, called "an elusive blend of conscience and self-love". 43 This sense of honour, he wrote, pinpointing the very features which link it to bourgeois individualism (and its characteristic bent for antinomy), conies to terms with massive egoism and the most glaring vices; it can be singularly misleading and still backed by all noble sentiments lingering in the heart of the individual to serve as a new source of strength.44 Rabelais' instinctual view of honour he set wholly in the Renaissance–"in Italy too every man appeals to his individual noble instinct"45 and associates with the period's unbridled pursuit of individualism.46

In extolling the Spanish sense of pride he takes to indicate the genuine aristocratic spirit cultivated by medieval Catholicism, Marcel loses sight of Christianity's ambiguous attitude to the same. The devout Christian, besides not hesitating to prefer humility (conspicuously absent in Marcel's list of aristocratic virtues), would not for an instant forget pride's dangerous proximity to vanity, always top on Christianity's list of sins. Had Marcel actually taken the Christian viewpoint, he would never have opened his discussion of the "aristocratic ethic" (a contradiction in Christian terms in that it bases morality, which should be universal, on an ``estate'' as opposed to religious principle) with either ``honour'' or ``pride''. This could only have been done on a classical (pagan) stance or Renaissance concept (neo-Classical in this aspect as well) of the ethical qualities in personality.

To continue. The medieval Christian's ascetic view of ethics emphasising self-limitation is on the whole alien to Marcel. He is, in this respect, wholly influenced by the literary nostalgia that has aestheticised the psychology of the Spanish hidalgo. This, indeed, is what prompts, in true hidalgo fashion, to proclaim all human dignity lost to make depersonalisation complete where the self-limiting ascetic would simply find it put to the ultimate test. Although endless humiliation does try a man's dignity, it does not by any means amount to a loss of self since it is not freely chosen but imposed from without. Catholic as Marcel sincerely thought himself to be, he neglected St. Augustine's famous thesis on the nun raped by drunken soldiers and convinced of her own mortal sin and infinite disgrace: to the true believer, she remains utterly innocent of fornication and in full possession of her human dignity (or ``selfhood'', as Marcel puts it). At infinite odds with the French philosopher's aristocratic pathos is Dostoyevsky's ail-but central theme: humiliation carried to such an extreme that wallowing in its depths, submitting to the full and digging still further in (seen as a specific "breach of aesthetics" purging all trace of aestheticism from the human concept) becomes the sufferer's last refuge of dignity (selfhood). The situation admits of no other defence against humiliation and depersonalisation; self-humiliation is often one's sole act of freedom in protesting the rape of self.

Irrespective of what Marcel may think of the basic principle behind his philosophy–humanity's strict division into higher and lower beings, the contrast between the aristocracy and all other classes–this philosophy has nothing to do with Christianity but rather derives from specifically pagan elements of Plato's teachings, enriched by a polemic slant (unwarranted in the Middle Ages) on the Renaissance concept of aristocracy. The latter injected fresh vigour into the flagging elite of blood-lines and tradition by merging with the aristocracy of the spirit and creativity then on the uprise. Marcel refers, in this regard, to Ortega y Gasset: "The Spanish writer points out that members of groups neither crowd- nor mass-like in character are effectively bound by a certain desire, a certain idea or ideal which in and of itself precludes large numbers. Whereas a mass can, on the contrary, be defined as psychological fact beyond the point where individuals group together." 47

Where the mass-man, according to Ortega, Guardini and Marcel, finds his highest virtue in thinking and acting "like all the others" and regards the identity as a positive experience, the individual or rather group-member takes the opposite view to consider going along with not all but simply many unworthy if not altogether negative. On the basis of this experience (which would seem to have inspired Hegel to call the intelligentsia 'der Stand der Eitelkeit' or "the vain estate"), Marcel divides the mass-man from the group-member. The barrier would turn society into a hierarchy whose lower rungs, with their undampable penchant for levelling, are distinct from the higher, seen to follow the opposite trend towards inequality and discrimination via the creative self-realisation of those who happen to recognise, pursue and transcendentalise their differences. That Marcel should discover his alternative to the massman not in the Renaissance or Romantic individual but rather in the aristocrat self-proclaimed as such by virtue of belonging to a select group (or "small group" in sociological and ``groupuscule'' in political terms) marks a definite step away from individualism. A cautious polemic with that hypertrophied doctrine was, in fact, long his hallmark. In his early essay, "Ich und Andere" (1941), he contrasts the Romantic concept of ego as 1 = 1, as principally denned in relation to itself in other words, with what he calls 'personne' (indistinguishable, in his usage, from ``individual''), wherein "I am I in regard to myself and at the same time with respect to others".48 To put it another way, the ego's relationship to itself is just as important as its relation to others, insofar as the constitution of its ' personne' is concerned, as the latter's constitutive if not deciding factor. Marcel's 'personne', therefore, owes its fundamental distinction from the Romantic ego, not to 'subject' or the 'subjectivity' invariably drawn to the monadic model, but instead to an mfer-subjectivity seeking the narrow circle.

'Men do meet in circles small
And softly speak to prize withal
Each pitch, each accent, over gold'.
(Rainer Marie Rilke)

``Cutting off" the Romantic subject henceforth unable to limit himself to conversing with the absolute subject (Ego with a capital E) in his highly monologue-ish fashion, forcing him into the entirely new hypostasis of 'personne', who approaches the same Absolute through contact with his like-minded intimates–this, in Marcel's opinion, is the only way to overcome individual ``atomisation'' and avoid the ``collectivisation'' pitfall.49 Communication within the narrow circle he sees as a kind of religious rite, holy communion, where the interpersonal exchange is inseparable from the ecclesiastical sharing of universal values. Conversely, .the value-sharing which unites any given group is at one with intercourse among its individual members.

Value-sharing on these terms is the sole defense against the abstraction inevitably affecting ideals once in the hands of the Technocrat who would manipulate mass-consciousness through them. It alone sets the atmosphere which reveals the "true depth" of the spiritual content in the interaction of men bound by common aspirations; it takes the form of universals, which are diametrically opposed to abstractions by virtue of retaining their personal features and the possibility of being loved or standing object to a profoundly personal, anything but anonymous regard. To quote Marcel: "It is only within limited groups impelled by a common spirit of love that the universal can actually take shape.''50 This, by extension, is the only soil for genuine cultural growth.

Marcel, then, takes (hesitantly, as we have seen) the middle ground between Renaissance-Romantic individualism and collectivisation in the mass-society variant created by modern state-monopoly capitalism (what Marx termed ``false'' or ``sham'' collectives). Yet he is not in the least unaware of the tenuousness, the indefensibility of his position, the flaw in what should have been his bulwark, what he himself considered the central issue, namely: does the restrictiveness of the elite conflict in any way with the universal nature of spiritual content? Are elitist groups, born of a common desire to be somehow different from' all the others and escape the levelling processes of mass-society,–are they not soon overcome by a tendency to withdraw behind narrow lines? a tendency which cannot help but affect their life-giving spiritual content and destroy its universal nature? To do him credit, Marcel does not rule out or even minimise the possibility. "Every restricted group," he declares, "runs the risk of closing in again on itself to become a 'sect' or 'chapelle', to betray within the instant the universal it is called upon to embody."51 And while he does his best to defuse this confession by suggesting several counter-measures, the effect is one of chivalrous well-wishing, which merely emphasises the risks involved.

There is nothing surprising, therefore, in eschatologism– in which Marcel fails to avoid profound and hopeless pessimism–striking the dominant chord in this study of human degradation. The author himself cites two twentieth-century factors: Hitler's death camps, his "negative absolute"52 and the invention of the atomic bomb, "a true symbol of the inclinations driving our species to self-destruction". 53 Yet seeing both factors in specifically eschatological terms (as distinct, for example, from those adopted by Guardini) reflects more than the ``factual'' side of the coin. For the theoretical roots of Marcel's eschatologism reach down into his own metaphysical depths, and particularly the flaws in his concept of 'personne'.

He unlocked the Romantic (monadic or atomistic) individual by transferring him from the subjective to the intersubjective level, only to lock him straight back up by restricting his intersubjectivity to a narrow circle of personal friends (the "small group" mentioned above), thereby removing the universal aspect from genuine human communication. Intersubjectivity, properly understood, was to encompass casual as well as close acquaintanceships and ultimately "the too too many" to the last man among them, the very masses Marcel would fence himself off from by appealing to the very concept of intersubjectivity itself. This is the sole interpretation of intersubjectivity and its attendant forms of communication that puts the latter in harmony with the universality of the spiritual content which inspired and crystallised them in the first place.

Where intersubjectivity is seen in an elitist light, the restricted ``personal-contact'' groups spawned by mass-society (and noted–but whatever he might think–'only' noted by Marcel) become one of its two poles–the second being the mass-man to whom the first is closely linked through negative dependency. For in the final analysis wanting to be different from the mass-man defines the group-member, both internally (``constituency'') and externally: without the former, the latter would lose its definitive trait.

The universality Marcel seeks in vain could not be attained without reconciling the mass and elitist poles of mass-society. This, from the philosophical standpoint, suggested that intersubjectivity be re-interpreted as the very foundation of modern selfhood and hence all other aspects of the 'personne'. That Marcel was unable to re-think his position because of the individualistic Renaissance-Romantic notion of selfhood still burdening his philosophic consciousness is most evident in his aristocratic and elitist concepts.

This attachment to the Renaissance-Romantic model of man–more existentialist, actually, than thought through– this attachment, as I say, aligns Marcel with Berdyaev, his fellow religious philosopher of the twentieth century and an incontrovertible influence. So great is the affinity that both thinkers could be said to represent the same, aristocratic stream of late-capitalist '(spdtbürgerlich)' criticism, in the very narrow sense of Renaissance-individualistic as distinct from feudal-medieval elites.

Aristocratism of this cast, it will be recalled, was brought to light by Burckhardt, reworked by Nietzsche and his followers and with such figures as Berdyaev, transformed into a bi-racial vision of mankind, including the "spiritual-aristocratic" and "thick-skinned democratic" species.~54 The idea was so convenient to his existential aspirations that he was willing to renounce his orthodox Christianity, calling instead for a splintering-off into two dimensions oriented on the "average mass-man", with his "normalistic spiritual organisation",55 and men of a "different spiritual organisation aimed at a different, creative realm, a more sensitive, subtle and complex organisation altogether".56

This, from the Orthodox and Catholic viewpoints, is outright heresy, and Marcel was evidently quite close to it himself: like Berdyaev's, his model of man was locked into a schism between higher and lower human beings seen as utterly incompatible with each other. Here lies the ultimate source of the eschatologism the two philosophers shared in equal measure and moreover proclaimed inherent to their Christian ethos.57

3. Moral Aestheticism and Aestheticising Moralism

Having now acquainted himself with Marcel's concept of man, the reader will be particularly interested in its relation, if not to his actual literary and dramatic output, then at least to his own perception of the same. There is certainly enough material at hand: his "Der dramatische Zug meines Werkes in der Sicht des Philosophen", presented in German, 12 January 1959, in Freiburg. It is evident, in reading not too far between the lines, that Marcel the playwright was often reproached for the overly cerebral character of his work; the paper, at any rate, is far from his first rebuttal.

He is determined here to prove the ``dynamic''58 character of the interrelationship between his philosophic and dramatic halves, an interrelationship dominated, moreover, by the latter. His motives, apart from the polemic considerations involved, are philosophic and two-fold at the very least. The first, and most important, has to do with the Renaissance spirit he could never quite quell, as noted above, and its central, aestheticist exaggeration of the artist's function (developed by the Romantics and inherited through them by Marcel). Granted, the Renaissance did not oppose this motive to the rationalist concept of cognition: the Renaissance artist was often a scholar and in any case never averse to the rational or scientific modes of perception. With the Romantic era, however, it was cut off from and set squarely above all other Renaissance themes.

The second motive is, in many respects, a mere modification or at least extension of the first. It concerns Marcel's own existentialist-defined vision, whereby the artistic perception of reality is considered primary (and true, whereas scientific rationalism is false), since human life is centred on empirical fact (more precisely if less succinctly known among Marcel's German mentors as 'In-der-Welt-sein)'. Life in these terms is immanently dramatic and as such presupposes dramatic modes of perception. The dramatic element stems from man's existing exclusively in context, from existence seen as a specifically dramatic context; it is the very bedrock of existence which, in Marcel's view, cannot be fathomed either by science or rationalistic philosophy insofar as both exclude man from their study of life and context, of the inevitable conflict with environment, from their study of man. Logically, then, only drama and the dramatic artist can give us the true model of human existence.

'At' this point, however, the reality Marcel appeals to begins fo split: what he first called primary is now seen to havo been filtered through and significantly reworked by his own consciousness. The paradox becomes strikingly obvious when he draws on his own background as raw material, or the very stuff of existence at the deepest levels of his plays. The autobiography he claims is his ``objective'' account of the childhood experiences which defined the direction and content of his writings is presented as though he had been existentialist even in the cradle, viewing the world exclusively in terms of fear and anxiety, freedom and existence, ethics and aesthetics.

Thus, his primary experience is the fear of death, brought home by that of his mother to haunt him in various guises throughout his early years. Among several related emotions he lists unrelieved loneliness and a somewhat precocious sense of the ``burden'' of his own existence.

Finally, to complete the picture and specify just which brand of existentialism his younger self adhered to, Marcel introduces his father and the aunt who took him in hand upon the death of his mother; between them, they represent the two poles of Kierkegaardian thought, Aesthetics and Ethics. As a child, then, like the Danish thinker before him, he was torn between two irreconcilable odds. This childhood experience, he contends, became the unconscious raw material for the play 'Le quatuor en fa diese;' later he was to note with astonishment that the character relives the central existentialist fact of his own childhood, now buried in the innermost sanctuaries of adult existence.

That Marcel took up drama (and more significantly perhaps that he gave it precedence over philosophy), points all too conclusively to his having chosen Aesthetics over Ethics. Aestheticism is evident as well in his citing the "spirit of music"–Nietzsche's fount of Greek tragedy–as the source of his philosophic and dramatic efforts alike. Over and again, he insists music was always the formative influence in his life: were it not for his music-teacher's dissuasion, he would have become a composer. This thwarted ambition, he implies, indirectly informs his dramatic writings, not so much in the thematic (music invariably assumes pivotal existentialist connotations in his plays) as in some inner, structural sense. From childhood on, he had thought of it as "a kind of miraculous escape from [the] prison" of his troubled and trembling existence; through it, in boyhood, he had celebrated reconciliation with his aesthetic father at the price, though, of estrangement from an ethical and unmusical aunt. This was to become the archetypal pattern of his entire artistic life. Nonetheless, despite the apparently overwhelming weight of evidence to the contrary–evidence supplied by Marcel himself–the roots of his aestheticism lie elsewhere.

This elsewhere lies in turn at a much deeper–and, paradoxically enough, not artistic but philosophic–level projected after the fact on his dramatic sources. It is the schism between ethics and aesthetics in his own work Cand creative endeavour in general), a schism inspired by the Nietzschean and Kierkegaardian trends popular in his youth. Kierkegaard being much closer to his own inclinations, he takes a more dramatic view of the rift than Nietzsche. Philosophically perceived as the tragedy of art, it becomes the mainspring of his dramaturgy and indeed, an entire mode of creative endeavour.

A virtue was made of necessity, the drama of art transformed into a tool for the art of drama. The split between Truth and Beauty, Beauty and the Good, the Good and Truth, given theoretical form primarily by Weber is thus converted by Marcel the playwright (carrying on a tradition founded by Baudelaire's 'Fleurs du mal)' into a peculiar source of aesthetic pleasure–that derived from contemplating not harmony, but its destruction. This singular (Plato would have said ``complex'' and ``false'') 'aesthetic satisfaction' stems from the experience of the human tragedy in existence, corroborated by and, conversely, corroborating Marcel's own dramatic output.

Existentialism in general and Marcel's brand in particular are now seen to represent a specific mode of ontologicising the tragedy of creative endeavour, of making its aesthetic features the primary criterion in human existence, 'In-der-Welt-sein' or 'I'existence-en-situation', as Marcel puts it. Complying, it would seem, with Nietzsche's dictum, Marcel justifies the world "as an aesthetic phenomenon", though the aesthetics he has in mind here reflect the pan-tragicism fashionable in Western art and philosophy of the twentieth century's first quarter. The justification too stands very much in a class all its own, verging as it does on the total rejection of the world or taking at any rate peculiar delight in contemplating its inner disintegration, innate invalidity, etc.

Strictly within the bounds of philosophy, as we have seen, this factor is manifest in Marcel's tendency, as a playwright, to dissociate 'ad infinitum' the various functions of human existence. The aim is to foment their irresolvable conflict, through exposing the very foundations of the business of living as fragile, questionable and even invalid. It is the hallmark of his dramatic work and, for that matter, his existentialism as a whole.

Marcel's most representative play, in this respect, is 'Chemin de Crete', constructed wholly on the confusion felt by a faithless wife forgiven by her pastor-husband: did he act as a loving spouse or as a cleric duty-bound to absolve all sinners? She cannot, in other words, find the crucial distinction between the man and the pastor, combined in the single person of her husband. Curiously enough, Marcel plays this dramatic line to its end, has his heroine recognise how dangerous are the many layers of meaning in the concept of love, has her eventually question her own self and then, in an abrupt about-face, takes her to task for his own faults as existentialist dramatist, for dissociating, as described above, the various definitions of human existence united in her husband, for not being bound body and soul to a husband full of faith and yet doubtful of his calling.

Besides generating 'dramatic' development in the piece, this dissociation mechanism is used by our existentialist dramatist to lend it 'meaning' by placing all characters in extremity to reveal the existentialist drama of human existence. Had the heroine not committed the fault the author so roundly castigates (and thereby distances himself from her), the play would have no existentialist content. The fault, then, is essential to the dramatic form and, as well, its existentialist content: it lends the play contentmeaning. Marcel's recognising his heroine's mistake is an unwitting confession of faulty existentialist content on his own part as author of a play built on and bound by the very same flaw.

He goes much further, though, unconsciously condemning not only this one particular heroine but the dissociation method that underlies a number of his other dramas as well. It comes down to this: first, portraying the common man effecting some sort of functional integrity in his life as ``asleep'', or unaware of the true tragedy of existence and hence condemned to falsity; second, manoeuvring this individual by fair means or foul into the kind of " existential situation" which shows (him or those around him) that his own various facets are mutually exclusive–this is the ``awakening'' Marcel speaks of, making a man face the truth and lead a true existence; third, raising the question no man may ask unless and until dissociated by his playwright-creator and the faults he inspires, the question of how to re-assemble the scattered and warring bits of self.

Of course, Marcel the playwright, putting the question as such, provides no answer. Nor does Marcel the philosopher. It is a mystery, says the latter, a mystery for the free resolution of the individual thus obliged to restore order to the rebellient elements of his existence. The protagonist must return, in other words, to the original innocence (or, in Marcel's terms, falsity) he left, not of his own accord, but by that of an existentialist author willing to use any and all means, including those he–the author, knows to be flawed. The state returned to, however, lies on a new turn of the gyre, where innocence is replaced by the experience of all existentialist temptations. Thus formulated, the problem is indeed insoluble; hence the veil of mystery hinting at worlds beyond the plays of Gabriel Marcel.

But is the problem properly put? Is it warranted? Isn't Marcel, in mesmerising his characters and audience alike, isn't he something of a tempter himself? nudging us into the depths of inextricable contradiction?

One possible, though unlikely explanation comes to mind. Dissociating, splintering a man into the sum of his conflicting facets (and ambitions) can in certain circumstances help analyse the passions through the prism of art. For every human function has its motivating passion, more readily contrasted as such to all other emotions for an isolated, idealised abstraction of itself. The principle is best exploited by Marcel in his 'La chapelle ardente', a drama centred on a mother's obsessive mourning for a son lost to war and the cruel burden it lays on his surviving friends, now stripped of sincerity, spontaneity and freedom. Exposed here as nowhere else, however, are the limitations of Marcel's analytical approach and their underlying causes.

The point is, he does not consider the individual 'possessed' of one of several passions (or even a dominant one of many), but focuses instead on the 'obsession' itself. Consequently, the individual is shunted aside as the playwright analyses the logic (or, in modern philosophical terms, the ``phenomenology'') of a passion taken to be self-sufficient. The individual is reduced to one overriding passion; he is swallowed up into it, which is a dubious assumption if only because passion separated from its bearer is no longer passion but the notion thereof–in this case, a mother's literally all-absorbing grief. It operates no longer on its own logic, that of 'human' fooling, but on the cerebral, speculative logic of the Idea substituted by our existentialist artist.

Not that such passion is bound to ruin the individual or, in this case, deaden the suffering that has eclipsed all hope and love for the living (love for the dead transformed into a monstrous indifference to the living). No, abstracted passion spells ruination in and of itself, and not only for the dramatic character concerned here, but as well for the author himself. Why? Because he cannot help but lose the individual reduced to a single emotional response and through him the emotion itself, in the long run, if emotion must of necessity become its own Idea and the "logic of passion", all of a sudden, "the passion of logic", a purely cerebral game. For a single passion isolated from (if only under the innocent guise of having absorbed) all others and thus from the bearer himself as the sum of the passions borne is 'ipso facto' doomed. Such passion is fatally restricted to existence on the outer edge, in the existentialists' extremity, thus turned to express not the authenticity but the falseness of the position unwittingly assumed.

To be sure, the argument can be extended–by way of exception, in Marcel's Kierkegaardian fashion–to beyond the context of drama. But whatever Marcel may think, however the exception may testify to ruination in extremity, it does not reveal the secret of human existence. Quite the contrary: it veils it in pan-tragic ideology. For no man is ruined here, but a false notion (or, what comes to the same thing, the passion transformed into a false notion via isolation from the bearer obsessed and thus reduced to a useless appendage of one particular function). Even when ruined, the natural end of a false notion, this passion has nothing to say on the truth of human existence. The spectacle of its self-destruction (inherent to every isolated and obsessive emotion) can be most enlightening but is not the spectacle of the truth of human existence: man 'is', by virtue of his separation from self-destroying passion, a 'fundamental whole' existing prior to and in spite of the feelings vying for dominance within.

This would imply that the problem set by our dramatistphilosopher ought to be reversed. The truth of human existence is not a tragic schism striking at the roots of everyday life; it does not pit the individual against or cause him to doubt himself. Rather the question is just what does unify man in the teeth of all these schisms, just what is it that makes the individual authentic unto himself and guarantees his human identity in the guarantee-less, antinomic world of extremities. We are not asking what takes the humanness out of a human utterly consumed by an obsession dehumanised as Idea–the answer is, obviously, the passion-Idea itself. We are asking how does he manage to remain human and whole 'despite' the passions tearing him to pieces within, 'despite' everything that makes them so lethally destructive. Indebted as he was to the RenaissanceRomantic cult of passion as the one and only authentic value in man, Marcel misunderstood that which had sparked his artist's interest in the first place. The truly human element in man is not passion 'per se' (the affect taken to an agitated extreme), but its 'human quality', or relation to the other emotions and, most importantly of all, the higher values, the integrity of spirit and life.

Detached from this integrity (read: humanness), a human being's "very own" passions become 'inhuman', pitiless and evil, something like a bloodthirsty demon devouring all human qualities within: the parallel drawn of old between obsession and possession is scarcely fortuitous. As mentioned more generally above, the bourgeois rationality principle dismantling the microstructure of interpersonal relationships and ``atomising'' individuals whose mutual bonds have ossified and reified–this principle alienates man from others, himself, and of course, his passions. ``Atomised'' or isolated man, an individual driven to self-doubt (through the process known to philosophers, sociologists and psychologists as ``self-alienation'') is very likely to treat his passions in kind, for every emotion is subject to atomisation in this sense, to being pitted against all other feelings and the bearer himself.

This is what we mean by the self-absolutisation of passion, its tendency to dehumanise itself into an evil, allconsuming, all-destroying obsession which operates not on the human, but on its own, incalculable scale. To worship this kind of passion as divine is to reject, willingly or otherwise, the humanist tradition, cite it though you may or may not do. Marcel overlooked this paradox, bound as he was to the aristocratic Renaissance-Romantic spirit. Thus, in claiming the heroine of 'La chapelle ardente' embodies a "stale suffering" which cries out for our sympathy, he misleads his audience for lack of a strict criterion on which to judge what is to be sympathised with, Aline's dehumanised passion or something else again. The dilemma becomes all the more insolvable, as Marcel sees it, in that Aline's passion has usurped every corner of her soul.

More importantly, though (at the risk of repetition), the fall of this hypertrophied passion (inevitable in all who have escaped its Romantic cult) bring us no closer to the truth of human existence; at best, it points to the excesses born of false human predicaments and the erring passions they engender. But because Marcel takes the opposite stand to insist these downfalls reveal the truth of life, he plays a tempter's part, consciously luring his audience into an impassable thicket to say: ``I've done all I could, you're on your own now.''

The audience, for its part, will naturally ask what was the point in ever entering the thicket. Wouldn't another route have done just as well? Or, as Marcel puts it, in the secret hope all will appreciate the question's rhetorical nature: "Could it be a matter of taking morbid delight in complexity and obscurity?''~59The elitist trend, no less characteristic of Marcel the playwright than of his philosopher's other half, sheds new light on the complexity that largely barred his plays, as he himself admits, to the broad public.

The chief temptation misleading the victims of the playsituation set up by Marcel's existentialist dramatic methods is to take the unmitigated 'aesthete's' approach to moral issues, to make the moral worth of an individual directly dependent on the complexity of his moral dilemmas, thus devaluing and moreover blackening moral integrity outright. Such was the invariable fruit of the existentialist (tragic) aesthetic view of morality, and the aristocratic spirit. Ultimately, it represents the very erosive trend in Western ethics and culture Marcel's theatre fans sought to escape; instead of the living bread of moral urgency, however, they were treated to the slippery stones of moral aestheticism or aestheticising moralism.

Marcel is a persuasive example of the extent to which describing a given state of affairs (in this case, the "human predicament" under state-monopoly capitalism) within the narrow confines of theoretical assumption locks the thinker into a closed perspective and prompts him to seek an outlet where it merely turns back on itself to form a "second pole". In relating this second pole to the way out of the dead end that is mass-society, Marcel looks something like a prisoner who has knocked down a cell wall and found himself ... in the next cell, with a slight change of furnishings. Confused by this last factor, he begins to pin his hopes for freedom on the second cell. The misunderstanding explains, in part, why the elitist critique of mass-society should have proved a paradoxical (and hence often unrecognised) apologetic, the elite having no meaning other than that of antithesis to the masses.

Still more indicative of the philosopher turned unwitting tool of the very forces he had hoped to topple is the Frankfurt school and its ideologists, Horkheimer and Adorno.


Section two. Beyond despair
Chapter one. The bourgeois individual after the decline of the West
1. Between individuality and its negation
2. The fall of the individual and western culture
3. The suicide of art: A model for individual emulation
Chapter two. Breaking into the pre-individualist state
1. Covetous man (Left-wing Freudianism and the consumer society)
2. Marcuse on the left-wing Freudian myth of man
3. Fantasy turned against individuality



1. Between Individuality and Its Negation

Like Marcel, the founding fathers of the Frankfurt school were equally against mass-society and individualism. Their basic and all too often unconscious model of man, however, owed even more to the Renaissance-Romantic tradition than his. Which made their attack on mass-society that much more pessimistic, and their prognosis for the twentieth-century individual altogether bleak. Rejecting Marcel's faith in transcendence, moreover, drove Horkheimer and Adorno still deeper into eschatologism.

In the article, "Traditionelle und kritische Theorie" (1937), a virtual manifesto for the Frankfurt school, Horkheimer observed: "Where monopoly-capitalist relations obtain. .., even the relatively independent individual is doomed. He no longer has thoughts to call his own.''1Significantly, he reached the same conclusion, at this early date, as Marcel would later: "Under late capitalism. . ., the truth takes refuge ... in small groups.''2 True, the reference is not to Marcel's conservative-aristocratic assemblies, but rather radical and even ``revolutionary-aristocratic'' conclaves; these he saw as destined to bring happiness to mankind, including a working class corrupted (?!) by capitalism. "History shows us," he assured what was at the time a scant following, "that persecuted but persevering groups all but ignored even by their opposition can, through greater perspicacity, gain the upper hand at critical moments."3

Be that as it may, he adds, no such group can, at this point in time, count on any support, either from culture– relentlessly destroyed in a late-capitalist era bent on barbarism–or the progressive forces in society, themselves ideologised and corrupt. The historical situation isolates "apperceptive thought", leaving it no other option but to "stand by itself. alone".4 The apperceptive thinkers themselves are bound by nothing except their common desire to... perceive, while the ``community'' born of this "binding perception" holds no guarantees beyond the immediate present.5

This, a no less pessimistic than revolutionistic version of the elitist attack on mass-society, is given a thorough socio-philosophic grounding in 'Dialektik der Aufklarung' by Horkheimer and Adorno.6 The criticism centres on the bourgeois personality-type, a concept so broad as to derive from the crafty Odysseus, "the prototype of bourgeois individualism".7 Both concepts, in fact, are treated with a characteristic aberration, the "bourgeois individual" (the quotation marks indicate my own dissent from Horkheimer and Adorno's rather sweeping identification of Odysseus) decried not so much for 'individualism per se' as for what could be seen as its very 'antithesis'. Specifically, he is attacked for being something 'greater' than his empirical counterpart.

Throughout their joint study, Horkheimer and Adorno are determined to debunk and expose not so much the bourgeois as the individual or personal element in their "bourgeois individual", the 'Person', in the Kantian and classical German sense of the term. Influenced to a large extent by Nietzsche's 'anti-individualist' Dionysianism, they are basically inclined to doubt the very principle of individuality, which they pronounce "contradictory from its very origins",8 and contradictory in two diametrically opposed respects. Eirst, it carries the seeds of individuation, or differentiation from the primary whole of nature and consequently, the human collective once in primordial harmony therewith. Second, "individuation advances to the detriment of the individuality it pursues",9which makes every bourgeois "a potential Nazi".10 In short, Horkheimer and Adorno tend to criticise individuality, ostracised cruelly enough as it is in late-capitalist society, for going both too far and not far enough.

In the first instance, they attack the bourgeois personalitytype from a non- and anti-bourgeois or natural-collectivist standpoint which, as it so happened, however, excluded not only the bourgeois but any and all individuation principles out of hand. Thus, Horkheimer and Adorno are seen to rely on the very bourgeois concept of the individual they set out to "critically surpass", having failed to conceive of individuation in any form other than the bourgeois, of the individual, by extension, in any guise other than the bourgeois. According to Marx, this standpoint is typical of "barrackroom Communism", with its negative dependency on the individualistic, private-property ethos.

The target in the second instance is the late-capitalist (or to be more precise, the state-monopoly) reduction of the individuality attacked in the first. Having set themselves against late capitalism and its mass society offshoot, Horkheimer and Adorno take the very stand they have just finished shattering: to defend the individual (and the individuality principle) by bemoaning his hard lot in the twentieth century. Where in the first instance their attitude was more or less anti-elitist, they now echo Ortega, Marcel and Berdyaev in mourning those forced to pattern body and soul on technical apparatus or, in other words, forfeit their individuality to become so many mass-men. Moreover, as will be evident time and again below, this negative dependency on the bourgeois-individual model of man invariably turns into its positive, direct reverse.

Note, in connection with this transformation, that Horkheimer and Adorno trace all bourgeois traits in the individual to the trends which would make him a 'Person' in the Kantian sense, i.e. take him beyond the natural, empirical limits that grant access to the world of culture, universal ideals and the spiritual dimension in general. The ``personalising'' mechanisms whereby an individual matches his vital interests and unconscious drives to the elementary demands of community life (taken in its universal, ideal aspect) are consistently seen by Horkheimer and Adorno to stem from the 'self-repression' which makes his real exploitation in the bourgeois world inwardly tolerable. His subjugating instinct and interest to what he considers his own higher aspect–the ideals of truth, goodness and justice as conceived within the ego or conscious mind–this act of submission, say the authors of 'Dialektik der Aufklarnng', represents the radical break with nature, which is his fall from grace. For in so repressing his inner nature, he cannot help but trigger a power-lust aimed at the rampant repression and exploitation of ``external'' nature, as well as all human agents of her principle.

Thus, what classical German philosophy from Kant on down had thought to promise the individual's ultimate defeat of ``particularity'' (or in this case individualism in its narrowest, bourgeois sense) is reversed by Horkheimer and Adorno to express the bourgeois spirit dominating European man since the Homeric age. Quite naturally then, theirs is a far more pessimistic view of the individual's plight than that taken by those who follow the ``personalist'' tradition of German classical philosophy11 –the latter's dimly glimpsed release is their dead end, and the end of the civilisation and the human type spawned by Olympian mythology. The birth of a new human type was made all the more debatable by their highly contradictory (if not simply ill-conceived) picture of the 'non-bourgeois' individual. In short, philosophy's quietly despairing of modern man, unbridled eschatologism as it were, stems not so much from such empirical factors as Auschwitz, as a vulgarly naturalistic outlook on life.

The "end of the individual", a theme temporarily eclipsed by the war of fascism, sounds forth loud and clear in 'Dialektik der Aufklarung'. Indeed, the treatise in some respects resembles 'The Decline of the West'. Spengler anticipated the fall of European (``Faustian'') culture on the eve of World War I (when he claims the book was more or less complete); Horkheimer and Adorno resurrected the issue, substituting "bourgeois enlightenment" for "Faustian culture", at the end of World War II. They focused not so much on the fate of Western culture as the question of individuality–the instrument of all previous exploitative cultural forms; they doubted the individual would even survive the modern age of super-powers, total organisation, global conflict, mass-extermination camps, industrially-manufactured consciousness and engineered mass-psychoses.

The "modern age" in which 'Dialektik der Aufklarung' paints the ultimate defeat of culture and individuality is astonishingly bleak: all is swallowed into the black of night. Nor is the hopelessness accidental: it gripped Horkheimer and Adorno, and was deliberately conveyed by them to their readers. Because the two philosophers belonged to the West European intellectual generation which interpreted Nietzsche's "God is dead" as the loss of all positive ideals, they were much more immediately aware of what they rejected than of what they actually sought. This, indeed, was to become their theoretical credo.12Eventually, the positive was replaced by a negative absolute, symbolised by Auschwitz as the supreme, authentic incarnation of all they would deny in the twentieth century.

Against this negative standard, Horkheimer and Adorno measured what they saw as the historically inevitable fruits of enlightenment: contemporary Western culture and the individuality principle at its very core. "Instead of entering a truly human state," they write, "mankind has plunged into a new type of barbarism.''13 This is manifest not so much in fascism as in the late-capitalist era which gave it birth. The very age, they argue, is thoroughly ``fastfoid'', drawn, that is, to the fascist perspective. In it, violence and totalitarianism reign supreme, to the utter and ultimate defeat of the individual and individualist culture. From its very inception (undated but apparently coincident with the dawn of the twentieth century) to its end in the misty future, the late-capitalist age condemns the individual to a "paradoxical existence" 'on the very knife-edge of liquidation', poised between being and non-being. They have no doubts on this score; the conclusion strikes them as no less valid than the naked fact of fascism and Hitler's death camps. (Whose elimination, with the rout of the nazis, did not shake Horkheimer and Adorno in the slightest: latecapitalism having survived, it was merely a question of replacing one form of totalitarianism by another.)

Horkheimer and Adorno were therefore concerned not with backing their conclusion but with judging the entire history of mankind (or at least the European species) in its light. As naturalists close in this sense to Feuerbach, they are inclined to idealise Mother-Nature, whose repression within the individual and without is held to have engendered all human woes. As ``true'' '(wahre)' socialists of the German school sharing common purpose with the social philosophy of young Wagner (via the brutalising medium of Nietzsche's 'Die Geburt der Tragodie cms dem Geiste der Musik)', they trace the root cause of her repression to the "act of individuation" which necessarily separates man from nature. Finally, as would-be Marxists (and the "sole true" Marxists at that), they identify individuation, and the exploitative attitude to nature and one's fellow man it induces, with the universal-historical establishment of the 'bourgeois principle' that gave birth to 'capitalism'. Such were the theoretical foundations of their "dialectics of enlightenment''.

They fail, however, to give any intelligible account of the schism between man and nature. Why the human animal should have forsworn happiness and severed one natural bond after another is not discussed in 'Dialektik der Aufkldrung'. We are left to surmise, on the basis of vague and easily retractable hints, that man chose to detach himself from nature, for example, for the sake not so much of happiness as a sense of security or relative independence from her charity. It is furthermore implied that absolute dependence on the whole brought, besides happiness, a certain melancholy backed by a feeling no less pious than fearsome, and in any case quite unbearable.

Such conjectures, however, merely raise a series of questions demanding, in turn, yet another series of assumptions or at least partial assumptions on the 'individual detached from nature'–where individuality is now entirely beside the point. The logic is circular: in order to 'want' to detach himself from nature, man must already 'be' detached. This is the type sprung from nature as the instant, complete "bourgeois individualist" treated in 'Dialektik der Aufklarung;' the causes behind and actual process of his socio-psychological formation are left undiscussed.

As long as he felt himself 'akin' to nature, man's attitude to her phenomena was mimetic. The feeling eventually gave way to a desire for dominance, for commandeering what had been granted by grace, to a 'force majeure' attitude, in other words, expressed as Odyssean cunning, repression and exploitation. In order, however, to conquer this newly ``external'' nature, man must first conquer that within: the stream of emotion and sensation, the dynamics of his own impulses, now seen to be equally external. External to what? To that same individual, now conceived of as `` nonnature'' and hence divided within his own being into ``nature-kin'' and ``non-nature-kin''–the latter acting as the human to the former's natural pole.

This is this seat of ``selfness'' '(das Selbst)', dating to the very moment of 'division' from the socio-cosmic whole which entails his own 'disintegration' into a self-centred ego and entirely disparate "inner nature". The deeper the first schism, the more dramatic the second, the more split the personality. The ego comes to treat inner sensuality and vitality to the same violent repression as that dealt external nature, not to mention all other human agents of her principle. "Awakening the subject," say Horkheimer and Adorno, "carried the price of recognition for power as the principle behind all relationships.''14Thus, the subject awakes as a 'bourgeois subject', his 'Selbst'–as an instrument of the bourgeois-exploiter "power lust''.

Paradoxically, though, the more of nature (inner and outer) man conquers, the more alien it grows: his use of force neither creates nor resurrects intimacy or kinship. The subject, the ego or 'das Selbst–call' it what you will–is made absolute master over an entity no less absolutely alien, utterly beyond his own power lust. Yet it is this very aspect of alien-ness that Horkheimer and Adorno (in a Spenglerian spirit) consider to have sparked the 'terror' that harks back to primitive man's fear of the unfamiliar. Where the savage could exorcise his fear by imitating its source to establish some sort of kinship bond, the individual detached from nature's whole takes the opposite tack by "doubling nature into essence and appearance, force and action".15Both myth and science follow suit, both are born of fear and both, in the disjunction trend that alienates them still further from nature, share a common bent for enlightenment.

The exorcism thus attained, however, is illusionary; the ancient terror is not quelled but merely withdrawn, as is nature from man. This simply serves to strengthen the 'Selbst's' constant terror of slipping back "into the pristine nature it cost it so inexpressibly much effort to divorce itself from–which accounts for its inexpressible fear".16 And that is none other than the ancients' horror of insanity; recall Euripides' "whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad"–the cruellest punishment imaginable, as far as the Greeks were concerned.

It is this terror, say Horkheimer and Adorno, which inspires man to take nature by force, his first weapon being myth. Olympian lore, for example, is thus seen as one of the primary forms of bourgeois enlightenment, and subsequently science and technology, the new mythology enlightening man no more than it obscured a nature frozen into the alienated shapes of senselessness and hopelessnesss.

At this point, our Frankfurt philosophers resort to Freudian tactics in comparing the relationship between the bourgeois ego (or 'Selbst)' and nature as the object of its enlightenment to that between the sadist and his victim; hatred in the latter instance mounts with, the suffering inflicted on the victim as a projection of fear. The perversion is attributed by Horkheimer and Adorno to the bourgeois individual's having sacrificed his own, inner nature as well as that without to attain selfhood; hence the hatred felt by the 'Selbst' for all things natural, its paranoic tendency to look for hostile forces in all living, natural phenomena.

Which brings us, and the authors of 'Dialektik der Aufklarung', to a somewhat paradoxical conclusion: if the latecapitalist society destroys Western man and his culture, it is his own fault as architect of that very body. Plainly, Horkheimer and Adorno direct the indignation more properly reserved for the realities of the late-capitalist world at the whole of the West European cultural tradition, starting with Homer. (Nor do they distinguish between its democratic and anti-democratic, humanistic and antihumanistic elements.)

2. The Fall of the Individual and Western Culture

Our Frankfurt philosophers, apparently, see Western civilisation, from its pre-Homeric days to the present, as the history of 'reason gone mad'. Just what does this insanity amount to? Primarily, reason's having detached itself from nature, attained freedom, set itself against and, finally, forfeited all relation to nature other than that of dominance. Now dominance presupposes hostility, the act of dominating–persecution, and persecution (to follow the Freudian ``ambivalence'' argument adopted by Horkheimer and Adorno)–the persecutor's fear of his persecuted object, his ultimately developing the persecution complex.

Thus, the dialectics of enlightenment draw ' indiscriminately' on philosophical (``reason''), sociological (Weber's ``rationality''), metapsychological (Freud's `` rationalisation''), socio-economic (``exploitation''), politological (``dominance'') and similarly general concepts. Hence, in Marxian terms, their true source and secret.

Dissecting (schematically, of course) this socio-philosophical complex with its decoding and perhaps, conversely, encoding categories for reason, will shed light on what Horkheimer and Adorno usually mean by culture. It is a matter of suppressing nature and all things even faintly natural in man himself and the human quality; it includes all ways and means used by the individual in achieving self-dominance, breaking down within, or rather off from the natural element within, for the repression and exploitation of self. Culture, as interpreted by Horkheimer and Adorno, covers all methods and techniques, from the predominantly ideal (or ``sublimated'') to the steadily more material (``de-sublimated'', or direct impact on the nervous and physiological substrata), applied by the individual in his mad pursuit of self-dominance as a steppingstone to ascendancy over his fellow man and external nature.

The self-repression man seeks in the convoluted course of culture is based, we are told, on the 'purely religious' mechanism used in sublimating none other than the ' sacrindal victim' itself: once sacrificed, once removed from reality (and for that very reason reconciled with its opposing forces), the victim is deified as ideal symbol. Like Freud in 'Totem and Taboo' before them, Horkheimer and Adorno imply this is the case with religion, particularly Christianity (the chief target in 'Dialektik der Aufklärung)', which sublimates and thus long preserves the real ritual of human sacrifice. Western culture performs the rite time without number in ``culturising'' millions upon millions of individuals.

Everyone is obliged to sacrifice, ``voluntarily'', the spontaneity of natural instincts and impulses to what he considers his higher self–his ego, or rather egoistic centre, his utmost self, his very quality of selfness '(das Selbst)'. The more his impulses are bound by rational considerations (centred on self-preservation), the greater the mediating influence of the all-pervasive 'Selbst', the more golden moments he thus sacrifices to the chillingly sober thought of the future–the closer these factors, idealised as the ego principle spiritually sublimating all things natural, move to the divine. The ego is now regarded as a stable entity offsetting the insubstantially chaotic nature of instinct and elan vital, while its own substantiality is actually mere illusion, or in the Frankfurters' terms, ``ideology''.

In the class society, to quote Horkheimer and Adorno on their central theme, the hostility nurtured by the 'Selbst' against all its victims prompted still greater persecution of the natural remnants within, on the one hand, and on the other, the rejection of nature either within or as represented by others to reduce both to mere objects of dominance. This rejection, leading as it does to the outright destruction of thousands, hundreds of thousands and ultimately millions, lies at the heart of the "civilising rationale", of `` culturising'' in any guise based on 'das Selbst'.

``Man's self-dominance, the basis of his 'Selbst,"' write Horkheimer and Adorno, "almost always comes to the annihilation of the subject whose interests it pursues"17–for the subject is neither the ego nor the 'Selbst' but rather the natural human instincts supplanted and suppressed by both and taken in all their innate identity to the natural whole. Whereas culture, which supplies the ideological grounds for dominance as necessary and inevitable, and every possible means, including the purely technical, for its achievement, is no more than the ritual sacrifice over thousands of years of nature within and without man. The history of civilisation records man's ``introversion'', or assimilation of this his victim, and his abstaining from the direct satisfaction of the elan vital.

All of which leads, in their estimation, to Hitler's death camps. Adorno, dotting the i's in 'Negative Dialektik', declares Auschwitz the inevitable, the only possible outcome of Western culture, based exclusively on repressing the natural element in man. As its "negative absolute", it justifies Nietzsche's "God is dead", the inspiration behind so many Dadaist attacks on culture in the 1920s.

``God" is taken here to mean the whole of European culture, its absolutes and values. Its dying hour revealed its utter defencelessness against fascism and what is more, an internal affinity with that same monstrosity, for genocide is merely the ``anti-natural'' goal of Western civilisation. Adorno draws a quite transparent parallel between "idealistic Western culture", whose ``camps'' ruthlessly burnt away the natural substratum of man, the "somatic, sensual layer of the living",18 and the nazi death camps, where the burning was all too literal.

Any man accustomed to repressing the natural element within, to self-repression that is, is inevitably, in Adorno's eyes, the blind tool of repression projected on others (to his own, unconscious satisfaction). The conformist tendency put by the Nazis to monstrous ends is said to spring from the deepest wells of the ``idealistic'' (read: ``inhuman'') culture of the West. For the culture ``ideologised'' by idealistic metaphysics (which appeal to religious absolutes) actually burns out paltry "physical existence" in the interests19 of higher phenomena of Truth, Beauty and the Good. None of which, according to Adorno, have any bearing on the concrete individual other than that of exploitation.

And if individuals can indeed be incinerated in this sense, as Adorno contends, as practised by Western culture on the Europeans, those nations are all the more really convinced that entire races and peoples must be sacrificed to the Higher Values. As the "integration of physical death",20 Western culture could not help but become the destroying angel of other civilisations–or so concludes the author of 'Negative Dialektik'.

That is why he sets his discussion of Western culture against childhood memories of the slaughterhouse for dogskins and the mesmerising stench of its corpses.21 A child can know what that smell means–the sum and substance of a culture posited on the extermination of all living things for Higher Ends (in this case, the cleanliness that demands a dog be slaughtered for soap). He is enlightened in the very instant of horror aroused by the sight of the dogcatcher's cart. Whereas the adult has lost this profound sense of childhood experience–such is the triumph and the undoing of culture.22 Adults and adult culture as a whole are merely repelled, indiscriminately, by all unpleasant odours, not because carrion smells, but because civilisation itself stinks, "its castle raised, to quote a marvellous passage from Brecht, on the excrement of dogs".23 Culture, Adorno continues, is not only vanquished but dead and rotten to the core–witness the "negative absolute" of Auschwitz. "Any man who speaks out in defense of (this) guiltridden and louse-infested culture becomes its accomplice,"24 party to monstrous crimes.

No rejection could possibly be any flatter. Nor is this mere eloquence on Adorno's part, partial as he is to a pretty turn of phrase. Rather, it represents the consistent pursuit of a concept first formulated in 'Dialektik der Aufklarung' and elaborated in various guises for over twenty years. When but a recently repatriate in 1950, Adorno proclaimed the very idea of resurrecting the culture razed by nazi Germany senseless and indeed ruinous. One of his earliest articles of the period states: "We return, in the cultural Renaissance of modern Germany, to the question put by Zarathustra: 'has no one heard that God is dead?'–is the word not yet out that culture in the traditional sense is dead? reduced to a sum of educational values catalogued for consumer convenience and knocked down to a seller's market."25

Post-war Germany's interest in cultural values, declares Adorno, smacks of "pernicious and ambivalent" self-consolation on the part of a people seeking to escape in provincialism the real march of history, which long reduced culture to a mere anachronism or reactionary survival.

``Anyone referring to eternal cultural values today risks turning culture itself into a latterday 'Blut und Boden,'''26– risks emulating the Nazis, in other words. Adorno leans more to Nietzsche's "kick the fallen" attitude with regard to a civilisation long past its official funeral (dated as of "God is dead" or the kindling of Auschwitz's ovens–it makes no difference). He is accordingly impressed by Expressionism's wholesale rejection of culture, after World War I, as a force 'absolutely' hostile to man. Expressionism, he observes, made a "grandiose attempt" to obliterate all "chains of convention and substantiation" blocking the individual's "pure self-expression''.

Adorno is sad to note that West Germany, in the first five years following the war, had "nothing to match the strength and persistence of (the Expressionist) movement". Expressionism he considers just the anti-cultural force to execute the sentence pronounced by history on culture, as it had done in the aftermath of World War I, by liberating the consciousness of the individual " suddenly alone in a coarsened world" from the last remaining shackles of a duplicitous cultural tradition.

He can conceive of no other future: spirit and its sole living manifestation in the twentieth century, avant-garde art (the art of universal negation), must turn 'against culture' in the traditional sense, for it has become ``idealistic'' or false and hence ideological.

Product of spirit's splitting off from nature and spiritual activity from physical labour, culture has never failed to guard this schism and its fatal prospects for European history. By this token, it has invariably served the power lust born of the same schism and source of man's exploitation by man.

The Dadaists and Expressionists considered the death of culture confirmed in World War I. Having adopted their avant-garde nihilist programmes as the cornerstone of his philosophy of culture or rather anti-culture, Adorno calls Fascism and World War II proof so graphic as to be ignored only by cretins or wholehearted fiends. Or, in the final instance, victims of the perfectly magic influence exerted by the mass ``culture-industry'', the inevitable end of traditional culture mutated into ``ideology'' and even `` propaganda'', the technology of conscious manipulation of the unconscious.27 Hence the enormous significance assigned by Adorno and his fellow philosophers in the Frankfurt school, to the culture- or consciousness-industry.

The theme was outlined in 'Dialektik der Aufklarung' and anticipated still earlier by Horkheimer in "Neue Kunst und Massenkultur" (1941).28 According to Horkheimer and Adorno, God–representing man's faith in absolute values–was not cold in his grave before being replaced by the consciousness-industry supplanting, in turn, the religion and metaphysics involved in their basic and indeed their sole function: legitimising the culture-industry.29 What is more, the liberal-bourgeois stance on the higher value upheld by traditional culture has to all intents and purposes become a shield for the culture-industry controlling thought and behaviour.

Where culture in the traditional sense arouses either suspicion (the culture of the past) or outright hostility (the modern Western blend with idealistic metaphysics30) in the Frankfurt pair, the culture-industry earns the full force of invective, poured forth in blistering Old Testament tones. They draw heavily on the dystopias popular in the 1930s and 1940s, applying what the latter saw in the distant future to a late-capitalist present.

The culture-industry, they explain, is more than a simple substitute for ancient myth, medieval religion and the "cultural metaphysics" of the New Age; it does more than realise or rationalise the ideological legitimising functions performed by each of these historically extinct forms of pandering to oppression and power lust–it is implicated in the most modern technology of mass production. Cultural ideology is fused with if not entirely absorbed into the scientific manipulation of mass consciousness and behaviour.

The consciousness-industry, we are told, is helped by the fact that its products–radio, cinema, the press and the like–fully correspond to the material world and interpersonal relations established by bourgeois civilisation. This world, like its ideological counterpart in the cultureindustry, is produced by the technical reason or rationale that emerged from the separation of spirit and nature, mental and physical labour, consciousness and its corporeal substratum. Insofar as "the technical rationale ... is the rationale of dominance''31(with its technical and bourgeois natures interdependent), both the real and the ideological worlds it builds to its own standards are subject to the single principle of exploitation and oppression.

It is for this reason that production-line ideology need not distort the facts of life in the late-bourgeois world. Its function is rather to duplicate and thus certify or, in other words, graft onto the twisted realm of factuality a perfectly matched ideal image. Thus are the material, human, spiritual and cultural environments of each individual locked into a single, closed dimension, proof of which fact is left to the consciousness-industry to supply and demands a decline in the imaginative powers capable of lifting man to a higher, Utopin plateau.

Horkheimer and Adorno's culture-industry turns out a system of complementary spiritual values, all bearing the same trademark: that of a thoroughly perverted reality Marcuse was to proclaim "transformed into ideology".32 That, as the pair observe, "radio, cinema and the periodical press constitute a system",33 parodies the liberal ideal of a "single style" sought by nineteenth-century intellectuals. "The striking unity between microcosm [the individual conscious mind] and macrocosm [its socio-material milieu] holds up a model of human culture: the false identity of the general and the particular." The identity internalises as individual behavioural law the postulates of and demands made by late-capitalist society and is thrust as such on its citizens. The coercion has grown so habitual and, more importantly, so universal, as to be taken for non-reflexive, quite unforced impulse.

The culture-industry, they continue, researches, stimulates, disciplines and directs consumer demand to suit its own ends. The process includes simple recreation which, under late-capitalism, becomes a mere extension of the labour process, and often a far more stressful extension at that. Particularly when the "quantity of organised recreation turns into the quality of organised cruelty", when the enjoyment derived from the spectacle of violence would have violence done to the spectator himself. "The cultureindustry," we read elsewhere, "does not sublimate but rather oppresses," thus casting doubt on the much-touted " recreational function" of culture proper. With everything else in the "total society" (the label applied by Horkheimer and Adorno to all political regimes under late-capitalism) , the culture-industry does not alleviate but merely "registers and regulates" its citizens' sufferings to its own ends; the phenomenon called 'die Tragik', for example, it is content to leave in a position inferior to tragedy, firmly entrenched in routine as the cultural product concerned with emotional impact alone.

Here too, then, the process comes full circle: the cultureindustry shatters the principle behind the whole of Western culture, built in turn on the individual's distinguishing himself from the primitive tribe (which act is identified with the parting of spirit from nature and consciousness from its somatic substance). It destroys the ' principium individuationis', if not individuality itself, by means of an ersatz concept. Under late-capitalism, say Horkheimer and Adorno, the individual is condemned to a perpetual initiation rite in proof of his wholehearted commitment to the crippling power above. Where once he drew ``substance'' from opposing society, the opposition, not to say the individual himself, has vanished, stripped of the very content that made him the legitimate antagonist of the unjust social conglomerate. To quote Horkheimer in "Traditionelle und kritische Theorie", he no longer has thoughts34 or even impulses to call his own–or none that he would know of anyway.


Comparing Horkheimer and Adorno's attack on 'das Selbst' with that launched on ``personality'' by ``core-self'' champion Guardini reveals the following. 'Dialektik' and 'Das Ende der Neuer Zeit' share a markedly anti-individualistic perspective: neither consider individuality as either the sole or even the optimal foundation for the inner self. Horkheimer, Adorno and to a more covert degree Guardini derive a certain satisfaction from contemplating the plight of the individual in the twentieth century. The similarity, however, sheds light on a fundamental difference that extends much further than Guardini's orthodox Catholicism (or stability) on the one hand and the non-conformist, atheistic, crisis, revolutionistic–call it what you will–- attitude of Horkheimer and Adorno on the other. Paradoxically, it conies to this. Horkheimer and Adorno can conceive of no constitutive base for the individual other than the bourgeois identity crystallised in the new age and epitomised by the Protestant Work Ethic, with its emphasis on personal accountability. It is therefore generalised up to cover the entire history of human–or self-conscious, self-identified–development.

By the same token, they tend to view the individuality crisis under capitalism as a question of total self-destruction, affecting both the form and the content of the old concept. This would account for the unrelieved pessimism if not utter despair with which they anticipate the fall of the bourgeois individual they would so eagerly and fail so completely to replace. It explains as well their compulsion for prolonging, 'ad infinitum', the moment of his downfall, a moment poised between being and non-being which, however nightmarish, has something of Goethe's 'schoner Augenblick'.

3. The Suicide of Art: A Model for Individual Emulation

If Horkheimer and Adorno are ambivalent in criticising the bourgeois individual and bemoaning his sorry lot under late-capitalism, Adorno's sociological aesthetics and particularly his 'Philosophie der neuen Musik35' are contradictory to the core. What interests us here is how a sociophilosophic concept of man enters the theory and eventually comes to influence the very processes of art and literature. We need only recall the Devil in 'Doctor Faustus', quoting at length (though indirectly) from 'Philosophie' (which Mann had read in manuscript, presenting Adorno with a copy of his own novel, inscribed "to my secret adviser"36). There was more to come: with the rise, in the early 1960s, of the New Left, Adorno's (or the Frankfurt) concept of man was to exert an ever growing influence on the art and literature of the bourgeois West–an influence felt to this very day.

Adorno's basic tenet is best expressed in 'Minima Moralia',37 published some two years after 'Philosophic'. According to this aphoristic work, the life of the subject has become an illusion, the subject itself virtually destroyed by the "oppressive objectivity" of this "contemporary phase in historical development". 38 An "obsolete, historically condemned" entity, the subject continued to exist 'for' but no longer 'in' itself. "(Its) worthlessness, demonstrated by the concentration camps, now encompasses the very form of subjectivity," the old subject having died without replacement. 39 Because Adorno does not look for, but does not exclude the possibility of a new subject, he sees nothing but "an abrogating gesture" directed at subjectivity and individuality (he uses the terms interchangeably) of every hue.

Authentic art and literature, Adorno maintains, has always faithfully reflected man's social situation, has always given voice to what was suppressed by society yet preserved in the heart of human nature as the dream of a preindividualist past and vision of a post-individualist future. Art, then, is something like a double-agent working, on the one hand, for the bourgeois individual (Adorno knows no other) against the late-capitalist society and, on the other, for the natural, pre-individualist element suppressed within against the individual himself. Nor do the interests of all parties always coincide: the pre-individualist element clashes with the individuation principle no less than the late-capitalist society, albeit on vastly different grounds.

Hence the ambivalent position of art, or rather Adorno, on the truth about man: while mourning the fall of the bourgeois individual he cannot help but appreciate the retribution paid for individuation (read: ``embourgeoisement'') committed against nature and all things natural. Consequently, his view of the human predicament (and the art reflecting it in form and structure) combines the sociologically objective statement of fact with an often unconfessed 'Schadenfreude', and the latter with a stream of invective hurled at the depersonalisation perpetrated by the mass-society.

Here too lies a second ambivalence: 'Philosophic' extols as twentieth-century art's supreme achievement the very trends elsewhere condemned as suicidal; these, it is argued, best capture man at the moment of his fall or murder by the late-capitalist society. "In the name of humanity," Adorno writes on the dodecaphonics of Schonberg, "the inhumanity of art must surpass that of the world."40 As though inhumanity were diminished by persecuting what little of its opposite survives, the powers-that-be notwithstanding, in the humanistic ideals inspiring art!

However questionable, the argument is quite typical of Adorno; it represents the necessary outcome of his original premise that the old subject is dead and the new as yet unborn, which leaves art no other occupation but to expose the very remnants of subjectivity as existing 'for', not 'in' the self, a historically defunct illusion.

In contrast to the conservative elitists, Adorno the radical presumes that the subjective principle is annihilated in mass and elitist art alike. "The violence inflicted on man by mass-music," he writes, "extends to the social antipode of music liberated from man.. . Total rationality in music is its total organisation .. . The new order of the twelve-tone technique virtually extinguishes the subject. . . The brute force with which the technical production of art shatters aesthetic illusion ultimately reduces that same production to illusion itself ... In reality, the proper goals of technology lie on the far side of its own coherence. Where, as in the present case, such goals are excluded, technology becomes an end in itself, substituting for the substantial unity of art production the simple unity of `progression'. This shift of emphasis may be attributed to the fetishistic character of mass-music extending to advanced and critical production alike.''41

Which prompts us to ask: what is the point, now, in the elitist critique undertaken in 'Dialektik der Aufklarung' of mass art and culture? what lies behind Adorno's contrasting genuine (critical or, once again, elitist) art with its specious, mass surrogate? Both have an equally lethal effect on the individuality and subjectivity promoted by the conservative elitists with regard to distinguishing between the masses and the elite, and their respective cultural expression. Adorno is at his vaguest here, having had to admit that the very grounds for such distinctions no longer exist. The criteria he proposes are accordingly indistinct: mass-culture entails the 'total' destruction of subjective-individuality, whereas the art of the elite exhibits the same destruction 'in process', with individuality caught in its 'moment of dissolution' (and presented as such in its work of art).

It is only through demonstrating creative suicide that the critical artist working under late-capitalism proves his own creative ability. It is only through exposing his creative individuality as impotent and devoid of content that he, or any other critically-minded soul, may claim it present still and yet uncancelled, if present only in its moment of cancellation.42Individuality persists if only for having seized the initiative to do, of its own free will, what its enemies would otherwise have done with deadly dispatch.

As critical artists Adorno lists, in music, Schonberg, Berg, Webern; in art, Picasso; in literature, Kafka; and in drama, Beckett. They reflect the inviolate truth of man's sorry lot in the post-capitalist society.

In order to be considered socially authentic as opposed to ideological, modern art must keep its public, tainted by the culture-industry, under constant tension. It can no longer aspire to the truth without breaking off any and all communication. When, as instituted by state-monopoly capitalism, "the masses concur with the state apparatus", breaking with the public, alienating oneself from all things human is art's only hope of being of any use, of realising its "mission of enlightenment", "without regard for the sly naivete of the culture-industry".43

Contemporary music and contemporary art in general Adorno would see completely isolated from society and thus aligned to the "absolute monad" of alienated man in an organised society. This is the only way, in the aesthetic sphere, to penetrate the microcosm of the individual standing apart under state-monopoly capitalism. For solitude has become the norm–big city residents "no longer know anything of their neighbours".44 Solitude has acquired a social character and a ``language'' much more indicative of social trends than the communicative style. Adorno hails Schonberg for having "stumbled on the social character of solitude in taking it to its outer limit".45

This is solitude of an unprecedented type, not to be confused with "early-capitalist individualism". The latter is tied to a specific degree of subjective freedom, whereas the former, as the late-capitalist product of complete alienation, excludes freedom in any guise. "The absolute monad takes a two-sided position in art: rebelling against a malignant [i.e. alienated] socialisation while preparing for worse [i.e. greater alienation] to come."46

The social atbmisation perpetrated by capitalist society, the individual's subjugation to the state-monopoly machine, totalism rationalised to the nth degree, is paralleled in modern art, and particularly the musical-aesthetical evolution of dodecaphonics creator Arnold Schonberg. Where Hans Sachs in Wagner's 'Die Meistersinger' declares the composer sets and follows his own rules, Adorno finds a vague presentiment of the historical nominalism upheld by modern man, unencumbered by a pre-determined " substantially maintained artistic order".47 This would seem to argue for the artist's liberation from any but rules of his own making, from everything external to his own individuality. Even then, however, his liberty, like his choice of rules, was largely chimeric, with every precept necessarily reflecting "the objective state of form and material". Much the same could be said of individual freedom in bourgeois society.

Time, in our own century, revealed the dark side of Wagner's self-set rules: their unsurpassed suppression of the artist. While stemming from the subjective, random and particular nature of man, the self-set rule nonetheless aspires to the status of absolute. To submit, therefore, is to fling oneself on the mercy of fate. Which is precisely the nature of power, Adorno observes, in organised society.

This is the state of affairs reflected in Schonberg's dodecaphonics. Adorno explains: "Twelve-tone technique, which renounces all inherent sense in any composition as it would any other illusion, treats music on the analogy of fate.''48 Furthermore, "(it) represents the true outcome of music. It shackles music, thereby liberating it. The subject commanding music on a rational system is himself victimised by the latter.''49

What is the point? Why all this "organised nonsense" simulating the individual lot under state-monopoly capitalism in a manner intelligible only to the select, expert few? Replies Adorno: it is the sole means of combatting the state-monopoly machine and the total alienation of man. "The truth [of the new music] apparently lies in its refuting, through organised senselessness, the sense of organised society."50Without it, capitalist rationalisation would have no end and men, under the influence of "that sly culture-industry" could be all too easily convinced of the ``benefits'' of alienation. Which makes art and only art our very last hope.


The myth of man underlying Adorno's concept of art and culture links it to Freudian myth, cast, as is typical of the Frankfurt school, in a Neo-Marxist vein. Typical too is the line taken by the Freudian motif: from latent connotation to the full-bodied text of Horkheimer and Adorno's discussion. The development follows state-monopoly capitalism's taking on the outlines of the consumer society.

Before analysing this leftist Freudian myth, therefore, we must first consider its ties with left-wing Freudianism in general and with the consumer society as well.

1. Covetous Man (Left-Wing Freudianism and the Consumer Society)

Taken from the sociological angle, the Freudian cultural boom that has rocked the West ever since World War II reveals an interesting correlation between the mounting (and varying) interest in Freud and the expansion and entrenchment of the consumer society. Now the very term "consumer society" demands a close, critical look, referring as it all too often does, to some radical change in state-monopoly capitalism, as though capitalism itself had disappeared. Not that it, the term that is, is to be slighted. As used by Western economists and sociologists, it attempts to register a series of developments affecting the social order as of World War II. While none have altered the nature of capitalist society, all point to a considerable exacerbation of and qualitative shift in its basic contradictions. The "consumer society", in Western parlance, stands first and foremost for the sharp rise in mass consumption that hit the developed capitalist countries in the late 1950s and early 1960s, creating economic, socio-political and cultural-ideological problems unsolved to this very day. Several of these form the starting point, below, of our discussion of the Freudian boom dated to the same period, and particularly the left-wing Freudianism it spawned.

Writers in the Soviet Union and abroad51have noted that the aggressive consumer trend now affecting Western society has brought forward a principle hitherto largely ignored by bourgeois thought. This is hedonism, or in Freud's more precise terms, the ``pleasure-principle'' at the heart of all consumption. In his extensive analysis,52Freud focuses on the individual's ``primordial'' concern with taking maximum satisfaction from every part of his body and every physical pursuit. As the layman would say, "make the most of life''.

Of course, the pleasure-principle was resisted as threatening its predecessor, hitherto unchallenged in the bourgeois consciousness–the ``production-principle'', or in more critical terms, "production for production's sake". It is plain to see that one precept excludes the other, the old calling for work, work and more work (cf. the bourgeois Protestant Work Ethic on personal responsibility) and the new–for consumption in the same proportions (cf. the young Marx on "the industrial eunuch"). The more a man works, the less time and energy he has to consume and vice versa: the more he chases after pleasure, the less he can give to production.

The two principles only enjoyed a more or less peaceful co-existence as long as production for production's sake held a clear-cut priority and Protestant sobriety, capsulised in the folk saying "work comes first", prevailed. As Western state-monopoly capitalism crystallised into the consumer society, everything changed; peace was shattered when the pleasure-principle burst into the limelight of bourgeois thought to claim the absolute status of the production ethic. And where two absolutes clash, sparks fly. Bourgeois consciousness thus suffered, in the second half of the twentieth century, one of its severest shocks to date; the capitalist production agent split irrecoverably into a consumer at war with his producer's half, both making peremptory demands on a single ego. Schizophrenia was obviously–and ominously–at hand. Not unexpectedly, the rise in the West of incontinent consumerism precipitated a psychiatric epidemic, to say nothing of the snowballing interest in psychopathology in general and Freudian analysis in particular.

But let us take a closer look at how the pleasure-principle and all its imperialist corollaries established themselves in the twentieth-century bourgeois consciousness and why Freudianism should have happened to be the most appropriate vehicle.

The production-principle, as discussed by students of the capitalist spirit from Weber to Bell, upheld as its model of man the free, morally responsible and rationally-minded individual, the ego (or 'Selbst)'. The latter, a spiritual, morally-rational and rationally-moral axiom, regulates all physical inclinations, or rather permits only those convenient to its own basic drive for self-fulfilment in work, reality and, finally, the accumulation of capital. Capital was considered to confer well-being and the respect of others, as testifying to energy, efficiency, thrift and similar virtues.

In this, the fundamental model behind bourgeois ideology, in the classic form that flowered with the rise of capitalism and survived into later eras as well, precedence is given to willpower, to self-control, abstinence from immediate satisfaction, to a strict sense of purpose and the like–to everything Weber included under the term " secular abstinence", '(innerweltische Askese)' seen as essential to the establishment of this new social form. These virtues are to this very day urged by bourgeois ideologists on the producers, the active pillars of capitalist society. True, the urging is least effective where the gap between individual labour, personal initiative, energy and thrift, on the one hand, and what Western philosophers refer to as "corporate capitalism", on the other–where this gap is most painfully evident. To put it another way, the production-principle and the entire Protestant Work Ethic, for that matter, is divided against itself–and not by the opposing pleasure-principle. In today's United States of America, where the former precept is least damaged, it is a rare man who still believes that willpower, thrift and a sense of purpose open the doors to capitalist success. Which quite naturally clears a great deal of ground for the antithetical pleasure-principle in its war on the Protestant-capitalist spirit.

The pleasure-principle upholds a model of man diametrically opposed to the bourgeois-Protestant ideal. Sociologists on the radical left notwithstanding, this is a far cry from taking an anti-capitalist, let alone Communist stance. For it too adheres to capitalism, if only of the type moving towards a consumer-society variant. As painted by supporters from the grudging Daniel Bell to the enthusiastic Herbert Marcuse, Norman O. Brown, Paul Goodman and Theodore Roszak, its model of man reveals the following general characteristics. Basically, it appeals not to his moral or spiritual aspect (the morally responsible, soberly rational ego), but rather to the aesthetic, sensual and even the brute physical side of man. Which facet cannot be called personal or individual, leaning as it does to the anonymous, Freudian 'id', with its lust for maximum satisfaction at any given point in time. For this, the physical, lustful essence of man is the only substance capable of powering a self-sufficient drive for pleasure at any price, all moral and rational considerations serving only to oppose.

The bourgeois-Protestant model favours active will and moral reason, while its hedonist-consumer antithesis descends to the sub-personal level which excludes responsible action of sound mind and sober faculty. Man in the latter instance is as impersonal as he is unaccountable, a slave to the passions which exempt him in much the same way as possession was thought, in the Middle Ages, to destroy the ego (but left the possessed to take his punishment nonetheless). And nothing could suit the powerhungry industrial eunuch better.

The pleasure-principle as cultivated by the consumer society is equally divided against itself; in this case, by the dim awareness (in the eunuch and the consumer alike) that it will never find complete fulfilment, unlimited consumption presupposing unlimited production.

The two principles fighting for absolute dominance over the bourgeois consciousness of the twentieth century's second half are thus seen to suffer from one and the same internal contradiction (though the grounds and aspects do in fact differ). What interests us here, however, is not this antinomy 'per se', but its ideological, philosophical expression, the theoretician's attempt to resolve it.

Viewed in this light, the two trends are astoundingly, and most significantly, amenable to Freudian terms: cf. the 'Lustprinzip', a central concept referred to directly above in describing the more recent of the pair, while the older ``reality-principle'' is close to what we have named the principle of production, of self-expanding production, of production for production's sake and so on, Indeed, so appropriate is Freudian thought and terminology to the processes affecting bourgeois consciousness at the clash of these two trends, that it would be difficult not to draw upon it in any description (and ``description'', not `` explanation'', is the key word).

The Freudian boom of the 1950s and 1960s was not the first such spark of interest in the Vienna doctrine. This dates rather to the 1920s, though to be sure, the elitist character of those early readers would take thirty years to mature into a full-fledged mass phenomenon. From the sociological standpoint, this indicates that the hedonisticconsumer trends confined to narrow, select circles in the 1920s (as testified, with an extensive bibliography, by Daniel Bell)53had one decade after World War II, attained a widespread popularity.

The impact of the first boom has been traced by the many writers on Freudianism to the lifting of the taboo on the euphemisms and circumlocutions imposed on all discussions to do with sex. A second, and closely related factor is Freud's arguing for the reduction, if not repeal, of the moral and cultural bans on certain sexual practices hitherto considered perverse. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly as far as we are concerned, Freud set definite limits on consciousness, to "make room", not for faith as Kant had before him, but rather for the pleasure-principle, tentatively limited as well. Fourthly, in assigning the subconscious to the unfettered run of the pleasure-principle, he opened up new avenues in Utopian thought. The latter could now seek its promised land elsewhere than in Greek antiquity, the Christian Middle Ages, the old German tribes, happily backward Polynesia, the past or even the future–in the here and now, the subconscious of every individual. Utopia was opne to all, right in bed, provided one had a copy of 'Traumdeutung' on hand. In the fifth place, expanding on the fourth, Freud raised the private life of the middle classes he himself sprang from to the level of classical tragedy: the Oedipus complex made every man an instant hero.

The real tragedies thrust upon mankind by Hitler, his death camps and the horrors of World War II eclipsed for many years the bedroom dramas ennobled by the classical allusions Freud's various complexes introduced into the philistine lifestyle. But with the end of the war, as the tragic gradually shrank down to its old middle-class, doublebed dimensions (not unaided, in the process, by the consumer ideology), Freudianism came back into its own. The battles of recent history were forced by its proponents into Oedipal scenarios, the incestual triangles of the fathermother-son and mother-father-daughter types. Now, thanks to the mass media, the game was no longer the reserve of the aristocratic few; that the "too too many" were invited to play too could not help but affect the very philosophy of Freudianism.

To be sure, the mass media do not bear sole responsibility for the Freudian fashion of the 1950s and 1960s. The movement found its social base in the consumer society and the sexual revolution it itself sparked to fulfil the sexual Utopian fantasies Freud had inspired in the 1920s. This is not the much-touted sexual revolution of the radical New Left of the 1960s, but rather the much quieter, much more real changes loosed on bourgeois mores and morality in the 1940s and 1950s (and earlier still in the United States) by the urban explosion, the mass-production of passenger vehicles and the cheap credit that made them available to all. Of course, the mass media helped with extensive promotion of the new, sexually-liberated lifestyle.

The megalopolis setting the standards for smaller urban centres as well did in fact force a mind-boggling increase in human contact. Social, national and age groups were thrown together. Besides relative freedom of movement, the car offered escape from the moral control of near ones and dear ones, a fairly private, if less than comfortable playground-in-a-pinch for would-be adulterers. The result was a radical change in intersexual relations, a major re-thinking of values that could conceivably be called revolutionary (conceivably, but not willingly, on the industrial eunuch's part, though he was only too glad to supply the industrial, consumer base for said sexual revolution). Television and the cinema rushed to keep 'urbis et orbis' abreast of the very latest developments, pushing ``progress'' to the most remote corners of the country.

Be that as it may, cheap goods, cheaper credit and a constantly inflated consumer demand found its chief impact on the moral consciousness of the state-monopolist West in the sensuality cult, from which it was but a hop, skip and a jump to the cult of sexual thrills and sexuality in general, its natural culmination. The almost mystic reverence surrounding this hedonist-consumer creed derives from its uses in the pursuit of pleasure of any kind. As Bell points out in his 'The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism', the consumer society, which answers, and rightly so, to the name of permissive as well, has taken the traditional bourgeois theme of acquisition to its logical end in sex.

Strange as it may seem, the merger between acquisition, with its age-old foundations of economy and restraint, and sex, viewed by the acquisitive capitalist of tradition as sheer prodigality, has its own inner logic. For the instant said capitalist's son lost all hope of beating Dad at his own game (and all interest in the game itself, being somewhat less than iron-willed and uninspired by the Protestant Work Ethic to boot), the instant he set out after the sensual delights, he took a course surprisingly similar to his father's, focusing on the soundest, most valuable pleasures for maximum return on a minimum investment in time. And such, for the common-garden hedonist, was that afforded by sex.

In the hedonist-consumer's sensuality range, therefore, sex sets the standard for all sensual brands of pleasure, playing much the same role as money in the economic sphere of bourgeois society. And the natural currency of sensuality is prey to the same inflation, even total depreciation, that plagues the dollar, the pound sterling or the franc. The acquisitive hedonist must accordingly speculate on a rising exchange rate, spicing his sexual fun with increasing doses of sadism, masochism and the perverse like, to inject the seriousness of risk into a much cheapened routine. The cult of the Orgasm which succeeded (and contrary to a number of bourgeois sociologists, did not replace but merely overshadowed) the cult of Mammon,54 comes very close to its predecessor. Which does not detract from the mounting contradiction between the two, source of many a conflict in the New Left movement and the drive to yoke the sexual to the political revolution.

Plainly, the cult of the Orgasm was bound to kindle interest in Freud. Freudian terminology opened up a whole sphere of life which had shunned an excess of candour hitherto and was now rabidly exposed to the public view. It became the ideal medium for an entire ideology covering the consumer society and hedonism, and culminating in the almighty Orgasm. True, certain adjustments were in order, but these were not so much semantic as mythologemic. From the sociological standpoint, Freudianism originated as a tentative compromise between the rigorist, rationalistic Work Ethic (reflected in Freud's reality-principle and the super-ego as well), and -the twentieth-century's galloping hedonist-consumer trend (represented by his 'Lustprinzip)'.

Obviously, then, two factors upset the tenuous balance achieved, in the first quarter of this century (and on an elitist basis at that), between the two principles ruling modern bourgeois consciousness. First, the discovery of a glaring contradiction in the production-principle; and second, the pleasure-principle's marked invigoration in the sociological and hence theoretical fields, its acquiring veritable hordes of advocates in theory and practice alike. Where Freud assured his patients that their sudden, forbidden inclinations were not quite so horrible as a rigorist super-ego would have them believe, his followers in the 1950s and 1960s confronted an entirely new breed of neurotic.

According to Bell, the consumer-society citizen is not led into neuroses, morbid self-analysis or the psychiatrist's office by forbidden inclinations. Quite the contrary; he suffers from the lack of these or any other inclination (since all presuppose some degree of prohibition, an ever scarcer commodity in the permissive society). To be impervious to the thrills cultivated by the consumer society or indifferent to the almighty Orgasm is considered sufficient grounds for abnormality and a trip to the psychoanalyst's.

It would seem, then, that Freudianism reigns supreme: true to Freud's dream, traditional religion and ethics have, with the spread of the consumer trend, lost all value, both in healing the soul and as a guide to individual conduct, their functions usurped by psychoanalysis, especially of the Freudian variety. The victory, however, was pyrrhic, signalling as it did the beginning of the end for classic Freudianism. No longer was the patient more or less relieved in gradually shedding his Puritan repressions (or the Protestant Work Ethic outright). Rather the task was to reconcile him with those imposed by the consumer ideology and its "obligatory hedonism", to use Bell's phrase.

This was quite the reverse of what Freud had to deal with. Championing the oppressed pleasure-principle against an aggressive reality-principle (and the super-ego erected on it) had given way to rearguard defensive manoeuvring by the latter, now threatened with utter enslavement if not destruction. Classic Freudianism no longer fit the bill for the neurotic of the 1950s. Impotence, top on Freud's case list, had nothing to do any more with moral repression: the Freudian relaxation technique was helpless in a moral vacuum. 'Psychoanalysis was invaded by the popular "play therapy", "orgasm training" and other methods utterly inconsistent with the founding father's theory. This is the real reason behind the anti-Freud mood in the psychoanalysis boom of the 1950s and 1960s (wholy absent from the 1920s fad), a movement more properly termed left-wing Freudian than Freudian 'tout court'.

The reader is now prepared to appreciate the difference between classic and left-wing Freudianism and, by extension, the social and theoretical nuances distinguishing the first from the second Freudian boom. Our discussion has indicated, several times, that the consumer society could only have followed its basic trend through more or less significant concessions to the state-monopoly capitalist order on which it rose. That simple fact did not sit well with the left-wing Freudians; like all abstract ideologists, they objected to the logical (and socio-logical) paradox at the heart of a pleasure-principle otherwise seen to hold such a hopeful sign, shaking Freud's postulates with such striking effect.

Between the production- and the pleasure-principle making equal claims on the whole man, such as to divide him, frenziedly, between a cautious diurnal and lusty nocturnal half, the left-wing Freudians opted automatically for the second. Two factors influenced their choice. First, in Freudian terms, it was seen to personify the forces and demands of nature, while anything smacking of the natural holds ineluctable attraction for the big-city dweller in a stone-fettered and polluted environment. Second, once the pleasure-principle is thought to have long been eclipsed by the Protestant Work Ethic, it can be judged, though not necessarily correctly, anti-bourgeois from its very inception. From here it is but a single leap of logic to the socialist, the communist pleasure-principle–any revolutionary level will do. These, it ought to be recalled, were the very postulates advanced by Andre Breton55 and his left-wing surrealist followers in revising the original doctrine to make libido turn the wheels of world revolution– an effort supported by Trotsky. For the left-wing Freudians of the 1950s and 1960s, counting Breton their predecessor56 was no mere flirtation with the appearance of tradition: their debt to surrealist theory and practice was greater than even they supposed.

Left-wing Freudianism (and left-wing, Bretonist surrealism, too, for that matter) re-examines Freudian values in a Marxist light. This is its most salient feature. Where the pleasure-principle paramount in Freudian metapsychology retains the inevitable biological slant of classic Freudianism, the equally important reality-principle is given a NeoMarxist, ``Hegelianised'', Western twist. In the resulting amalgam, Freudo-Marxism attacks both Freud and Marx on supposedly leftist grounds. Such was the left-wing Freudianism first advocated by Wilhelm Reich and Eric Fromm. The latter, first published in the 1930s, would tone down over the years from the Radical to the Liberal Left, to the censure of his colleagues, especially Marcuse, in the Frankfurt school. Reich, on the other hand, was regarded by left-wing Freudians throughout the 1950s and 1960s as the ultra ``Marxo-Freudian'', their founding father, whose adamant cry for a joint political-sexual revolution was to be taken up by the radical fringe on the New Left.

The early Fromm 57 criticised the moderately liberal Freud in unmistakably radical-leftist terms, which were to supply what is of particular interest to the present discussion: the mythologems behind the consumer-ideology. He debunked the latter's attempts to place patriarchy at the head and fount of human history, with its father-figure correlate dominating the human soul as the rigorist superego founded on and the crowning glory of the reality-principle. Instead, he argued for the matriarchy as the primal and most natural order of human existence, substituting the pleasure-principle, with its cooperative, permissive and egalitarian tendencies, for the reality-principle and superego.58

Proceeding from a pleasure-principle thus interpreted to combine a primal naturalness with man's highest socioethic leanings, Fromm lambasts both the super-ego and the reality-principle. The latter is taken to indicate a bourgeois survival (subsequently termed ``conformism'') in the father of psychoanalysis. Linked to the permissiveness-principle, Fromm's matriarchy concept was to have an enormous impact on the ideologists of the consumer-society, now seen as a reversion, on a new historical level, to the free-for-all matriarchy.

The matriarchal model of man plunged him into the dark womb of the collective unconscious, excluding all thought of the ethically-inclined patriarchal 'principium individuationis' and all restrictions of pleasure-seeking. It is more than evident, for example, in Marshall McLuhan, Norman Brown and Theodore Roszak. 59

Left-wing Freudianism is rooted in a cluster of concepts and sentiments invariably associating Unlimited pleasure with anonymity or the ``unselfed'' self cast into the dark waters of what Marxists would call illusory community. Seen, on the contrary, as authentic by virtue of its supremely natural origins, this community is even contrasted with the genuine, Marxist concept. On which account, the left-wing Freudians proclaimed themselves Socialists and Communists more 'bonafide' than even the founders of Marxism. Curiously enough, it was this very concept-cluster which subsequently inspired the quest for uncensored, unlimited pleasure;'(= consumption), the thrill-seekers having heard themselves declared terribly anti-bourgeois, revolutionary and communistic. Were they not against bourgeois individualism, against the very principle of individualism itself? Thus was freedom, understood to promise unlimited indulgence, twisted to uphold barrack-room Communism, the scourge of individuality. The extremes had touched and met: the only obstacle encountered either by the primal levelling process or by the radical (i.e. unlimited) pleasure drive was now seen to be the individual, the ethically-inclined ego. And it was duly attacked, first by the theorists on the left-wing Freudian flank, and then by their enthusiastic admirers, the vulgar proponents of consumerism.

Via left-wing Freudianism, the West accepted new concepts to match the new balance between the productionprinciple originally dominant in bourgeois practice and the recently but gradually established pleasure-principle. The conservative nature of bourgeois ethics makes it plain to see that these new concepts associated with the pleasure-principle resisted peaceful, evolutionary establishment. The necessary breakthrough was soon accomplished by left-wing Freudianism on the theoretical and ethicalphilosophical front, and in the practical domain–in political ideology, everyday life, etc.–by the sexual revolutionaries among the New Left nihilists and extremists.

By this point, it was obviously a case of "The Moor has done his duty, let him go." This is what choked off the New Left, engrossed as it was in the various `` counter-''wings of Western mass-culture. The result? Leftist Freudianism is losing popularity, with nothing new to offer the thrill-seeking individual. Inflation, unemployment, the energy, environment and other crises have made thrillor play-therapy irrelevant to contemporary state-monopoly capitalism.

2. Marcuse on the Left-Wing Freudian Myth of Man

To resume: the overwhelming majority of left-wing Freudians, excluding only Fromm and his followers, tend to apply Freud's biological basis for culture, or man's spiritual dimension in general, to the criticism of culture and spirituality itself. To this end, they draw upon Nietzsche's aesthetic nihilism, thereby blending 'Jenseits des Lustprinzips' with 'Jenseits von Gut und Base', the far sides of Freud's pleasure-principle and Nietzsche's good and evil, respectively. The arguments vary widely in soundness and depth. Horkheimer and Adorno's works on the philosophical and ethico-sociological aspects hold, perhaps, greater interest than, and on a number of psychoanalytical points actually anticipate Marcuse. The latter's 'Eros and Civilisation' thus re-treads relatively well-trod ground. Which is perhaps why Marcuse's account should have become the most popular and influential of all.

While the New Left is to be seen as the philosophical product of 'at least' two schools, the Frankfurt and the leftexistentialist group under Jean-Paul Sartre, it owes its most current, sloganish concepts–those that captured the young rebels of the 1960s–to 'Eros and Civilisation, OneDimensional Man' and 'Versuch über die Befreinng'.

Marcuse's critique of Freud rests on the curious paradox that entrapped the latter in naming his libido Eros (for the mythological allusions entrailed) and then painting it in the most attractive hues. The more appealingly he presented this natural drive to preserve the species (united in the universal ecstasy of Love), the bleaker, the more ambivalent the aspect taken by a culture based, in part, on suppressing it, on cutting Eros short. It was difficult to accept the idea that the pruning was all to the good of the drive or the drive itself–to culture. Appearances spoke for the reverse, with culture slyly feeding on the simple-souled, goodhearted, head-in-the-clouds Eros, inveigling him into a veritable Procrustean bed. This, the mood of the later Freud and his metapsychology, is translated by Marcuse into the language of politics and sociology.

Marcuse was entitled to the task: Freud's metapsychology does have its amorphous sociological, socio-cultural content. Translation into more appropriate terms promised fascinating results. It was now a matter of selecting the proper premises. Did Marcuse appreciate the fundamental differences between sociology and political science, on the one hand, and psychoanalysis, on the other? Unfortunately not; his ``translation'' ignores the specifics of socio-political reality as opposed to human existence on the biological level, where Freud himself had foundered in a plethora of contradiction and epicycles.

Upon Marcuse's casting his emotional impression of the later Freud into the political, sociological and, at times, the politico-economic idiom, psychoanalysis took on an entirely new light. The predominantly psychological, metapsychological colouring gave way to a purely political aura. The metapsychological basis for culture that Freud had sought in an oddly ``biologicalised'' philosophy was thus transformed into a political charge brought against the monstrous crimes of culture.

'Eros and Civilisation' (1955) opens the trial on a lofty note. Do the advantages of culture compensate for the suffering inflicted on the repressed individual (or rather, his non-individual elan vital) assuming repression is in truth essential to its very survival? The verdict is an immediate ``no''. Cited in evidence is the negative absolute of concentration camps, mass murders, world wars and the like ( apparently attributed to an excess of cultural refinement). There follows a detailed account of Freudian theory in terms its founder would undoubtedly have objected to–the over-simplified style, favoured by Marcuse, of leftist politics and vulgar sociologism. The aim is to demonstrate the unmitigated guilt of culture as responsible for 'each and every' evil visited on this weary age of ours.

According to Marcuse, Freud's concept of man constitutes in and of itself "the most irrefutable indictment of Western civilisation".60 It depicts culture as the oppressor of man in not so much the social as the biological sense; culture is said to despotise his every instinct. Progress is no more than the growth of the organised 'domination' of man.61 A rise, in other words, in the overall sum of aggression swelling within industrial society,62 and bound sooner or later to burst the bonds of civilisation. Such is the source of fascist regimes, world wars, concentration camps and all the many guises of barbarism repressive culture refuses to admit is its true face.

On to Freud's basic teachings Marcuse grafts two of his own concepts: surplus repression and the production-principle with which he would both relativise Freud's notion of culture and reinforce his own attack on the phenomenon itself through tying its repressive character to the interests of the powers-that-be.

Surplus repression, in Marcuse's terminology, covers the vital and chiefly, the erotic instincts not connected with "ontological necessity", but rather exclusively derived from and subservient to the social nature of power. With regard to the critical interpretation of the mythologems set forth in 'Totem und Tabu', he writes: "Neither poverty nor impotence brought about primary and, for cultural development, the crucial form of repression that inflicted on the instincts –the job was done by despotic dominance, the despot unfairly distributing and exploiting poverty, scarcity and impotence, usurping the right to pleasure and passing on labour to the other members of the horde."63 Hence the "[surplus] repression committed ... in the sole interests of domination and the maintenance of despotic dominance, and not out of the need, as Freud supposed",64 to restrain the aggressive instincts and chaotic sexual impulses of the horde members (elsewhere referred to as ``children'').

Not that such wild impulses, in Marcuse's view, existed, and if they did, it was as a politically legitimate reaction to surplus repression. Not that Marcuse himself is perfectly straightforward on this point. Far from it. He cannot deny that under "poverty, scarcity and impotence", man must eat his bread in the sweat of his brow and seldom derive any pleasure therefrom. Which hardly makes for willing workers, hence the need to oppress, to repress their legitimate desire to derive maximum satisfaction from the physiological functions of the organism. Thus, the reaction to oppression is not always justified, not even when the oppressor claims an inordinate share of the product of forced labour, the object of consumption. The only concrete solution lies in penetrating the political-economic problem of the division of labour, its various manifestations in history as linked to societal divisions. Marcuse, quite sensibly, prefers simply to discuss the general aspects of exploitation.

Accordingly, he introduces, as a psychoanalytical concept, the production-principle (more properly traced to the Protestant Work Ethic). At first glance, the associations are indeed political and economic, but require a critical analysis not undertaken by Marcuse. As a result, the concept remains syncretic, a jumble of Weberian sociology, Freudian psychology and Protestant morality. The production-principle, he declares, is the dominant bourgeois-exploiter variation of the reality-principle; it embodies the adjustments (renunciation, displacement, perversion and sublimation) society imposes on instinctual drives in converting natural beings spontaneously drawn to limitless pleasure into instruments of production. Freud, it is in other words implied, wrongly identified the reality-principle with its historical manifestation in the exploiter ( chiefly bourgeois) society as the production-principle, which particular manifestation was moreover expected to die out with the fall of class dominance, releasing latent content under an entirely new guise. No longer would it dominate but would rather itself be dominated by the pleasure-principle to become the ``unrepressed'' or even ``libidinal'' reality-principle–a contradiction in terms, as far as Freud was concerned.

Thus, having stumbled on the truly striking parallel between Freud's reality-principle and the Protestant Work Ethic, Marcuse would subordinate the former to the pleasure-principle paramount in the consumer society. Instead of healing the rift in bourgeois consciousness between labour and pleasure, instead of attacking its reflection in classic Freudianism, he simply reverses it as his pledge of liberation from bourgeois thought. And thereby falls into the clutches of the industrial eunuch and the hedonist-consumer ethic.

To return to Marcuse's own argument. The reality-principle originally subordinate to the pleasure-principle is converted to the now paramount production-principle. This, he maintains, was historical necessity, given the sparse and hostile environment exploited by the powers-that-be for the purposes of surplus repression. The metamorphosis begins when sexuality localises from its diffusion throughout the organism into the genital area. It is attributed by Marcuse to the material deprivation which prompts society to free as much of the body as possible for socially-useful endeavour, thus saving the nervous energy otherwise expanded on the pursuit of erotic pleasure (cf. Fromm's and Marcuse's matriarchal Golden Age of uninterrupted delight). Initially a purely erotic drive, libido is thus channeled into productivity which fuels the material and cultural production of material wealth yet precludes the producer's enjoying either product or production. The continual industrial growth that induces consumer surpluses is based on suppressing personal happiness and the individual's enjoyment of consumer goods.


Nevertheless, all the ills and perversions afflicting the material and cultural legacy of the past become unnecessary as the social production they support expands. Freud's overlooking this factor, Marcuse contends, constitutes the greatest flaw in a doctrine bent on perpetuating the culture of repression and, consequently, the very principle of man's exploitation by man. Freud's fatal mistake, we read in 'Eros and Civilisation', was to restrict freedom from repression and displacement to the subconscious, to some prehistorical, pre-human past, to elementary psychic and biological forms. The result was an unrealistic concept of freedom (which to Marcuse is inseparable from the unimpeded satisfaction of vital instincts), making Freud a mere apologist for the bourgeois order and all its many horrors.

What happened? Why is it no longer necessary to herd the animal instincts into the subconscious? How is thinking such cultural repression imperative turned around to vindicate contemporary capitalism? Replies Marcuse: the mature repressive culture marks the beginning of the end for all forms of oppression, including that brought to bear on the animal instincts. First, the production level is raised to the point where human needs can be qualitatively and quantitatively met without the sacrifices once demanded on the individual by the production-principle. Second, working hours are drastically reduced (at the risk, it is true, of a certain lowering of inflated life standards), and what is more important, labour is wholly identified with play and pleasure–which, barring the rare exception, eliminates forced labour or repression in any form, be it surplus, secondary or whatever.

Here too, Freud's reality-principle is exposed as transient and temporary, or at least insofar as it coincides with the production-principle, now obsolete. The same may be said of the displacement and repression trends in culture, of culture in general for that matter, in carrying both to its subtlest, most sublimated domains. Trends and cultural heritage alike are now seen to be indissolubly wed to historically transient, class-oriented surplus repression. In short, Marcuse finds, within Freudian theory itself, proof against the Freudian identification of culture and repression, the historical impossibility of the former without the mechanism of inhibition.

But how is this potential transition from a repressive culture to one founded on complete freedom for all human instincts, how is it to be put into effect? As a perverse compensation for repeated abstinence from instinctual pleasures, for repressing the ego (via the inrooted super-ego working for morality and the repressive culture), man is prepared to oppress both nature and his fellow man. This sealed the fate of all revolutions against cultural and societal repression. For revolution, Marcuse argues, follows the patricidal-revolt pattern set out by Freud in 'Totem und Tabu'. And a successful revolution prompts the victor to realise dominance is required on a higher level, thus inviting defeat at the very peak of triumph–when dominance 'is' revived and expanded.

Following this enlargement upon Freud, Marcuse asks: "Is there not, in addition to the historical social Thermidor evident in all revolutions to date, a 'psychological' Thermidor? Could it be that revolutions are not merely suppressed from without, turned back and brought to nought? that some dynamic operates within every individual involved to negate, 'internally', all hope of emancipation and satisfaction?''65He paints a fairly bleak picture. The material production and culture of modern capitalism has pervaded vital instincts to such an extent as to make man over in its own image, stripped clean of the "second dimension" which would otherwise lift or at least have him long to be lifted beyond the capitalist order. Scientific and technological progress, in seeping into every pore of society and the subconscious as well, has blocked off the natural urge for freedom and the uninhibited pursuit of pleasure. The architects of capitalist society do not want freedom for themselves and would not stand for it in others. Modernisation in production and management techniques alike silences or chokes outright any protest against drudgery (the omnipotent production-principle) and the rule of might (surplus or supra-repression) .

Pursuing this theme in 'Versuch überBefreiung',–- specifically, contemporary capitalism's insinuating itself into the human "biological dimension"–Marcuse concludes that the counter-revolution has taken root today in the " impulse structure" of man. 66 The capitalist system has created "stabilising, conservative demands"67 suited to its own ends and passing for tokens of freedom. Societal values enjoined from without are internalised to lend adjustment to the prevailing order the appearance of spontaneity.

How are these people to learn to want genuine freedom and not its surrogate? To be inspired to revolt? The answer, according to Marcuse, lies in organising "a radical upheaval such as will extend to the human dimension largely ignored by Marxist thought, the `biological' dimension, where vital needs and their gratification acquire significance". To the extent that these needs and their gratification reflect a certain slavery, emancipation presupposes certain adjustments on that level, the introduction of "other instincts, other physical and spiritual reactions".68 The upheaval, or at least its detonation, is to be accomplished by the ``outsiders'' in capitalist society, who for some reason or other have managed to resist its slavish needs and their gratification.

Those resolved to head the social forces negating capitalism must consolidate two trends in the liberation from social and political oppression: towards social revolution on the one hand and sexual emancipation on the other. Marcuse emphasises the latter, the eradication of sexual taboos he declares "transcend the sexual sphere to lead to rejection and rebellion".69

Not that Marcuse ignores the difficulties faced in fighting the global rule of late-capitalism. Revolutionaries past and present have found themselves trapped in a vicious circle: a people must first be free before it can long for freedom; a man must first have assimilated the erotic morality before thinking it ought to replace the ethics of repression. For the New Leftists seeking happiness for mankind and an end to the repressive order, the chief stumbling block is the "oppression continuum", with its apparently unbreakable hold on both material and cultural pursuits.

3. Fantasy Turned Against Individuality

In contrast to Marcuse's later works, 'Eros and Civilisation' offers no escape from its blind-alley,70or at least no more than the outline thereof, a glimpse of hope on the far side of despair. The hope is invested in the spiritual forces Freud considered untouched by the reality-principle; the less Marcuse finds on the near, the more he counts on the far side of that precept. It is there that Freud, and Marcuse in his wake, locate the faculty of ' fantasy', seen as the focal point of all forces not subject to the all-powerful reality-principle.71

Marcuse's argument runs as follows. Having assumed, in spiritual life, a position equal to that occupied by the pleasure-principle and its nemesis, the reality-principle, man's mental apparatus split in two. A "repressive mentality" was formed to serve the latter, while the former, as the more primary of the two, retained the loyalty of a now separate faculty. It continued to defend its once considerable freedom, if only by conceding its accomplishments had nothing to do with the serious issues of reality. Whereas in fact this schismatic fantasy opposed to the shabby reality of exploitation something far more fundamental, the memory of a "lost age" when the pleasure-principle claimed man's jubilant submission to his own instincts. Fantasy, in other words, has forced reality time without number to face the opportunities it has not lost but merely let slip into "nocturnal consciousness", to contemplate freedom from oppression.

``Imagination," to quote Marcuse, "preserves the ' memory' of the subhistorical past when the life of the individual was the life of the genus, the image of the immediate unity between the universal and the particular under the rule of the pleasure-principle.''72 "In contrast," he continues, "the entire subsequent history of man is characterised by the destruction of this original unity: the position of the ego.''73 Significantly, the lost age of the pleasure-principle is no sooner mentioned than made to introduce the unity of the universal and the particular, a unity tantamount to the latter's dissolution in the former, a generic, impersonal, collective whole.74 The position assumed by the ego with the emergence of individuality from the amorphous, primordial whole is tenuous, ``sinful'', morbid and morbific–quite close, in fact, to that expounded in ' Dialektik der Aufklarung' and linked thereby to the metaphysical axioms of the Philosophy of Life movement.

In Marcuse's final analysis, it is the 'principiam individuationis', descendent from the reality-principle, which motivates the "repressive use of instinct".75 Each instinct, in its own separate way, works against the individuationprinciple.76 The latter, like its antecedent, the reality-principle, deflects them from their goal at the mid-point of an advance powered wholly on their own, inner energy. Participating in the attack on the antagonistic individuationprinciple is fantasy, which supports the demands of the whole in conjunction with the genus and an archaic past. Fantasy, then, functions as a "fundamental, independent mental process [with] a truth value of its own", and without regard for how the reality-principle and the repressive mentality will react.77

Marcuse gives Freud the credit for restoring full rights to fantasy, and himself the humble status of interpreter. Yet in maintaining the Utopian fruits of fantasy are actually to be effected, he clearly parts company with his source. For it was their ideal, Utopian, utterly 'unattainable' aspect that Freud valued. As such and only such did Utopia have any role to play in the spiritual life of the individual and society. Marcuse's insisting that fantasy and Utopia must be fought for at their most fantastic and Utopian takes him away from Freud and over to his surrealist critics of the Ultra Left.78

This regression, as Freud would call it, has the distinctly neurotic features of infantile escapism: with Marcuse, turning a childish blind eye to the sterner aspects of reality takes on a ``progressive'' and even ``revolutionary'' function. The erotic taboos broken in dreams, the involuntary infantile reflexes of adults and children are seen to uphold the truth rejected by the repressive mentality, thus restoring to man in his maturity the lost age of childhood. More importantly, he acquires the ``revolutionary'' criteria by which to judge the modern world and its higher spiritual achievements, dismissed out of hand by the repressive mentality and the capitalist establishment it serves.

Marcuse's thoughts on the revolutionising role of fantasy and dreams have far-reaching implications. Some recall the slogans that sent the radical students of Paris to the barricades and the automobile bonfires of May 1968: "All power to fantasy!" and "Be realistic–demand the impossible!" Others, with some reflection on the Freudian patricide mythologem of 'Totem nnd Tabu', shed light on the infantile . . . folly, to choose our terms tactfully, deliberately cultivated by 'les enfants terribles', particularly those on the New Left. If Marcuse is a case in point, though, their fathers in theory were not immune themselves.


Summarising the concept of man as evolved in the West over the first half of the twentieth century produces the following, highly abstract scheme.

1. The evolutionary pattern was pro-determined by Nietzsche's dual view of culture as based on the Dionysian, impersonal or anti-individualistic principle and its Apollonic, hyperindividualistic opposite. It may be traced in Nietzsche's own philosophic development, which zigzagged back and forth between the Dionysian 'Geburt der Tragodie cms dem Geiste der Musik' and an Apollonic 'Zarathustra' and later works. Because each of these unilinear postulates captured no more than what the Russian thinker Alexander Herzen termed, ``part-truths'', both ended in falsehood; thus did the bourgeois notion of man and indeed Western art and literature as a whole vacillate throughout the first half of the twentieth century.

2. Bourgeois philosophy, socio-politics and aesthetics were highly volatile, if not self-contradictory on this very point (and what could be more crucial to man than his own self-concept?); they wavered between the Dionysian and the Apollonic solutions, they positively reeled from one extreme to the other. Nothing, it seems, could testify more explicitly to the crisis in consciousness, the perilously advanced cultural rot affecting the capitalist West. Nor could the latter help but crop up or exacerbate the antinomies in Western literature and art.

3. The bitter conflict between the two poles personified in Weber's and Spengler's concepts of man, is identifiable as such by the dawn of this century. Nevertheless, the Apollonic trend dominated philosophy, literature and art. The temporary, primitive and gory Dionysian victory in fascist Italy and nazi Germany sobered bourgeois intellectuals in other countries, thereby promoting a swing to the 139 Apollonic pole, with its intemperate individualism. This in turn, via a subjectivist, elitist misconstruction of individual freedom, produced existentialism. Born in war-torn France as a Romanticised, Nietzscheanised version of Germany's 'Existenz-Philosophie, I'existentialisme' swept through Europe in the 1940s and 1950s to spawn a broadbased literary and artistic movement.

4. The hyperindividualistic God-baiting undertaken by Sartre and leftist-existentialist company, self-proclaimed Renaissance-Romantics all, led to ethical relativism and nihilism, which, in the state-monopolist West, brought sharp reproof from influential Catholic circles. The latter opposed the former on anti-elitist grounds, loath as they were to lose touch with the vilified masses. In anathematising the existentialist concept of man, Catholicism proved more astute than its opponents, soon to renounce–as did Sartre and his school, for example–their overblown individualism. Nonetheless, the Catholic alternative as formulated by Guardini and represented in the Western arts by Bernanos and Mauriac, did not take hold. Torn by internal contradiction (cf. Guardini's personality-less core-self), lost between the mass-society it accepted and a fearful glance at its future, the Catholic concept of man could not compete, either with the anti-clerical critics of individuality or the mass-society's apologists.

5. Existentialism, with its roots in Nietzschean hyperindividualism,79was not only ill-received in ecclesiastical circles, but condemned outright by the Radical Left, the so-called Neo-Marxist opposition to state-monopoly capitalism headed by the Frankfurt school. Horkheimer, Adorno and Marcuse shared the existentialists' antipathy for the mass-society generated by that order, but parted company on the question of individuality. As they saw it, the individuality and individual freedom promoted by the existentialists were historically unsound '(das Selbst' having suffered its final defeat), hence theoretically false and politically pernicious. By way of proof, they pointed to the avant-garde's most extremist, nihilist currents: notably, Dadaism, surrealism, expressionism, and expressive abstractionism. To all intents and purposes, the Frankfurt social philosophy was and continued to be the philosophy of the avant-garde which exists by and through the self-flagellation, the self-destruction of literature and art, a paradoxical 'status quo' these theorists consider meaningful by virtue of reflecting the desperate straits of personality ( Individuality) under late, or state-monopoly capitalism.

6. As Frankfurt's Neo-Marxism evolved, bourgeois consciousness shifted once again (recall Spengler and similar trends in the literature and art of the 1920s) from Apollonic hyperindividualism to a Dionysian, impersonal orientation best expressed by Marcuse, who let the Neo-Marxist secret of secrets slip. At the same time, this particular brand of Neo-Marxism and bourgeois thought in general experienced a rise in left-wing Freudian motifs placing an absolute pleasure-principle foremost in the concept of man. This, and the new solution to the human dilemma it introduced, entered literature and art as the avant-garde's moving from the brink of art and non-art to neo-avant-gardism, which demanded art be absorbed forthwith into life. (``Life'', in this sense, was to become the rallying cry of the Radical Left, discussed below).

7. Readjusting the working model of man to Freud's pleasure-principle was anticipated in the early works of Wilhelm Reich and Erich Fromm (not to mention the leftwing surrealists) and culminated in Marcuse's 'Eros and Civilisation'. This coincided with state-monopoly capitalism's evolving into consumerism. And the coincidence extends beyond time to the content of the changes worked by the left-wing Freudianists in bourgeois thought. Taken in this light, Freud's leftist followers may be considered the ideologists of the consumer-society–the unwitting ideologists, that is, for they believed their goals to be radically anti-bourgeois (a paradox affecting so many ideologists, in Marx's sense of the word). Because these adjustments dovetailed in content with the overall re-orientation in bourgeois thought under crystallising consumerism, because their form, or the perception brought to bear by the left-wing Freudians seemed to pursue anti-bourgeois ideational goals, they were bound to rally all social forces who took consumerism to represent the revolutionary negation of state-monopoly capitalism, an assault on its last stronghold–Western culture. Such are the origins of New-Left extremism and its bohemian-lumpen brand of rebellion. To which paradox we shall now turn.


PART TWO: From the end of utopia to the beginning of anti-utopia
Section three. Revolt in the depths of despair
Chapter one. The revolt Aagainst the principium individuationis
1. Art as a means of expelling the personality from itself
2. Neo-Marxist nihilism and literary leftism
[Chapter two.]
3. The Frankfurt criticism of the conception of committed literature
4. The end of written literature?

PART TWO From the End of Utopia to the Beginning of Anti-Utopia



1. Art as a Means of Expelling the Personality from Itself

Quite early, in his 'Eros and Civilisation', Marcuse wrote that the surrealists understood the revolutionary consequences which could be deduced from Freud's discoveries; ever since then, art had been the ally of revolution (taken, of course, in its surrealist and Marcusian–that is, ``left''-extremist sense). The surrealists impressed Marcuse, first, with the radical rearrangement of accents which they produced within the framework of Freudian doctrine, emphasising fantasy (imagination) and subjecting reason to devastating criticism because of its tendency to come to terms with a reality which they considered as bourgeois as it was counter-revolutionary, "We subject the ideas of logic, order, truth, reason," they declared in the magazine 'Surrealism in the Service of the Revolution', "to nonbeing, to death. You do not know to what we can be led by our hatred of logic."1

Secondly, they made a strong impression on Marcuse with the thoroughgoing way in which they developed the technique of liberating the instincts and urges shackled by bourgeois reason, middle-class morality and all oppressive culture. The main prospects for developing this technique were indicated by the chief theorist of left surrealism, Andre Breton, in his first 'Manifesto of Surrealism:' "Pure psychic automatism intended to express, verbally, or in writing, or by any other means, the real functioning of thought. The dictation of thought, in the absence of all control exercised by the reason, and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupations.''2 In the surrealist works which record, with the aid of such techniques, the unconscious urges of their authors–that is, which achieve the ``desubliniation'' of the repressive culture, Marcuse was bound to be aware of a tendency that corresponded to his own theories.

But clearly, Marcuse's stipulations were above all met (and still are) by the desire of the surrealists to affirm the products of fantasy controlled by no one, the images of dreams, the results of spontaneous and unmotivated psychic activity as manifestations of true reality; the reality that does not yet exist but will inevitably come tomorrow.

Since, by the time Marcuse had plunged into `` synthesising'' Marx and Freud (and, correspondingly, the political revolution and the sexual), the surrealist mode of thought was already elaborated in sufficient detail, it was natural that Marcuse's thinking, sensitive to fashionable trends, should have flowed along the channel dug by Breton and other theorists of the ideological and artistic movement under discussion.

The influence of surrealism, however, was expressed more deeply in the Marcusian conception of art. This influence proved so far-reaching that in many respects the Marcusian interpretation of art is identical with that of Breton. Sometimes it is as if Marcuse had simply taken several points of surrealist theory and incorporated them in his own. Marcuse's general tendency, however, was in a more consistent endeavour completely to dissolve art in a reality transformed by the radical upheaval in the structure of human instincts. Only this distinguishes what came from him and what clearly did not.

Incidentally, a similar difficulty also arises in studying the Marcusian conception of art in another connection. Marcuse assimilated not only Breton's ideas, but those of Adorno, although the latter differ substantially from Breton's, since the model from which the author of the 'Philosophie der neuen Musik' worked out his ideas of true art was not so much surrealism as expressionism and constructivism combined.
Marcuse fully shares the "surrealist thesis that the poet is the total nonconformist who finds, in the language of poetry, the semantic element of revolution".3 This idea corresponds to his conviction that as revolution is an absolute break with the "continuum of domination", so the revolutionary poet (the true poet is always the ``total'' revolutionary) must also determinedly break with the `` vocables'' of this "continuum of domination", having created an entirely new language. In this way, the poet, according to Marcuse, widens the "liberatory possibilities of revolution" which at first are seen (before being included in the real, material social movement) as ``surreal'' possibilities and, as such, are accessible only to the poetic fantasy, "as it is expressed and formulated in the language of poetry". This language is not ``instrumental'', it cannot be used in ordinary life for the expression of ordinary ' Realien', and in general it "cannot be other than an instrument of revolution''.

Discussing protest songs and verse, Marcuse notes that they "always come too late or too early", as reminiscence or as dream. "Their time is not the present"; they prove their truth with their hope, with their rejection of the actual state of affairs. Hence, according to Marcuse, the eternal gulf between poetic fantasy and real politics that "has a fatal effect on poetry". "There is no means," he writes, "by which we could imagine historical change in the relations between the cultural and the revolutionary movement which would overcome the schism between the dayto-day language and the poetic and would abolish the domination of the first. The language of poetry evidently draws all its strength and truth from its otherworldliness, its transcendence"–that is, from leaving the real and entering the surreal.

However, the departure itself is a revolutionary act; it signifies a "revolution of perception" which is presupposed by and accompanies political revolution. The revolution is always a "revolt against repressive reason" as well, and this revolt draws it destructive energy from the aesthetic sphere, the sphere of changed perception, "the new sensibility". Here, by the way, reciprocal action occurs: as the revolt against repressive reason relies on the revolutionised perception of the world, on the new sensibility, so at the same time it gives strength to this latter. In its turn, this revolutionary process exerts its influence on art as a whole: on its affirmative (that is, affirming the repressive reality) character as a result of which art has a tendency towards reconciliation with the 'status quo', and also the extent to which it brings about the sublimation of urges, since this sublimation obstructs the realisation of the truth contained in art, of its cognitive factor.

The protest against these two aspects of art, which is associated with its striving for the surreal, according to Marcuse, had already spread all over the artistic sphere on the eve of World War I and has continued to deepen with growing intensity up to the present time. The protest conveys to art a negative, destructive force, having given voice and 'bildlichen Ausdruck' ("imagic expression") to a broader process, that of "desublimating culture", in other words, depriving it of the illusory ( = ideal) dimension. Non-figurative, abstract painting and sculpture, the stream of consciousness and formalistic literature, twelve-tone music (Schonberg), blues and jazz–all these, according to Marcuse, are certainly not a reorientation and intensification of the old means of appreciation. They are the demolition of the old structures of appreciation in order to "make room''.

``What for?" asks Marcuse. And he is forced to admit that it is impossible to find a clear and definite answer to this question. For "the new subject of art has not yet been `given' '(gegeben)";' after all, it is not ``reality''–this reality itself is still to be discovered and outlined. It still has to arise from people's revolutionary and revolutionising activity inspired by the striving for the realisation of their secret aims and unconscious desires. In other words, this subject is, for the time being, not reality but surreality. However, it is enough that this fundamentally new subject–the reality of the future–has been ``given'' for the customary, or traditional, in art to "become impossible, false". From illusion, imitation and harmony, art, according to Marcuse, has leapt ahead towards true reality–the reality which has not yet been given and therefore cannot be a subject of realistic art, but demands a new form of art appropriate to itself. This must be an art that itself takes part in the creation of the ``projtct'' (Sartre's term which, as we see, fits neatly into the surrealist conception of art) of the new reality, still only subject to discovery.

The objective of such art is, above all, to destroy the "automatism of direct, but socially oriented experience, which opposes the liberation of sensibility" connected with the vital urges of people, their striving for the fulfilment of "prehistoric desires". This experience is imposed on man by the repressive society, its science, technology, culture and morality–but art, breaking the automatism of that experience, must give the people back a real sense of real life that is in a far closer relationship with the world of instinctive impulses and urges than with the external world of "empirical experience" created by bourgeois civilisation.

This is achieved in art, writes Marcuse, by means of form: "...Form is that by which art transcends the given reality; it works in the established reality against established reality. This transcendental element dwells within art, within the creative dimension. Art changes experience, since it reconstructs its objects in word, sound and image. Why? Evidently, the idiom of art communicates an objectivity inaccesible to ordinary idiom and ordinary experience." What is this mysterious ``objectivity''? It is objectivity not of the real, but of the surreal, which does not yet exist, but which is already there, for it is imminent.

Here, art is clearly being endowed with functions beyond the bounds of its specifically aesthetic possibilities. At the beginning of the century, the Russian Symbolists called these functions theurgic. It is natural that art, shouldering such an excessive burden, should be in danger of being crushed by it or, in any case, being transformed into something totally different. Marcuse obviously feels this himself when he writes that the radical character, the ``violence'' of this reconstruction of reality in contemporary art evidently means that it is revolting not against this or that style, but against ``style'' as such, against the ' KunstForm', against the traditional meaning of art. Incidentally, even here he has said nothing really new; he has only repeated what was being said about art by the Dadaists and other proponents of the total liquidation of art, of its conversion into ``non-art''.

This tendency, clearly discernible in avant-garde art (although, of course, by no means all the avant-gardists consciously supported it), is explained by Marcuse in the following terms. The revolutions that followed World War I and put up their ``project'' of a new reality (``surreality'' of the Future), showed up the true nature of bourgeois reality, which made art an illusion and branded both the reality itself and its corresponding art. The new art, however, evoked by a presentiment of these revolutions and the anticipation of the future reality (``surreality''), did not want anything to do with the old, illusory art and began to see itself as 'anti-ait'. In contrast to illusory art, which took the objects and phenomena of the bourgeois world naively, that is to say, as they seemed at first sight, in no way questioning their reality as things, the new art must break with this reifying, that is, with the presentation, in the form of immutable things, all that has been created with the aid of repressive production and repressive technology, science and culture.

``Since then," writes Marcuse, "the breakthrough of antiart into art" has revealed itself in the most varied forms: in the destruction of syntax, the destruction of words and sentences, "blowing up the use of daily language", etc. etc. However, all attempts at destroying form resulted in the emergence of new forms. This outcome was in no way haphazard, since the real "metamorphosis of art", according to Marcuse, is "its self-extermination", the necessity for which is contained in the very structure of art, but which must be accomplished in conformity with it, and not in spite of it–as the proponents of anti-art tried to do.

What is the peculiarity of this structure that impeded art's actual self-extermination along the lines proposed by the theorists and practitioners of anti-art ? It consists in the feature of its aesthetic form that excludes the work of art from empirical reality and makes it an appurtenance of the "second reality", that is, surreality. "By virtue of its form," writes Marcuse, "art contradicts the endeavour to get rid of art's interest in the 'second reality', to translate the truth of productive fantasy into the first reality," into the common and practical language of this latter. Aesthetic form, according to Marcuse, is domination over chaos, violence and suffering; the rejection of these–even when form itself introduces chaos, violence and suffering. "This triumph of art is achieved by subduing content–by aesthetic order, whose demands are autonomous.''

This peculiarity of aesthetic form makes art inwardly ambiguous; it blames what exists and promptly removes this accusation in aesthetic form. This "resolving, conciliatory power of art was typical", writes Marcuse, "even of the most radical phenomena of illusory art and antiart". Even here, the aesthetic necessity of art "drives out the appalling necessity of reality; it sublimates its grief and joy", so that "blind, innocent suffering" and the "fury of nature"–meaning that of man himself and that of "the outside world"–acquire purpose and meaning, or poetic justice. "The blame is removed and its outrageousness, offensiveness and mockery–extreme artistic negations at the disposal of art–are conquered by this [aesthetic] order." This restoration of order, according to Marcuse, also leads to catharsis of the "terror of reality" by means of aesthetic form imposing general order. This result, however, affirms Marcuse, is "illusory, false and fictitious: it remains in the dimension of art; in reality, however, horror and refusal continue to dominate. . ." This, according to Marcuse, perhaps contains the most decisive expression of the contradiction in art: "victories over material, transformations of material that satisfy existence '(Dasein)' remain unreal, since the revolutionisation of the material remains unreal. And this substitute nature of art repeatedly raises the question of its justification: was the Parthenon worth the sufferings of a single slave? Is it possible after Auschwitz to continue writing poetry?''

True, reasons Marcuse, it would be possible to object to this question as follows: If the horrors of capitalist civilisation have a tendency to become total and if it blocks all political action directed against it, then where save in radical fantasy can the memory of the "lost age" of the primitive (or child-like) state of happiness be preserved, which means where else is it possible also to preserve and deepen the revolutionary potential, the energy of the radical rejection of what exists? It would be possible to adduce an even simpler objection, which for some reason has never occurred to Marcuse or any other members of the New Left: Will the sufferings of the above-mentioned slave be atoned for if we destroy the remains of the Parthenon? Will the horrors of Auschwitz be obliterated from history if the poets refuse to write verse? Finally, we shall add an objection to Sartre: Will black children stop dying of starvation if the European ``left''-extremist intelligentsia finish with culture altogether, doing so "on the model of Mao"? Marcuse, however, takes another line. He asks the following counter-question of the defendants of art who see it as the sole reservat of revolutionising fantasy: ". . .Are the images today [of fantasy that stimulates the desire for pleasure] still the domain of `illusory' art" (and, I might add, of the anti-art which also proves in the end to be ``illusory'' because of its above-mentioned inability to prevail over the principle of aesthetic form) ? Marcuse thinks that they are not. The fantasy images created by art could demonstrate that "behind the illusion stands knowledge", a higher knowledge, moreover, than that of the "repressive reason", only until aesthetic knowledge was in fact impossible and the aesthetic utopia truly unattainable. Now, however, the situation is different, and so art cultivating these images and ensuring the illusory and sublimated satisfaction of the vital urges concealed behind them, ceases to fulfil a revolutionising function and is converted into its own opposite. Thus (true, with Marcuse's hand that did not tremble as it did so) art signed its own deathwarrant.


What is the change in the state of affairs that has developed so sadly for the future of art? And what, to take a more optimistic, or Marcusian, formulation of this question, is the real liquidation of art, which the theorists of anti-art have nevertheless failed to achieve? For the answer, let us return briefly to what was written about fantasy and imagination by Marcuse in 1937.

``Freedom of imagination," he wrote, "disappears as true freedom becomes a practical possibility. The frontiers of fantasy are, in the strict sense of the word, technical frontiers: they are determined by the level of technical development.''4 It is now clear why art proves to be irrelevant under the conditions of the late-capitalist civilisation. After all, this latter, as Marcuse wrote many times, has developed such productive forces and has created such production possibilities that primitive urges and infantile dreams can be fulfilled directly and immediately–without repressions, expulsions or sublimations. And arts that offer us the sublimated satisfaction of vital urges at a time when we can do this, simply distract us from this real prospect, that is, they divert us from the "truly revolutionary" road.

According to Marcuse, art as a specific area of social consciousness (an area of the ideal in general) preserves its meaning only until the fantasy images cherished by it– life in conformity with the pleasure-principle under the benevolent patronage of Eros–cannot be accomplished in reality itself. As soon as the development of productive forces, however, achieves such a level that the aesthetic Utopias of art come true–and this, according to Marcuse, had happened by the beginning of the century–art loses all its meaning. Henceforth only one ``aesthetic'' task arises: to embody in life itself everything that has so far been regarded as fantasies, as utopian dreams of art.

However, continues Marcuse, the situation that arose at the beginning of our century was such that the dominant political forces prevented the productive forces developing in the direction which would have corresponded to the demands of Eros as formulated by literature and art. As a result, on the one hand, those very productive forces became more and more destructive and, on the other hand, art found itself in a paradoxical situation: it had to go on existing after its real task had already been fulfilled, namely, to preserve and cultivate in the sphere of artistic fantasy the "feasibly political" programme of Eros (the pleasure-principle) until possibilities arose for its embodiment in life. To continue living and acting in this situation as if nothing had happened, if we can believe Marcuse, would mean that writers, poets, artists and musicians would have to adopt a course of deception (serving the "false consciousness" being distributed by the powers-that-be).

Faced with this situation, according to Marcuse, art had nothing left, since it did not want to be turned quickly into pure ideology, but to reject itself, its own artistic form, its own existence as aesthetic reality. And so, if we are to believe the Frankfurt thinker, avant-garde tendencies in art are emerging in the 20th century and increasing every 150 year. Avant-gardism, which appears as anti-art, or art with the prefix ``non'', consciously set itself from the very beginning a purely negative aim: the desublimation of art and, in it and through it, of all Western culture–that is, the despiritualisation of art and culture. Whether we take abstract painting and sculpture, formalism and the stream of consciousness in literature, twelve-tone music, blues and jazz–everywhere, from Marcuse's point of view, we have to do with a process purely negative towards traditional art, to the "form of art" as such. It means the destruction of the old sublimated, idealised structures of perception.

If we compare these Marcusian arguments with what was said above about the dramatic collision between the bourgeois Protestant Work Ethics on the one hand, and the bourgeois-consumer pleasure-principle on the other, it is striking to what a degree these arguments conform to the general tendencies of this second principle, which is steadily forging ahead in the 20th-century West European consciousness. We must also agree that Marcuse was not so far from the truth (although he interpreted it in his own left-extremist way) when he evaluated the tendencies of avant-garde art precisely as a struggle for power between Eros (the pleasure-principle) and the Protestant Work Ethics (the principle of "reality and production"). Indeed, art's "wild revolt" against itself, incited by avantgardism, was a revolt against culture as such by bohemianism, eternally hostile to all the rigours of hard work, serious personal responsibility, etc. This time, the revolt of the artistic lumpen-intelligentsia has been given anything but a local significance, since in sociological terms it has reflected the general growth of hedonistic-consumer tendencies in Western culture. This circumstance has been a real force, supporting the anti-cultural aspirations of avant-garde literature and art throughout the 20th century.

The revolt against culture as such reflected the strengthening of hedonistic, consumer and simply parasitic aspirations in the state-monopoly society. The crux of the matter, however, is that these aspirations in no way signified the radical rejection of that society; they reflected tendencies arisen within it as a result of changing ``liberal'' capitalism into ``corporative'' and ``consumer''.

Indeed, as Marcuse unhappily points out, " `anti-art' remairied art"; it "was exhibited, bought and seen as art". 'As' for innumerable Western literature and art historians, they hastened to find new ("striking!") artistic revelations where the creators themselves had seen only "spits in the face" of art, literature, culture and so on. The "wild revolt of art", testifies Marcuse, "was not a shock for long"; it was soon "absorbed by the market".5 These spits in the face of mankind were briskly bought up, then exhibited in the art galleries, in the reception rooms and offices of the successful industry and in the flats of millionaires and multi-millionaires. Marcuse found his own explanation why this circumstance, which shows, in our view, that anti-art did not put up such a determined resistance to "bourgeois civilisation" as its ideologists supposed and, moreover, that it reflected a certain substantially important tendency, namely the consumer society's hedonism.

He affirmed in his 'Versuch über die Befreiung' that anti-art was, in a paradoxical way, accepted as art for one sole reason: the attempt to reject the bourgeois-exploiter reality-principle was not sustained all the way, that is, to the actual replacement of capitalist reality based on that principle by an entirely new reality founded on the pleasure-principle. The true accomplishment of art's self-annihilation, according to Marcuse, is only possible on one condition: that the erotic content sublimated in it is accomplished in interpersonal relations, in the transformation of man's objectvie environment and in the corresponding reorientation of technological progress.

No sublimation, then, which means down with sublimated, i.e. illusory, i.e. counter-revolutionary art! Fantasy has at last found a cause far more serious than the artistic sublimation of primitive urges, than the illusory " remembrance of things past": ". . .Fantasy, released from servitude to exploitation and relying on the successes of science, can convert its productivity to the radical reconstruction of experience and the world of experience.''6 That is why the contemporary revolutionary movement ( Marcuse means, of course, primarily the New Left and perhaps the "cultural revolution" in China as well), inspired by the ideal of the real and not the illusory transformation of the living world into artistic fact, revolts (mainly, we might add) "against the established culture . . . against the beautiful in that culture, against its excessively sublimated, ordered and harmonised forms, which are remote from reality''.

The fundamental purpose of this revolt is the rejection of the traditional culture, its "methodical desublimation"; today's mutineers are fulfilling the behest of Mann's Doctor Faustus: they are "taking back" the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven, "cancelling it" so that it might never have existed at all. But they are doing even more than Adrian Leverkühn, who sold his soul to the devil; they are investing their art (which has finally acknowledged its transitory and, above all, purely negative significance under conditions when all the primitive urges–in principle–can be satisfied by factual and not illusory means) with " desublimated, sensual forms of a frightening immediacy that set bodies in motion and likewise the souls materialised in them''.

However, in order to "arrive at its own essence", that is, at the consistent awareness and accomplishment of its mission, revolutionary art must renounce its "direct call", its "primitive immediacy of portrayal". ``Wasn't there once a time," asks Marcuse (and at this point in his arguments variations can be heard on Adorno's aesthetic-sociological theory), "when the fundamental aim of radical art was just such a break with this immediacy?" The abolition of the alienation effect, of ``estrangement'' from the existing society, which Marcuse sees in the immediacy of the art of protest and which brings it closer to illusory (and ``illusionistic'') art, ``counteracts'', according to Marcuse, "the radicalisation of today's art". Thus, in his opinion, Living Theatre fails to the extent "to which it lives", encouraging the spectators to identify directly with the actors, experiencing their sympathies and antipathies. The same applies, says Marcuse, to the ``happening'' ("always organised", in spite of its illusory spontaneity and haphazardness) and Pop Art, which have both created a "false togetherness" within the repressive society.

Incidentally, Marcuse dwells only briefly on Adorno's viewpoint, according to which art is an alienated and surmounted immediacy, for, as Adorno said, "there is nothing innocent in our age"; according to which art 153 synthesises purely immediate expression with purely mediated construction; according to which art "balances on the borderline" between a work of art and its annihilation, between culture and the rejection of culture–in a word, Marcuse does not dwell on art taken at the critical moment of its fall (or, incidentally, at the moment of the ``fall'' of its carrier, the individual). On the one hand, this viewpoint was too pessimistic for Marcuse, who believed in the beautiful effect of the ``Breakthrough''. On the other, he never showed any particular inclination for the subtleties of dialectic balancing on the knife-edge between ``yes'' and ``no''; and, moreover, protesting youth, of whose interest in his reflections he was clearly aware (especially during work on "An Essay on Liberation"), demanded a clear and categorical answer: ``yes'' or ``no''.

The endless balancing between ``yes'' and ``no'' forced Adorno to express himself more and more vaguely, resulting in a deterioration of his relations with youth in revolt (incidentally, this also had its purely political causes). Marcuse, who witnessed this dramatic story of the incipient conflict between ``fathers'' and ``children'' in the camp of the New Left, decided to answer more categorically. No, he replied, the existence of art in the form of an anti-art alienating and overcoming ``immediacy'' is only transitional, and a last phase after which much follow the ``removal'' of art by means of realising its fantasies and dreams in interpersonal relations regulated solely by Eros and the aesthetic ethos corresponding to the pleasure-principle.

In view of the mood of the protesting youth, to whom this answer was given, Marcuse cannot be accused of lacking wit. After all, on the one hand, he had quite clearly and categorically said ``no'': there are no prospects for the further existence of art, even in anti-art, its most revolutionary form. On the other hand, however, this altogether pessimistic reply seemed to Marcuse to be in a major key and full of joyously optimistic cadences: the productive imagination, having blown up the sublimated framework of art, must erect a splendid monument to it.

And so the phenomena of anti-art, which throughout our century have been reproduced, according to Marcuse, within the framework of the most revolutionary avant-garde art, prove totally contradictory and ambiguous, living only by self-annihilation as a result of the irreconcilable antinomies that are tearing them apart. On the one hand, the phenomena of anti-art are distinguishable from traditional works of art if only by not satisfying the demand which, one way or another, was met by all the art of the past; they do not give people that wisdom which would stand behind their fantastic images and on the basis of which it would be possible, as Marcuse supposes, to build a model of truly human relations regulated by Eros.

On the other hand, however–and precisely because of the first circumstance–this anti-art cannot also be the carrier of those fantasies, those figments of the imagination and the like, proceeding from which anti-art, overstepping the bounds of art and becoming real imagination–social, political and technological–could convert them into reality, having transformed that reality according to the yardstick of human urges as they manifested themselves in illusory art. In short, as Marcuse describes it, it is a ``surrevolutionary'' art–neither fish, fowl, flesh nor good red herring.

Here, too, incidentally, Marcuse ably dealt with moods which possessed the art students who, in May 1968, passed thunderous ``Robespierrean'' resolutions in Paris against art. True, to recall what Engels said about the German students, it might be supposed that some of the above-mentioned children were driven into adopting resolutions (and the committing of the corresponding practical actions) by fear of the exams. It would be interesting to know what exams frightened their ideologist father. . .


As we see, Marcuse went much further than the other Freudo-Marxist oriented members of the Frankfurt school in drawing a conclusion about the inevitable annihilation of art in the society of the Future where, they claimed, it must become a form of reality itself, having dissolved in social, scientific and technological creativeness, and also in the material environment of emancipated humanity. However Marcuse may have substantiated his own conclusion, it was in fact a logically necessary deduction from the thesis about the historical exhaustibility of the ' principium individuationis', which the other Frankfurt theorists, more circumspect but also less consistent notwithstanding, could not bring themselves to make. After all, art is the carrier of the subjective means of harmonising (or, on the contrary, deharmonising) the mutual relations of man, who is always there as a particular ("this one here") individual, and also the mutual relations of society–or, to put it more generally, of the universal and necessary aspect of human existence in general. And if one half of this individual-universal bipolar system is removed, then with it goes the main objective of art–to find and express the harmonious interrelationship between these two factors and, from the viewpoint of the harmony so found, to evaluate the true condition of man in society. With the removal of this–truly human!–task, art itself loses its meaning; where there is no opposition (or simply difference) of factors subject to harmonisation, there is no need or possibility of accomplishing harmony: it is replaced by a dead, lifeless identity. More skilled in the subtleties of negative dialectic, Horkheimer and Adorno sensed this danger. Which is why, however much they may have talked about the end of individuality, they always stressed that it was a process bound to take a whole epoch, during which man, and consequently art, would lead a paradoxical existence on the brink of annihilation. Secondly, neither Horkheimer nor Adorno ever made it clear when this epoch was going to end and what would come to replace the 'principium individuationis' as applicable to man (what will become of the man who has prevailed over this antagonistic principle in himself), and also to art (upon whom it is no longer incumbent to embody in himself the model harmonisation of the individually personal and anonymously universal principles). Having rashly broken both these taboos (for which he was to blame in being too dependent on his young disciples, who firmly insisted on his making ``either–or'' decisions), Marcuse promptly found himself at an impasse. Three years later, in his book, 'Counterrevolution and Revolt' (1972), he called this impasse "the materialistic version of absolute idealism"7; that is, to translate this phrase into simpler language, he found himself advocating the vulgarly materialistic identification of the ideal with the real, of consciousness with being. The real content of this identification was still the same hedonism that reflected the consumer aspirations of the state-monopoly West after World War II.

Indeed, according to Marcusian logic, anti-art would certainly perform its mission of annihilating art only if the pleasure-principle was not simply consolidated alongside the reality-principle (and that of production), by going towards a compromise with it but if it fully cancelled out (or determinedly repressed) this second principle. In effect, this would mean the onset of the world anticipated in Aldous Huxley's anti-Utopias: a world in which self-aware, responsible and free individuals with initiative would not exist, since their place would be taken by humanoids under the power of erotic cravings and completely uncontrolled as individuals (because the individual principle had been destroyed), but fully subject to centralised manipulation (remember Huxley's ``Feelies''). In this world there would certainly be no need for sublimated art or for culture in general, for here it would be a question of the direct impact on the neuro-physiological structure or human bodies (mainly on the sexual urges, if we take the Marcusian Freudo-Marxist model of man), bypassing consciousness and self-awareness, which have always obstructed any such influence, sublimating it and putting it under the conscious control of the individual.

As Huxley had shown, the coming of this Brave New World would mean the monstrous enslavement of mankind, completely trapped in the circle of artificially stimulated and deliberately manipulated hedonistic sensations–no matter whether the sensations were experienced alone or jointly with other equally impersonal, equally anonymous creatures with human exterior. After all, it has been known ever since Plato and Aristotle that the slavery of man to his own lusts (prettified by Marcuse as Eros) does not cease to be slavery because man experiences positive emotions each time he satisfies them. Such emotions are also experienced by addicts taking the latest fix of heroin, the masochist torturing his own body and the sadist torturing someone else's. In all these cases, the pleasure-principle obtains identical satisfaction.

So it transpires that the pleasure-principle, as soon as it is given absolute power and once it has crushed the realityprinciple, has perhaps an even greater ability to become a cruel despot, enslaving not only the soul but the body of the human being who has handed it the reins of power. There is, however, something even more important here: to come 157 under the power of the pleasure-principle means to be the slave of the person or persons possessing the object which gives pleasure–whether it be the drug-pusher, the pop idol, etc. Moreover, the power of this person, since his condition is the "switching off" of the individual consciousness, the prevailing over the 'principium individuationis' in general, promises to become (and, indeed is–remember the Manson Band) far more absolute than the power of any despot who has never claimed to get rid of the bourgeoisindividualistic reality-principle.

In general, the less control the individual has over himself and his urges (and it is to this that Marcuse appeals, associating the omnipotence of the pleasure-principle with the rejection of the 'principium individuationis)' the more he is at the mercy of someone else, the one on whom the satisfaction of his urges depends. However paradoxical this may be at first glance, in the society of the liberated Eros, if it were possible to create such a thing, the priority (inevitably changing into this or that form of power over others) would go to those less inclined to totally unlimited pleasure; they would be less subject to their urges and lusts and less dependent on everything with which their gratification was associated and by which it was conditioned. In this hypothetical society, there would sooner or later arise a Brave New World situation in which the slaves of their own lusts would also be slaves in the social sense, since those capable of mastering their own erotic inclinations would form a group of masters without thereby violating a single one of the demands of the ``Freudo-Marxist'' Eros.

2. Neo-Marxist Nihilism and Literary Leftism

It would, however, be a serious oversimplification to think that New Left extremism was heading for the abolition of art and literature (as of the repressive culture in general) by one means only–the absolutisation of the pleasure-principle. As is shown by the history of the New Left movement in the 60s, there was also another prospect for the liquidation of the Arts. This would be effected by replacing specifically artist content with the purely political; in brief, by the dissolution of literature in politics. Moreover, while the advocates of the first blueprint for the abolition of literature and art most frequently of all referred to the Frankfurt (chiefly the Marcusian) interpretation of ``neo-Marxism'', the supporters of the second preferred the ``neo-Marxist'' version advanced by Jean-Paul Sartre, author of the books 'What Is Literature8' and 'A Critique of Dialectic Reason'.9 That the fanatic art-destroyers and liquidators of literature in France and other countries of the Western world should have appealed to the authority of Sartre might initially cause some bewilderment. After all, this left existentialist and neo-Marxist spoke out so often for freedom of creation and for certain writers or artists, that he would seem the last person to be suspected of hostility to literature and art; in fact he gave the impression of over- rather than underestimating the role of art and literature in the contemporary world. Nevertheless, the New Left enthusiasts for the dissolution of the artistic consciousness in politics –of art in revolution and literature in politics referred most often to Sartre. Above all these references were not in the least glib or unsubstantiated; a careful reading of his works convincingly shows there is much in them to justify any conclusion about the necessity for dissolving art and literature in politics, depriving them of even the right to a relatively independent existence. In an interview given in the 60s, he sanctioned his earlier conclusions about the destruction of art and literature with statements of a now entirely nihilistic character–in particular this concerns Sartre's strivings to domesticate the idea of a "cultural revolution" in the Maoist spirit.

In connection with this the Sartrean conception of literature, in the light of the nihilistic conclusions drawn from it by Sartre himself and by his New Left supporters, is of particular interest to us, especially since an analysis of Sartre's relevant views, seen against the background of his general philosophical and political evolution, enables us to trace how the tendencies leading to the negation of personality (through the politicisation of art and literature which appeal to it) penetrate Sartre's theory, proceeding from the diametrically opposite standpoint: from the absolutisation of the personality, the hypertrophy of the personal principle and the boosting of individual freedom. As we shall see later, in this case the tendency beats itself a path through the ``overstraining'' of Nietzsche's Apollonian principles of individualisation, isolation, etc. which, being detached from the Dionysian principle, inevitably had to assume, according to Sartre, all the characteristics of this last, with its insoluble antinomies. The Sartrean " absolutely free" individuality was inevitably bound to come to self-negation when face to face with a purely Promethean contradiction: the 'necessity' of "being God" and the ' impossibility' of becoming God–a contradiction which also destroyed Sartre's conception of literature. Confronted with the extremist alternatives–all or nothing–(to be ``all'' or to be ``nothing''), Sartre's conceptions of man and literature both suffered a defeat in the end. An acknowledgement of this defeat was the volte-face of the individualist Sartre in favour of Maoist "barrack-room Communism''.

For an understanding of Sartre's conception of literature, it is essential to bear in mind that in the eyes of Sartre as existentialist, the writer (and the artist in general) invariably was, independently of the extent to which this was realised by the philosopher himself, a true and real embodiment of existential freedom, of ``being-for-oneself'' '(pour-soi]' as opposed to ``being-in-oneself'' '(en-soi)', that embodiment of all that is natural, material, "having become" '(Gewordene)'. Sartre advocated the principle of a freedom always individual and always unique, which does not acknowledge any tradition or any obligations to the past (i.e. "what has become"), acknowledging only quite arbitrarily the developing consistency of unrepeatable situations. This principle has also its appropriate carrier, accomplisher and spokesman, and it was against him that Sartre measured his conception of freedom, taking him for "man in general", whereas he was in fact a writer, moreover, the one best known to the philosopher–the writer Jean-Paul Sartre or, to be more precise, the image of himself which was forming in his own mind. That is why Sartre could always easily transfer from purely philosophical reflections on freedom ("for oneself") to arguments about the psychology of artistic creation, about the future of literature, etc. and–on the contrary–while reflecting on literature, examining it at the same time as a model of the human being and of human freedom as such.

After World War II (the period which interests us most), when Sartre began reinterpreting his existentialism in a ``neo-Marxist'' spirit, he was particularly anxious to arrive at a sociological deduction of the initial concepts of his philosophy, which had already become political during the war when he was a member of the French Resistance. The paramount problem was the sociological interpretation of what he regarded as important correlated (and even overlapping) concepts such as freedom ("for oneself") and literature (the writer, the intellectual, "man in general", etc.). If Sartre's reasoning had been previously focused on the concept of freedom, which enabled him subsequently to decipher and understand the concept of literature, it was now the other way round; Sartre started out from this concept in order to concretise the first. This move in his thinking was not an accident; while engaged on his basic metaphysical work, he was more inclined to proceed from highly, abstract concepts, but when he was faced with their sociological interpretation the altogether abstract concept of freedom proved far less suitable for him than that of literature, the more so that it was a kind of metaphor or symbol of freedom.

In his post-war articles on literature (collected and published in the book, 'What Is Literature?' which reflected the first stage in his ``neo-Marxist'' evolution), Sartre started out from the idea of the writer's task as the result of a definite existential choice, the choice to write, which had simultaneously an ethical and social political content and, moreover, had no other content than that. According to Sartre, writing is already a definite political position (also ethical and social, for all of them are one): the position of the politically concretised freedom of the individual, from which he then deduces the whole content of artistic creation. In this way, the content of literature is political, not in one of its aspects and not in the final analysis (depending on the concrete function being fulfilled by this or that work in the actual class struggle) although this is how it is seen by the Marxists, whom Sartre accused of dogmatism. Literature is, so to speak, political initially, "by definition". This is the thesis from which Sartre inflicted such a pogrom on French literature back in 1947 (true, a purely theoretical pogrom) which can only be compared with the pogrom unleashed on literature in Maoist China during the "cultural revolution''.

How does Sartre explain his thesis about the initial ``politically'' of all literature (especially 'belles lettres)', since it is the result of the moral-political and social-political choice to write? This explanation has the character of a sociological (or, to be more precise, social-political) deduction of the very concept of literature, writing, the writer's task, etc. Sartre begins his deduction with the epoch of the rise of the bourgeois society, regarding literature as the offspring of capitalism, just as, for Adorno, a similar offspring was "autonomous music"–the sonata and the symphony. Moreover, this deduction is specific from the very beginning; it is directed by Sartre's contradictory endeavours sociologically to determine literature, tying up its evolution with certain classes and the historical process of their replacement, and to liberate it from all definitions, presenting it as an expression of the absolutely free project of the absolutely free person (i.e. independent of class definitions), the Writer or, what is the same thing, Man with a capital M. In other words, by means of the sociological deduction of literature, Sartre tried to solve the completely paradoxical problem which confronted him when, with his ``left'' existentialism, he had moved towards ``neo-Marxism'': sociologically to determine ... absolute freedom (now appearing in the guise of the left Intellectual, the non-conformist Writer, committed Literature).

Sartre understood that for this it was not enough from the very outset to cram political leftishness, moral nonconformism and social commitment into the initial act of a man who had chosen the writer's profession, that is, who had made the existential choice to write, having simply postulated the indissoluble ties between the first, the second and the third. He was able to act in this way earlier when, on the one hand, he himself considered it sufficient to postulate the connection between the generally philosophical, political and literary concept that appealed to him, and when, on the other hand, they in fact were so interconnected in the eyes of like-minded readers, that this connection, as it seemed, did not need any proof at all. Now, however, the situation was different: the reading public, that had been united by hatred of the common foe, the German occupiers, broke up, and much that had seemed self-evident before, now demanded serious proof. At the same time, Sartre himself was not satisfied with his former "purely philosophical" method of demonstrating the connection between his favourite concepts. There now seemed to be greater force of conviction (at any rate, to that part of the public on which Sartre had, as before, called) in the `` neo-Marxist'' method of proof, appealing to the classes and to class vision–and it was to this that he now turned. He endeavoured, by class-historical analysis, to work out a concept of literature that would include ``left'' radicalism, moral non-conformism and social commitment–so that the choice to write would include all this not only with moral, but with social-historical necessity.

The historico-sociological deduction of literature in Sartre is accomplished by singling out the social figure of the writer, the man to whom literature owes its very existence. From the very beginning, he is a kind of 'declasse' element, bourgeois in origin, but writing more for the aristocracy, which has enough time to read and enough money to pay for the writer's work. The writer is thus an entirely contradictory sociological phenomenon: a member of one class, he lives off another which is opposed to him and is his class enemy. He writes about what he knows best, that is, about the life of his own class, but at the same time he appeals to readers of the opposing class. He testifies in favour of his own class but in front of the hostile aristocracy, from whom, incidentally, he obtains the money for his depositions. In a word, he is a kind of "double spy", serving two warring powers. If we are to believe Sartre, however, it was this position, as dual as it was ambiguous, that ensured total freedom for the writer, as also for his creation, literature, whereby, moreover, that freedom is ensured.

Sartre reasons that the marked duality (ambiguity) of the writer's situation virtually freed him from specific social obligations both to his own class, from which he comes, and the one to which he was indebted for his sustenance: obligations to his own class were neutralised by those to the other, and vice versa. The writer was free from the ideology of the bourgeois and from that of the aristocracy, his enforced classlessness elevated him above both, making him an arbiter in the class conflict. The position of the writer is above class; the writer argues with all society, not with one of the social classes; but this very circumstance communicates to the writer's ideology the universality which, according to Sartre, is generally typical of the ideology of the bourgeoisie in the ascendant. In other words, it is the very classlessness of the writer's 'declasse' ideology, releasing him from class bias (including the bias of his own class) that makes-it the most consistent expression of the essential feature of the bourgeoisie in the ascendant, that is, the bourgeois ideology in the highest and not in the empirical sense. The writer's freedom, and that of literature as a whole, from all class-limited social definitions, arises as consequence of his dual and ambiguous position in society–it changes him of necessity into a "man in general" and–simultaneously!–into the most true, competent representative of his own class to express its objective universal aspirations.

In this way, according to Sartre's theory, the writer who quarrelled with society (including his own class) in the name of the ``natural'' man free from all social definitions, used to achieve his own personal freedom thereby, justifying both the act of his initial choice (the choice to write) and writing itself as ordained by this act. Literature appealing to "universal man", keeping itself above the class conflict of bourgeoisie and aristocracy, calling for an awareness dwelling outside history, outside time and space–this literature, according to Sartre, truly accomplished the mission of liberation. The writer's freedom thus coincided with that of the human being, and reading facilitated the selfliberation of the individual to the same degree as writing. Moreover–and this, perhaps, is the most important point in Sartre's reasoning–the liberation proclaimed to the world by the Writer and by Literature was political, and political in a deeper and more exact sense than that for which the Third Estate struggled (in empirical reality). For the initial act of choice (the choice to write) in which the writer emerged and therefore literature was born, was, according to Sartre, not simply a moral, but a moral-political act, and political rather than moral.

At the very first stage of Sartre's sociological deduction, the attention is caught by a circumstance decisive for Sartre's conception of literature in general. The freedom of the writer (and, consequently, of Literature), called upon to give an ideal model of Freedom as such, is seen here from the very outset only in its one negative or negativistic aspect, as "freedom from"–in this case, from all social or class limitations and, correspondingly, from more 164 or less precisely fixed moral definitions. In this connection, it is impossible not to agree with the critics of Sartre's "leftism in aesthetics", who consider that the social-historical deduction offered by Sartre does not clarify the essence of literature, but only serves as a sociologised form of justifying his existentialist thesis which identifies freedom and negativeness, and this time, what is more, literary creation becomes the true realisation of this freedom.10 The grounds for the identification of freedom, social being and literature turn out to be politics as seen from a Sartrean ``left''-radical and even extremist viewpoint.

In this way, the fate of literature (both in the aspect of its content and the aspect of its social being) is entirely made dependent on politics, and since politics, from the Marxist point of view, is the relation of the classes, then literature, Sartre maintains, is totally reduced to these relations; it has nothing left above this. Sartre wishes to let it be understood that the political essence of literature is political, so to speak, in the highest sense, which should not coincide with what is borne by the direct ``empirical'' political actions of various people or groups. Sartre endeavours to prove that literature coincided with politics, but without being an instrument of political rivalry and consequently did not make it necessary for the writer to associate himself with this or that political party; on the contrary, it excluded his allegiance to one particular party–a position wholly identical with the one proposed by the Frankfurt neo-Marxists back in the 30s. In other words, literature should provide a model of true politics for the politicians, who learn from it what politics really are; and since literature was seen by Sartre as the only true politics, politics was being converted with logical necessity into genuine literature (and perhaps into the irresponsible improvisation only too common in our age?). Literature, as represented by Sartre, was ready to reject its specific content, to be nothing (in the strictly artistic sense), but only in order to become everything (Big Politics, the Making of History)–it would not agree to anything less.

In this way Sartre solved for himself the problem of his own predicament as 'declasse' trapped between the warring classes. With the aid of the social-historical interpretation of literature, he affirmed his inadequacy as the highest virtue: his position as 'declasse', lumpenism, bohemianism of a writer proved, according to Sartre, to be a condition of his penetration into the truth of historical development, a condition of ``being'' in that truth, so that he became a model of true Man. And, incidentally, another problem was solved which troubled Sartre a great deal: how to be occupied with politics while remaining a writer, and a writer of quite unmistakably bohemian and lumpen tendencies; how to "make politics", while remaining free from political responsibility; how to "make history" without experiencing the unpleasantness of the process, and, above all, the consequence of the irresponsible "making of history". Incidentally, in order to convince the reader of the truth of his proffered solution to the problem, Sartre, skilled in the refinements of his craft, is not entirely straightforward: he chooses the roundabout way and, before taking his reader to the conclusion affirmed at the very beginning of his social-historical substantiation, conducts him round the circles of Dante's Inferno, dramatising the Writer's predicament in order, after the reader has felt all the desperation of the predicament that has occurred, to offer him the same affirmation as a formula for breakthrough, the only possible way out of the Dead End. And what reader will hold out against taking for an undeniable truth the thesis that has left him in a state of catharsis?

The state of being 'declasse', reasons Sartre, giving a new and tragic turn to his thought, was beneficial to the writer only while the bourgeoisie, the class that produced him, remained in the ascendant as a progressive social class. But after 1848, when it was discovered that it had ceased to be such and that the mainspring of social progress was now the working class struggling against it, the 'declasse' position of the writer as a refugee from the bourgeois environment became a misery for him and consequently for literature as a whole. If writing was an act of absolute freedom, then the writer could remain the ideologist of the bourgeoisie only by ceasing to be a writer. Free writing and the bourgeois ideology had gone in opposite directions, since the bourgeoisie had ceased to be the objective carrier of the liberation trend. Henceforth, service to the bourgeoisie would mean literature's subjection to bourgeois utilitarianism, the institutionalisation of the writer's work and the conversion of reading into a social ritual, a socially permissible form of entertainment. This meant that literature, listening to its own inner voice, the call of Freedom, could exist only in opposition to the bourgeoisie and bourgeois values, irrespective of whether it was guided by the conception of art for art's sake, or by symbolist or realist principles. ``Refusal'' (the same old Sartrean negative freedom) becomes the only form of existence for literature, a position which, according to Sartre, cannot be described as other than the expression of the "unhappy consciousness", or the "consciousness of unhappiness". The true (social) source of this unhappiness is the widening gap between the writer and his own class, based on the consciousness of its conservatism, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the writer's inability to merge with the proletariat, whom he realised to have both the strength and the future. If previously being 'declasse' put the writer ``above'' the classes (while not depriving his work of truly class content), it now puts him ``under'' them, turning him into a bohemian.

Now, according to Sartre, the writer is achieving his freedom, the freedom to reject society, social and moral definitions (that is, limitations, for every definition limits) only at his own risk. Nothing guarantees the connection between the revolt and the real historical rejection any more; history no longer confirms the verities of a literature which has risen from free choice and, as before, affirms it in its every act. Hence the mark of degradation, which Sartre certainly wants to find in the literary and artistic tendencies of the West dating back to the time when the bourgeoisie had already ceased to be revolutionary and the writer, a refugee from that environment, had not found his way to the new revolutionary forces, or to be more precise, had not found the way to join them without losing his freedom and dignity. Hence the gradual loss by literature of its real content, accompanied by the loss of a public–a tendency leading in the end to literature being deprived of one altogether: it had a reader, but did not have a public, if by this we understand a certain moral-political, and again political rather than moral, unity of readers and writer (who himself is nothing other than the ideal reader of his own works), etc. The writer's former commitment to politics, being accomplished through literature (through the very choice to write) now is questionable: committed in his free writing, the writer no longer has any guarantee that he is thereby involved in a definite policy, in a definite means of making history, and so his commitment as a writer differs little from actual non-commitment.

All these considerations lead Sartre to the conclusion that the writer's commitment should be created anew, proceeding from his factual non-commitment, that is departing from his purely negative freedom. And this means to establish a conscious (politically considered) relationship between literature and the real historical process, involving the former in the making of history at a new turn of the historical spiral–when the leading force of history is no longer that class from which the writer emerged, but an entirely different one, opposed to it and actually digging its grave. This connection, according to Sartre, can arise only if literature consciously and purposefully changes itself into a true, i.e. critical, mirror of politics.

And now, too, in this apparently new historical situation, the writer emerges as a focus of the main class and political contradiction of the era, and literature, his brain child, as the voice of truth about the writer's existence and consequently (since all the truth of politics is concentrated in this existence) the political truth. And again there arises a prospect of changing the ``inadequacy'' of being 'declasse' (and consequently, morally disoriented) into a higher–- political!–virtue: the writer is again offered the chance of being the arbiter in the social conflict, and not because he is so good, but because he is particularly bad, because his soul is filled with all kinds of contradictions that prevent him from adopting any kind of definite stance or of assuming clearly defined obligations. Sartre's writer wants to be the voice of conscience (more precisely, the voice of political ethics) on behalf of all society as the representative of literary bohemia–and of that alone. The moral helplessness and spiritual emptiness of such a writer render him incapable of higher creative work and compel him to substitute semi-journalistic rationalisations of the political scandals about which the daily papers keep the public informed. All this supposedly ensures the political trustworthiness of his position and his output.

However, we would oversimplify the state of affairs if we saw Sartre's conception as solely expressing the mood of a certain social stratum–in this case, the bohemian-lumpen-minded elements of the bourgeois artistic intelligentsia. Sartre's tendency to politicise literature, which led him to the identification of literature with politics, had other and deeper causes arising from the substantial changes under way in 20th-century Western culture. This was the "drying out", already mentioned above, of that religious-mythological soil on which, over many centuries, the mutual understanding of the artist and the public was brought about. As we have already mentioned, one form of the reaction to this was the resorting of writers and artists to the ``artificial'' myths–those created by philosophers and acquiring the forms of this or that conception of man, this or that mythologem which supplied a paradigm of man, his place in the universe and his historical destiny. From the example of his own personal literary creativeness, the alpha and omega of which was the existentialist myth of man and his nature, Sartre had occasion to be convinced that with this kind of writing he could count on a very narrow circle of readers–on the same elite which, to judge by his later formulation, although they brought him readers, did not amount to a public proper. The affirmation that a writer refugee from a bourgeois background "does not have a public'',11 also became relevant to all the creative writing of Sartre the existentialist and especially his novel 'La Nausee'. Faced with this "crisis of the public", generally typical of post-war artistic life in the West, Sartre turned for help to politics and political ideology–a move for which he was prepared by participating in the Resistance.

Of its own, this move by one of France's most distinguished writers testified that the literature of artificially (i.e. philosophically) constructed myths, catering for narrow, elitist reading circles, together with a loss of the general relevance of its content, was also losing its public; that in its desire to hold that public or win it back if it had already been lost, Western literature had discovered an unambigious tendency to rely on the general relevance of politics and political ideology. Politics should now play, in relation to literature, the same role that had been played between the two world wars by philosophy, the philosophically constructed myth, the mythologem of man, his nature and the meaning of his existence. At the same time, however– and this was put by Sartre as directly as he could–writers of Sartre's kind wanted to retain for themselves the right of free intercourse with politics–that same "playful ironically-reflexive" attitude which, since the times of the Romantics, had consolidated itself in the mutual relations between the artist and his ``material''. Moreover, it was precisely this play approach to the game of political 'Realien' in literature that was seen by Sartre as politics in the highest sense, the true model for real politics, for the adoption of concrete political decisions. In this way, Sartre the writer, it seemed, had killed two birds with one stone: he had finally found generally applicable grounds for serious dialogue with his reader without undertaking any serious political obligations. In order to attract the public at large, Sartre the writer decided to become political but, when it was necessary to settle the political accounts, he would make it clear that he was a writer. Incidentally, in the second case he seriously contradicted himself: after all, this writing, a game of political 'Realien', was also acknowledged to be the highest form of political activity...

Sartre was trying to solve the contradictions of his theory (let it be said here and now, without any particular success) by means of a specific concept: "the literature of 'praxis"'. According to Sartre, it is a positive alternative to the "literature of consumption", or "consumer literature", which corresponds to the epoch of bourgeois resignation, that is, the period when the bourgeoisie is already ceasing to play a revolutionary historical role. This literature of 'praxis' is born just when literature finally acknowledges that it has no public, that is, as Sartre puts it, lives "in the epoch of a public that cannot be found". The birth of the literature of 'praxis' testifies to literature's active search for its own public, which may only be found if literature again joins the process of real historical creation–and precisely insofar as it succeeds in becoming an active force in that process. As distinct from the literature of consumption, says Sartre, the literature of 'praxis' links not Being and Possession, but Being and Doing; it is not oriented on utilisation but on the transformation of the world, on commitment in history, in politics, and in the struggle of the classes and parties.

However, the peculiarity of commitment by literature in history is, according to Sartre, that it not only does not presume that the writer has a direct bond with this or that class-political force struggling on the social arena, but in principle excludes it on the grounds that literature itself is the expression of true politics, and, therefore, any deviation from literature's political position–and this inevitably occurs if the writer joins any party–is also a deviation from the political truth. It follows from this that true literature–the literature of 'praxis'–must perceive itself as something in the nature of a party, but a party–yet again!–not in the empirical, but in the highest sense: a party standing above all other parties and judging them on the basis of its higher principle–that of freedom (let us not forget that the last only means "freedom from", that is, purely negative freedom). "The party of literature" thus proves to be a paradoxical ``non-party'' party which, on the one hand, does not want to associate itself with any of the actually existing class-party forces but, on the other hand, precisely for that reason, regards itself as the most genuine party, the embodiment of the party spirit as such.

The detachment (both organisational and moral) from actually existing classes and parties, allowing the writer in one case (situation) to support one class (party), in the other case, on the side of another class, or party, to criticise the second from the viewpoint of the first and to criticise the first from the viewpoint of the second, etc. This expression of the position of the so-called "non-party journalist" is indeed seen by Sartre as an embodiment of the true party spirit. The non-party journalist, however, interested only in the inter-party struggle, writing about nothing else and completely locked up in the closed circle of political ideology (for he does not know any other reality than the political)–this is the one whose viewpoint has received its embodiment in Sartre's interpretation of the literature of 'praxis'. Not having his own clear, personal and definite or, to use the language of philosophy, substantial position, this character is only capable of switching from the position of one party to another, entering into the spirit of each of them (like and actor who always knows that this is only one of his roles and it can be exchanged for another tomorrow), using the arguments of each of them against all the others, and so playing a political game characterised simultaneously by commitment in politics and complete freedom from them. In general, despite all Sartre's contemptuous remarks about consumer literature, in the objectives of the non-party journalist, whose self-appointed ideologist Sartre became, it is impossible not to sense an entirely consumer–i.e. hedonistic–attitude to politics that have been turned into a kind of game: the enjoyment of "committed non-commitment". 'As' we see, the hedonistic trend, which subsequently gave a specific colouring to New Left politics, also had Sartre's literary ``leftism'' as one of its sources, a literary game of political leftism which made it impossible for Sartre to take up a definite political position.

If, however, in one of its aspects, Sartre's conception of the literature of 'praxis' was the literary disintegration of politics, their dissipation in literariness, in irresponsible journalism, in a theatricalised politics, then in its other aspect this conception was political disintegration of literature, dissipation in political games, in switching to and fro between various political positions, in rushing from one political extreme to the other, which–and this is the most important and vital point–led with logical inevitability to the loss by literature of its basic subject–man, now reduced to one dimension only, the political, changed into a mere point of intersection of various political forces and trends, and concerned, supposedly, with only one thing: endless reflections on the theme of political choice which is never actually made, since it is subject to reservations all the time. And if, passing off his literary ``leftism'' as true politics, Sartre was a long, long way from the truth, since it was no more than the project of a game of politics (the game which the New Left extremists, welcomed by him, subsequently tried to realise in practice), then, in putting forward the thesis that politics was the essence of literature, he was saying something indeed very much to the point, but only in the sense that his writing had in actual fact lost its universally human content and there was nothing left for it but to resort to politics for that content. As a result of this move, he not only prepared the New Left politicising of literature, but also became one of the precursors of literature's political liquidation in New Left extremism.

'[chapter two]'
3. The Frankfurt Criticism of the Conception of Committed Literature

Interestingly enough, Sartre's conception of literature and art evoked some very sharp criticism from leading theorists of the Frankfurt school, above all from Adorno. His attack on Sartre is of interest in a number of respects. First, because two essentially different conceptions of literature and art are revealed in the same neo-Marxist trend. Secondly, because the difference in these two conceptions at once disclosed a difference in the two models of man. Thirdly, because the difference of these two models, in its turn, testified to the existence in neo-Marxism of essentially different myths of man, his nature, his destiny, etc. Fourth, because in the course of the controversy we have been studying it has already become clear which of the competing mythologems had a future, in the sense of being likely to expand its influence on the literature and art of the 60s. That is why it is worth dwellin in somewhat greater detail on Adorno's work, "Towards a Dialectics of Commitment" (1962)12 an which the Frankfurt version of neo-Marxism challenges Sartre (who was on the way to creating his own version of neo-Marxism), and challenges him, moreover, precisely about literature, its essence and its social function.

Adorno accuses Sartre of being unable to distinguish between two things when discussing literature: what the artist himself wants from his own work (the subjective aspect) and what is actually expressed in the work (the objective aspect). Sartre is consequently doomed to endless vacillation between these two. According to Adorno, the crux of the matter is in this differentiation and in the closely associated definition of the artist's position. If Sartre's conception is considered from this viewpoint, it becomes obvious that he has in mind the subjective aspect and clearly underestimates the objective. For him, a work of art is the conscious expression of its author's intention, above all, his political intention. Adorno sees this position as subjectivist: moreover, as immediately becomes clear, not because Sartre overestimates the role of the subject (in this case, the author and his conscious intention), but because in general he acknowledges its traditional function in art, whereas in actual fact it has not only been reduced to an infinitely small magnitude, but has essentially changed in content.

As we have already seen, Adorno, in opposition to Sartre, proceeds from the concept that, under the conditions of the late-capitalist society, the subject and subjectivity have in general already lost their historical relevance; they are forms without content, whereas the real content finds actual and not illusory expression in impersonal, dark forces. As applied to the arts, this also means the defeat of the creative subject (artist), likewise of the percipient subject (the public as a totality of free and self-a ware individuals). So, according to Adorno's logic, the creative artist's own conscious intentions and their conscious apprehension by the percipient individual lose their former true meaning; they must be relegated to false consciousness, that is, to ``ideology''.

Henceforth, neither the creative artist nor the percipient public, much less the critics reflecting on art, should believe any more in the role or the free and conscious initiative of the creative artist (all the less so since this role was always substantially limited to the sphere of the unconscious, which performs a decisive function in artistic creation). What was always essential for art, although it did not play so significant a role as in our age, now becomes particularly important: impact in the sphere of the unconscious, since to appeal to the conscious intention of the creative individual in art is subjectivism. That is why, according to Adorno, the creativity of the radically inclined artist inevitably proves conservative in its objective ( including aesthetic) content, if he continues to proceed from the principle of the aesthetic (and any other) significance of the self-aware individual who freely makes his choice and his decisions–moral, political and so on.

Even Sartre's faith in the artistic significance of poetry's conceptual content and conceptual meaning of poetry in general is relegated by Adorno to political conservatism (and also to survivals of religiosity). Adorno not only expresses his profound doubts concerning the effectiveness of art's impact on the intellectual, and especially conceptual, sphere of individual consciousness of the percipients, but his doubts about the use of appealing to their consciousness and self-awareness altogether. Truly irreligious art, according to Adorno, excludes any faith in the conceptual meaning of poetry–both for the poet himself and for his public. Consequently, the poet should not strive to embody in his writings a certain conceptually expressed content, nor should the public look for it in them. Adorno's ``radical'' (in opposition to Sartre's ``conservative'') approach postulates that, first, the work expresses the 'extra-' and iw-personal aims of the artist, his 'extra-' and zw-conscious urge, and all this should have an effect on the corresponding– 'ante-personal' and pre-conscious–structures of the percipient individuals. Wherever it is not consciousness and consciousness that associate, but two unconscious and, consequently, anonymous structures, only then is true and not ideological contact achieved between the work of art and those who perceive it. Secondly, only in this sense is it possible to say that in art a certain objective tendency receives expression–a tendency whose essence consists in the ``fall'' of personality and individuality, which ceases to be an active and conscious carrier of social content, but is entirely unconscious (and formlessly anonymous) material for the embodiment of that content.

Hence the incomprehensibility of the latest works of art on which Adorno aligns himself. After all, they do not even presume any understanding by the recipient. Arising in the unconscious sphere of the artist, flowing from it, like the overspill from a boiling cauldron, they are only intended to convey their creator's predicament: his being hounded and crushed by the alienated world of late-capitalism. It is a state in which he already ceases to believe in himself and loses his individuality and awareness. All he can do is cry out to affect the people around him. The works of the contemporary artist, according to Adorno, are these howls, the half-strangled voice of the tortured flesh which has already lost the characteristics that once made it an individual and a personality. In other words, the latest art does not hope for understanding on the part of the recipients, but on influencing their subconscious; an influence that evokes horror, reminding them that the nightmare feeling aroused in them by the latest works of literature and art is a picture of their own nightmare condition–to be more precise, not even a picture, but a documentary record of it. The very existence of the absolutely incomprehensible, self-contained work of art is enough to shock the recipient. The total incomprehensibility of art (which was always the domain of the beautiful), and the shock administered by it, can only mean one thing: beauty has covered its face before the horrors of this world; and this cannot but evoke an answering sense of horror, although this is not always realised and the nightmare meaninglessness of the work is thought to be the sole source of that horror.

It is obvious that we have here two different conceptions of art aligned on two essentially different models of man. True, Adorno lets it be understood from the beginning that this only concerns the two different approaches to the present-day condition of Western man. However, it gradually becomes absolutely clear that the difference goes much deeper–into the incompatible principles of the approach to man. Criticising Sartre's concept of man, Adorno insists that it does not correspond to the real situation that has formed in the state-monopoly society. This situation does not leave the individual any room for the choice of various alternatives, much less for any absolutely free existential decision. For contemporary man, if Adorno is to be believed, that very situation which Kierkegaard ridiculed in his time is true (and Sartre fully believed him on this point) when he summed up Hegel's fatalism in the following words: If you raise your hat, I'll hit you; if you don't, I'll hit you anyway!

This situation is illustrated, according to Adorno, by many of Sartre's plays, which is why they do not fulfil their role as models of Sartrean existentialism (or of the Sartrean neo-Marxist conception of literature). They create, affirms Adorno, seeing this as very much in their favour, the atmosphere of a wholly controlled world that excludes even elementary, to say nothing of existential, choice. In this sense, Sartre's "theatre of ideas" fulfils an entirely different function, and one not assigned to it by Sartre the existentialist (and the author of the neo-Marxist conception of literature). This theatre refutes Sartre's fundamental categories. Incidentally, something even more telling is brought to light: Sartre's ideas, with which his writings are imbued, link him to a far greater extent with existing reality than would have been wanted by the radically ins clined Sartre. His political position, like the objective conr tent of his own works, proves to be profoundly at variance with his idea of man and the conception of literature that emerges from it. If, in the first case, we are dealing with a radical non-acceptance of reality, in the second we find ourselves confronted by a tie-up with this same reality on the basis of what Adorno calls "cultural conservatism" and the subjectivist concept of man, which preserves purely religious motives so much at odds with Sartre's openly avowed atheism. This second aspect of the matte'r, which also affected Sartre's dramatic works, made possible, according to Adorno, the assimilation of Sartre's plays by capitalism's culture industry and ensured their success.

Sartre's subjectivist intention, prompting him to praise the individual where it is hardly likely that anything of him remains, prevents Sartre from "knowing hell", against which he revolts. All the time, according to Adorno, he is subject to various illusions about the real situation of contemporary man. He imagines, for example, that people still mean something, if not in the dregs of society, then at least on the social "command heights" where decisions are at least made by individuals and not by an anonymous machinery. This striving of Sartre's to find ``life'' (subjectivity) where it is totally lacking and where it cannot in principle exist (at any event, according to Adorno) is countered-by the Frankfurt thinker with Beckett's "lost ones", the strange beings who have completely lost all semblance of humanity and who, according to the dramatist's intention, symbolise the ultimate degradation of man in the contemporary world'. Moreover, Adorno makes it clear that Sartre's subjectivist idealisation of man is not also without its dangers.-in..the political context, since it discloses the closeness of Sartre's position to that of the fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile, who proclaimed the absolute dynamism of the same philosophical quality. In a word, the weakness of Sartre's con^ ception of commitment defeats the very cause to which. ;he became committed–his political radicalism, with a risk.of it becoming its own opposite.

Feeling, however, that his conclusion about the. .``end'' of man in the contemporary era casts some doubt on the possibility of any kind of art existing (avant-garde included), Adorno develops, in opposition to Sartre, the concepfeion of art balancing on the brink of its own negation. Modifying a personal statement of his own, reflecting the mood of his early post-war years–that to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbarity (where, in fact, he had already drawn a conclusion about the end of art)–Adorno argues as follows. This statement, he says, expressed in negative form the same impulse that inspires Sartre's literary work: after World War II and Hitler's death camps, the arts cannot live any more as if nothing had happened. Moreover, by the very fact of their "simple being" they affirm or justify the nightmare inhumanity of a civilisation that can asphyxiate millions of people in gas chambers. But poet and journalist Hans Magnus Enzensberger is right when, objecting to this statement, he draws the conclusion that poetry must nevertheless be preserved even in the face of all these nightmares, having changed, however, the form of its existence so that henceforth its "simple being" could not be evaluated as agreement with them.

Developing this idea further, Adorno draws a conclusion about the paradox of the existence of art which, on the one hand, cannot and does not have the moral right to exist, and, on the other hand, cannot help but exist, since it also has no right not to exist. The solution of this paradox, according to Adorno, must be the paradoxical existence of art in the form of its own negation: self-denunciation, selfdestruction, etc., for only in this way can it model the real state of contemporary man and humanity.

However, this paradox of the impossible existence or accomplished impossibility of art makes itself constantly known, in each work, in each gesture by the creative artist. Art concerned with reminding us of the horror of human existence in our age acquires a frightening force: the force of nightmare fact, the overflow of extreme suffering, the cry, the howl of horror–for it cannot and does not want to be anything else. However: art can show all this only in its own–aesthetic!–sphere: outside that, it would cease to remain art, would become something different. This one circumstance gives rise to the constant risk that the nightmare fact will become the image of itself, the overflow of extreme suffering will become a picture of that suffering, and the howl of horror will become the depiction of that howl. In other words, in spite of all the reluctance of the latest (avant-garde) art to create works of art and to remain a pure document of what is horrifying in human life, it cannot prevent these documents from being taken as works of art and so being consumed by the public. What has occurred as a gesture of non-acceptance of this world, irrespective of the will and desire of the artist, adopts the form of a work of art, and in this form it becomes ``fodder'' for the very world which has destroyed art, changing it into a sheer howl, a scream of horror (remember the expressionist Munch's "The Scream"). Suffering, which the artist wishes to fling in the face of the culpable world, reveals a paradoxical likelihood of acquiring, in the perception of the public, diametrically opposite features by giving aesthetic pleasure.

Hence the necessity for constant vigilance by the avantgarde artist: he must repeatedly destroy the form of work of art so that the horror of human existence that he describes should not acquire aesthetic value by giving pleasure when contemplated. The avant-garde artist must keep breaking the "aesthetic distance" repeatedly appearing between art and life, but do so in such a way that art is nevertheless preserved, although taken at the moment of fall, of annihilation–together with humanity whose end it is announcing. Failing this, the inexpressible horror which the avant-garde artist is trying to manifest is converted into "cultural wealth", that is, into a product of the Culture Industry, so that it can be sold wholesale and retail. This means that art has not held its uncompromising position, has joined the culture game and is playing it by the rules.

That is why, according to Adorno, only a work of art that upholds the principle of "uncompromising autonomy", or ``self-containedness'', and complete rupture of all ties with the public–only that art can avoid adaptation to the culture market; and as such, even against the artist's will, it becomes an attack on culture, on the type of civilisation it defends. It is in this way that the very rupture with the world becomes, for the autonomous work of art, a form of connection with it, and the shock of the incomprehensible inflicted by it on the public becomes a means whereby that public can apprehend it.

In this way, a paradoxical situation is brought about. Works insisting on their full autonomy and refusing to have anything in common with existing reality, find themselves in a definite relationship or association with it: according to Adorno, in the only possible connection of negation or rejection of that reality. Since this connection enters into the structure of the work itself, splitting it up from inside and yet turning it into something bigger than art and lesser than art, then any such (``inconceivable'') work turns out to be connected with reality inwardly as well: by its own form, by its own structuring which reproduces the relationship of the work, and consequently of the artist, of man, to the world of the late-capitalist civilisation. The avant-garde artist's imagination does not, therefore, create out of nothing. According to Adorno, autonomous works opposing reality on an empirical level prove more obedient to reality's inner law than, say, those of Sartre. That is why, if one agrees with Adorno's conclusion, the works of Sartre, who professed to be so politically concerned about the connection with contemporary reality, prove, in fact, far more remote from it than the autonomous works that do not want anything to do with reality at all.

What is decisive, as we see (and this is repeatedly stressed by Adorno himself) is his postulate that the subject no longer plays a historical or any other independent role. All that is left of it is an empty shell; philosophers like Sartre still take it seriously and become enmeshed in the toils of the official ideology, which exploits humanist memories and reminiscences. Beckett's 'Ecce Homo' is, according to Adorno, the sole satisfactory representation of what man has become today. Moreover, this truth, which is demonstrated by the works of Kafka, Beckett and others, has a far greater impact on reality than the political slogans in the committed writings of Sartre (in this particular context, Adorno also mentions Brecht). In opposition to them, committed works are sometimes taken as a nursery game, as something hopelessly infantile. Kafka and Beckett awake in people that same existential horror, a horror that penetrates the whole human being, about which authors like Sartre can only talk and theorise.

There is one very noticeable feature of Adorno's controversy with Sartre. In form, it looks as if the Sartrean existential-ontological construction, implied by his conception of committed literature, is being countered by Adorno with a description of the actual state of affairs–man's real predicament under state-monopoly capitalism. This, however, is only a first impression; an examination of Adorno's train of thought (against the background of all his writings in the 50s and 60s) leads us to the conclusion that this description is based on a definite conception of man which arouses the suspicion that we are dealing not so much with a description as with a biased interpretation of a group of phenomena. As for the conception, as we have shown in the course of this discussion, it is of a clearly marked ``Freudo-Marxist'' character, that is, it has leanings towards the Freudian myth of man, his essence and his place in the universe–interpreted, however, with the aid of somewhat arbitrarily chosen Marxist concepts.

The essence of Adorno's (and Horkheimer's) conception of man consist in its naturalism–but socially enciphered. This naturalism encourages Adorno to take as truly human not social or cultural qualities, but primordial natural dimensions of human existence, that is, in the final analysis, biological dimensions, the dimensions of man taken as a natural body. The priority of what is vital and natural, bodily, in the human essence, as affirmed by the Frankfurt theorist, offers an exceptionally favourable opportunity for the translation of the corresponding conception of man into Freudian language. True, a certain obstacle here is the ``liberalism'' of Freud, who tried to explain human nature as a compromise of biological and socio-cultural principles–a compromise unthinkable to so radically ( antisocially and anti-culturally) aligned a thinker as Adorno. And it is here that Adorno is rescued by his sociologised language, worked out by the illegitimate absolutisation of the Marxist concept of alienation. Having corrected Freud's terminology by means of this language, Adorno (together with Horkheimer) has presented the case as if everything socio-cultural in human nature has been bred by its alienation–as a result of bourgeois exploitation!

Consequently, everything connected with man's individual and personal aspect, to which he is indebted for his existence in the social-cultural dimension, has fallen into the sphere of the alienated (and consequently untrue). This means that everything personal and individual from the very beginning, by definition, as it were, is doomed in Adorno and Horkheimer's conception, and doomed irrespective of state-monopoly capitalism, World War II and Hitler's death camps. The act of isolating man from nature, 181 of individuation, which plunged him into the sphere of social-cultural development–already stood for something ambiguous and suspicious, according to Horkheimer and Adorno, From the very start, personality and individuality have represented something deeply doubtful to them, and the collapse of these human definitions was bound to seem unavoidable and self-evident–a presupposition that makes Adorno liable to be suspected of insincerity when he begins to,bewail the subject perishing in the state-monopoly society. For that reason, the legitimate suspicion also occurs: is not Adorno exaggerating the magnitude of the collapse of the subject (and of all individually and personally aligned culture)? Has not Adorno seen the full extermination of personality, individuality, the subjective principle, in a process which has indeed gone quite far enough, but still has equally far to go before it reaches its end? Has not Adorno laid down his arms prematurely by surrendering to the cunning logic of his erroneous assumptions and a myth of man which he has not evaluated critically enough?

Indeed, if we examine the very individuation of man, his conversion into subject and personality, as a disease of nature in man (and it is this Nietzschean supposition, translated into ``Freudo-Marxian'' language, on which Adorno's conception of man is based), then there is no alternative but observe the progress of this disease until its end–until the death agonies of the individual-personal principle. Given such an expectation, it is very easy to see the end in any of the sombre, nightmare events which have come upon mankind throughout its tragic and agonising history. The eschatological approach is at the very foundations of the Adorno-Horkheimer conception of man; and as it originated in the moods of Adorno and Horkheimer that formed under the impression of the nazi crimes, the theoretically camouflaged eschatology of the Frankfurt conception has been to blame because these social thinkers were indeed in a great hurry to finish with the individual-personal principle of human existence. The circle is closed; the definite moods have flowed into the mould of the corresponding conception, and it, in its turn, has been doing everything to keep these moods alive, interpreting in the appropriate manner all the facts that it finds convenient and completely ignoring the inconvenient ones.

We would be distorting the perspective of the controversy over the question of whether the Arts are to survive or not if we did not consider one more line discernible in it. A line all the more typical, since its most distinguished representative, the poet and journalist Hans Magnus Enzensberger, offered it as a combination of two authorities, equally fashionable in New Left circles. On the one hand, he drew on Walter Benjamin, a left radical aesthetician and art sociologist in the 30s, from whom, incidentally, Adorno took this tradition. On the other, Enzensberger called on the authority of the popular Canadian "media philosopher", Marshall McLuhan. All this was done to substantiate a conclusion which deeply impressed the extremist Rebels against... that same spiritual culture.

4. The End of Written Literature?

.. .About ten years ago, a lecturer in literature at a British university told me a story from his own personal experience. A girl student had come to him before the exams and, evidently, to avoid any misunderstanding, announced there and then that in the last year she had not read a single book and was not intending to do so in the forthcoming one either.

``Why?" he asked, somewhat staggered by this statement from a would-be literature graduate.

``Why," replied the student with rhetorical passion, "reading is individual and it means an individual form of activity. And every individual activity is bourgeois. And so it helps the integration of the individual into the framework of the capitalist society. Not wishing to 'play the game' with this thoroughly rotten society," she continued, using well-rehearsed stock phrases and ideas, "I and certain of my fellow students have decided categorically to reject the bourgeois individualist means of acquiring knowledge, such as reading books and newspapers. We only recognise the immediately collective means of learning–debates, meetings, demonstrations and so on.''

The teacher's story was full of amusing details. The incident was mentioned as an example of the exaggeration and fantasies to which students are so prone. I recalled the 20s with their "brigade method" of instruction In Soviet schools and I told my acquaintance about it. But this historical analogy was lost on him, although it has something instructive in it. He was much more interested in the connection between the above anecdote and the general growth of activity among the student youth, and their spontaneous quest for new forms of self-expression and self-fulfilment which would be of a directly collective character.

Since then, I have often remembered the English teacher's story. I have been persistently reminded of it by the increasingly ominous tirades against culture which, after May 1968, quickly migrated from the Latin Quarter to the pages of the newspapers, magazines and New Left anthologies. A little while afterwards, I was again reminded of the story by Hans Magnus Enzensberger's article in the 20th issue of 'Kursbuch', which he publishes.13 Its main thesis was that same assertion about the bourgeois nature of written literature as such, appealing to which the above-mentioned student of the literary faculty had ``sabotaged'' her own exam. . Put side by side, these two seemingly different incidents –the student's refusal to read literature, although it was her subject, and the theoretical rejection of written literature by a poet and a publicist–prompted three obvious conclusions:

1. It is hard to find in the youth protest movement any product of the wildest imagination that could not obtain "theoretical substantiation" in due course.

2. In the course of such substantiation, a definite ideological tradition is invariably found in which the phenomenon being substantiated becomes the manifestation of a 'certain mentality'.

3. Against the background of this type of mentality, which has not only historical but spiritual roots, this phenomenon (for instance, the declaration at the literature exam) cannot be seen as haphazard or prompted by the mood of the moment.

We shall discuss this further.

Enzensberger's criticism of written literature can be summed up as follows. A book, like any other ``old'', i.e. `` obsolete'', means of communication, for example, easel-painting, is of exclusively class character. The class character of the writer's work is not subject to doubt even in the age of universal compulsory education. Written literature in general took shape as a weapon of the progressive bourgeoisie, which, naturally, must become less progressive in the late-capitalist era, when the ruling class is becoming reactionary.

In its structural aspect, the bourgeois character of bookpublishing is primarily due to the fact that it is a ``monologue'' means of communication. The book as its instrument isolates the producer and the consumer from one another, preventing dialogue between them in the communication process. Moreover, the writer's work presupposes a high level of specialisation, and this widens the gap between the producers of books and their consumers, disposing the first to "caste thinking" and evoking in them an illusion of selectness, of superiority over the second. From the viewpoint of content, this caste thinking is simply a result of the writer's adaptation to bourgeois society with its norms and its taboos.

This adaptation results from many years of sophisticated spiritual and physiological training. The very process of learning elementary writing (orthography) and literature is the difficult acquisition of an "extremely formalised technique"–a sort of circus training, accomplished by bourgeois society through the school. After all, the aesthetics of written literature expresses a clear contempt for life: pauses, slips of the tongue, hesitation, and repetitions are regarded as violations of the rules. In accordance with these, children from their earliest years learn to shield unsolved problems "with a wall of accuracy in presentation". For many years they are taught to regulate linguistic forms without concern for content, to blot out, with the aid of formalised calligraphy, the real contradictions of life, and to apply "bourgeois rationalisation" to what cannot be rationalised by purely linguistic means. Finally, the circus training of written literature does not withstand criticism from the purely physiological point of view. The very act of writing calls for an unnatural posture. This becomes particularly evident when writing is compared with speaking–it is no accident that "all people speak better than they write''.

Enzensberger does not restrict himself to criticism of written literature from ``class'', anthropological and physiological standpoints; he tries to relativise the object of his criticism by surveying literature from the bird's-eyeview of world history. "Examined historically," he states, "written literature played a dominant role only in the course of a few centuries. Today, the predominance of books is already a kind of episode. It was preceded by a much longer period when literature was oral; it is now being liberated by the age of electronic media, which are giving it back its tendency to speak with each and every one.''14 Written literature, which was only an episode ( conditioned historically–both by class and technological factors) in the development of literature in general, must again give way to oral literature.

Incidentally, the latter also is seen as a mere moment in the system of electronic means of communication–such as radio, the cinema and television which, according to Enzensberger, does not really need either the written text or literary formulation.

As a moment of electronic means of communication ( according to Enzensberger) there was to figure–only in the Future, thank goodness–not even oral literature, but ordinary colloquial speech, when the speaker has not yet learned its norms and laws. This, incidentally, is the moment when, as a rule, a man speaks less with his tongue than his tongue speaks through the talker, promoting him to say something entirely different from what he intended. True, a man wandering helplessly about the thickets of language and incapable of expressing his ideas briefly and accurately is a far more entertaining spectacle than one who has a good command of language. Since Enzensberger has taken up the ``visual'' aspect of television as a more contemporary means of communication, he must inevitably prefer the first man to the second.

According to Enzensberger, the microphone and the television camera are "abolishing the class character of the means of production" in the media. This is pushing into the background all the norms prescribed by books as a form of communication: "the live interview, the debate and the demonstration do not demand and do not allow either orthography or calligraphy". In theory, any chance

comer can now be a producer in the system of communications, and the less refined by book culture, the better: the more interesting he will be to watch on television.

And so whatever aspect of written (and, as we have seen, not only written) literature is taken, the conclusion, according to Enzensberger, will be the same. It is doomed, it must be pushed out by more contemporary, i.e. electronic means of mass communication. "Incidentally," says Enzensberger, "it is extremely unlikely that writing will vanish in the foreseeable future as a special technique. This also applies to books, the practical advantages of which for many purposes are obvious, as before. Although it is less convenient and compact than other systems of accumulation, a book still offers simpler possibilities for use than, say, microfilm or recording tape. It may be integrated, as an extreme case, into the new system of communications and so lose the remnants of its cult and ritual glamour.''

This proviso does not substantially change the position. The process of pushing out the book system of communication (to the point of the "extreme case") is essential, and being necessary, it is true; being true, it is beneficial, morally justified, etc., etc. For all these definitions coincide, according to Enzensberger's general idea, as aspects of historical Necessity. He is inclined to elevate into the ranks of the latter any fact of present-day life, just so long as it satisfies the demands of novelty and contemporaneity which, in conformity with his avant-garde logic, became ``topicality'' and ``up-to-dateness''. Such is Enzensberger's general methodological position, although he himself is far from always being aware of its philosophical sources and possible explications.

Enzensberger contrasts his own methodological position with that of the "New Left of the 60s" which, in his opinion, upheld a retrograde (not to say reactionary) viewpoint. They criticised the latest, i.e. electronic, means of mass communication from the standpoint of obsolete, ``book-written'' means when they should have criticised the latter from the standpoint of the former. If, as a result of reversing their viewpoint, he actually succeeded in overcoming the pessimistic notes coming from the New Left of the 60s when they talked about the negative aspects of the electronic mass media, he did so by 187 taking an extremely pessimistic view of literature and all that could be described as the personal aspect of communications. However, the gods clearly rejected this hecatomb of Enzensberger's. In boosting the latest means of mass communication by demoting the ``obsolete'' ones, he did far more than was needed to counteract the pessimism of the New Left of the 60s and flew to the other extreme of "uncritical positivism", to use the young Marx's term.

The association with Marx's critique of Hegel's uncritical positivism is not accidental here. Marx criticised the great German idealist because his philosophy arrives with logical inevitability at the sanctificaton of the most wretched "empirical reality". The same happens to Enzensberger, who dismisses literature and boosts electronic means of communication because they are of later origin and because they have power behind them. (Although–at present, in any case–it is a purely 'quantitative' power which has a long way to go before it reaches the 'qualitative' level of the ``obsolete'' means of communication.) And all the positive factors, which he discerns in the latest means of communication are, in effect, deduced from this circumstance and are a crude apology for it, which is polemically opposed to the hypercritical attitude held by the New Left of the 60s.

Enzensberger considers ``egalitarianism'' to be the most important feature of the electronic mass media which he firmly sets in opposition to the ``old'' ones, "such as the reproduction of books or paintings": anyone can take part in them, anyone can be a ``producer'' irrespective of educational and cultural standards. And since, according to Enzensberger, culture and education have an exclusively class character, it may be said that "the tendency is for the new means of communication to abolish all the privileges of education and thereby the cultural monopoly of the intelligentsia". Enzensberger sees this tendency in the new means of communication as a cause of the resentment, the vengeful feelings experienced by the New Left of the 60s for the "industry of consciousness". According to him, they criticised it for its tendency towards depersonalisation and the mass approach, defending only their own narrow, selfish interests. And "the more quickly they use up the spirit which they attempt to defend against ' depersonalisation' and the 'mass approach', the better". For Enzensberger is unable to imagine the spirit, personally oriented and resisting the mass approach, otherwise than with the epithet ``bourgeois''.

The second positive feature of the new means of communication, thinks Enzensberger, is that they are " actively, and not specula lively" aligned. (The "book-writing means of communications" are correspondingly caught out in the sins of passivity and speculation.) Unfortunately, he does not explain what he means by this, although it is the assertion that probably raises the greatest number of questions and doubts. After all, a whole body of literature convincingly testifies that the electronic media demand far less activity from the recipient than, say, the appreciation of creative writing (or even of any written text). Some kind of effort at least is needed to peruse a given text. Such exertions are not really required to watch a television broadcast; all you have to do is simply not close your eyes–the rest will be done for you by the moving image. It even gains mastery over your eyeballs and will manipulate them independently of you. These facts cannot be avoided, especially since they were borne in mind by those whom Enzensberger lumps together under the general heading of the New Left of the 60s. He should have given his own interpretation of these facts, especially since they prompted him to draw a conclusion about the ``active'' orientation of electronic media. Or–and this is possible too– he should have found a new interpretation for the concept of ``activity'' and the "active orientation" of perception and consciousness in general.

The third important advantage of the latest means of communication, says Enzensberger, is that they are aligned not on the past but on the present, not on tradition, but on actuality, on topicality, on the passing moment. Here he sees a structural feature in the product of the electronic mass media which ensures its radical opposition to such products of bourgeois culture as books, paintings and so on. These phenomena of bourgeois culture (like bourgeois culture as a whole) are poisoned by the privateownership aspirations of the capitalist society, by the striving for possession. For these reasons, Enzensberger assumes, even in bourgeois culture there has always been a tendency towards the creation of a lasting product which could survive the moment of its birth and go further than the urgency and topicality that engendered it. In general, according to Enzensberger's reasoning, the desire to arrest the moment, to make it ``linger'' by immortalising it in the work of art is a 'purely bourgeois' aspiration, inseverably tied up with the craving for property, accumulation, etc. This craving, that has always (and not only in bourgeois society) been a source of inspiration to the creative artist, is contrasted by Enzensberger with orientation on "the actual moment", on political topicality, presupposing the ruthless liquidation of what no longer corresponds to this orientation at the next moment, under the conditions of topicality of tomorrow. "The media," he writes,, " produce no object which would allow it to preserve or elevate itself. They simply wipe out 'spiritual property' and liquidate `heritage', that is, the specifically class transfer of immaterial capital." In this sense, the set-up typical of the mass media age is the complete opposite of bourgeois culture, which "wants property and, consequently, durability, and, best of all, eternity''.

Enzensberger fails to notice that if this idea is taken to its logical conclusion, he will have to offer as the ideal man a creature without a memory and living solely in the present, a being like something out of Orwell's nightmare visions. And, as if desiring to confirm this suspicion in the reader, Enzensberger writes with satisfaction that electronic media make it possible to bring the past up to date, putting historical material at the disposal of contemporary purposes, that is, to use the language of the 20s, converting the science of history into politics looking back to the past.

Although he adds that such an approach to history leads to its ``demystification'', to the discovery that "the writing of history is always manipulation" (and must remain so in the era of electronic communications), this proviso does not save the situation, merely deepening its ambiguity. The prospects for converting the writing of history into the deliberate manipulation of social consciousness by means of specially processed historical material are somehow not conducive to enthusiasm.

The peculiarity of Enzensberger's standpoint, however, is that he is sure of the inevitability and, consequently, justifiability of the manipulatory approach to the human consciousness, given contemporary systems of communications. He is therefore convinced that it is only possible to choose between hypocritical manipulation and cynical manipulation, based on stripping bare the method which is being used, and will continue to be used, by the manipulator.

``Every use of the media," writes Enzensberger, " presupposes manipulation. The elementary experience of production in the media, beginning with the choice of the means, through filming (recording), cutting, synchronisation and mixing–right to distribution, is all a form of interference in the available material. There is no such thing as writing, filming or preparing a radio transmission without manipulation. It is therefore not a question of whether the media are being manipulated or not, but of who is manipulating them. A revolutionary project should not lead to the disappearance of manipulation: on the contrary, it should make everyone a manipulator.''

Enzensberger is dissatisfied with books and paintings because, on the one hand, the manipulation is usually concealed and, on the other, is one-sided. As soon as a book is written and offered to the reader in the form of a complete work, the author can use it to manipulate the reader's mind (he has incorporated a scheme of manipulation in the work), whereas the reader cannot influence the author.

In a word, like any other self-contained work in the times of ``pre-electronic'' media, a book excludes the possibility of mutual manipulation. Only one-way manipulation is possible here–from above downwards, from communicator to recipient. As for the electronic media, they allow and even presuppose mutual manipulation.

Enzensberger does not pretend to be the sole author of this impressive theory of the universal manipulation which is to take place in the Future (on the ruins of the written book and other reproductive forms of communication and culture). He regards his theory as the logical development of views expressed by the ``left''-Marxist sociologist of the 30s, Walter Benjamin, in his, 'The Work of Art in the Age of the Technical Reproduction.15

True, Benjamin was not inclined to universalise his viewpoint as does his successor. He limited himself to the evolution of the 'picture' in West European painting owing to the development of reproduction techniques. As a result of his research, he came to the conclusion that the evolution of art consisted in the detachment of the picture from the totality of religious cult and ritual. Then, as graphics and other forms of reproduction developed, the picture showed a tendency to detach itself from the materials in which it was executed. Finally, this process led to the full liberation of the picture from all those dependencies by which it had been bound in the unique painting. If, at first, the picture had been seen as unique, permanently bound up with the situation within which it had arisen (being painted on the wall of a building, canvas or a sheet of paper), it could now be transferred to any situation; it could be put on any other object, whether a matchbox, a chocolate-wrapper or film.

Furthermore, according to Benjamin, the picture (and painting in general) finally lost what had distinguished it ever since its emergence in religious cult or ritual; it lost its aura, a kind of mystic radiation, like the golden halo round the heads of the saints on the icons. In this way, the picture (like art in general) was ultimately demystified. Moreover, the most powerful instrument of this was the cinema, which changed every picture into something purely instrumental (a tool of manipulation, as Enzensberger might say), into a pure function of the context in which it was offered to the viewer or, to be more precise, of the objective which the film director had in mind.

But it was this final phase in the evolution of the picture, fully demystified and liberated from any connection with religion, that revealed, as Benjamin thought, contradiction in the art of painting and, indeed, of all art. It transpired that art does not have a real foundation, is something in the highest degree subjective and is open to any application. This was demonstrated with particular eloquence by the cinema, showing that a picture is totally "without substance" and subject to any interpretation according to the conditions of perception, the director's motives, the spectator's attitudes, etc.

The picture turned out to be unstable and ghost-like; it exists and yet does not exist, for which reason one can do as one likes with it, turning it into an instrument for any kind of manipulation. Lacking its own foundation, the picture (like art in general) could not rely on aesthetics, that is, the cognition of its own laws, the laws of balancing between being and non-being. Even the aesthetic function of art, as it turned out, was not decisive: it characterised art in the transitional stage when it had freed itself from the power of religion but had not yet found for itself a new master.

Who, then, must become the new lord of art (or perhaps already has)? Where will it again find an adequate foundation?

Benjamin, and Enzensberger after him, believed that this new lord and master was going to be politics. The aesthetic function of art, stressed Enzensberger, proved haphazard: it characterised art in the bourgeois-individualistic epoch, when it was trying to appeal to individual personalities and was achieving definite successes along these lines. Now, however, in the age of the masses and mass movements, art cannot find support in this function and draw the energy from it for further existence. The 19th century, which regarded this function of art as basic and universal, proved wrong in the end. The 20th century showed that only politics could be a basis of art equivalent to that which it had had in religious cult and ritual; correspondingly, art's decisive function should not be aesthetic, but the one which it fulfils as a component of political action.

Since, continues Enzensberger, politics in our age are truly work with the masses, art can retain its real role only in so far as it can merge with the most powerful electronic media. This means, however, that one might say about the destiny of art in the age of mass movements and electronic communications what was already said about the destiny of written literature: art is subject to abolition in the system of electronic media, and will be preserved only as an extreme case.

``The tendencies," writes Enzensberger, "which Benjamin in his time identified in the cinema and fathomed theoretically in all their importance, are becoming manifest today along with the spectacular growth of the consciousness industry. What has so far been called art has been abolished by the media and in them. Any controversy about the end of art is futile, since that end is not treated as dialectical. The artistic is revealed as an extreme borderline case of far more general productiveness and it is socially significant only in so far as it rejects all claims to autonomy and understands itself as a borderline case .. . For aesthetic theory, this means the necessity of a decisive change in perspective. Instead of examining the new means of communication from the viewpoint of the older modes of production, theory must on the contrary analyse, from the viewpoint of contemporary production conditions, what is being produced by the traditional `artistic' means.''

In the framework of such a "decisive change in perspective", the specifically aesthetic problems of art and literature are abolished, and not in the Hegelian sense any more. In fact, instead of the examination of these problems, we come up against the same trick every time: Enzensberger demonstrates before us something in the nature of a trial with art and literature in the dock and the electronic media as the prosecutors. At best, the solution of specific problems of the cinema or television is passed off as a "general aesthetic" solution of the problem–on the grounds that literature and art are represented in them in ``abolished'' form (and if not represented–so much the worse for them). This is the picture we are given of the solution of the two most pressing aesthetic problems of the present times–the documentary approach and the work of art.

The critics' dismay at the documentary approach, writes Enzensberger, indicates how badly the thinking of the reviewers has lagged behind the state of the productive forces. Meanwhile, it is the latter that has deprived of its meaning one of the most fundamental categories of the old aesthetics–the "category of fiction". The opposition " fiction vs. non-fiction", says Enzensberger, has been struck off the agenda exactly like the more famous opposition "art vs. life". The development and refinement of reproduction techniques, with the result that it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the copy and the original, is gradually changing the problem of `` authenticity'' into an imaginary, or pseudo-problem. With the identity of what is being copied and the copy, "the aspect of reality free from the apparatus becomes a highly artificial aspect of it". It is hardest of all to reproduce, but as soon as it has been reproduced, the copy is indistinguishable from the original, which loses its ``substantial'' meaning. "The process of reproduction discards what is being reproduced and fundamentally alters it." If the copy is as good as the original, then the original is reduced, in its turn, to the level of a copy; it is converted into something wholly artificial. In other words, "categorical inauthenticity also spreads to the concept of what is documentary", to the concept of the original, etc. The original ends up as much an object of manipulation as the copy. If this is so, reasons Enzensberger, then the problem of the documentary approach ceases to exist.

As for art as a whole, the process under examination, according to Enzensberger, leads to the destruction of all the traditional frontiers and subsections–for example, "the distinctions between the documentary and the feature film are undermined". Henceforth there is no difference between reportage and comedy. Fact, whether shown with the television camera or ``constructed'' so that it cannot be distinguished from reality, is of exactly same value. And this is naturally not an artistic value any more, nor is it a value of art or literature, for such value presupposes a difference between the ``artificial'' and the ``non-artificial'', between the picture and what is being depicted. In this case, it is a value determined 'functionally'–by the role which the above-mentioned fact plays in the system of influencing the masses and the effectiveness of that role. According to Enzensberger, any material used in electronic communications, whether documentary or artificial and fictitious, is only half-processed. And the more substantially the origin of this material is investigated, the more blurred is the distinction between documentary and fiction. Reality, as demonstrated by the television camera, is always on show, a constructed, assembled reality with which the viewer's mind is manipulated.

Arguing along these lines after Benjamin, Enzensberger repeats his teacher's mistakes. Like him, he sees as the sole form of authenticity only that which is empirically sensed or, to be more precise, visually perceived. As soon as contemporary media, having drawn this authenticity into their orbit, disclose to Enzensberger–in exact correspondence with Hegel's 'Phenomenology of the Spirit–'the dialectically contradictory, transitory and conditional nature of that truth, Enzensberger, like Benjamin, begins to imagine that the authenticity principle is collapsing altogether. Hence their extreme subjectivism and relativism, to escape from which they are ready to clutch at the first straw. The straw that comes into their field of view is Politics; it emerges in their arguments as the only reality and 'Homo politicus' as the only real person. Moreover, politics is taken by them in strictly 'subjectivist' fashion as a reality basing itself on itself alone. The result is that their subjectivism (and relativism) remain unsurmounted.

Enzensberger arrives at the same results in trying to solve the problem of the 'work of art'. Here he too departs from the model suggested by his own reflections on the future for electronic media (mainly television), taken, moreover, in the political aspect alone, that of political impact on the masses. His point of departure in solving the above-mentioned problem is a conviction that communication, as accomplished by electronic means, should be based on uninterrupted feedback, should be two-sided (and many-sided) at each moment of its use.

For example, a television programme should be planned so that each recipient may interrupt during transmission, introduce his corrections, say his ``yes'' or ``no'', his "I believe" or "I don't believe", and express more or less developed ideas about the programme. It follows from this that television, like radio programmes (and films too, apparently) should expect in advance the possibility of viewer (audience) participation during transmission, presupposing a form of co-production, constructive or otherwise, with the recipients.

In other words, the programme should be ``open'' to include the possibility of being continued (in the most unforeseen directions); that is, it should be "a series", and each series should be the continuation of a dialogue between the communicators and the recipients, both sides constantly changing places. In this way, concludes Enzensberger, programmes "should be received not as a consumer commodity but as a means of their own production''.

Enzensberger realises that all this concerns not the ``is'' but the "ought to be"; it is not happening in reality. Even so, from this desire of his he draws aesthetic conclusions applicable to the "work of art" problem which has long worried the theorists. He naturally sides with those who criticise the idea of the integral work of art as a hopelessly obsolete heritage of 19th-century idealist philosophy and aesthetics. Just like the New Left of the 60s from whom he would like to dissociate himself, Enzensberger believes that, in place of the former work of art, there is a certain set of 'Realien' balancing between art and non-art. But his means of explaining what was earlier understood as a work of art is different. In his opinion, the disintegration of the self-contained work of art has as its cause the development of the media in which the former ``discreteness'' of the object is disintegrating in general and, consequently, a work of art cannot be thought of any more as a discrete object. It is now thought of as an "open form"–in the sense of openness that is associated with the idea of expanding the programme into a series. Incidentally, Enzensberger's thesis about the processing of the open form is also connected with this idea.

The open form is seen as a kind of ``pulse'' sent to the recipient with the aim of evoking an active response. This reaction must, first, ensure the processing of open form, that is, its further development allowing for the public's corrections and, secondly, it must fill this form with content which changes from one response pulse to the other. Since the form is open to any reaction, the reciprocal action between communicator and recipient is bound to be fairly chaotic. The result will be something in the nature of a happening, that "changing and mixed show". It is from this that Enzensberger takes his bearings when he tries to imagine what will result from the unexpected intersection of unforeseen reactions and pulses within the open form. Today's happening, like yesterday's Dadaism, ``reveals'', according to Enzensberger, "the awareness that monologue means of communication today correspond only to the remnants of the consumer value''.

Enzensberger is drawn to the happening as to absolute spontaneity of completely unrestricted will of the individual, combined with political tendentiousness summoned to express the united will of the masses. The happening, he believes, could merge the fire of mass ecstasy with the cold sobriety of politics. No mediating link is proposed between these contradictory poles, and one is not needed anyway. For here only political passions are involved, only the political dimension of reality. All Enzensberger's notions about the ideal means of social intercourse through electronic media derive from the image of the political meeting: impassioned speeches, barracking, noise, whistling, stamping of feet, etc.

To sum up the implications of Enzensberger's arguments, he is attracted to one particular element, that of political ecstasy, or the element of the political ``Orgasm'', to put it in the language of consumer consciousness, which seeks "the maximalisation of pleasure" everywhere. For this is the only evaluation given to politics by the representatives of bohemian-lumpen consumer-hedonistic ``revolutionism'', of whom Enzensberger is one. Moreover, it is impossible here not to sense a purely anarchistic notion of freedom–that ``whirlwind'': "from thought to trigger"– Mayakovsky's poetic image of petty bourgeois violence. We have here the routine "paradox of freedom", a freedom that sees no inner barriers to its spontaneity but erects them externally. In this case, ecstasy wants to acquire form by presenting itself as political ecstasy.

This is a line of thought and a mood very close indeed to the one with which ``left'' (Sartrean) existentialism, trying to solve the irreconcilable contradictions in its conception of the individual's absolute freedom, moved step by step towards accepting the Maoist conception of the "cultural revolution". For Sartre himself, this developed into a conclusion about the need to liquidate art, literature included.


Section four. The flight from freedom
Chapter one. Man enjoying the orocess of self-liquidation
1. Negation of the personality as a mystic cult
2. Neo-avant-gardism and LSD, the two latest drugs
Chapter two. Hedonism and cruelty
1. Non-restraint of urges
2. Politicisation of eroticism or ``sexualisation'' of politics?
3. The end of anti-utopia
4. The inner life and something about Goethe (contemporary moods in West Germany)
5. The shade of The Grand Inquisitor


The foregoing analysis now makes it possible to understand more deeply the paradox of the relations between the New Left movement and the "adversary culture". This clash was not without a touch of drama, as the adversary culture first used the New Left movement as a destructive force and then simply absorbed it, assimilating the "left revolt" in the framework of its by now officially sanctioned structure. And always in the background there were glimpses of a ubiquitous character for whom, back in the last century, Marx had used the sobriquet "industrial eunuch". It so happened, and not without effort on the part of that character, that the New Left movement, to consider it from the viewpoint of social consequences (which cast additional light on that movement's character), became a form of self-affirmation (``revolutionary'', needless to say) of the very hedonistic-consumer consciousness to inflict the last and decisive blow on the Protestant Work Ethic, which opposed it. Though corresponding to the early phases of capitalist development, it still preserved its admittedly far from new positions right up to the middle of our century.

After the New Left ideology had fulfilled this function, disclosing the profound inner connection between its model of man with that which had long been cherished by the capitalist "industrial eunuch", it quickly began to lose its message and its drawing-power. After all, its slogans, which had sounded so ``revolutionary'' at the beginning of the movement, at the end of it were calmly assimilated by that same ``eunuch'' who effectively used them to intensify the consumer activity of the "authoritarian man"–the very ``conformist'' whom the New Left invariably regarded as their most avowed enemy. The hedonistic-consumer consciousness gradually grew up in the culture of the West, and then erupted noisily from the secret places of the social subconscious in the form of a New Left revolt against bourgeois taboos. In the final analysis, as was bound to happen, it no longer appeared in the romantic image of the revolutionary rebel, but in the guise of ordinary functionary of the widely ramified adversary culture–the culture created from the image and likeness of its presentday consumer, who had become aggressive and had developed a taste for extravagant pleasures. Symptomatic of this metamorphosis were the "latest moods" of the late 60s and early 70s. Merely a translation of the New Left ideology into the language of the mass hedonistic-consumer consciousness–a translation which, in fact, institutionalised both these moods and this consciousness as the same adversary culture, which broke down–at its own convenience, needless to say–the barriers between the masses and the elite.

Such would appear to be the connection between the ideology of the New Left revolt, on the one hand, and, on the other, the new moods initiated in the West by this same ideology. If the former reflected the final stage of the struggle by the hedonist-consumer consciousness against the opposing humanistically and ethically oriented traditions of Western culture, the latter were connected with the results of this process, that is, with the institutionalisation of this type of consciousness in the form of the adversary culture corresponding to it. We shall now examine the ideology of the New Left and the latest moods that replaced it in the framework of this common tie, which in one aspect is determined by the common social-economic tendencies of state-monopoly capitalism, and in the other, conditioned the formation and consolidation in the Western consciousness of the corresponding model of man ( taken in its relationship with definite literary, artistic, aesthetic and sociological conceptions, and also in its connection with the corresponding literary and artistic practice). In such an approach, various trends of Western youth subculture unexpectedly reveal an inner kinship–although they were strongly opposed to one another at the moment of their emergence and have consistently replaced one another during the last ten years: hippies, hammlers, beatniks and the New Left. Similarly, the paradoxical similarity of standpoints comes to light on the part of such different, at first glance, intellectual idols of the contemporary Western youth as Herbert Marcuse and Marshall McLuhan, Norman Mailer and Frantz Fanon, Suzan Sontag and Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Chester Anderson and Peter Handke.

It must be said that this has already been noticed by certain perspicacious authors, especially Martin Walser and John Passmore. The first, in his article "On the Latest Moods in the West",1and the second, in his article " Paradise Now",2 tried to reduce to a common denominator certain features of contemporary intellectual and artistic life in capitalist society. Moreover, the denominators of the, left radical Walser and the moderate liberal Passmore proved, naturally, altogether different: if the first was ultimately interested in the political qualification of the phenomena analysed, the second confined himself mainly to their ethical evaluation. However, the very formulation of the question about a common denominator proved fruitful in both cases: it helped the two writers to give a complete picture of certain common trends in the West European consciousness increasingly prominent during the last decade.

These trends, now known as the latest moods, arose entirely as a manifestation of the consumer consciousness. This appears in various forms at various levels of contemporary Western bourgeois culture. As it penetrates into that culture's ``upper'' levels, it undergoes a number of fairly complicated metamorphoses. However, its core–the hypertrophied consumer attitude–remains unchanged. This makes it also possible to examine the consumer consciousness as a system, stimulating the search not only for external and nominal, but also for inner and organic connections between its most varied manifestations. I shall analyse certain of these mutual ties in the next section.


1. Negation of the Personality as a Mystic Cult

Attempts to associate the latest moods with the present state of capitalist society are not only detectable among the outside observers of this typical phenomenon of the Western mind. Thus, Leslie A. Fiedler, whom Walser presents to the reading public as one of the prophets of the latest moods, sees them as an "essential consequence of an industrial system" that has freed the young from work and duty. He regards them as an inevitable result of the welfare state, making non-commitment (that is, the rejection of every kind of ``recruitment'') the "last virtue still possible''.

Leaving on Fiedler's conscience the actual 'means of interpreting' the connection between the latest moods and the consumer society (a term that gets to the heart of the matter rather than welfare state), and also his attempt to present this connection as fatally inevitable, one must agree that it is indeed taking place. The fact that such a connection exists is now stated in purely statistical terms: the wider the dissemination of consumer society trends in the West, the wider the strata of contemporary lumpen (especially the ``lumpen-intelligentsia'') who feel themselves free from work and duty, regarding independence of all political and moral obligations and duties as the only possible virtue.

Perhaps, however, the connection between the latest moods and the consumer society is most conspicuously in evidence if we take not the quantitative, but the qualitative aspect of the problem; that is, if we compare the 202 deepening of consumer trends in contemporary capitalist society with the specific forms of sublimation of crude consumer aspirations. The most important feature of the process leading to the emergence, development and replacement of the various forms of sublimated consumerism consists in the conversion of the striving for sensual pleasures (in the widest sense of the word) into something after the manner of a religious faith–faith in the divinity of pleasure, of 'any' pleasure, simply because it is a pleasure. Moreover, this religion–it would be more accurate to call it a hedonistic religion–also has, as we shall see, a mystic nucleus and a corresponding esoteric cult.

The meaning of this cult has been given precise formulation in the title of 'Paradise Now'–one of the most publicised shows of the Living Theatre, which, as is very indicative, was performed by a completely nude cast. Of the two words 'Paradise Now', in the form of a categorical demand, not the ``Paradise'', but the ``Now'' is stressed. Paradise must appear, and of its own accord, if people stop putting off till tomorrow (or even for a minute) the satisfaction of their craving for enjoyment.

The ideologists of "Paradise Now" have no doubts about the practical possibility of this. Like Tuli Kupferberg, the ideologist and poet of the latest mood, they argue as follows. As a result of the four revolutions–sexual, electronic, artistic and psychedelic–that have taken place in the middle of our century in the developed capitalist countries, entirely practical possibilities have arisen for the satisfaction of all human demands for pleasure without exception. The sexual revolution was to remove from the erotic sphere all restrictions created by religious tradition, bourgeois law and bourgeois morality. The psychedelic revolution, associated with the rehabilitation of drugs, makes it possible to liquidate the taboos transmitted by individual human self-awareness, which prevents man from fulfilling his desire to surrender himself to pleasure. The artistic revolution, which has broken the obsolete type of human perception, on the one hand, relies on the first and second revolutions and, on the other hand, deepens them, opening up new possibilities for pleasure latent in art.

The main importance of the electronic revolution is that it has enthroned His Majesty TV. With the spread of television, and here we hand over to Marshall McLuhan, on whom Tuli Kupferberg draws, our world as a whole has suffered the profoundest of possible transformations. It has truly entered a new aeon, since time has ceased and space has vanished. Cut down by the ubiquitous TV to extremely .small dimensions, entangled in the visible and invisible nerves of communications, our social-cultural cosmos is now, if wo are to believe McLuhan, a "global village".3And humanity, correspondingly, is returning to its primordial state as a tribe not divided up into conscious individuals.

First, all-powerful TV disposes of writing, the specialised acoustic-visual metaphor that, according to McLuhan, over many centuries has established, and continues to establish the "dynamics of Western civilisation".4 Along with written culture individually oriented perception and therefore discursive, logically consistent thinking are also being dispensed with.

Secondly, TV removes the individual's feeling of identity and thus his sense of personality as such. In our age, declares McLuhan without a shade of irony, it is becoming impossible to take up a definite position for longer than a moment.

Thirdly, says McLuhan, by liberating people from the archetypes of the individual consciousness TV appeals to the collective unconscious at the bottom of human souls– under the not so deep layer of personal archetypes. In this way, television is successfully achieving unified perception and unified imagination. Moreover, winding up this high-minded summary, McLuhan explains (true, in a somewhat different connection) that people are receiving from this a deep and dark feeling of involvement akin to the "oriental type of sensibility". This profound and dark feeling of the oriental type apparently also cements the approaching tribal culture, which, according to McLuhan's prognosis, will not allow any development of the individual consciousness. The party's over! . .

In other words, the liberalism of the individual consciousness and of personal responsibility which have brought humanity to an impasse, is being displaced, according to McLuhan's prophecies, by the authoritarian collective unconscious invoked to impose order in men and, at the same time, to make happy the foolish (because they are conscious).

So reasons McLuhan. Kupferberg, however, adding nothing to this, simply seems to hope that unlimited technical possibilities have opened up unprecedented prospects for human intercourse; the economic conditions have been ensured under which man, even in the present era, may spend most of his time on the gratification of his desires, urges and impulses.

This goal not only links up McLuhan with the ideology of "paradise now", as expressed in the latest mood, that is, the mood of the early 70s, it associates him and the new mood in with the similar aspirations of their predecessors, beatniks and the hippies.

According to John Passmore, the word ``beatniks'' does not mean "beaten by life" as some writers think. ``Beat'' is a short form of ``beatific'', and the beatniks are those who have experienced foreknowledge or a vision of bliss. The beatniks would like to arrest the moment of bliss, liberating it and themselves, their consciousness and memory from everything that would prevent the adequate experience of the blessed state.

In his article, Passmore quotes a very indicative statement by Norman Mailer that the ``hipster'' lives "in that enormous present which is without past or future, memory or planned intention". He also quotes from John Earth's book, 'Giles Goat-Boy', summing up the ideal of its hero: "only to Be, always to Be, until nothing was . .. but one placeless, timeless, nameless throb of Being"–and ``Be'' is used as a synonym for sexual enjoyment. Here we have the foundations of the contemporary mystic hedonism in which being is identified with pleasure, moreover, not just any pleasure, but specifically sensual pleasure, preferably erotic.

In the light of these principles of mystic hedonism, it is possible to understand the clearly expressed hostility of the beatniks, hippies and prophets of the new mood to time in general, a hostility entirely absurd at first glance. After all, time, with its inexorable movement from yesterday to today, from today to tomorrow, has always been hostile to the desire to "stop the moment", especially if it is taken as something empirically sensual, physiologically given. With time comes memory of the past, concern for the future, the consciousness of own finiteness and mortality– all these, according to the ideologists of the "paradise now", spoil the human capacity for pleasure.

Hence the striving to relate time itself to the ideology, to the transformed consciousness, to the imagination of the sick psyche of the human being crushed by the many different taboos created by bourgeois civilisation and by the repressive, oppressive culture in general. Norman Brown, summarising in his book, 'Life Against Death', the mood under examination as a contemporary form of religiosity, puts it quite bluntly: "Time is ... neurotic." Moreover, Brown draws on Freud but also enters into controversy with him. It is Freud's idea that the subconscious, the 'id', controlled exclusively by the pleasure-principle, does not contain anything which corresponds to the idea of time. This idea, incidentally, is also connected with Freud's treatment of mysticism, which is, according to him, nothing but the perception of the outside world from the viewpoint of that same 'id', which knows nothing of the time. Brown also attempts to draw on mysticism in his endeavours to adjust Freudianism to meet the demands of mystic hedonism.

Brown believes that traditional psychoanalysis leaves no hope for man's emergence from a state of neurosis evoked by the persistent idea of time which is hammered into the human consciousness by the repressive culture with its endless worries and reminiscences. In order to return to the "simple health that animals enjoy, but not man",5 it is essential to take the road which mysticism has long been indicating, that of immediate enjoyment, in which there is no relation to the past or the future.

Why does this prophet of mystic hedonism disagree with Freud, although the materials from which he builds his conception are clearly borrowed from psychoanalysis? The fact is that, along with the pleasure-principle that controls the unconscious, or 'id', Freud also postulated a realityprinciple that controls our waking, diurnal consciousness, our 'ego'. This second principle, according to Freud, is formed as the guiding principle of the consciousness as the child, initially gripped by a natural desire for the totally unlimited satisfaction of its urges, comes up against more and more new obstacles–at first in the family and

immediate environment, then in the wider social and cultural milieu and, finally, in the social-cultural ``universe'' as a whole. In this way, this principle implants in the human consciousness the demands made on it by society. While accepting Freud's means of describing the human psyche, Brown, like all other representatives of mystic hedonism, does not agree with Freud's evaluation of these principles. Freud maintains that the pleasure-principle is destructive, whereas the reality-principle is constructive in relation to culture, since it is associated with the achievements that raised man up out of the animal kingdom. By limiting his urges for enjoyment, man obtained freedom in exchange; renouncing the happiness that consists in the absolute-identity of the animal organism and all its instinctual manifestations, modifying these phenomena of the organism's life activity with culture, morality and spirituality, man won the right of dominion over the animal world and, most important of all, opened prospects for the imposition of order (and, perhaps, even of harmony) on 'his' relations with those of his own kind, having ensured the elementary security of existence which could not and cannot be guaranteed by uncultivated Nature. This is what Brown disputes, taking his stance on the pleasure-principle, or,enjoyment whatever the cost.

Rooted in the human consciousness, the reality-principle is the main obstacle to the affirmation of a mystic attitude to the world. It fetters, distorts, corrupts, ``ideologises'' the natural urge of each man for unlimited and uninhibited enjoyment, now accessible only to animals (not to mention criminals who have defied universal conformism and bourgeois values). Consequently, the reality-principle must be abolished, and if it does not voluntarily agree to leave the historical scene, it must be blown up by revolutionary violence. With it will disappear the basic dogma of human consciousness, time, the main source of the neurosis that has lasted for so many centuries.

Thus speaks Norman Brown. . .


The legitimate question arises, how is this to be done? How will it be possible to realise that mystical-sounding programme in practice? It turns out that it is not really so difficult in the era that has survived the sexual, electronic, artistic and psychedelic revolutions.

The sexual revolution has already created the appropriate psychological atmosphere for taboo-free erotic pleasures, having violated the ``conservative'' attitude associated with concern about the future (question: what next?) and looking back on the past (question: does this correspond to established sexual customs?). Medicine has obligingly taken the trouble to free sexual pleasure from distracting and corrupting thoughts about posterity (or the possibility, with passing encounters, of venereal diseases). Incidentally, the sexual revolution also encourages a breakdown of normal heterosexual relations. This last has had such a powerful impact on the social consciousness of the West, inspiring a veritable flood of films, plays, novels, essays, medical treatises and philosophical works, that the relevance of the various sexual customs has been struck off the agenda. Here, too, social consciousness has calmed down on the soft cushions of scepticism and relativism.

What takes the form of scepticism and relativism in people observing the sexual revolution from the sidelines but not wanting to enter in conflict with its ideology, is, to its active defenders, a new religion, a new mysticism, etc. (this age cannot seem to manage without them). Since neither religion nor mysticism can avoid hacking back to history, those who strive to propagate the latest sexual aspirations in this guise cannot avoid doing so either. A new interpretation is acquired by the Biblical saying that man and wife are one flesh; by the rules of contemporary unisex, this is taken to mean that men and women (if they want Paradise Now), must dress the same, behave alike and be indifferent to the sex of the partner.6 In similar vein are the views according to which the man and woman are different hypostases of the same divinity. And, of course, a corresponding interpretation is given to platonic love. No one in the West can be shocked these days by the arguments of the heroine of Lawrence Lipton's novel 'The Holy Barbarians' and her hippy friends to the effect that since, in the primitive religions, the gods were hermaphrodites, so people wishing to be like the gods today must ignore the difference between the sexes. As we see, it is now not only far from difficult to bring paradise down to earth (all you need do, says Passmore ironically, is to pull down your pants), but also to become God.

However, at the very moment when sexual relations are beginning to be treated as a mystic cult, religious ritual, etc., a new circumstance arises. If, as Heine put it, it takes one for virtue but two for sin, two are not enough to convert the sin into a cult activity. At least a third is essential. And it is even better if a fourth, a fifth and a sixth, etc., can be present–the number being determined by whether we are dealing with an esoteric (``elitist'', to use the contemporary sociological term) or an exoteric (mass) cult. This is the point at which mystic hedonism feels a need for the collective, understood as a fantastic tribe consisting of people connected with one another by sexual relations completely unthinkable in the past, leaving primitive promiscuity far behind (the latter can no longer be regarded as the extreme in sexual relationships).

This is the exact equivalent of McLuhan's tribe of people plunged into the dark depths of the collective unconscious. On this point, McLuhan's probe also explains the obscure meaning of the corresponding concept of mystic hedonism as the concept itself explains McLuhan's prophecy. The most important thing disclosed in this comparison is the secondary, auxiliary nature of the collective, tribal principle in relation to the pleasure-principle, which here, too, is featured as higher, fundamental and purposeful. Both in McLuhan and in mystic hedonism, the tribe (clan, commune, etc.) is proposed first and foremost as a means of liberating man–in collective ecstasy–from the personal self-awareness that obstructs the maximalisation and intensification of pleasure.

The new mystics have rediscovered the true significance of the ancient Bacchanalia in coming to the conclusion that sexual pleasures experienced ``collectively'' are increased many times by a feeling of ``togetherness''. True, in order that such an experience should take place at all, any kind of selection in the sexual sphere must be renounced, such as the clearly obsolete desire to see something unique–individuality or personality–in another person. Mystic hedonism rejects all these archaisms in exactly the same way as mass production.

The ``truth'' revealed by the new mystics was soon snapped up by contemporary Pop art. One example of a popular spectacle inspired by mystic hedonism is the musical 'Hair' about the ecstasies of tribal love. As Passmore testifies, this musical completely baffled an audience not initiated into the secrets of the new mysticism: it was hard to distinguish between the men and the women. All was clear from the start to the ``initiates'', however. The character of tribal love, affirmed by the musical with truly ``revolutionary'' passion, is such that there is no need to tell the men from the women. Moreover, for the satisfaction of the erotic urges portrayed in 'Hair', women, according to Passmore, are quite unnecessary. In the name of the commune and tribal love, the musical revolts against the female sex as detrimental to the direct collectivity of sexual intercourse, by bringing into the erotic sphere an illegitimate (even in the remote past, and so all the more obsolete in the present) factor of individualisation, selection, etc. In this revolt against the specific, if one may put it that way, role of woman in the sexual relations, women themselves take part in 'Hair'. Like the men, they are obsessed with the quest for absolute union, total community, in which all people think and feel as one being. And no dissension, please! We're sick of it! . .

The road, so theatrically pointed out by 'Hair', is seen by the new mystics as leading to the full and final solution of a problem which for decades has troubled 20 thcentury philosophers, novelists and film directors–that of incommunicability. To break down the thick walls that separate people from one another and prevent them from arriving at mutual understanding, it is essential for them to get together (not less than three at a time) and strip.

Needless to say, after so considerable a social and ideological charge, the shedding of clothes in public acquires a mystic and ritual significance. The ``religious'' meaning of this rite is explained as follows. Consciousness of nudity as a sin came to man after his fall, that is, to reason in the spirit of the new mysticism, after his individualisation, his isolation from the total unity of the commune. Consequently, in order to return to a state of primal innocence, he must undress.

However, it still takes collectivity, impersonality and anonymity to bring to a climax all the pleasures attainable Lhrough mysteries of this kind. They create the atmosphere of general irresponsibility likely in a crowd possessed by an intoxicating sense of total permissiveness (a feeling that easily develops into destructive action). In this atmosphere, no behaviour seems impermissible, since it has been done not by ``me'', not by "the other one", not by a "third person", but by all of us together, that is by Nobody and Everybody at the same time.

It is impossible to unravel the significance of this ``ambivalent'' feeling, otherwise than by turning to the language of art which, incidentally, has often attempted to reflect on the subject under discussion. The hero of Thomas Mann's 'Death in Venice' once experiences a similar feeling. True, as the author tells us, this happens in a dream, but after all it was a long time ago, at the beginning of the century. At that time, the emotions being examined were considered permissible only in visions, myths, or halfbanned works of art. The idea of merging this art with life, of taking its emotions out into the street, of making them public property, did not at that time exist. To judge by Mann's work, however, it was already imminent: and the more acute minds were in a state of deep alarm in expectation of the moment when it would be extracted from the world of dreams and presented as a practical problem of the day.

``That night," writes Thomas Mann of his hero Gustav von Aschenbach (a writer of the traditionally humanist persuasion with a strong classical background) "he had a horrible dream, if dream is the right word for a physical and spiritual event which admittedly happened to him while he was fast asleep. . . The scene of the action was his soul, but the events burst in from outside, immediately breaking down all resistance–the stubborn resistance of the intellect. They swept over him and transformed his existence, the culture of his life into dust and ashes.

'It began with terror, terror and lust, and horrified curiosity about what was to happen. It was night, and his senses were strained, since from somewhere far away he could hear the approaching tramp of feet, booming, and mingled sounds from far away: banging, galloping, muffled claps of thunder, shrill shrieks and howls–a sustained `U-u-u-uh'. All this was pierced and at times frighteningly and sweetly drowned by the warbling strains of a flute, shameless in their persistence, immodestly bewitching, so that everything trembled within him. But he knew a word, obscure, although it gave a name to what was coming: 'The Alien God'. The heat shimmer swirled, and he saw a mountain locality like the one where his country house was. And in the torn light, an avalanche was rolling down from wooded heights and mossy crags: people, animals, herds, a frenzied horde, they inundated the glade with bodies, flames, uproar and wild dancing. Women, with long robes of animal skins dangling from their waists, were throwing back their heads, groaning, rattling tambourines, waving torches which scattered showers of sparks; armed with naked daggers, they gripped writhing snakes by the middle, or screamed, holding up their breasts with their hands. Hairy men with horns on their heads, with animal skins on their loins, their heads bowed, were throwing up their legs and arms, frenziedly beating copper tympani and kettledrums, while chubby boys clutching at the horns of goats, were driving them with rods wound with green fronds, shrieking as the goats leapt about. All around there was an incessant howling and loud cries–all of soft consonants with that sustained `U-u-uh' at the end, sweet, wild, never heard anywhere ever before. But here it filled air, that sustained `U-u-uh', as if it were a stag bellowing, taken up here and there by many voices, debauchedly exultant, inciting to dance, to the twitching of arms and legs. It never abated. But the low, appealing strains of the flute pierced through it all, dominating everything. Were they not luring him too–shamelessly, insistently– as he resisted, yet responded to the celebrations, to the immensity of the supreme sacrifice? Great was his loathing, great was his terror, his honest striving to defend himself to the last gasp against this–alien, hostile to dignity and integrity. But the din, the howling repeated by the mountain echoes was growing, was swelling to uncontrollable madness. Odours befuddled his reason, the sharp reek of goats, the sweat of quivering bodies like the heaving of putrid water, and he was drawn by yet another familiar odour: that of wounds and plague. His heart shuddered in unison with the kettledrums, his head whirled, frenzy overcame him, blindness, drunken voluptiousness, and his soul wanted to join the chorus of the god. An obscene symbol, gigantic, made of wood, was brought out and raised aloft: they began howling even more frenziedly around him, shouting the same summons all the time. They were foaming at the mouth, raving, exciting one another with lewd gestures, prodding with lecherous hands, laughing, groaning, driving the sharp wands into the bodies of those nearby and licking up the blood that flowed. But, humble to the power of the alien god, with them and among them now was he who was dreaming the dream. Moreover, they were him when, maddened, frantic, they flung themselves on the beasts, slaughtered them, tore off smoking chunks of flesh with their teeth, and when on the pitted, mossy ground there began the general sacrifice to the god. And his soul tasted debauchery and the frenzy of the end.''

It is enough to compare this scene of tribal love with what is given in the musical 'Hair' (and in a whole series of other works whose authors hold their noses at the mere mention of the Pop art), to realise the distance covered by the West European mind. All that stirs Mann's hero to horror and disgust (although, to be fair, it does not lose its attraction) is painted today in the rosiest colours imaginable. The Alien God of Gustav von Aschenbach has ceased to be alien, repulsive and horrifying, having become the only divinity in the era of universal consumerism. And, incidentally, the "paradise now" ideology consisted in removing any tension that might exist between man and his new god in order to show that he was not ``alien'', but "one of them''.

2. Neo-Avant-Gardism and LSD, the Two Latest Drugs

The reader may have noticed that in the process of luring Mann's hero into the Bacchic-Dionysian ecstasy, of special importance are the warbling strains of a flute, shameless in their persistence, immodestly bewitching, so that everything trembles within him, but which insistently and unswervingly draw Gustav von Aschenbach as he resists and yet responds to the celebrations, to the immensity of the supreme sacrifice–that is, if we take it in the spirit of Thomas Mann, to the hero's renunciation of his ego, to his self-identification with the raving crowd of people and animals who form the drunken chorus of the Alien God. Mann was right both as an artist and as a psychologist: the simple presence of man in the crowd is still not enough for him fully to renounce consciousness and self-awareness, merging into the collective unconscious that bestowed " paradise now". Art is needed too, and not just any art. The art that is akin to the flute. Or the kettledrums that make the heart of the respectable Aschenbach shudder in unison with them so that his head whirls and his whole being is overcome by a blinding frenzy, drunken voluptuousness and the desire to join the chorus of the god (who occurs in his darkened consciousness already without the distancing word ``alien'').

It must be said that all this is excellently realised by the proponents of hedonistic mysticism. That is precisely why, among the "four revolutions", which have, according to Tuli Kupferberg, made paradise possible now, the artistic revolution is also mentioned. As a result of this revolution, art has been transformed, if we are to believe the prophets of the latest mood, into one of the most powerful means of overcoming the individual consciousness and plunging man into the collective orgasm. And so, art stepped outside its own limits and became something more than it had .been before in, say, the framework of humanist culture. This enables the poet Chester Anderson to elevate one of the trends in jazz music–Rock–to a universal principle which is "not limited to music alone''.7

Rock, according to Anderson, is a mystic phenomenon that is not subject to definition and which cannot be categorised. It is what might be called the everyday miracle of our age. For instance, the composer who has recognised this miracle and mastered it could play "the audience's body like an obedient guitar". Body indeed, and not soul, since the latter is unnecessary: Rock is a means of setting human bodies in motion, by-passing their souls, or at any event, missing the individual consciousness and acting directly on what lies ``under'' it. Furthermore, it is not only more effective from the viewpoint of possibilities of affecting man (and, ultimately, of controlling his bodily movements), but it affords him far greater pleasure than in the event of ``mediated'' action–passing through the consciousness and related to his self-awareness, ego, freedom of choice, etc.

It is characteristic that the notions of the ideologists of the latest mood about what art should be in the electronic civilisation are very much along the lines of what has been said on the subject by McLuhan. Furthermore, direct borrowings are not essential; certain identical points of departure are enough for the ideas of various people to move in a similar direction. And those identical points of departure are there. First, the new mood, just as in McLuhan's "philosophy of the media", assumes the switching off of the individual's self-awareness and his immersion in the ecstasy of the collective unconscious. Secondly, there is an observable tendency in both cases to the purely physiological interpretation of this ecstasy, in opposition to the ephemeral, sublimated emotions evoked by traditional art.

This last tendency is clearly indicated in McLuhan's arguments about the* almost physical effect of the TV image on man, involving him in the orgiastic element of the irrational, the unconscious. This tendency was particularly symptomatic in McLuhan's attempt to accomplish a ``revaluation'' of human senses, elevating, as a true model of human sensibility, that of touch, since it is less sublimated (i.e. less spiritual) and is therefore in closer contact with the unconscious. This contemporary mystic hedonist would like to go blind, not in order to penetrate into the essence of things with the mind's eye like Democritus, who blinded himself, according to the legend, but to know fhe world by touch without any relation to the space-time perspective.

This throws additional light on the famous McLuhan tautology, "the medium is the message," making it more or less comprehensible. It indicates a need to transfer attention from what is happening on the television screen and is perceived by the viewer as a meaningful chain of interconnected objects, to what happens with the human consciousness if this chain ceases to be meaningful; in other words, if the place of acting on man's cognitive ability is taken over by the simple bombardment of the screen of his consciousness by a number of irritants–"pure signals", not carrying any message apart from the fact of communication.

The first result of what is achieved by this is the conversion of the audio-visual complex of irritants into something physiologically more real than what was represented b'y this complex when it was oriented on the interpretive and cognitive, i.e. spiritual, capacity of the human consciousness. For if the consciousness is switched oft, nothing is left in the audio-visual complex except unsublimated (that is, not transferred to the spiritual, ideal dimension of human existence) beam of impact on the nervous extremities of the visual and aural analysers, with no likelihood of relief. This undoubtedly results in a lowering of the more spiritual feelings–visual and aural–to the less spiritual level of the tactile and corresponding direct contacts with the object acting on man.

As a result of action on the neuro-physiological structure of a man who has received no relief, no transfer to the spiritual level in which he can apprehend and interpret the source of this impact (or that about which this impact signals), the individual is indeed reduced to a state of excitement, or, more often, irritation–since ignorance of the source of the excitement can irritate; the person knows that he or she must do something, but cannot imagine what. More often than not, this irritation wells up as a vague (and therefore even more oppressive) feeling of alarm, or less frequently, the nervous ``joy'' that the psychiatrists call euphoria and that can become derangement at any moment. As we see, the process of activating the human unconscious by means of television (somewhat modernised in the McLuhan spirit) looks like an attempt to infect the viewer with something in the nature of a psychic illness, or phobia.

``Pathological cases of phobia–of persistent terror and the like," writes Lev Vygotsky, founder of the Soviet psychological school, "are invariably associated with certain ideas which are for the most part absolutely false and which distort reality. This is how they find their spiritual expression. Thus, a patient suffering from persistent terror, is, in fact, affected with a feeling–he has a causeless terror and for that reason his imagination suggests to him that everybody is chasing and persecuting him. In such a patient, we find a sequence of events that is the exact reverse of this in a healthy person. With the latter, persecution comes first to be followed by terror, but with the former it is terror first, then imagined persecution.''8

Furthermore, as is known, in some cases of phobia, the patient becomes so profoundly involved in his unconscious that he is incapable of thinking about anything but his fears. Incidentally, this can be dangerous to others. Psychiatry has recorded many murder cases triggered off by phobia.

Physiologists are said to have caused something like phobias in mice by sending electric pulses to certain parts of the brain. Strictly speaking, this, according to McLuhan, could be achieved with television and ``cool'' art. True, he 'is' hoping that the profound and gloomy feeling of involvement in the collective unconscious will give man powerful sensations–from those that are now half-forgotten by humanistically individualist civilisation.

In the light of all this, it is easier to understand McLuhan's statement that contemporary television's desire to evolve artistic forms comparable to those of the theatre and the cinema is conservative and archaic, since the only real future for television is in cartoons, adverts, etc. In trying to resemble theatre and cinema (and the more `` traditional'' arts), television is trying to show on the screen a certain apprehended reality, the sum total of mutually connected objects and their movements, accessible to and presuming upon rational cognition. It 'is' a means of acting an man at the level of his consciousness, as the outside world acts on man. It is a matter of ``communication'' at the level of ideal objectiveness–that which is built up on the television screen and, correspondingly, in the consciousness of the perceiver, the viewer. And just as in a work of art this objectiveness comes out as something complete and interpreted only in the light of the author's ideals, or values, so in the perception of this work, the aesthetic experience acquires this or that character according to the relation of the above-mentioned objectiveness to the perceiver's ideals and values–a relationship which is accomplished by his ego, his self-awareness. This structure, typical of all ``traditional''–or ``hot'', in McLuhan's terminology–art is what he has in mind when he says that the artistic structure of the cinema and theatre has lost the ability to act on contemporary consciousness and perception.

McLuhan wants to say that the means of impact by mind on mind has become obsolete, and postulates instead a more direct and effective influence–by subconscious on subconscious. To be more precise, by the cunning, manipulatory conscious mind of the communicator on the unconscious mind of the totally unsuspecting recipient. In other words, the manipulation of self-aware individuals by specially directed irritants affecting their physiological structure is preferred to free mutual interaction.

It should be pointed out that this is not solely McLuhan's view. It met with understanding in West European television. In conformity with this, it received a new resonance–not brutal in the McLuhan style, but reassuringly lyrical: "Are the large shadows on the cave-wall–the simple and eternal human visions of goodness and morality–now being transmitted by the most trivial, lightly regarded, and despised forms?" asks one of McLuhan's respectable disciples. "Is it in the 'environmental sub-plots' of advertising messages, simple and stereotyped playlets, and other expressions of mass diversion and entertainment that the human beat and human message is being most effectively transmitted? Is it possible that we have stumbled upon the only route by which the human race may reach the ultimate end in its journey to peace? Is it conceivable that what political thinkers can hardly foresee may be brought to realisation by `show-business' entrepreneurs? . .''

But the most interesting point here, next to the excerpt quoted by William Bluem and its logical conclusion, is the following thesis about the art which a few years ago used to be called ``elitist'' with a respectful intake of breath: ". . . the motion-in-time arts become the first to concede. . . A student says (of `Blow-Up') 'I don't know what it meant, but it was 'greatr' Enter the cool response and the exit `ooh-and-ah'. Hello to the escape of `happenings', and goodbye to structure. Enter 'Labyrinth', and exit linearity. In with fragmentation, out with form. Hail new icons–- farewell old symbologies. The old arts which produce ' meaning' lose force, and when we seek them, we do not attach the old importance to them."9

If the author of this lively passage were told that, it is all meant to justify the tendency to the ``self-liquidation'' of art, provided that the word ``art'' really means something, he would certainly answer in McLuhan fashion: "So what?" If there must inevitably be "masses of faceless humanity", what need is there of personally oriented art? If "unquestionably, the condition of man is moved towards homogenization by the 'mass' quality of the TV experience", what need is there of an art that appeals to human individuality? If the times are going "to produce a serious breakdown in the logical flow of human response between what we 'know' and what we must believe", why should art survive, trying to give meaning to what is meaningless?

William Bluem will not be the only one to answer calmly and ironically: "So what?" in answer to the question: "Are we not witnessing art's self-liquidation as a reflection of the crumbling individual consciousness, the personality principle in the late-capitalist civilisation which has clearly fallen behind dtself?" If not a calmly ironic, at least, calmly academic answer will be obtained from a number of treatises which peacefully announce that the ``Orphic'' principle is resurrected in contemporary art, that is, the principle of the inexorable (and therefore justified–what else?) striving of art to tear itself up and hurl the pieces at the raving public in order that its frenzy should reach a climax. Let us remember that this kind of Orphic act was shown in Antonioni's film, when the fashionable variety artiste ends his concert by smashing up his instrument and throwing it into a frenzied crowd of fans.

It isn't just a matter of the instrument. The chopping up of a piano or the smashing of a guitar over one's knee is a more or less harmless act in itself although it is unpleasant, as is any destructive act, especially if it is being aestheticised. The fact is that in this case we are dealing with the external symbolisation of a deeper process, that of the real self-destruction of art which is fed up with round-about ways of awakening in man the fine feelings. With the instrument that once delighted the human ear, the guitarist is now learning how, as it were, to beat people over the head so that they swoon in orgiastic anguish, screaming ``hosanna'' to the adored tormentor.

Not self-abnegation for the sake of something higher than itself, but renunciation of that something higher for its own sake, for the sake of its "game of love with itself", as Hegel would have said–that is what, overcome by Dionysian ecstasy, this mob needs. The experience of the fact that the "mystic secret", or "paradise now", is created not in the transcendental sphere, not in the ideal dimension of art, but in itself taken "as it is", in its possession by the demons of craving and lust–such is the experience sought by this mob, smashing up art like a child's toy that fails to satisfy it.


If we now cast a general glance at the tendencies we have described in art, an art obsessed with an Orphic message of self-liquidation, then it will not be difficult to see the ideal model to which it is now tending as it moves beyond its own limits. This model is drugs or, to be more precise, the effects they have on man, making easier for him to "switch off" from his worries, from space and time, from personal self-awareness, from the ego–that is, providing him with "paradise now". And so it was certainly not by chance that Chester Anderson combined art (of the electronic civilisation, naturally) with drugs in his "Rock phenomena", expressing the basic aspirations of the young Rock generation.

Rock is an essential aspect of contemporary mystic hedonism; it reveals the ``narcotic'' effect in art and the `` aesthetic'' factor in narcosis. Moreover, Rock is an important offshoot of mystical hedonism; it discloses a tendency to become an independent religion which threatens to take over the more substantial elements of the latest mood. It is here that the "artistic revolution" combines with the ``psychodelic'' one, and the aesthetic means of depersonalising the individual that are intuitively felt by Orphic-Dionysian art, are brought into contact with scientifically verified techniques of liquidating the personal principle by means of the most up-to-date achievements of psychopharmacology.

This very suggestive connection between contemporary mysticism and contemporary science, a connection which in one (or perhaps not just one) of its aspects is moving towards an open alliance with the most ambiguous mysticism, converting it into the latest version of black magic, and it gives Rock fans a sensation of participation in some kind of 20th-century religious mystery. According to Alan Trachtenberg, the author of an article with the arresting title of "Culture and Rebellion", the word Rock has now acquired a connotation of religious mysticism. "Its practitioners are no longer entertainers but gurus,"10 people bringing new revelation to the world, a new kind of consciousness and behaviour. Consequently, everything they do, as they surrender themselves to orgiastic dances or the "common trip" has something of the religious cult or the mystic rite about it. The performance of Rock music is correspondingly re-interpreted. As Trachtenberg writes, the performers are now not celebrated solely for the " excitement of rhythm and sound". No, it is something much more; it is the "litany of liberation" in the light of which the performance and the appreciation of it are experienced as a mystery or, more precisely, as a form of religiousrevolutionary play. As we see, a revolutionary play is also needed to liberate man from his consciousness.

Chester Anderson calls Rock "the music of consciousness".11 Many other representatives of this music talk incessantly about its "religious nucleus".12 Fiedler, one of the most distinguished theorists of the latest mood, call LSD-takers and other drug addicts the "new irrationalists", the "holy peace-breakers".13 Another ideologist of the latest mood, R.D. Brinkman, regards them as precursors of the future "cosmonauts of the inner world". Leonard Cohen hails them as "the new Hebrews". Nor is there any lack of attempts at the theoretical justification and substantiation of the psychedelic ``cosmonautics''. Brinkman, for instance, tells how drugs help in "widening the sphere of consciousness",14 introducing the unconscious into the concept of consciousness, adding mindlessness to mind. He affirms in all seriousness that everything that "intensifies madness" is entirely legitimate and we must proceed from this.15

Needless to say, however, the greatest authority among all these substantiations and justifications belongs to those who are in the stream of contemporary mystical hedonism, proclaiming drugs to he the most direct and effective means of achieving "paradise now". For this reason, the most impressive (and therefore convincing) arguments in favour of the drug-taking are those to the effect that drugs "intensify the feeling of togetherness", according to the poet Alan Watts; they get rid of the conscious mind's inclination to inhibit tenderness, and in this way they help men and women to enter into associations based on physical tokens of attachment; in general they help gatherings of people to take the form of rituals, dances, play, in a word, everything symbolising love that unites the members of this group (see the model proposed by 'Hair)'. Furthermore, as was to be expected, considering the current fashion, this function of drugs is put forward as anti-bourgeois and directed against the industrial society. After all, in this society no one dare risk free erotic contacts, whereas drugs, by removing inhibitions, make such contacts possible and thereby help the creation of togetherness.16

There is, finally, one more means of justifying the psychedelic revolution, which liquidates the last "bourgeois taboos" that have still been barring the way to drug addiction (even if only in the sphere of official consciousness). This means of justification was put most eloquently in an article by Peter Stafford, "Drugs, Rock and Revolution". "My thesis," he writes, "is that psychedelic drugs have social significance of the first order and that with the passing of time (in not less than five or ten years, I suppose) they will completely transform the present political reality".17 Stafford believes that if, say, some manufacturer uses drugs, then one may be sure that the ``knowledge'' he has obtained "during his trip" will ultimately come to fruition in his activity. In this way, the whole of social reality will actually be transformed by the drug addicts into a completely new world.

Today, the psychodelic revolution is justified by the very different representatives of the quasi-intelligentsia– from the esoterically oriented mystics, who wrap up the vulgarly consumer essence of drug addiction in the mythologems of Zen Buddhism, to the politically aligned publicists who associate the spread of drug-taking with prospects for disintegrating the bourgeois ego. Moreover, it is not so difficult to find what all these apologists for the psychedelic revolution have in common: hostility to the personal principle of human existence, to individual selfawareness with its eternal striving for the freedom and independence of mankind.18

Finally, whatever means of justification for drug addiction we may encounter at present, we cannot escape the fact that we are dealing with drugs, which, apart from everything else (stimulation of the erotic urge, easing of sexual "forms of communion", release of the individual from "capitalist exploitation" as regards his "bourgeois ego", etc.) are bound of themselves, as Walser puts it, "to bring pleasure, the maximum pleasure", 19 a pleasure infinitely greater than that which can be experienced by a person in a normal, healthy state of mind.

Any psychiatry textbook tells us that drugs like morphia, which can plunge a person into the above-mentioned ``trip'', have an euphoric effect on the individual giving a sensation of general physical and psychic comfort20 ( comfort is the right word here!). True, next comes the hangover: in the language of psychiatry it is termed the condition of abstinence, during which extreme irritability, abruptness, anger and aggression are observed.21 But if the appropriate dose of morphine is administered in time (the amount increases with the growing tolerance of the organism), then there will be a return to the blissful moment of pleasure in physical and psychic comfort.

In general, the essence of the ``psychedelic'' condition is pleasure and still more pleasure, maximalised by the switching off of the higher spiritual functions. Whatever may be said about the ``anti-bourgeois'' essence of drug addiction, and however much it may be justified by ``left'' or ``right'', by politically or mystically aligned defendants, they are all merely different ways of justifying a hedonistic cult, the esoteric kernel of the consumer ideology in the mid-20th century.

1. Non-Restraint of Urges

After describing the mystic nucleus of the latest moods in the contemporary West, we moved on to an outline of those moods in the broader social context, discussing trends in the consumer society and the ``revolutions'' evoked by it–sexual, artistic and psychedelic. We shall now try to present these moods as a complete picture of the psychic condition of their carriers, the quasi-intelligentsia (and the social groups drawn to them). We are hardly to blame if our picture looks like the clinical chart of a psychic epidemic.

Indeed, what has been said above makes it possible to conclude that the welfare society has shown a marked tendency towards hypertrophied consumerism, evoking in certain circles something in the nature of a psychic disease manifest in the "non-restraint of urges", the reluctance to delay the satisfaction of the first impulse to occur, even for a moment. This is a condition very similar to that of the capricious child that throws a fit of hysterics, stamps its feet, destroys objects within reach and hits its parents if they do not immediately buy the toy it fancies.

If one turns to what the psychiatrists would term the anamnesis of the syndrome described, it becomes obvious that among adults who now suffer (or, rather, enjoy) the non-restraint of the urges–at least among the more active carriers of the latest mood–similar symptoms were observed in early childhood. Moreover, these clearly abnormal manifestations were cultivated all through childhood by parents and grandparents. The latter, after the trials and tribulations of the war and the post-war-shortages, achieved a relatively high standard of living, and were subsequently concerned with one thing alone: that their children and grandchildren should not be bothered by worries of any kind and that they should never be refused anything.

But if the unthinking minor simply says "Give!" and starts throwing a temper in front of its harassed parents, who hasten to satisfy his "legitimate desire", then, on growing older, he tries to turn that gesture into a norm of conduct, to justify it accordingly to his intellectual development. Subsequently, it comes to light that other representatives of his generation are similarly inclined to explain that gesture, and then it is elevated to a symbol charged with the highest meaning; it becomes the symbol of a whole subculture, a "youth subculture", as Western sociologists now term it. They thus acknowledge the growing influence of the quasi-intellectual consciousness on those of the young who have not yet been able to adapt to culture, although they think it owes them something.

Here begins the ideologisation of the infantile gesture and of infantilism in general. From this comes the desire to "return to childhood", so typical of the latest mood. True, the childish thoughts are perceived now in a strictly erotic sense, so that in the latest psychoanalytical interpretations of his soul (which have far outstripped the obviously out-dated Freud), the child sometimes seems more like a highly experienced sex maniac. However, children's books are widely read and generously quoted by the representatives of the latest mood.

The same archetypal gesture–"Give!"–is behind many Pop culture phenomena; those stars of the youth subculture who have embodied the above-mentioned gesture in the total image of the contemporary behaviour and feeling for life. The present-day variety singer (or instrumentalist) is the priest of a cult of uncontrollable urges, overwhelmed by the ecstasy that fills him, by the vital forces tearing him apart, and incapable of quelling a single of his instant outbursts. The same function is performed by many film stars, whose screen parts and personal images illustrate the ``uncontrollability'' of their various urges.

Hence the various sensational remarks (exclamations, to be more accurate) by preachers of the latest mood, like the cry of Brinkman–the one who dreams about the " cosmonauts of the inner world"–calling for a machine-gun against criticism.22 Or there is the comment by the now fashionable composer John Cage that it is "better to be brutal than indifferent". In the same category is the wellknown outburst of German playwright Peter Handke, who, at a demonstration, expressed the desire to collect into a heap all of the "left shit and the right shit", add on to it the "liberal shit" and "chuck a bomb at the lot". Finally, an eloquent climax to this series is the argument by Brinkman (in the foreword to an anthology edited by him and dedicated to the latest tendencies in American art) that Americans show little force and violence in art, and that they have not yet shaken off their timidity and revulsion at the sight of them. A good illustration of this argument is a portrait of Hitler in the anthology with a caption underneath it in black letters: "Welcome back''.

It must be said that there is nothing accidental about the emergence of the word 'Gewalt' (force) in connection with the latest mood; it very successfully expresses in German all the ambiguity of force-violence. Such theorists of the new mood as Fiedler, for instance, who is extremely well informed, mention, among its most important tendencies, the western as one of its three main elements symbolising the present urge for violence, cruelty and other forms of brutality. If we consider the latest mood as represented in contemporary literature, then, according to Fiedler,- it will be possible to distinguish three elements–"The Western, Science-Fiction and Pornography", and the three aggregate conditions: "Dream, Hallucination and Ecstasy". This is also indicated by the fashion for the Theatre of Cruelty, resurrected during the last years in the Western theatre and infiltrating into the cinema, as is shown by the latest work.

But how is this now obviously definitive tendency to be reconciled with the hippy-beatnik note of love, which would seem to be at the very source of the latest moods and to be shaping their mystical nucleus? Is there not an insoluble contradiction here? Is not the western, an element of the latest mood, a corruption of its real message? For us, the examination of all these aspects of the general problem of the ``western'' element is all the more interesting, since it enables us to analyse in greater depth the syndrome of non-restraint of urges taken in its dynamics, in its ambiguity or, as Freud might have said, ambivalence.

It is a great temptation to try and explain the sudden emergence in the latest mood of the '``western'' cadence of hatred and cruelty, which has consolidated itself in discordant (and compromising) proximity to the hippy-beatnik note of love and tenderness, on an analogy with the two stages of narcosis described by us–the euphoric state of amiability and indiscriminate sexual urges, and the depressive and irritable state of abstention, notable for extreme aggressiveness, abruptness and anger. This, however, would be to oversimplify the problem, relegating it to a purely psychological (or psychopathological) level.

We will come closer to a solution if we move up from the psychological level of analysis to the socio-psychological and if we remember one peculiarity of group ecstasy which seeks to discard the individual consciousness. As has been observed many times in the relevant literature, this kind of Dionysian rapture is initially ambivalent, ambiguous: its participants are overcome simultaneously by two opposite aspirations: the masochistic, encouraging self-rejection, and the overtly sadistic, inciting all the participants in the Bacchic orgy to attack anyone in this situation who tries to preserve personality, a feeling of responsibility, freedom of individual decision and a capacity for the critical evaluation of what is happening. Meanwhile, the universally known "pack effect" is Connected with this ambivalence; it is peculiar to various non-formal communities–teenager and youth societies, gangs, etc. which are put up by the latest mood as ideal models of the human community. The essence of this effect is that extreme self-denial by the members of the ``pack'', working themselves up into pathological demonstrations of that self-denial (self-torture, self-inflicted injury, etc.), is combined with extreme sadism towards all those who have failed to adapt to that community. This is only possible by self-abasement, the consistent renunciation of one's ego, the carrier of which may be henceforth only either the whole ``pack'' or he to whom it has entrusted its personification–the Leader; to be a personality is his privilege only, and he guards it jealously.

It must be said that this sadism is obviously functional –from the viewpoint of an informal gang-type community, from the viewpoint of welding them together in the gang. The ancient mysteries clearly established that to keep the crowd in a state of electrified tension and weld it into a kind of togetherness or community, the ritual of sacrifice was essential and, correspondingly, a victim was needed not only to placate the divinity rising above the crowd, but also to mollify the "chthonic gods" (the fathers of the Christian church preferred to call them demons) by which the mob is possessed. The universal love (if that is the right word, as used by the mystical hedonists, for promiscuous sexual relations) with which the Dionysian mysteries were accompanied, also entailed, as we see, a certain far from always purely symbolic act of hatred–and the less symbolical that act was, the more ecstatic was the collective love that followed it. The same may be said of the gangs: the law courts have dealt with countless cases in which the leader has compelled the members of the gang to carry out senseless murders whose sole purpose was to bind them all more tightly with a strict oath which is seen by them as an avowal of ``love-friendship''.

Finally, if we bear in mind the communities cemented by Dionysian ecstasy, which necessarily entails "switching off" the individual consciousness and the higher psychic functions of the individual in general, it must be agreed that the note of sadism is functional here in one more sense. Since "a holy place is never empty", other values come to replace the "switched off" values of human culture and spirituality. These are vital forces, measured by the non-restraint of the first cravings that occur (arising, say, in the subconscious) and by the determination–i.e. brutality–of their self-assertiveness. However, these chthonic values may not so much assert as simply demonstrate themselves merely by offering as a sacrifice someone lacking in the requisite vitality.

Vitality, bursting its bonds of personal self-awareness, can demonstrate itself only in the form of strength-violence, or physical compulsion used on others less powerful (or less uninhibited) carriers of this vitality. In general, direct physical violence is the logical limit (or, if you like, ideal) towards which each demonstration of self-sufficient vitality is so spontaneously and inevitably drawn.

This method of involvement (now interpreted as vital physical proximity) in the community replaces–to those with neo-Dionysian aspirations–the obsolete forms of influencing people such as personal charm, persuasive argumentation, the noble precept, moral inspiration and so on. Particularly telling is the means of recruitment demonstrated by art with leanings towards neo-Dionysianism –for example, the theatre that models itself on happenings. Direct assaults are made on the public: the actors jostle the spectators, sprinkle them with confetti (and sometimes less pleasant objects), sit on them, throw various objects at them, etc. etc. And all this out of a disbelief in the means with which a person is influenced by an appeal to his conscious mind.

2. Politicisation of Eroticism or ``Sexualisation'' of Politics?

Works of art more or less under neo-Dionysian influence are convincing evidence that artists in the West are conversant with the ambiguous techniques of drawing people into ecstatic communities by giving free rein to the masochistic and–above all–sadistic instincts of the crowd. However, these very works of art are equally convincing evidence that a great many writers of the latest mood could not resist the temptation to use these techniques in their work, although there was bound to be some aesthetisation of these instincts by elevating them to the level of art without any sublimation whatever, since sublimation is ruled out as ``bourgeois'', according to the latest mood. They could not resist the temptation because they were so eager to be demon seducers dangling man on the strings of his uninhibited instincts. Furthermore, each writer who succumbed to this temptation could easily conceal its true meaning from himself with arguments to the effect that, by working the strings of the uninhibited urges, it was possible to lead the masses on to the true road, like a good puppeteer putting on a show with absolutely obedient marionettes, a magnificent work of art, a true embodiment of Good and Beauty.

Hence the appearance in the Western theatre and cinema of a whole stream of films and shows full of the most noble intentions, such as to denounce fascism, to brand the American evildoings in Vietnam, to express solidarity with the colonial peoples struggling for independence, etc. etc., while actually using ambiguous means in striking contrast with the ultimate aim. The note of love underlying such intentions is asserted with the techniques of the western and the Theatre of Cruelty: by unleashing the extremely dangerous instincts of the public, which is consciously turned into a mob obsessed with sado-masochistic impulses. The unleashing of these impulses is now seen as a common means of drawing the public into what is happening on the stage or the screen.

This has been pointed out by many critics and journalists. Nor has it been missed by Walser, who on this point clearly pays tribute to traditional humanism. Speaking about the tendency of the preachers of the latest mood to cultivate "evil for self-amusement", Walser notes that this merely means that the antagonisms of contemporary bourgeois society are reproduced–but this time as an aestheticised cult. When this "evil for self-amusement" is dressed up as a film extolling the activity of the Vietnamese guerrillas, as was done by Godard in one of his films, the result is only to magnify the sum total of this evil (and, correspondingly, of sadistic self-amusement). For Godard, as Walser writes, referring to Carlo Schellemann, cannot answer "the violent activity of the bourgeoisie" with anything other than "the repetition of this violence in a subtly written scenario". 23 The only reasonable reaction to this multiplication of violence by violence can be a feeling of disgust above which, according to Walser, "no one rises''.

It is this very circumstance, however, that makes Godard acceptable to the theorists of the latest mood such as Fiedler. He can therefore allow himself to depart a little from his usual non-political approach and discuss the "actual overspill" of the cult of violence associated with the "western image" into the idolisation of Che Guevara, typical of the left-radical trend of the time, or of the Vietnamese patriots. He can do this with all the more ease since, as Walser writes, in this kind of overspill, it is still not clear what the violence is being committed for. As a result, the aspiration towards evil for self-amusement wins out in the end. All the rest is simply a means or technique of catering for sadistic urges.

Approximately the same could be said of the film ' Marat/Sade', based on the play by Peter Weiss, 'The Persecution and Assassination of Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade'. Marat's words about the improvement of the world, the cry of his associate Jacques Rou, calling people to choose sensibly "where to go" and other reasonable appeals–all these are drowned in the atmosphere of insane ecstasy created in the film. This atmosphere so infects the spectator that his conscious mind is put completely at the mercy of his collective unconscious, which incites him to enjoy the madness of destruction, the ecstasy of violence, the frenzy of sadism, etc. In a word, not only is the total amount of evil and violence in the world not diminished, it is clearly increased by such films, although they are inspired by a noble desire to denounce that evil and violence.

``So what?" answers consistent priest of the hedonistic cult. "The total amount of pleasure is obviously increased thereby. After all, to the limited enjoyment of love, we now add the unlimited enjoyment of hatred, of violence and of evil. Why shouldn't we do so when the pleasureprinciple is supreme and absolute?''

``After all," we are beginning to have doubts. "Why should we discriminate against extravagant, let us say, sadistic pleasures? Isn't this to put a limit on human possibilities? Are we not cutting off from man the way to sublime, incredible, divine pleasures? And who can distinguish for us which is love and which is hatred, which is self-denial and which is masochism, which is sadism and which is reasonable compulsion? And if the greatest act of ecstasy calls for the greatest sadism, then why not go all the way? Is it really not permissible to sacrifice the tear of a child to enrich human sensuality? All the more so when bourgeois civilisation is shedding buckets of them, as the saying goes...''

This extract from an imaginary dialogue between selfassured priest of the hedonist cult and the intellect inclined to enter into the opponent's position right up to the loss of its own viewpoint, is not so imaginary. Such debates often occur in liberally and humanistically slanted Western magazines–especially when yesterday's mystic hedonist (and disciple of Zen Buddhism, Krishnamurti and Bodhisattva) suddenly appears in the leather jerkin of the New Left extremist with a plastic bomb in his hands, shouting slogans for the immediate union of the sexual and political revolutions. When the pleasure cult joins that of "revolutionary violence", the social revolution is treated as a happening and when the model of art combined with revolt turns out to be the image of the grand piano set up on the barricade with the pianist beating out the inevitable Rock, some liberal-humanist intellectuals clearly lose their psychological bearings. It is similar, the psychologists say, to what affects a dog if it is first taught to react in different ways to a circle and an oval and so develops the appropriate conditioned reflex. If the oval is given a shape more like that of the circle, it is said that the unfortunate dog can no longer distinguish between the circle and the oval and becomes equally excited at the sight of either. It is also said that an ape, when it was subjected to a similar experiment, rejected the proposed rules of the game and spat in the face of the scientist who was trying to confuse its ideas of what was a circle and what wasn't. The story about the ape may only be wishful thinking. In any case, human beings who find themselves in a similar situation follow the example of their near ancestor far less frequently than that of the dog. They are inclined to take the entirely absurd rules of the game as something worthy of profound reflection–let us say, the game of moral relativism.

For the theorists and practitioners of trends in contemporary Western art that are developing with the latest moods, the paradoxical combination of pleasure brought by the sexual revolution and by political extremism, by the artistic revolution and ``revolutionary'' violence, by the psychedelic revolution and acts of terrorism, has proved to be a truly liberating discovery, offering hitherto unheard-of prospects. The element of cruelty, sadism and other brutalities, introduced into the demagnetising enjoyment of love and pleasures associated with it, is electrifying the whole sphere, giving sexual games a significance they did not have before.

Introduced into the world of sex, the element of sadistic perversion and cruelty neutralised its primitively pornographic aspect so that it was not pornography any more, or at least pornography deprived of its former lightness and banality. Everything that was the frivolous and vulgar in the old pornography was cast aside as suitable for "silly love stories''.

Walser explains the latest mood's inclination for pornography as society's way of expressing a "lack of satisfaction''.24 However, this means of accounting for the sadistic tendencies does not explain what "lack of satisfaction" means or why it should be compensated for by sadistic and not ``trivial'' pornography. Fiedler's observation–that those with a penchant for pornography today want to "make it serious" so that it will acquire a more respectable aspect– is much nearer to the heart of the matter than Walser's interpretation of it from the sociological point of view. And, incidentally, as is shown by Fiedler's arguments about Godard, it was this desire that of necessity attracted the prophets of the latest mood to the combination of sex and politics or, to be more precise, the politicisation of sexual relations and, correspondingly, the ``sexualisation'' of political (and even socio-economic) relations.

At the basis of this combination lies the interpretation of politics exclusively as violence and, what is more, rape (the distinction between democratic-liberal and fascist politics here is totally obliterated). For representatives of the latest mood, who are generally far removed from real politics, politics–when they are compelled to consider them in conformity with the spirit of the time or simply with the New Left fashion–are simply a metaphor of violence and sadism. Moreover–let there be no misunderstanding here–this sadism is not necessarily considered negative: the rehabilitation of sadism to make sexual games more serious has brought in its train the rehabilitation of sadism as a tool of the political game (remember Godard's "The Little Soldier"). All that is needed now is the original act of identification, with the word ``violence'' presented in all the ambiguity of its political and sexual meanings, and the rest will automatically follow: sexual relations will become political, political–sexual; in a word, the sought-for union of political and sexual relations becomes a fact (at least, a fact of the latest films in the West).

It must be said that at first this ``discovery'' made a big impression: it seemed to be giving art a universally understood and, moreover, powerfully effective language in which it was at least possible to discuss the most up-to-date political themes. And, of course, many people in the art world began mining this vein of gold, inspired by the most noble of intentions: to talk to people about the widest social political problems, drawing on their intimate experience of sex. As important a film director as Luchino Visconti could not resist the temptation to try his hand at this line, as is shown by his famous film, "The Damned". Moreover, this highly talented film, if one bears in mind its purely professional side, was clearly playing up, in all its ambiguity, the sexualisation of politics and the politicisation of sex.

Visconti evidently believed that it would open up new possibilities for dialogue between him and the general public on the disintegration of capitalism and its degeneration into fascism. He would personify the depths of this degeneration in the person of a certain "offspring of the capitalist hell" who would commit all the pathological sex crimes known to medicine (and mythology). And all this, of course, is accompanied by killings, suicides, poisonings, executions, etc., in the combination of sexual perversions, sadism and political violence mentioned above. All this naturally has a powerful effect on the audience. The target of impact (it would be more accurate to say, of assault) is not the spectator's mind, but his unconscious, his "vital structure". And, of course, the result of this impact proves entirely different from what Visconti wanted to achieve– the shattering denunciation of capitalism and fascism, and also the concomitant corruption of the mind–bourgeois ideology, as it is in our century.

In connection with Visconti's film (as with similar works clearly influenced by the latest mood) it might be of interest to quote a remarkable argument by Rousseau, which, however paradoxical it may seem, is far more relevant to our own age than to what was happening during the author's lifetime.

``Follow most of the plays in the French theatre and in nearly all of them you will find abominable monsters and atrocities, useful if it is desired to give interest to the plays and exercise to the virtues, but indeed dangerous, since they inure the eyes of the people to horrors of which they ought not to know and which they ought not to imagine possible. . . It is difficult not to find an excuse for the incestuous 'Phaedra' shedding innocent blood; ' Syphax' poisoning his wife, the young 'Horace' stabbing his sister, 'Agamemnon' sacrificing his daughter and 'Orestes' cutting his mother's throat do not cease to be interesting people. Add that the author, to make each of them talk in character, is forced to put in the mouth of these evildoers their maxims and principles, arrayed in all the finery of verse and endowed with an impressive and sententious tone for the instruction of the public. . .

``. . .One kills his father, marries his mother and finds that he is the brother of his own children, another makes a son cut his father's throat, a third makes a father drink the blood of his son. One shudders at the mere idea of the horrors with which the French stage is embellished for the amusement of the most gentle and humane people on this earth. No. . . I maintain it and I bear witness to the fright of the readers: the massacres of the gladiators were not as barbaric as these appalling spectacles. One saw blood flow, it is true; but one did not foul one's imagination with crimes that make nature shudder.

``Fortunately, such tragedy as exists is so remote from us and presents to us beings so gigantic and so nightmarish that the example of their vices is hardly more contagious than that of their virtues is beneficial, and in measure as it wishes to instruct us less, it also does us less harm."25

Poor, naive Rousseau of the beautiful soul! This is the tirade with which he attacks the contemporary performances of Classical tragedies, an which the ancient system of sublimation (and, in the final analysis, a mastering) of the urges forbidden by society was multiplied by the supersublimated taste, filled with rational rhetoric, of educated French society in the second half of the 18th century. Even in these dramas or, to be more precise, in the heightened interest in them, he imagines fatal omens (which the attentive observer could discern in Rousseau's own outlook). What would he have said about the present tendency to desublimate art so as to stir the public directly with emotions similar to those portrayed in a work of art? And how would he have evaluated, against the background of this tendency, Visconti's attempt to "enlighten the masses" about the true mechanisms of capitalism and fascism by means of the desublimation of instincts forbidden by bourgeois society?

If the state of art in those days prompted Rousseau to consider the possibility of dispensing with art altogether, then to what reflections would he have been driven by the trend of the latest mood in art? Incidentally, the prospect of liquidating art does not frighten the artists of the West; after all, many of them regard their activities as the ``overcoming'' of art by merging it with politics–(inevitably, with political violence), with revolt (understood as sexualpolitical orgasm) and so on. And if they are helped in this by some new Napoleon who can in practice carry out the idea (borrowed incidentally from Rousseau) of his predecessor that there is no better spectacle for the people than a military parade, for which they will probably be only too grateful to him. Finally, there will be an end to all roundabout ways of dissolving art in life. . .

3. The End of Anti-Utopia

One of the ``Dodos'' of humanist culture, Alan Trachtenberg, draws attention to the remarkable fact that today's carriers of the mission of liberation,26 active as stars of the youth subculture, are putting up as a revolutionary, allembracing demand what has long been demanded of its members by the consumer society, which stimulates in them a "craving ... for more of the same", exactly what the new "industrial eunuch" wants them to crave for. In other words, today's destroyers of "bourgeois taboos" are knocking on at an open door–an act quite relevant in a certain sense–let us say, if they walk too slowly and casually through this door. And whatever mystic arguments, whatever sociological tenets, whatever ideas of "political expedience" may be used to justify the need to knock on an open door, they cannot but be used to hide from more or less sober observation the simple fact that the door is open. And it has been open for quite some time.

Observers of this process from a humanist viewpoint, however, have been alarmed not so much by the tendency to tie in the latest mood with the banal consumer values of the mass society, although the trend has (we shall have more to say about this later) far-reaching consequences; and not so much by the involuntary ``self-mystification'' of the youth protest movement, saying the opposite of what it does and doing the opposite of what it says–although most of the critical shafts are now being aimed at this Achilles' heel. These observers are worried by something else (also, incidentally, on the surface), namely, a change in the ideological and political atmosphere, in the sociopolitical climate of the radical movement of advanced capitalist countries in nothing like the direction that was expected of it after the first demonstrations by the New Left, which gave rise, as is known, to such rosy expectations among the progressive intelligentsia.

In fact, the same note predominated in the latest mood and was observed by certain authors in connection with the trend of mystic hedonism (obviously with an eye on the far from liberal East): a total lack of any interest in "democratic institutions or processes of democratisation''.27 It must be said that this note was not a consequence solely of political naivete on the part of the mystic hedonists obsessed by Oriental means of justifying their ecstatic aspirations. The lack of interest in the fate of the democratic freedoms in the 20th century arose from the lack of interest in personality, in personally oriented self-awareness, in everything that humanist culture contributed to philosophy and politics, putting forward freedom of personality as the supreme and fundamental principle.

As Passmore observed, a feature of mystic hedonism is the "rejection of freedom and responsibility for the mystic ideal of unity"28–unity in universal ecstasy. This rejection is now justified on the grounds that once people have experienced rapture when, holding hands, they sing songs, once they are ready to sacrifice everything for the feeling of the commune, the feeling of life, it is no use trying to distract them from these, the only real experiences, with overdone 19th-century phrases about democracy and freedom which, moreover, have become camouflage for the selfish interests of the powers that be. This mood, Passmore observes, is dangerously close to the fascist position. He does not go so far as to describe the romantic rebels as fascists in jeans, since there is an almost pathological mistrust of the leader principle among today's rebels, but nevertheless he does not rule out the possibility of these moods developing in the direction of fascism at its most banal. In any case, Passmore is extremely wary of the way contemporary mystics (especially the ones with half an eye on the East) show off their "moral and political irresponsibility" and he is uneasy about generally known fact that the leading representatives of the contemporary Zen movement become convinced fascists with extraordinary ease.

A similar tendency was recorded by Martin Walser concerning another element of the new mood–the cult of violence and cruelty, combined in a paradoxical (or perhaps not so paradoxical) manner with the apologetics of the psychedelic revolution and the legitimisation of madness. This combination impressed Walser so much that he came to the following conclusion: ". . .the formula for the latest form of fascism is being created in this new mood."29 Moreover, this conclusion applies not only to Brinkman, who slotted a portrait of Hitler into his anthology as a kind of "slap in the face of public taste"–in this case, the antifascist tradition, that had led to the 'Verinnerlichung' of revulsion at violence–but also to Fiedler, although, as Walser puts it, he "loathes fascism". "With each excursion into his interior," writes Walser, meaning any participant in the present psychodelic revolution, "the democratic possibilities die and the possibility of the opposite grows, that is, fascism." A testimony to their dying is the fundamental refusal of the ideologists of the new mood (and its rank and file) to distinguish between democracy, liberalism and fascism, which are equated with one another on the grounds that they are all ``politics'' and it is useless to try and tell a yellow devil from a blue one, and a blue one from an orange one. Evidence pointing to the growing possibility of the opposite, that is, of fascism is furnished by tendency of the latest mood to assess these political alternatives now equated, as it were, with one another on the basis of other criteria "outside the bounds of political reason and rationality", as with Brinkman.

Finally, the same tendency was noted by Trachtenberg in connection with the politically conscious branch of the new mood–the youth movement as part of the subculture of protest, and according to the contemporary style of rejection. Trachtenberg, like many other radical teachers who have preserved their humanist positions in spite of the latest mood, supposes that, having entered into contact with the mass culture of the consumer society, the youth protest movement has been infected with the organic conformism typical of that culture. This latent conformism, sanctifying in the youth movement only the impulses that are produced by the consumer society, must inevitably corrupt the initial aspirations of the young radicals, setting them on the slippery path of political adventurism and leading them up the blind alley of a meaningless revolt which is not a true alternative to the existing order. In the course of this revolt, there might float to the surface–and obtain official recognition from the powers that be–only what the late-capitalist civilisation reproduces as its social subconscious, that is, everything that humanist radicals have long been calling the "hidden irrationalism" of the American (and bourgeois in general) mode of life. Such is Trachtenberg's viewpoint, which has in recent years been receiving a wider distribution in circles opposed to the latest mood and the politics that reflect it.

``.. .Their rejection," he writes of the young extremists, "takes a form that might in the end reinforce the institutions they want to overturn. The glorification of Pop, for example, suggests that as profoundly as the young feel alienated from their society, they are right at home in its culture."30 Many signs, particularly the intolerance of the extremist students, their loathing of theory, their contempt for spiritual culture in general, their inclination to be content with slogans instead of sober reflection and with ecstasy instead of systematised constructive activity–all prompt Trachtenberg to draw the conclusion that " unexpectedly, conformism has appeared in the camp of rebellion as well as in the main body of society".31 "But," he writes, "there is cause for worry and for criticism in the degree to which student radicalism deviates from democratic and socialist thought, and veers in the direction of a `counter-culture' which is capturing many Americans.''32

But perhaps the most symptomatic (and dangerous) feature of the ideological-political atmosphere that has formed under the influence of the latest mood is that the statements of the type described–incidentally, not uncommon on the pages of the progressive press–do not make the necessary impression on those to whom they are addressed. The generation born after the Second World War only knows about fascism and Hitler's death camps from books and television films and has shown an obvious inclination to "get bored" too quickly with their schoolteachers' arguments about freedom, democracy, humanism and human dignity. As for the ideologists of the latest mood, they made full use of the "boredom with democracy" to strike this last item off the agenda. And when reproached with antidemocratic views, with undervaluing the rights of personality, with the efforts, clearly interpreted in the spirit of Mussolini and Hitler, to subordinate the individual to the ``totality'', the young hedonists or extremists seem to be responding with McLuhan's "So what?''

Of course, these words are often spoken by the young solely to shock their "institutionalised fathers". However, it is significant of itself that what is proving fashionable today is precisely this and not some other form of bravado. This fact testifies more vividly than many others that today it is possible to speak about the "end of anti-utopia", associated, incidentally, with endeavours to debunk the prospects of the impersonal ``herd'' future which have been proclaimed for many years by countless falsifiers of the socialist ideal, beginning with Sorel, Mussolini, Spengler and Hitler. In the existing mood, such falsifications do not frighten anyone either in theory or in practice. Moreover, the prospect of ``soothing'' man, who is tired of his ego, in the dark but comfortable bosom of the collective unconscious, sometimes looks like wishful thinking and has many supporters. This is shown by the number of McLuhan's admirers.

The name of this prophet of the collective unconscious has not surfaced accidentally in our discussion on the end of anti-utopia. It was McLuhan who first announced this end with his typical frankness and publicity consciousness. In the manner of his usual ``probes'', McLuhan once declared that the "haunting fear of 1984 is both absurd and out-of-date". This prophet knew how to grip his flock: the fear of seeming old-fashioned stimulated many of the quasi-intelligentsia to nod their heads in agreement, rejecting yesterday's rosy liberal cliches. The probe proved highly effective; McLuhan found many imitators who announced that the fears evoked by the various anti-utopias of Huxley, Orwell, Bradbury and others were entirely groundless and, above all, obsolete, provincial and so forth. These imitators were concerned that there should be no misunderstandings about McLuhan's inspired message in his struggle against the various old-fashioned fears.

Thus, William Bluem explains to "those who fear the death of the `individual' " (the time has at last come to put this out-of-date word in inverted commas) that " McLuhan's `probes' posit a world beyond mere masses of faceless humanity–a brighter world of common, blissful and unselfish sharing".33 "We should make no mistake about it," he states categorically. "McLuhan's tribal village and wordless intuitive world may well be on its way, and if it is, the media experience is hurrying it along.''34 "It obviously foretells individual agonies, for the computers are daily printing out the essentials of social survival in every modern nation in the world, and these print-outs are interchangeable.''35

However, such formulations by McLuhan and his followers need not come as a surprise to us if we remember their prerequisites, which are not so far from the prerequisites of those against whom the famous anti-utopias of the 20th century were actually directed. It is much more surprising that they should be reproduced by theorists who ostensibly hold diametrically opposite views and are inclined to be critical of McLuhan in many other respects. Of particular interest are the arguments of Hans Magnus Enzensberger who, like McLuhan, tries to overcome his fear at the "monolithic consciousness industry" by demolishing "George Orwell's appalling picture". For it turns out that, in spite of their opposite political positions, he is moving in the same direction as McLuhan in his examination of the "electronic media''.

Enzensberger is notably anxious to explain the " electronic revolution" in terms of emancipation from time, and thereby from tradition, history and so on. 'As' a result his thought is very much along the general lines of McLuhan's theories and those of the latest mood. Enzensberger's closeness to McLuhan and the latest mood becomes much clearer if we remember his ideas on the happening– the political happening, for whose urgency and topicality he is ready to sacrifice everything–cultural tradition, historical continuity and a sense of human history.

And so we return to the happening. It clearly caught the imaginations of those who were more or less under the influence of the latest mood. For the mystic hedonists, as we remember, the model which the happening took as its ideal was the disorderly sexual communion of our primitive forebears interpreted as ``infantile'' sexuality. At the next stage in the development of this mood, the model was given maturity and seriousness by the addition to the note of love, of the overtone of cruelty and sadism as a result of which the ideal to which the happening now aspired approached the Dionysian mystery, but in not overidealised form. Finally, as Enzensberger describes it, the ideal happening is the political meeting in its most chaotic and anarchic form, when each participant contrives to get up on to the rostrum (whether he has something to say or not), the orators shout dementedly (sometimes listened to, sometimes not), and there is barracking, stamping, whistling with other manifestations of elementality and spontaneity. This is also a kind of "paradise now", for the result of such activity may be only minimal (it is hard to pass a sober resolution under such conditions, and so the best variant is when it is not adopted at all), and in a certain sense this ecstasy has an end in itself. It would also perhaps be possible to say like the student commenting on ``Blow-Up'', "I don't know what it meant, but it was 'greatl"'

This is one of the most important conditions under which the representatives of the latest mood (and those who, owing to this or that concatenation of circumstances, were "fellow travellers") are ready to banish all fears at the prospects about which the authors of the anti-utopias have given warning. For although these forebodings are indeed coming true in the West today, the happening, a resurrection of primitive forms of ecstasy, promises to become highly attractive and certainly not as ``boring'' as the clapped-out late-capitalist Establishment.

``But surely Hitler once tried to realise a similar prospect. And everyone knows how that ended.''

``So what? After all, before it `ended', there were so many ecstasies, mysteries and happenings. Mightn't the game be worth the candle?''

4. The Inner Life and Something About Goethe (Contemporary Moods in West Germany)

In 1981, in Frankfurt-on-the-Main, at the 8th Romerberg Conference, a noteworthy discussion was held under the general heading of "The Inner Life–Flight or Salvation?" The theme attracted about a thousand participants, including intellectuals of various persuasions, specialists in the social sciences and theology, theatre people, journalists and, of course, the chic habitues of such occasions who do not do any particular work but are usually politically very much on the left. Needless to say, not all of them spoke during the debate, but they took a lively interest in it. During the two days of the conference, 15 reports were read, not to mention the unscheduled exchanges and off-the-cuff speeches, which inspired one observer, Günter Maschke, to call the two-day discussion a "Hyper Hyde Park Corner". According to Maschke's ironic classification, the meeting was attended by rentiers worried about the demise of humanity, terrified anti-nuclear protestors, Christians flirting with armed revolution, liberal representatives of the middle class, left-wing casuals and young people longing for part-time employment. This ensured a fairly wide and varied range of views. Among the distinguished participants in the Romerberg Conference, another observer, the critic Ulrich Greiner, mentions Hans Maier, the Bavarian Minister of Culture, Jean Ziegler, the Swiss socialist, Alfred Hrdlicka, the Austrian artist, Adolf Dresen, future head of the Frankfurt Theatre, Lars Gustaffson, the writer, the critic Wieland Schmied and, finally, the writer Adolf Muschg, whose report was described as the "most vivid and elegant''.

The problem of the 8th Romerberg Conference was formulated so that its object–the transition by considerable numbers of the Western intelligentsia from the outer to the inner life, from the public to the personal, from the social to the private–was assumed to be self-evident and beyond doubt. This transition is treated as self-evident, clear, neither requiring discussion nor relevant to it, by Günther Ruble in a long article, "What Has Happened? An Accompany Word for a Conference on the Inner Life", published in the newspaper 'Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung' on the opening day of the Conference and outlining the points of departure of the expected debate: "It concerns the weakening sense of solidarity and the growth of personal interest, egoism and mistrust, all going hand in hand." "The facts, presented by literature and the other arts, hardly contradict this. We find images of overstrain, disunity, disorientation, continuing dependence on mundane matters which enervate rather than delight. 'You get on my nerves' is also a fashionable catch-phrase." The same tendency is also mentioned by the first speaker at the conference, the West Berlin philosopher Michael Theunissen, who considered the question, "What Is the Inner Life"? Theunissen distinguishes the inner life which is a swing towards, or an approach to, something with content on the one hand, and the inner life which is deviation or evasion. Moreover, according to Theunissen, as Maschke reports, "the latter is now showing a tendency to push out the former". The same process is announced by Hans Maier in his report: "Of Retreat and Return". Here, Maschke detected "fear, which, it would seem, often troubled the other speakers too: fear of the fact that all the big groups were breaking away from society and avoiding discussion''.

As we see, the turning away of a certain part of the West German intelligentsia (incidentally, not just the intelligentsia–a great deal in this connection was said about the young) 'from' the ``external'', 'from' public social life, is being taken for granted as if it were an incontrovertible fact: but this is what should have been discussed first; its meaning should have been clarified and an evaluation given. However, the theme of the discussion was a somewhat different problem (although connected with the first, but not entirely derived from it)–that of interpreting, analysing and evaluating the inner life, inasmuch as it was tacitly assumed that the departure from the external life had inevitably resulted in a transition to a deepening and development of the inner life. Meanwhile, it was the discussion of this problem at the 8th Romerberg Conference that very quickly brought to light (the longer the debate lasted, the more obvious the paradox became) that the 'departure' from the external life was not by any means identical with a 'transition' to the inner life, if the latter were taken in the exact sense refined by a cultural tradition of many centuries without any quibbling. In order to transfer to the inner life (or even to take refuge in it, as some preferred to put it during the debate, thus giving the problem a polemical start), it is necessary that there should be somewhere to go, that there should be more or less developed forms of inner life available, making it truly possible to live such a life. And here, as the participants in the discussion testified (some consciously, the others involuntarily) the situation was clearly unsatisfactory.

In reality, participants and observers alike treated the seemingly undoubted fact of a transition to the inner life as problematical, giving numerous and impressive examples proving that there was nowhere to turn for the time being. The inner world, the ego into which the contemporary Western intellectual, with whom we are mainly concerned, would like to return, inspired by the Romantic associations of the word 'Innerlichkeit' (inwardness or reticence), which once conveyed so much to the German soul, is today a scene of utter devastation, a waste land, to use T. S. Eliot's metaphor, a desert where all life has long been exterminated. Moreover, this condition, which has changed the "inner life" into a contradiction in terms if not into complete absurdity, has once again been achieved with some aid from those same intellectuals who have now suddenly discovered their last refuge in the world of the interior, the private, the ego.

In this way, the real problem of the 8th Romerberg Conference was somewhat different: it was the simultaneous 'unauoidability' and 'impossibility' of resorting to the inner life as experienced by the West German intelligentsia today. This real contradiction made itself felt throughout the discussion, no matter how clearly and distinctly it was acknowledged by the various speakers, and it imposed its own emphases on the agenda proposed by the organisers. The debate repeatedly came up against the question of conditions for the possibility of the inner life in the West at the end of the 20th century–in dependence on which there were available facts pointing to a transition having taken place in the West European consciousness, as well as the evaluation of these facts.

As was to be expected, in view of the pathological nature of a consciousness eager to get away from public life but unable to find the inner space in which it would be possible to take refuge, the most convincing and articulate speeches about contemporary forms of the inner life were delivered by specialists in psychopathology. In the report, "Coming to One's Senses in Order to Define Oneself", Horst Eberhard Richter, a psychotherapist from Giessen, described the three most widespread Western forms of flight "into the interior": the use of drugs; the search for salvation among the Eastern gurus and, finally, what he calls the ``psychoboom''–the growth in the popularity of psychiatry, in which an increasing number of intellectuals and other educated people see the last means of returning to a normal inner life. Richter sees all three forms of flight into the interior on the same psychotherapeutic level on which the function of the drug pill is equated with the act of Eastern-style meditation and the latter with the effects of a psychoanalytical consultation.

However offensive this equation may seem, let us say, to the advocates of Zen Buddhism or Freudian psychoanalysis, Richter demonstrates its accuracy, eloquently describing, as testified by Günter Maschke, those growing groups which move from one therapy to the next, and for whom therapy has long been, not a promise of recuperation, but simply a crutch and a long-term compensation for defects and fears. Moreover, the patients themselves, proceeding from drug-taking to meditation under the guidance of the latest Eastern guru, and then to ``soul-saving'' chats with the psychoanalyst (or travelling the same road in the opposite direction)–these are the ones who are ``equating'' all the now fashionable resurrections of the long-lost inner life; nor have they much idea of what it is: narcosis, immersion in nothingness or easy-going chats on subjects with erotic implications.

It goes without saying that when the inner life is covered by the above-mentioned equation, it is hard to adduce rational arguments in its favour. It is much easier to refer to the simple fact that this type of self-deepening is fairly widespread, reserving the right to a negative evaluation, as, indeed, did Richter when he described all the abovementioned forms of 'Innerlichkeit' as flight '(Flucht)', escape, etc., and thus cast a shadow of doubt on the inner life as such. Incidentally, the writer Adolf Muschg, a speaker with a very different viewpoint, unequivocally assessing the transition to the inner life as positive (and even inclined in this connection to overestimate the concept of flight, withdrawal, etc., having deprived it of the negative characteristic), had to begin by setting drugs apart as a means of ``self-deepening''. "The flight into drugs," he said in his report, "What Does Flight Mean Today?" ( adjusting it to flight into "compulsory productiveness") ".. . is an example of avoiding the conflict; not only does it not bring the refugee any happiness or help him find his bearings in any way, it leads to sharper conflicts that even endanger his life.'' Curiously enough, however, when Muschg tried to indicate forms of the inner life alternative to the one achieved with drugs, he could not point to anything in West German culture apart from the tendency towards anti-culture, designed as ``Schizo'' (Americans, in such cases, use the term counter-culture, fashionable in the USA at the beginning of the last decade). "Deleuze-Guattari," says Muschg (in his report, published in the newspaper 'Die Zeit' under the typical headline, "Goethe as an Aid to Flight"), about one of the ``anti-spectacles'' of the West German Alternative Theatre, "offer in 'Anti-Oedipus a' mass of tempting formulae of the absurd, and on top of this you are presented with the schizophrenia of the show as a whole, without schizophrenia it wouldn't work, Schizo is the patron saint of the anti-culture." Moreover, the task, according to Muschg, is certainly not merely to present the "schizophrenia of the whole", to show it for universal observation and explanation; the essence is to compel the spectator to accustom himself to this schizophrenia, to experience it, that is, to become a ``schizo'', if only for the duration of the show. For, as the writer affirms, "we cannot all react to this reasonably, prudently or systematically; we must experience it–we can experience it.''

As we see, this proposed fruitful way of flight, promising progress, according to Muschg, is only a new variant of mental derangement. Except that, as distinct from what is achieved by psychopharmacological means, this form of artificial derangement is achieved by art, by techniques of aesthetic action on man that have been deformed and converted into their opposites. This is strikingly vivid testimony of how enduringly and thoroughly contemporary West German culture has lost the idea of the inner world as a moral sphere in no way alien to reason or reasonability as such (even in the time of Kant, not to mention in Greek antiquity, morals and morality were related to practical reason). At best–and for Muschg, the "case of Goethe" (not Leibnitz, not Kant, not Schiller, but Goethe, who in this report is the only example given for imitation), the fruitful flight into 'Innerlichkeit' is thought of as a flight into illness, into spiritual regression and into fantasy. But in none of the many cases recommended by the speaker as examples of flight, deviation, withdrawal and so on "as a productive means", is the inner life associated with morality.

That is why Muschg's proposed version of flight into the inner world (with references to the universal authority and unique example of that eternal refugee, Goethe) is as doubtful as the one with which it is contrasted. Although behind one case of ``egress'' from social and public life (narcosis), so behind the other (flight into schizophrenia, spiritual ``regression'', infantile playfulness, etc.) there are many similar human actions making it possible, if so desired, to consider the call to the corresponding aspect of flight from social life as entirely realistic.

But what matters is not, of course, that, impressed by one way of avoiding social ties and obligations, the speaker justifies it and makes polemical use of the idea of flight, reinterpreting it and endowing it with a positive meaning. In opposition to the ``frontal'' models of thought to which the Western intelligentsia have been accustomed by left-extremist thought, which represents the public, external life as a fortified 'front', and the private, inner life as a vulnerable 'rear', it may be that this game of revaluation 249 of the term is admissible, leading to the "value neutralisation" of the concept of flight. Especially when it is often necessary in life not only to advance, but to retreat, and, sometimes, with speed. Anyone who ignores this, imposing a moral ban on flight in general risks finding himself among the first who will be thrown by the necessity for retreat into a state of inescapable pessimism, whether it takes the form of paralysis of the will or of extreme activist avant-gardism. Consequently it is impossible not to understand Muschg's argument when he says, with the left extremists in view, that dogmatism of this kind has^ as its inevitable result, "not simply stagnation of the alternative policy, but the predicament of having to sweat it out on a fortified front line that has become an anachronism– with all the depressing consequences of struggle without any future for the soldiers themselves''.

The point is that the inner life, as explained by the West German writer, excludes the possibility of anyone living it; it is not life (even if only inner) in as much as it is deprived of its own content and is wholly reduced to the experience of more or less extravagant states of mind. The schizophrenic condition, the state of spiritual regression, the state of infantile playfulness–none of these forms the true content of the inner life (especially when it is the inner life of a great artist like Goethe). It is impossible to live in these states–at best with their help one can only switch off from life, including the inner life (``disconnect'' like the alcoholics and drug addicts). With their help, indeed, one can deviate, slip away, flee from the external life–with its sometimes truly intolerable worries and obligations, the sum total of which is usually called alienation. Whatever Muschg may think, however, the result of such a flight will not inevitably be the inner life. As is shown by the present state of the inner life, variously described, let us say, in the materials of the 8th Romerberg Conference, the above-mentioned means of exodus from public, or external, life actually block rather than facilitate the formation of a meaningful inner life. Consequently, flight into this kind of 'Innerlichkeit', as mentioned by the West German writer, is nothing less than a fall into the void. Here we too find ourselves witnessing what Günter Maschke (in his extremely savage review of this discussion–he published it under the ironic title, "Come, Let's Have a Chat") calls "total devastation of the ego, the internal content of which is the subject under discussion''.

The inner life does not have any particular content radically distinct from that of the external life, for life itself, including that of man, is unity, it only has various aspects: the external one, turned to all people taken together, and the inner one, turned to each person separately. Consequently, even in his inner life, in the life which, since the times of the Stoics, it has become accepted to call life alone with oneself (but which it would be dangerous and irrelevant to identify with the life of the mythical Narcissus), and in one's external life, in the activity accomplished jointly with others and unthinkable without that collaboration, man has to do with the same content, the same object, the same totality of problems which he must solve for himself, since the whole meaning of his existence, both theoretical and practical, is locked in their solution. The inner life of man is his infinite inner dialogue, or more precisely, his dialogue with himself, which he conducts on the subject of life, again and again trying to solve for himself the riddle of its infinitely many voices (after all, life speaks to man solely in the voices of other people, whether near or far). And where this very special dialogue does not take place, in which man talks to himself as with others, and with others as with himself, it is no use turning to the word 'Innerlichkeit', which says so much to the German soul: after all, we are not dealing with the inner life in the case, but with mere ``disconnection'', which is its total opposite.

This dialogue can be more or less articulate; it can be more developed and consistent, or compact and concentrated; it can be more rational or, on the contrary, more emotional, more considered or, on the contrary, full of vague impulses. In all cases, however, it is conducted in a universally human language, that of the acts of consciousness accessible to each. representative of the human race, each of whom can be called 'homo sapiens'. Moreover, the most lucid, coherent and intelligent specimens of this dialogue become works of universal human culture, works of an aesthetic or ethical order. These objectise the inner life of man as he tries to solve the riddle of existence.

It is characteristic, however, that this interpretation of the inner life, taken in close conjunction with the vitally important 'Realien' of human existence (and thus the immutability of its moral content is also conditioned), did not find active defenders at the Romerberg Conference, although this interpretation is entirely traditional for European culture and, indeed, was summed up in German classical philosophy. Incidentally, in some of the speakers, Iring Fetscher for instance, one senses a desire to explain the departure of fairly large groups of the intelligentsia from public life by channelling this fact into the general tradition of German development, for which a turn to the inner life was always a conspicuous feature. But this is the whole question: is 'Innerlichkeit', as understood in the present-day FRG included in the German tradition? As for what is understood today as the inner life by the ``left'' modernist West German intellectuals who have lost faith in the possibilities of "fundamental reforms" (Muschg) and therefore in the meaningfulness of the external life– is this not radically different from what was meant by ' Innerlichkeit' in the last century and, moreover, is it not totally incompatible with this? Finally, is not this question seen here in all its profound contradictions: either the inner life is what it has long been held to be by the West European cultural tradition, in which case, what is being passed off as the inner life by those of ``left'' modernist intellectual-aesthetic orientation is something altogether different and very remote from it. Otherwise, the inner life must be taken to mean what in the last hundred years has been passed off as it by the representatives of modernism in art, psychology and philosophy, in which case it must be concluded that people in the 19th and earlier centuries had no knowledge of the inner life at all.

The modernist split between the inner and external life, even to the Manichean opposition of them as two mutually exclusive substances, is a tendency that periodically comes to the foreground in West European culture after one more failure of the latest avant-garde attempt to liquidate once and for all the ideals in human existence and the inner life in general (the last of these attempts was the neo-avant-gardism of the 60s and 70s). As was to be expected, this modernist break was explained and justified at the 8th Romerberg Conference. And in this, perhaps, lies the meaning of the two-day conversation which took place in Frankfurt–at any event, from the viewpoint of the immediate future of modernism, which is still ``left'' for the time being, and is clearly squeezing out the extremist neo-avant-gardism, relying on the prevailing moods of the day.

Theunissen's report offered a philosophical explanation for the deepening split–even to total incompatibility–- between the inner and the external in the life of contemporary man (true, without realising how fatal for the inner life as such was its opposition to the external life, which totally deprives it of moral foundations and footholds). Although Maschke mentioned the speaker's dependence on the phenomenological orientation in contemporary Western philosophy, Theunissen gave a typically neo-Marxist explanation for the break: he attributed it to the continuing alienation of man from a world which, to quote the West Berlin philosopher, "has become even more alien to us than it was to Kierkegaard". Theunissen is referring here to the Danish thinker because the existentialist philosophers, also much beholden to phenomenology and neoMarxism, regard him as the pioneer of 'Innerlichkeit' in its contemporary form.

A more specific turn to this socio-philosophical explanation for the present split between the inner and outer life was given by the Swiss socialist, Jean Ziegler. He tried to present above-mentioned alienation as a consequence of the blind alley up which the world finds itself as a result of the North-South problem '(Nord-Süd-Konflikt)'. This had led to the unhappy consciousness of the Western intellectual–a consciousness of well-being achieved against the background of hopeless poverty and famine in the "third world". The unhappiness of this consciousness, according to Ziegler in his report, "On the Existential Situation of the Intellectual in the North-South Conflict", consists of disillusion in the possibility of getting rid of injustice; hence the flight from the world, fatal to himself.

It is very characteristic that the more definitely and thoroughly the speakers interpreted the concept of the inner life, basing it on the traditional idea, the more pessimistically were they inclined to evaluate its present condition (Ziegler, Schmied). On the contrary, the more this or that speaker departed from the traditional understanding of the inner life (as a rule, it was those with an inherent tendency to relativise the very concept of the inner life, associating the explanation of its meaning with a definite historical background), the more optimistically he looked at its present state, ignoring its contradictions and paradoxality (Muschg, for instance). Moreover, the speakers of the second group more often than not referred to processes 'accompanying the transition' from the publicly external image of life, the 'reaction' to its now tiresome rhetorical globalism, rather than to real phenomena characteristic of the inner life itself.

These processes were noted by Muschg, when he said: "It is not a matter of the long march any more [a hint at the slogan coined by Rudi Dutschke who, in the second half of the 60s, called for a long march against the " latecapitalist establishment"], but separate people and groups are making themselves heard better: they know where the shoe pinches and which shoe they don't want to put on any more. People are getting a chance to hear, see and feel; this seems less than they have expected so far, and yet it is still just a little bit more." These people were also meant by Ruble when he wrote that in the FRG "beyond the parties, the diffuse field of action is forming of a new anti-technological and even romantic mood which ... is on the increase"; "that the slogans for discussion today are not levelling and socialisation, but a world fit to live in. They [these slogans] are being spread today with the aid of the concepts of humaneness, gentleness and even with the aid of aspirations for a new humanism". The same thing was evidently in Maschke's mind when, objecting to Ziegler, who had given his proposed slogan of "cognition of the other" an abstract-universalist and rhetorically global meaning, he wrote that such cognition is "feasible only in the framework of the observable" [for each individual person]. Here again there arises an anthropological and structural social problem which cannot be handled with a potion of the expressionist and Sartrean 'Menschheitspathos'.

However, Maschke's review and resume of the 8th Romerberg Conference shows with particular eloquence that just as the departure from the now meaningless external life does not signify a transition to the inner life, the rejection of abstract rhetorical "love for humankind in general" does not yet signify the appearance of real love for one's neighbour, which indeed could become the soil for the growth of a substantial–that is, full of ethical content–inner life. Meanwhile, the results of such a departure and rejection are much closer to the picture sketched out by Ruble: "Under the shell of passing life, as until the present time . . . there is no longer hidden the question of the meaning, to which they do not know a binding answer any more; all that is felt is the vagueness of 'where to?' and 'what for?' and 'what has happened?' "

In general, the prospects for a transition to the inner life, which optimistic observers would like to see behind these departures and refusals, would perhaps be encouraging if this 'Innerlichkeit' were not now so terrifyingly unlike itself. On this prospect it would perhaps be possible to place hopes for the moral self-concentration of the Western intellectual, for his recovering of the plundered and devastated territories of his inner world, if that self-concentration were not so reminiscent of the "departure into switching off", into "deep unconsciousness"–a prospect of man's flight from himself, from his consciousness, to say nothing of self-awareness, from the morally oriented ego.

Indeed, the inner world of the contemporary West German intellectual who has lost his receptivity to the problem of life's meaning, the inner world now in a slate of devastation and ruin caused by frequent avant-garde (and neo-avant-garde) invasions–can that world be looked on as even the least safe of sanctuaries that will allow them to rescue from galloping ``alienation'' (and destruction of meaning) of that minimally human something that is still subject to salvation in man? Is it possible to find in this inner world at least some kind of ground for true opposition to that real-life absurdity, that Kafkaism come true, of which there is more than enough in the exterior life as it is, and in the life of the sprawling giant European cities, and in the life of all mankind as it teeters on the brink of thermonuclear extinction? The question is all the more relevant since, as we remember, in the report by Muschg (who, by the way, was valued by Maschke as one of the few who had got to the heart of the matter) the inner life and the external life–with all their contradictions and incompatibility–are identical in one respect: both exist under the sign of schizophrenia and Schizo, the last saint of which contemporary Western civilisation is worthy.

Incidentally, the author of this much appreciated report is himself inclined to answer the question very positively, evidently in the belief that the spear that is inflicting the wound (the universal insanity that has seized both the outer and the inner life) can be used to cure it (``schizophrenia'' of individual conduct as a means of evasion, slipping out, running away from the schizophrenia of social life, ``alienation'', externality deprived of its meaning). As Maschke writes, summing up the speaker's ideas, "he [Muschg] was the only one to come up with a real understanding of the oft-sought alternatives and of the youth revolt. In opposition to the Old Left [the name for those who were called the New Left in the 60s] the new scene of protest (for example, Zurich) 'has no backbone left to break'. The decentralised fluctuating nature of the movement, which has rejected rational discussion, is making possible the more purposeful 'conduct of a war', than the former confrontation strategy under which the participants sought the shortest possible route". This is a reference to the new form of protest against lack of social meaning (taking on, as Muschg thinks, the image of a global schizophrenia), about a new means of "alternative life" based on the inner life understood as flight into regression, into sickness, into infantile fantasies and the schizoid type of individual behaviour under the patronage of St. Schizo.

However elegant Muschg's structure may have been, it clearly convinced far from all at the Romerberg Conference. In any case, Maschke, who was definitely impressed by the general intention of this structure, had to admit to one point–the rejection of the alternative proposed by the West German writer. As noted in the survey, Ivo Frenzel, who also spoke at the discussion, "regarded as futile this elusive, nebulous and boggy opposition, these hit-and-run tactics, this evasion of generally obligatory rationality, this legitimisation of 'Schizo as the patron saint of the anti-culture' (Muschg). Frenzel summed up the 'alternative life' as a flight into the inner life and asserted that alternativists of all colours always had a 'vision of the end of the times' ''.

Putting on One side the problem of whether the alternative image of life is flight or not (since Muschg removed this question, proposing a functional instead of a value approach to flight), Maschke objects, however, concerning the subject of Frenzel's last affirmation. He considers that this idea about the alternativists is "obviously contradicted by the oft-noticed merriment and light-heartedness of the alternative life style, the enjoyment of something actually achieved, the new-found wit, and also the mode of existence, reminiscent of the old-fashioned Bohemia". On this point, Maschke is clearly closer to the truth than Frenzel, except that it is difficult to say whether the above-mentioned features give a positive description of the "alternative .life style" and its corresponding ' Innerlichkeit' or whether they dethrone it. After all, it looks so lightweight, if not frivolous, against the background of global insanity and universal schizophrenia to which Muschg appealed when justifying the necessity for the corresponding type of inner life. Is it possible to expect of the eternal Bohemian incoherence, chaos, lack of a sense of obligation (not to say irresponsibility), that high degree of moral self-concentration and intensity, that ethical saturation and fire of the inner life that is so necessary for mankind in moments of destiny? And are not such moments being experienced today in the FRG and in Western Europe as a whole in the crucial moment of decision aggravated by economic crisis and the danger of Europe being turned into a thermonuclear missile range?

The atmosphere, as Maschke sees it, with a departure from the external life and the rejection of abstract rhetorical love for mankind in general, seems at first to be at variance with the observations of two other writers, Ulrich Greiner and Günther Rühle, who expressed their views on the Romerberg Conference. According to Greiner, "the latest mood in the West [a hint at an article by Martin Walser, "On the Latest Mood in the West", published in 1970 in Hans Magnus Enzensberger's magazine 'Kursbuch]' is very old: it is fear. It predominates in the criticism of culture and publicistic writings. Images of decline [a reminder of Spengler's 'Decline of the West]' are current coinage, although worn, but still readily used in payment." According to Rühle, who explains this fear in much greater detail, attributing its source to the actual crisis being experienced by present-day capitalist Europe, "personal and collective fears are at the present time primarily an expression of the common feeling [of fate] rather than of the standardised thinking and behaviour notable in the Fifties and early Sixties ... Unease and growing nervousness clearly arise from the hidden suspicion that people are still living a life whose healthy fullness has already been lost. .. There is a fear of disaster.''

It is only possible to reconcile these two clearly dissonant conclusions about present-day moods of the intelligentsia in the FRG–each of which indeed draws on the appropriate set of entirely realistic facts of consciousness characterising the same West German intellectual–if one realises that the second conclusion (fear dominating the contemporary mind, as described by Greiner and Ruble) is evidence of the profound implications of the first ( frivolous infantilism and the affected silliness of the " alternative life style" about which Maschke writes, referring to Muschg). These seemingly incompatible factors are now combined in the consciousness of the same contemporary intellectual, and the dialectics of their contradictory coexistence are hinted at by Greiner when he develops the idea of the change of ``apocalyptic'' moods into the ready cash of worn thought cliches and used verbal stereotypes: "In vain the experts in demoscopy try to ascertain whether people really feel worse in our latitudes. Something is said in favour of the proposition that daily optimism, which consists solely in hoping to get up out of bed on the morrow, has remained relatively unshakeable. Daily routine can outwit fear; the immediate worry invariably gets the better of the apocalypse.''

Fear does not vanish entirely because of this, however; it only disappears "into the interior", taking up all the space that used to be called the sphere of the inner world. As Ruble writes, "hopelessness comes from social space and eats into the sphere of private life"; fear makes its subsoil, which is also sometimes taken for the inner life. This is what the Western intellectuals try to remind us about, this is what they try to bring to light, doing so each time with less success, owing to the above-mentioned cunning of day-to-day reason. ". . .The criticism of culture," testifies Greiner, "welters in images of destruction. And it could not do this if it did not have real proof of a deterioration in our prospects. However, conversations of decline flow too slackly and verbosely, they are engendered not so much by reality as by an awareness that is being more and more ideologised.''

Against the background of this general state of the consciousness–a state of routinised apocalypse!–childishly evasive and at the same time cheeringly derisive moods have arisen in the FRG during the last three or four years. Maschke (after Muschg) has associated these with the alternative life style. This is to do with the moods in which the routinised apocalypse finds, as it were, its logical climax, unexpectedly entering into contact with the ``underground'' devil-may-care attitude which was once fathomed by Dostoyevsky with such prophetic insight: "Is the world going to vanish, or shouldn't I drink tea? I will say that the world can vanish, but I shall always go on drinking tea." A mood all the more alarming since never before in history has our world been so close to vanishing into nothingness one fine day. . .

The challengingly devil-may-care declared immoralism of the ideas about the inner life that predominated in the more important speeches both at the Romerberg Conference and on its periphery could be explained by the intelligentsia's reaction to the myth of the moral rigorism observed by the New Left extremists, which has inevitably led them–it is alleged–to the adoption of terrorist ``tactics'' (here, the word ``tactics'' has to be printed in inverted commas, since, however paradoxical this may seem, it has proved more stable and invariable than ``strategy''), which were to determine the general long-term prospects. These ``tactics'' have repeatedly unmasked themselves, beginning with the end of the 60s: first, leading the general democratic movement in the FRG up a blind alley; secondly, changing a great many socially active West German intellectuals into ``fans'' of the various terrorist gangs; thirdly, reducing political life in West Germany to general brutalisation, since the widely advertised moral rigorism of the terrorists, and with it moralism as such, were now under doubt. And so another cliche appeared in the consciousness of the West German intelligentsia: an automatically negative, cruelly suspicious reaction to everything associated with the concept of morality, moral ideas and so on and so on, again–for the 'nth' time!–pushing theWestern intellectuals into the soft yet cunning, embraces of aestheticism and bohemianism.

But the main question, still unclarified, is that of the notorious moralism of the left extremists and terrorists. Indeed, if we consider that morality is related not only to the human head, but to the human heart, then is it at all moral to sacrifice totally innocent people (for the sole purpose of "demonstrating protest" or simply announcing the existence of a "group of protesters"), without experiencing the slightest gnawings of conscience, but, on the contrary, regarding one's activity as a model of high moral conduct? Is not each terrorist act of this kind a radical negation of the deepest-lying foundations of all morality in general and, at the same time, evidence that the perpetrators are lacking the elementary ethics without which morality and moral consciousness are simply nonsense? Isn't the terrorist setting himself beyond morality, taking over the prerogatives of the Nietzschean Superman who is beyond good and evil, thereby discovering in himself a secret ambition which, perhaps, he would not admit even to himself: the ambition to live in society at society's expense, to represent himself as a benefactor of mankind and, at the same time, to be free of the demands made by society (and mankind) on each individual?

Since the moral rigorism of the terrorists, about which so much is being written and said by their fans and sympathisers, is in fact the latest intellectual mythologem (for at best the terrorists took for their ethic feelings emotions of a very different order, which no one helped them understand soberly), the reaction to this has proved to be deeply ambiguous. There is beginning to come to light, to put it mildly, the not altogether moral underlying reason for the excessively sharp reaction to moralism which, as it turns out, alarmed certain Western intellectuals far more than the most unbridled terrorism . .. That is why to explain such a reaction certainly does not mean to justify it, as is demanded by unlimited liberalism, which coincides closely with boundless indifference, the more so that man too, after all, is not an animal living on a `` stimulusresponse'' principle, but a being who makes sense of the stimuli, with which attempts are made, to evoke in him (and sometimes altogether purposefully) a known response.

If we interpret the inner world in the spirit of such a response to moralism that ensures "second wind" (for how long, though?) for the modernist aesthetism and the bohemian world outlook, then the return to it can only be evaluated as flight. On this point we shall be in agreement with those at the Romerberg Conference for whom, as Greiner put it, "the old German vocable 'Innerlichkeit' was ... a collective term to denote any kind of withdrawal . . ."–true, with the important proviso that this withdrawal leads nowhere: the inner life, here an aim, has lost its truly inner limits together with its discredited moral content. "To pull oneself together in order to return to oneself", "to come to one's senses so as to define oneself"–this was not so easy for the West German intellectual after the countless ecstasies of the avant-garde and neo-avant-garde persuasion, whose aim was to forget oneself, to escape from oneself, to avoid the grim and irrevocable ``either–or'' so essential for moral self-determination.

As if suffering from a hangover after the various carnivals and happenings (usually far from politically innocuous), after the excesses of sympathy, reaching a climax with total political disorientation, the West German intellectual is asking himself: "Who am I?", "Where am I?", "Where is my ego?", ``Haven't I lost it entirely?" This is the condition denned at the 8th Romerberg Conference as a transition to the inner life, a yearning for 'Innerlichkeit'. There is indeed a transition, but is there anything to live by in the sought after inner world, and has it been preserved after the pogroms unleashed on it by those same intellectuals? . . And in general, the meaning of a situation only confirmed by that most instructive conference, is not so far from what Günther Ruble wrote about it in his "What Is Lost? A Word on a Gathering Devoted to the Inner Life", published in the 'Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung' on the first day of the discussion. "The question is, can the private world still exist when the instability of social affairs is causing so much fear and, on the other hand, does not isolation in the sphere of egoistic and private interests aggravate the sorry state of social affairs? Before such questions the doors of the beautiful gardens of the inner life are shut.

5. The Shade of the Grand Inquisitor

If we now try to isolate the main tendency which recurs again and again in the latest mood (whether mystical hedonist or left-extremist), then it might be summed up in words: the flight from freedom. Freedom in its humanist sense as formulated by the authors of the ' Manifesto of the Communist Party:' "the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all,"36 in so far as this thesis is explained in 'Anti-Duhring:' " Society cannot free itself unless every individual is free.''37 It is from this problem of the freedom of each person taken separately as a rational being capable of taking decisions "with knowledge of the subject", that the prophets of the latest mood are trying to escape. It is opposed by McLuhan's prospect of the ``happiness'' of people (in a herd) in the bosom of the collective unconscious, in an atmosphere of Dionysian ecstasy, excluding individualisation of every possible kind.

This tendency creates the unavoidable impression that the theorists and practitioners of the latest mood decided to demonstrate to the world that variant of human `` development'' which the Grand Inquisitor upholds in Ivan Karamazov's poem: "With us, however," prophesies that remarkable character, "all will be happy, and will no longer engage in rebellion or mutual destruction (as is the case everywhere under your freedom). Oh, we shall persuade them that they will only become free when they renounce their freedom, place it in our hands, and submit to us ... Freedom, untrammelled thinking and science will lead them into such quandaries and confront them with such portents and irresolvable mysteries that some of them– the stiff-necked and the defiant–will destroy themselves; others–defiant but puny–will destroy one another, while yet others–the rest: the weak and unfortunate, will come crawling to our feet and cry out, 'Yes, you were right; you alone possess his mystery, and we are returning to you to beseech you to save us from ourselves.' "38

If we compare this with what was said by McLuhan and Bluem, then they stand before us in their true form as pathetic epigones of the Grand Inquisitor. After all, their ``probes'' and ``soundings'' are mere plagiarisms, untalented variations of the basic idea proposed by a character born in Ivan Karamazov's feverish brain–the idea that it is only possible to make people happy by depriving each of freedom. "Since," according to the Grand Inquisitor, "Man and human society have never found anything more intolerable than freedom!",39 and man wants nothing more than to be delivered as soon as possible "of the terrible anxiety and present agony of personal and free decision".40". . . Man has no worry more harassing than that of finding somebody to whom he can hand over, with the greatest celerity, the gift of freedom the unfortunate creature has been born with.''41 As we see, these words convey the reasoning of McLuhan, Bluem and other ideologists of the "flight from freedom" far more accurately and profoundly than they could have expressed it themselves.

In all fairness, however, it should be borne in mind that they are in a far more difficult position than their predecessor. Since the time when Dostoyevsky created the Grand Inquisitor, many of his successors have appeared on the political arena, trying to "liberate people" from their " hateful freedom", having relieved their hearts of "the awesome gift that brought them so much anguish"42 and taking over the "command of the parade", to use the more prosaic language. The results of these attempts have been so appalling, that to this day the mere thought of political adventurists like Hitler and Mussolini evokes hatred and loathing in the hearts of most people. For this reason, the modern upholders of the Grand Inquisitor's cause have to act differently, presenting the idea of the `` liberation'' of people from liberty in such a way that it will not evoke associations with certain political figures.

The task was now formulated as follows: it is essential to find a being who could perform all the Grand Inquisitor's functions, that is, who, standing at the head of the people, would agree to take them in charge and tolerate freedom and "rule them", bearing on his own shoulders ``the curse of the knowledge of good and evil",43 and defining these concepts according to political expedience, but without evoking unhealthy personal associations, and in general would not have any ``personal'' attributes and would be totally anonymous. As we remember, McLuhan nevertheless managed to solve this problem by leading all his disciples into intense raptures. The most impressive and yet entirely anonymous person of the Electronic Computer was put up for the post vacated by the Grand Inquisitor. The solution appealed to the imagination and seemed " scientifically grounded" for, as Bluem, McLuhan's populariser, wrote, not without pleasure: "It is certain that many of our social options are becoming more and more circumscribed as the ultimate rationality of brain-computer-printout plans our courses of action and response in relation to others,"44 and therefore (we shall not repeat passages already quoted) there is no longer any need for the individual, personally oriented choice, the more so that the "decline of individuality" has come, but this is also the rise of the collective unconscious.

As we see, the card suggested by the Grand Inquisitor and already played and lost by Hitler and Mussolini, has not changed. The "social options" and with them any free decision are being wrested from people and transferred to the Being that stands over them. This Being takes on itself the "burden of freedom", presenting people in return with the happiness of the collective unconscious, coloured, as we will remember, by emotions of the "Oriental type". But whether this Being will be a new Hitler or an electronic computer–that is a mere detail. After all, Hitler was also first a "political machine", and only then a human being afflicted with various schizophrenic obsessions. Moreover, as the historians show, these were sufficiently ``functional'' from the viewpoint of the existence of a human being named Hitler as an impersonal machine. For it was with the help of precisely such paranoic ``ideas'' that a political machine, under the fashionable notice-board ``Hitler'', was able to induce Dionysian ecstasies in the very people who were being deprived of elementary human freedoms and rights and yet were putting up with this as if it were true liberation.

In other words, the political machine named Hitler combined two functions also necessary from the viewpoint of McLuhan and Bluem. One of them was ``computative'', enabling the calculation of political variants and the formulation of political goals. The other ``inspiring'', with the aid of which people are involved (remember McLuhan's meaning of this word) in politics, which in this aspect now functions as a field of the collective unconscious. Harold Lasswell, the well-known American sociologist and political thinker, called the first of these functions ' credenda' and the second 'miranda', the former being an appeal to reason, in any case, to sober "political reason", and the latter addressed to the emotions, to the imagination of people and especially to their "political prejudices". In the opinion of certain far from liberal political theorists, the main reason for the collapse of Hitler's Germany was the above-mentioned fusion of 'credenda' and 'miranda' in the same political machine: without this, it would have been possible to preserve the 'credenda' of National Socialism while sacrificing its 'miranda', together with the paranoic Hitler.

That is how, as if summing up the main lesson of this ``history'', Bluem, closely following McLuhan on this point, proposes to divide these functions, transferring them to different "political machines"–the computer and His Majesty TV. The second of these machines will reign, providing the public with the joys of the collective unconscious and also fulfilling the role of director (remember the role of the stars at the Pop concerts). The first will be in control, deciding, for people ``tired'' of freedom, problems of good and evil, social options, political orientation, etc., etc. "All the computer is doing," writes Bluem, "is aiding man in his efforts to establish the 'credenda' essential to social stability, order and progress ... "45 However, from other assertions by Bluem and McLuhan, we can well imagine the ``price'' of this help: the machine only agrees to give aid if its master (already ``ex'') consistently rejects all his personal functions by delegating them to it. After this, who is to distinguish which is law and order and which is not, which is progress and which is reaction, and how much this social stability is going to cost–with dollars evaluated in the number of human lives? And there will be no alternative but once more to trust the machine, which will give, on this count, exhaustive information about which people, plunged into the nirvana of the collective unconscious, will naturally forget at once.

In the light of this division into 'credenda' and 'miranda', it is not hard to picture the role of the other representatives of the latest mood in fulfilling the Grand Inquisitor's scheme. The mystic hedonists will put into practice the aspect of his plan which he outlined as follows:

``But the flock will be gathered anew and submit to us, and this time for ever. And then we shall give them unclouded and modest happiness, the happiness of the weak creatures they have been created as. Oh, we shall at last persuade them to eschew pride, ... we shall prove to them that they are weak, merely pitiful children, and that the happiness of a child is sweeter than any other kind.''46 Today, as we have seen, there is a whole system of argumentation to prove this thesis, beginning with excerpts from the Oriental sages (some of them tell how on the way ``back'' it is actually better not to stay in the childhood phase, but to go further and be reincarnated as a flower or a stone) and ending with quotations from 'Winnie the Pooh'. The idea that the "happiness of a child" is the sweetest of all clearly receives public support.

As for the representatives of the latest mood who are determined to ``sweeten'' this already cloying "happiness of a child", adding the thrills of cruelty and sadism, sexual perversion and political violence, their role is somewhat different. More concerned to recruit others for their Bacchic chorus, they are developing the tools of calculated mind-bending to ``help'' man liberate himself from his ego, from his sense of personal worth even when he does not particularly want this. There is no assumption here that man is only thinking how to escape from his "hateful freedom", as distinct from the Grand Inquisitor, who has clearly shown in this point a kind of benevolence and political short-sightedness.

None the less, the attitude of these people who restyle protest and turn it into "protest for protest's sake", clearly confirms certain forecasts made by the Grand Inquisitor. These are, after all, the people whom he meant when he said that ".. .though they are rebellious, they are spineless rebels, who cannot live up to their own rebelliousness".47 For to revolt for the sake of revolt is only possible to people with a slavish mentality, that is, those incapable of proposing a real alternative for what exists and therefore in a condition of real, though negative, dependence on it. And changing ``revolt'' into an end in itself is merely vivid testimony that people do not know (and therefore do not want to know) "What next?" and "What is going to follow after the revolt?" That is why they must try to prolong its duration, the more so that it is a source of violent sensations.

Nor can it be ruled out that these ``rebels'' will behave exactly as prophesied by the Grand Inquisitor: "They will grow timid, look towards us and cling to us in their fear, like chickens to the mother-hen. They will marvel at us and be terrified by us, yet be proud that we are so powerful and wise that we have been able to subdue such a turbulent flock of so many millions. In their debility, they will quake at our wrath; their minds will grow timid, and they will be as tearful as children and women, but, at the least sign from us, they will just as readily go over to merriment and laughter, innocent joy and the happy songs of childhood.''48

It may be presumed that the latter will be the concern of His Majesty TV, which Marshall McLuhan has brought in to assist the Grand Inquisitors of the future. . .


1. The latest anti-humanism and the fate of the Renaissance-individualist conception of man
2. The adversary culture and the consumer society
Bibliography (Quoted Literature)
Name index


1. The Latest Anti-Humanism and the Fate of the Renaissance-Individualist Conception of Man

In an attempt to get to the bottom of the latest moods, the religiously oriented French thinker Jean-Marie Domenach draws attention to one circumstance that impressed him: the stepped-up "offensive against humanism" being accomplished by a great many members of the humanitarian intelligentsia, is taking place only in the "highly developed democratic societies of the West", that is, in the capitalist countries that have entered on the so-called consumer society phase. The intelligentsia in other countries are not showing any inclination to join such an offensive; on the contrary, they are inclined to interpret even the above-mentioned 'anti-humanist' tendencies in a 'humanist' spirit, giving them a fundamentally different meaning in the context of their own problems–a fact which has resulted in countless theoretical or ideological aberrations. Domenach therefore concludes that Western civilisation's desire, so impressive to outside observers, to reject its own principles, is, first, a purely Western phenomenon, and, secondly, reflects a very definite phase in the evolution of the capitalist West known as the affluent society, or the consumer society, and characterised by certain shifts in technology and economy, and also in the social and political spheres. These shifts now threaten to change the whole image of the traditional "liberal democracies''.

Accentuating a whole complex of reasons for the trend in Western civilisation (especially in France) towards the destruction and liquidation of the principles which lie at its very foundations–such he considers exactly the principles of widely understood humanism–Domenach 268 nevertheless isolates the causes of a spiritual order from this complex and moves them into the foreground. This is certainly not because he is negating the impact of human existence on the consciousness of individuals. He allows for that impact and agrees with the French phenomenologist Dufrenne, according to whom "before coming to the thought of the death of man, our age has experienced that death". Dufrenne, like Domenach, means Hitler's death camps, genocide, famine and poverty in the developing countries, the threat of mankind's extinction by a nuclear war and so on. However, the French author rightly supposes that cause and effect may change places in the `` totality'' of the historical process; and the idea of the "end of man", which originated in the nightmares created by the national-socialist regimes in Europe, could acquire a tendency to ``self-propulsion'', aiding the dehumanisation of man under the new conditions that set in after the collapse of those regimes. This is what, in Domenach's opinion, has happened: under the contemporary industrial societies of the West, the ideology of anti-humanism continues in its own way the "liquidation of man" that had been put on a practical footing by fascism. Both in culture and in life, there is the active affirmation of what to the predecessors of contemporary anti-humanism seemed perhaps to be merely a grievous fact.

If we look at Domenach's picture of the crisis of bourgeois civilisation, now developed into the crisis of a Western culture which has turned against itself and against its own most fundamental prerequisites, it must be acknowledged that this picture is very close to the truth. On this score it would be hard to disagree with the author of the article, although many additions or corrections could be made. Doubt concerning the accuracy of Domenach's theories arises over an entirely different point, that is, when he tackles the interpretation of this picture and undertakes to explain the roots of what is happening today, roots which go deep into the West European cultural tradition. Here we must remember what is characteristic of Domenach (and of the whole tendency of Christian humanism)–the fusion of two different concepts which seem to exclude each other from the viewpoint of their specific social-historical content: Christianity and humanism.

It is for precisely this reason that Domenach's idea about the historical roots of the contemporary crisis in Western culture is, as it were, dual. In one case, he bluntly affirms that the cause of this crisis is the drying up of Western culture's Christian well-springs, from which it drew its principles, ideals and values. In the other case, however (especially when he is dealing with specific manifestations of the present crisis), it turns out that he considers the cause of the crisis to have been the exhaustion of the " Renaissance image" of man, for he takes at face value what is said about the "end of man" by the very theorists who proceed from the above-mentioned image as the fundamental prerequisite and who in principle offer no possibilities of a different human image. According to Domenach, then, the end of Christianity proves also to be the end of humanism (both in the broadly figurative and in the narrow, specifically historical sense), and the end of humanism (in both senses, so often interchangeable at each given moment) is also the end of Christianity.

Aware that something is not quite right here, Domenach tries to convince the reader that there is a special kinship between Christianity and humanism. This kinship, if not given initially, was at any event historically found during the post-Renaissance evolution of European culture. He considers that there was a break with Renaissance1 humanism in the 18th century and a new "reformed humanism" of the Enlightenment arose which was not so alien and hostile to Christianity as its ``unreformed'' predecessor. Apart from the fact that this in no way solves the problem of the part of humanism left unreformed, another problem arises. Was not the humanism of the Enlightenment inwardly split in two as a result of this reformation? Did not one of its tendencies, as before, lead towards the tradition of the unreformed Renaissance (so that the latter continued even during the Enlightenment) while the other was, as it were, pacified in the stream of Christianity (which was the beginning of Christian humanism)? In a word, did not Renaissance humanism and Christianity continue fighting for precedence throughout the whole of the modern age? A positive answer to these questions suggests itself, all the more so that, according to Domenach's own theory, humanism, which arose in a half-heathen and half-Christian context (would it not be more accurate to speak of a compromise, resulting from a balance of forces, between the heathen principle of humanism and the Christian medieval principle?), took the form of a purely atheist doctrine by the beginning of the 18th century.

One source of the illusions entertained by Christian humanists like Domenach was evidently that a historical compromise between the heathen humanist and the Christian medieval means of explaining man and human personality, a compromise that reflected the weakness and not the strength of the new aspiration, was taken by them as a fundamental possibility of combining these two mutually exclusive approaches to man. For this reason, Domenach does not even want to notice that, having gained impetus, Renaissance bourgeois humanism was under an absolute necessity to discard any thought of compromise with Christianity and adopt the form of an increasingly consistent and far-reaching atheism–that is, in the final analysis, a form not of 'atheism', but of 'anti-theism'. That, incidentally, is what happened to Sartre, Camus, Beckett, lonesco, Barthes, Foucault, Levi-Strauss and the New Left who belong, in this sense, to the same line, the evolution of Renaissance bourgeois humanism right up to its transition to its own opposite: the ideology of the ``end'' of the human personality.

Needless to say, the quarrel between atheism and Christianity could be considered as taking place "on common ground"; after all, the subject of the controversy is God, he is the "common ground", over which the swords of radically opposing outlooks on life are crossed. It may then be possible to claim, like Domenach, that even the offensive on Christianity by such anti-Christians as, say, Freud and Sartre, was launched in the name of Christian values. Moreover, in this case it is possible to try and separate the sheep from the goats, presenting Sartre's outlook as "still humanism" and the Theatre of the Absurd as "already anti-humanism". All this is with the sole aim of avoiding the unavoidable conclusion that bourgeois humanism (in the exact Renaissance individualist sense of this word which, as it transpires, remained predominant all through post-Renaissance history) at a definite stage of its development becomes its own opposite, for such a conclusion should have made Domenach retract and separate the word ``humanism'' from the adjective ``Christian''.

Contrary to what Domenach thinks, the line being developed in 20th-century Western culture in conformity with the idea of the "end of man"–from the avant-gardism at the beginning of our century and the sociologised Freudianism of Wilhelm Reich, through Andre Breton's Surrealism and Antonin Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty right up to Lacan's neo-Freudianism, the Structuralism of Roland Barthes and the "barbarism of counter-culture"2–is not so radically opposed to the principles of Renaissance individualist humanism. For at the very foundations of this idea lies the Renaissance image of man.

Not seeing any representatives of this type of personality about them (such a personality no longer exists and in extreme cases it occurs only as a 'parody' of itself, either comic, or terrifying), contemporary bourgeois "Renaissance men" came to the conclusion that the idea of personality in general had collapsed. Since they took this conclusion as a postulate not subject to criticism, as "absolute authenticity", these bourgeois "Renaissance men" turned into anti-humanists, not only in Domenach's sense, but also in the more precise meaning of this word. Moreover, they inevitably proved to be nihilists, since they based their arguments on ``nothing'' (the "negative absolute")–the absence or negation of everything human and personal.

At this point, something happened that became the source of yet another illusion for Domenach. The representatives of contemporary anti-humanism, as despairing but not unrepentant bourgeois "Renaissance men", turned into nihilists and began to absolutise their own rejection of personality, now seen by them as something utterly middle-class, selfish. For that reason, beginning with the ideologists of ``hippyism'' in the 50s (if we discount their predecessors on this point, the Surrealists of the 20s), the contemporary anti-humanists are treating as Public Enemy No. 1, the principle of the ego, of the person in general (to use a term conveying a wider meaning of personality than that used by the Renaissance men) and are calling for a "great revolution" against it in order to replace it with the impersonal principle, the Freudian 'id',3 and, moreover, not ``outside'' man but ``within'', in the soul of each, so that he no longer has anywhere to hide from triumphant Anonymity.

Within the general anti-humanist current of those hostile to the Renaissance image of personality and to the personal principle as such–with their constant "mutual transformation"–it was this coalition that led Christian thinkers like Domenach to the false conclusion that a real prospect had arisen again in the 20th century for the fusion of humanist and Christian aspirations.

As regards our own times, two quite obviously contradictory factors argue in favour of this prospect: first, that the Christian church today, and especially Catholicism, appeals to humanist principles, whereas atheism, or, more correctly, anti-theism, proceeds from anti-humanist positions; secondly, that in Domenach's opinion the controversy between the Christians and the Marxists is now flagging and, furthermore, there have been signs of "a sort of common front between Christians and Marxists for the defence of traditional values, culture, work, the nation,, the family". 4 However, without mentioning that the defence of these "traditional values" certainly does not mean,. for the Marxists, a transfer to Christian positions (a disconcerting fact for Domenach, testifying that atheism in our time does not always emerge from anti-humanist positions), he fails to account for one more vital factor.

Marxism does not in the least rely solely on the ``Renaissance'' model of personality. It has assimilated the tradition of "critical Utopian socialism" that goes back in its turn to the social-critical aspirations of Greek antiquity, and sought for original forms of human collectivity, the new impulse to which was given by Lewis Henry Morgan with his book, 'Ancient Society' (1877). On this basis, Marxist teaching on society arrives at a much more universal model of personality then the Renaissance-individualist and bourgeois-humanist one. In this sense, Domenach's reference to Marxism does absolutely nothing toprove his thesis about the common ground between Christianity and humanism. To substantiate his thesis, Domenach should have referred to the humanist tradition in a more precise and definite sense of the word, excluding its figurative use as a synonym of ``humanity'' in general.

In this case, there is profound disillusion in store for Domenach. Each definition of humanism will limit and negate it (in conformity with Spinoza's "Every definition is negation"), and not only in the logical, but in the specifically historical sense of the word. Indeed, even if we overcome the narrow Renaissance understanding of humanism, taking it back to ancient Hellenic-Roman sources, the historic content of this conception still proves to be limited, so to speak, at both ends. On the one hand, it is obvious that, in ancient times, humanism could never have joined up with Christianity, which was an alternative to the humanist version of ``humanisation'' rather than its ally and, therefore, Domenach's efforts (and those of all the Christian humanists of personalist orientation) fail to tie humanism and Christianity together at a point of departure somewhere in the depths of time. On the other hand, and no less saddening (at any event, for the abovementioned prospect outlined by the French personalist) is the situation at the final stage in the evolution of humanism–first, Hellenic-Roman, then Renaissance–that is in the 20th century. For however paradoxical this may be, the latest, contemporary form of this humanism in the West (Hellenic-individualist and bourgeois) simply proves to be the anti-humanism of Max Ernst, Wilhelm Reich, Antonin Artaud, Jean-Paul Sartre, Beckett, Robbe-Grillet, Barthes, Foucault, Marcuse and the ideologists of counterculture–all those whom Domenach quite rightly describes as members of the general atheist-nihilist trend, with certain far from convincing reservations made for Sartre.

Apart from the fact that the atheism of the above-mentioned representatives of this trend (which is now a consistent form of anti-theism, a tendency to become a religion of Non-being, or Negation) dates back to the atheist doctrine of the 18th century, which Domenach himself, in his turn, derives from humanism, there is another circumstance in favour of the thesis put forward here. It concerns the fact, already noted by us, that the theorists of Western 20th-century anti-humanism were so conditioned, so tied together, so enslaved by the Renaissance-individualist conception of personality that they were prepared to come to terms with the idea of the total liquidation of the personal principle and, having come to terms with it, were even ready to try and extract some kind of advantage for themselves from the conclusion rather than reject the conception for another, broader, more universal idea of personality.

This last circumstance is illustrated above all by the adherence of contemporary Western anti-humanists to the principle of "unlimited self-realisation" at all costs, for which European culture is indebted to Renaissance-individualist humanism. Having seen the absolute limit of their possibilities (in the sense of immeasurable and infinite self-realisation at all costs), the desperate " Renaissance men" of the 20th century nevertheless tried to find a means of accomplishing them. With a new policy of burning what they had worshipped, they found by this means the desired prospect of ``self-fulfilment'', achieved with total Renaissance immoderation and uninhibitedness. What could not be accomplished in positive form–as cultural creation along the lines of the Renaissance traditions, is now being accomplished in a negative manner by the dismantling of culture in the West, by the deeper and deeper destruction of the ideals and values on which that culture is founded. Anti-humanism, therefore, turns out to be bourgeois Renaissance humanism which has altered course and having changed culture into anti-culture, is moving, as it were, in reverse.

This movement backward, incidentally, was provoked by the heathen naturalism at the basis of "Renaissance humanism", so that even at this point, contemporary Western anti-humanism has certainly not broken with the Renaissance tradition, but has simply given free rein to something that, like Tyutchev's ``chaos'', was undoubtedly ``stirring'' somewhere under the surface, making its presence known only at nights.

Not a dialectical return to the past, in order–on a new turn of the spiral–-to realise in the light of the new possibilities what was preserved as an unaccomplished possibility in the past (making this past a living enigma and a life-giving mystery for later times); not a creative dialogue of present with past, which therefore still lives for us, because it is not yet exhausted by us and still takes part in our definition of today's prospects–but something entirely and fundamentally different: the liquidation of today so as to return to yesterday, the liquidation of yesterday so as to return to the day before yesterday, and so on, and so on. That is the road of contemporary antihumanism which, as we see, is carrying on with capitalist civilisation's task in destroying the culture of the West.

2. The Adversary Culture and the Consumer Society

Domenach's continual appeals to representatives of the anti-Christian and, at the same time, anti-humanist branch of non-Marxist criticism of capitalist civilisation absolves us from the need to describe in detail this version of contemporary Western anti-bourgeois thought. Moving step by step towards a conclusion about the historical exhaustibility of the personal principle in the present era and, with this conclusion, beginning their retrospective (if not retrograde) movement, the nihilistically aligned critics of capitalism arrive with logical inevitability at what Marx even as a young man called "barrack-room Communism". Everything written by him about this "crude Communism" is applicable to these critics: "This type of Communism–since it negates the 'personality' of man in every sphere–is but the logical expression of private property, which is this negation."5

However, another question arises: why did this primitive idea, as Marx put it, emerge and acquire the character of an extremely widespread intellectual trend precisely among those "masters of culture" of the capitalist West whom Domenach calls its most refined and sophisticated representatives? Or, to put this question more broadly, not on the cultural-historical plane just examined by us, but more in specific social-historical and sociological terms–; what is the social nature of the cultural crisis evoked in the West by the anti-humanist and nihilistic aspirations that have arisen in its midst? For what social-historical :reasons is this culture turning against itself?

As is testified by the relevant stream of literature in Western Europe and the USA, this question is beginning to trouble the professional sociologists as well. More and more often they are trying to account for the crisis in their own terms, its existence no longer being a matter of doubt. Of particular interest is an attempt at a sociological interpretation of the crisis by Daniel Bell, a well-known American sociologist and a co-inventor of the now fashionable conception of the "post-industrial society".6 Bell describes the cultural crisis of the West as the simultaneous expression and fermentation of the general crisis of capitalism.7 All this is being discussed by a man who is certainly no Marxist, but who, on the contrary, is trying to find an ``alternative'' to Marxist-Leninist teaching.

What first catches the attention is that to some extent Bell is taking an even gloomier view than Domenach of the situation that has developed in the culture of the capitalist West as a result of the growing nihilistic ( antihumanist and anti-cultural) tendencies in it. Bell presumes that it is not simply a matter of a tendency within West European culture–``modernistic'' since the beginning of the 20s and ``neo-modernist'' from the beginning of the 60s–but of a whole independent culture–as distinct from the traditional one, and in order more precisely to plot its course, he calls it the "adversary culture". Bell is deeply convinced that this last has already won a total victory over traditional Western culture; in this sense avant-gardism no longer exists as a trend–irrespective of whether it is modernist or neo-modernist–for, according to Bell, the whole culture has become avant-garde. An avant-garde adversary culture is replacing the traditional one: its dominating role in social changes is becoming universally acknowledged. As for the official bourgeois culture, says Bell, it is no longer capable of resisting the adversary culture, it cannot set up anything more or less meaningful in opposition to it. This process certainly did not take place solely in the so-called ``high'' or ``elitist'' culture. Bell's own impression is that the champions of the adversary culture were able to extend their influence as far as the wider institutional sphere of culture: publishing houses, newspaper offices, museums, picture galleries, theatres, film studios, finally gaining access to the universities–the mass student auditorium. In the most precise sense, the contemporary avarit-gardist in the West had already ceased to be a "lone wolf" or an "unrecognised genius"; he is the representative of the ruling, though ``adversary'' culture, a situation that threw a shadow of profound ambiguity on his ``revolutionism'' and "non-conformism''.

Obviously exaggerating the successes of the adversary culture, for which he has little sympathy, Bell speaks of the modernist movement's victory not only over the culture of the West, but over bourgeois society as a whole. The modernist movement led to the domination of the adversary culture, which had received the right to deny that society and whose right to deny was recognised, although,. as Bell emphasises, the shift in the balance of forces ( culture and anti-culture) certainly did not bring changes in the social and political structure of the capitalist West.

The social causes of this peculiar victory of the modernist movement, according to Bell, are associated with the fact that together with the general growth in the number of intellectuals working in "culture production", the former outcast avant-gardists had become a whole ``class''. This class, says Bell, even if it did not come to power, was at least the "dominating influence" in the culture industry and mass communications, marking them with the "stamp of its own modernist anti-bourgeois, Bohemian antiphilistine ideology.

The most important feature of this ideology is that from the very first steps of the modernist movement, it offered itself as an alternative to religion and, moreover, as the only possible form in our time of religiosity: anti-theistic,. and establishing itself on the corpse of the "dead god''.8 In this sense that ideology is realisation, accomplished in parody fashion (and perhaps possible only in that way) of two 19th-century ideas: St. Simon's idea of replacing religion with art and, to the extent to which religion has moral content, of ethics by aesthetics; and the Romantic and consequently the artist is the most adequate representative (and carrier, and ``personifier'' in his image and mode of life) of 'Truth in its ultimate stage'.

And, indeed, as the masters of culture (more simply, functionaries of culture production) began to number hundreds of thousands, and even millions and as, correspondingly, the Bohemian mode of life ceased to be exclusive and became the 'modus vivendi' of "many, too many" of the personnel employed in the capitalist culture industry, the modernist mood began to be taken in a religious spirit. 'The distribution of the modernist mood in the artistic and iringe milieu was felt by many to indicate the incontrovertiMlity of the principles on which it was founded, their absolute authenticity. Modernism was becoming an object of faith and missionary aspirations, an "institutionalised form" in which this particular type of anti-theist religiosity was cast, and so became the adversary culture.9

The 'God' of this new religion from the very beginning was, and still is, 'Negation'. An invariable trend of avantgardist Negation was its globalisation, or absolutisation. However, from time to time Negation is ``concretised'', latching on to various objects. First, on to ``philistinism'' and the "philistine civilisation" in general (whence the avant-garde war of extermination on the public as representative of the ``Philistine'', the ``Square'', etc.); now on to the ``masses'' and "mass society" (hence the avant-gardists' struggle with the ``Mob'', even going as far as suspicion of the herd instinct, of all those who tend to gather in numbers of more than three, so that the struggle degenerates into the negation of all human contacts). Secondly, on to ``alienation'' and "the alienated world"; hence the battle of avant-gardism gradually proceeding from the modernist to the neo-modernist stage, with everything that adopts the form of an ``object'', of the more or less complete image, the more or less fixed rule, etc. since all this was suspected of ``alienation'', that is, of bourgeois values. Thirdly, onto ``atomisation'' and the "atomised society"; hence the revolt of the post-modernists against any individualisation of the personality, which was seen as a cover for "bourgeois individualism"; against the personal principle in general, which is henceforth seen as identical idea that the aesthetic means of cognition is the highest, with the "bourgeois principle"; against everything that is distinct from the "principle of collectivity", from directly collective, extra- and non-personal means of human exchange. In other words, for all its apparent concretisations, avant-garde negation invariably proved so abstract that it became negation in general, or, to use Lenin's expression, empty, futile negation. And this will not seem accidental if it is constantly borne in mind that we are dealing here with a deified (that is, absolutised) negation for which it is not negation itself that counts in this or that case, but the phenomenon of Negation, experienced as the appearance of God: of the infinite in the finite, of the transcendent in the immanent.

If Negation, however, taken as the highest goal of the avant-gardists, as their ideal, is a Divinity (in the mode of contemplation, it is Non-Being, Nothing), then this Negation, taken in the active, operative form (as a striving for Nothing, a process of drawing near to Non-Being), is a form of service to this Divinity, is a ritual in which its Absoluteness is affirmed: it is proved that everything is subject to destruction, that everything can and must be destroyed. That is why, as distinct from other spiritual aspirations in European culture, however broad and stable they may be, avant-gardism (and this is a fairly wide and stable aspiration if only because it is slightly under a century old and its disciples in the West number hundreds of thousands) is characterised not by what it has created but by what it has destroyed. The basic "myth of modernism", which took shape in the first quarter of the 20th century, rested on the idea of total destruction; more often than not it was recognised by the avant-gardists as the idea of ``total'' (or ``permanent'') revolution, but frequently it emerged in its pure form as service to Nothing, Non-Being and so on. In painting, this negativist aspiration led to the destruction of perspective and the very principle of imagery; in music, to the liquidation of tonality and temporal sequence in general; in all the arts, to a ``blurring'' of genre limitations and the debunking of the idea of a more or less integral work of art; in the aesthetics as a whole, to the discrediting of values–of the preference of higher ones to the lower, true to false, good to evil, beautiful to ugly; in the consciousness as such, to the expulsion of the very principle of the ego (self, personality, person) as the centre or nucleus of consciousness on the basis of which the world of consciousness is structured.

It is obvious that the same thing is featured as a "sacrificial calf" intended for slaughter to the glory of this savage Divinity, both by the modernists and the neo-modernists: the culture of the West with the principles on which it is founded, its higher values. These, it must be stressed, are much wider than the principles at the basis of what is covered by the term "bourgeois civilisation" and even by "civilisation in general", but with what the avant-gardists nevertheless try to substitute these conceptions. For it is a matter of those higher attributes of man (personal worth, eloquence, religious feeling, frankness, courage, bravery, etc.) which, according to Marx, who is with Morgan on this point, emerged long before the Europeans entered the phase of civilisation to form the human character. It is against these higher attributes of man that the avant-gardists and their forerunners from the previous century have been waging a struggle for a hundred years, ``rationalising'' it (and thereby concealing from themselves its true essence) as the struggle against "bourgeois civilisation" and so on. Even Bell, however, does not realise this, since he is hypnotised by the ``anti-bourgeois'' tirades of the modernists and neo-modernists, and attributes far too much importance to the ``verbalised'' side of their aspirations, which are only the visible part of the iceberg.

Incidentally, even Bell's picture, as we have seen, is fairly terrifying. Indeed, the modernist movement, according to him, which has established in the culture of the capitalist West its own "secularised religion", institutionalised in the form of the adversary culture, has thrown, according to Bell, the whole of capitalist society into a state of permanent social-economic and political crisis. The fact is that in these dimensions, society can function normally only if at least some kind of elementary order has been established or if people conduct themselves as responsible individuals endowed with common sense and a sober memory. In the third dimension of this society, however, its culture, headway has been made by very different mores under the influence of the avant-garde ``religion'': the principle of even elementary order has been liquidated, because of its ``alienated'', repressive, exploitatory essence; and common sense and sober memory have been ostracised as obvious indications of ``individualism'', ``conformism'' and every other kind of bourgeois value.

The main feature of this avant-garde prospect for human existence is voluntarism established in opposition to the traditional European idea of reason's primacy over will, that takes its origins from Plato and Aristotle. Closely associated with avant-garde voluntarism, established as the only permissible style of world outlook and behaviour in the adversary culture, is the cultivation of ecstasy, the striving to free oneself from all limitations imposed on man not only by certain social conditions but by social existence in general.

There is obviously a profound contrast between the aspirations predominant, according to Bell, in the social-economic and political dimensions, and the spiritual and cultural dimension of the contemporary capitalist society. The adversary culture, which holds the dominant position in the last dimension, is an irrational anti-world in the world of "formal rationality", ``anti-reason'' in the world of " technical reason" and, to treat the question more broadly, on a global scale, like the abbey of Thelema where literally, not metaphorically, "everything is permitted", in the world of all possible (often unavoidable) limitations and need, where sometimes even the basic necessities are not allowed. Incidentally, this global background, against which light is cast on the essence of the slogan of `` permissiveness'' ecstatically establishing itself, is not taken into consideration by Bell, which immediately (and radically) limits his criticism of the adversary culture.

The fact is that, examined outside this background, the avant-garde culture of the contemporary world as a whole, with poverty and famine in the developing countries and with a real threat of natural resources being exhausted, etc. seems far more anti-bourgeois than it really is. And, indeed, with the hypertrophy of the principle of formal rationality, engendering the illusion of technical reason's omnipotence (as happens in the developed capitalist countries), the irrationalist revolt against rationality in general and against Reason as such can still seem justified–as a more or less understood excess in the criticism of bourgeois rationality and bourgeois reason.

All this will fit into place, however, if this revolt is seen against the wider background of the contemporary world which is suffering, alas, not so much from an excess of rationality and reasonableness, as from an insufficiency of them, a lack of elementary reason and reasonablessness in the relations between peoples and states and in the relations of people to one another and to nature. In this second instance, the modernist and neo-modernist revolt is not only against rationality and reasonableness in general, but also against elementary standards and rules of human relations, against everything introducing any kind of order into the relations of people to one another and to nature. It is no longer an anti-bourgeois revolution, but a nihilistic negation of the principles of humanity in general which are the foundations not only of European but of any other culture, the principles that make European culture kindred with any other–in the deepest wellsprings of human existence.

The ``anti-bourgeois'' spirit of avant-garde anti-culture is a view of contemporary capitalism from the inside: from the viewpoint of one of the last phases of its evolution– the so-called consumer society; from the viewpoint of that unique (and evidently short-term) historical situation when culture was ``allowed'' to constitute itself in this society as a kind of "realm of permissiveness", that contemporary version of the abbey of Thelema, where each may behave according to the rule "Do as you like!" without considering the bourgeois philistine question: "But what next?" (after all, ``next'' is in 'time', and time for the denizens of the "realm of permissiveness" is neurotic). And there can be no mistaking the deep inner connection (almost identity) between the hedonistic trends which contemporary capitalist society is trying to cultivate among the consumers (not the producers!–it is the essence of the consumer society that people only put half of themselves into it), and hedonism elevated to a mystic cult (not without blood sacrifices either) which is the only principle of life and activity in the adversary culture with its hypertrophied anti-Protestantism.

Bell misses this connection altogether, which makes his analysis all the more limited, especially when he lays claim to the sociological approach, that is, to an analysis of the social aspects of certain ideas and moods (it should be not only an analysis of their functions, but should also include research into the soil on which they grew up and which nourishes them). Having gone about twenty years back to the consumer society phase (the borderline of which is more and more clearly marked by the present economic and energy crisis, now deepening in front of our very eyes), state-monopoly capitalism was forced to combine further production development, taking place on the basis of the universalised principle of "formal rationality", with the active stimulation of consumption, which was acquiring an entirely irrational content where it became ``measureless'' (already freed from natural measure, without yet having found its moral measure). Since each person who works is at the same time a producer and a consumer, the tension between these two hypostases has begun to grow, threatening them with conflict: shackled in the iron chains of formal rationality as a producer, that person was becoming inclined to every kind of irrationalism as a consumer. Such was the social soil on which there not only took place the change, noticed by Bell, of modernism into neo-modernism (with its characteristic striving to realise as a life style and standard of behaviour all the demands and urges which were discovered in man's subconscious by modernism, and, above all, legitimised as an aesthetic phenomenon), but also the conquest by the adversary culture of the dominant position in the spiritual and cultural sphere of the capitalist West.

The neo-modernism of the 60s emerged in a situation of the consumer society as an instrument of the final and ``total'' liberation of the bourgeois individual from the remnants of Protestant Ethics (and, indeed, ethics in general) which still prevented him changing into the absolutely malleable consumer. The neo-modernist transition from the "justification of life" as an aesthetic phenomenon (as was the case in modernism, which took Nietzsche as its point of departure) to its ``justification'' on the level of the instincts, from the testing of this attitude solely in imagination and fantasy to the effective self-expression of the avant-garde individual in reality itself–fully corresponded to the contemporary aspirations of the " indusrial eunuch''.

The desire of the adversary culture to inculcate the "Bohemian life style" in the consciousness of the masses, using the gigantic screen of the mass media at their disposal; to eradicate the customary models of conduct in the name of "freedom of the instincts" and their unlimited ``self-realisation''–does not in the least contradict the consumer aspect of state-monopoly capitalism, which is in the consumer society phase, although it contradicts its production aspect. In a word, in its anti-cultural and nihilist aspirations, the adversary culture contradicts the contemporary capitalist society to exactly the extent to which the latter contradicts itself–neiher more nor less. In this sense it is a replica of the contemporary bourgeois outlook.

In other words, this version of the non-Marxist critique of capitalism contains no alternative to it and does not go beyond it. It has to share its fate, or rather the fate of that short-term phase of its evolution which was called, in very hedonist manner, the consumer society. This critique of capitalism is doomed, together with the Renaissance individualist principle (whose grotesque realisation is the consumer society and, fatefully connected with it, the adversary culture), the principle of the ``immeasurable'' and ``unlimited'' efflorescence of the individual taken in all his uniqueness. For it becomes obvious that this kind of selffulnlment inevitably leads to the loss of the very basis on which it should take place, that is the personality, taken not separately, but in conformity with the higher human values, with all the spiritual content that makes a human being truly human.


Let us sum up. The entry of capitalism upon its higher and last, state-monopoly phase evoked the crisis of bourgeois individualism. One of the first attempts to overcome this crisis, and one which in fact merely showed that it was deepening, was an attempt by Ortega y Gasset to save the individual (interpreted in the spirit of the Renaissance-Romantic tradition), counterposing him as an ``elitist'' man to the ``mass'' man, erecting an insurmountable barrier between mass and elite. The movement of West European thought during the last quarter of the century (1950- 1975) is associated with the acknowledgement that the prospect suggested by the Spanish philosopher is unacceptable, with the endeavour to prevail somehow over (or at least to correct) Ortega y Gasset's elitism and individualism, and the inability to do this in any satisfactory manner.

An appeal by Guardini, who tried to take the "problem of man" further than the individualist Renaissance tradition (channelling it into traditional Catholicism), was ignored by the Western intelligentsia. They were not impressed at the prospect of saving ``core-self'' at the cost of personality. Also unsuccessful was Marcel's attempt to reconcile the Catholic with the Renaissance-Romantic tradition: the idea of the "degradation of man", like the eschatologism associated with it, did not help this in the least. With Adorno, who tied up the Renaissance-Romantic tradition with the avant-garde, the idea of the "end of man", according to which the consciousness of the Western bourgeois intelligentsia evolved in the middle of our century, was recognised to be, in fact, a balancing on the brink between individuality and its negation. However, this form of self-denunciation of the bourgeois individual, his renunciation of his ontological characteristics, seemed less and less satisfactory as state-monopoly capitalism assumed the form of the consumer society. After all, each individualisation presupposes a known limit of consumer activity, just as individual self-awareness limits man's urge for `` extravagant'' enjoyments. This narrows the market of the " industrial eunuchs" (the ``internal'' market in the profoundest sense of the word). Thus began the conflict between the not entirely liquidated bourgeois individual and the ``eunuch'' of capitalist industry, which expanded its production possibilities and was that much more in need of the absolutely malleable consumer.

The bourgeois intellectual, tormented between the affirmation of his own individuality and its negation (in full conformity with Adorno's picture), did not long resist the Dionysian temptations about which the sirens of the consumer society were singing to him. After all, in order that new horizons of ineffable bliss should be revealed to him, it cost him very little. All he had to do was separate himself from his ego and break with the principle of individual self-awareness: an action that looked all the more impressive because it had already been presented in the most ``revolutionary'' form; moreover, that ``revolutionary'' feeling itself was sugared with alluring arguments about the sexual revolution. That is why the fashion for balancing between individuality and its negation was so quickly replaced in the 60s by the fashion for simply brutal negation without any intellectual ``balancing''.

But as soon as this fashion established itself in the bourgeois intellectual consciousness, there finally came to light the secret of the whole preceding theoretical movement (especially at its ``Frankfurt'' stage). Conversations about the "end of man", about "agonising man", about the collapse of the "individuality principle", etc. suddenly revealed a striking resemblance to what is said in 'Doctor Faustus' by the Devil just before the final temptation of the young composer Adrian Leverkühn. Moreover, it was now that the last secret of the Devil himself was disclosed: he turned out to be the not in the least demonic but commonplace "industrial eunuch"–very much the worse for wear, moreover, since he was first mentioned by Karl Marx.

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Adorno, Theodor W.–8, 22,
48, 69, 95-116, 129, 138, 140,
143, 153, 154, 156, 162, 163,
175-183, 286
Althusser, Louis–27
Anderson, Chester–201, 214, 220, 221
Antonioni, Michelangelo–48, 219
Aretino, Pietro–35
Aristotle–5, 157, 282
Artaud, Antonin–28, 271, 274
St. Augustine–80


Banshchikov, V.M.–223
Barth, John–205
Barthes, Roland–59, 271, 272, 274

Baudelaire, Charles–87
Beauvoir, Simone de–11, 22, 48
Beckett, Samuel–22, 27, 28, 59, 114, 177, 180, 271, 274
Beethoven, Ludwig van–45, 153
Bell, Daniel–119-121, 123- 125, 277, 278, 281-284
Bely, Andrei–78
Benjamin, Walter–183, 191-193, 195
Berdyaev, Nikolai–73, 74, 84, 96, 270
Berg, Alban–114
Bergman, Ingmar–48
Bergson, Henri–50, 51
Bernanos, Georges–140
Bertram, Ernst–12
Blok, Alexander–5, 31
Bluem, A. William–218, 219, 242, 263-265
Boccaccio, Giovanni–32
Borgia, Cesare–32, 35, 70, 140
Botticelli, Sandro–32
Bradbury, Bay–242
Brecht, Bertold–105, 180
Breton, Andre–126, 142, 143, 272
Brinkman, R.D.–221, 226, 240
Brown, Bruce–126
Brown, Norman–22, 120, 126 206, 207
Buonarroti, Michelangelo–32, 35
Burckhardt, Jacob–35, 79, 84

Cage, John–227
Camus, Albert–8, 10, 11, 22, 48, 271
Cellini, Benvenuto–32
Che Guevara, Ernesto–231
Chirico, Giorgio–28
Clement VI–32, 33
Cohen, Leonard–221
Comte, Auguste–16
Croce, Benedetto–49


Dahrendorf, Ralf–69
D'Annunzio, Gabriele–35
Dante, Alighieri–32, 166
Domenach, Jean-Marie–8, 27- 29, 59, 97, 269-274, 276, 277
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor–17, 74, 76, 80, 259, 262, 263, 266
Dresen, Adolf–244
Dufrenne, Michel–269
Dutschke, Rudi–254


Eisenstein, Sergei–5
Eliot, Thomas Stearns–246
Engels, Friedrich–12, 32, 33, 155, 262
Enzensberger, Hans Magnus–; 178, 183-191, 193-198, 201, 243, 257
Erasmus Roterodamus (Desiderius)–32
Ernst, Max–28, 274

Fanon, Frantz–201
Faulkner, William–11
Fellini, Federico–48, 114
Fetscher, Iring–252
Feuerbach, Ludwig–99
Fiedler, Leslie A.–202, 227, 231, 234, 240
Foucault, Michel Paul–7, 27,28, 59, 62, 271, 274
Frenzel, Ivo–256, 257
Freud, Sigmund–7, 8, 11, 22,
23, 27, 29, 102, 103, 107,
116-118, 120-122, 124-134,
136-138, 141, 143, 155, 157,
158, 181, 182, 206, 207, 226,
228, 247, 271, 272

Fromm, Erich–126-127, 133,
137, 141

lonesco, Eugene–22, 27, 28,

Jaspers, Karl–11, 37, 46-48

Joyce, James–11

Jung, Carl Gustav–11, 22, 69


Kafka, Franz–113, 180, 255
Kant, Immanuel–14, 95-97,

Keyserling, Hermann–12
Kierkegaard, Soren A.–46, 86, 87, 91, 176, 253
Kupferberg, Tuli–203-205, 214

Gentile, Giovanni–177
George, Stefan–12, 45
Glucksmann, Christine–165
Godard, Jean-Luc–231, 234
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von– 61, 111, 244, 248-250
Goodman, Paul–120
Gramsci, Antonio–33, 34
Greiner, Ulrich–244, 257, 258, 261
Guardini, Romano–63-77, 80, 83, 110, 140, 286
Gundolf, Friedrich–12
Gustaffson, Lars–244
Lacan, Jean–27, 28, 59, 62, 271
Lasswell, Harold–265
Lawrence, David Herbert–11
Leibnitz, Gottfried Wilhelm– 249
Lenin, Vladimir–36, 277
Leo X–35
Levi-Strauss, Claude–27, 28, 62, 271
Lipton, Lawrence–208
Luther, Martin–32


Machiavelli, Niccolo–32, 35, 67, 140
McLuhan, Marshall–59, 127, 137, 183, 201, 203-205, 209, 215-218, 241-243, 262-265, 267
Maier, Hans–244, 245
Mailer, Norman–201, 205
Malatesta, Sigismondo–35
Mann, Erika–223
Mann, Thomas–11, 12, 18, 19, 22, 61, 62, 111, 153, 211, 213,

Mao Tsetung–160, 161, 198
Marat, Jean Paul–232
Marcel, Gabriel–8, 11, 22, 48, 75-93, 94, 96, 97, 286
Marcuse, Herbert–22, 108, 120, 126, 128-138, 140, 141, 142-
159, 201, 274


Handke, Peter–201, 227
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich–126, 176, 188, 194, 195, 219
Heidegger, Martin–10, 11, 22, 48, 53, 273
Heine, Heinrich–209
Hemingway, Ernest–11
Herzen, Alexander–139
Hesse, Hermann–70
Hitler, Adolf-104, 121, 179, 227, 240, 241, 244, 263-265, 269
Homer–97, 102
Horkheimer, Max–8,22,93-103, 103, 107-111, 116, 129, 138,

140, 156, 181, 182
Hrdlicka, Alfred–244
Hiibscher, Arthur–64
Husserl, Edmund–11, 47
Hutten, Ulrich von–32
Huxley, Aldous-157, 223

Marx, Karl–8, 12-14, 23, 27,
32, 33, 36, 82, 96, 99, 102,
114, 126, 127, 135, 140, 141,
143, 155, 157-159, 161, 163,
165, 173, 176, 181, 182, 188,
191, 199, 253, 262, 273, 276,
277, 281, 285, 287

Maschke, Giinter–244, 245, 247, 250, 253-259

Mauriac, Francois–140

Mayakovsky, Vladimir–5

Medici, Lorenzo (Lorenzo the

Melanchthon, Philip–32

More, Thomas – 32

Morgan, Lewis Henry–273, 281

Mounier, Emmanuel–95

Munch, Evrard–179

Murdoch, Iris–22, 23

Muschg, Adolf-245, 248, 249,
250, 252, 254-259

Musil, Robert–45

Mussolini, Benito–241, 263, 264


Napoleon, Bonaparte–237
Nekrasov, Nikolai–30
Nevzorova T.A.–223
Nietzsche, Friedrich–7, 8, 10-
12, 19, 22, 26, 30, 37-39, 41,
42, 45, 46, 48, 56, 61, 67, 84,
87, 88, 95, 98, 99, 104, 106,
129, 139, 140, 182, 260
Novalis (Friedrich Leopold von Hardenberg)–45

Ortega y Gasset, Jose–64, 65, 73, 80, 96, 285, 286
Orwell, George–75, 190, 243

Rabelais, Francois–79
Raphael (Raffaello Santi)–32
Reich, Charles–22
Reich, Wilhelm–126, 140, 272 274
Richter, Horst Eberhard–247 248
Rickert, Heinrich–39
Riesman, David–22
Rilke, Rainer Maria–81
Robbe-Grillet, Alain–27, 28, 59, 274
Roszak, Theodore–22, 120, 127
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques–235- 237
Roux, Jacques–232
Ruble, Giinter–245, 254, 255, 257, 258, 261

Sade, Donatien Alphonse de– 232
Saint-Simon, Claude Henri de Rouvroy–278
Sartre, Joan-Paul–8, 10, 11,
22, 48, 129, 140, 146, 159-
178, 180, 198, 254, 271, 274

Savonarola, Girolamo–32
Schellemann, Carlo–231
Schiller, JohannChristoph Friedrich von–249
Schmied, Wieland–245, 253
Schonberg, Arnold–112, 114, 116, 145
Schopenhauer, Arthur–19, 53, 56, 61, 136
Sontag, Susan–201
Sorel, Georges–241
Spengler, Oswald–12, 19, 21-23, 37, 49-62, 97, 100, 139,
141, 241, 257
Spinoza, Baruch–274
Stafford, Peter–222

Parsons, Talcott–69
Passmore, John–201, 205, 208- 210, 240
Pasternak, Boris–70, 71
Petrarch (Petrarca), Francesco– 32 33

Plato–5, 80, 157, 282
Picasso, Pablo–28, 114
Piccolomini, Octavio–32

Theunissen, Michael–245, 253
Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)–32
Tolstoy, Lev–5, 17
Trachtenberg, Alan–221, 237, 240
Trilling, Lionel–279

Turenne de–33
Walser, Martin–201, 202, 214,

Tyutchev, Fyodor–275
221, 223, 227, 231, 234, 240, 257


Watts, Alan–222
Weber, Max–13, 37, 38, 40-

Vinci, Leonardo da-32 49 62 87 132 139
Visconti, Luchmo-235, 237
Webern, Anton von-114
Vygotsky, Lev-216
Wagner, Richard–19, 45, 99, 115

Ziegler, Jean–244, 253, 254
Zola, Emile–17

BIBLIOGRAPHY The Author's Works on the Topic of the Present Book (list in Russian, so not included here)