Where did you find so many stories, Master Ludovico?



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307
“At the instant of death we penetrate the substance of history.” One of the best sayings of Léon Bloy.131 In such an approach the episodic becomes irrelevant, while matter begins to radiate with greater intensity. The door, the gate, acquires meaning in itself—the narrow way and the valley of shadows become even more narrow, they are transformed into the Bridge of Sirat, which separates time and eternity like the blade of a knife. Among millions of temporal passages only one counts, which, like the unit in the cosmos of numbers, is concealed in all of them.
The cross is perceived with more force and with more power, when it is lowered to the one who is to be crucified. The prophets saw more, the evangelists less—thus it is for all consummation in time. The Moon landing is one of the examples with respect to our time. Here one must seek, among other things, one of the reasons why the Jews did not accept the Messiah. We are even less capable of accepting the Moon in the form in which it has been offered to us.
Nevertheless, being was concentrated then, as epiphany, in the phenomenon, while today it is flattened out. Hills and crosses were extremely abundant. After having defeated Spartacus, Pompey ordered that the main road to Naples should be lined with crucified prisoners. But only once has the hill of the world appeared at Calvary, and in the cross the universal fate of man. For an instant the door opened; the curtain was torn down. This has lasted for two thousand years.
This is how we should view the door, just as we should see the cross. If we were to live in a mathematical world, the cosmos of numbers would have been arranged in this way: in the cross of the coordinates, as a basis for all arithmetical and geometrical operations. In a magical world, a splinter of its wood would become the goal of crusades and pilgrimages.
Bloy, who in our epoch has had a surprisingly sharp eye for signs and figures, says in one of his diary entries that, in any case, the form of the cross would have been realized in history. If Christ had been condemned to die by the sword, we would have venerated the hilt of the sword in the form of a cross, and if he had been stoned, then he would have died with his arms extended in the form of a cross. This is one example among many, one example above all for the concentration of being that manifests the real even while the real is disappearing. The more powerful the influx of reality, the more the outlines of names and dates are blurred. This is experienced in the form of a peculiar interweaving of apocalyptic feelings and an increasing sense of serenity.
308
Approach cannot stop with the father and the mother, with Adam and Eve, with the gods and the demigods, with the protozoa and crystals. Nor can it stop with the material that the psychologists bring to light.
Dostoyevsky mentions, in a letter to A. F. Blagonrovov dated December 9, 1880, the chapter in Karamazov in which he describes Ivan’s conversation with the devil, and expresses his fear that he might be accused of bad taste or superstition for writing such things. And he adds: “I would be pleased if you would corroborate my opinion, as a doctor, as to just how faithful my description of the psychological illness of the hero of my novel actually is.”
This passage conveys somewhat the impression of a prince of the spirit who is trying to obtain a passport and some spending money at a customs office, instead of passing through the wall and its guards. They are the signs of an epoch in which theology has lost power and clings to the apron-strings of science. Nietzsche also praised “the psychological mastery” of Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky exhibits that capacity that in our epoch forms part of the job of the psychologist and, certainly, of his analytical premises. One asks, as in every job, what it is good for and where it is leading. Psychological differentiation will end up dissipating into hot air rather than getting to the bottom of things.
309
In the meantime, the aspect of the spiritual passage has been radically transformed, and there are things that have benefited from passing through the fountain of youth of devaluation. They are contemplated from new perspectives, and for that reason they point towards new and distant horizons. In this context we must mention the fashionable word: “demystification”, even if only as a kinetic phenomenon, as a kind of clearance operation.
If, for example, I were to get rid of my theological furniture, and take down paintings, because they seem outdated to me, perhaps even because I find them disturbing, there would be empty spaces on the walls. Naturally, one’s glance does not fall on the empty space, but on that which the images represent. These have been disguised and covered up. The same thing often happens in one’s house or apartment, especially when moving—we take down a faded, yellowish painting, and behind it appears the wallpaper in its original color, not discolored by the light. This wallpaper represents the undifferentiated, and perhaps even the reticulum.
The force flows from those depths; not only have we become capable of creating new images, but also of seeing what the old images represented, of understanding the sacrifices that were offered to them. This is the stage that follows the transvaluation of values. More surely than the hammer, it heralds the new from which it has crossed the line.
Of course: the old images were not sufficient, and time will consume even the new ones. We do not penetrate into their heart. However, a new glance begins to be directed towards time and its diversity of forms, a glance that not only discerns the substance that is concealed behind the masks, but also in its own surface. The birth of the morphology of culture at the beginning of the century is a clear sign. This raising up of one stratum after another, each of which fascinates, while the last one never satisfies, as if one were to search under the ruins of cities that are constantly being destroyed, the Troy of the poet, belongs to the legacy of our experiences.
Certain attempts to refine materialism have had to precede this process. Not all of those who looked here for life found it. The sarcophagus with a lid of stone, wood and metal only conceals a mummy. However, the scarab is the herald of hidden riches. When its wing covers vibrate, everything, even the hardest rock, is restored to life.
310
This is the light of time, a whole separate theme. When we inspect this stratum, as laborers or as a mining foreman, as geologists, paleontologists, historians or specialists in prehistory, as speleologists or explorers of the ocean depths, we merely carry out attempts at resuscitation. Dinosaurs, Cro-Magnon men, pharaohs of the Valley of the Kings, Agamemnon of Mycenae, all of them erupt, conjured by knowledge, in our world. Naturally, everything is reduced to a play of shadows inside our cave—an allusion to the enormous density of the substance. They repose in the lap of an infinite and ineffable plenitude, at the margin of which we know something or nothing about their existence. “The resurrection”, like “the miracle”, is included among those auxiliary concepts, thanks to which we get a glimpse of the inapprehensible. They are dissolutions of timeless powers by means of perception. A ray of light enters through the window; it is but one among many others, and only for that reason is it bearable.
“More light”132 might also mean “only light” and, in this sense, one would have to understand the maxim as holy and as a sign of the transition.133
Scepticism of the will
311
The style that is being developed in our epoch is sober, objective and of an inexorable precision. At the same time, it is fantastic to an extreme degree—and it is our job to bring these two qualities to equilibrium in action and to their adjustment in contemplation. I dealt with this problem in a brief text entitled, Sicilian Letter to the Man in the Moon (1930),134 to which I need add nothing more.
The style of the epoch also colors the exploration of those strata where events and objects are not present, but ideas, which are more important than voyages in the astronomical cosmos.
Gods, demons, ancestral spirits, totem animals, and immediate emanations of animate and inanimate nature, were in the past the objects of experience; the encounter signified for the participants and, often enough for the historical world as well, the advent of a new epoch. Here we will not engage in an exhaustive investigation and archeological survey, but instead, for an instant, the curtain will open, in close proximity to the timeless. In the Sacred Writings and in the myths of the peoples testimonies of this vision of the great mysteries have been preserved, a vision that is frightening rather than comforting. On the beach at Patmos and on the Sinai, the elements become fertile.
312
From the encyclopedists to the textual critics and the declared nihilists, scepticism has provoked an overturning of the world of images, which has led to the cultural revolution. The creation of a blank space, however, can only cover surfaces. When it becomes absolute, the process begins to change; monotony becomes eloquent.
When paintings were taken down in the past, what remained was not an empty space, but a vacant space. The radiation that emanates from this space can become so strong, that it begins to be dazzling. This applies not just to the undermining of images, but also to the attention that was previously concentrated on them. Sacrifice, prayer, and invocation, cease to exist, but they leave behind them an unsatisfied need. This need is not capable of being interpreted on its own terms, since it is deeply rooted in the bios and in its instincts: even the flower worships, when it turns towards the sun.
Here particular dangers are incubated, since if the vacuum absorbs that which disappears with the ebbing of the tide, certain primitive atavisms may be awakened. This explains not just the sectarianism that is flourishing everywhere, but also the idolatrous worship devoted to political scarecrows and their theories. Our intelligent contemporaries free themselves from the last inhibitions. A black who goes to the jungle to make an offering of a handful of fruit to his fetish not only works in a more reasonable way, but is also infinitely less dangerous.
By this I am referring to the excesses that are intimately related to our topic. They are concomitant phenomena of the Great Transition, of the changing times, of the time of changes.
313
Knowledge is beginning to animate epochs and spaces from the past; they are conjured. This can only be a beginning. In the caves of Lascaux, in the Valley of the Kings, at the Lion Gate of Mycenae, in the reborn Pompey, a shudder overtakes us, as if the Platonic shadows have become transparent—now something very archaic and very venerable can supervene.
Venerable, of course, only in the context of the unintelligible, which metamorphoses in the realm of illusions. This goes beyond spatial and temporal greatness, artistic glory, the real power. All of this was mortal, just like us, and it is immortal like us. Hence the sorrow of Emir Musa and the secret jubilation for the changes of time.
Archeology today is reckoned among the highly developed sciences, and this in the ambivalent sense of knowledge: both the knowledge of cognition as well as knowledge of approach.
314
Scepticism accompanies us like Mephistopheles, and without it we would not feel right, like Peter Schlemihl when he lost his shadow. These days, the man without scepticism is the naked being, the primitive, the easy prey of ridicule—in the best cases, he is ripe for the museum. Eyeglasses are more than just a prosthesis; they are an article of our clothing.
Eyeglasses disillusion; it has long been the case that one only encounters visionaries among rustics. Only in dreams is scepticism unnecessary, and all attempts to fathom images do not reach the bottom. The ancients believed that in dreams we think and act like gods. The dream is a very powerful medium.
Finally, I do not want to forget repose in absolute blue, which does not extinguish images, but incorporates them, as if pieces of ice were melting in the still sea. It is not the blue of the Adriatic, or the blue of the Aegean or of the Pacific—perhaps the Mediterranean sea, or the ether of the most distant galaxies, has a similar radiance. In our epoch, the night no longer suffices as absolute repose.
315
When I disembark on this or that sphere of the psychic cosmos, I speak with the gods that live there, with Thor and Freya, with Brunhilda and Judith, with the crouching panther and the scarab, I do not doubt their power and their instruction; I have been dispossessed of my shadow, we are under a bright light.
However, when I return, I once again don my shadow. I did not yearn for a mitigation, but an amplification of consciousness—an objective and interpretable discovery. I can recount, or I can also remain silent about, what I have seen—whether due to prudence, or due to well-founded fear. Not only have I understood what moved men from all over the world and from ancient times. I have seen in their space and with their eyes.
This must not be confused with an escape to past epochs and remote places, as was the case, to one degree or another, with the romantics. It is likewise something different from the erudite approach to the spirit of the times by archeological, historical and ethnological inquiry.
Meanwhile, consciousness, with its ruthless shadows, has become even more acute. Consciousness therefore accompanies us towards the most remote part of the forest. This allows us to trace the contours and to classify encounters, for which the spirit, even now, was not prepared. We can even penetrate them and cross through them.
That which has supervened corroborates approach, the absent complements the present. They are found in the mirror, which dissolves time and unrest. The mirror has never been so empty, so lacking in dust and images—it is the work of two centuries. To this is added the hammering in the workshop—the curtain becomes transparent; the stage is free.
Parerga to Approaches135
Cats and dogs
Like all questions pertaining to matters of taste and even more to matters of sympathy, the dispute about who enjoys preeminence, the dog or the cat, can never be resolved. Here, deep inclinations come to light, as well as aversions. There are people, and they are not few in number, who find that just being near a cat or a dog causes them physical discomfort.
Richelieu was crazy about cats, particularly very young ones. Bismarck preferred enormous dogs. We can hardly imagine that Hitler would feel a predilection for cats; he raised German shepherds, the last of which he ordered to be poisoned before he died.
There are diverse points of view from which one may establish such a comparison. If we start from nobility, understanding by that term the preservation of one’s freedom, independence and dignity, the cat undoubtedly deserves our praise. It follows no orders, it refuses all of them—except for the ones that it likes. It only responds to calls and caresses when it pleases. In fact, it is the cat that caresses us; Baudelaire saw this quite clearly, and dedicated some very beautiful verses to the cat.
“If they could bend their pride to rein or whip

Erebus would have them for gloomy steeds.”136


In the house of masters who expect and demand service we would find ourselves, for this reason, among dogs and horses instead, and often in great numbers. This custom still survived until quite recently; today you have to travel to distant lands to find even a kennel, a stable or a falconry reserve, and even in these peripheral regions they survive almost exclusively as collectors’ pieces. Horsemanship has become a sport like any other. Riding a horse is no longer a sign of power, it is not a privilege of the knightly way of life. In a dynamic epoch, the horse has less importance than the amount of horsepower that can be mobilized; its power is quantifiable.
When Pückler wrote his travel letters, East and West were still full of horses and dogs. The foxhunt represents an important theme in these letters; Pückler tells us about one of his fantastic loves, a kind of resuscitated Wild Hunter137 who possessed two terrible packs of hounds: with one he hunted the fox, while the other rested. These hunting dogs, and even more the deer-hunters, devour incredible amounts of meat; to feed just one pack cost, per year, more than a thousand pounds, and this at a time when Ireland was experiencing shortages of even potatoes. The dog, especially in his largest and strongest breeds, was a regular resident of castles and palaces, as the friend of the rich and powerful, of hunters, knights and policemen; he is also found in hells and abysses. The Bible does not attribute any good things to the dog, except that he licked the sores of Lazarus. But he is also the loyal guardian and defender of his master and, often enough, the last to remain faithfully at his side.
***
Although they were subjected to harsh criticism during his lifetime, Pückler’s letters constitute a gold mine of discoveries. In Germany, elegance always arouses suspicion. Reading these letters is like walking through a masquerade dance, where the figures are hardly visible through clouds of confetti. Not only are there comical and vain features, but also grotesque and archaic ones. Corresponding to a fashion of that epoch, a quintessence or a consommé will begin every chapter, a didactic example for hack writers on the theme: “the preamble”.
In the letter that discusses hunting cited above one also finds “Fox-hunt” and “Clerical fox-hunters”, and, among others, “Billy, the rat-destroyer”, “Colours of the days”, “Anecdote told by Sir Walter Scott”, “Disadvantages of a sandy soil”, and also “Ride in the steam-carriage”.
This “steam-carriage” constituted one of the attractions at Regents Park; it reached a speed of five miles per hour. Pückler was naturally one of the first curious observers who dared to take a ride on this train (1828). “The smell of oiled iron, which makes steamboats so unpleasant, [was] far more insufferable here.” Horses and sailing ships would survive another hundred years, when they were rapidly eliminated; in this case, however, the knight’s sense of smell sensed the enemy even at its very beginnings. A corresponding passage may be found in Wilhelm Meister, where the first whistle of the locomotive is described. That which is supervening announces its arrival.
On that very same day, the indefatigable prince also rode “the carriage drawn by kites”, the invention of a British schoolteacher, which made a good impression on him. The vehicle’s forward motion depended on a large kite. Pückler: “The sensation is very agreeable, for you glide over the unevennesses of the road as if carried over them…. As a country diversion, the invention is, at all events, greatly to be recommended.”
The encounter of homo ludens with homo faber is fused at the margins; technology can assume ludic forms and vice versa. Freedom is fortifying; it instills life into the marionettes. The pinball machines in bars: someone puts a coin in one, launches a ball, swings at it with the flippers, listens to the sounds of the bells and sees the lights turning on, sees his score mount, sees the lights flash and then puts another coin in the machine. You can fly to Jupiter, win an auto race or sink ten thousand tons of shipping. They are prayer mills.
Back to cats. Being around them is good for the man who lives a tranquil and contemplative way of life. Old women love them. Rome is also home to many half-wild cats, large numbers of which have sought shelter in the Forum, in the Theater of Marcellus and in other plazas. The ruins, with their crumbling vaults, offer them a refuge. In Rome I often saw a very old woman who brought the animals a basket full of good food. At her call they emerged from the undergrowth or from behind the ruins and columns, giving voice to meows of recognition, purring and rubbing their sinuous backs against the hand of their benefactor.
Paul Léautaud, together with his girlfriend, the “Panthère”, brought similar pleasure to the cats of the Luxembourg. They brought them meat patties from a butcher on the Rue de Seine.
The cat is better company for the man of the Muses than is the dog. He does not impede the course of thoughts, dreams and daydreams. He even favors them by way of a sphinx-like radiation. Albrecht Erich Günther, a great lover of cats, views them as household guardians that ward off demons, and he attributed their inestimable contribution to domestic tranquility to that role.
It is true that cats do not depend on people; they are not loyal like dogs. This is why slavish submission is alien to them. The name of the dog and the name of the cat can both be used as insults. This is true, in fact, for almost all domestic animals and for many other animals, in a descending line, down to the worm and the snail, and displays profound affinities ex negativo. As totem animals, free and powerful beasts are chosen: the lion, the bear, the buffalo, the eagle, the hawk and also the snake formed part of this group. What is surprising is that cats do not appear in the Bible, even though the Jews must have been very familiar with them, at least during their exile in Egypt, where cats were numbered among the animals that were worshipped as gods.
The cat, then, depends less on the person than on the house. It is true that humans also belong to the house. When I observe “Manda”, who has kept me company for almost four years now, including this January of 1969, I am amazed by her sense for the right place and time. In the morning she likes to come with me to the studio, because silence reigns there. The hallway is busy; in the kitchen she hears the tinkling of the silverware or the hum of the dishwasher, which she finds particularly disturbing. She could walk on the floor, but prefers furnished spaces. Most of the time she remains invisible on the seat of a chair, under the table. She values the tablecloth highly. When the sun shines into the studio, she tends to favor the windowsill; she jumps to the mantelpiece or even onto my lap, when she feels better there. It will also happen that she will lie down on her back on the floor—in this way she expresses her desire to be caressed.
Why does the pleasure of such a creature affect us so deeply, why does it provide us with such enjoyment, why does it make us so happy, in a way that operates more powerfully than its individual sympathy? It is true: look how beautiful that canine gaze is, as if he sought to discern something in our eyes, as if he were expecting to see a sign that would bridge the enormous abyss that separates us from him. But even if he were capable of understanding our language, we would not be able to answer his questions. The only dog I ever owned was a female German Shepherd; and what I found most surprising about her was the intense way that this animal knew that I was her master, despite the fact that I did not lavish a lot of attention on her. She died of distemper at the foot of my cot, in a barracks during the First World War. I sat there, suffering, as I have always suffered—and I did not lack for reasons—when I was obliged to say goodbye. It was a silent moment, while the shadows lengthened, peacefully, almost outside of time. Luxi had dark brown eyes and she overwhelmed me, right up to her last breath, with her affection. In what did my merit consist? There, something took place that I can only sense and with respect to which she was closer than I was.
***
The gaze of the cat is more distant and strange; his eyes are yellow like amber, blue like the sapphire, green like turquoise. Manda’s eyes are of a blue color one hardly ever normally encounters in nature, either in the fish of the coral reefs or in the Bird of Paradise. Her iris reminds me of the blue of the imperial morning glory on a calm and mild morning.
Manda is the natural born mistress of the house; she accepts my affection and my service as something that is her due. Her power is great, because it is based on a beauty of which she is confident. If she could form an idea of fate, it would be one in which I would be a slave of the temple, devoted to her service. Luxi, on the other hand, may have considered me to be her god.
Sometimes Manda would lick my hand, but motivated by a kind of curiosity, not, undoubtedly, out of mere affection. When she does not get her way, she gives voice to disconcerting sounds, for example, when she is not fed at her usual time. She demands raw beef lungs cut into large pieces, she will reluctantly drink milk, and sometimes she will eat a small piece of fish.
Today, January 20, 1969, around midday, she has been sitting next to me since this morning, under the table, on her mat, exhausted from her nocturnal adventures. It is during these nights when kittens are engendered. When she comes home in the evening she sits at our side with her purring and her enthusiastic meows, she stretches out on her back and begins to claw the chair, until I cannot take it anymore and I let her go out. A tomcat is already waiting in the shadow of the stable. She escapes from my hands and leaps, through the snow, onto the tomcat, with a deep cooing sound. Both of them disappear into the darkness; one can hear their demoniacal activities from the garden. The cries of the Siamese cats are more frightening than the cries of the local cats. A peasant from Dorfrand, who could not sleep because of all the noise, said: “If I did not know it was your cat, I would have taken care of it.” That summer he had already lost several chicks to my cat.
***
There is an aura around every animal; they are quite at home in the heart of the world as much as any one of us. When I observed the chickens in the shadows of the barn floor, but also, in the full light of day, in their enthusiastic and powerful incursions into prohibited gardens, this impression is strengthened. Two years ago, I was, with Taurita, engaged in one of our excursions through an empty village in the middle of Angola. It was around midday; the blacks were at the plantation or hunting. A handful of huts and barns bordered the village square. There, chickens were busy pecking around in the dung very silently; it was a village of animals, not of human beings.
The power of the animal is prodigious; the cosmos is hidden behind it. One could name painters and poets who even today possess free access to secrets that have long been inaccessible to theologians. What the latter discipline knows about the lamb and the dove, and also of the serpent, is nothing but a lot of allegories without any vitality or power. They remind us of the eunuch angels of paradise, where tedium reigns.
With the Jews, demystification began, not just of the gods, but also of all of nature, the mineralization of the serpent, and contempt for the summits on which the trees and the animals were the object of worship. The Christians carried on with their work.
***
The cat lacks that intense and immediate sympathy towards people which is present in the dog. The latter is the escort of the active and vigilant man, above all the hunter and the herdsman—even at the most ancient campfires he must have kept man company. It is an authentic symbiosis, a very close form of living together, and also something more.
The dog participates in the expeditions and voyages of human beings. We find him both among the natives of the Tropics as well as among the Eskimos. Even feral domestic dogs hunt in packs over long distances.
The cat, on the other hand, is not an animal of the campfire, although he is one of the animals that like to sleep close to the fire. The human way of life does not influence him, although the community is his habitation; it is more like cohabitation than living together; less like symbiosis than saprophytism. What probably happened is that humans caught a kitten now and then and ended up getting used to it. Thus, at the Von Krosig farm in Libolo,138 I saw a genet that had been trapped by a hunter, an animal as elegant as it is fierce which, if he is approached, will try to avoid contact and will climb on top of a cupboard or take refuge under a desk. He only allows the daughter of the house to pet him, a twelve year old girl. He will also eat from her hands. Thus, there are always human beings who overcome the differences from the undifferentiated and thanks to its internal warmth, demonstrating, in this way, their vocation for domestication. By entering into contact a magnetic attraction is generated.
I often saw the genets jumping over the trail, like shadows in whose green colors lighthouses were reflected. It is capable of crawling on the ground like a lizard; Brehm says of this creature that it seems to set a hundred joints into motion. In these genets and civets, perhaps some kind of domestic animal may be concealed; the tiger-civet, most graceful of the feline-like animals, is often praised as a particularly pleasant companion.
***
The dog hunts by day, the cat by night. Not only is the cat a home-loving animal, but he is totally nocturnal. His eyes, his ears, his tactile fur, his silent, elastic nature, and the fact that he sleeps by day corroborate this. He does not hunt in a pack and he does not need any guide; he feels good alone.
This is why, by his nature, the cat seeks out the company of solitary people. His taste corresponds to that other facet of the human being, leisurely, self-absorbed, poetic, imaginative and visionary. The cat has his natural place wherever the human being spends the day sleeping, not excluding the oneiric life, as I observed in Manda: sometimes, while she was sleeping, her jaw would move, as if she had caught a mouse, or her hair would stand on end, as if she was approached by a dog. Then she would give vent to a sound of profound contentment.
The cat’s power is not concentrated in movement, but in tranquility; and the pleasure, the participation in well being is more profound and universal than what could be conceded by mere sympathy. Here, too, there is contact, but it not only produces heat, but the concentrated power begins to be interwoven into space and to be communicated: it is the timeless depths, free of desires, which now dawn.
***
The more we accommodate ourselves to the times and allow ourselves to be swept along by its current, the farther we will be removed from that which endures. This also applies to animals; never before has so much and so little been known about them at the same time. Never before has there been such an accumulation of anatomical and ethological knowledge. Never before has so little ever been known about their salutary essence, about the intact splendor of their nature as creatures; something that myths and legends have seen as miraculous, and that forms of worship venerated as a divine quality.
A partial blindness, associated with a higher level of wisdom, distinguishes homo faber, whether he directs his gaze towards the stars, towards man or towards the atoms. This is the basis of his power—and naturally also his suffering, and perhaps his downfall.
***
The North, the active world, melancholy, dogs and beer are mutually harmonizing, just as the South corresponds with dreams, wine, cats and Dionysian joy. We can form chains of such a kind that we can amplify them, at our whim, until they compose the molecules of organic chemistry. They are subtle affinities, but also fragile ones. We realize very quickly how we are addressing the individual case. There, nothing really exists but variants and exceptions.
For example: it is obvious that Bismarck and Hitler could only love big, strong dogs—just as Bismarck and Pückler demonstrated their sensitivity to dogs and cats. Bismarck and Hitler conducted military campaigns in France. Richelieu was crazy about cats; Clemenceau liked to be referred to as “the Tiger”. Both had waged wars against the German Empire.
Hitler’s aversion towards horses not only forms part of his nature, but is also a typical trait of the epoch, since our time is not favorable for horses. As is becoming increasingly and ominously more perceptible, our time is hostile towards animals and plants, while the role of the horse also corresponds to that of a symbol of social status. The horse is only allowed in sports, that is, wherever the character of labor has penetrated even into play and games. It survives in the same way as the sailing ship.
Hitler decimated the aristocracy and would have exterminated it if he had enough time. He would have preferred to conduct the war without officers, with only technicians and functionaries. His secret infiltration of Political Commissars into the army was a first step in this direction.
A young soldier who returned from Narvik told me that there, on a certain occasion, they needed a bolt for an artillery piece. When Hitler heard about this, he immediately called the warehouse where such a bolt could be obtained. Something like that makes a big impression on technicians.
Just as he disliked horses, Hitler also felt an aversion for beer. Even the smell of people who had been drinking beer, he found disagreeable; this aversion was based, in turn, on his strict vegetarianism, which largely presupposed a particular sensitivity. This quality conferred an advantage on him, insofar as it warned him of dangers and allowed him to avoid assassination attempts. There is information about the changes he made in his itineraries and his long-established plans that showed how high-strung he was. There was no lack of hysterical traits. The mother image is surprising; a model example of the lunar and sleepwalking type. Then there is the father, like a drill sergeant.
“When that old man looked at me with his one eye, he seemed to me to be a complete stranger”: this was a precocious assessment of Stauffenberg. When he appeared alone, for example, when reviewing troops, he tried to cover his private parts, either with his hat or with his hands. A trait that is obvious in many photos. A defect, even a castration complex, might be suggested. It appears that his corpse was even subjected to a detailed autopsy, despite the abundant gasoline used to cremate it. He had in common with Sade the desire to leave no trace behind him after his death; and although both had quite different motives, there is a point of contact.
The sensitive part belongs to the sense of smell; the nauseated sneer, which consists in curling one’s upper lip and which is shared by many great persecutors—Stalin, Beria, Himmler and others.
Chaplin did not need to make faces to play the role of the dictator: both are contemporaries, almost born on the same day. This is the key to his bashfulness. From the sublime to the ridiculous, as also from the ridiculous to the horrible, there is only one step. Of course, Chaplin is the more potent, the more radical. Laughter, too, can shatter foundations and bring down walls. Hitler set the fire, and Chaplin brought fuel to the fire, even dynamite.
This constitutes a separate topic. Here we should only point out that the classification by types such as “dogs and cats” only establishes crude differences. In the case of Bismarck we would have to add the bear, and in that of Clemenceau, the rooster. In this way, increasingly more subtle differentiations are required to characterize the individual. This situation was more simple when one still trusted in and relied on the totem and on this basis made distinctions. When consciousness was powerful it did not need to fall back on characters, but on types; it celebrated festivities where it experienced not only similarity, but identity, with the animal.
This unity has been lost for a long time; one of the symptoms is the absence of plants and animals on seals and flags, as well as the disappearance of the Fleur de lis and the eagle from standards and heraldry. The fact that this is a loss is a fact that is recognizable by the vehemence of the nostalgia that follows in its wake. The search is urgent, the rediscovery, even if only by way of a detour through Mexico.



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