The Adventurous Heart is a perfect title for the book. Once inside, each page is like an adventure and it does indeed belong more in the sphere of the heart than in the rational mind. Strolling through nature—both the chlorophyllic and the human—Jünger ponders phenomena as well as his own conclusions in an intuitive way. Aloof, yes, but always intriguing enough to keep you hooked. It’s an unpredictable mystery, very subtly designed, and which works over and over and over (try re-reading On the Marble Cliffs or this one and see how much new stuff actually appears. A literary tricking of memory or simply a living, sentient text?). . . .
The most interesting bits are, for me, the fictional sections that are interspersed among these other more distinctly Jüngerian reflections. This atmosphere deals with the horror of everyday German life, exemplified by changing surroundings, acceptance of violence, a silent majority. . . . It’s a narrative always imbued with a dream-taint (a clever disguise) and chilling horror. That the Nazis allowed this book to be published—to say nothing of the critical On the Marble Cliffs the following year—is an utter mystery. Because Hitler admired Jünger as a war hero and as the author of The Storm of Steel, Jünger’s life was spared many times in the shadows of violent despotism. Goebbels, in particular, envied Jünger, courted him and then, after several rejections (for instance to the invitation to be a part of a new Nazi author’s academy) found him arrogant and deserving of a brutal fate. Jünger was indeed a lucky man. Or just plain intelligent and insightful. His aloof neutrality (or “désinvolture”, as he himself called it) became a trait for which he was respected in many different environments—and criticized in others.
Quite often, clear reproach leaks through sections of his magical realism: “Do you have any idea what goes on in this space that we will perhaps someday plunge through, the space that extends between the recognition of the downfall and the downfall itself?” The economy and balance of that sentence is just brilliant. A little bit more, and it would be heads off for sure, and a little bit less would be just a piece of gothic horror.
Continue reading Carl Abrahamsson’s “Ernst Jünger: A Master in the Making.”