Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Oswald Spengler: a man in awe of cycles

Cycles, the cyclical nature of history, reality, is what Oswald Spengler was in awe of.  I say BS to 'Marvelous', wonderful, fabulous, Spengler's theory of cycles and the rise and fall of civilisations, and how all civilisations were basically doomed to crash and burn from the moment they were conceived.

Did knowledgeable Spengler know nothing of Odin, Hoenir and Lodurr, and how they slayed the Tyrannical Frost Giant Ymir (the Norse equivalent of Cronus, who ate everything that he produced/gave birth to)?  Odin, Hoenir and Lodurr slayed Ymir for a reason, for a really good reason: to be free of the tyranny of cycles, of repetition, of fatalism, of determinism, of bad habits, of no future.  That's why Odin, Hoenir and Lodurr killed Ymir, to give you freedom that they never had.

Do you want to go back to the time of Ymir: The time of the tyrant?  The time of tyranny?  Do you want to throw away all that Odin and Hoenir and Lodurr have given to you, personally ('Wilfullness', 'Logical thinking', and 'Sense perception' respectively)?  Do you want to throw away the freedom to choose (the freedom to 'see' options even): the freedom to see more than one future; to have more than one type bread on the table; to wear more than one type of blue jumpsuit or set of overalls on the plantation that your master, the tyrant told you to wear.  Do 'You' want to reject all of that?  Do you, really?  If you do, and want to have your life dominated by cycles again, then.. pffft.. urgh, I have nothing to say to you.  Get lost and read Francis Fukuyama and bloviate about how 'the crash of the western world is imminent (part 4,952)'.  If you want to bind yourself to Spengler, Fukuyama and those other fatalistic SoBs then you're spiritually dead, you have no life in you, because all you want to do is stick heroin in your arm, time and time again, time after time after time after time, until finally the veins in your arm have retreated into your body which has rotted and turned into a corpse, and no-one cares about you anymore.  Get lost.

If you believe in repetition and perpetual cycles, then you believe that alcoholics and drug addicts and emasculated men can never redeem themselves and never ever get out of their self-destructive ruts.  You might even want to see kosher drugs-pushers like George Soros peddling/forcing their poison onto these poor, defenceless people.  If that is the case then I implore you to read around and see how miserable that 'fatalistic' outlook can really be.  It's that kind of fatalism, that kind of misery, that Odin, Hoenir and Lodurr did/do/will-do struggle to be rid of.  That's the type of fatalism that Oswald Spengler believed was inevitable.  That's why I think his basic premise is over-rated.

You must believe that fatalism isn't true if you want to shape the future, even if fatalism does have a role to play in perpetuating the present.

PS. This doesn't mean that I totally rejected cyclical patterns; we orbit around the sun, and the moon orbits around us, and both affect our lives.  Rather I'm stressing that Spengler ignored the importance of 'linear/forward motion' which is the companion to cycles, and over-focused on the cycles themselves.  If you focus on one at the expense of the other then you'll end up losing out (too much cycles = depressive outlook; too much linear motion = over-optimistic outlook).



  1. Destiny allows some room for creativity.

    Two men were born with practically identical horoscopes - they were born at the same time, in the same city.

    According to astrology, they should have had similar lives, because they had the same talents, the same potentials, etc.

    In fact one man became a murderer, and the other became a philanthropist.

    You can't change the hour of your birth, but you can decide how you use your potential.

  2. 'Destiny allows some room for creativity.'

    Destiny and the future aren't the same thing, though they do overlap one another in that they are about actions that you are yet to live through. Destiny is fixed and unchangable, literally zero options, that's why I think Spenglers awe of cycles is over-rated, because he denies that ability to create something in the future.

    Astrology as a guide of what people will develop into, or what their characters are like, is something that I'm unsure of. The Earth's Moon obviously exerts and influence, as does Sol, and I recall reading somewhere that a cosmic cloud dust in the milky way will affect the amount of radiation reaching the Earth from other stars, but how greatly this impacts on humans I don't know. It might be a slight, or compound effect.

  3. Anyone like Spengler who comes to terms with the cyclical (natural necessity) as absolute/unchanging obviously doesn't grasp its true import. Nature as necessity is tyrannical, as you expressed here, but also violent: in this, freedom and man ultimately die. There's so much possibility in the breaking of the cyclical that only someone weak of heart and mind could be inclined to desire or envision its permanence.

    No wonder the matriarchal cosmos are cyclical.

  4. Yeah that's one of the pit-falls of choosing the philosophers life. Quite often they end up looking at existence for so long that they cease to participate in it; let alone alter it according to their own will. It's like that old Alexander Pope quote "Forever reading never to be read". One can either spend most of their time looking at creation or they can spend most of their time creating. Spengler evidently spent most of his time looking at creation, and became pessimistic because of it. It's a shame really, evidently he had a good head on his shoulders but for some reason ended up neglecting to see that new things had been created (which means that linear/progress has supremacy over cyclical/stagnancy), despite the fact that he spent his whole life studying it!

    No wonder the matriarchal cosmos are cyclical.
    I never thought of it like that before. The Indo-European belief systems (Greek, Roman, Norse, Hindu etc, all are based on the same Proto-Indo-European culture) which have a large cyclical element to them (e.g. Ragnarok) never struck me as especially feminine. Maybe they've got a balance between masculine and feminine.

  5. It's quite odd but I guess a certain extreme of contemplation does lead to the negation of creative energy.

    Maybe I'm generalizing a bit on this subject, but I was more referring to primitive religions which worship the earth as mother or something similar. I'm fairly sure some feminist circles have brought this back--albeit in a contradictory way--but I won't go there at the moment. The earth religions have this cycle of rebirth and death which is set in stone according to natural necessity. It's like a revenge act of the female sex against her innate transcendence, the child, because in birthing she originates a power that will create beyond her capability (and that simply won't do). Swallowing up creative energy in cyclical time and space is the perfect way to keep femaleness as the dominant creative power. That's what I meant by a matriarchal cosmos; I guess I'm just bitter about certain limits of my own.

    I definitely know what you mean with regard to the Hindu belief system, considering it has the Brahma cycles and the incalculable times, but it does have a goal in "quitting" the cycle. Unfortunately it lacks the ability to confront the cycle and make something new out of necessity. Maybe it isn't feminine but it's certainly nihilistic.

  6. I'll have to take your word for it on the matriarchal religions, as I haven't read much about them beyond the odd internet page about Bachofen or Margaret Mead.

    Unfortunately it lacks the ability to confront the cycle and make something new out of necessity. Maybe it isn't feminine but it's certainly nihilistic.

    That's a good point. Both Jainism and Buddhism (Buddha was a Jainist monk before founding the 'middle-way' Buddhism) want to achieve freedom from cycles/rebirth but by means of negation rather than affirmation of themselves.