Arts & Entertainment

The Glass Bees (Ernst Jünger)

The Glass Bees, a novel by the crucial Ernst Jünger, is not directly a political work. The focus here is the relation of man to technology, especially the resulting alienation of man, not from the fruits of his labor, but from his grounding in the real. At first, this seems very different from the focus in Jünger’s “tyranny trilogy” of The Forest Passage, Eumeswil, and The Marble Cliffs (or tetralogy, if you include Heliopolis, still not translated into English). Jünger’s constant focus, however, in all these works, although with different emphases, is how a man should govern himself, regardless of the forces that push and pull him. And in these desiccated and atomized days, such a call to individual action is more needed than ever.

This book, published in 1957, is eerily prescient about technology and its effects. We are living in the future Jünger feared. I have discussed Jünger before, so I will not repeat background on his life and works here, but if you are coming fresh to Jünger, you should stop reading and first learn more about him. This is easy enough; as with Carl Schmitt and Jacques Ellul, Jünger is increasingly coming back into fashion among forward-thinking men and women, because his thought is so directly relevant to, and applicable to, today.

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