The Decline of the West (full text, United States public domain translation)  

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The Decline of the West

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VOLUME ONE

FORM AND ACTUALITY [gestalt und wirklichkeit]

VOLUME TWO

PERSPECTIVES OF WORLD-HISTORY

[WELTHISTORISCHE PERSPEKTIVEn]


THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

FORM AND ACTUALITY

BY

OSWALD SPENGLER


AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION WITH NOTES BY

CHARLES FRANCIS ATKINSON


LONDON : GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD. RUSKIN HOUSE, 40 MUSEUM STREET, W.C. 1



NEW AND REVISED EDITION


Originally published as

Der Untergang des Abendlandes Gestalt und Wirhlichkeit

Copyright igi8 by

C. H. BeckschCy Verlagsbuchhandlung^

Munchen


P»INTBD IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


SEEN BY

PRESERVATION

SERVICES


THIS TRANSLATION IS DEDICATED TO

ELLINOR JAMES

A FRIEND


Wenn im Unendlichen dasselbe Sich wiederholend ewig fliesst. Das tausendfdltige Gewolbe Sich krdftig ineinander schliesst; Str'dmt Lebenslust aus alien Dingen, Dem kleinsten wie dem grossfen Stem, Und alles Drdngen, alles Kingen 1st ewige Kuh in Gott dem Herm.

— Goethe. ^


H


ILL\


TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE xi

found in Spengler's vast ordered multitude of facts, Eduard Meyer honourably bears testimony to our author's "erstaunlich umfangreiches, ihm stdndig prasenfes, IVissen" (a phrase as neat and as untranslatable as Goethe's "exakte sinnliche Phantasie"). He insists upon the fruitfulness of certain of Spengler's . ideas such as that of the "Second Religiousness." Above all, he adheres to and covers with his high authority the basic idea of the parallelism of organically- living Cultures. It is not necessarily Spengler's structure of the Cultures that he accepts — parts of it indeed he definitely rejects as wrong or insufficiently es- tablished by evidences — but on the question of their being an organic structure of the Cultures, a morphology of History, he ranges himself frankly by the side ; of the younger thinker, whose work he sums up as a " bleibendes und auf lange Zeit hinaus nachhaltig wirkendes Besitz unserer Wissenschaft und Literatur." This last phrase of Dr. Meyer's expresses very directly and simply that which for an all-round student (as distinct from an erudite specialist) constitutes the peculiar quality of Spengler's work. Its influence is far deeper and subtler than any to which the conventional adjective "suggestive" could be applied. It cannot in fact be described by adjectives at all, but only denoted or adumbrated by its result, which is that, after studying and mastering it, one finds it nearly if not quite impossible to approach any culture-problem — old or new, dog- matic or artistic, political or scientific — without conceiving it primarily as "morphological." -^

The work comprises two volumes — under the respective sub-titles "Form ^. and Reality" and "World-historical Perspectives" — of which the present translation covers the first only. Some day I hope to have the opportunity of completing a task which becomes — such is the nature of this book — more attractive in proportion to its difficulty. References to Volume II are, for the present, necessarily to the pages of the German original; if, as is hoped, this translation is completed later by the issue of the second volume, a list of the necessary adjustments of page references will be issued with it. The reader will notice that translator's foot-notes are scattered fairly freely over the pages of this edition. In most cases these have no pretensions to being critical annota- tions. They are merely meant to help the reader to follow up in more detail the points of fact which Spengler, with his "standig prasentes Wissen," sweeps along in his course. This being their object, they take the form, in the majority of cases, of references to appropriate articles in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which is the only single work that both contains reasonably full information on the varied (and often abstruse) matters alluded to, and is likely to be acces- sible wherever this book may penetrate. Every reader no doubt will find these notes, where they appertain to his own special subject, trivial and even annoy- ing, but h is thought that, for example, an explanation of the mathematical Limit may be helpful to a student who knows all about the Katharsis in Greek drama, and vice versa.


ni TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE

In condasioD I aumoc omit to put on record the part that my wife, Hannah Waller Atkiosoo, has taken in the work of translation and editing. I may best dcKiibe it by tayiog that it ought perhaps to have been recorded on the title pife iottead of in this place.

C. F. A.


V


PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION

At the close of an undertaking which, from the first brief sketch to the final shaping of a complete work of quite unforeseen dimensions, has spread itself over ten years, it will not be out of place to glance back at what I intended and what I have achieved, my standpoint then and my standpoint to-day.

In the Introduction to the 191 8 edition — inwardly and outwardly a frag- ment — I stated my conviction that an idea had now been irrefutably formu- lated which no one would oppose, once the idea had been put into words. I ought to have said: once that idea had been understood. And for that we must look — as I more and more realize — not only in this instance but in the whole history of thought — to the new generation that is bom with the ability to do it.

I added that this must be considered as a first attempt, loaded with all the customary faults, incomplete and not without inward opposition. The remark was not taken anything like as seriously as it was intended. Those who have looked searchingly into the hypotheses of living thought will know that it is not given to us to gain insight into the fundamental principles of existence without conflicting emotions. A thinker is a person whose part it is to sym- bolize time according to his vision and understanding. He has no choice; he thinks as he has to think. Truth in the long run is to him the picture of the world which was born at his birth. It is that which he does not invent but rather discovers within himself. It is himself over again : his being expressed in words; the meaning of his personality formed into a doctrine which so far as concerns his life is unalterable, because truth and his life are identical. This symbolism is the one essential, the vessel and the expression of human history. The learned philosophical works that arise out of it are superfluous and only serve to swell the bulk of a professional literature.

I can then call the essence of what I have discovered "true" — that is, true for me, and as I believe, true for the leading minds of the coming time; not true in itself as dissociated from the conditions imposed by blood and by history, for that is impossible. But what I wrote in the storm and stress of those years was, it must be admitted, a very imperfect statement of what stood clearly before me, and it remained to devote the years that followed to the task of correlating facts and finding means of expression which should enable me to present my idea in the most forcible form.

To perfect that form would be impossible — life itself is only fulfilled in death. But I have once more made the attempt to bring up even the earliest


J


xiv PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION

portions of the work to the level of definiteness with which I now feel able to speak; and with that I take leave of this book with its hopes and disappoint- ments, its merits and its faults.

The result has in the meantime justified itself as far as I myself am concerned and — judging by the effect that it is slowly beginning to exercise upon ex- tensive fields of learning — as far as others are concerned also. Let no one ex- pect to find everything set forth here. It is hut one side of what I sec before me, a new outlook on history and the philosophy of destiny — the first indeed of its kind. It is intuitive and depictive through and through, written in a language which seeks to present objects and relations illustratively instead of offering an army of ranked concepts. It addresses itself solely to readers who are capable of living themselves into the word-sounds and pictures as they read. Difficult this undoubtedly is, particularly as our awe in face of mystery — the respect that Goethe felt — denies us the satisfaction of thinking that dissections are the same as penetrations.

Of course, the cry of **pessimism" was raised at once by those who live eternally in yesterday (^Ewigiestrigen) and greet every idea that is intended for the pathfinder of to-morrow only. But I have not written for people who imagine that delving for the springs of action is the same as action itself; those who make definitions do not know destiny.

By understanding the world I mean being equal to the world. It is the hard reality of living that is the essential, not the concept of life, that the ostrich- philosophy of idealism propounds. Those who refuse to be bluffed by enuncia- tions will not regard this as pessimism; and the rest do not matter. For the benefit of serious readers who arc seeking a glimpse at life and not a definition, I have — in view of the far too great concentration of the text — mentioned in my notes a number of works which will carry that glance into more distant realms of knowledge.

And now, finally, I feel urged to name once more those to whom I owe practically everything: Goethe and Nietzsche. Goethe gave me method, Nietzsche the questioning faculty — and if I were asked to find a formula for my relation to the latter I should say that I had made of his "outlook" QAus- blick) an "overlook" (JJberblick). But Goethe was, without knowing it, a disciple of Leibniz in his whole mode of thought. And, therefore, that which has at last (and to my own astonishment) taken shape in my hands I am able to regard and, despite the misery and disgust of these years, proud to call a Gif w um philosophy,

Oswald Spbnglbr. Blanhnhmi am Har(^ Dtctmhtr, 1922,


PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION

The complete manuscript of this book — the outcome of three years' work

— was ready when the Great War broke out. By the spring of 1917 it had been worked over again and — in certain details — supplemented and cleared up, but its appearance in print was still delayed by the conditions then pre- vailing.

Although a f^ hilosophy of history^s its scope and subject, it possesses also a certain deeper significance as a commentary on the great epochal moment of which the portents were visible when the leading ideas were being formed.

The title, which had been decided upon in 1911, expresses quite literally the intention of the book, which was to describe, in the light of the decline of the Classical age, one world-historical phase of several centuries upon which we ourselves are now entering.

Events have justified much and refuted nothing. It became clear that these ideas must necessarily be brought forward at just this moment and in Germany, and, more, that the war itself was an element in the premisses from which the new world-picture could be made precise.

For I am convinced that it is not merely a question of writing one out of several possible and merely logically justifiable philosophies, but of writing the philosophy of our time, one that is to some extent a natural philosophy and is dimly presaged by all. This may be said without presumption; for an idea that is historically essential — that does not occur within an epoch but itself makes that epoch — is only in a limited sense the property of him to whose lot it falls to parent it. It belongs to our time as a whole and influences all thinkers, without their knowing it; it is but the accidental, private attitude towards it (without which no philosophy can exist) that — with its faults and its merits

— is the destiny and the happiness of the individual.

Oswald Spengler. Munich y December^ igrj*


rv


CONTENTS OF VOLUME I

Translator's Note ix

Author's Preface to the Revised Edition xiii

Author's Preface to the First Edition xv

Chapter I. Introduction i

Scope of the work, p. 3 . Morphology of World-History, a new philosophy, p. 5 . For whom is History? p. 8. Classical and Indian mankind ahistorical, p. 9. The Egyptian mummy and the burning of the dead, p. 13. The conventional scheme of World-History (ancient, medieval, modern), p. 15. Its origin, p. 18. Its breakdown, p. zi. Europe not a centre of gravity, p. ^3. The only historical method is Goethe's, p. x^. Ourselves and the Romans, p. z6. Nietzsche ahU Mommseh", p. z8. The protlem of Civilization, p. 31- Imperialism the last phase, p. 36. The necessity and range of our basic idea, p. 39. Its relation to prcscnt-day philosophy, p. 41. Philosophy's last task, p. 4^. The origin of this work, p. 46.

Chapter II. The Meaning of Numbers 51

Fundamental notions, p. 53. Numbers as the sign of delimitation, p. 56. Every Culture has its own Mathematic, p. 59. Number as magnitude in the Classical world, p. 64. Aristarchus, p. 68. Diophantus and Arabian number, p. 71. Number as Function in the Western Culture,^,, p. 74. World-fear and world-longing, p. 78. Geometry and arithemetic, p. 81. The Limit idea, p. 86. Visual limits transcended; symbolical space worlds, p. 86. Final possibilities, p. 87.

Chapter III. The Problem of World-history, (i) Physiognomic and / Systematic 91

Copernican methods, p. 93. History and Nature, p. 94. Form and Law, p. 97. Physiognomic and Systematic, p. 100. Cultures as organisms, p. 104. Inner form, tempo, duration, p. 108. Homology, p. 11 1. What is meant by "contemporary," p. iiz.

Chapter IV. The Problem of World-history. (2.) The Destiny-idea and ^ THE Causality-principle 115

Logic, organic and inorganic, p. 117. Time and Destiny, p. 119. Space and Causality, p. 119. The problem of Time, p, izi. Time a counter-conception to Space, p. ii6. The symbols of Time — tragedy, time reckoning, disposal of the dead, p. 130. Care (sex, the State, works), p. 136^ Destiny and Incident, p. 139. Incident and Cause, p. 141. Incidfint and Style of cxist-_ cncc, p. 14X. Anonymous and personal epochs, p. 148. Direction into the future and Image of the Past, p. 152.. Is there a Science of History? p. 155. The new enunciation of the problem, p. 159.

Chapter V. Makrokosmos. (i) The Symbolism of the World-picture and ^ THE Problem of Space 161

The Macrocosm as the sum total of symbols referred to a Soul, p. 163. Space and Death, p. 165,' " Alles vergangliche ist nur ein Gleichnis," p. 167. The space problem (only Depth is space-forming), p. 169. Depth as Time, p. ijz. The world-idea of a Culture born out of its prime symbol, p. 174. Classical Body, Magian Cavern, Western Infinity, p. 174.


Tviii CONTENTS \

Chapter VI. Makrokosmos. (i) Apolunian, Faustian, and Maoiai' Soul i8r

Prime symbol, architecture, divinities, p. 183. Thc_Egyiiiian prime symbol of the path, p. i88. Expression-language of art: Ornamentation and Imitation, p. 191". Ornament and early' architecture, p. 196. The window, p. 199. The grand style, p. 2x0. The history of a Style as organism, p. 105. On the history of the Arabian style, p. 107. Psychology of art- technique,

Chapter VII. Music and Plastic, (i) The Arts of Form 117

Music ooe of the arts of form, p. 119. Classification of the arts impossible except from the historical standpoint, p. 12.1. The choice of particular arts itself an expression-means of the higher order, p. ixx. ApoUinian and Faustian art-groups, p. 2.2.4. The stages of Western Music, p. xr6. The Renaissance an anti-Gothic and anti-musical movcment,_p. 131, Character of the Baroque, p. 136. The Park, p. 140. Symbolism of colours, p. 245. Colours of the Near and of the CKstance, p. 146. Gold background and Rembrandt brown, p. 247. Patina, p. 153.

Chapter VIII. Music and Plastic. (1) Act and Portrait 157

Kinds of human representation, p. 139. Portraiture, Contrition, Syntax, p. x6i. The heads of Qassical statuary, p. 164. Portrayal of children and women, p. 2.66. Hellenistic portraiture, p. 169. The Baroque portrait, p. 171. Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo overcome the Rcfubsance, p. 173. Victory of Instrumental Music over Oil-Painting, corresponding to tlj^^. rictocj oi Sutuary over Fresco in the Classical, p. zSi. Impressionism, p. 185. Pergamum and ffqrrcutE, p. 191. The finale of Art, p. X93.

Chapter IX. Soul-imaoe and Lifb-febling. (i) On the Form of the Soul 2.97

Sool-tmage as function of World-image, p. 199. Psychology of a counter-physics, p. 301. ApoUinian, Magian and Faustian soul-image, p. 305. The " Will " in Gothic space, p. 308. The "inner" mythology, p. 311. Will and Character, p. 314. Classical posture tragedy and Faustian character tragedy, p. 317. Symbolism of the drama-image, p. 310. Day and Night Art, p. 3x4. _ Popular and esoteric, p. 31^. The astronomical image, 319. The geographical horizon, p. 331.

J Chapter X. Soul-imaoe and Life-feeling, (i) Buddhism, Stoicism, and j SoaALisM 339

' The Faustian morale purely dynamic, p. 341. Every Culture has a form of morale proper to

i itself, p. 345. Posture-morale and will-morale, p. 347. Buddha, Socrates, Rousseau as protago-

nists of the dawning Civilizations, p. 351. Tragic and plebeian morale, p. 354. Return to L Nature, Irreligion, Nihilism, p. 356. Ethical Socialism, p. 361. Similarity of structure in the philosophical history of every Culture, p. 364. The Civilized philosophy of the West, p. 365,

Chapter XI. Faustian and Apollinian Nature-knowledge 375

Theory as Myth, p. 377. Every Natural Science depends upon a preceding Religion, p. 391. Statia, Alchemy, [>ynaffiics as the theories of three Cultures, p. 382.. The Atomic theory, p. 384. The problem of motion insoluble, p. 388. The style of causal process and experience, p. 391. The feeling of God and the knowing of Nature, p. 391. The great Myth, p. 394. Classical, Magian and Faustian nmmina, p. 397. Atheism, p. 408. Faustian physics as a dogma of force, p. 411. Limits of its theoretical (as distinct from its technical) development, p. 417. Self- destruction of Dynamics, and invasion of historical ideas; theory dissolves into a system of morphological relationships, p. 410.

Index Following page 418

TaBLSI iLLUnHATINQ THE COMPARATIVE MoRPHOLOOY OF HiSTORY

At end of volume


CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION


/


CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION


In this book is attempted for the first time the venture of predetermining his- tory, of following the still untravelled stages in the destiny of a Culture, and specifically of the only Culture of our time and on our planet which is actu- ally in the phase of fulfilment — the West-European-American.

Hitherto the possibility of solving a problem so far-reaching has evidently never been envisaged, and even if it had been so, the means of dealing with it were either altogether unsuspected or, at best, inadequately used.

^ Is there a logic of history? Is there, beyond all the casual and incalculable elements of the separate events, something that we may call a metaphysical structure of historic humanity, something that is essentially independent of the outward forms — social, spiritual and political — which we see so clearly? Are not these actualities indeed secondary or derived from that something? Does world-history present to the seeing eye certain grand traits, again and again, with sufficient constancy to justify certain conclusions? And if so, what are the limits to which reasoning from such premisses may be pushed? / Is it possible to find in life itself — for human history is the sum of mighty life-courses which already have had to be endowed with ego and personality, in customary thought and expression, by predicating entities of a higher order like "the Classical" or "the Chinese Culture," "Modern Civilization" — a series of stages which must be traversed, and traversed moreover in an ordered and obligatory sequence? For everything organic the notions of birth, death, youth, age, lifetime are fundamentals — may not these notions, in this sphere also, possess a rigorous . meaning which no one has as yet extracted? In short, is all history founded upon general biographic archetypes?

The decline of the West, which at first sight may appear, like the corre- sponding decline of the Classical Culture, a phenomenon limited in time and space, we now perceive to be a philosophical problem that, when compre- hended in all its gravity, includes within itself every great question of Being.

If therefore we are to discover in what form the destiny of the Western Culture will be accomplished, we must first be clear as to what culture is, what its relations are to visible history, to life, to soul, to nature, to intellect, what the forms of its manifestation are and how far these forms — peoples, tongues

3


4 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

and epochs, battles and ideas, states and gods, arts and craft-works, sciences, laws, economic types and world-ideas, great men and great events — may be accepted and pointed to as symbols.


n


The means whereby to identify dead forms is Mathematical Law. The means whereby to understand living forms is Analogy. By these means we are enabled to distinguish polarity and periodicity in the world.

It is, and has always been, a matter of knowledge that the expression-fOrms of world-history are limited in number, and that eras, epochs, situations, persons are ever repeating themselves true to type. Napoleon has hardly ever been discussed without a side-glance at Cxsar and Alexander — analogies of which, as we shall see, the first is morphologically quite inacceptable and the second is correct — while Napoleon himself conceived of his situation as akin to Charlemagne's. The French Revolutionary Convention spoke of Carthage when it meant England, and the Jacobins styled themselves Romans. Other such comparisons, of all degrees of soundness and unsoundness, are those of Florence with Athens, Buddha with Christ, primitive Christianity with modem Socialism, the Roman financial magnate of Csesar's time with the Yankee. Petrarch, the first passionate archaeologist (and is not archaeology it- self an expression of the sense that history is repetition?) related himself men- tally to Cicero, and but lately Cecil Rhodes, the organizer of British South Africa, who had in his library specially prepared translations of the classical lives of the Cxsars, felt himself akin to the Emperor Hadrian. The fated Charles XII of Sweden used to carry Quintus Curtius's life of Alexander in his pocket, and to copy that conqueror was his deliberate purpose.

Frederick the Great, in his political writings — such as his Considerations y 1738 — moves among analogies with perfect assurance. Thus he compares the French to the Macedonians under Philip and the Germans to the Greeks. "Even now," he says, "the Thermopyljc of Germany, Alsace and Lorraine, arc in the hands of Philip," therein exactly characterizing the policy of Car- dinal Fleury. We find him drawing parallels also between the policies of the Houses of Habsburg and Bourbon and the proscriptions of Antony and of Octavius.

Still, all this was only fragmentary and arbitrary, and usually implied rather a momentary inclination to poetical or ingenious expressions than a really deep sense of historical forms.

Thus in the case of Ranke, a master of artistic analogy, we find that his parallels of Cyaxares and Henry the Fowler, of the inroads of the Cimmerians and those of the Hungarians, possess morphologically no significance, and his oft-quoted analogy between the Hellenic city-states and the Renaissance republics very little, while the deeper truth in his comparison of Alcibiades


INTRODUCTION 5

and Napoleon is accidental. Unlike the strict mathematician, who finds inner relationships between two groups of differential equations where the layman sees nothing but dissimilarities of outward form, Ranke and others draw their historical analogies with a Plutarchian, popular-romantic, touch, and aim merely at presenting comparable scenes on the world-stage.

It is easy to see that, at bottom, it is neither a principle nor a sense of his- toric necessity, but simple inclination, that governs the choice of the tableaux. From any technique of analogies we are far distant. They throng up (to-day more than ever) without scheme or unities, and if they do hit upop something which is true — in the essential sense of the word that remains to be determined — it is thanks to luck, more rarely to instinct, never to a principle. In this re- gion no one hitherto has set himself to work out a method^ nor has had the slightest inkling that there is here a root, in fact the only root, from which can come a broad solution of the problems of History.

Analogies, in so far as they laid bare the organic structure of history, might be a blessing to historical thought. Their technique, developing under the in- fluence of a comprehensive idea, would surely eventuate in inevitable conclu- sions and logical mastery. But as hitherto understood and practised they have been a curse, for they have enabled the historians to follow their own tastes, instead of soberly realizing that their first and hardest task was concerned with the symbolism of history and its analogies, and, in consequence, the problem has till now not even been comprehended, let alone solved. Superficial in many cases (as for instance in designating Cassar as the creator of the official news- paper), these analogies are worse than superficial in others (as when phenomena of the Classical Age that are not only extremely complex but utterly alien to us are labelled with modern catchwords like Socialism, Impressionism, Capital- ism, Clericalism), while occasionally they are bizarre to the point of perver- sity — witness the Jacobin clubs with their cult of Brutus, that millionaire- extortioner Brutus who, in the name of oligarchical doctrine and with the approval of the patrician senate, murdered the Man of the Democracy.


Ill


Thus our theme, which originally comprised only the limited problem of present-day civilization, broadens itself into a new philosophy — the philos- ophy of the future, so far as the metaphysically-exhausted soil of the West can bear such, and in any case the only philosophy which is within the -possibilities of the West-European mind in its next stages. It expands into the conception of a morphology of world history, of the world-as-history in contrast to the morphology of the world-as-nature that hitherto has been almost the only theme of philosophy. And it reviews once again the forms and movements of the world in their depths and final significance, but this time according to an entirely different ordering which groups them, not in an ensemble picture


\ ,


6 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

inclusive of everything known, but in a picture of life^ and presents them not as things-become, but as things-becoming.

The world-as'history, conceived, viewed and given form from out of its oppo- site the worU-as-nature — here is a new aspect of human existence on this earth. As yet, in spite of its immense significance, both practical and theoretical, this aspect has not been realized, still less presented. Some obscure inkling of it there may have been, a distant momentary glimpse there has often been, but no one has deliberately faced it and taken it in with all its implications. We have before us two possible ways in which man may inwardly possess and ex- perience the world around him. With all rigour I distinguish (as to form, not substance) the organic from the mechanical world-impression, the content of images from that of laws, the picture and symbol from the formula and the system, the instantly actual from the constantly possible, the intents and pur- poses of imagination ordering according to plan from the intents and purposes of experience dissecting according to scheme; and — to mention even thus early an opposition that has never yet been noted, in spite of its significance — the domain of chronological from that of mathematical number.^

Consequently, in a research such as that lying before us, there can be no question of taking spiritual-political events, as they become visible day by day on the surface, at their face value, and arranging them on a scheme of " causes " or "effects" and following them up in the obvious and intellectually easy directions. Such a "pragmatic" handling of history would be nothing but a piece of " natural science" in disguise, and for their part, the supporters of the materialistic idea of history make no secret about it — it is their adversaries who largely fail to see the similarity of the two methods. What concerns us is not what the historical facts which appear at this or that time are, per se, but what they signify, what they point to, by appearing. Present-day historians think they arc doing a work of supererogation in bringing in religious and so- cial, or still more art-history, details to "illustrate" the political sense of an epoch. But the decisive factor — decisive, that is, in so far as visible history is the expression, sign and embodiment of soul — they forget. I have not hitherto found one who has carefully considered the morphological relationship that inwardly binds together the expression-forms of all branches of a Culture, who has gone beyond politics to^rasp the ultimate and fundamental ideas of Greeks, Arabians, Indians and Westerners in mathematics, the meaning of their

  •  !^*"*'.* error, an error of very wide bearing which has not even yet been overcome, was first

of all in bringing the outer and inner Man into relation with the ideas of space and time by pure Kheme. though the meanings of these are numerous and, above all, not unalterable; and secondly in allying arithmetic with the one and geometry with the other in an utterly mistaken way. It is not between arithmetic and geometry — we must here anticipate a little — but between chronological and mathematical number that there is fundamental opposition. Arithmetic and geometry arc both spatial mathematics and in their highei regions they are no longer separable. Time-reckoning, of which the plain man is capable of a perfectly clear understanding through his senses, answers the qoestioQ "When," not "What" or "How Many."


INTRODUCTION 7

early ornamentation, the basic forms of their architecture, philosophies, dramas and lyrics, their choice and development of great arts, the detail of their crafts- manship and choice of materials— let alone appreciated the decisive importance

v^of these matters for the form-problems of history. Who amongst them realizes that between the Differential Calculus and the dynastic principle of politics in the age of Louis XIV, betv^een the Classical city-state and the Euclidean ^ geometry, between the space-perspective of Western oil-painting and the con- \} quest of space by railroad, telephone and long-range weapon, between contra- ^ puntal music and credit economics, there are deep uniformities? Yet, viewed from this morphological standpoint, even the humdrum facts of politics assume a symbolic and even a metaphysical character, and — what has perhaps been impossible hitherto — things such as the Egyptian administrative system, the Classical coinage, analytical geometry, the cheque, the Suez Canal, the book- printing of the Chinese, the Prussian Army, and the Roman road-engineering can, as symbols, be made uniformly understandable and appreciable.

But at once the fact presents itself that as yet there exists no theory- enlightened art of historical treatment. What passes as such draws its methods almost exclusively from the domain of that science which alone has completely disciplined the methods of cognition, viz., physics, and thus we imagine our- selves to be carrying on historical research when we are really following out objective connexions of cause and effect. It is a remarkable fact that the old- fashioned philosophy never imagined even the possibility of there being any other relation than this between the conscious human understanding and the world outside. Kant, who in his main work established the formal rules of cognition, took nature only as the object of reason's activity, and neither he himself, nor anyone after him, noted the reservation. Knowledge, for Kant, is mathematical knowledge. He deals with innate intuition-forms and categories | of the reason, but he never thinks of the wholly different mechanism by which ' ^ historical impressions are apprehended. And Schopenhauer, who, significantly enough, retains but one of the Kantian categories, viz., causality, speaks con-

^ temptuously of history.^ That there is, besides a necessity of cause and effect — which I may call the logic of space — another necessity, an organic necessity in life, that of Destiny — the logic of time — is a fact of the deepest inward cer- tainty, a fact which suffuses the whole of mythological religions and artistic thought and constitutes the essence and kernel of all history (in contradistinc- [ tion to nature) but is unapproachable through the cognition-forms which the ^ "Critique of Pure Reason" investigates. This fact still awaits its theoretical formulation." As Galileo says in a famous passage of his Saggiatore, philosophy, ^ One cannot but be sensible how little depth and power of abstraction has been associated with the treatment of, say, the Renaissance or the Great Migrations, as compared with what is obviously required for the theory of functions and theoretical optics. Judged by the standards of the physicist and the mathematician, the historian becomes careless as soon as he has assembled and ordered his material and passes on to interpretation.


8 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

as Nature's great book, is written "in mathematical language." We await, to-day, the philosopher who will tell us in what language history is written and how it is to be read.

. Mathematics and the principle of Causality lead to a naturalistic. Chro- nology and the idea of Destiny to a historical ordering of the phe- nomenal world. Both orderings, each on its own account, cover the whole world. The difference is only in the eyes by which and through which this world is realized.

IV

Nature is the shape in which the man of higher Cultures synthesizes and interprets the immediate impressions of his senscs.'^ History is that from which his imagination seeks comprehension of the living existence of the world in relation to his own life, which he thereby invests with a deeper reality. Whether he is capable of creating these shapes, which of them it is that dominates his waking consciousness, is a primordial problem of all human existence.

Man, thus, has before him two possibilities of world-formation. But it must be noted, at the very outset, that these possibilities are not necessarily actuali- ties y and if we are to enquire into the sense of all history we must begin by solv- ing a question which has never yet been put, viz., for whom is there History? The question is seemingly paradoxical, for history is obviously for everyone to this extent, that every man, with his whole existence and consciousness, is a part of history. But it makes a great difference whether anyone lives under the constant impression that his life is an element in a far wider life-course that goes on for hundreds and thousands of years, or conceives of himself as some- thing rounded off and self-contained. For the latter type of consciousness there is certaintly no world-history, no world-as-history . But how if the self- consciousness of a whole nation, how if a whole Culture rests on this ahistoric spirit? How must actuality appear to it? The world? Life? Consider the Classical Culture. In the world-consciousness of the Hellenes all experience, not merely the personal but the common past, was immediately transmuted into a timeless, immobile, mythically-fashioned background for the particular momentary present; thus the history of Alexander the Great began even before his death to be merged by Classical sentiment in the Dionysus legend, and to Ca:sar there seemed at the least nothing preposterous in claiming descent from Venus.

Such a spiritual condition it is practically impossible for us men of the West, with a sense of time-distances so strong that we habitually and unquestioningly speak of so many years before or after Christ, to reproduce in ourselves. But we are not on that account entitled, in dealing with the problems of History, simply to ignore the fact.


INTRODUCTION 9

What diaries and autobiographies yield in respect of an individual, that historical research in the widest and most inclusive sense — that is, every kind of psychological comparison and analysis of alien peoples, times and customs — yields as to the soul of a Culture as a whole. But the Classical culture possessed no memory, no organ of history in this special sense. The memory of the Classi- cal man — so to call it, though it is somewhat arbitrary to apply to alien souls a notion derived from our own — is something different, since past and future, as arraying perspectives in the working consciousness, are absent and the "pure Present," which so often roused Goethe's admiration in every product of the Classical life and in sculpture particularly, fills that life with an intensity that to us is perfectly unknown.

This pure Present, whose greatest symbol is the Doric column, in itself pred- icates the negation of time (of direction). For Herodotus and Sophocles, as for Themistocles or a Roman consul, the past is subtilized instantly into an im- pression that is timeless and changeless, polar and not periodic in structure — in the last analysis, of such stuff as myths are made of — whereas for our world- sense and our inner eye the past is a definitely periodic and purposeful organism of centuries or millennia.

But it is just this background which gives the life, whether it be the Clas- sical or the Western life, its special colouring. What the Greek called Kosmos was the image of a world that is not continuous but complete. Inevitably, then, the Greek man himself was not a series but a term.^

/Tor this reason, although Classical man was well acquainted with the strict chronology and almanac-reckoning of the Babylonians and especially the Egyptians, and therefore with that eternity-sense and disregard of the present- as-such which revealed itself in their broadly-conceived operations of astronomy and their exact measurements of big time-intervals, none of this ever became intimately a part of him.) What his philosophers occasionally told him on the subject they had heard, not experienced, and what a few brilliant minds in the Asiatic-Greek cities (such as Hipparchus and Aristarchus) discovered was re- jected alike by the Stoic and by the Aristotelian, and outside a small professional circle not even noticed. Neither Plato nor Aristotle had an observatory. In the last years of Pericles, the Athenian people passed a decree by which all who propagated astronomical theories were made liable to impeachment (eiVaYYeXta). This last was an act of the deepest symbolic significance, ex- pressive of the determination of the Classical soul to banish distance, in every aspect, from its world-consciousness.

As regards Classical history-writing, take Thucydides. The mastery of this man lies in his truly Classical power of making alive and self-explanatory the events of the present, and also in his possession of the magnificently practical

^ In the original, these fundamental antitheses are expressed simply by means oiwerdcn and sein. Exact renderings are therefore impossible in English. — Tr,


lo THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

outlook of the born statesman who has himself been both general and adminis- trator. In virtue of this quality of experience (which we unfortunately confuse with the historical sense proper), his work confronts the merely learned and professional historian as an inimitable model, and quite rightly so. But what is absolutely hidden from Thucydides is perspective, the power of surveying the history of centuries, that which for us is implicit in the very conception of a historian. The fine pieces of Classical history-writing are invariably those which set forth matters within the political present of the writer, whereas for us it is the direct opposite, our historical masterpieces without exception being chose which deal with a distant past. Thucydides would have broken down in handling even the Persian Wars, let alone the general history of Greece, while that of Egypt would have been utterly out of his reach. He, as well as Polybius and Tacitus (who like him were practical politicians), loses his sure- ness of eye from the moment when, in looking backwards, he encounters motive forces in any form that is unknown in his practical experience. For Polybius even the First Punic War, for Tacitus even the reign of Augustus, are inex- plicable. As for Thucydides, his lack of historical feeling — in our sense of the phrase — is conclusively demonstrated on the very first page of his book by the astounding statement that before his time (about 400 b.c.) no events of importance had occurred (pv n€y6.\a yevkadau) in the world! ^

Consequently, Classical history down to the Persian Wars and for that matter the structure built up on traditions at much later periods, are the prod- uct of an essentially mythological thinking. The constitutional history of

  • The attempts of the Greeks to frame something like a calendar or a chronology after the

Egyptian fashion, besides being very belated indeed, were of extreme naiveti. The Olympiad reckon- ing is not an era in the sense of, say, the Christian chronology, and is, moreover, a late and purely literary expedient, without popular currency. The people, in fact, had no general need of a numera- tion wherewith to date the experiences of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers, though a few learned persons might be interested in the calendar question. We arc not here concerned with the soundness or unsoundness of a calendar, but with its currency, with the question of whether men regulated their lives by it or not; but, incidentally, even the list of Olympian victors before 500 is quite as much of an invention as the lists of earlier Athenian archons or Roman consuls. Of the colonizations, we possess not one single authentic date (E. Meyer. Gesch. d. Alt. II, 441. Beloch. Cfitcb. Gtsch. I, r, 119) "in Greece before the fifth century, no one ever thought of noting or reponing historical events." (Beloch. I, 1, 115). We possess an inscription which sets forth a treaty between Elis and Heraea which "was to be valid for a hundred years from this year." What "this year" was, is however not indicated. After a few years no one would have known how long the treaty had still to run. Evidently this was a point that no one had taken into account at the time — indeed, the very "men of the moment" who drew up the document, probably them- selves soon forgot. Such was the childlike, fairy-story character of the Classical presentation of history that any ordered dating of the events of, say, the Trojan War (which occupies in their scries che same position as the Crusades in ours) would have been felt as a sheer solecism. V Equally backward was the geographical science of the Classical world as compared with that of the Egyptians and the Babylonians. E. Meyer (jGtsch. d. Alt. II, 101) shows how the Greeks' knowl- edge of the form of Africa degenerated from Herodotus (who followed Persian authorities) to Aristotle. The same is true of the Romans as the heirs of the Carthaginians; they first repeated the information of their alien forerunners and then slowly forgot it.


INTRODUCTION ii

Sparta is a poem of the Hellenistic period, and Lycurgus, on whom it centres and whose "biography" we are given in full detail, was probably in the beginning an unimportant local god of Mount Taygetus. The invention of pre-Hannibalian Roman history was still going on even in Cassar's time. The story of the expulsion of the Tarquins by Brutus is built round some contem- porary of the Censor Appius Claudius (310 B.C.). The names of the Roman kings were at that period made up from the names of certain plebeian families which had become wealthy (K. J. Neumann). In the sphere of constitutional history, setting aside altogether the "constitution" of Servius Tullius, wc find that even the famous land law of Licinius (367 b.c.) was not in existence at the time of the Second Punic War (B. Niese). When Epaminondas gave freedom and statehood to the Messenians and the Arcadians, these peoples promptly provided themselves with an early history. But the astounding thing is not that history of this sort was produced, but that there was prac- tically none of any other sort; and the opposition between the Classical and the modern outlook is sufficiently illustrated by saying that Roman history before 2.50 b.c, as known in Cassar's time, was substantially a forgery, and that the little that we know has been established by ourselves and was entirely unknown to the later Romans. In what sense the Classical world understood the word "history" we can see from the fact that the Alexandrine romance- literature exercised the strongest influence upon serious political and religious history, even as regards its matter. It never entered the Classical head to draw any distinction of principle between history as a story and history as docu- ments. When, towards the end of the Roman republic, Varro set out to stabi- lize the religion that was fast vanishing from the people's consciousness, he classified the deities whose cult was exactly and minutely observed by the State, into "certain" and "uncertain" gods, i.e., into gods of whom something was still known and gods that, in spite of the unbroken continuity of official worship, had survived in name only. In actual fact, the religion of Roman society in Varro's time, the poet's religion which Goethe and even Nietzsche reproduced in all innocence, was mainly a product of Hellenistic literature and had almost no relation to the ancient practices, which no one any longer understood.

Mommsen clearly defined the West-European attitude towards this history when he said that " the Roman historians," meaning especially Tacitus, "were men who said what it would have been meritorious to omit, and omitted what it was essential to say."

In the Indian Culture we have the perfectly ahistoric soul. Its decisive ex- pression is the Brahman Nirvana. There is no pure Indian astronomy, no calendar, and therefore no history so far as history is the track of a conscious spiritual evolution. Of the visible course of their Culture, which as regards its organic phase came to an end with the rise of Buddhism, we know even less than we do of Classical history, rich though it must have been in great events


II THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

between the nth and 8th centuries. And this is not surprising, since it was in dream-shapes and mythological figures that both came to be fixed. It is a full millennium after Buddha, about 500 a.d., when Ceylon first produces something remotely resembling historical work, the "Mahavansa."

The world-consciousness of Indian man was so ahistorically built that it could not even treat the appearance of a book written by a single author as an event determinate in time. Instead of an organic scries of writings by specific persons, there came into being gradually a vague mass of texts into which everyone inserted what he pleased, and notions such as those of intellectual individualism, intellectual evolution, intellectual epochs, played no part in the matter. It is in this anonymous form that we possess the Indian philosophy — which is at the same time all the Indian history that we have — and it is in- structive to compare with it the philosophy-history of the West, which is a perfectly definite structure made up of individual books and personalities.

Indian man forgot everything, but Egyptian man forgot nothing. Hence, while the art of portraiture — which is biography in the kernel — was un- known in India, in Egypt it was practically the artist's only theme.

The Egyptian soul, conspicuously historical in its texture and impelled with primitive passion towards the infinite, perceived past and future as its uhole world, and the present (which is identical with waking consciousness) appeared to him simply as the narrow common frontier of two immeasurable stretches. The Egyptian Culture is an embodiment of care — which is the spiritual counterpoise of distance — care for the future expressed in the choice of granite or basalt as the craftsman's materials,^ in the chiselled archives, in the elaborate administrative system, in the net of irrigation works,^ and, necessarily bound up therewith^ care for the past. The Egyptian mummy is a symbol of the first importance. The body of the dead man was made everlasting, just as his personality, his "Ka," was immortalized through the portrait-

  • Coocrast with this the fact, symbolically of the highest importance and unparallclled in art-

histoiy, that the Hellenes, though they had before their eyes the works of the Mycena:an Age and their land was only too rich in stone, deliberately reverted to wood; hence the absence of architectural remains of the period 1100-600. The Egyptian plant-column was from the outset of stone, whereas the Doric column was wooden, a clear indication of the intense antipathy of the Classical soul to- wards duration.

• Is there any Hellenic city that ever carried out one single comprehensive work that tells of care for future generations? The road and water systems which research has assigned to the My- CCfuean — i.e., the pre-Classical — age fell into disrepair and oblivion from the birth of the Classical peoples — that is, from the Homeric period. It is a remarkably curious fact, proved beyond doubt by the lack of epigraphic remains, that the Classical alphabet did not come into use till after 900, •nd even then only to a limited extent and for the most pressing economic needs. Whereas in the Egyptian, the Babylonian, the Mexican and the Chinese Cultures the formation of a script begins in the very twilight of dawn, whereas the Germans made themselves a Runic alphabet and presently developed that respect for writing as such which led to the successive refinements of ornamental calligraphy, the Classical primitives were entirely ignorant of the numerous alphabets that were current in the South and the East. We possess numerous inscriptions of Hittite Asia Minor and of Crete, but not one of Homeric Greece. (See Vol. II, pp. 180 et seq.)


INTRODUCTION 13

statuettes, which were often nyade in many copies and to which it was con- ceived to be attached by a transcendental likeness.

There is a deep relation between the attitude that is taken towards the historic past and the conception that is formed of death, and this relation is expressed in the disposal of the dead. The Egyptian denied mortality, the Classical man affirmed it in the whole symbolism of his Culture. The Egyp- tians embalmed even their history in chronological dates and figures. From pre-Solonian Greece nothing has been handed down, not a year-date, not a true name, not a tangible event — with the consequence that the later history, (which alone we know) assumes undue importance — but for Egypt we possess, from the 3rd millennium and even earlier, the names and even the exact reign- dates of many of the kings, and the New Empire must have had a complete knowledge of them. To-day, pathetic symbols of the will to endure, the bodies of the great Pharaohs lie in our museums, their faces still recognizable. On the shining, polished-granite peak of the pyramid of Amenemhet III we can read to-day the words "Amenemhet looks upon the beauty of the Sun" and, on the other side, "Higher is the soul of Amenemhet than the height of Orion, and it is united with the underworld." Here indeed is victory over Mortality and the mere present; it is to the last degree un-Classical.


In opposition to this mighty group of Egyptian life-symbols, we meet at the threshold of the Classical Culture the custom, typifying the ease with which it could forget every piece of its inward and outward past, of burning the dead. To"^ the Mycenasan age the elevation into a ritual of this particular funerary method amongst all those practised in turn by stone-age peoples, was essentially alien; indeed its Royal tombs suggest that earth-burial was regarded as peculiarly honourable. But in Homeric Greece, as in Vedic India, we find a change, so sudden that its origins must necessarily be psychological, from burial to that burning which (the Iliad gives us the full pathos of the symbolic act) was the ceremonial completion of death and the denial of all historical duration.

From this moment the plasticity of the individual spiritual evolution was at an end. Classical drama admitted truly historical motives just as little as it allowed themes of inward evolution, and it is well known how decisively the Hellenic instinct set itself against portraiture in the arts. Right into the im- perial period Classical art handled only the matter that was, so to say, natural to it, the myth.i Even the "ideal" portraits of Hellenistic sculpture arc

^ ^ From Homer to the tragedies of Seneca, a full thousand years, the same handful of myth-figures (Thyestes, Clytasmnestra, Heracles and the like) appear time after time without alteration, whereas in the poetry of the West, Faustian Man figures, first as Parzeval or Tristan, then (modified always into harmony with the epoch) as Hamlet, Don Quixote, Don Juan, and eventually Faust or Werther, and now as the hero of the modern world-city romance, but is always presented in the atmosphere and under the conditions of a particular century.


14 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

mythical, of the same kind as the typical bio/»raphies of Plutarch's sort. No great Greek ever wrote down any recollections that would serve to fix a phase of experience for his inner eye. Not ev^n Socrates has told, regarding his inward life, anything important in our siuise of the word. It is ques- tionable indeed whether for a Classical mind it was even possible to react to the motive forces that are presupposed in the production of a Parzeval, a Hamlet, or a Werther. In Plato we fail to observe any conscious evolu- tion of doctrine; his separate works are merely treatises written from very different standpoints which he took up from time to time, and it gave him no concern whether and how they hung together. On the contrary, a work of deep self-examination, the Vifa Nuova of Dante, is found at the very outset of the spiritual history of the West. How little therefore of the Classical pure-present there really was in Goethe, the man who forgot nothing, the man whose works, as he avowed himself, are only fragments of a single greaf confess ionl

After the destruction of Athens by the Persians, all the older art-works were thrown on the dustheap (whence we are now extracting them), and we do not hear that anyone in Hellas ever troubled himself about the ruins of Mycenas or Phaistos for the purpose of ascertaining historical facts. "^ Men read Homer but never thought of excavating the hill of Troy as Schliemann did; for what they wanted was myth, not history. The works of i^schylus and those of the prc- Socratic philosophers were already partially lost in the Hellenistic period. In the West, on the contrary, the piety inherent in and peculiar to the Culture manifested itself, five centuries before Schliemann, in Petrarch — the fine collector of antiquities, coins and manuscripts, the very type of historically- sensitive man, viewing the distant past and scanning the distant prospect (was he not the first to attempt an Alpine peak?), living in his time, yet essentially not of it. The soul of the collector is intelligible only by having regard to his conception of Time. Even more passionate perhaps, though of a different colouring, is the collecting-bent of the Chinese. In China, whoever travels assiduously pursues "old traces" (Ku-tsi) and the untranslatable "Tao," the basic principle of Chinese existence, derives all its meaning from a deep his- torical feeling. In the Hellenistic period, objects were indeed collected and displayed everywhere, but they were curiosities of mythological appeal (as described by Pausanias) as to which questions of date or purpose simply did not arise — and this too in the very presence of Egypt, which even by the time of the great Thuthmosis had been transformed into one vast museum of strict tradition.

Amongst the Western peoples, it was the Germans who discovered the mechanical clock, the dread symbol of the flow of time, and the chimes of countless clock towers that echo day and night over West Europe are perhaps the most wonderful expression of which a historical world-feeling is


INTRODUCTION 15

capable.^ In the timeless countrysides and cities of the Classical world, we find nothing of the sort. Till the epoch of Pericles, the time of day was estimated merely by the length of shadow, and it was only from that of Aristotle that v^the word wpa received the (Babylonian) significance of ' ' hour ' ' ; prior to that there was no exact subdivision of the day. In Babylon and Egypt water-clocks and sun-dials were discovered in the very early stages, yet in Athens it was left to Plato to introduce a practically useful form of clepsydra, and this was merely a minor adjunct of everyday utility which could not have influenced the Classical life-feeling in the smallest degree.

It remains still to mention the corresponding difference, which is very deep and has never yet been properly appreciated, between Classical and modern mathematics. The former conceived of things as they are, as magnitudes, timeless and purely present, and so it proceeded to Euclidean geometry and mathematical statics, rounding off its intellectual system with the theory of conic sections. We conceive things as they become and behave, as function, and this brought us to dynamics, analytical geometry and thence to the Differential Calculus.^ The modern theory of functions is the imposing marshalling of this whole mass of thought. It is a bizarre, but nevertheless psychologically exact, fact that the physics of the Greeks — being statics and not dynamics — neither knew the use nor felt the absence of the time-element, whereas we on the other hand work in thousandths of a second. The one and only evolution-idea that is timeless, ahistoric, is Aristotle's entelechy.

■^ This, then, is our task. We men of the Western Culture are, with our his- torical sense, an exception and not a rule. World-history is our world picture and not all mankind's. Indian and Classical man formed no image of a world in progress, and perhaps when in due course the civilization of the West is ex- tinguished, there will never again be a Culture and a human type in which "world-history" is so potent a form of the waking consciousness.

VI

v'What, then, is world-history? Certainly, an ordered presentation of the past, an inner postulate, the expression of a capacity for feeling form. But a feeling for form, however definite, is not the same as form itself. No doubt we feel world-history, experience it, and believe that it is to be read just as a map is

^ It was about looo a.d. and therefore contemporaneously with the beginning of the Roman- esque style and the Crusades — the first symptoms of a new Soul — that Abbot Gerbert (Pope Sylvester II), the friend of the Emperor Otto III, invented the mechanism of the chiming wheel-clock. In Germany too, the first tower-clocks made their appearance, about ixoo, and the pocket watch somewhat later. Observe the significant association of time measurement with the edifices of reli- gion.

2 Newton's choice of the name "fluxions" for his calculus was meant to imply a standpoint towards certain metaphysical notions as to the nature of time. In Greek mathematics time figures not at all.


i6 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

read. But, even to-day, it is only forms of it that we know and not the form of it, which is the mirror-image of our oum inner life.

Everyone of course, if asked, would say that he saw the inward form of History quite clearly and definitely. The illusion subsists because no one has seriously reflected on it, still less conceived doubts as to his own knowledge, for no one has the slightest notion how wide a field for doubt there is. In fact, the lay-out of world-history is an unproved and subjective notion that has been handed down from generation to generation (not only of laymen but of profes- sional historians) and stands badly in need of a little of that scepticism which from Galileo onward has regulated and deepened our inborn ideas of nature.

Thanks to the subdivision of history into "Ancient," "Mediaeval" and "Modem" — an incredibly jejune and meaningless scheme, which has, however, entirely dominated our historical thinking — we have failed to perceive the true position in the general history of higher mankind, of the little part-world which has developed on West-European ^ soil from the time of the German- Roman Empire, to judge of its relative importance and above all to estimate its direction. The Cultures that are to come will find it difficult to believe that the validity of such a scheme with its simple rectilinear progression and its mean- ingless proportions, becoming more and more preposterous with each century, incapable of bringing into itself the new fields of history as they successively come into the light of our knowledge, was, in spite of all, never whole-heartedly attacked. The criticisms that it has long been the fashion of historical re- searchers to level at the scheme mean nothing; they have only obliterated the one existing plan without substituting for it any other. To toy with phrases such as "the Greek Middle Ages" or "Germanic antiquity" does not in the least help us to form a clear and inwardly-convincing picture in which China and Mexico, the empire of Axum and that of the Sassanids have their proper places. And the expedient of shifting the initial point of "modern history"

  • Here the historian is gravely influenced by preconceptions derived from geography, which

assumes a Continent of Europe, and feels himself compelled to draw an ideal frontier corresponding to the physical frontier between "Europe" and "Asia." The word "Europe" ought to be struck out of history. There is historically no " European " type, and it is sheer delusion to speak of the Hellenes as "European Antiquity " (were Homer and Heraclitus andPythagoras, then, Asiatics?) and to enlarge upon their " mission " as such. These phrases express no realities but merely a sketchy interpretation of the map. It is thanks to this word "Europe" alone, and the complex of ideas resulting from it, chat our historical consciousness has come to link Russia with the West in an utterly baseless unity — a mere abstraction derived from the reading of books — that has led to immense real consequences. Id the shape of Peter the Great, this word has falsified the historical tendencies of a primitive human mass for two centuries, whereas the Russian instinct has very truly and fundamentally divided "Eu- rope" from "Mother Russia" with the hostility that we can see embodied in Tolstoi, Aksakov or Dostoycvski. "East" and "West" are notions that contain real history, whereas "Europe" is an empty sound. Everything great that the Classical world created, it created in pure denial of the existence of any continental barrier between Rome and Cyprus, Byzantium and Alexandria. Evcry- chiog that we imply by the term European Culture came into existence between the Vistula and tWe Adriatic and the Guadalquivir and, even if we were to agree that Greece, the Greece of Pericles, lay ia Europe, the Greece of to-day certainly does not.


INTRODUCTION 17

from the Crusades to the Renaissance, or from the Renaissance to the beginning of the 19th Century, only goes to show that the scheme per se is regarded as un- shakably sound.

It is not only that the scheme circumscribes the area of history. What is worse, it rigs the stage. The ground of West Europe is treated as a steady pole, a unique patch chosen on the surface of the sphere for no better reason, it seems, than because we live on it — and great histories of millennial duration and mighty far-away Cultures are made to revolve around this pole in all modesty. It is a quaintly conceived system of sun and planets! We select a single bit of ground as the natural centre of the historical system, and make it the central sun. From it all the events of history receive their real light, from it their importance is judged in perspective. But it is in our own West-European conceit alone that this phantom "world-history," which a breath of scepticism would dissipate, is acted out.

We have to thank that conceit for the immense optical illusion (become natural from long habit) whereby distant histories of thousands of years, such as those of China and Egypt, are made to shrink to the dimensions of mere episodes while in the neighbourhood of our own position the decades since Luther, and particularly since Napoleon, loom large as Brocken-spectres. We know quite well that the slowness with which a high cloud or a railway train in the distance seems to move is only apparent, yet we believe that the tempo of all early Indian, Babylonian or Egyptian history was really slower than that of our own recent past. And we think of them as less substantial, more damped- down, more diluted, because we have not learned to make the allowance for (inward and outward) distances.

It is self-evident that for the Cultures of the West the existence of Athens, Florence or Paris is more important than that of Lo-Yang or Pataliputra. But is it permissible to found a scheme of world-history on estimates of such a sort? If so, then the Chinese historian is quite entitled to frame a world-history in which the Crusades, the Renaissance, Caesar and Frederick the Great are passed over in silence as insignificant. How, from the morphological point of view, should our 1 8th Century be more important than any other of the sixty centuries that preceded it? Is it not ridiculous to oppose a "modern" history of a few cen- turies, and that history to all intents localized in West Europe, to an "ancient" history which covers as many millennia — incidentally dumping into that "ancient history" the whole mass of the pre-Hellenic cultures, unprobed and unordered, as mere appendix-matter? This is no exaggeration. Do we not, for^ the sake of keeping the hoary scheme, dispose of Egypt and Babylon — each as an individual and self-contained history quite equal in the balance to our so- called "world-history" from Charlemagne to the World-War and well beyond it — as a prelude to classical history? Do we not relegate the vast complexes of Indian and Chinese culture to foot-notes, with a gesture of embarrassment?


i8 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

As for the great American cultures, do we not, on the ground that they do not "fit in" (with what?), entirely ignore them?

The most appropriate designation for this current West-European scheme of history, in which the great Cultures are made to follow orbits round us as the presumed centre of all world-happenings, is the Ptolemaic system of history. The system that is put forward in this work in place of it I regard as the Coper- njcan discovery in the historical sphere, in that it admits no sort of privileged position to the Classical or the Western Culture as against the Cultures of India, Babylon, China, Egypt, the Arabs, Mexico — separate worlds of dynamic being which in point of mass count for just as much in the general picture of history as the Classical, while frequently surpassing it in point of spiritual greatness and soaring power.

vn

The scheme " ancient-mediasval-modern " in its first form was a creation of the Magian world-sense. It first appeared in the Persian and Jewish religions after Cyrus, ^ received an apocalyptic sense in the teaching of the Book of Daniel on the four world-eras, and was developed into a world-history in the post- Christian religions of the East, notably the Gnostic systems. ^

This important conception, within the very narrow limits which fixed its intellectual basis, was unimpeachable. Neither Indian nor even Egyptian his- tory was included in the scope of the proposition. For the Magian thinker the expression "world-history" meant a unique and supremely dramatic act, hav- ing as its theatre the lands between Hellas and Persia, in which the strictly dualistic world-sense of the East expressed itself not by means of polar concep- tions like the "soul and spirit," "good and evil" of contemporary meta- physics, but by the figure of a catastrophe, an epochal change of phase between world-creation and world-decay.^

No elements beyond those which we find stabilized in the Classical litera- ture, on the one hand, and the Bible (or other sacred book of the particular sys- tem), on the other, came into the picture, which presents (as "The Old" and "The New," respectively) the easily-grasped contrasts of Gentile and Jewish, Christian and Heathen, Classical and Oriental, idol and dogma, nature and spirit with a time connotation — that is, as a drama in which the one prevails over the other. The historical change of period wears the characteristic dress of the religious "Redemption." This "world-history" in short was a conception narrow and provincial, but within its limits logical and complete. Necessarily, therefore, it was specific to this region and this humanity, and incapable of any natural extension.

  • See Vol. II, pp. 31, 175.

' Windelband, Gesch. d. Phil. (1903), pp. 175 fF.

« In the New Testament the polar idea tends to appear in the dialectics of the Apostle Paul, while the periodic is represented by the Apocalypse.


INTRODUCTION 19

But to these two there has been added a third epoch, the epoch that we call "modern," on Western soil, and it is this that for the first time gives the pic- ture of history the look of a progression. The oriental picture was at rest. It presented a self-contained antithesis, with equilibrium as its outcome and a unique divine act as its turning-point. But, adopted and assumed by a wholly new type of mankind, it was quickly transformed (without anyone's noticing the oddity of the change) into a conception of a linear progress: from Homer or Adam — the modern can substitute for these names the Indo-German, Old Stone Man, or the Pithecanthropus — through Jerusalem, Rome, Florence and Paris according to the taste of the individual historian, thinker or artist, who has unlimited freedom in the interpretation of the three-part scheme.

This third term, "modern times," which in form asserts that it is the last and conclusive term of the series, has in fact, ever since the Crusades, been stretched and stretched again to the elastic limit at which it will bear no more.^ It was at least implied if not stated in so many words, that here, beyond the an- cient and the mediaeval, something definitive was beginning, a Third Kingdom in which, somewhere, there was to be fulfilment and culmination, and which had an objective point.

As to what this objective point is, each thinker, from Schoolman to present- day Socialist, backs his own peculiar discovery. Such a view into the course of things may be both easy and flattering to the patentee, but in fact he has simply taken the spirit of the West, as reflected in his own brain, for the meaning of the world. So it is that great thinkers, making a metaphysical virtue of intellectual jiecessity, have not only accepted withouFsendusliivestrgation the scheme of history agreed "by common consent" but have made of it the basis of their philosophies and dragged in God as author of this or that "world-plan." Evidently the mystic number three applied to the world-ages has something highly seductive for the metaphysician's taste. History was described by Herder as the education of the human race, by Kant as an evolution of the idea of freedom, by Hegel as a self-expansion of the world-spirit, by others in other terms, but as regards its ground-plan everyone was quite satisfied when he had thought out some abstract meaning for the conventional threefold order. '

On the very threshold of the Western Culture we meet the great Joachim of Floris (c. ii45-i2.o2.),2 the first thinker of the Hegelian stamp who shattered the dualistic world-form of Augustine, and with his essentially Gothic in- tellect stated the new Christianity of his time in the form of a third term to the religions of the Old and the New Testaments, expressing them respectively as the Age of the Father, the Age of the Son and the Age of the Holy Ghost. His

  • As we can see from the expression, at once desperate and ridiculous, "newest time" (neueste

Zeii).

2 K. Burdach, Reformation, Renaissance, Humanismus, 1918, pp. 48 et seq. (English readers may be referred to the article Joachim of Floris by Professor Alphandery in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, XI ed., Tr.-)


2.0 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

teaching moved the best of the Franciscans and the Dominicans, Dante, Thomas Aquinas, in their inmost souls and awakened a world-outlook which slowly but surely took entire possession of the historical sense of our Culture. Lessing — who often designated his own period, with reference to the Classical as the "after-world"^ (Nachwelt) — took his idea of the "education of the human race" with its three stages of child, youth and man, from the teaching of the Fourteenth Century mystics. Ibsen treats it with thoroughness in his Emperor and Galilean (1873), ^^ which he directly presents the Gnostic world-concep- tion through the figure of the wizard Maximus, and advances not a step beyond it in his famous Stockholm address of 1887. It would appear, then, that the Western consciousness feels itself urged to predicate a sort of finality inherent in its own appearance.

But the creation of the Abbot of Floris was a mystical glance into the secrets of the divine world-order. It was bound to lose all meaning as soon as it was used in the way of reasoning and made a hypothesis of scientific thinking, as it has been — ever more and more frequently — since the 17th Century.

It is a quite indefensible method of presenting world-history to begin by giving rein to one's own religious, political or social convictions and endowing the sacrosanct three-phase system with tendencies that will bring it exactly to one's own standpoint. This is, in effect, making of some formula — say, the "Age of Reason," Humanity, the greatest happiness of the greatest number, enlightenment, economic progress, national freedom, the conquest of nature, or world-peace — a criterion whereby to judge whole millennia of history. And so we judge that they were ignorant of the " true path," or that they failed to follow it, when the fact is simply that their will and purposes were not the same as ours. Goethe's saying, "What is important in life is life and not a result of life," is the answer to any and every senseless attempt to solve the riddle of historical form by means of a programme. \ \

It is the same picture that we find when we turn to the historians of each special art or science (and those of national economics and philosophy as well).^ We find:

"Painting" from the Egyptians (or the cave-men) to the Impressionists, or "Music" from Homer to Bayreuth and beyond, or

"Social Organization" from Lake Dwellings to Socialism, as the case may be, presented as a linear graph which steadily rises in conformity with the values of the (selected) arguments. No one has seriously considered the possibility that arts may have an allotted span of life and may be attached as forms of self-expression to particular regions and particular types of mankind, and that therefore the total history of an art may be merely an additive compilation

1 The expression "antique" — meant of course in the dualistic sense — is found as early as the hagoge of Porphyry (c. 300 a.d.).


INTRODUCTION ii

of separate developments, of special arts, with no bond of union save the name and some details of craft-technique.

We know it to be true of every organism that the rhythm, form and duration of its life, and all the expression-details of that life as well, are determined by the properties of its species. No one, looking at the oak, with its millennial life, dare say that it is at this moment, now, about to start on its true and proper course. No one as he sees a caterpillar grow day by day expects that it will go on doing so for two or three years. In these cases we feel, with an unqualified certainty, a limits and this sense of the limit is identical with our sense of the inward form. In the case of higher human history, on the contrary, we take our ideas as to the course of the future from an unbridled optimism that sets at naught all historical, i.e., organic, experience, and everyone therefore sets him- self to discover in the accidental present terms that he can expand into some striking progression-series, the existence of which rests not on scientific proof but on predilection. He works upon unlimited possibilities — never a natural end — and from the momentary top-course of his bricks plans artlessly the continuation of his structure.

V "Mankind," however, has no aim, no idea, no plan, any more than the family of butterflies or orchids. "Mankind" is a zoological expression, or an empty word.^ But conjure away the phantom, break the magic circle, and at once there emerges an astonishing wealth of actual forms — the Living with all its immense fullness, depth and movement — hitherto veiled by a catchword, a dryasdust scheme, and a set of personal ' ' ideals. ' ' I see, in place of that empty figment of one linear history which can only be kept up by shutting one's eyes to the overwhelming multitude of the facts, the drama of a number of mighty Cultures, each springing with primitive strength from the soil of a mother- region to which it remains firmly bound throughout its whole life-cycle; each stamping its material, its mankind, in its own image; each having its own idea, its own passions, its own life, will and feeling, its own death. Here indeed are colours, ^lights, movements, that no intellectual eye has yet discovered. Here the Cul- tures, peoples, languages, truths^ gods, landscapes bloom and age as the oaks and the stone-pines, the blossoms, twigs and leaves — but there is no ageing "Mankind." Each Culture has its own new possibilities of self-expression which arise, ripen, decay, and never return. T here is not ow g^gulpture^wg paint- ing, one mathematics, one physics, but many, eac h in its di^est essence different frofi^tKeothersTeacITlimited in duratio n and s elf-contained ,^ just as each species of plant has its peculiar blossom or fruit, its special type of growth and decline. These cultures, sublimated life-essences, grow with the same superb aimlessness as the flowers of the field. They belong, like the plants and the animals, to the living Nature of Goethe, and not to the dead Nature of Newton. I see world-

^ "Mankind? It is an abstraction. There arc, always have been, and always will be, men and only men." (Goethe to Ludeo.)


2i THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

history as a picture of endless formations and transformations, of the marvellous waxing and waning of organic forms. The professional historian, on the con- trary, sees it as a sort of tapeworm industriously adding on to itself one epoch after another.

But the series **ancient-media;val-modern history" has at last exhausted its usefulness. Angular, narrow, shallow though it was as a scientific foundation, still we possessed no other form that was not wholly unphilosophical in which our data could be arranged, and world-history (as hitherto understood) has to thank it for filtering our classifiable solid residues. But the number of centuries that the scheme can by any stretch be made to cover has long since been ex- ceeded, and with the rapid increase in the volume of our historical material — especially of material that cannot possibly be brought under the scheme — the picture is beginning to dissolve into a chaotic blur. Every historical student who is not quite blind knows and feels this, and it is as a drowning man that he clutches at the only scheme which he knows of. The word "Middle Age," * invented in 1667 by Professor Horn of Leyden, has to-day to cover a formless and constantly extending mass which can only be defined, negatively, as every thing not classifiable under any pretext in one of the other two (tolerably well- ordered) groups. We have an excellent example of this in our feeble treatment and hesitant judgment of modern Persian, Arabian and Russian history. But, above all, it has become impossible to conceal the fact that this so-called history of the world is a limited history, first of the Eastern Mediterranean region and then, — with an abrupt change of scene at the Migrations (an event important only to us and therefore greatly exaggerated by us, an event of purely Western and not even Arabian significance), — of West-Central Europe. When Hegel de- clared so naively that he meant to ignore those peoples which did not fit into his scheme of history, he was only making an honest avowal of methodic premisses that every historian finds necessary for his purpose and every his- torical work shows in its lay-out. In fact it has now become an afl^air of scientific tact to determine which of the historical developments shall be seriously taken into account and which not. Ranke is a good example.

VIII

To-day we think in continents, and it is only our philosophers and historians who have not realized that we do so. Of what significance to us, then, are con- ceptions and purviews that they put before us as universally valid, when in truth their furthest horizon does not extend beyond the intellectual atmosphere of Western Man?

Examine, from this point of view, our best books. When Plato speaks of

^ "Middle Ages" connotes the history of the space-time region in which Latin was the language tftht Church and the Uarned. The mighty course of Eastern Christianity, which, long before Boniface, spread over Turkestan into China and through Sabxa into Abyssinia, was entirely excluded from dm "world-histoiy."


INTRODUCTION 13

humanity, he means the Hellenes in contrast to the barbarians, which is entirely consonant with the ahistoric mode of the Classical life and thought, and his premisses take him to conclusions that for Greeks v/ere complete and significant. Wnen, however, Kant philosophizes, say on ethical ideas, he maintains the validity of his theses for men of all times and places. He does not say this in so many words, for, for himself and his readers, it is something that goes with- out saying. In his aesthetics he formulates, the principles, not of Phidias's art, or Rembrandt's art, but of Art generally. But what he poses as necessary forms of thought are in reality only necessary forms of Western thought, though a glance at Aristotle and his essentially different conclusions should have sufficed to show that Aristotle's intellect, not less penetrating than his own, was of different structure from it. The categories of the "Westerner are just as alien to Russian thought as those of the Chinaman or the ancient Greek are to him. For us, the effective and complete comprehension of Classical root-words is just as impossible as that of Russian ^ and Indian, and for the modern Chinese or Arab, with their utterly different intellectual constitutions, "philosophy from Bacon to Kant ' ' has only a curiosity-value.

y It is fhis that is lacking to the Western thinker, the very thinker in whom we might have expected to find it — insight into the historically relative char- acter of his data, which are expressions of one specific existence and one only; knowledge of the necessary limits of their validity; the conviction that his "unshakable" truths and "eternal" views are simply true for him and eternal for his world-view; the duty of looking beyond them to find out what the men of other Cultures have with equal certainty evolved out of themselves. That and nothing else will impart completeness to the philosophy of the future, and only through an understanding of the living world shall we understand the symbolism of history. Here there is nothing constant, nothing universal. We must cease to speak of the forms of "Thought," the principles of "Tragedy," the mission of "The State." Universal validity involves always the fallacy of arguing from particular to particular.

But something much more disquieting than a logical fallacy begins to appear when the centre of gravity of philosophy shifts from the abstract-systematic to the practical-ethical and our Western thinkers from Schopenhauer onward turn from the problem of cognition to the problem of life (the will to life, to power, to action). Here it is not the ideal abstract "man" of Kant that is subjected to examination, but actual man as he has inhabited the earth during historical time, grouped, whether primitive or advanced, by peoples; and it is more than ever futile to define the structure of his highest ideas in terms of the " ancient-mediasval-modern " scheme with its local limitations. But it is done, nevertheless.

1 See Vol. II, p. 361, foot-note. To the true Russian the basic proposition of Darwinism is as devoid of meaning as that of Copernicus is to a true Arab.


24 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Consider the historical horizon of Nietzsche. His conceptions of decadence, militarism, the transvaluation of all values, the will to power, lie deep in the essence of Western civilization and are for the analysis of that civilization of decisive importance. But what, do we find, was the foundation on which he built up his creation? Romans and Greeks, Renaissance and European preseat, with a fleeting and uncomprehending side-glance at Indian philosophy — in short "ancient, medixval and modern" history. Strictly speaking, he never once moved outside the scheme, not did any other thinker of his time.

What correlation, then, is there or can there be of his idea of the "Diony- sian" with the inner life of a highly-civilized Chinese or an up-to-date Ameri- can? What is the significance of his type of the "Superman" — for the world of Islam? Can image-forming antitheses of Nature and Intellect, Heathen and Christian, Classical and Modern, have any meaning for the soul of the Indian or the Russian? What can Tolstoi — who from the depths of his humanity rejected the whole Western world-idea as something alien and distant — do with the "Middle Ages," with Dante, with Luther? What can a Japanese do with Parzcval and "Zarathustra," or an Indian with Sophocles? And is the thought-range of Schopenhauer, Comte, Feuerbach, Hebbel or Strindberg any wider? Is not their whole psychology, for all its intention of world-wide validity, one of purely West-European significance?

How comic seem Ibsen's woman-problems — which also challenge the attention of all "humanity" — when, for his famous Nora, the lady of the North-west European city with the horizon that is implied by a house-rent of £ioo to £300 a year and a Protestant upbringing, we substitute Caesar's wife, Madame de Sevigne, a Japanese or a Turkish peasant woman! But, for that matter, Ibsen's own circle of vision is-that of the middle class in a great city of yesterday and to-day. His conflicts, which start from spiritual premisses that did not exist till about 1850 and can scarcely last beyond 1950, are neither those of the great world nor those of the lower masses, still less those of the cities in- habited by non-European populations. ., *

All these are local and temporary values — most of them indeed limited to the momentary "intelligentsia" of cities of West-European type. World- historical or "eternal" values they emphatically are not. Whatever the sub- stantial importance of Ibsen's and Nietzsche's generation may be, it infringes the very meaning of the word "world-history" — which denotes the totality and not a selected part — to subordinate, to undervalue, or to ignore the factors which lie outside "modem" interests. Yet in fact they are so undervalued or ignored to an amazing extent. What the West has said and thought, hitherto, on the problems of space, time, motion, number, will, marriage, property, tragedy, science, has remained narrow and dubious, because men were always looking for the solution of the question. It was never seen that many questio^ncrs implies many answers, that any ph ilosoph ical question is really a veiled desire


INTRODUCTION 15

to get an explicit affirmation of what is impli cit in the question itself, that the great questions of any period are fluid beyond all conception, and that therefore it is only by obtaining a group of historically limited solutions and measuring it by utterly impersonal criteria that the final secrets can be reached. The real student of mankind treats no standpoint as absolutely right or absolutely wrong. In the face of such grave problems as that of Time or that of Marriage, it is in- sufficient to appeal to personal experience, or an inner voice, or reason, or the opinion of ancestors or contemporaries. These may say what is true for the questioner himself and for his time, but that is not all. In other Cultures the phenomenon talks a different language, for other men there are different truths. The thinker must adm it the validity of alitor of none.

\/ How greatly, then. Western world-criticism can be widened and deepened! How immensely far beyond the innocent relativism of Nietzsche and his genera- tion one must look — how fine one's sense for form and one's psychological insight must become — how completely one must free oneself from limitations of self, of practical interests, of horizon — before one dare assert the pretension to understand world-history, the world-as-history .

IX

In opposition to all these arbitary and narrow schemes, derived from tradi- tion or personal choice, into which history is forced, I put forward the natural, the "Copernican," form of the historical process which lies deep in the essence of that process and reveals itself only to an eye perfectly free from prepossessions.

Such an eye was Goethe's. That which Goethe called Living Nature is exactly that which we are calling here world-history, world-as-history. Goethe, who as artist portrayed the life and development, always the life and develop- ment, of his figures, the thing-becoming and not the thing-become ("Wilhelm Meister" and "Wahrheit und Dichtung") hated Mathematics. For him, the world-as-mechanism stood opposed to the world-as-organism, dead nature to living nature, law to form. As naturalist, every line he wrote was meant to display the image of a thing-becoming, the "impressed form" living and de- veloping. Sympathy, observation, comparison, immediate and inward cer- tainty, intellectual flair — these were the means whereby he was enabled to approach the secrets of the phenomenal world in motion. Now these are the means of historical research — precisely these and no others. It was this godlike insight that prompted him to say at the bivouac fire on the evening of the Battle of Valmy: "Here and now begins a new epoch of world history, and you, gentle- men, can say that you 'were there.' " No general, no diplomat, let alone the philosophers, ever so directly felt history "becoming." It is the deepest judg- ment that any man ever uttered about a great historical act in the moment of its accomplishment. ^ And just as he followed out the development of the plant-form from the leaf.


i6 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

the birth of the vertebrate type, the process of the geological strata — the Destiny in nature and not the Causality — so here we shall develop the form- language of human history, its periodic structure, its organic logic out of the profusion of all the challenging details.

In other aspects, mankind is habitually, and rightly, reckoned as one of the organisms of the earth's surface. Its physical structure, its natural functions, the whole phenomenal conception of it, all belong to a more comprehensive unity. Only in this aspect is it treated otherwise, despite that deeply-felt relationship of plant destiny and human destiny which is an eternal theme of all lyrical poetry, and despite that similarity of human history to that of any other of the higher life-groups which is the refrain of endless beast-legends, sagas and fables.

But only bring analogy to bear on this aspect as on the rest, letting the world of human Cultures intimately and unreservedly work upon the imagina- tion instead of forcing it into a ready-made scheme. Let the words youth, growth, maturity, decay — hitherto, and to-day more than ever, used to ex- press subjective valuations and entirely personal preferences in sociology, ethics and aesthetics — be taken at last as objective descriptions of organic states. Set forth the Classical Culture as a self-contained phenomenon embodying and expressing the Classical soul, put it beside the Egyptian, the Indian, the Baby- lonian, the Chinese and the Western, and determine for each of these higher individuals what is typical in their surgings and what is necessary in the riot of incident. And then at last will unfold itself the picture of world-history that is natural to us, men of the West, and to us alone.


Our narrower task, then, is primarily to determine, from such a world- survey, the state of West Europe and America as at the epoch of 1800-1000 — to establish the chronological position of this period in the ensemble of Western culture-history, its significance as a chapter that is in one or other guise neces- sarily found in the biography of every Culture, and the organic and symbolic meaning of its political, artistic, intellectual and social expression-forms.

Considered in the spirit of analogy, this period appears as chronologically parallel — "contemporary" in our special sense — with the phase of Hel- lenism, and its present culmination, marked by the World-War, corresponds with the transition from the Hellenistic to the Roman age. Kome, with its rigorous realism — uninspired, barbaric, disciplined, practical, Protestant, Prussian — will always give us, working as we must by analogies, the key to understanding our own future. The break of destiny that we express by hyphening the words " Greeks = Romans" is occurring for us also, separating that which is already fulfilled from that which is to come. Long ago we might and should have seen in the "Classical" world a development which is the complete counter-


INTRODUCTION zy

part of our own Western development, differing indeed from it in every detail of the surface but entirely similar as regards the inward power driving the great organism towards its end. We might have found the constant alter ego of our own actuality in establishing the correspondence, item by item, from the "Trojan War" and the Crusades, Homer and the Nibelungenlied, through Doric and Gothic, Dionysian movement and Renaissance, Polycletus and John Sebastian Bach, Athens and Paris, Aristotle and Kant, Alexander and Napoleon, to the world-city and the imperialism common to both Cultures.

Unfortunately, this requires an interpretation of the picture of Classical his- tory very different from the incredibly one-sided, superficial, prejudiced, limited picture that we have in fact given to it. We have, in truth been only too con- scious of our near relation to the Classical Age, and only too prone in con- sequence to unconsidered assertion of it. Superficial similarity is a great snare, and our entire Classical study fell a victim to it as soon as it passed from the (admittedly masterly) ordering and critique of the discoveries to the inter- pretation of their spiritual meaning. That close inward relation in which we conceive ourselves to stand towards the Classical, and which leads us to think that we are its pupils and successors (whereas in reality we are simply its

v-adorers), is a venerable prejudice which ought at last to be put aside. The whole religious-philosophical, art-historical and social-critical work of the 19th Century has been necessary to enable us, not to understand MsohylMs, Plato, Apollo and Dionysus, the Athenian state and Cassarism (which we are far indeed from doing), but to begin to realize, once and for all, how immeasurably alien and distant these things are from our inner selves — more alien, maybe, than Mexican gods and Indian architecture.

Our views of the Grasco-Roman Culture have always swung between two extremes, and our standpoints have invariably been defined for us by the " ancient-mediasval-modern " scheme. One. group, public men before all else — economists, politicians, jurists — opine that "present-day mankind" is making excellent progress, assess it and its performances at the very highest value and measure everything earlier by its standards. There is no modern party that has not weighed up Cleon, Marius, Themistocles, Catiline, the Gracchi, according to its own principles. On the other hand we have the group of artists, poets, philologists and philosophers. These feel themselves to be out of their element in the aforesaid present, and in consequence choose for themselves in this or that past epoch a standpoint that is in its way just as absolute and dogmatic from which to condemn "to-day." The one group looks upon Greece as a "not ytt, the other upon modernity as a "nevermore."

^Both labour under the obsession of a scheme of history which treats the two epochs as part of the same straight line.

In this opposition it is the two souls of Faust that express themselves. The danger of the one group lies in a clever superficiality. In its hands there remains


xB THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

finally, of all Classical Culture, of all reflections of the Classical soul, nothing but a bundle of social, economic, political and physiological facts, and the rest is treated as "secondary results," "reflexes," "attendant phenomena." In the books of this group we find not a hint of the mythical force of i^schylus's choruses, of the immense mother-earth struggle of the early sculpture, the Doric column, of the richness of the Apollo-cult, of the real depth of the Roman Emperor-worship. The other group, composed above all of belated roman- ticists — represented in recent times by the three Basel professors Bachofen, Burckhardt and Nietzsche — succumb to the usual dangers of ideology. They ^ lose themselves in the clouds of an antiquity that is really no more than the image of their own sensibility in a philological mirror. They rest their case upon the only evidence which they consider worthy to support it, viz., the relics of the old literature, yet there never was a Culture so incompletely repre- sented for us by its great writers.^ The first group, on the other hand, supports itself principally upon the humdrum material of law-sources, inscriptions and coins (which Burckhardt and Nietzsche, very much to their own loss, despised) and subordinates thereto, often with little or no sense of truth and fact, the surviving literature. Consequently, even in point of critical foundations, neither group takes the other seriously. I have never heard that Nietzsche and Mommsen had the smallest respect for each other.

But neither group has attained to that higher method of treatment which reduces this opposition of criteria to ashes, although it was within their power to do so. In their self-limitation they paid the penalty for taking over the causality-principle from natural science. Unconsciously they arrived at a prag- matism that sketchily copied the world-picture drawn by physics and, instead of revealing, obscured and confused the quite othcr-natured forms of history. They had no better expedient for subjecting the mass of historical material to critical and normative examination than to consider one complex of phenomena as being primary and causative and the rest as being secondary, as being con- sequences or efl^ects. And it was not only the matter-of-fact school that re- sorted to this method. The romanticists did likewise, for History had not revealed even to their dreaming gaze its specific logic; and yet they felf that

  • This is conclusively proved by the selection that determined survival, which was governed

not by mere chance but very definitely by a deliberate tendency. The Atticism of the Augustan Age, tired, sterile, pedantic, back-looking, conceived the hall-maric "classical" and allowed only a very small group of Greek works up to Plato to bear it. The rest, including the whole wealth of Hellenis- tic literature, was rejected and has been almost entirely lost. It is this pedagogue's anthology that has survived (almost in its entirety) and so fixed the imaginary picture of "Classical Antiquity" alike for the Renaissance Florentine and for Winckclmann, Holderlin, and even Nietzsche.

[In this English translation, it should be mentioned, the word "Classical" has almost uni- versally been employed to translate the German antike, as, in the translator's judgment, no literal equivalent of the German word would convey the specific meaning attached to antike throughout the work, "antique," "ancient" and the like words having for us a much more general connota- tion. — Tr.]


INTRODUCTION 2.9

there was an immanent necessity in it to determine this somehow, rather than turn their backs upon History in despair like Schopenhauer.

XI

Briefly, then, there are two ways of regarding the Classical — the material- istic and the ideological. By the former, it is asserted that the sinking of one scale-pan has its cause in the rising of the other, and it is shown that this occurs invariably (truly a striking theorem); and in this juxtaposing of cause and effect we naturally find the social and sexual, at all events the purely polit- ical, facts classed as causes and the religious, intellectual and (so far as the materialist tolerates them as facts at all) the artistic as effects. On the other hand, the ideologues show that the rising of one scale-pan follows from the [sinking of the other, which they are able to prove of course with equal exacti- I tude; this done, they lose themselves in cults, mysteries, customs, in the secrets [of the strophe and the line, throwing scarcely a side-glance at the commonplace [daily life — for them an unpleasant consequence of earthly imperfection. Each side, with its gaze fixed on causality, demonstrates that the other side either innot or will not understand the true linkages of things and each ends by calling the other blind, superficial, stupid, absurd or frivolous, oddities or Philistines. It shocks the ideologue if anyone deals with Hellenic finance- problems and instead of, for example, telling us the deep meanings of the Delphic oracle, describes the far-reaching money operations which the Oracle priests undertook with their accumulated treasures. The politician, on the other hand, has a superior smile for those who waste their enthusiasm on ritual formulas and the dress of Attic youths, instead of writing a book adorned with up-to-date catchwords about antique class-struggles.

The one type is foreshadowed from the very outset in Petrarch; it created Florence and Weimar and the Western classicism. The other type appears in the middle of the i8th Century, along with the rise of civilized, ^ economic- megalopolitan ^ politics, and England is therefore its birthplace (Grote). At bottom, the opposition is between the conceptions of culture-man and those of civilization-man, and it is too deep, too essentially human, to allow the weaknesses of both standpoints alike to be seen or overcome.

The materialist himself is on this point an idealist. He too, without wish- ing or desiring it, has made his views dependent upon his wishes. In fact all our finest niinds without exception have bowed down reverently before the picture of the Classical, abdicating in this one instance alone their function of unrestricted criticism. The freedom and power of Classical research are always

1 As will be seen later, the words zivilisierte and Zivilisation possess in this work a special meaning. — Tr.

2 English not possessing the adjective-forming freedom of German, we are compelled to coin a word for the rendering of grossstddtisch, an adjective not only frequent but of emphatic significance in the author's argument. — Tr.


30 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

hindered, and its data obscured, by a certain almost religious awe. In all history there is no analogous case of one Culture making a passionate cult of the memory of another. Our devotion is evidenced yet again in the fact that since the Renaissance, a thousand years of history have been undervalued so that an ideal ' ' Middle ' ' Age may serve as a link between ourselves and antiquity. We Westerners have sacrificed on the Classical altar the purity and independence of our art, for wrc have not dared to create without a side-glance at the "sublime exemplar." We have projected our own deepest spiritual needs and feelings on to the Classical picture. Some day a gifted psychologist will deal with this most fateful illusion and tell us the story of the "Classical" that we have so consistently reverenced since the days of Gothic. Few theses would be more helpful for the understanding of the Western soul from Otto III, the first victim of the South, to Nietzsche, the last.

Goethe on his Italian tour speaks with enthusiasm of the buildings of Palladio, whose frigid and academic work we to-day regard very sceptically: but when he goes on to Pompeii he does not conceal his dissatisfaction in experiencing "a strange, half-unpleasant impression," and what he has to say on the temples of Pa^stum and Segesta — masterpieces of Hellenic art — is embarrassed and trivial. Palpably, when Classical antiquity in its full force met him face to face, he did not recognize it. It is the same with all others. Much that was Classical they chose not to see, and so they saved their inward image of the Classical — which was in reality the background of a life-ideal that they themselves had created and nourished with their heart's blood, a vessel filled with their own world-feeling, a phantom, an idol. The audacious descriptions of Aristophanes, Juvenal or Petronius of life in the Classical cities — the southern dirt and riff-raflf, terrors and brutalities, pleasure-boys and Phrynes, phallus worship and imperial orgies — excite the enthusiasm of the student and the dilettante, who find the same realities in the world-cities of to-day too lamentable and repulsive to face. "In the cities life is bad; there are too many of the lustful." — also sprach Zarathustra. They commend the state-sense of the Romans, but despise the man of to-day who permits himself any contact with public affairs. There is a type of scholar whose clarity of vision comes under some irresistible spell when it turns from a frock-coat to a toga, from a British football-ground to a Byzantine circus, from a transcon- tinental railway to a Roman road in the Alps, from a thirty-knot destroyer to a trireme, from Prussian bayonets to Roman spears — nowadays, even, from a modern engineer's Suez Canal to that of a Pharaoh. He would admit a steam- engine as a symbol of human passion and an expression of intellectual force if it were Hero of Alexandria who invented it, not otherwise. To such it seems blasphemous to talk of Roman central-heating or book-keeping in preference to the worship of the Great Mother of the Gods.

But the other school sees nothing but these things. It thinks it exhausts the


INTRODUCTION 31

essence of this Culture, alien as it is to ours, by treating the Greeks as simply equivalent, and it obtains its conclusions by means of simple factual substitur tions, ignoring altogether the Classical soul. That there is not the slightest inward correlation between the things meant by "Republic," "freedom," "property" and the like then and there and the things meant by such words here and now, it has no notion whatever. It makes fun of the historians of the age of Goethe, who honestly expressed their own political ideals in classical history forms and revealed their own personal enthusiasms in vindications or condemnations of lay-figures named Lycurgus, Brutus, Cato, Cicero, Augustus — but it cannot itself write a chapter without reflecting the party opinion of its morning paper.

iXit is, however, much the same whether the past is treated in the spirit of Don Quixote or in that of Sancho Panza. Neither v/ay leads to the end. In sum, each school permits itself to bring into high relief that part of the

\/Classical which best expresses its own views — Nietzsche the pre-Socratic Athens, the economists the Hellenistic period, the politicians Republican ^ome, poets the Imperial Age.

Not that religious and artistic phenomena are more primitive than social and economic, any more than the reverse. For the man who in these things has won his unconditional freedom of outlook, beyond all personal interests whatsoever, there is no dependence, no priority, no r elation of cause and e ffect.

v^no differentiation of value or importance. That which assigns relative ranks amongst thelndrndual detail-facts is simply the greater or less purity and force of their form-language, their symbolism, beyond all questions of good and evil, high and low, useful and ideal.

XII

Looked at in this way, the "Decline of the West" comprises nothing less than the problem of Civilisation. We have before us one of the fundamental questions of all higher history. What is Civilization, understood as the organic- logical sequel, fulfilment and finale of a culture?

For every Culture has its own Civilization. In this work, for the first time the two words, hitherto used to express an indefinite, more or less ethical, distinction, are used in a -periodic sense, to express a strict and necessary organic succession. The Civilization is the inevitable destiny of the Culture, and in this principle we obtain the viewpoint from which the deepest and gravest problems of historical, morphology become capable of solution. Civilizations are the most external and artificial states of which a species of developed humanity is I capable. They are a conclusion, the thing-become succeeding the thing becoming, death following life, rigidity following expansion, intellectual age and the stone-built, petrifying world-city following mother-earth and the spiritual childhood of Doric and Gothic. They are an end, irrevocable, yet by inward necessity reached again and again.


31 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

So, for the first time, we are enabled to understand the Romans as the successors of the Greeks, and light is projected into the deepest secrets of the late-Classical period. What, but this, can be the meaning of the fact — which can only be disputed by vain phrases — that the Romans were barbarians who did not precede but closed a great development? Unspiritual, unphilosophical, devoid of art, clannish to the point of brutality, aiming relentlessly at tangible successes, they stand between the Hellenic Culture and nothingness. An im- agination directed purely to practical objects — they had religious laws gov- erning godward relations as they had other laws governing human relations, but there was no specifically Roman saga of gods — was something which is not found at all in Athens. In a word, Greek soul — Roman intellect; and this antithesis is the differentia between Culture and Civilization. Nor is it only to the Classical that it applies. Again and again there appears this type of strong- minded, completely non-metaphysical man, and in the hands of this type lies the intellectual and material destiny of each and every "late" period. Such are the men who carried through the Babylonian, the Egyptian, the Indian, the Chinese, the Roman Civilizations, and in such periods do Buddhism, Stoicism, Socialism ripen into definitive world-conceptions which enable a moribund humanity to be attacked and re-formed in its intimate structure. Pure Civiliza- tion, as a historical process, consists in a progressive taking-down of forms that have become inorganic or dead.

The transition from Culture to Civilization was accomplished for the Classical world in the 4th, for the Western in the 19th Century. From these periods onward the great intellectual decisions take place, not as in the days of the Orpheus-movement or the Reformation in the ' ' whole world ' * where not a hamlet is too small to be unimportant, but in three or four world-cities that have absorbed into themselves the whole content of History, while the old wide landscape of the Culture, become merely provincial, serves only to feed the cities with what remains of its higher mankind.

World-city and province ^ — the two basic ideas of every civilization — bring up a wholly new form-problem of History, the very problem that we are living through to-day with hardly the remotest conception of its immensity. In place of a world, there is a city, a point, in which the whole life of broad regions is collecting while the rest dries up. In place of a type-true people, born of and grown on the soil, there is a new sort of nomad, cohering unstably in fluid masses, the parasitical city dweller, traditionless, utterly matter-of-fact, reli- gionless, clever, unfruitful, deeply contemptuous of the countryman and es- pecially that highest form of countryman, the country gentleman. This is a very great stride towards the inorganic, towards the end — what does it signify? France and England have already taken the step and Germany is beginning to do so. After Syracuse, Athens, and Alexandria comes Rome. After Madrid,

^ Sec Vol. II, pp. 117 ct scq.


I


INTRODUCTION 33

Paris, London come Berlin and New York. It is the destiny of whole regions that lie outside the radiation-circle of one of these cities — of old Crete and Macedon and to-day the Scandinavian North ^ — to become "provinces."

Of old, the field on which the opposed conception of an epoch came to battle was some world-problem of a metaphysical, religious or dogmatic kind, and the battle was between the soil-genius of the countryman (noble, priest) and the "worldly" patrician genius of the famous old small towns of Doric or Gothic springtime. Of such a character were the conflicts over the Dionysus religion — as in the tyranny of Kleisthenes of Sikyon ^ — and those of the Reformation in the German free cities and the Huguenot wars. But just as these cities overcame the country-side (already it is a purely civic world-outlook that appears in even Parmenides and Descartes), so in turn the world-city over- came them. It is the common intellectual process of later periods such as the Ionic and the Baroque, and to-day — as in the Hellenistic age which at its outset saw the foundation of artificial, land-alien Alexandria — Culture-cities like Florence, Niirnberg, Salamanca, Bruges and Prag, have become provincial towns and fight inwardly a lost battle against the world-cities. The world- city means cosmopolitanism in place of "home," ^ cold matter-of-fact in place of reverence for tradition and age, scientific irreligion as a fossil representative of the older religion of the heart, ' ' society ' ' in place of the state, natural instead of hard-earned rights. It was in the conception of money as an inorganic and abstract magnitude, entirely disconnected from the notion of the fruitful earth and the primitive values, that the Romans had the advantage of the Greeks. Thenceforward any high ideal of life becomes largely a question of money. Unlike the Greek stoicism of Chrysippus, the Roman stoicism of Cato and Seneca presupposes a private income; ^ and, unlike that of the i8th Century, the social-ethical sentiment of the 2.0th, if it is to be realized at a higher level than that of professional (and lucrative) agitation, is a matter for millionaires. To the world-city belongs not a folk but a mass. Its uncomprehending hostility to all the traditions representative of the Culture (nobility, church, privileges, dynasties, convention in art and limits of knowledge in science), the keen and cold intelligence that confounds the wisdom of the peasant, the new-fashioned naturalism that in relation to all matters of sex and society goes back far beyond Rousseau and Socrates to quite primitive instincts and conditions, the reappear-

  • One cannot fail to notice this in the development of Strindberg and especially in that of Ibsen,

-N\i.o was never quite at home in the civilized atmosphere of his problems. The motives of " Brand " and " Rosmersholm " are a wonderful mixture of innate provincialism and a theoretically-acquired megalopolitan outlook. Nora is the very type of the provincial derailed by reading.

2 Who forbade the cult of the tov/n's hero Adrastos and the reading of the Homeric poems, with the object of cutting the Doric nobility from its spiritual roots (c. 560 b.c).

3 A profound word which obtains its significance as soon as the barbarian becomes a culture-man and loses it again as soon as the civilization-man takes up the motto " Ubi bene, ibi patria."

W * Hence it was that the first to succumb to Christianity were the Romans who could not afford to be Stoics. See Vol. II, pp. 607 et seq.


34 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

ance of the fanem et circenses in the form of wage-disputes and football-grounds — all these things betoken the definite closing-down of the Culture and the opening of a quite new phase of human existence — anti-provincial, late, futureless, but quite inevitable.

This is what has to be viewed^ and viewed not with the eyes of the partisan, the ideologue, the up-to-date novelist, not from this or that "standpoint," but in a high, time-free perspective embracing whole millenniums of historical world-forms, if we are really to comprehen d the great crisis of the present.

To me it is a symbol of the first importance that in the Rome of Crassus — - triumvir and all-powerful building-site speculator — the Roman people with its proud inscriptions, the people before whom Gauls, Greeks, Parthians, Syri- ans afar trembled, lived in appalling misery in the many-storied lodging-houses of dark suburbs,^ accepting with indifference or even with a sort of sporting interest the consequences of the military expansion: that many famous old-noble families, descendants of the men who defeated the Celts and the Samnites, lost their ancestral homes through standing apart from the wild rush of speculation and were reduced to renting wretched apartments; that, while along the Appian Way there arose the splendid and still wonderful tombs of the financial mag- nates, the corpses of the people were thrown along with animal carcases and town refuse into a monstrous common grave — till in Augustus's time it was banked over for the avoidance of pestilence and so became the site of Maecenas's renowned park; that in depopulated Athens, which lived on visitors and on the bounty of rich foreigners, the mob of parvenu tourists from Rome gaped at the works of the Periclean age with as little understanding as the American globe- trotter in the Sistine Chapel at those of Michelangelo, every removable art- piece having ere this been taken away or bought at fancy prices to be replaced by the Roman buildings which grew up, colossal and arrogant, by the side of the low and modest structures of the old time. In such things — which it is the historian's business not to praise or to blame but to consider morphologi- cally — there lies, plain and immediate enough for one who has learnt to see, an idea.

For it will become manifest that, from this moment on, all great conflicts of world-outlook, of politics, of art, of science, of feeling will be under the influence of this one opposition. What is the hall-mark of a politic of Civiliza- tion to-day, in contrast to a politic of Culture yesterday? It is, for the Classical rhetoric, and for the Western journalism, both serving that abstract which represents the power of Civilization — money. ^ It is the money-spirit which

  • In Rome and Byzantium, lodging-houses of six to ten stories (with street-widths of ten feet

at most!) were built without any sort of official supervision, and frequently collapsed with all their inmates. A great part of the civts Komani, for whom pattern et circenses constituted all existence, pos- sessed no more than a high-priced sleeping-berth in one of the swarming ant-hills called insula, (Pohlmann, Aus Alfertum und Gegjenwart, 191 1, pp. 199 fF.)

« Sec Vol. II, 577.


INTRODUCTION 35

penetrates unremarked the historical forms of the people's existence, often with- out destroying or even in the least disturbing these forms — the form of the Roman state, for instance, underwent very much less alteration between the elder Scipio and Augustus than is usually imagined. Though forms subsist, the great political parties nevertheless cease to be more than reputed centres of decision. The decisions in fact lie elsewhere. A small number of superior heads, whose names are very likely not the best-known, settle everything, while below them are the great mass of second-rate politicians — rhetors, tribunes, deputies, journalists — selected through a provincially-conceived franchise to keep alive the illusion of popular self-determination. And art? Philosophy? The ideals of a Platonic or those of a Kantian age had for the higher mankind concerned a general validity. But those of a Hellenistic age, or those of our own, are valid exclusively for the brain of the Megalopolitan. For the villager's or, generally, the nature-man's world-feeling our Socialism — like its near re- lation Darwinism (how utterly un-Goethian are the formulas of "struggle for existence" and "natural selection"!), like its other relative the woman-and- marriage problem of Ibsen, Strindberg, and Shaw, like the impressionistic tendencies of anarchic sensuousness and the whole bundle of modern longings, temptations and pains expressed in Baudelaire's verse and Wagner's music — are simply non-existent. The smaller the town, the more unmeaning it becomes

-^to busy oneself with painting or with music of these kinds. To the Culture belong gymnastics, the tournament, the agon, and to the Civilization belongs Sport. This is the true distinction between the Hellenic palaestra and the Roman circus.^ Art itself becomes a sport (hence the phrase "art for art's sake") to be played before a highly-intelligent audience of connoisseurs and buyers, whether the feat consist in mastering absurd instrumental tone-masses and taking harmonic fences, or in some tour de force of colouring. Then a new fact-philosophy appears, which can only spare a smile for metaphysical specula- tion, and a new literature that is a necessity of life for the megalopolitan palate and nerves and both unintelligible and ugly to the provincials. Neither Alex- andrine poetry nor flein-air painting is anything to the "people." And, then as now, the phase of transition is marked by a series of scandals only to be found

^at such moments. The anger evoked in the Athenian populace by Euripides and by the "Revolutionary" painting of Apollodorus, for example, is repeated in the opposition to Wagner, Manet, Ibsen, and Nietzsche.

It is possible to understand the Greeks without mentioning their economic relations; the Romans, on the other hand, can only be understood through these. Chasronea and Leipzig were the last battles fought about an idea. In the First Punic War and in 1870 economic motives are no longer to be overlooked. Not

^ German gymnastics, from the intensely provincial and natural forms imparted to it by Jahn, has since 1813 been carried by a very rapid development into the sport category. The difference be- tween a Berlin athletic ground on a big day and a Roman circus was even by 1914 very slight.


36 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

till the Romans came with their practical energy was slave-holding given that big collective character which many students regard as the die-stamp of Clas- sical economics, legislation and way of life, and which in any event vastly lowered both the value and the inner worthiness of such free labour as continued to exist side by side with gang-labour. And it was not the Latin, but the Germanic peoples of the West and America who developed out of the steam- engine a big industry that transformed the face of the land. The relation of these phenomena to Stoicism and to Socialism is unmistakable. Not till the Roman Cassarism — foreshadowed by C. Flaminius, shaped first by Marius, handled by strong-minded, large-scale men of fact — did the Classical World learn the pre-eminence of money. Without this fact neither Caesar, nor "Rome" 'generally, is understandable. In every Greek is a Don Quixote, in every Roman a Sancho Panza factor, and these factors are dominants.


XIII


Considered in itself, the Roman world-dominion was a negative phenom- enon, being the result not of a surplus of energy on the one side — that the Romans had never had since Zama — but of a deficiency of resistance on the other. That the Romans did not conquer the world is certain; ^ they merely took possession of a booty that lay open to everyone. The Imperium Komanum came into existence not as the result of such an extremity of military and financial effort as had characterized the Punic Wars, but because the old East forwent all external self-determinations. We must not be deluded by the ap- pearance of brilliant military successes. With a few ill-trained, ill-led, and sullen legions, Lucullus and Pompey conquered whole realms — a phenomenon that in the period of the battle of Ipsus would have been unthinkable. The Mithradatic danger, serious enough for a system of material force which had never been put to any real test, would have been nothing to the conquerors of Hannibal. After Zama, the Romans never again either waged or were capable of waging a war against a great military Power. ^ Their classic wars were those .against the Samnites, Pyrrhus and Carthage. Their grand hour was Cannas. To maintain the heroic posture for centuries on end is beyond the power of any people. The Prussian-German people have had three great moments (1813, 1870 and 1914), and that is more than others have had.

Here, then, I lay it down that Imperialism, of which petrifacts such as the Egyptian empire, the Roman, the Chinese, the Indian may continue to exist for hundreds or thousands of years — dead bodies, amorphous and dispirited masses of men, scrap-material from a great history — is to be taken as the typical symbol of the passing away. Imperialism is Civilization unadulterated.

» Sec Vol. II, 519.

  • The conquest of Gaul by Cscsar was frankly a colonial, i.e., a one-sided, war; and the fact

that it is the highest achievement in the later military history of Rome only shows that the well of real achievement was rapidly drying up.


INTRODUCTION 37

In this phenomenal form the destiny of the West is now irrevocably set. The energy of culture-man is directed inwards, that of civilization-man outwards. And thus I see in Cecil Rhodes the first man of a new age. He stands for the political style of a far-ranging. Western, Teutonic and especially German future, and his phrase "expansion is everything" is the Napoleonic reassertion of the indwelling tendency of every Civilization that has fully ripened — Roman, Arab or Chinese. It is not a matter of choice — it is not the conscious will of in- ^dividuals, or even that of whole classes or peoples that decides. The expansive tendency is a doom, something daemonic and immense, which grips, forces into service, and uses up the late mankind of the world-city stage, willy-nilly, aware or unaware.^ Life is the process of effecting possibilities, and for the brain- man there are only extensive possibilities.^ Hard as the half-developed Socialism of to-day is fighting against expansion, one day it will become arch-expansionist with all the vehemence of destiny. Here the form-language of politics, as the direct intellectual expression of a certain type of humanity, touches on a deep metaphysical problem — on the fact, affirmed in the grant of unconditional validity to the causality-principle, that the soul is the complement of its extension. When, between 480 and 2.30,^ the Chinese group of states was tending towards imperialism, it was entirely futile to combat the principle of Imperi- alism (Lien-heng), practised in particular by the "Roman" state of Tsin * and theoretically represented by the philosopher Dschang Yi, by ideas of a League of Nations (Hoh-tsung) largely derived from Wang Hii, a profound sceptic who had no illusions as to the men or the political possibilities of this "late" period. Both sides opposed the anti-political idealism of Lao-tse, but as be- tween themselves it was Lien-heng and not Hoh-tsung which swam with the natural current of expansive Civilization.^

Rhodes is to be regarded as the first precursor of a Western type of Caesars, whose day is to come though yet distant. He stands midway between Napoleon and the force-men of the next centuries, just as Flaminius, who from 2.32. b.c. onward pressed the Romans to undertake the subjugation of Cisalpine Gaul and so initiated the policy of colonial expansion, stands between Alexander and C^sar. Strictly speaking, Flaminius was a private person — for his real power was of a kind not embodied in any constitutional office — who exercised a dominant influence in the state at a time when the state-idea was giving way to the pressure of economic factors. So far as Rome is concerned, he was the arche-

^ The modern Germans are a conspicuous example of a people that has become expansive without knowing it or willing it. They were already in that state while they still believed themselves to be the people of Goethe. Even Bismarck, the founder of the new age, never had the slightest idea of it, and believed himself to have reached the conclusion of a political process (cf. Vol. II, 52.9).

2 This is probably the meaning of Napoleon's significant words to Goethe: "What have wc to-day to do with destiny? Policy is destiny."

  • Corresponding to the 300-50 b.c phase of the Classical world.

4 Which in the end gave its name to the Empire (Tsin = China).

6 See Vol. II, 52.1-53P-


38 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

type of opposition Cassarism; with him there came to an end the idea of state- service and there began the "will to power" which ignored traditions and reckoned only with forces. Alexander and Napoleon were romantics; though they stood on the threshold of Civilization and in its cold clear air, the one fancied himself an Achilles and the other read Werther. Cassar, on the contrary, was a pure man of fact gifted with immense understanding.

But even for Rhodes political success means territorial and financial success, and only that. Of this Roman-ness within himself he was fully aware. But Western Civilization has not yet taken shape in such strength and purity as this. It was only before his maps that he could fall into a sort of poetic trance, this son of the parsonage who, sent out to South Africa without means, made a gigantic fortune and employed it as the engine of political aims. His idea of a trans-African railway from the Cape to Cairo, his project of a South African empire, his intellectual hold on the hard metal souls of the mining magnates whose wealth he forced into the service of his schemes, his capital Bulawayo, royally planned as a future Residence by a statesman who was all-powerful yet stood in no definite relation to the State, his wars, his diplomatic deals, his road-systems, his syndicates, his armies, his conception of the "great duty to civilization" of the man of brain — all this, broad and imposing, is the pre- lude of a future which is still in store for us and with which the history of West-European mankind will be definitely closed.

v^lle who does not understand that this outcome is obligatory and insuscep- tible of modification, that our choice is between willing this and willing nothing at all, between cleaving to this destiny or despairing of the future and of life itself; he who cannot feel that there is grandeur also in the realizations of powerful intelligences, in the energy and discipline of metal-hard natures, in battles fought with the coldest and most abstract means; he who is obsessed with the idealism of a provincial and would pursue the ways of life of past ages — must forgo all desire to comprehend history, to live through history or to make history.

Thus regarded, the Imperium Romanum appears no longer as an isolated phenomenon, but as the normal product of a strict and energetic, megalopolitan, predominantly practical spirituality, as typical of a final and irreversible con- dition which has occurred often enough though it has only been identified as such in this instance.

Let it be realized, then:

That the secret of historical form does not lie on the surface, that it cannot be grasped by means of similarities of costume and setting, and that in the history of men as in that of animals and plants there occur phenomena showing deceptive similarity but inwardly without any connexion — e.g., Charlemagne and Haroun-al-Raschid, Alexander and Caesar, the German wars upon Rome and the Mongol onslaughts upon West Europe — and other phenomena of


INTRObUCTION 39

extreme outward dissimilarity but of identical import — e.g., Trajan and Rameses II, the Bourbons and the Attic Demos, Mohammed and Pythagoras. •

That the 19th and 2.0th. centuries, hitherto looked on as the highest point of an ascending straight line of world-history, are in reality a stage of life which may be observed in every Culture that has ripened to its limit — a stage of life characterized not by Socialists, Impressionists, electric railways, tor- pedoes and differential equations (for these are only body-constituents of the time), but by a civilized spirituality which possesses not only these but also quite other creative possibilities.

That, as our own time represents a transitional phase which occurs with certainty under particular conditions, there are perfectly well-defined states (such as have occurred more than once in the history of the past) later than the present-day state of West Europe, and therefore that

^ The future of the West is not a limitless tending upwards and onwards for all time towards our present ideals, but a single phenomenon of history, strictly limited and defined as to form and duration, which covers a few centuries and can be viewed and, in essentials, calculated from available precedents.


XIV


This high plane of contemplation once attained, the rest is easy. To this single idea one can refer, and by it one can solve, without straining or forcing, all those separate problems of religion, art-history, epistemology, ethics, poli- tics, economics with which the modern intellect has so passionately — and so vainly — busied itself for decades.

This idea is one of those truths that have only to be expressed with full clarity to become indisputable. It is one of the inward necessities of the West- ern Culture and of its world-feeling. It is capable of entirely transforming the world-outlook of one who fully understands it, i.e., makes it intimately his own. It immensely deepens the world-picture natural and necessary to us in that, already trained to regard world-historical evolution as an organic unit seen backwards from our standpoint in the present, we are enabled by its aid to follow the broad lines into the future — a privilege of dream-calculation till now permitted only to the physicist. It is, I repeat, in effect the substitution of a Copernican for a Ptolemaic aspect of history, that is, an immeasurable widening of horizon.

'^ Up to now everyone has been at liberty to hope what he pleased about the future. Where there are no facts, sentiment rules. But henceforward it will be every man's business to inform himseJf of v/hat can happen and therefore of what with the unalterable necessity of destiny and irrespective of personal ideals, hopes or desires, mil happen. When we use the risky word "freedom" we shall mean freedom _to_do^not this or that, but jhe necessary or nothing. The feeling that this is "just as it shbulTBe^nsThe hall-mark of the man of


40 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

fact. To lament it and blame it is not to alter it. To birth belongs death, to youth age, to life generally its form and its allotted span. The present is a civilized, emphatically not a cultured time, and ipso facto a great number of life-capacities fall out as impossible. This may be deplorable, and may be and will be deplored in pessimist philosophy and poetry, but it is not in our power to make otherwise. It will not be — already it is not — permissible to defy clear historical experience and to expect, merely because we hope, that this will spring or that will flourish.

It will no doubt be objected that such a world-outlook, which in giving this certainty as to the outlines and tendency of the future cuts off all far- reaching hopes, would be unhealthy for all and fatal for many, once it ceased to be a mere theory and was adopted as a practical scheme of life by the group of personalities effectively moulding the future.

Such is not my opinion. We are civilized, not Gothic or Rococo, people; we have to reckon with the hard cold facts of a late life, to which the parallel is to be found not in Pericles's Athens but in Caesar's Rome. Of great painting I or great music there can no longer be, for Western people, any question. Their

  • architectural possibilities have been exhausted these hundred years. Only ex-

tensive possibilities are left to them. Yet, for a sound and vigorous generation that is filled with unlimited hopes, I fail to see that it is any disadvantage to discover betimes that some of these hopes must come to nothing. And if the hopes thus doomed should be those most dear, well, a man who is worth any- thing will not be dismayed. It is true that the issue may be a tragic one for some individuals who in their decisive years are overpowered by the conviction that in the spheres of architecture, drama, painting, there is nothing left for them to conquer. What matter if they do go under! It has been the convention hitherto to admit no limits of any sort in these matters, and to believe that each period had its own task to do in each sphere. Tasks therefore were found by hook or by crook, leaving it to be settled posthumously whether or not the artist's faith was justified and his life-work necessary. Now, nobody but a pure romantic would take this way out. Such a pride is not the pride of a Roman. What are we to think of the individual who, standing before an ex- hausted quarry, would rather be told that a new vein will be struck to-morrow — the bait offered by the radically false and mannerized art of the moment — than be shown a rich and virgin clay-bed near by? The lesson, I think, would be of benefit to the coming generations, as showing them what is possible — and therefore necessary — and what is excluded from the inward potentialities of their time. Hitherto an incredible total of intellect and power has been squandered in false directions. The West-European, however historically he may think and feel, is at a certain stage of life invariably uncertain of his own direction; he gropes and feels his way and, if unlucky in environment, he loses it. But now at. last the work of centuries enables him to view the disposition


INTRODUCTION 41

of his own life in relation to the general culture-scheme and to test his own ^powers and purposes. And I can only hope that men of the new generation may be moved by this book to devote themselves to technics instead of lyrics, the sea instead of the paint-brush, and politics instead of epistemology. Better they could not do.


XV


It still remains to consider the relation of a morphology of world-history to Philosophy. All genuine historical work is philosophy, unless it is mere ant-industry. But the operations of the systematic philosopher are subject to constant and serious error through his assuming the permanence of his results. He overlooks the fact that every thought lives in a historical world and is therefore involved in the common destiny of mortality. He supposes that higher thought possesses an everlasting and unalterable objectiveness (Gegen- stand), that the great questions of all epochs are identical, and that therefore they are capable in the last analysis of unique answers.

But question and answer are here one, and the great questions are made great by the very fact that unequivocal answers to them are so passionately demanded, so that it is as life-symbols only that they possess significance, ^^here are no eternal truths. Every philosophy is the expression of its own and only its own time, and — if by philosophy we mean effective philosophy and not academic triflings about judgment-forms, sense-categories and the like — no two ages possess the same philosophic intentions. The difference is not between perishable and imperishable doctrines but between doctrines which live their day and doctrines which never live at all. The immortality of thoughts- become is an illusion — the essential is, what kind of man comes to expression in them. The greater the man, the truer the philosophy, with the inward truth that in a great work of art transcends all proof of its several elements or even of their compatibility with one another. At highest, the philosophy may absorb the entire content of an epoch, realize it within itself and then, embodying it in some grand form or personality, pass it on to be developed further and further. The scientific dress or the mark of learning adopted by a philosophy is here unimportant. Nothing is simpler than to make good poverty of ideas by founding a system, and even a good idea has little value when enunciated by a solemn ass. Only its necessity to life decides the eminence of a doctrine.

For me, therefore, the test of value to be applied to a thinker is his eye for the great facts of his own time. Only this can settle whether he is merely a clever architect of systems and principles, versed in definitions and analyses, or whether it is the very soul of his time that speaks in his works and his in- tuitions. A philosopher who cannot grasp and command actuality as well will never be of the first rank. The Pre-Socratics were merchants and politicians


41 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

en grand. The desire to put his political ideas into practice in Syracuse nearly cost Plato his life, and it was the same Plato who discovered the set of geometrical theorems that enabled Euclid to build up the Classical system of mathematics. Pascal — whom Nietzsche knows only as the "broken Chris- tian ' ' — Descartes, Leibniz were the first mathematicians and technicians of their time.

The great " Prc-Socratics " of China from Kwan-tsi (about 670) to Confu- cius (550-478) were statesmen, regents, lawgivers like Pythagoras and P<ir- menides, like Hobbes and Leibniz. With Lao-tsze — the opponent of all state authority and high politics and the enthusiast of small peaceful communities — unworldliness and deed-shyness first appear, heralds of lecture-room and study philosophy. But Lao-tsze was in his time, the ancien regime of China, an exception in the midst of sturdy philosophers for whom epistemology meant the knowledge of the important relations of actual life.

• And herein, I think, all the philosophers of the newest age are open to a serious criticism. What they do not possess is real standing in actual life. Not one of them has intervened effectively, either in higher politics, in the develop- ment of modern technics, in matters of communication, in economics, or in any other big actuality, with a single act or a single compelling idea. Not one of them counts in mathematics, in physics, in the science of government, even to the extent that Kant counted. Let us glance at other times. Confucius was several times a minister. Pythagoras was the organizer of an important politi- cal movement ^ akin to the Cromwellian, the significance of which is even now far underestimated by Classical researchers. Goethe, besides being a model executive minister — though lacking, alas! the operative sphere of a great state — was interested in the Suez and Panama canals (the dates of which he foresaw with accuracy) and their effects on the economy of the world, and he busied himself again and again with the question of American economic life and its reactions on the Old World, and with that of the dawning era of machine-industry. Hobbes was one of the originators of the great plan of winning South America for England, and although in execution the plan went no further than the occupation of Jamaica, he has the glory of being one of the founders of the British Colonial Empire. Leibniz, without doubt the greatest intellect in Western philosophy, the founder of the differential calculus and the analysis situs, conceived or co-operated in a number of major political schemes, one of which was to relieve Germany by drawing the attention of Louis XIV to the importance of Egypt as a factor in French world-policy. The ideas of the memorandum on this subject that he drew up for the Grand Monarch were so far in advance of their time (1672.) that it has been thought that Napoleon made use of them for his Eastern venture. Even thus early, Leibniz laid down the principle that Napoleon grasped more and more clearly after Wagram, viz.,

1 Sec Vol. U, 373 ff.


INTRODUCTION 43

that acquisitions on the Rhine and in Belgium would not permanently better the position of France and that the neck of Suez would one day be the key of world-dominance. Doubtless the King was not equal to these deep political and strategic conceptions of the Philosopher.

Turning from men of this mould to the ' ' philosophers ' ' of to-day, one is dis- mayed and shamed. How poor their personalities, how commonplace their political and practical outlook! Why is it that the mere idea of calling upon one of them to prove his intellectual eminence in government, diplomacy, large-scale organization, or direction of any big colonial, commercial or trans- port concern is enough to evoke our pity? And this insufficiency indicates, not that they possess inwardness, but simply that they lack weight. I look round in vain for an instance in which a modern "philosopher" has made a name by even one deep or far-seeing pronouncement on an important question of the day. I see nothing but provincial opinions of the same kind as anyone else's. When- ever I take up a work by a modern thinker, I find myself asking: has he any idea whatever of the actualities of wcrld-politics, world-city problems, capi- talism, the future of the state, the relation of technics to the course of civiliza- tion, Russia, Science? Goethe would have understood all this and revelled in

x^ it, but there is not one living philosopher capable of taking it in. This sense of actualities is of course not the same thing as the content of a philosophy but, I repeat, it is an infallible sym-ptom of its inward necessity, its fruitfulness and its symbolic im.portance.

We must allow ourselves no illusions as to the gravity of this negative result. It is palpable that we have lost sight of the final significance of eff'ective philos- ophy. We confuse philosophy with preaching, with agitation, with novel- writing, with lecture-room jargon. We have descended from the perspective of the bird to that of the frog. It has come to this, that the very -possibility of a real philosophy of to-day and to-morrow is in question. If not, it were fai better to become a colonist or an engineer, to do something, no matter what, that is true and real, than to chew over once more the old dried-up themes under cover of an alleged "new wave of philosophic thought" — far better to con- struct an aero-engine than a new theory of apperception that is not wanted. Truly it is a poor life's work to restate once more, in slightly diff'erent terms, views of a hundred predecessors on the Will or on psycho-physical parallelism.

vThis may be a profession, but a philosophy it emphatically is not. A doctrine that does not attack and aff"ect the life of the period in its inmost depths is no doctrine and had better not be taught. And what was possible even yesterday is, to-day, at least not indispensable.

To me, the depths and refinement of mathematical and physical theories arc a joy; by comparison, the assthete and the physiologist are fumblers. I would sooner have the fine mind-begotten forms of a fast steamer, a steel structure, a precision-lathe, the subtlety and elegance of many chemical and optical proc-


44 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

esses, than all the pickings and stealings of present-day "arts and crafts," architecture and painting included. I prefer one Roman aqueduct to all Roman temples and statues. I love the Colosseum and the giant vault of the Palatine, for they display for me to-day in the brown massiveness of their brick construc- tion the real Rome and the grand practical sense of her engineers, but it is a matter of indifference to me whether the empty and pretentious marblery of the Ca:sars — their rows of statuary, their friezes, their overloaded architraves — is preserved or not. Glance at some reconstruction of the Imperial Fora — do we not find them the true counterpart of a modern International Exhibition, obtrusive, bulky, empty, a boasting in materials and dimensions wholly alien to Periclean Greece and the Rococo alike, but exactly paralleled in the Egyptian modernism that is displayed in the ruins of Rameses II (1300 b.c.) at Luxor and Kamak? It was not for nothing that the genuine Roman despised the Graculus histrioy the kind of * ' artist ' ' and the kind of ' * philosopher " to be found on the soil of Roman Civilization. The time for art and philosophy had passed; they were exhausted, used up, superfluous, and his instinct for the realities of life told him so. One Roman law weighed more than all the lyrics and school- metaphysics of the time together. And I maintain that to-day many an in- ventor, many a diplomat, many a financier is a sounder philosopher than all those who practise the dull craft of experimental psychology. This is a situa- N/tion which regularly repeats itself at a certain historical level. It would have been absurd in a Roman of intellectual eminence, who might as Consul or Prxtor lead armies, organize provinces, build cities and roads, or even be the Princeps in Rome, to want to hatch out some new variant of post-Platonic school philosophy at Athens or Rhodes. Consequently no one did so. It was not in harmony with the tendency of the age, and therefore it only attracted third-class men of the kind that always advances as far as the Zeitgeist of the day before yesterday. It is a very grave question whether this stage has or has not set in for us already.

v^A century of purely extensive effectiveness, excluding big artistic and metaphysical production — let us say frankly an irreligious time which coin- cides exactly with the idea of the world-city — is a time of decline. True. But we have not chosen this time. We cannot help it if we are born as men of the early winter of full Civilization, instead of on the golden summit of a ripe Culture, in a Phidias or a Mozart time. Everything depends on our seeing our own position, our destiny, clearly, on our realizing that though we may lie to ourselves about it we cannot evade it. He who does not acknowledge this in his heart, ceases to be counted among the men of his generation, and remains either a simpleton, a charlatan, or a pedant.

Therefore, in approaching a problem of the present, one must begin by asking one's self — a question answered in advance by instinct in the case of the genuine adept — what to-day is possible and what he must forbid himself. Only a very


INTRODUCTION 45

few of the problems of metaphysics are, so to say, allocated for solution to any epoch of thought. Even thus soon, a whole world separates Nietzsche's time> in which a last trace of romanticism was still operative, from our own, which has shed every vestige of it.

^ Systematic philosophy closes with the end of the i8th Century. Kant put its utmost possibilities in forms both grand in themselves and — as a rule — final for the Western soul. He is followed, as Plato and Aristotle were followed, by a specifically megalopolitan philosophy that was not speculative but prac- tical, irreligious, social-ethical. This philosophy — paralleled in the Chinese civilization by the schools of the "Epicurean" Yang-chu, the "Socialist" Mo-ti, the "Pessimist" Chuang-tsii, the "Positivist" Mencius, and in the Classical by the Cynics, the Cyrenaics, the Stoics and the Epicureans — begins in the West with Schopenhauer, who is the first to make the Will to life ("crea- tive life-force * ') the centre of gravity of his thought, although the deeper ten- dency of his doctrine is obscured by his having, under the influence of a great tradition, maintained the obsolete distinctions of phenomena and things-in-

^^hemselves and suchlike. It is the same creative will-to-life that was Schopen- hauer-wise denied in "Tristan" and Darwin-wise asserted in "Siegfried"; that was brilliantly and theatrically formulated by Nietzsche in "Zarathustra"; that led the Hegelian Marx to an economic and the Malthusian Darwin to a biological hypothesis which together have subtly transformed the world- outlook of the Western megalopolis; and that produced a homogeneous series of tragedy-conceptions extending from Hebbel's "Judith" to Ibsen's "Epi- logue." It has embraced, therefore, all the possibilities of a true philosophy — and at the same time it has exhausted them.

Systematic philosophy, then, lies immensely far behind us, and ethical has been wound up. But a third -possibility, corresponding to the Classical Scepticism, still remains to the soul-world of the present-day West, and it can be brought to light by the hitherto unknown methods of historical morphology. That which is a possibility is a necessity. The Classical scepticism is ahistoric, it doubts by denying outrighti^ But that of the West, if it is an inward necessity, a symbol of the autumn of our spirituality, is obliged to be historical through and through. Its solutions are got by treating everything as relative, as a historical phenomenon, and its procedure is psychological. Whereas the Sceptic philos- ophy arose within Hellenism as the negation of philosophy — declaring philosophy to be purposeless — we, on the contrary, regard the history of philosophy as, in the last resort, philosophy's gravest theme. This is " skepsis," in the true sense, for whereas the Greek is led to renounce absolute standpoints by contempt for the intellectual past, we are led to do so by comprehension of that past as an organism.

In this work it will be our task to sketch out this unphilosophical philos- ophy — the last that West Europe will know. Scepticism is the expression of


46 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

a pure Civilization; and it dissipates the world-picture of the Culture that has gone before. For us, its success will lie in resolving all the older problems into one, the genetic. The conviction that what is also has become, that the natural and cognizable is rooted in the historic, that the World as the actual is founded on an Ego as the potential actualized, that the "when" and the "how long" hold as deep a secret as the "what," leads directly to the fact that everything, whatever else it may be, must at any rate be the expression of something living. Cognitions and judgments too are acts of living men. The thinkers of the past conceived external actuality as produced by cognition and motiving ethical judgments, but to the thought of the future they are above all expressions and symbols. The Morphology of world-history becomes inevitably a universal symbolism.

^ With that, the claim of higher thought to possess general and eternal truths falls to the ground. Truths are truths only in relation to a particular mankind. Thus, my own philosophy is able to express and reflect only the Western (as distinct from the Classical, Indian, or other) soul, and that soul only in its present civilized phase by which its conception of the world, its practical range and its sphere of effect are specified.

XVI

In concluding this Introduction, I may be permitted to add a personal note. In 191 1, 1 proposed to myself to put together some broad considerations on the political phenomena of the day and their possible developments. At that time the World-War appeared to me both as imminent and also as the inevitable outward manifestation of the historical crisis, and my endeavour was to com- prehend it from an examination of the spirit of the preceding centuries — not years. In the course of this originally small task,^ the conviction forced itself on me that for an effective understanding of the epoch the area to be taken into the foundation-plan must be very greatly enlarged, and that in an investigation of this sort, if the results were to be fundamentally conclusive and necessary results, it was impossible to restrict one's self to a single epoch and its political actualities, or to confine one's self to a pragmatical framework, or even to do without purely metaphysical and highly transcendental methods of treatment. It became evident that a political problem could not be comprehended by means of politics themselves and that, frequently, important factors at work in the depths could only be grasped through their artistic manifestations or even distantly seen in the form of scientific or purely philosophical ideas. Even the politico-social analysis of the last decades of the 19th century — a period of tense quiet between two immense and outstanding events: the one which, ex- pressed in the Revolution and Napoleon, had fixed the picture of West-European actuality for a century and another of at least equal significance that was

  • The work referred to is embodied in Vol. II (pp. 511 et seq., 561 et scq., 631 ct scq.).


INTRODUCTION 47

visibly and ever more rapidly approaching — was found in the last resort to be impossible without bringing in all the great problems of Being in all their aspects. For, in the historical as in the natural world-picture, there is found nothing, however small, that does not embody in itself the entire sum of fundamental tendencies. And thus the original theme came to be immensely widened. A vast number of unexpected (and in the main entirely novel) ques-

^tions and interrelations presented themselves. And finally it became perfectly clear that no single fragment of history could be thoroughly illuminated unless and until the secret of world-history itself, to wit the story of higher mankind as an organism of regular structure, had been cleared up. And hitherto this has not been done, even in the least degree.

From this moment on, relations and connexions — previously often suspected, sometimes touched on but never comprehended — presented themselves in ever- increasing volume. The forms of the arts linked themselves to the forms of war and state-policy. Deep relations were revealed between political and mathe- matical aspects of the same Culture, between religious and technical concep- tions, between mathematics, music and sculpture, between economics and cognition-forms. Clearly and unmistakably there appeared the fundamental dependence of the most modern physical and chemical theories on the mytho- logical concepts of our Germanic ancestors, the style-congruence of tragedy and power-technics and up-to-date finance, and the fact (bizarre at first but soon self-evident) that oil-painting perspective, printing, the credit system, long- range weapons, and contrapuntal music in one case, and the nude statue, the city-state and coin-currency (discovered by the Greeks) in another were identi- cal expressions of one and the same spiritual principle. And, beyond and above all, there stood out the fact that these great groups of morphological relations, each one of which symbolically represents a particular sort of mankind in the whole picture of world-history, are strictly symmetrical in structure. It is this perspective that first opens out for us the true style of history. Belonging itself as symbol and expression to one time and therefore inwardly possible and necessary only for present-day Western man, it can but be compared — distantly — to certain ideas of ultra-modern mathematics in the domain of the Theory of Groups. These were thoughts that had occupied me for many years, though dark and undefined until enabled by this method to emerge in tangible form.

\y Thereafter I saw the present — the approaching World-War — in a quite other light. It was no longer a momentary constellation of casual facts due to national sentiments, personal influences, or economic tendencies endowed with an appearance of unity and necessity by some historian's scheme of political or social cause-and-efFect, but the type of a historical change of phase occurring within a great historical organism of definable compass at the point preor- dained for it hundreds of years ago. The mark of the great crisis is its innumer-


48 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

able passionate questionings and probings. In our own case there were books and ideas by the thousand; but, scattered, disconnected, limited by the horizons of specialisms as they were, they incited, depressed and confounded but could not free. Hence, though these questions are seen, their identity is missed. Consider those art-problems that (though never comprehended in their depths) were evinced in the disputes between form and content, line and space, drawing and colour, in the notion of style, in the idea of Impressionism and the music of Wagner. Consider the decline of art and the failing authority of science; the grave problems arising out of the victory of the megalopolis over the country-side, such as childlessness and land-depopulation; the place in society of a fluctuating Fourth Estate; the crisis in materialism, in Socialism, in par- liamentary government; the position of the individual vis-h-vis the State; the problem of private property with its pendant the problem of marriage. Consider at the same time one fact taken from what is apparently an entirely different field, the voluminous work that was being done in the domain of folk-psy- chology on the origins of myths, arts, religions and thought — and done, more- over, no longer from an ideal but from a strictly morphological standpoint. It is my belief that every one of these questions was really aimed in the same direction as every other, viz., towards that one Riddle of History that had never yet emerged with sufficient distinctness in the human consciousness. The tasks before men were not, as supposed, infinitely numerous — they were one and the same task. Everyone had an inkling that this was so, but no one from his own narrow standpoint had seen the single and comprehensive solution. And yet it had been in the air since Nietzsche, and Nietzsche himself had gripped all the decisive problems although, being a r omantic, he had not dared to look strict reality in the face.

But herein precisely lies the inward necessity of the stock-taking doctrine, so to call it. It had to come, and it could only come at this time. Our scepticism is not an attack upon, but rather the verification of, our stock of thoughts and works. It confirms all that has been sought and achieved for generations past, in that it integrates all the truly living tendencies which it finds in the special spheres, no matter what their aim may be.

Above all, there discovered itself the opposition of History and Nature through which alone it is possible to grasp the essence of the former. As I have already said, man as an element and representative of the World is a member, not only of nature, but also of history — which is a second Cosmos different in structure and complexion, entirely neglected by Metaphysics in favour of the first. I was originally brought to reflect on this fundamental question of our world-consciousness through noticing how present-day historians as they fumble round tangible events, things-become, believe themselves to have al- ready grasped History, the happening, the becoming itself. This is a prejudice common to all who proceed by reason and cognition, as against intuitive per-


INTRODUCTION 49

ception.^ And it had long ago been a source of perplexity to the great Elcatics with their doctrine that through cognition there could be no becoming, but only a being (or having-become). In other words, History was seen as Nature (in the objective sense of the physicist) and treated accordingly, and it is to this that we must ascribe the baneful mistake of applying the principles of causality, of law, of system — that is, the structure of rigid being — to the picture of happenings. It was assumed that a human culture existed just as electricity or gravitation existed, and that it was capable of analysis in much the same way as these. The habits of the scientific researcher were eagerly taken as a model, and if, from time to time, some student asked what Gothic, or Islam, or the Polls was^ no one inquired why such symbols of something living inevitably appeared just then, and there, in that jorm, and jor that space of time. Historians were content, whenever they met one of the innumerable similari- ties between widely discrete historical phenomena, simply to register it, adding some clever remarks as to the marvels of coincidence, dubbing Rhodes the "Venice of Antiquity" and Napoleon the "modern Alexander," or the like; yet it was just these cases, in which the destiny-poblem came to the fore as the true problem of history (viz., the problem of time), that needed to be treated with all possible seriousness and scientifically regulated -physiognomic in order to find out what strangely-constituted necessity, so completely alien to the causal, was at work. That every phenomenon ipso facto propounds a meta- physical riddle, that the time of its occurrence is never irrelevant; that it still remained to be discovered what kind of a living interdependence (apart from the inorganic, natural-law interdependence) subsists within the world-picture, which radiates from nothing less than the whole man and not merely (as Kant thought) from the cognizing part of him; that a phenomenon is not only a fact for the understanding but also an expression of the spiritual, not only an object but a symbol as well, be it one of the highest creations of religion or art or a mere trifle of everyday life — all this was, philosophically, something new. And thus in the end I came to see the solution clearly before me in immense

1 The philosophy of this book I owe to the philosophy of Goethe, which is practically unknown to-day, and also (but in a far less degree) to that of Nietzsche. The position of Goethe in West- European metaphysics is still not understood in the least; when philosophy is being discussed he is not even named. For unfortunately he did not set down his doctrines in a rigid system, and so the systematic philosophy has overlooked him. Nevertheless he was a philosopher. His place vis-^-vis Kant is the same as that of Plato — who similarly eludes the would-be-systematizer — vis-^-vis Aristotle. Plato and Goethe stand for the philosophy of Becoming, Aristotle and Kant the philos- ophy of Being. Here we have intuition opposed to analysis. Something that it is practically im- possible to convey by the methods of reason is found in individual sayings and poems of Goethe, e.g., vin the Orphische Urworte, and stanzas like " Wenn im Unendlichen" and "Sagt es Niemand," which must be regarded as the expression of a perfectly definite metaphysical doctrine. I would not have one single word changed in this: "The Godhead is effective in the living and not in the dead, in the becoming and the changing, not in the become and the set-fast; and therefore, similarly, the reason (Vernunft') is concerned only to strive towards the divine through the becoming and the living, and the understanding (Verstand) only to make use of the become and the set-fast" (to Eckermann). This sentence comprises my entire philosophy.


50 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

outlines, possessed of full inward necessity, a solution derived from one single principle that though discoverable had never been discovered, that from my youth had haunted and attracted me, tormenting me with the sense that it was there and must be attacked and yet defying me to seize it. Thus, from an almost accidental occasion of beginning, there has arisen the present work, which is put forward as the provisional expression of a new world-picture. The book is laden, as I know, with all the defects of a first attempt, incomplete, and cer- tainly not free from inconsistencies. Nevertheless I am convinced that it con- tains the incontrovertible formulation of an idea which, once enunciated clearly, will (I repeat) be accepted without dispute.

If, then, the narrower theme is an analysis of the Decline of that West- European Culture which is now spread over the entire globe, yet the object in view is the development of a philosophy and of the operative method peculiar to it, which is now to be tried, viz., the method of comparative morphology in world-history. The work falls naturally into two parts. The first, "Form and Actuality," starts from the form-language of the great Cultures, attempts to penetrate to the deepest roots of their origin and so provides itself with the basis for a science of Symbolic. The second part, "World-historical Perspec- tives," starts from the facts of actual life, and from the historical practice of higher mankind seeks to obtain a quintessence of historical experience that we can set to work upon the formation of our own future.

The accompanying tables ^ present a general view of what has resulted from the investigation. They may at the same time give some notion both of the fhiitfulness and of the scope of the new methods.

' At the end of the volume.


CHAPTER II THE MEANING OF NUMBERS


CHAPTER 11

THE MEANING OF NUMBERS


It is necessary to begin by drawing attention to certain basic terms which, as used in this work, carry strict and in some cases novel connotations. Though the metaphysical content of these terms would gradually become evident in following the course of the reasoning, nevertheless, the exact significance to be attached to them ought to be made clear beyond misunderstanding from the very outset.

The popular distinction — current also in philosophy — between "being" and ' ' becoming * * seems to miss the essential point in the contrast it is meant to express. An endless becoming — "action," "actuality" — will always be thought of also as a condition (as it is, for example, in physical notions such as uniform velocity and the condition of motion, and in the basic hypothesis of the kinetic theory of gases) and therefore ranked in the category of "being." On the other hand, out of the results that we do in fact obtain by and in con- sciousness, we may, with Goethe, distinguish as final elements "becoming" and "the become" (^Das Werden, das Gewordne). In all cases, though the atom of human-ness may lie beyond the grasp of our powers of abstract conception, the very clear and definite feeling of this contrast — fundamental and diffused throughout consciousness — is the most elemental something that we reach. It necessarily follows therefore that "the become" is always founded on a "becoming" and not the other way round.

I distinguish further, by the words "proper" and "alien" (das Eigne, das Fremde), those two basic facts of consciousness which for all men in the waking (not in the dreaming) state are established with an immediate inward cer- tainty, without the necessity or possibility of more precise definition. The element called "alien" is always related in some way to the basic fact expressed by the word "perception," i.e., the outer world, the life of sensation. Great thinkers have bent all their powers of image-forming to the task of expressing this relation, more and more rigorously, by the aid of half-intuitive dichotomies such as "phenomena and things-in-themselves," " world-as-will and world- as-idea," "ego and non-ego," although human powers of exact knowing are surely inadequate for the task.

Similarly, the element ' ' proper ' ' is involved with the basic fact known as feeling, i.e., the inner life, in some intimate and invariable way that equally defies analysis by the methods of abstract thought.

53


34 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

I distinguish, again, "soul" and "world." The existence of this opposition is identical with the fact of purely human waking consciousness (IVachsein^. There are degrees of clearness and sharpness in the opposition and therefore grades of the consciousness, of the spirituality, of life. These grades range from the feeling- knowledge that, unalcrt yet sometimes suffused through and through by an inward light, is characteristic of the primitive and of the child (and also of those moments of religious and artistic inspiration that occur ever less and less often as a Culture grows older) right to the extremity of waking and reasoning sharp- ness that we find, for instance, in the thought of Kant and Napoleon, for whom soul and world have become subject and object. This elementary structure of consciousness, as a fact of immediate inner knowledge, is not susceptible of conceptual subdivision. Nor, indeed, are the two factors distinguishable at all except verbally and more or less artificially, since they are always associated, always intertwined, and present themselves as a unit, a totality. The epistc- mological starting-point of the born idealist and the born realist alike, the assumption that soul is to world (or world to soul, as the case may be) as foun- dation is to building, as primary to derivative, as "cause" to "effect," has no basis whatever in the pure fact of consciousness, and when a philosophic system lays stress on the one or the other, it only thereby informs us as to the personal- ity of the philosopher, a fact of purely biographical significance.

Thus, by regarding waking-consciousness structurally as a tension of con- traries, and applying to it the notions of "becoming" and "the thing-become," we find for the word Life a perfectly definite meaning that is closely allied to that of "becoming." We may describe becomings and the things-become as the form in which respectively the facts and the results of life exist in the wak- ing consciousness. To man in the waking state his proper life, progressive and constantly self-fulfilling, is presented through the element of Becoming in his consciousness — this fact we call *' the present*' — and it possesses that mysterious property of Direction which in all the higher languages men have sought to im- pound and — vainly — to rationalize by means of the enigmatic word time. It follows necessarily from the above that there is a fundamental connexion between the become (the hard-set") and Death.

If, now, we designate the Soul — that is, the Soul as it is felt, not as it is reasonably pictured — as the possible and the World on the other hand as the actual (the meaning of these expressions is unmistakable to man's inner sense), we see life as the form in which the actualizing of the possible is accomplished. With respect to the property of Direction, the possible is called the Future and the actualized the Past. The actualizing itself, the centre-of-gravity and the centrc- of-meaning of life, we call the Present. "Soul" is the still-to-be-accomplished, "World" the accomplished, "life" the accomplishing. In this way we are enabled to assign to expressions like moment, duration, development, lifc- coatcnt, vocation, scope, aim, fullness and emptiness of life, the definite mean-


MEANING OF NUMBERS 55

ings which we shall need for all that follows and especially for the understand- ing of historical phenomena.

Lastly, the words History and Nature are here employed, as the reader will have observed already, in a quite definite and hitherto unusual sense. These words comprise possible modes of understanding, of comprehending the totality of knowledge — becoming as well as things-become, life as well as things-lived

— as a homogeneous, spiritualized, well-ordered world-picture fashioned out of an indivisible mass-impression in this way or in that according as the becoming or the become, direction ("time") or extension ("space") is the dominant factor. And it is not a question of one factor being alternative to the other. The possibilities that we have of possessing an ' ' outer world ' ' that reflects and attests our proper existence are infinitely numerous and exceedingly hetero- geneous, and the purely organic and the purely mechanical world-view (in the precise literal sense of that familiar term ^^^ only ^hie extreme members of the series. Primitive man (so far as we can imagine his waking-consciousness) and the child (as we can remember) cannot fully see or grasp these possibilities. One condition of this higher world-consciousness is the possession of language^ meaning thereby not mere human utterance but a culture-language, and such is non-existent for primitive man and existent but not accessible in the case of the child. In other words, neither possesses any clear and distinct notion of the world. They have an inkling but no real knowledge of history and nature, being too intimately incorporated with the ensemble of these. They have no Culture.

And therewith that important word is given a positive meaning of the high- est significance which henceforward will be assumed in using it. In the same way as we have elected to distinguish the Soul as the possible and the World as the actual, we can now differentiate between possible and actual culture, i.e., culture as an idea in the (general or individual) existence and culture as the body of that idea, as the total of its visible, tangible and comprehensible expressions

— acts and opinions, religion and state, arts and sciences, peoples and cities, economic and social forms, speech, laws, customs, characters, facial lines and costumes. Higher history, intimately related to life and to becoming, is the actualizing of possible Culture?

We must not omit to add that these basic determinations of meaning arc largely incommunicable by specification, definition or proof, and in their deeper import must be reached by feeling, experience and intuition. There is a distinc- tion, rarely appreciated as it should be, between experience as lived and experi- ence as learned (zwischen Erleben und Erkennen), between the immediate certainty given by the various kinds of intuition — such as illumination, inspiration, artistic flair, experience of life, the power of "sizing men up"

^ Weltanschauung im wortlichen Sinnc; Anschauung dcr Welt.

  • The case of mankind in the history less state is discussed in Vol. II, pp. 58 et scq.


56 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

(Goethe's "exact percipient fancy") — and the product of rational procedure and technical experiment.

The first are imparted by means of analogy, picture, symbol, the second by formula, law, scheme. The become is experienced by learning — indeed, as we shall see, the having-become is for the human mind identical with the com- pleted act of cognition. A becoming, on the other hand, can only be experi- enced by living, felt with a deep wordless understanding. It is on this that what we call "knowledge of men" is based; in fact the understanding of his- tory implies a superlative knowledge of men. The eye which can see into the depths of an alien soul — owes nothing to the cognition-methods investigated in the "Critique of Pure Reason," yet the purer the historical picture is, the less accessible it becomes to any other eye. The mechanism of a pure nature-picture, such as the world of Newton and Kant, is cognized, grasped, dissected in laws and equations and finally reduced to system: the organism of a pure history- picture, like the world of Plotinus, Dante and Giordano Bruno, is intuitively seen, inwardly experienced, grasped as a form or symbol and finally rendered in poetical and artistic conceptions. Goethe's "living nature" is a historical world-picture.^

n

In order to exemplify the way in which a soul seeks to actualize itself in the picture of its outer world — to show, that is, in how far Culture in the "be- come ' ' state can express or portray an idea of human existence — I have chosen number, the primary element on which all mathematics rests. I have done so because mathematics, accessible in its full depth only to the very few, holds a quite peculiar position amongst the creations of the mind. It is a science of the most rigorous kind, like logic but more comprehensive and very much fuller; it is a true art, along with sculpture and music, as needing the guidance of in- spiration and as developing under great conventions of form; it is, lastly, a metaphysic of the highest rank, as Plato and above all Leibniz show us. Every philosophy has hitherto grown up in conjunction with a mathematic belonging to it. Number is the symbol of causal necessity. Like the conception of God, it contains the ultimate meaning of the world-as-nature. The exist- ence of numbers may therefore be called a mystery, and the religious thought of every Culture has felt their impress.^

Just as all becoming possesses the original property of direction (irreversi- bility), all things-become possess the property of extension. But these two words seem unsatisfactory in that only an artificial distinction can be made between them. The real secret of all things-become, which are ipso facto things extended (spatially and materially), is embodied in mathematical number as contrasted with chronological number. Mathematical number contains in its

  • With, moreover, a "biological horizon." See Vol. II, p. 34.

« Sec Vol. II, pp. 32.7 ct scq.


MEANING OF NUMBERS 57

very essence the notion of a mechanical demarcation^ number being in that respect akin to word, which, in the very fact of its comprising and denoting, fences pff world-impressions. The deepest depths, it is true, are here both incomprehen- sible and inexpressible. But the actual number with which the mathematician works, the figure, formula, sign, diagram, in short the number-sign which he thinks, speaks or writes exactly, is (like the exactly-used word) from the first a symbol of these depths, something imaginable, communicable, comprehensible to the inner and the outer eye, which can be accepted as representing the demar- cation. The origin of numbers resembles that of the myth. Primitive man elevates indefinable nature-impressions (the "alien," in our terminology) into deities, numina, at the same time capturing and impounding them by a name which limits them. So also numbers are something that marks off and captures nature-impressions, and it is by means of names and numbers that the human understanding obtains power over the world. In the last analysis, the number- language of a mathematic and the grammar of a tongue are structurally alike. Logic is always a kind of mathematic and vice versa. Consequently, in all acts of the intellect germane to mathematical number — measuring, counting, drawing, weighing, arranging and dividing ^ — men strive to delimit the ex- tended in words as well, i.e., to set it forth in the form of proofs, conclusions, theorems and systems; and it is only through acts of this kind (which may be more or less unintentioned) that waking man begins to be able to use numbers, normatively, to specify objects and properties, relations and differentiae, unities and pluralities — briefly, that structure of the world-picture which he feels as necessary and unshakable, calls "Nature" and "cognizes." Nature is the numerable, while History, on the other hand, is the aggregate of that which has no relation to mathematics — hence the mathematical certainty of the laws of Nature, the astounding rightness of Galileo's saying that Nature is "written in mathematical language," and the fact, emphasized by Kant, that exact natural science reaches just as far as the possibilities of applied mathematics allow it to reach. In number, then, as the sign of completed demarcation, lies the essence of everything actual, which is cognized, is delimited, and has become all at once — as Pythagoras and certain others have been able to see with complete inward certitude by a mighty and truly religious intuition. Nevertheless, mathematics — meaning thereby the capacity to think practically in figures — must not be confused with the far narrower scientific mathematics, that is, the theory of numbers as developed in lecture and treatise. The mathematical vision and thought that a Culture possesses within itself is as inadequately represented by its written mathematic as its philosophical vision and thought by its philosophical treatises. Number springs from a source that has also quite other outlets. Thus at the beginning of every Culture we find an archaic style, which might fairly have been called geometrical in other cases as well as the 1 Also "thinking in money." Sec Vol. II, pp. 603 et scq.


58 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Early Hellenic. There is a common factor which is expressly mathematical in this early Classical style of the loth Century b.c, in the temple style of the Egyptian Fourth Dynasty with its absolutism of straight line and right angle, in the Early Christian sarcophagus-relief, and in Romanesque construction and ornament. Here every line, every deliberately non-imitative figure of man and beast, reveals a mystic number-thought in direct connexion with the mystery of death (the hard-set).

Gothic cathedrals and Doric temples are mathematics in stone. Doubtless Pythagoras was the first in the Classical Culture to conceive number scientif- ically as the principle of a world-order of comprehensible things — as standard and as magnitude — but even before him it had found expression, as a noble arraying of sensuous-material units, in the strict canon of the statue and the Doric order of columns. The great arts are, one and all, modes of interpreta- tion by means of limits based on number (consider, for example, the problem of space-representation in oil painting). A high mathematical endowment may, without any mathematical science whatsoever, come to fruition and full self- knowledge in technical spheres.

In the presence of so powerful a number-sense as that evidenced, even in the Old Kingdom,^ in the dimensioning of pyramid temples and in the technique of building, water-control and public administration (not to mention the calendar), no one surely would maintain that the valueless arithmetic of Ahmes belonging to the New Empire represents the level of Egyptian mathe- matics. The Australian natives, who rank intellectually as thorough primi- tives, possess a mathematical instinct (or, what comes to the same thing, a power of thinking in numbers which is not yet communicable by signs or words) that as regards the interpretation of pure space is far superior to that of the Greeks. Their discovery of the boomerang can only be attributed to their having a sure feeling for numbers of a class that we should refer to the higher geometry. Accordingly — we shall justify the adverb later — they possess an extraordinarily complicated ceremonial and, for expressing degrees of affinity, such fine shades of language as not even the higher Cultures themselves can show.

There is analogy, again, between the Euclidean mathematic and the absence, in the Greek of the mature Periclean age, of any feeling either for ceremonial public life or for loneliness, while the Baroque, differing sharply from the Classical, presents us with a mathematic of spatial analysis, a court of Ver- sailles and a state system resting on dynastic relations.

It is the style of a Soul that comes out in the world of numbers, and the world of numbers includes something more than the science thereof.

  • Dynasties I-VIII, or, effectively, I-VI. The Pyramid period coincides with Dynasties IV-VI.

Cheops, Chcphren and Myccrinus belong to the IV dynasty, under which also great water-control works were carried out between Abydos and the Fayum. — Tr.


MEANING OF NUMBERS 59

III

From this there follows a fact of decisive importance which has hitherto been hidden from the mathematicians themselves.

There is noty and cannot be, number as such. There are several number-worlds as there are several Cultures. We find an Indian, an Arabian, a Classical, a Western type of mathematical thought and, corresponding with each, a type of number — each type fundamentally peculiar and unique, an expression of a specific world-feeling, a symbol having a specific validity which is even capable of scientific definition, a principle of ordering the Become which reflects the central essence of one and only one soul, viz., the soul of that particular Cul- ture. Consequently, there are more mathematics than one. For indubitably the inner structure of the Euclidean geometry is something quite different from that of the Cartesian, the analysis of Archimedes is something other than the analysis of Gauss, and not merely in matters of form, intuition and method but above all in essence, in the intrinsic and obligatory meaning of number which they respectively develop and set forth. This number, the horizon within which it has been able to make phenomena self-explanatory, and therefore the whole of the ' ' nature ' ' or world-extended that is confined in the given limits and amenable to its particular sort of mathematic, are not common to all man- kind, but specific in each case to one definite sort of mankind.

The style of any mathematic which comes into being, then, depends wholly on the Culture in which it is rooted, the sort of mankind it is that ponders it. The soul can bring its inherent possibilities to scientific development, can manage them practically, can attain the highest levels in its treatment of them — but is quite impotent to alter them. The idea of the Euclidean geometry is actualized in the earliest forms of Classical ornament, and that of the Infini- tesimal Calculus in the earliest forms of Gothic architecture, centuries before the first learned mathematicians of the respective Cultures were born.

A deep inward experience, the genuine awakening of the ego, which turns the child into the higher man and initiates him into community of his Culture, marks the beginning of number-sense as it does that of language-sense. It is only after this that objects come to exist for the waking consciousness as things limitable and distinguishable as to number and kind; only after this that prop- erties, concepts, causal necessity, system in the world-around, a form of the world, and world laws (for that which is set and settled is ipso facto bounded, hardened, number-governed) are susceptible of exact definition. And therewith comes too a sudden, almost metaphysical, feeling of anxiety and awe regarding the deeper meaning of measuring and counting, drawing and form.

Now, Kant has classified the sum of human knowledge according to syn- theses a priori (necessary and universally valid) and a posteriori (experiential and variable from case to case) and in the former class has included mathematical knowledge. Thereby, doubtless, he was enabled to reduce a strong inward


6o THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

feeling to abstract form. But, quite apart from the fact (amply evidenced in modem mathematics and mechanics) that there is no such sharp distinction between the two as is originally and unconditionally implied in the principle, the a priori itself, though certainly one of the most inspired conceptions of philosophy, is a notion that seems to involve enormous difficulties. With it Kant postulates — without attempting to prove what is quite incapable of proof — both unalterableness of form in all intellectual activity and identity of form for all men in the same. And, in consequence, a factor of incalculable im- portance is — thanks to the intellectual prepossessions of his period, not to mention his own — simply ignored. This factor is the varying degree of this alleged "universal validity." There are doubtless certain characters of very wide-ranging validity which are (seemingly at any rate) independent of the Culture and century to which the cognizing individual may belong, but along with these there is a quite particular necessity of form which underlies all his thought as axiomatic and to which he is subject by virtue of belonging to his own Culture and no other. Here, then, we have two very different kinds of a priori thought-content, and the definition of a frontier between them, or even the demonstration that such exists, is a problem that lies beyond all possibili- ties of knowing and will never be solved. So far, no one has dared to assume that the supposed constant structure of the intellect is an illusion and that the history spread out before us contains more than one style of knowing. But wc must not forget that unanimity about things that have not yet become problems may just as well imply universal error as universal truth. True, there has always been a certain sense of doubt and obscurity — so much so, that the correct guess might have been made from that non-agreement of the philoso- phers which every glance at the history of philosophy shows us. But that this non-agreement is not due to imperfections of the human intellect or present gaps in a perfectible knowledge, in a word, is not due to defect, but to destiny and historical necessity — this is a discovery. Conclusions on the deep and final things are to be reached not by predicating constants but by studying differ- entiae and developing the organic logic of differences. The comparative morphology of knowledge forms is a domain which Western thought has still to attack.

IV

If mathematics were a mere science like astronomy or mineralogy, it would be possible to define their object. This man is not and never has been able to do. We West-Europeans may put our own scientific notion of number to perform the same tasks as those with which the mathematicians of Athens and Baghdad busied themselves, but the fact remains that the theme, the intention and the methods of the like-named science in Athens and in Baghdad were quite differ- ent from those of our own. There is no mathematic but only mathematics. What we call "the history of mathematics" — implying merely the progressive


MEANING OF NUMBERS 6i

actualizing of a single invariable ideal — is in fact, below the deceptive surface of history, a complex of self-contained and independent developments, an ever- repeated process of bringing to birth new form-worlds and appropriating, transforming and sloughing alien form-worlds, a purely organic story of blos- soming, ripening, wilting and dying within the set period. The student must not let himself be deceived. The mathematic of the Classical soul sprouted almost out of nothingness, the historically-constituted Western soul, already possessing the Classical science (not inwardly, but outwardly as a thing learnt), had to win its own by apparently altering and perfecting, but in reality destroying the essentially alien Euclidean system. In the first case, the agent was Pytha- goras, in the second Descartes. In both cases the act is, at bottom, the same. The relationship between the form-language of a mathematic and that of the cognate major arts/ is in this way put beyond doubt. The temperament of the thinker and that of the artist differ widely indeed, but the expression- methods of the waking consciousness are inwardly the same for each. The sense of form of the sculptor, the painter, the composer is essentially mathematical in its nature. The same inspired ordering of an infinite world which manifested itself in the geometrical analysis and projective geometry of the 17th Century, could vivify, energize, and suffuse contemporary music with the harmony that it developed out of the art of thoroughbass, (which is the geometry of the sound-world) and contemporary painting with the principle of perspective ^ (the felt geometry of the space-world that only the West knows). This inspired / ordering is that which Goethe called The Idea, of which the form is immediately apprehended in the domain of intuition, whereas pure science does not apprehend but observes and dissects." The Mathematic goes beyond observation and dissection, and in its highest moments finds the way by vision, not abstraction. To Goethe again we owe the profound saying: "the mathematician is only^ complete in so far as he feels within himself the beauty of the true." Here wc | feel how nearly the secret of number is related to the secret of artistic creation. And so the born mathematician takes his place by the side of the great masters of the fugue, the chisel and the brush; he and they alike strive, and must strive, to actualize the grand order of all things by clothing it in symbol and so to I communicate it to the plain fellow-man who hears that order within himself but cannot effectively possess it; the domain of number, like the domains of tone, line and colour, becomes an image of the world-form. For this reason the word "creative " means more in the mathematical sphere than it does in the pure sciences — Newton, Gauss, and Riemann were artist-natures, and wc know with what suddenness their great conceptions came upon them.^ "A

^ As also those of law and of money. Sec Vol. II, pp. 68 ct seq., pp. 616 et scq.

2 Poincare, in his Science et Mithode (Ch. Ill), searchingly analyses the *' becoming " of one of his own mathematical discoveries. Each decisive stage in it bears " les mimes caracfhes de briheti, dt soudainete et de certitude absolue ' ' and in most cases this ' ' certitude ' ' was such that he merely registered the discovery and put off its working-out to any convenient season. — Tr.


6i THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

mathematician," said old Weierstrass, "who is not at the same time a bit of a poet will never be a full mathematician."

The mathematic, then, is an art. As such it has its styles and style-periods. It is not, as the layman and the philosopher (who is in this matter a lay- man too) imagine, substantially unalterable, but subject like every art to un- noticed changes from epoch to epoch. The development of the great arts ought never to be treated without an (assuredly not unprofitable) side-glance at con- temporary mathematics. In the very deep relation between changes of musical theory and the analysis of the infinite, the details have never yet been investi- gated, although aesthetics might have learned a great deal more from these than from all so-called "psychology." Still more revealing would be a history of musical instruments written, not (as it always is) from the technical stand- point of tone-production, but as a study of the deep spiritual bases of the tone- colours and tone-effects aimed at. For it was the wish, intensified to the point of a longing, to fill a spatial infinity with sound which produced — in contrast to the Classical lyre and reed (lyra, kithara; aulos, syrinx) and the Arabian lute — the two great families of keyboard instruments (organ, pianoforte, etc.) and bow instruments, and that as early as the Gothic time. The development of both these families belongs spiritually (and possibly also in point of technical origin) to the Celtic-Germanic North lying between Ireland, the Weser and the Seine. The organ and clavichord belong certainly to England, the bow in- struments reached their definite forms in Upper Italy between 1480 and 1530, while it was principally in Germany that the organ was developed into the space-commanding giant that we know, an instrument the like of which docs not exist in all musical history. The free organ-playing of Bach and his time was nothing if it was not analysis — analysis of a strange and vast tone-world. And, similarly, it is in conformity with the Western number-thinking, and in opposition to the Classical, that our string and wind instruments have been developed not singly but in great groups (strings, woodwind, brass), ordered within themselves according to the compass of the four human voices; the history of the modern orchestra, with all its discoveries of new and modifica- tion of old instruments, is in reality the self-contained history of one tone-world — a world, moreover, that is quite capable of being expressed in the forms of the higher analysis.

V

When, about 540 b.c, the circle of the Pythagoreans arrived at the idea that number is the essence of all things ^ it was not "a step in the development of mathe- matics" that was made, but a wholly new mathematic that was born. Long heralded by metaphysical problem-posings and artistic form-tendencies, now it came forth from the depths of the Classical soul as a formulated theory, a mathematic born in one act at one great historical moment — just as the


MEANING OF NUMBERS 63

mathematic of the Egyptians had been, and the algebra-astronomy of the Babylonian Culture with its ecliptic co-ordinate system — and new — for these older mathematics had long been extinguished and the Egyptian was never written down. Fulfilled by the xnd century b.c, the Classical mathematic vanished in its turn (for though it seemingly exists even to-day, it is only as a convenience of notation that it does so), and gave place to the Arabian. From what we know of the Alexandrian mathematic, it is a necessary presumption that there was a great movement within the Middle East, of which the centre of gravity must have lain in the Persian-Babylonian schools (such as Edessa, Gundisapora and Ctesiphon) and of which only details found their way into the regions of Classical speech. In spite of their Greek names, the Alexandrian mathematicians — Zenodorus who dealt with figures of equal perimeter, Serenus who worked on the properties of a harmonic pencil in space, Hypsicles who introduced the Chaldean circle-division, Diophantus above all — were all without doubt Aramaeans, and their works only a small part of a literature which was written principally in Syriac. This mathematic found its comple- tion in the investigations of the Arabian-Islamic thinkers, and after these there was again a long interval. And then a perfectly new mathematic was born, the Western, our own ^ which in our infatuation we regard as "Mathe- matics," as the culmination and the implicit purpose of two thousand years* evolution, though in reality its centuries are (strictly) numbered and to-day almost spent.

The most valuable thing in the Classical mathematic is its proposition that number is the essence of all things perceptible to the senses. Defining number as a measure, it contains the whole world-feeling of a soul passionately devoted to the "here" and the "now." Measurement in this sense means the measure- ment of something near and corporeal. Consider the content of the Classical art-work, say the free-standing statue of a naked man; here every essential and important element of Being, its whole rhythm, is exhaustively rendered by surfaces, dimensions and the sensuous relations of the parts. The Pythagorean notion of the harmony of numbers, although it was probably deduced from music — a music, be it noted, that knew not polyphony or harmony, and formed its instruments to render single plump, almost fleshy, tones — seems to be the very mould for a sculpture that has this ideal. The worked stone is only a something in so far as it has considered limits and measured form; what it is is what it has become under the sculptor's chisel. Apart from this it is a chaos ^ something not yet actualized, in fact for the time being a null. The same feeling transferred to the grander stage produces, as an opposite to the state of chaos, that of cosmos^ which for the Classical soul implies a cleared-up situation of the external world, a harmonic order which includes each separate thing as a well- defined, comprehensible and present entity. The sum of such things constitutes neither more nor less than the whole world, and the interspaces between them.


64 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

which for us are filled with the impressive symbol of the Universe of Space, arc for them the nonent (t6 /xi) 6v^.

Extension means, for Classical mankind body, and for us space, and it is as a function of space that, to us, things "appear." And, looking backward from this standpoint, we may perhaps see into the deepest concept of the Classi- cal metaphysics, Anaximander's SiTeipov — a word that is quite untranslatable into any Western tongue. It is that which possesses no "number" in the Pythagorean sense of the word, no measurable dimensions or definable limits, and therefore no being; the measureless, the negation of form, the statue not yet carved out of the block; the dpxi) optically boundless and formless, which only becomes a something (namely, the world) after being split up by the senses. It is the underlying form a priori of Classical cognition, bodiliness as such, which is replaced exactly in the Kantian world-picture by that Space out of which Kant maintained that all things could be "thought forth."

We can now understand what it is that divides one mathematic from an- other, and in particular the Classical from the Western. The whole world- feeling of the matured Classical world led it to see mathematics only as the theory of relations of magnitude, dimension and form between bodies. When, from out of this feeling, Pythagoras evolved and expressed the decisive formula, number had come, for him, to be an optical symbol — not a measure of form generally, an abstract relation, but a frontier-post of the domain of the Become, or rather of that part of it which the senses were able to split up and pass under review. By the whole Classical world without exception numbers are con- ceived as units of measure, as magnitude, lengths, or surfaces, and for it no other sort of extension is imaginable. The whole Classical mathematic is at bottom Stereometry (solid geometry). To Euclid, who rounded off its system in the third century, the triangle is of deep necessity the bounding surface of a body, never a system of three intersecting straight lines or a group of three points in three-dimensional space. He defines a line as "length without breadth" (m^/cos &7rXaT4$). In our mouths such a definition would be pitiful — in the Classical mathematic it was brilliant.

The Western number, too, is not, as Kant and even Helmholtz thought, something proceeding out of Time as an a priori form of conception, but is some- thing specifically spatial, in that it is an order (or ordering) of like units. Actual time (as we shall see more and more clearly in the sequel) has not the slightest relation with mathematical things. Numbers belong exclusively to the domain of extension. But there are precisely as many possibilities — and therefore necessities — of ordered presentation of the extended as there are Cultures. Classical number is a thought-process dealing not with spatial rela- tions but with visibly limitable and tangible units, and it follows naturally and necessarily that the Classical knows only the "natural" (positive and whole) numbers, which on the contrary olay in our Western mathematics a


MEANING OF NUMBERS 65

quite undistinguished part in the midst of complex, hypercomplex, non- Archimedean and other number-systems.

On this account, the idea of irrational numbers — the unending decimal fractions of our notation — was unrealizable within the Greek spirit. Euclid says — and he ought to have been better understood — that incommensurable lines are "not related to one another like numbers. In fact, it is the idea of irra- tional number that, once achieved, separates the notion of number from that of magnitude, for the magnitude of such a number (tt, for example) can never be defined or exactly represented by any straight line. Moreover, it follows from this that in considering the relation, say, between diagonal and side in a square the Greek would be brought up suddenly against a quite other sort of number, which was fundamentally alien to the Classical soul, and was consequently feared as a secret of its proper existence too dangerous to be unveiled. There is a singular and significant late-Greek legend, according to which the man who first published the hidden mystery of the irrational perished by shipwreck, "for the unspeakable and the formless must be left hidden for ever." ^

The fear that underlies this legend is the selfsame notion that prevented even the ripest Greeks from extending their tiny city-states so as to organize the country-side politically, from laying out their streets to end in prospects and their alleys to give vistas, that made them recoil time and again from the Babylonian astronomy with its penetration of endless starry space, ^ and refuse to venture out of the Mediterranean along sea-paths long before dared by the Phoenicians and the Egyptians. It is the deep metaphysical fear that the sense- comprehensible and present in which the Classical existence had entrenched itself would collapse and precipitate its cosmos (largely created and sustained by art) into unknown primitive abysses. And to understand this fear is to understand the final significance of Classical number — that is, measure in con- trast to the immeasurable — and to grasp the high ethical significance of its limitation. Goethe too, as a nature-student, felt it — hence his almost terri- fied aversion to mathematics, which as we can now see was really an involun-

^ One may be permitted to add that according to legend, both Hippasus who took to himself public credit for the discovery of a sphere of twelve pentagons, viz., the regular dodecahedron (regarded by the Pythagoreans as the quintessence — or aether — of a world of real tetrahedrons, octahedrons, icosahedrons and cubes), and Archytas the eighth successor of the Founder are reputed to have been drowned at sea. The pentagon from which this dodecahedron is derived, itself involves incommensurable numbers. The "pentagram" was the recognition badge of Pythagoreans and the 6X0701' (incommensurable) their special secret. It would be noted, too, that Pythagoreanism was popular till its initiates were found to be dealing'in these alarming and subversive doctrines, and then they were suppressed and lynched — a persecution which suggests more than one deep analogy with certain heresy-suppressions of Western history. The English student may be referred to G. J. Allman, Greek Geometry from Thales to £«c//<^ (Cambridge, 1889), and to his articles "Pythagoras," " Philolaus" and "Archytas" in the Ency. Brit., XI Edition. — Tr.

^ Horace's words (Odes I xi): "Tu ne quassieris, scire nefas, quem mihi quem tibi finem di dc- derint, Leuconoe, nee Babylonios temptaris numeros . . . carpe diem, quam minimum credula fostero. — Tr.


66 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

tary reaction against the non-Classical mathematic, the Infinitesimal Calculus which underlay the natural philosophy of his time.

Religious feeling in Classical man focused itself ever more and more intensely upon physically present, localized cults which alone expressed a college of Eucli- dean deities. Abstractions, dogmas floating homeless in the space of thought, were ever alien to it. A cult of this kind has as much in common with a Roman Catholic dogma as the statue has with the cathedral organ. There is no doubt that something of cult was comprised in the Euclidean mathematic — consider, for instance, the secret doctrines of the Pythagoreans and the Theo- <rems of regular polyhedrons with their esoteric significance in the circle of iPlato. Just so, there is a deep relation between Descartes' analysis of the in- ^nite and contemporary dogmatic theology as it progressed from the final decisions of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation to entirely desensual- ized deism. Descartes and Pascal were mathematicians and Jansenists, Leibniz a mathematician and pietist. Voltaire, Lagrange and D'Alembert were contem- poraries. Now, the Classical soul felt the principle of the irrational, which overturned the statuesquely-ordered array of whole numbers and the complete and self-sufficing world-order for which these stood, as an impiety against the Divine itself. In Plato's "Timasus" this feeling is unmistakable. For the trans- formation of a series of discrete numbers into a continuum challenged not merely the Classical notion of number but the Classical world-idea itself, and so it is understandable that even negative numbers, which to us offer no conceptual difficulty, were impossible in the Classical mathematic, let alone zpro as a number y that refined creation of a wonderful abstractive power which, for the Indian soul that conceived it as base for a positional numeration, was nothing more nor less than the key to the meaning of existence. Negative magnitudes have no existence. The expression C — O X ( - 3) = -|- 6 is neither something perceivable nor a representation of magnitude. The series of mag- nitudes ends with -I- i, and in graphic representation of negative numbers (+3 -1-1 -l-i o — I — 1 — 3) we have suddenly, from zero onwards, posi- tive symbols of something negative; they mean something, but they no longer are. But the fulfilment of this act did not lie within the direction of Classical number-thinking.

Every product of the waking consciousness of the Classical world, then, is \ elevated to the rank of actuality by way of sculptural definition. That which ' cannot be drawn is not "number." Archytas and Eudoxus use the terms sur- face- and volume-numbers to mean what we call second and third powers, and it is easy to understand that the notion of higher integral powers did not exist for them, for a fourth power would predicate at once, for the mind based on the plastic feeling, an extension in four dimensions, and four material di- mensions into the bargain, "which is absurd." Expressions like e^ which we constantly use, or even the fractional index (e.g., 5*) which is employed in the


MEANING OF NUMBERS 67

Western mathematics as early as Oresme (14th Century), would have been to them utter nonsense. Euclid calls the factors of a product its sides (irXeupaQ and fractions (finite of course) were treated as whole-number relationships between two lines. Clearly, out of this no conception of zero as a number could possibly come, for from the point of view of a draughtsman it is meaningless. We, having minds differently constituted, must not argue from our habits to theirs and treat their mathematic as a "first stage" in the development of "Mathematics." Within and for the purposes of the world that Classical man evolved for himself, the Classical mathematic was a complete thing — it is merely not so for us. Babylonian and Indian mathematics had long contained, as essential elements oi their number-worlds, things which the Classical number- feeling regarded as nonsense — and not from ignorance either, since many a Greek thinker was acquainted with them. It must be repeated, ' ' Mathematics * * is an illusion. A mathematical, and, generally, a scientific way of thinking is right, convincing, a "necessity of thought," when it completely expresses the life-feeling proper to it. Otherwise it is either impossible, futile and senseless, or else, as we in the arrogance of our historical soul like to say, "primitive." The modern mathematic, though "true" only for the Western spirit, is un- deniably a master-work of that spirit; and yet to Plato it would have seemed a ridiculous and painful aberration from the path leading to the "true" — to wit, the Classical — mathematic. And so with ourselves. Plainly, we have almost no notion of the multitude of great ideas belonging to other Cultures that we have suffered to lapse because our thought with its limitations has not permitted us to assimilate them, or (which comes to the same thing) has led us to reject them as false, superfluous, and nonsensical.


VI


The Greek mathematic, as a science of perceivable magnitudes, deliberately confines itself to facts of the comprehensibly present, and limits its researches and their validity to the near and the small. As compared with this impeccable consistency, the position of the Western mathematic is seen to be, practically, somewhat illogical, though it is only since the discovery of Non-Euclidean Geometry that the fact has been really recognized. Numbers are images of the perfectly desensualized understanding, of pure thought, and contain their ab- stract validity within themselves.^ Their exact application to the actuality of conscious experience is therefore a problem in itself — a problem which is always being posed anew and never solved — and the congruence of mathe- matical system with empirical observation is at present anything but self- evident. Although the lay idea — as found in Schopenhauer — is that math- ematics rest upon the direct evidences of the senses, Euclidean geometry, superficially identical though it is with the popular geometry of all ages, is

  • Sec Vol. II, pp. II ct scq.


68 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

only in agreement with the phenomenal world approximately and within very narrow limits — in fact, the limits of a drawing-board. Extend these limits, and what becomes, for instance, of Euclidean parallels? They meet at the line of the horizon — a simple fact upon which all our art-perspective is grounded.

Now, it is unpardonable that Kant, a Western thinker, should have evaded the mathematic of distance, and appealed to a set of figure-examples that their mere pettiness excludes from treatment by the specifically Western infinitesimal methods. But Euclid, as a thinker of the Classical age, was entirely consistent with its spirit when he refrained from proving the phenomenal truth of his axioms by referring to, say, the triangle formed by an observer and two in- finitely distant fixed stars. For these can neither be drawn nor "intuitively apprehended" and his feeling was precisely the feeling which shrank from the irrationals, which did not dare to give nothingness a value as zero (i.e., a number) and even in the contemplation of cosmic relations shut its eyes to the Infinite and held to its symbol of Proportion.

Aristarchus of Samos,who in 188-2.77 belonged to a circle of astronomers at Alexandria that doubtless had relations with Chaldaeo-Persian schools, pro- jected the elements of a heliocentric world-system.^ Rediscovered by Coper- nicus, it was to shake the metaphysical passions of the West to their foundations — witness Giordano Bruno ^ — to become the fulfilment of mighty premoni- tions, and to justify that Faustian, Gothic world-feeling which had already professed its faith in infinity through the forms of its cathedrals. But the world of Aristarchus received his work with entire indifl^erence and in a brief space of time it was forgotten — designedly, we may surmise. His few followers were nearly all natives of Asia Minor, his most prominent supporter Seleucus (about 150) being from the Persian Seleucia on Tigris. In fact, the Aristarchian system had no spiritual appeal to the Classical Culture and might indeed have become dangerous to it. And yet it was difl^erentiated from the Copernican (a point always missed) by something which made it perfectly conformable to the Classical world-feeling, viz., the assumption that the cosmos is contained in a materially finite and optically appreciable hollow sphere, in the middle of which the planetary system, arranged as such on Copernican lines, moved. In the Classical astronomy, the earth and the heavenly bodies are consistently re- garded as entities of two different kinds, however variously their movements in detail might be interpreted. Equally, the opposite idea that the earth is only a star among stars ' is not inconsistent in itself with either the Ptolemaic or

^ In the only writing of his that survives, indeed, Aristarchus maintains the geocentric view; it may be presumed therefore that it was only temporarily that he let himself be captivated by a hypothesis of the Chaldaean learning.

  • Giordano Bruno (born 1548, burned for heresy 1600). His whole life might be expressed as a

crusade on behalf of God and the Copernican universe against a degenerated orthodoxy and an Aristotelian world-idea long coagulated in death. — Tr.

» F. Strunz, Gtsch. d. Naturwiss. im Mitfelalter (1910), p. 90.


MEANING OF NUMBERS 69

the Copernican systems and in fact was pioneered by Nicolaus Cusanus and Leonardo da Vinci. But by this device of a celestial sphere the principle of infinity which would have endangered the sensuous-Classical notion of bounds was smothered. One would have supposed that the infinity-conception was inevitably implied by the system of Aristarchus — long before his time, the Babylonian thinkers had reached it. But no such thought emerges. On the contrary, in the famous treatise on the grains of sand ^ Archimedes proves that the filling of this stereometric body (for that is what Aristarchus's Cosmos is, after all) with atoms of sand leads to very high, but not to infinite, figure- results. This proposition, quoted though it may be, time and again, as being a first step towards the Integral Calculus, amounts to a denial (implicit indeed in the very title) of everything that we mean by the word analysis. Whereas in our physics, the constantly-surging hypotheses of a material (i.e., directly cognizable) asther, break themselves one after the other against our refusal to acknowledge material limitations of any kind, Eudoxus, Apollonius and Archi- medes, certainly the keenest and boldest of the Classical mathematicians, com- pletely worked out, in the main with rule and compass, a purely optical analysis of things-become on the basis of sculptural-Classical bounds. They used deeply- thought-out (and for us hardly understandable) methods of integration, but these possess only a superficial resemblance even to Leibniz's definite-integral method. They employed geometrical loci and co-ordinates, but these are always specified lengths and units of measurement and never, as in Fermat and above all in Descartes, unspecified spatial relations, values of points in terms of their positions in space. With these methods also should be classed the exhaustion- method of Archimedes, ^ given by him in his recently discovered letter to Eratos- thenes on such subjects as the quadrature of the parabola section by means of inscribed rectangles (instead of through similar polygons). But the very sub- tlety and extreme complication of his methods, which are grounded in certain of Plato's geometrical ideas, make us realize, in spite of superficial analogies, what an enormous difference separates him from Pascal. Apart altogether from the idea of Riemann's integral, what sharper contrast could there be to these ideas than the so-called quadratures of to-day? The name itself is now no more than an unfortunate survival, the "surface" is indicated by a bounding func- tion, and the drawing, as such, has vanished. Nowhere else did the two mathe- matical minds approach each other more closely than in this instance, and nowhere is it more evident that the gulf between the two souls thus expressing themselves is impassable.

In the cubic style of their early architecture the Egyptians, so to say, con-

^ In the "Psammites," or "Arenarius," Archimedes framed a numerical notation which was to be capable of expressing the number of grains of sand in a sphere of the size of our universe. — Tr.

  • This, for which the ground had been prepared by Eudoxus, was employed for calculating the

volume of pyramids and cones: "the means whereby the Greeks were able to evade the forbidden no- tion of infinity" (Heiberg, Naturwiss. u. Math. i. Klass. Alter. [1912.], p. 2.7).


TO THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

ccalcd pure numbers, fearful of stumbling upon their secret, and for the Hellenes too they were the key to the meaning of the become, the stiffened, the mortal. The stone statue and the scientific system deny life. Mathematical number, the formal principle of an extension-world of which the phenomenal existence is only the derivative and servant of waking human consciousness, bears the hall-mark of causal necessity and so is linked with death as chronological number is with becoming, with ///?, with the necessity of destiny. This con- nexion of strict mathematical form with the end of organic being, with the phenomenon of its organic remainder the corpse, we shall see more and more clearly to be the origin of all great art. We have already noticed the develop- ment of early ornament on funerary equipments and receptacles. Numbers are symbols of the mortal. Stiff forms are the negation of life, formulas and laws spread rigidity over the face of nature, numbers make dead — and the "Mothers" of Faust II sit enthroned, majestic and withdrawn, in

"The realms of Image unconfined. . . . Formation, transformation. Eternal play of the eternal mind With semblances of all things in creation For ever and for ever sweeping round." *

Goethe draws very near to Plato in this divination of one of the final secrets. For his unapproachable Mothers arc Plato's Ideas — the possibilities of a spirituality, the unborn forms to be realized as active and purposed Culture, as art, thought, polity and religion, in a world ordered and determined by that spirituality. And so the number-thought and the world-idea of a Culture are related, and by this relation, the former is elevated above mere knowledge and experience and becomes a view of the universe, there being consequently as many mathematics — as many number-worlds — as there are higher Cultures. Only so can we understand, as something necessary, the fact that the greatest mathe- matical thinkers, the creative artists of the realm of numbers, have been brought to the decisive mathematical discoveries of their several Cultures by a deep religious intuition.

Classical, Apollinian number we must regard as the creation of Pythagoras — who founded a religion. It was. an instinct that guided Nicolaus Cusanus, the great Bishop of Brixen (about 1450), from the idea of the unendingness of God in nature to the elements of the Infinitesimal Calculus. Leibniz himself, who two centuries later definitely settled the methods and notation of the Calculus, was led by purely metaphysical speculations about the divine principle and its relation to infinite extent to conceive and develop the notion of an analysis situs — probably the most inspired of all interpretations of pure and emanci- pated space — the possibilities of which were to be developed later by Grass- maon in his Ausdebnungslehre and above all by Riemann, their real creator, in his ' Dr. Anstcr's translation. — Tr.


MEANING OF NUMBERS 71

symbolism of two-sided planes representative of the nature of equations. And Kepler and Newton, strictly religious natures both, were and remained con- vinced, like Plato, that it was precisely through the medium of number that they had been able to apprehend intuitively the essence of the divine world- order.

VII

The Classical arithmetic, we are always told, was first liberated from its sense-bondage, widened and extended by Diophantus, who did not indeed create algebra (the science of undefined magnitudes) but brought it to expression within the framework of the Classical mathematic that we know — and so suddenly that we have to assume that there was a pre-existent stock of ideas which he worked out. But this amounts, not to an enrichment of, but a com- plete victory over, the Classical world-feeling, and the mere fact should have sufficed in itself to show that, inwardly, Diophantus does not belong to the Classical Culture at all. What is active in him is a new number-feeling, or let us say a new limit-feeling with respect to the actual and become, and no longer that Hellenic feeling of sensuously-present limits which had produced the Euclidean geometry, the nude statue and the coin. Details of the formation of this new mathematic we do not know — Diophantus stands so completely by himself in the history of so-called late-Classical mathematics that an Indian influence has been presumed. But here also the influence must really have been that of those early-Arabian schools whose studies (apart from the dogmatic) have hitherto been so imperfectly investigated. In Diophantus, unconscious though he may be of his own essential antagonism to the Classical foundations on which he attempted to build, there emerges from under the surface of Euclidean intention the new limit-feeling which I designate the "Magian." He did not widen the idea of number as magnitude, but (unwit- tingly) eliminated it. No Greek could have stated anything about an undefined number a or an undenominated number 3 — which are neither magnitudes nor lines — whereas the new limit-feeling sensibly expressed by numbers of this sort at least underlay, if it did not constitute, Diophantine treatment; and the letter-notation which we employ to clothe our own (again transvalued) algebra was first introduced by Vieta in 1591, an unmistakable, if unintended, protest against the classicizing tendency of Renaissance mathematics.

Diophantus lived about 150 a.d., that is, in the third century of that Arabian Culture whose organic history, till now smothered under the surface-forms of the Roman Empire and the "Middle Ages," ^ comprises everything that happened after the beginning of our era in the region that was later to be Islam's. It was precisely in the time of Diophantus that the last shadow of the Attic statuary art paled before the new space-sense of cupola, mosaic and sarcophagus-relief that we have in the Early-Christian-Syrian style. In that time there was once

1 Sec Vol. II, Chapter lU.


71 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

more archaic art and strictly geometrical ornament; and at that time too Dio- cletian completed the transformation of the now merely sham Empire into a Caliphate. The four centuries that separate Euclid and Diophantus, separate also Plato and Plotinus — the last and conclusive thinker, the Kant, of a fulfilled Culture and the first schoolman, the Duns Scotus, of a Culture just awakened.

It is here that we arc made aware for the first time of the existence of those higher individualities whose coming, growth and decay constitute the real substance of history underlying the myriad colours and changes of the surface. The Classical spirituality, which reached its final phase in the cold intelligence of the Romans and of which the whole Classical Culture with all its works, thoughts, deeds and ruins forms the "body," had been born about iioo b.c. in the country about the i^gean Sea. The Arabian Culture, which, under cover of the Classical Civilization, had been germinating in the East since Augustus, came wholly out of the region between Armenia and Southern Arabia, Alexan- dria and Ctesiphon, and we have to consider as expressions of this new soul almost the whole "late-Classical " art of the Empire, all the young ardent relig- ions of the East — Mandasanism, Manichasism, Christianity, Neo-Platonism, and in Rome itself, as well as the Imperial Fora, that Pantheon which is the first of all mosques.

That Alexandria and Antioch still wrote in Greek and imagined that they were thinking in Greek is a fact of no more importance than the facts that Latin was the scientific language of the West right up to the time of Kant and that Charlemagne "renewed" the Roman Empire.

In Diophantus, number has ceased to be the measure and essence oi plastic things. In the Ravennate mosaics man has ceased to be a body. Unnoticed, Greek designations have lost their original connotations. We have left the realm of Attic KaKoK&yaJdLa the Stoic Arapa^ta and yaKrjvr). Diophantus does not yet know zero and negative numbers, it is true, but he has ceased to know Pytha- gorean numbers. And this Arabian indeterminateness of number is, in its turn, something quite different from the controlled variability of the later Western mathematics, the variability of the function.

The Magian mathematic — we can see the outline, though we are ignorant of the details — advanced through Diophantus (who is obviously not a starting- point) boldly and logically to a culmination in the Abbassid period (9th cen- tury) that we can appreciate in Al-Khwarizmi and Alsidzshi. And as Euclidean geometry is to Attic statuary (the same expression-form in a different medium) and the analysis of space to polyphonic music, so this algebra is to the Magian art with its mosaic, its arabesque (which the Sassanid Empire and later Byzan- tium produced with an ever-increasing profusion and luxury of tangible-intan- gible organic motives) and its Constantinian high-relief in which uncertain deep-darks divide the freely-handled figures of the foreground. As algebra is to


MEANING OF NUMBERS 73

Classical arithmetic and Western analysis, so is the cupola-church to the Doric temple and the Gothic cathedral. It is not as though Diophantus were one of the great mathematicians. On the contrary, much of what we have been accustomed to associate with his name is not his work alone. His accidental importance lies in the fact that, so far as our knowledge goes, he was the first mathematician in whom the new number-feeling is unmistakably present. In comparison with the masters who conclude the development of a mathematic — with Apollonius and Archimedes, with Gauss, Cauchy, Riemann — Diophan- tus has, in his form-language especially, something primitive. This something, which till now we have been pleased to refer to "late-Classical" decadence, we shall presently learn to understand and value, just as we are revising our ideas as to the despised "late-Classical" art and beginning to see in it the tentative expression of the nascent Early Arabian Culture. Similarly archaic, primitive, and groping was the mathematic of Nicolas Oresme, Bishop of Lisieux (1313-1382.),^ who was the first Western who used co-ordinates so to say elastically^ and, more important still, to employ fractional powers — both of which presuppose a number-feeling, obscure it may be but quite unmistak- able, which is completely non-Classical and also non-Arabic. But if, further, we think of Diophantus together with the early-Christian sarcophagi of the Roman collections, and of Oresme together with the Gothic wall-statuary of the German cathedrals, we see that the mathematicians as well as the artists have something in common, which is, that they stand in their respective Cul- tures at the same (viz., the primitive) level of abstract understanding. In the world and age of Diophantus the stereometric sense of bounds, which had long ago reached in Archimedes the last stages of refinement and elegance proper to the megalopolitan intelligence, had passed away. Throughout that world men were unclear, longing, mystic, and no longer bright and free in the Attic way; they were men rooted in the earth of a young country-side, not megalopolitans like Euclid and D'Alembert.^ They no longer understood the deep and com- plicated forms of the Classical thought, and their own were confused and new, far as yet from urban clarity and tidiness. Their Culture was in the Gothic condition, as all Cultures have been in their youth — as even the Classical was in the early Doric period which is known to us now only by its Dipylon pottery. Only in Baghdad and in the 9th and loth Centuries were the young ideas of the age of Diophantus carried through to completion by ripe masters of the calibre of Plato and Gauss.

^ Oresme was, equally, prelate, church reformer, scholar, scientist and economist — the very type of the philosopher-leader. — Tr.

2 Oresme in his Latitudines Formarum used ordinate and abscissa, not indeed to specify numeri- cally, but certainly to describe, change, i.e., fundamentally, to express functions. — Tr.

3 Alexandria ceased to be a world-city in the second century a.d. and became a collection of houses left over from the Classical civilization which harboured a primitive population of quite different spiritual constitution. See Vol. II, pp. iii et seq.


74 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST


VIII


The decisive act of Descartes, whose geometry appeared in 1637, consisted not in the introduction of a new method or idea in the domain of traditional geometry (as we are so frequently told), but in the definitive conception of a new number-idea^ which conception was expressed in the emancipation of ge- ometry from servitude to optically-realizable constructions and to measured and measurable lines generally. With that, the analysis of the infinite became a fact. The rigid, so-called Cartesian, system of co-ordinates — a semi-Eucli- dean method of ideally representing measurable magnitudes — had long been known (witness Oresme) and regarded as of high importance, and when we get to the bottom of Descartes* thought we find that what he did was not to round off the system but to overcome it. Its last historic representative was Descartes' contemporary Fermat.^

In place of the sensuous element of concrete lines and planes — the specific character of the Classical feeling of bounds — there emerged the abstract, spatial, un-Classical element of the -point which from then on was regarded as a group of co-ordered pure numbers. The idea of magnitude and of perceivable dimension derived from Classical texts and Arabian traditions was destroyed and replaced by that of variable relation-values between positions in space. It is not in general realized that this amounted to the supersession of geometry y which thenceforward enjoyed only a fictitious existence behind a facade of Classical tradition. The word "geometry" has an inextensible Apollinian meaning, and from the time of Descartes what is called the "new geometry" is made up in part of synthetic work upon the position of points in a space which is no longer necessarily three-dimensional (a "manifold of points"), and in part of analysis, in which numbers are defined through point-positions in space. And this replacement of lengths by positions carries with it a purely spatial, and no longer a material, conception of extension.

The clearest example of this destruction of the inherited optical-finite geometry seems to me to be the conversion of angular functions — which in the Indian mathematic had been numbers (in a sense of the word that is hardly accessible to our minds) — into periodic functions, and their passage thence into an infinite number-realm, in which they become series and not the smallest trace remains of the Euclidean figure. In all parts of that realm the circle-number x, like the Napierian base «, generates relations of all sorts which obliterate all the old distinctions of geometry, trigonometry and algebra, which are neither arithmetical nor geometrical in their nature, and in which no one any longer dreams of actually drawing circles or working out powers.

' Born 1601, died 1665. Sec Ency. Brit., XI Ed., article Ftrmat, and references therein. — Tr.


MEANING OF NUMBERS 75

IX

At the moment exactly corresponding to that at which (c. 540) the Classical Soul in the person of Pythagoras discovered its own proper Apollinian number, the measurable magnitude, the Western soul in the persons of Descartes and his generation (Pascal, Fermat, Desargues) discovered a notion of number that was the child of a passionate Faustian tendency towards the infinite. Number as pure magnitude inherent in the material presentness of things is paralleled by numbers as pure relation,^ and if we may characterize the Classical "world," the cosmos, as being based on a deep need of visible limits and composed ac- cordingly as a sum of material things, so we may say that our world-picture is an actualizing of an infinite space in which things visible appear very nearly as realities of a lower order, limited in the presence of the illimitable. The symbol of the West is an idea of which no other Culture gives even a hint, the idea of Function. The function is anything rather than an expansion of, it is complete emancipation from, any pre-existent idea of number. With the func- tion, not only the Euclidean geometry (and with it the common human geom- etry of children and laymen, based on everyday experience) but also the Archimedean arithmetic, ceased to have any value for the really significant mathematic of Western Europe. Henceforward, this consisted solely in abstract analysis. For Classical man geometry and arithmetic were self-contained and complete sciences of the highest rank, both phenomenal and both concerned with magnitudes that could be drawn or numbered. For us, on the contrary, those things are only practical auxiliaries of daily life. Addition and multi- plication, the two Classical methods of reckoning magnitudes, have, like their sister geometrical-drawing, utterly vanished in the infinity of functional processes. Even the power, which in the beginning denotes numerically a set of multiplications (products of equal magnitudes), is, through the exponential idea (logarithm) and its employment in complex, negative and fractional forms, dissociated from all connexion with magnitude and transferred to a transcendent relational world which the Greeks, knowing only the two positive whole- number powers that represent areas and volumes, were unable to approach.

Think, for instance, of expressions like €~*, ^/x, aT.

Every one of the significant creations which succeeded one another so rapidly from the Renaissance onward — imaginary and complex numbers, in- troduced by Cardanus as early as 1550; infinite series, established theoretically by Newton's great discovery of the binomial theorem in 1666; the differential geometry, the definite integral of Leibniz; the aggregate as a new number-unit, hinted at even by Descartes; new processes like those of general integrals; the expansion of functions into series and even into infinite series of other functions

^ Similarly, coinage and double-entry book-keeping play analogous parts in the moncy-tbinking of the Classical and the Western Cultures respectively. See Vol. II, pp. 6io ct scq.


76 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

— is a victory over the popular and sensuous number-feeling in us, a victory which the new mathcmatic had to win in order to make the new world-feeling actual.

In all history, so far, there is no second example of one Culture paying to another Culture long extinguished such reverence and submission in matters of science as ours has paid to the Classical. It was very long before we found courage to think our proper thought. But though the wish to emulate the Classical was constantly present, every step of the attempt took us in reality further away from the imagined ideal. The history of Western knowledge is thus one of progressive emancipation from Classical thought, an emancipation never willed but enforced in the depths of the unconscious. And so the develop- ment of the new mathematic consists of a long, secret and finally victorious battle against the notion of magnitude.^

X

One result of this Classicizing tendency has been to prevent us from finding the new notation proper to our Western number as such. The present-day sign- language of mathematics perverts its real content. It is principally owing to that tendency that the belief in numbers as magnitudes still rules to-day even amongst mathematicians, for is it not the base of all our written notation?

But it is not the separate signs (e.g., x, x, s) serving to express the func- tions but the function itself as unit, as element, the variable relation no longer capable of being optically defined, that constitutes the new number; and this new number should have demanded a new notation built up with entire dis- regard of Classical influences. Consider the difference between two equations (if the same word can be used of two such dissimilar things) such as 3 * + 4 * = 5 ' and x" 4-y" =2** (the equation of Fermat's theorem). The first consists of several Classical numbers — i.e., magnitudes — but the second is one number of a different sort, veiled by being written down according to Euclidean- Archimedean tradition in the identical form of the first. In the first case, the sign = establishes a rigid connexion between definite and tangible magnitudes, but in the second it states that within a domain of variable images there exists a relation such that from certain alterations certain other alterations necessarily follow. The first equation has as its aim the specification by measurement of a concrete magnitude, viz., a "result," while the second has, in general, no result but is simply the picture and sign of a relation which for »>2. (this is the famous Fermat problem 2) can probably be shown to exclude integers. A

  • The same may be said in the matter of Roman Law (see Vol. II, pp. 96 ct seq.) and of coinage

(see Vol. II, pp. 616 et seq.).

« That is, " it is impossible to part a cube into two cubes, a biquadrate into two biquadrates, and generally any power above the square into two powers having the same exponent." Fermat claimed to possess a proof of the proposition, but this has not been preserved, and no general proof has hitherto been obtained. — Tr.


MEANING OF NUMBERS 77

Greek mathematician would have found it quite impossible to understand the purport of an operation like this, which was not meant to be "worked out.'/

As applied to the letters in Fermat's equation, the nation of the unknown is completely misleading. In the first equation x is a magnitude, defined and measurable, which it is our business to compute. In the second, the word "defined" has no meaning at all for at, 7, i^, «, and consequently we do not attempt to compute their "values." Hence they are not numbers at all in the plastic sense but signs representing a connexion that is destitute of the hall- marks of magnitude, shape and unique meaning, an infinity of possible positions of like character, an ensemble unified and so attaining existence as a number. The whole equation, though written in our unfortunate notation as a plurality of terms, is actually one single number, x, y, z. being no more numbers than -H and = are. ;

In fact, directly the essentially anti-Hellenic idea of the irrationals is introduced, the foundations of the idea of number as concrete and definite collapse. Thenceforward, the series of such numbers is no longer a visible row of increasing, discrete, numbers capable of plastic embodiment but a uni- dimensional continuum in which each "cut" (in Dedekind's sense) represents a number. Such a number is already difficult to reconcile with Classical number, for the Classical mathematic knows only one number between i and 3 , whereas for the Western the totality of such numbers is an infinite aggregate. But when we introduce further the imaginary (V — i or /) and finally the complex numbers (general form a + ^0> the linear continuum is broadened into the highly transcendent form of a number-body, i.e., the content of an aggregate of homogeneous elements in which a "cut" now stands for a number-surface containing an infinite aggregate of numbers of a lower "potency" (for instance, all the real numbers), and there remains not a trace of number in the Classical and popular sense. These number-surfaces, which since Cauchy and Riemann have played an important part in the theory of functions, are fure thought- pictures. Even positive irrational number (e.g., V2.) could be conceived in a sort of negative fashion by Classical minds; they had, in fact, enough idea of it to ban it as apprjros and oKoyos. But expressions of the form x + yi lie beyond every possibility of comprehension by Classical thought, whereas it is on the extension of the mathematical laws over the whole region of the complex numbers, within which these laws remain operative, that we have built up the function theory which has at last exhibited the Western mathematic in all purity and unity. Not until that point was reached could this mathematic be unreservedly brought to bear in the parallel sphere of our dynamic Western physics; for the Classical mathematic was fitted precisely to^ its own stereometric world of individual objects and to static mechanics asl developed from Leucippus to Archimedes. '

The brilliant period of the Baroque mathematic — the counterpart of the


78 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Ionian — lies substantially in the i8th Century and extends from the decisive discoveries of Newton and Leibniz through Euler, Lagrange, Laplace and D'Alembert to Gauss. Once this immense creation found wings, its rise was miraculous. Men hardly dared believe their senses. The age of refined scepti- cism witnessed the emergence of one seemingly impossible truth after another.^ Regarding the theory of the differential coefficient, D'Alembert had to say: "Go forward, and faith will come to you." Logic itself seemed to raise ob- jections and to prove foundations fallacious. But the goal was reached.

This century was a very carnival of abstract and immaterial thinking, in which the great masters of analysis and, with them, Bach, Gluck, Haydn and Mozart — a small group of rare and deep intellects — revelled in the most refined discoveries and speculations, from which Goethe and Kant remained aloof; and in point of content it is exactly paralleled by the ripest century of the Ionic, the century of Eudoxus and Archytas (440-350) and, we may add, of Phidias, Polycletus, Alcamenes and the Acropolis buildings — in which the form-world of Classical mathematic and sculpture displayed the whole fullness of its possibilities, and so ended.

And now for the first time it is possible to comprehend in full the elemental opposition of the Classical and the Western souls. In the whole panorama of history, innumerable and intense as historical relations are, we find no two things so fundamentally alien to one another as these. And it is because ex- tremes meet — because it may be there is some deep common origin behind their divergence — that we find in the Western Faustian soul this yearning effort towards the Apollinian ideal, the only alien ideal which we have loved and, for its power of intensely living in the pure sensuous present, have envied.

XI

We have already observed that, like a child, a primitive mankind acquires (as part of the inward experience that is the birth of the ego) an understanding of number and ipso facto possession of an external world referred to the ego. As soon as the primitive's astonished eye perceives the dawning world oi ordered ex- tension^ and the significant emerges in great outlines from the welter of mere im- pressions, and the irrevocable parting of the outer world from his proper, his in- ner, world gives form and direction to his waking life, there arises in the soul — instantly conscious of its loneliness — the root-feeling of longing (Sehnsucht). It is this that urges "becoming" towards its goal, that motives the fulfilment and actualizing of every inward possibility, that unfolds the idea of indi- vidual being. It is the child's longing, which will presently come into the consciousness more and more clearly as a feeling of constant direction and

  • Thus Bishop Berkeley's Discourse addressed to an infidel mathematician (1735) shrewdly asked

whether the mathematician were in a position to criticize the divine for proceeding on the basis of faith. — Tr,


MEANING OF NUMBERS 79

finally stand before the mature spirit as the enigma of Time — queer, tempting, insoluble. Suddenly, the words "past" and "future" have acquired a fateful meaning.

But this longing which wells out of the bliss of the inner life is also, in the intimate essence of every soul, a dread as well. As all becoming moves towards a having-become wherein it ends, so the prime feeling of becoming — the longing — touches the prime feeling of having-become, the dread. In the 1 present we feel a trickling-away, the past implies a passing. Here is the root of our eternal dread of the irrevocable, the attained, the final — our dread of mortality, of the world itself as a thing-become, where death is set as a frontier like birth — our dread in the moment when the possible is actualized, the life is inwardly fulfilled and consciousness stands at its goal. It is the deep world-fear of the child — which never leaves the higher man, the believer, the poet, the artist — that makes him so infinitely lonely in the presence of the alien powers that loom, threatening in the dawn, behind the screen of sense-phenomena. The element of direction, too, which is inherent in all "becoming," is felt owing to its inexorable irreversibility to be something alien and hostile, and the human will-to-understanding ever seeks to bind the inscrutable by the spell of a name. It is something beyond comprehension, this transformation of future into past, and thus time, in its contrast with space, has always a queer, baffling, oppressive ambiguity from which no serious man can wholly protect himself.

This world-fear is assuredly the most creative of all prime feelings. Man owes to it the ripest and deepest forms and images, not only of his conscious inward life, but also of the infinitely-varied external culture which reflects this life. Like a secret melody that not every ear can perceive, it runs through the form- language of every true art-work, every inward philosophy, every important deed, and, although those who can perceive it in that domain are the very few, it lies at the root of the great problems of mathematics. Only the spiritually dead man of the autumnal cities — Hammurabi's Babylon, Ptolemaic Alexan- dria, Islamic Baghdad, Paris and Berlin to-day — only the pure intellectual, the sophist, the sensualist, the Darwinian, loses it or is able to evade it by setting up a secretless "scientific world-view" between himself and the alien. As the longing attaches itself to that impalpable something whose thousand- formed elusive manifestations are comprised in, rather than denoted by, the word "time," so the other prime feeling, dread, finds its expression in the intellectual, understandable, outlinable symbols of extension; and thus we find that every Culture is aware (each in its own special way) of an opposition of time and space, of direction and extension, the former underlying the latter as becoming precedes having-become. It is the longing that underlies the dread, becomes the dread, and not vice versa. The one is not subject to the intellect, the other is its servant. The r61e of the one is purely to experience, that of the


8o THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

other purely to know (crleben, crkennen). In the Christian language, the opposition of the two world-feelings is expressed by: "Fear God and love Him."

In the soul of all primitive mankind, just as in that of earliest childhood, there is something which impels it to find means of dealing with the alien powers of the extension-world that assert themselves, inexorable, in and through space. To bind, to bridle, to placate, to "know" are all, in the last analysis, the same thing. In the mysticism of all primitive periods, to know God mans to conjure him, to make him favourable, to appropriate him inwardly. This is achieved, principally, by means of a word, the Name — the "nomen" which designates and calls up the "numen " — and also by ritual practices of secret potency; and the subtlest, as well as the most powerful, form of this defence is causal and systematic knowledge, delimitation by label and number. In this respect man only becomes wholly man when he has acquired language. When cognition has ripened to the point of words, the original chaos of im- pressions necessarily transforms itself into a "Nature" that has laws and must obey them, and the world-in-itself becomes a world-for-us.^

The world-fear is stilled when an intellectual form-language hammers out brazen vessels in which the mysterious is captured and made comprehensible. This is the idea of taboo, ^ which plays a decisive part in the spiritual life of all primitive men, though the original content of the word lies so far from us that it is incapable of translation into any ripe culture-language. Blind terror, religious awe, deep loneliness, melancholy, hate, obscure impulses to draw near, to be merged, to escape — all those formed feelings of mature souls are in the childish condition blurred in a monotonous indecision. The two senses of the word "conjure" (verschworen), meaning to bind and to implore at once, may serve to make clear the sense of the mystical process by which for primitive man the formidable alien becomes "taboo." Reverent awe before that which is independent of one's self, things ordained and fixed by law, the alien powers of the world, is the source from which the elementary formative acts, one and all, spring. In early times this feeling is actualized in ornament, in laborious ceremonies and rites, and the rigid laws of primitive intercourse. At the zeniths of the great Cultures those formations, though retaining inwardly the mark of their origin, the characteristic of binding and conjuring, have become the complete form-worlds of the various arts and of religious, scientific and, above all, mathematical thought. The method common to all — the only way of actualizing itself that the soul knows — is the symbolizing of extension, of space or of things; and we find it alike in the conceptions of absolute space that per- vade Newtonian physics, Gothic cathedral-interiors and Moorish mosques, and

^ From the savage conjuror with his naming-magic to the modern scientist who subjects things., by attaching technical labels to them, the form has in no wise changed. See Vol. II, pp. i66 et seq., yix ct seq.

  • Sec Vol. II, pp. 137 ct seq.


MEANING OF NUMBERS 8i

the atmospheric infinity of Rembrandt's paintings and again the dark tone- worlds of Beethoven's quartets; in the regular polyhedrons of Euclid, the Parthenon sculptures and the pyramids of Old Egypt, the Nirvana of Buddha, the aloofness of court-customs under Sesostris, Justinian I and Louis XIV, in the God-idea of an i^schylus, a Plotinus, a Dante; and in the world-embracing spatial energy of modern technics.

XII

To return to mathematics. In the Classical world the starting-point of every formative act was, as we have seen, the ordering of the "become," in so far as this was present, visible, measurable and numerable. The Western, Gothic, form-feeling on the contrary is that of an unrestrained, strong-willed far-ranging soul, and its chosen badge is pure, imperceptible, unlimited space. But we must not be led into regarding such symbols as unconditional. On the contrary, they are strictly conditional, though apt to be taken as having iden- tical essence and validity. Our universe of infinite space, whose existence, for us, goes without saying, simply does not exist for Classical man. It is not even capable of being presented to him. On the other hand, the Hellenic cosmos, which is (as we might have discovered long ago) entirely foreign to our way of thinking, was for the Hellene something self-evident. The fact is that the infinite space of our physics is a form of very numerous and extremely com- plicated elements tacitly assumed, which have come into being only as the copy and expression of our soul, and are actual, necessary and natural only for our type of waking life. The simple notions are always the most difficult. They are simple, in that they comprise a vast deal that not only is incapable of being exhibited in words but does not even need to be stated, because jor mm of the ■particular group it is anchored in the intuition; and they are difficult because for all alien men their real content is ipso facto quite inaccessible. Such a notion, at once simple and difficult, is our specifically Western meaning of the word "space." The whole of our mathematic from Descartes onward is devoted to the theoretical interpretation of this great and wholly religious symbol. The aim of all our physics since Galileo is identical; but in the Classical mathe- matics and physics the content of this word is simply not known.

Here, too. Classical names, inherited from the literature of Greece and retained in use, have veiled the realities. Geometry means the art of measuring, arithmetic the art of numbering. The mathematic of the West has long ceased to have anything to do with both these forms of defining, but it has not man- aged to find new names for its own elements — for the word "analysis" is hopelessly inadequate.

The beginning and end of the Classical mathematic is consideration of the properties of individual bodies and their boundary-surfaces; thus indirectly taking in conic sections and higher curves. We, on the other hand, at bottom


8i THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

know only the abstract space-clement of the point, which can neither be seen, nor measured, nor yet named, but represents simply a centre of reference. The straight line, for the Greeks a measurable edge, is for us an infinite continuum of points. Leibniz illustrates his infinitesimal principle by presenting the straight line as one limiting case and the point as the other limiting case of a circle having infinitely great or infinitely little radius. But for the Greek the circle is a flane and the problem that interested him was that of bringing it into a commensurable condition. Thus the squaring of the circle became for the Classical intellect the supreme problem of the finite. The deepest problem of world- form seemed to it to be to alter surfaces bounded by curved lines, without change of magnitude, into rectangles and so to render them measureable. For us, on the other hand, it has become the usual, and not specially significant, practice to represent the number tt by algebraic means, regardless of any geo- metrical image.

The Classical mathematician knows only what he sees and grasps. Where definite and defining visibility — the domain of his thought — ceases, his science comes to an end. The Western mathematician, as soon as he has quite shaken off the trammels of Classical prejudice, goes off into a wholly abstract region of infinitely numerous "manifolds" of n (no longer 3) dimensions, in which his so-called geometry always can and generally must do without every common- place aid. When Classical man turns to artistic expressions of his form-feeling, he tries with marble and bronze to give the dancing or the wrestling human form that pose and attitude in which surfaces and contours have all attainable proportion and meaning. But the true artist of the West shuts his eyes and loses himself in the realm of bodiless music, in which harmony and polyphony bring him to images of utter "beyondness" that transcend all possibilities of visual definition. One need only think of the meanings of the word "figure" as used respectively by the Greek sculptor and the Northern contrapuntist, and the opposition of the two worlds, the two mathematics, is immediately pre- sented. The Greek mathematicians ever use the word (rw/xa for their entities, just as the Greek lawyers used it for persons as distinct from things (crw/xara Kol irp&jfjLaTa: persona et res').

Classical number, integral and corporeal, therefore inevitably seeks to relate itself with the birth of bodily man, the cajjua. The number i is hardly yet conceived of as actual number but rather as Apx^, the prime stuff of the number-series, the origin of all true numbers and therefore all magnitudes, measures and materiality (Dinglichkeit). In the group of the Pythagoreans (the date does not matter) its figured-sign was also the symbol of the mother- womb, the origin of all life. The digit 2., the first true number, which doubles the I, was therefore correlated with the male principle and given the sign of the phallus. And, finally, 3, the "holy number" of the Pythagoreans, denoted the act of union between man and woman, the act of propagation — the erotic


MEANING OF NUMBERS 83

suggestion: in adding and multiplying (the only two processes of increasing, of propagating, magnitude useful to Classical man) is easily seen — and its sign was the combination of the two first. Now, all this throws quite a new light upon the legends previously alluded to, concerning the sacrilege of disclosing the irrational. The irrational — in our language the employment of unending decimal fractions — implied the destruction of an organic and corporeal and reproductive order that the gods had laid down. There is no doubt that the Pythagorean reforms of the Classical religion were themselves based upon the immemorial Demeter-cult. Demeter, Gasa, is akin to Mother Earth. There is a deep relation between the honour paid to her and this exalted conception of the numbers.

Thus, inevitably, the Classical became by degrees the Culture of the small. The Apollinian soul had tried to tie down the meaning of things-become by means of the principle of visible limits; its taboo was focused upon the immediately-present and proximate alien. What was far away, invisible, was ipso facto ' ' not there. ' ' The Greek and the Roman alike sacrificed to the gods of the place in which he happened to stay or reside; all other deities were outside the range of vision. Just as the Greek tongue — again and again we shall note the mighty symbolism of such language-phenomena — possessed no word for space, so the Greek himself was destitute of our feeling of landscape, horizons, outlooks, distances, clouds, and of the idea of the far-spread fatherland em- bracing the great nation. Home, for Classical man, is what he can see from the citadel of his native town and no more. All that lay beyond the visual range of this political atom was alien, and hostile to boot; beyond that narrow range, fear set in at once, and hence the appalling bitterness with which these petty towns strove to destroy one another. The Polls is the smallest of all conceiv- able state-forms, and its policy is frankly short-range, therein differing in the extreme from our own cabinet-diplomacy which is the policy of the unlimited. Similarly, the Classical temple, which can be taken in in one glance, is the smallest of all first-rate architectural forms. Classical geometry from Archytas to Euclid — like the school geometry of to-day which is still dominated by it — concerned itself with small, manageable figures and bodies, and therefore remained unaware of the difficulties that arise in establishing figures of astro- nomical dimensions, which in many cases are not amenable to Euclidean geome- try.^. Otherwise the subtle Attic spirit would almost surely have arrived at some notion of the problems of non-Euclidean geometry, for its criticism of the well-known "parallel" axiom,^ the doubtfulness of which soon aroused oppo-

' A beginning is now being made with the application of non-EucIidcan geometries to astron- omy. The hypothesis of curved space, closed but without limits, filled by the system of fixed stars on a radius of about 470,000,000 earth-distances, would lead to the hypothesis of a counter-image of the sun which to us appears as a star of medium brilliancy. (See translator's footnote, p. 332..)

' That only one parallel to a given straight line is possible through a given point — a proposi- tion that is incapable of proof.


84 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

sition yet could not in any way be elucidated, brought it very close indeed to the decisive discovery. The Classical mind as unquestioningly devoted and limited itself to the study of the small and the near as ours has to that of the infinite and ultra-visual. All the mathematical ideas that the West found for itself or borrowred from others were automatically subjected to the form- language of the Infinitesimal — and that long before the actual Differential Calculus was discovered. Arabian algebra, Indian trigonometry, Classical mechanics were incorporated as a matter of course in analysis. Even the most "self-evident" propositions of elementary arithmetic such as i X i = 4 be- come, when considered analytically, problems, and the solution of these prob- lems was only made possible by deductions from the Theory of Aggregates, and is in many points still unaccomplished. Plato and his age would have looked upon this sort of thing not only as a hallucination but also as evidence of an utterly nonmathematical mind. In a certain measure, geometry may be treated algebraically and algebra geometrically, that is, the eye may be switched off or it may be allowed to govern. We take the first alternative, the Greeks the second. Archimedes, in his beautiful management of spirals, touches upon cer- tain general facts that are also fundamentals in Leibniz's method of the definite integral; but his processes, for all their superficial appearance of modernity, are subordinated to stereometric principles; in like case, an Indian mathematician would naturally have found some trigonometrical formulation.^

xni

From this fundamental opposition of Classical and Western numbers there arises an equally radical difference in the relationship of element to element in each of these number-worlds. The nexus of magnitudts is called proportion, that of relations is comprised in the notion oi function. The significance of these two words is not confined to mathematics proper; they are of high importance also in the allied arts of sculpture and music. Quite apart from the r61e of propor- tion in ordering the parts of the individual statue, the typically Classical art- forms of the statue, the relief, and the fresco, admit enlargements and reductions of scale — words that in music have no meaning at all — as we see in the art of the gems, in which the subjects ^re essentially reductions from life-sized originals. In the domain of Function, on the contrary, it is the idea of transformation of groups that is of decisive importance, and the musician will readily agree that similar ideas play an essential part in modern composition-theory. I need only allude to one of the most elegant orchestral forms of the i8th Century, the Tema con Variazioni.

All proportion assumes the constancy, all transformation the variability of the constituents. Compare, for instance, the congruence theorems of Euclid,

^ It is impossible to say, with certainty, how much of the Indian mathematics that wc possess is old, i.e., before Buddha.


MEANING OF NUMBERS 85

the proof of which depends in fact on the assumed ratio 1:1, with the modern deduction of the same by means of angular functions.

XIV

The Alpha and Omega of the Classical mathematic is construction (which in the broad sense includes elementary arithmetic), that is, the production of a single visually-present figure. The chisel, in this second sculptural art, is the compass. On the other hand, in function-research, where the object is not a result of the magnitude sort but a discussion of general formal possibilities, the way of working is best described as a sort of composition-procedure closely analogous to the musical; and in fact, a great number of the ideas met with in the theory of music (key, phrasing, chromatics, for instance) can be directly employed in physics, and it is at least arguable that many relations would be clarified by so doing.

Every construction affirms, and every operation denies appearances, in that the one works out that which is optically given and the other dissolves it. And so we meet with yet another contrast between the two kinds of mathematic; the Classical mathematic of small things deals with the concrete individual instance and produces a once-for-all construction, while the mathematic of the infinite handles whole classes of formal possibilities, groups of functions, operations, equations, curves, and does so with an eye, not to any result they may have, but to their course. And so for the last two centuries — though present-day mathematicians hardly realize the fact — there has been growing up the idea of a general morphology of mathematical operations, which we are justified in regarding as the real meaning of modern mathematics as a whole. All this, as we shall perceive more and more clearly, is one of the manifestations of a general ten- dency inherent in the Western intellect, proper to the Faustian spirit and Culture and found in no other. The great majority of the problems which occupy our mathematic, and are regarded as "our" problems in the same sense as the squaring of the circle was the Greeks', — e.g., the investigation of con- vergence in infinite series (Cauchy) and the transformation of elliptic and algebraic integrals into multiply-periodic functions (Abel, Gauss) — would probably have seemed to the Ancients, who strove for simple and definite quantitative results, to be an exhibition of rather abstruse virtuosity. And so indeed the popular mind regards them even to-day. There is nothing less "popular" than the modern mathematic, and it too contains its sym- bolism of the infinitely far, of distance. All the great works of the West, from the "Divina Commedia" to "Parsifal," are unpopular, whereas every- thing Classical from Homer to the Altar of Pergamum was popular in the highest degree.


S6 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

XV

Thus, finally, the whole content of Western number- thought centres itself upon the historic limit-problem of the Faustian mathematic, the key which opens the way to the Infinite, that Faustian infinite which is so different from the infinity of Arabian and Indian world-ideas. Whatever the guise — infinite series, curves or functions — in which number appears in the particular case, the essence of it is the theory of the limit. ^ This limit is the absolute opposite of the limit which (without being so called) figures in the Classical problem of the quadrature of the circle. Right into the i8th Century, Euclidean popular prepossessions obscured the real meaning of the differential principle. The idea of infinitely small quantities lay, so to say, ready to hand, and however skil- fully they were handled, there was bound to remain a trace of the Classical constancy, the semblance of magnitude, about them, though Euclid would never have known them or admitted them as such. Thus, zero is a constant, a whole number in the linear continuum between +i and — i ; and it was a great hindrance to Euler in his analytical researches that, like many after him, he treated the differentials as zero. Only in the 19th Century was this relic of Classical number-feeling finally removed and the Infinitesimal Calculus made logically secure by Cauchy's definitive elucidation of the limit-idea; only the intellectual step from the "infinitely small quantity" to the "lower limit of every possible finite magnitude" brought out the conception of a variable number which oscillates beneath any assignable number that is not zero. A number of this sort has ceased to possess any character of magnitude whatever: the limit, as thus finally presented by theory, is no longer that which is approximated to, but the approximation, the process, the operation itself. It is not a state, but a relation. And so in this decisive problem of our mathematic, we are suddenly made to see how historical is the constitution of the Western soul.^

XVI

The liberation of geometry from the visual, and of algebra from the notion of magnitude, and the union of both, beyond all elementary limitations of drawing and counting, in the great structure of function-theory — this was the

  • The tcchaical difference (in German usage) between Grenz. and Grenzwert is in most cases

ignored in this translation as it is on.y the underlying conception of " number" common to both that concerns us. Grenz. is the "limit" strictly speaking, i.e., the number a to which the terms <»,, <*,, <»8. . . . of a particular series approximate more and more closely, till nearer to a than any assignable number whatever. The Grenzwerf of a function, on the other hand, is the " limit " of the value which the function takes for a given value a of the variable x. These methods of reasoning and their deriva-

tircs enable solutions to be obtained for series such asf— ,) (—-,)(—). . . (— | or functions

x(xx-o W/W/WJ W

such as » - z r? r where x is injinitt or indefinite. — Tr.

•^ (x + iXx-3)

  • "Function, rightly understood, is existence considered as an activity" (Goethe). Cf. Vol. II,

p. 618, for functional money.


MEANING OF NUMBERS 87

grand course of Western number-thought. The constant number of the Classical \ mathematic was dissolved into the variable. Geometry became analytical and i dissolved all concrete forms, replacing the mathematical bodies from which the I rigid geometrical values had been obtained, by abstract spatial relations which in the end ceased to have any application at all to sense-present phenomena. It began by substituting for Euclid's optical figures geometrical loci referred to a co-ordinate system of arbitrarily chosen "origin," and reducing the postulated objectiveness of existence of the geometrical object to the one condition that during the operation (which itself was one of equating and not of measurement) the selected co-ordinate system should not be changed. But these co-ordinates immediately came to be regarded as values pure and simple, serving not so much to determine as to represent and replace the position of points as space-elements. Number, the boundary of things-become, was represented, not as before pictori- | allybya figure, but symbolically by an equation. "Geometry" altered its mean- ing; the co-ordinate system as a picturing disappeared and the point became an entirely abstract number-group. In architecture, we find this inward transfor- mation of Renaissance into Baroque through the innovations of Michael Angelo and Vignola. Visually pure lines became, in palace and church fagades as in mathematics, ineffectual. In place of the clear co-ordinates that we have in ' Romano-Florentine colonnading and storeying, the "infinitesimal" appears in the graceful flow of elements, the scrollwork, the cartouches. The construc- tive dissolves in the wealth of the decorative — in mathematical language, the functional. Columns and pilasters, assembled in groups and clusters, break up the fagades, gather and disperse again restlessly. The flat surfaces of wall, roof, storey melt into a wealth of stucco work and ornaments, vanish and break into a play of light and shade. The light itself, as it is made to play upon the form- world of mature Baroque — viz., the period from Bernini (1650) to the Rococo of Dresden, Vienna and Paris — has become an essentially musical element. ; The Dresden Zwinger ^ is a sinfonia. Along with i8th Century mathematics, i i8th Century architecture develops into a form-world of musical characters. 1


XVII


This mathematics of ours was bound in due course to reach the point at which not merely the limits of artificial geometrical form but the limits of the visual itself were felt by theory and by the soul alike as limits indeed, as ob- stacles to the unreserved expression of inward possibilities — in other words, the point at which the ideal of transcendent extension came into fundamental conflict with the limitations of immediate perception. The Classical soul, with the entire abdication of Platonic and Stoic drapa^ta, submitted to the sensuous and (as the erotic under-meaning of the Pythagorean numbers shows) it rather felt than emitted its great symbols. Of transcending the corporeal here-and-now 1 Built for August II, in 1711, as barbican or fore-building for a projected palace. — Tr.


88 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

it was quite incapable. But whereas number, as conceived by a Pythagorean, exhibited the essence of individual and discrete data in "Nature" Descartes and his successors looked upon number as something to be conquered, to be tvrung out, an abstract relation royally indifferent to all phenomenal support and capable of holding its own against "Nature" on all occasions. The will-to-power (to use Nietzsche's great formula) that from the earliest Gothic of the Eddas, the Cathedrals and Crusades, and even from the old conquer- ing Goths and Vikings, has distinguished the attitude of the Northern soul to its world, appears also in the sense-transcending energy, the dynamic of Western number. In the ApoUinian mathematic the intellect is the serv- ant of the eye, in the Faustian its master. Mathematical, "absolute" space, we see then, is utterly un-Classical, and from the first, although mathematicians with their reverence for the Hellenic tradition did not dare to observe the fact, it was something different from the indefinite spaciousness of daily experience and customary painting, the a priori space of Kant which seemed so unambig- uous and sure a concept. It is a pure abstract, an ideal and unfulfillable postulate of a soul which is ever less and less satisfied with sensuous means of expression and in the end passionately brushes them aside. The inner eye has awakened.

And then, for the first time, those who thought deeply were obliged to see that the Euclidean geometry, which is the true and only geometry of the simple of all ages, is when regarded from the higher standpoint nothing but a hypothesis, the general validity of which, since Gauss, we know it to be quite impossible to prove in the face of other and perfectly non-perceptual geometries. The critical proposition of this geometry, Euclid's axiom of parallels, is an assertion, for which we are quite at liberty to substitute another assertion. We may assert, in fact, that through a given point, no parallels, or two, or many parallels may be drawn to a given straight line, and all these assumptions lead to completely irreproachable geometries of three dimensions, which can be employed in physics and even in astronomy, and are in some cases preferable to the Euclidean.

Even the simple axiom that extension is boundless (boundlessness, since Riemann and the theory of curved space, is to be distinguished from endlessness) at once contradicts the essential character of all immediate perception, in that the latter depends upon the existence of light-resistances and ipso facto has material bounds. But abstract principles of boundary can be imagined which transcend, in an entirely new sense, the possibilities of optical definition. For the deep thinker, there exists even in the Cartesian geometry the tendency to get beyond the three dimensions of experiential space, regarded as an unnecessary restriction on the symbolism of number. And although it was not till about iSoo that the notion of multi-dimensional space (it is a pity that no better word was found) provided analysis with broader foundations, the real first step was taken at the moment when powers — that is, really, logarithms — were re-


MEANING OF NUMBERS 89

leased from their original relation with sensually realizable surfaces and solids and, through the employment of irrational and complex exponents, brought within the realm of function as perfectly general relation-values. It will be admitted by everyone who understands anything of mathematical reasoning that directly we passed from the notion of d? as a natural maximum to that of a ", the unconditional necessity of three-dimensional space was done away with.

Once the space-element or point had lost its last persistent relic of visualness and, instead of being represented to the eye as a cut in co-ordinate lines, was defined as a group of three independent numbers, there was no longer any inherent objection to replacing the number 3 by the general number n. The notion of dimension was radically changed. It was no longer a matter of treating the properties of a point metrically with reference to its position in a visible system, but of representing the entirely abstract properties of a number- group by means of any dimensions that we please. The number-group — con- sisting of n independent ordered elements — is an image of the point and it is called a point. Similarly, an equation logically arrived therefrom is called a plane and is the image of a plane. And the aggregate of all points of n dimen- sions is called an ^-dimensional space. ^ In these transcendent space-worlds, which are remote from every sort of sensualism, lit the relations which it is the business of analysis to investigate and which are found to be consistently in agreement with the data of experimental physics. This space of higher degree is a symbol which is through-and-through the peculiar property of the Western mind. That mind alone has attempted, and successfully too, to capture the "become" and the extended in these forms, to conjure and bind — to "know" — the alien by this kind of appropriation or taboo. Not until such spheres of number-thought are reached, and not for any men but the few who have reached them, do such imaginings as systems of hypercomplex numbers (e.g., the quaternions of the calculus of vectors) and apparently quite meaningless symbols like 00" acquire the character of something actual. And here if any- where it must be understood that actuality is not only sensual actuality. The spiritual is in no wise limited to perception-forms for the actualizing of its idea.


From this grand intuition of symbolic space-worlds came the last and con- clusive creation of Western mathematic — the expansion and subtilizing of the function theory in that oi groups. Groups are aggregates or sets of homogeneous mathematical images — e.g., the totality of all differential equations of a cer-

1 From the standpoint of the theory of "aggregates" (or "sets of points"), a well-ordered set of points, irrespective of the dimension figure, is called a corpus; and thus an aggregate of « - i dimensions is considered, relatively to one of n dimensions, as a surface. Thus the limit (wall, edge) of an " aggregate" represents an aggregate of lower "potentiality."


90


THE DECLINE OF THE WEST


tain type — which in structure and ordering are analogous to the Dedekind number-bodies. Here are worlds, we feel, of perfectly new numbers, which are nevertheless not utterly sense-transcendent for the inner eye of the adept; and the problem now is to discover in those vast abstract form-systems certain elements which, relatively to a particular group of operations (viz., of trans- formations of the system), remain unaffected thereby, that is, possess invariance. In mathematical language, the problem, as stated generally by Klein, is — given an ^-dimensional manifold ("space") and a group of transformations, it is required to examine the forms belonging to the manifold in respect of such properties as are not altered by transformation of the group.

And with this culmination our Western mathematic, having exhausted every inward possibility and fulfilled its destiny as the copy and purest expression of the idea of the Faustian soul, closes its development in the same way as the mathematic of the Classical Culture concluded in the third century. Both those sciences (the only ones of which the organic structure can even to-day be examined historically) arose out of a wholly new idea of number, in the one case Pythagoras's, in the other Descartes'. Both, expanding in all beauty, reached their maturity one hundred years later; and both, after flourishing for three centuries, completed the structure of their ideas at the same moment as the Cultures to which they respectively belonged passed over into the phase of megalopolitan Civilization. The deep significance of this interdependence will be made clear in due course. It is enough for the moment that for us the time of the great mathematicians is past. Our tasks to-day are those of preserving, rounding off, refining, selection — in place of big dynamic creation, the same clever detail-work which characterized the Alexandrian mathematic of late Hellenism.

A historical paradigm will make this clearer.


Classical

I. Cerueftion of a new number

About 540 B.C.

Number as magnitude

(Pythagoreans)

(About 470, sculpture prevails over fresco painting)

z. Zenith of systematic development 450-350 Plato, Archytas, Eudoxus

(Phidias, Praxiteles)

3 . Inward completion and conclusion of the figure-world 3ocr-x5o Euclid, Apollonius, Archimedes (Lysippus, Leochares)


Western

About 1630 A.D.

Number as relation (Descartes, Pascal, Fermat). (Newton, Leibniz, 1670)

(About 1670, music prevails over oil painting)

1750-1800 Euler, Lagrange, Laplace

(Gluck, Haydn, Mozart)

After 1800

Gauss, Cauchy, Riemano

(Beethoven)


CHAPTER III THE PROBLEM OF WORLD-HISTORY

I

PHYSIOGNOMIC AND SYSTEMATIC


CHAPTER III I

THE PROBLEM OF WORLD-HISTORY

I

PHYSIOGNOMIC AND SYSTEMATIC


Now, at last, it is possible to take the decisive step of sketching an image of history that is independent of the accident of standpoint, of the period in which this or that observer lives — independent too of the personality of the observer himself, who as an interested member of his own Culture is tempted, by its religious, intellectual, political and social tendencies, to order the material of history according to a perspective that is limited as to both space and time, and to fashion arbitrary forms into which the superficies of history can be forced but which are entirely alien to its inner content.

What has been missing, till now, is detachment from the objects considered (die Distanz vom Gegenstande). In respect of Nature, this detachment has long ago been attained, though of course it was relatively easy of attainment, since the physicist can obviously systematize the mechanical-causal picture of his world as impersonally as though he himself did not exist in it.

It is quite possible, however, to do the same as regards the form-world of History. We have merely been unaware of the possibility. The modern his- torian, in the very act of priding himself on his "objectivity," naively and unconsciously reveals his prepossessions. For this reason it is quite legitimate to say — and it will infallibly be said some day — that so far a genuinely Faustian treatment of history has been entirely lacking. By such a treatment is meant one that has enough detachment to admit that any ' ' present ' ' is only such with reference to a particular generation of men; that the number of genera- tions is infinite, and that the proper present must therefore be regarded just as something infinitely distant and alien is regarded, and treated as an interval of time neither more nor less significant in the whole picture of History than others. Such a treatment will employ no distorting modulus of personal ideals, set no personal origin of co-ordinates, be influenced by none of the personal hopes and fears and other inward impulses which count for so much in practical life; and such a detachment will — to use the words of Nietzsche (who, be it said, was far from possessing enough of it himself) — enable one to view the whole fact of Man from an immense distance, to regard the individual

93


94 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Cultures, one's own included, as one regards the range of mountain peaks along a horizon.

Once again, therefore, there was an act like the act of Copernicus to be accomplished, an act of emancipation from the evident present in the name of infinity. This the Western soul achieved in the domain of Nature long ago, when it passed from the Ptolemaic world-system to that which is alone valid for it to-day, and treats the position of the observer on one particular planet as accidental instead of normative.

A similar emancipation of world-history from the accidental standpoint, the perpetually re-defined "modern period," is both possible and necessary. It is true that the 19th Century a.d. seems to us infinitely fuller and more im- portant than, say, the 19th Century b.c; but the moon, too, seems to us bigger than Jupiter or Saturn. The physicist has long ago freed himself from pre- possessions as to relative distance, the historian not so. We permit ourselves to consider the Culture of the Greeks as an "ancient" related to our own "modern." Were they in their turn "modern" in relation to the finished and historically mature Egyptians of the court of the great Thuthmosis who lived a millennium before Homer? For us, the events which took place between 1500 and 1800 on the soil of Western Europe constitute the most important third of "world "-history; for the Chinese historian, on the contrary, who looks back on and judges by 4000 years of Chinese history, those centuries generally are a brief and unimportant episode, infinitely less significant than the centuries of the Han dynasty (2.06 b.c. to 12.0 a.d.), which in his "world "-history arc epoch-making.

To liberate History, then, from that thraldom to the observers' prejudices which in our own case has made of it nothing more than a record of a partial past leading up to an accidental present, with the ideals and interests of that present as criteria of the achievement and possibility, is the object of all that follows.


Nature and History * arc the opposite extreme terms of man's range of pos- sibilities, whereby he is enabled to order the actualities about him as a picture of the world. An actuality is Nature in so far as it assigns things-becoming their place as things-become, and History in so far as it orders things-become with reference to their becoming. An actuality as an evocation of mind is contem- plated, and as an assurance of the senses is critically comprehended, the firsf! being exemplified in the worlds of Plato, Rembrandt, Goethe and Beethoven, the second in the worlds of Parmenides, Descartes, Kant and Newton. Cogni- tion in the strict sense of the word is that act of experience of which the com- pleted issue is called "Nature." The cognized and "Nature" arc one and the

  • Sec p. 55, also Vol. II, pp. 15 ct scq.


PHYSIOGNOMIC AND SYSTEMATIC 93

same. The symbol of mathematical number has shown us that the aggregate of things cognized is the same as the world of things mechanically defined, things correct once and for all, things brought under law. Nature is the sum of the law- imposed necessities. There are only laws of Nature. No physicist who under- stands his duty would wish to transcend these limits. His task is to establish an ordered code which not only includes all the laws that he can find in the picture of Nature that is proper to himself but, further, represents that picture exhaustively and without remainder.

Contemplation or vision (Anschauen), on the other hand — I may recall Goethe's words: "vision is to be carefully distinguished from seeing" — , is that act of experience which is itself history because it is itself a fulfilling. That which has been lived is that which has happened, and is history. (Erlebtes ist Geschehenes, ist Geschichte.)

Every happening is unique and incapable of being repeated. It carries the hall-mark of Direction ("Time"), of irreversibility. That which has happened is thenceforth counted with the become and not with the becoming, with the stiffened and not the living, and belongs beyond recall to the past. Our feeling of world-fear has its sources here. Everything cognized, on the contrary, is timeless, neither past nor future but simply "there," and consequently per- manently valid, as indeed the very constitution of natural law requires that it should be. Law and the domain of law are anti-historical. They exclude inci- dent and casuality. The laws of nature are forms of rigorous and therefore inorganic necessity. It becomes easy to see why mathematics, as the ordering of things-become by number, is always and exclusively associated with laws and causality.

Becoming has no number. We can count, measure, dissect only the lifeless and so much of the living as can be dissociated from livingness. Pure becoming, pure life, is in this sense incapable of being bounded. It lies beyond the domain of cause and effect, law and measure. No deep and pure historical research seeks for conformities with causal laws — or, if it does so, it does not under- stand its own essence.

At the same time, history as positively treated is not pure becoming: it is an image, a world-form radiated from the waking consciousness of the his- torian, in which the becoming dominates the become. The possibility of ex- tiacting results of any sort by scientific methods depends upon the proportion of things-become present in the subject treated, and by hypothesis there is in this case a defect of them; the higher the proportion is, the more mechanical, reason- able, causal, history is made to appear. Even Goethe's ' ' living nature, ' ' utterly unmathematical world-picture as it was, contained enough of the dead and stiffened to allow him to treat at least his foreground scientifically. But when this content of things-become dwindles to very little, then history becomes ^^'oximately pure becoming, and contemplation and vision become an ex-


96 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

perience which can only be rendered in forms of art. That which Dante saw before his spiritual eyes as the destiny of the world, he could not possibly have arrived at by ways of science, any more than Goethe could have attained by these ways to what he saw in the great moments of his "Faust" studies, any more than Plotinus and Giordano Bruno could have distilled their visions from researches. This contrast lies at the root of all dispute regarding the inner form of history. In the presence of the same object or corpus of facts, every observer according to his own disposition has a different impression of the whole, and this impression, intangible and incommunicable^ underlies his judgment and gives it its personal colour. The degree in which things-become are taken in differs from man to man, which is quite enough in itself to show that they can never agree as to task or method. Each accuses the other of a deficiency of "clear thinking," and yet the something that is expressed by this phrase is some- thing not built with hands, not implying superiority or a priority of degree but necessary difference of kind. The same applies to all natural sciences.

Nevertheless, we must not lose sight of the fact that at bottom the wish to write history scientifically involves a contradiction. True science reaches just as far as the notions of truth and falsity have validity: this applies to mathematics and it applies also to the science of historical spade-work, viz., the collection, ordering and sifting of material. But real historical vision (which only begins at this point) belongs to the domain of significances, in which the crucial words are not "correct" and "erroneous," but "deep" and "shallow." The true physicist is not deep, but keen: it is only when he leaves the domain of working hypotheses and brushes against the final things that he can be deep, but at this stage he is already a metaphysician. Nature is to be handled scientifically, History poetically. Old Leopold von Ranke is credited with the remark that, after all, Scott's *'Quentin Durward" was the true history-writing. And so it is: the advantage of a good history book is that it enables the reader to be his own Scott.

On the other hand, within the very realm of numbers and exact knowledge there is that which Goethe called "living Nature," an immediate vision of pure becoming and self-shaping, in fact, history as above defined. Goethe's world was, in the first instance, an organism, an existence, and it is easy there- fore to see why his researches, even when superficially of a physical kind, do not make numbers, or laws, or causality captured in formulas, or dissection of any sort their object, but are morphology in the highest sense of the word; and why his work neither uses nor needs to use the specifically Western and un- Classical means of causal treatment, metrical experiment. His treatment of the Earth's crust is invariably geology, and never mineralogy, which he called the science of something dead.

Let it be said, once more, that there are no exact boundaries set between the two kinds of world-notion. However great the contrast between becoming


PHYSIOGNOMIC AND SYSTEMATIC 97

the become, the fact remains that they are jointly present in every kind of understanding. He who looks at the becoming and fulfilling in them, experi- ences History; he who dissects them as become and fulfilled cognizes Nature. In every man, in every Culture, in every culture-phase, there is found an inherent disposition, an inherent inclination and vocation to prefer one of the two forms as an ideal of understanding the world. Western man is in a high degree historically disposed, ^ Classical man far from being so. We follow up what is given us with an eye to past and future, whereas Classical man knew only the point-present and an ambiance of myth. We have before us a symbol of becoming in every bar of our music from Palestrina to Wagner, and the Greeks a symbol of the pure present in every one of their statues. The rhythm of a body is based upon a simultaneous relation of the parts, that of a fugue in the succession of elements in time.

m

There emerge, then, as the two basic elements of all world-picturing, the principle of Form (Gestalt) and the principle of Law (Gesetz). The more decidedly a particular world-picture shows the traits of "Nature," the more unconditionally law and number prevail in it; and the more purely intuitive the picture of the world as eternally becoming, the more alien to numbers its manifold and intangible elements. "Form is something mobile, something becoming, something passing. The doctrine of formation is the doctrine of transformation. Metamorphosis is the key to the whole alphabet of Nature," so runs a note of Goethe's, marking already the methodic difference between his famous "exact percipient fancy' ' which quietly lets itself be worked upon by the living,^ and the exact killing procedure of modern physics. But whatever the process, a remainder consisting of so much of the alien element as is present is always found. In strict natural sciences this remainder takes the form of the inevitable theories and hypotheses which are imposed on, and leaven, the stiff mass of number and formula. In historical research, it appears as chronology y the number-structure of dates and statistics which, alien though number is to the essence of becoming, is so thoroughly woven around and into the world of historical forms that it is never felt to be intrusive. For it is devoid of mathe- matical import. Chronological number distinguishes uniquely-occurring actu- alities, mathematical number constant possibilities. The one sharpens the images and works up the outlines of epoch and fact for the understanding eye.

^ "Anti-historical," the expression which we apply to a decidedly systematic valuation, is to be carefully distinguished from "ahistorical." The beginning of the IV Book (53) of Schopen- hauer's Welt ah WilU und Vorstellung affords a good illustration of the man who thinks anti-historically, that is, deliberately for theoretical reasons suppresses and rejects the historical in himself — something that is actually there. The ahistoric Greek nature, on the contrary, neither possesses nor understands it.

  • "There arc prime phenomena which in their godlike simplicity we must not disturb or in-

fringe."


98 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

But the other is itself the law which it seeks to establish, the end and aim of research. Chronological number is a scientific means of pioneering borrowed from the science of sciences, mathematics, and used as such without regard to its specific properties. Compare, for instance, the meaning of the two symbols li X 8 = 96, and 18 October, 1813.^ It is the same difference, in the use of figures, that prose and poetry present in the use of words.

One other point remains to be noted. As a becoming always lies at the base of the become, and as the world-picture representative of becoming is that which history gives us, therefore history is the original world-form, and Nature — the fully elaborated world-mechanism — is the lafe world-form that only the men of a mature Culture can completely actualize. In fact, the darkness encompassing the simple soul of primitive mankinds, which we can realize even to-day from their religious customs and myths — that entirely organic world of pure wilfulness, of hostile demons and kindly powers — was through-and- through a living and swaying whole, ununderstandable, indefinable, incal- culable. We may call this Nature if we like, but it is not what we mean by "nature," i.e., the strict image projected by a knowing intellect. Only the souls of children and of great artists can now hear the echoes of this long- forgotten world of nascent humanity, but it echoes still, and not rarely, even in the inelastic "nature* '-medium that the city-spirit of the mature Culture is remorselessly building up round the individual. Hence that acute antagonism between the scientific ("modern") and the artistic ("unpractical") world-idea which every Late period knows; the man of fact and the poet do not and cannot understand one another. Hence comes, too, that tendency of his- torical study, which must inevitably contain an element of the childish, the dreamy, the Goethian, to dress up as a science, to be (using its own naive word) "materialistic," at the imminent risk of becoming a mere physics of public life.

"Nature," in the exact sense, is a way of possessing actuality which is special to the few, restricted to the megalopolitans of the late periods of great Cultures, masculine, perhaps even senatorial; while History is the naive, youth- ful, more or less instinctive way that is proper to all men alike. At least, that is the position of the number-based, unmystical, dissectable and dissected "Nature" of Aristotle and Kant, the Sophists and the Darwinians, modern physics and chemistry, vis-h-vis the lived, felt and unconfined "Nature" of Homer and the Eddas, of Doric and Gothic man. To overlook this is to miss the whole essence of historical treatment. It is history that is the truly natural, and the exact mechanically-correct "Nature" of the scientist that is the artificial conception of world by soul. Hence the paradox that modern man finds "nature "-study easy and historical study hard.

^ The date of Napoleon's defeat, and the liberation of Germany, on the field of Leipzig. — Tr. ' Sec Vol. II, pp. 15 et scq., 317 et seq.


PHYSIOGNOMIC AND SYSTEMATIC 99

Tendencies towards a mechanistic idea of the world proceeding wholly from mathematical delimitation and logical differentiation, from law and causality, appear quite early. They are found in the first centuries of all Cultures, still weak, scattered and lost in the full tide of the religious world-conception. The name to be recalled here is that of Roger Bacon. But soon these tendencies acquire a sterner character: like everything that is wrung out of the soul and has to defend itself against human nature, they are not wanting in arrogance and exclusiveness. Quietly the spatial and comprehensible (comprehension is in its essence number, in its structure quantitative) becomes prepotent through- out the outer world of the individual and, aiding and aided by the simple impressions of sensuous-life, effects a mechanical synthesis of the causal and legal sort, so that at long last the sharp consciousness of the megalopolitan — be he of Thebes, Babylon, Benares, Alexandria or a West European cosmopolis — is subjected to so consistent a pressure of natural-law notions that, when scientific and philosophical prejudice (it is no more than that) dictates the proposition that this condition of the soul is the soul and the mechanical world-picture is the world, the assertion is scarcely challenged. It has been made predominant by logicians like Aristotle and Kant. But Plato and Goethe have rejected it and refuted it.

IV

The task of world-knowing — for the man of the higher Cultures a need, seen as a duty, of expressing his own essence — is certainly in every case the same, though its process may be called science or philosophy, and though its affinity to artistic creation and to faith-intuition may for one be something felt and for another something questionable. It is to present, without accre- tions, that form of the world-picture which to the individual in each case is proper and significant, and for him (so long as he does not compare) is in fact "the" world.

The task is necessarily a double one, in view of the distinction between "Nature" and "History." Each speaks its own form-language which differs utterly from that of the other, and however the two may overlap and confuse one another in an unsifted and ambiguous world-picture such as that of every- day life, they are incapable of any inner unity.

Direction and Extension are the outstanding characters which differentiate the historical and the scientific (naturhaft) kind of impressibility, and it is totally impossible for a man to have both working creatively within him at the same time. The double meaning of the German word "Feme" (distance, farness) is illuminating. In the one order of ideas it implies futurity, in the other a spatial interval of standing apart, and the reader will not fail to remark that the historical materialist almost necessarily conceives time as a mathe- matical dimension, while for the born artist, on the contrary, — as the lyrics of


loo THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

every land show us — the distance-impressions made by deep landscapes, clouds, horizon and setting sun attach themselves without an effort to the sense of a future. The Greek poet denies the future, and consequently he neither sees nor sings of the things of the future; he cleaves to the near, as he belongs to the present, entirely.

The natural-science investigator, the productive rcasoner in the full sense of the word, whether he be an experimenter like Faraday, a theorist like Galileo, a calculator like Newton, finds in his world only directionless quantities which he measures, tests and arranges. It is only the quantitative that is capable of being grasped through figures, of being causally defined, of being captured in a law or formula, and when it has achieved this, pure nature-knowledge has shot its bolt. All its laws are quantitative connexions, or as the physicist puts it, all physical processes run a course in space^ an expression which a Greek physicist would have corrected — without altering the fact — into "all physical proc- esses occur between bodies" conformably to the space-denying feeling of the Classical soul.

The historical kind of impression-process is alien to everything quantitative, and affects a different organ. To World-as-Nature certain modes of apprehen- sion, as to World-as-History certain other modes, are -proper. We know them and use them every day, without (as yet) having become aware of their opposition. There is nature-knowledge and there is man-knowledge; there is scientific experience and there is vital experience. Let the reader track down this contrast into his own inmost being, and he will understand what I mean.

All modes of comprehending the world may, in the last analysis, be described as Morphology. The Morphology of the mechanical and the extended ^ a science which discovers and orders nature-laws and causal relations ^ is called Systematic. The Morphol- ogy of the organic, of history and life and all that bears the sign of direction and destiny , is called Physiognomic.


In the West, the Systematic mode of treating the world reached and passed its culminating-point during the last century, while the great days of Physiog- nomic have still to come. In a hundred years all sciences that are still possible on this soil will be parts of a single vast Physiognomic of all things human. This is what the "Morphology of World-History" means. In every science, and in the aim no less than in the content of it, man tells the story of himself. Scientific experience is spiritual self-knowledge. It is from this standpoint, as a chapter of Physiognomic, that we have just treated of mathematics. We were not concerned with what this or that mathematician intended^ nor with the savant as such or his results as a contribution to an aggregate of knowledge, but with the mathematician as a human being, with his work as a part of the phenomenon of himself, with his knowledge and purposes as a part of his


PHYSIOGNOMIC AND SYSTEMATIC loi

expression. This alone is of importance to us here. He is the mouthpiece of a Culture which tells us about itself through him, and he belongs, as person- ality, as soul, as discoverer, thinker and creator, to the physiognomy of that Culture.

Every mathematic, in that it brings out and makes visible to all the idea of number that is proper to itself and inborn in its conscious being, is, whether the expression-form be a scientific system or (as in the case of Egypt) an archi- tecture, the confession of a Soul. If it is true that the intentional accomplish- ments of a mathematic belong only to the surface of history, it is equally true that its unconscious element, its number-as-such, and the style in which it builds up its self-<:ontained cosmos of forms are an expression of its existence, its blood. Its life-history of ripening and withering, its deep relation to the creative acts, the myths and the cults of the same Culture — such things are the subject-matter of a second or historical morphology, though the possibility of such a morphology is hardly yet admitted.

The visible foregrounds of history, therefore, have the same significance as the outward phenomena of the individual man (his statue, his bearing, his air, his stride, his way of speaking and writing), as distinct from what he says or writes. In the "knowledge of men " these things exist and matter. The body and all its elaborations — defined, "become" and mortal as they are — are an expression of the soul. But henceforth "knowledge of men" implies also knowledge of those superlative human organisms that I call Cultures, and of their mien, their speech, their acts — these terms being meant as we mean them already in the case of the individual.

Descriptive, creative, Physiognomic is the art of portraiture transferred to the spiritual domain. Don Quixote, Werther, Julian Sorel, are portraits of an epoch, Faust the portrait of a whole Culture. For the nature-researcher, the morphologist as systematist, the portrayal of the world is only a business of imitation, and corresponds to the "fidelity to nature" and the "likeness" of the craftsman-painter, who, at bottom, works on purely mathematical lines. But a real portrait in the Rembrandt sense of the word is physiognomic, that is, history Zdi^xxxttd, in a moment. The set of his self-portraits is nothing else but a (truly Goethian) autobiography. So should the biographies of the great Cultures be handled. The "fidelity" part, the work of the professional his- torian on facts and figures, is only a means, not an end. The countenance of history is made up of all those things which hitherto we have only managed to evaluate according to personal standards, i.e., as beneficial or harmful, good or bad, satisfactory or unsatisfactory — political forms and economic forms, battles and arts, science and gods, mathematics and morals. Everything what- soever that has become is a symbol, and the expression of a soul. Only to one having the knowledge of men will it unveil itself. The restraint of a law it abhors. What it demands is that its significance should be sensed. And thus


lOl


THE DECLINE OF THE WEST


research reaches up to a final or superlative truth — Alles Vcrgangliche ist nur ein Gleichnis.^

The nature-researcher can be educated, but the man who knows history is born. He seizes and pierces men and facts with one blow, guided by a feeling which cannot be acquired by learning or affected by persuasion, but which only too rarely manifests itself in full intensity. Direction, fixing, ordering, defining by cause and efl^ect, are things that one can do if one likes. These things are

"work, but the other is creation. Form and law, portrayal and comprehension, symbol and formula, have different organs, and their opposition is that in

|which life stands to death, production to destruction. Reason, system and com- prehension kill as they "cognize." That which is cognized becomes a rigid object, capable of measurement and subdivision. Intuitive vision, on the other hand, vivifies and incorporates the details in a living inwardly-felt unity. Poetry and historical study are kin. Calculation and cognition also are kin. But, as Hebbel says somewhere, systems are not dreamed, and art-works are not calculated or (what is the same thing) thought out. The artist or the real historian sees the becoming of a thing (schaut, wie etwas wird), and he can rc- cnact its becoming from its lineaments, whereas the systematist, whether he be physicist, logician, evolutionist or pragmatical historian, learns the thing that has become. The artist's soul, like the soul of a Culture, is something potential that may actualize itself, something complete and perfect — in the language of an older philosophy, a microcosm. The systematic spirit, narrow and with- drawn (" abs-tract ") from the sensual, is an autumnal and passing phenomenon belonging to the ripest conditions of a Culture. Linked with the «>y, into which its life is more and more herded, it comes and goes with the city. In the Classical world, there is science only from the 6th-century lonians to the Roman period, but there was art in the Classical world for just as long as there was existence.

Once more, a paradigm may help in elucidation.


Existence Consciousness

World-image


Soul



WorU


/ potentiality


— ♦ fulfilment becoming


— * actuality — ♦ the become



direction


extension



organic


mechanical



symbol, portrait.


number, notion



History^^^


^^^liaturt



Rhythm, form.


Tension, law.



Physiognomic.


Systematic.



Facts


Truths


' All we see before us passing Sign and symbol is alone." From the final stanza of Faust II (Anstcr's translation). — Tr*


PHYSIOGNOMIC AND SYSTEMATIC 103

Seeking thus to obtain a clear idea of the unifying principle out of which each of these two worlds is conceived, we find that mathematically-controlled cognition relates always (and the purer it is, the more directly) to a continu- ous present. The picture of nature dealt with by the physicist is that which is deployed before his senses at the given moment. It is one of the tacit, but none the less firm, presuppositions of nature-research that ' ' Nature ' ' (die Natur) is the same for every consciousness and for all times. An experiment is decisive for good and all; time being, not precisely denied, but eliminated from the field of investigation. Real history rests on an equally certain sense of the contrary; what it presupposes as its origin is a nearly indescribable sensitive faculty within, which is continuously labile under continuous impressions, and is in- capable therefore of possessing what may be called a centre of time.^ (We shall consider later what the physicist means by " time.") The picture of history — ^ be it the history of mankind, of the world of organisms, of the earth or of the stellar systems — is a /z?^/«<?r)'-picture. |" Memory,'^ in this connexion, is con- ceived as a higher state (certainly not propeFto^very consciousness and vouch- safed to many in only a low degree), a perfectly definite kind of imagining power, which enables experience to traverse each particular moment sub specie atemitatis as one point in an integral made up of all the past and all the future, and it forms the necessary basis of all looking-backward, all self-knowledge and all self-^ confession. In this sense, Classical man has no memory and therefore no history, either in or around himself. ' ' No man can judge history but one who has him- self experienced history," says Goethe. In the Classical world-consciousness all Past was absorbed in the instant Present. Compare the entirely historical heads of the Niirnberg Cathedral sculptures, of Diirer, of Rembrandt, with those of Hellenistic sculpture, for instance the famous Sophocles statue. The former tell the whole history of a soul, whereas the latter rigidly confines itself to ex- pressing the traits of a momentary being, and tells nothing of how this being is the issue of a course of life — if indeed we can speak of ' ' course of life ' * at all in connexion with a purely Classical man, who is always complete and never becoming.

VI

And now it is possible to discover the ultimate elements of the historical

form-world.

Countless shapes that emerge and vanish, pile up and melt again, a thousand- hued glittering tumult, it seems, of perfectly wilful chance — such is the pic- ture of world-history when first it deploys before our inner eye. But through this seeming anarchy, the keener glance can detect those pure forms which underlie all human becoming, penetrate their cloud-mantle, and bring them unwillingly to unveil.

^ This phrase, derived by analogy from the centre of gravity of mechanics, is offered as a transla- tion of "mithin in einem Zeitpunkte gar nicht zusammengefasst wcrden konnen," — Tr.


I04 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

But of the whole picture of world-becoming, of that cumulus of grand planes that the Faust-cyc ^ sees piled one beyond another — the becoming of the heavens, of the earth's crust, of life, of man — we shall deal here only with that very small morphological unit that we are accustomed to call "world- history," that history which Goethe ended by despising, the history of higher mankind during 6000 years or so, without going into the deep problem of the inward homogeneity of all these aspects. What gives this fleeting form-world meaning and substance, and what has hitherto lain buried deep under a mass of tangible "facts" and "dates" that has hardly yet been bored through, is the phenomenon of the Great Cultures. Only after these prime forms shall have been seen and felt and worked out in respect of their physiognomic meaning will it be possible to say that the essence and inner form of human History as opposed to the essence of Nature are understood — or rather, that we understand them. Only after this inlook and this outlook will a serious philosophy of history become feasible. Only then will it be possible to see each fact in the historical picture — each idea, art, war, personality, epoch — according to its symbolic content, and to regard history not as a mere sum of past things without in- trinsic order or inner necessity, but as an organism of rigorous structure and significant articulation, an organism that does not suddenly dissolve into a formless and ambiguous future when it reaches the accidental present of the observer.

Cultures are organisms, and world-history is their collective biography. Mor- phologically, the immense history of the Chinese or of the Classical Culture is the exact equivalent of the petty history of the individual man, or of the animal, or the tree, or the flower. For the Faustian vision, this is not a postu- late but an experience; if we want to learn to recognize inward forms that constantly and everywhere repeat themselves, the comparative morphology ^ of plants and animals has long ago given us the methods. In the destinies of the several Cultures that follow upon one another, grow up with one another, touch, overshadow, and suppress one another, is compressed the whole content of human history. And if we set free their shapes, till now hidden all too deep under the surface of a trite "history of human progress," and let them march past us in the spirit, it cannot but be that we shall succeed in distinguishing, amidst all that is special or unessential, the primitive culture-form, the Culture that underlies as ideal all the individual Cultures.

I distinguish the idea of a Culture, which is the sum total of its inner pos- sibilities, from its sensible phenomenon or appearance upon the canvas of history as a fulfilled actuality. It is the relation of the soul to the living body, to its expression in the light-world perceptible to our eyes. This history of a Culture

» a. Vol. n, p. 33 ct »cq.

« Not the dissecting morphology of the Darwinian's pragmatic zoology with its hunt for causal connexions, but the seeing and overseeing morphology of Goethe.


PHYSIOGNOMIC AND SYSTEMATIC 105

is the progressive actualizing of its possible, and the fulfilment is equivalent to the end. In this way the Apollinian soul, v^rhich some of us can perhaps under- stand and share in, is related to its unfolding in the realm of actuality, to the "Classical" or "antique" as we call it, of which the tangible and understand- able relics arc investigated by the archaeologist, the philologist, the aesthetic and the historian.

Culture is the frime phenomenon of all past and future world-history. The deep, and scarcely appreciated, idea of Goethe, which he discovered in his "living nature" and always made the basis of his morphological researches, wc shall here apply — in its most precise sense — to all the formations of man's history, whether fully matured, cut off in the prime, half opened or stifled in the seed. It is the method of living into (erfiihlen) the object, as opposed to dis- secting it. "The highest to which man can attain, is wonder; and if the prime phenomenon makes him wonder, let him be content; nothing higher can it give him, and nothing further should he seek for behind it; here is the limit." The prime phenomenon is that in which the idea of becoming is presented net. To the spiritual eye of Goethe the idea of the prime plant was clearly visible in the form of every individual plant that happened to come up, or even that could possibly come up. In his investigation of the "os intermaxillare" his starting-point was the prime phenomenon of the vertebrate type; and in other fields it was geological stratification, or the leaf as the prime form of the plant- organism, or the metamorphosis of the plants as the prime form of all organic becoming. "The same law will apply to everything else that lives," he wrote, in announcing his discovery to Herder. It was a look into the heart of things that Leibniz would have understood, but the century of Darwin is as remote from such a vision as it is possible to be.

At present, however, we look in vain for any treatment of history that is entirely free from the methods of Darwinism -^ that is, of systematic natural science based on causality. A physiognomic that is precise, clear and sure of itself and its limits has never yet arisen, and it can only arise through the dis- coveries of method that we have yet to make. Herein lies the great problem" set for the loth Century to solve — to explore carefully the inner structure of the organic units through and in which world-history fulfils itself, to separ- ate the morphologically necessary from the accidental, and, by seizing the purport of events, to ascertain the languages in which they speak. J

VII

A boundless mass of human Being, flowing in a stream without banks; up-stream, a dark past wherein our time-sense loses all powers of definition and restless or uneasy fancy conjures up geological periods to hide away an eternally- unsolvable riddle; down-stream, a future even so dark and timeless — such is the groundwork of the Faustian picture of human history.


io6 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Over the expanse of the water passes the endless uniform wave-train of the generations. Here and there bright shafts of light broaden out, everywhere dancing flashes confuse and disturb the clear mirror, changing, sparkling, vanishing. These are what we call the clans, tribes, peoples, races which unify a series of generations within this or that limited area of the historical sur- face. As widely as these differ in creative power, so widely do the images that they create vary in duration and plasticity, and when the creative power dies out, the physiognomic, linguistic and spiritual identification-marks vanish also and the phenomenon subsides again into the ruck of the generations. Aryans, Mongols, Germans, Kelts, Parthians, Franks, Carthaginians, Berbers, Bantus are names by which we specify some very heterogeneous images of this order.

But over this surface, too, the great Cultures ^ accomplish their majestic wave-cycles. They appear suddenly, swell in splendid lines, flatten again and vanish, and the face of the waters is once more a sleeping waste.

A Culture is born in the moment when a great soul awakens out of the proto- spirituality (dtm ursecUnhajttn Zustande) of ever-childish humanity, and de- taches itself, a form from the formless, a bounded and mortal thing from the boundless and enduring. It blooms on the soil of an exactly-definable landscape, to which plant-wise it remains bound. It dies when this soul has actualized the full sum of its possibilities in the shape of peoples, languages, dogmas, arts, states, sciences, and reverts into the proto-soul. But its living existence, that sequence of great epochs which define and display the stages of fulfilment, is an inner passionate struggle to maintain the Idea against the powers of Chaos without and the unconscious muttering deep-down within. It is not only the artist who struggles against the resistance of the material and the stifling of the idea within him. Every Culture stands in a deeply-symbolical, almost in a mystical, relation to the Extended, the space, in which and through which it strives to actualize itself. The aim once attained — the idea, the entire content of inner possibilities, fulfilled and made externally actual — the Culture sud- denly hardens, it mortifies, its blood congeals, its force breaks down, and it becomes Civilisation, the thing which we feel and understand in the words Egypticism, Byzantinism, Mandarinism. As such they may, like a worn-out giant of the primeval forest, thrust their decaying branches towards the sky for hundreds or thousands of years, as we see in China, in India, in the Islamic world. It was thus that the Classical Civilization rose gigantic, in the Imperial age, with a false semblance of youth and strength and fullness, and robbed the young Arabian Culture of the East of light and air.^

This — the inward and outward fulfilment, the finality, that awaits every living Culture — is the purport of all the historic "declines," amongst them that decline of the Classical which we know so well and fully, and another

  • Sec Vol. II, pp. 41 ct scq. « Sec Vol. II, pp. vl-j ct seq.


PHYSIOGNOMIC AND SYSTEMATIC 107

decline, entirely comparable to it in course and duration, which will occupy the first centuries of the coming millennium but is heralded already and sensible in and around us to-day — the decline of the West.^ Every Culture passes through the age-phases of the individual man. Each has its childhood, youth, manhood and old age. It is a young and trembling soul, heavy with misgivings, that reveals itself in the morning of Romanesque and Gothic. It fills the Faustian landscape from the Provence of the troubadours to the Hildesheim cathedral of Bishop Bernward.^ The spring wind blows over it. ' ' In the works of the old-German architecture," says Goethe, "one sees the blossoming of an extraordinary state. Anyone immediately confronted with such a blossoming can do no more than wonder; but one who can see into the secret inner life of the plant and its rain of forces, who can observe how the bud expands, little by little, sees the thing with quite other eyes and knows what he is seeing." Childhood speaks to us also — and in the same tones — out of early-Homeric Doric, out of early-Christian (which is really early-Arabian) art and out of the works of the Old Kingdom in Egypt that began with the Fourth Dynasty. There a mythic world-consciousness is fighting like a harassed debtor against all the dark and daemonic in itself and in Nature, while slowly ripening itself for the pure, day-bright expression of the existence that it will at last achieve and know. The more nearly a Culture approaches the noon culmination of its being, the more virile, austere, controlled, intense the form-language it has secured for itself, the more assured its sense of its own power, the clearer its lineaments. In the spring all this had still been dim and confused, tentative, filled with childish yearning and fears — witness the ornament of Romanesque- Gothic church porches of Saxony ^ and southern France, the early-Christian catacombs, the Dipylon^ vases. But there is now the full consciousness of ripened creative power that we see in the time of the early Middle Kingdom of Egypt, in the Athens of the Pisistratidas, in the age of Justinian, in that of the Counter-Reformation, and we find every individual trait of expres- sion deliberate, strict, measured, marvellous in its ease and self-confidence. And we find, too, that everywhere, at moments, the coming fulfilment suggested

1 See Vol. II, pp. 116 et seq. What constitutes the downfall is not, e.g., the catastrophe of the Great Migrations, which like the annihilation of the Maya Culture by the Spaniards (see Vol. II, p. 51 et seq.) was a coincidence without any deep necessity, but the inward undoing that began from the time of Hadrian, as in China from the Eastern Han dynasty (i5-2.xo).

  • St. Bernward was Bishop of Hildesheim from 993 to loxx, and himself architect and metal-

worker. Three other churches besides^the cathedral survive in the city from his time or that of his immediate successors, and Hildesheim of all North German cities is richest in moniimcnts of the Romanesque. — Tr.

' By "Saxony," a German historian means not the present-day state of Saxony (which was a small and comparatively late accretion), but the whole region of the Weser and the lower Elbe, with Westphalia and Holstein. — Tr.

  • Vases from the cemetery adjoining the Dipylon Gate of Athens, the most representative relics

that wc possess of the Doric or primitive age of the Hellenic Culture (about 900 to 600 b.c). — Tr.


io8 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

itself; in such moments were created the head of Amenemhet III (the so-called "Hyksos Sphinx" of Tanis), the domes of Hagia Sophia, the paintings of Titian. Still later, tender to the point of fragility, fragrant with the sweet- ness of late October days, come the Cnidian Aphrodite and the Hall of the Maidens in the Erechtheum, the arabesques on Saracen horseshoe-arches, the Zwinger of Dresden, Watteau, Mozart. At last, in the grey dawn of Civiliza- tion, the fire in the Soul dies down. The dwindling powers rise to one more, half-successful, effort of creation, and produce the Classicism that is common to all dying Cultures. The soul thinks once again, and in Romanticism looks back piteously to its childhood; then finally, weary, reluctant, cold, it loses its desire to be, and, as in Imperial Rome, wishes itself out of the overlong daylight and back in the darkness of protomysticism, in the womb of the mother, in the grave. The spell of a "second religiousness" ^ comes upon it, and Late-Classical man turns to the practice of the cults of Mithras, of Isis, f; of the Sun — those very cults into which a soul just born in the East has been pouring a new wine of dreams and fears and loneliness.

VIII

The term "habit** (Habitus) is used of a plant to signify the special way, proper to itself, in which it manifests itself, i.e., the character, course and duration of its appearance in the light-world where we can see it. By its habit each kind is distinguished, in respect of each part and each phase of its existence, from all examples of other species. We may apply this useful notion of ' ' habit * ' in our physiognomic of the grand organisms and speak of the habit of the Indian, Egyptian or Classical Culture, history or spirituality. Some vague inkling of it has always, for that matter, underlain the notion of style^ and we shall not be forcing but merely clearing and deepening that word if we speak of the religious, intellectual, political, social or economic style ^ of a Culture. This "habit" of existence in space, which covers in the case of the individual man action and thought and conduct and disposition, embraces in the case or the existence of whole Cultures the totality of life-expressions of the higher order. The choice of particular branches of art (e.g., the round and fresco by the Hellenes, counterpoint and oil-painting by the West) and the out-and-out rejection of others (e.g., of plastic by the Arabs); inclination to the esoteric (India) or the popular (Greece and Rome); preference for oratory (Classical) or for writing (China, the West) as the form of spiritual communication, are all style-manifestations, and so also are the various types of costume, of administra- tion, of transport, of social courtesies. All great personalities of the Classical world form a self-contained group, whose spiritual habit is definitely different

  • Sec Vol. II, pp. 381 ct scq.

' In English the word "cast" will evidently satisfy the sense better on occasion. The word "Stil" will therefore not necessarily be always rendered "style." — Tr.


\ PHYSIOGNOMIC AND SYSTEMATIC 109

from that of all great men of the Arabian or the Western groups. Compare even Goethe and Raphael with Classical men, and Heraclitus, Sophocles, Plato, Alnhiades, Thcmistocles, Horace and Tiberius rank themselves together in- stantly as members of one family. Every Classical cosmopolis — from Hiero's Syracuse to Imperial Rome the embodiment and sense-picture of one and the same life-feeling — differs radically in lay-out and street-plan, in the language of its public and private architecture, in the type of its squares, alleys, courts, facades, in its colour, noises, street-life and night-life, from the group of Indian or that of Arabian or that of Western v^orld-cities. Baghdad and Cairo could be felt in Granada long after the conquest; even Philip II's Madrid had all the physiognomic hall-marks of modern London and Paris. There is a high sym- bolism in every dissimilarity of this sort. Contrast the Western tendency to straight-lined perspectives and street-alignments (such as the grand tract of the Champs-Elysees from the Louvre, or the Piazza before St. Peter's) with the almost deliberate complexity and narrowness of the Via Sacra, the Forum Romanum and the Acropolis, whose parts are arranged without symmetry and with no perspective. Even the town-planning — whether darkly as in the Gothic or consciously as in the ages of Alexander and Napoleon — reflects the same principle as the mathematic — in the one case the Leibnizian mathematic of infinite space, in the other the Euclidean mathematic of separate bodies.^ But to the "habit" of a group belong, further, its definite life-duration and its definite tempo of development. Both of these are properties which we must not fail to take into account in a historical theory of structure. The rhythm (Takt) of Classical existence was different from that of Egyptian or Arabian; and we can fairly speak of the andante of Greece and Rome and the allegro con brio of the Faustian spirit.

The notion of life-duration as applied to a man, a butterfly, an oak, a blade of grass, comprises a specific time-value, which is quite independent of all the accidents of the individual case. Ten years are a slice of life w^hich is approxi- mately equivalent for all men, and the metamorphosis of insects is associated with a number of days exactly known and predictable in individual cases. For the Romans the notions of pueritia, adolescentia, inventus^ virilitasy senectus possessed an almost mathematically precise meaning. Without doubt the bi- ology of the future will — in opposition to Darwinism and to the exclusion in principle of causal fitness-motives for the origins of species — take these pre- ordained life durations as the starting-point for a new enunciation of its prob- lem. ^ The duration of a generation — whatever may be its nature — is a fact of almost mystical significance.

Now, such relations are valid also, and to an extent never hitherto imagined, for all the higher Cultures. Every Culture, every adolescence and maturing and decay of a Culture, every one of its intrinsically necessary stages and periods, has a definite ^ Sec Vol. II, pp. 103 et seq. ' See Vol. II, pp. 36 ct scq.


no THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

duratioiiy always the same^ always recurring with the emphasis of a symbol. In the present work we cannot attempt to open up this world of most mysterious connexions, but the facts that will emerge again and again as we go on will tell us of themselves how much lies hidden here. What is the meaning of that striking fifty-year period, the rhythm of the political, intellectual and artistic "becoming" of all Cultures? ^ Of the 300-year period of the Baroque, of the Ionic, of the great mathematics, of Attic sculpture, of mosaic painting, of counterpoint, of Galileian mechanics? What does the ideal life of one mil- lennium for each Culture mean in comparison with the individual man's "three-score years and ten"? As the plant's being is brought to expression in form, dress and carriage by leaves, blossoms, twigs and fruit, so also is the being of a Culture manifested by its religious, intellectual, political and economic formations. Just as, say, Goethe's individuality discourses of itself in such widely-different forms as the Faust^ the Farbenlehre, the Reineke Fuchs, Tassoy Werther, the journey to Italy and the Friederike love, the Westostliche Diwan and the Romische Elegien; so the individuality of the Classical world displays itself in the Persian wars, the Attic drama, the City-State, the Dio- nysia and not less in the Tyrannis, the Ionic column, the geometry of Euclid, the Roman legion, and the gladiatorial contests and "panem et circenses" of the Imperial age.

In this sense, too, every individual being that has any sort of importance recapitulates,^ of intrinsic necessity, all the epochs of the Culture to which it belongs. In each one of us, at that decisive moment when he begins to know that he is an ego, the inner life wakens just where and just how that of the Culture wakened long ago. Each of us men of the West, in his child's day- dreams and child's play, lives again its Gothic — the cathedrals, the castles, the hero-sagas, the crusader's "Dieu le veult," the soul's oath of young Parzi- val. Every young Greek had his Homeric age and his Marathon. In Goethe's Werther, the image of a tropic youth that every Faustian (but no Classical) man knows, the springtime of Petrarch and the Minnesanger reappears. When Goethe blocked out the Urfausty^ he was Parzival; when he finished Faust Z, he was Hamlet, and only with Faust II did he become the world-man of the 19th Century who could understand Byron. Even the senility of the Classical — the faddy and unfruitful centuries of very late Hellenism, the second-childhood

  • I will only mention here the distances apart of the three Punic Wars, and the series — like-

wise comprehensible only as rhythmic — Spanish Succession War, Silesian wars, Napoleonic Wars, Bismarck's wars, and the World War (cf. Vol. II, p. 488). Connected with this is the spiritual rela- tion of grandfather and grandson, a relation which produces in the mind of primitive peoples the conviction that the soul of the grandfather returns in the grandson, and has originated the wide- spread custom of giving the grandson the grandfather's name, which by its mystic spell binds his soul afresh to the corporeal world.

» The word is used in the sense in which biology employs it, viz., to describe the process by which the embryo traverses all the phases which its species has undergone. — Tr.

• The first draft of Faust /, discovered only comparatively recently. — Tr.


PHYSIOGNOMIC AND SYSTEMATIC m

of a weary and blase intelligence — can be studied in more than one of its grand old men. Thus, much of Euripides' Baccha anticipates the life-outlook, and much of Plato's Timaus the religious syncretism of the Imperial age; and Goethe's Fausf II and Wagner's Parsifal disclose to us in advance the shape that our spirituality will assume in our next (/« poinf of creative power our last) centuries.

Biology employs the term homology of organs to signify morphological equivalence in contradistinction to the term analogy v^hich. relates to functional , equivalence. This important, and in the sequel most fruitful, notion was con- \/ ceived by Goethe (who was led thereby to the discovery of the "os inter- maxillare" in man) and put into strict scientific shape by Owen; ^ this notion also we shall incorporate in our historical method.

It is known that for every part of the bone-structure of the human head an exactly corresponding part is found in all vertebrated animals right down to the fish, and that the pectoral fins of fish and the feet, wings and hands of terrestrial vertebrates are homologous organs, even though they have lost every trace of similarity. The lungs of terrestrial, and the swim-bladders of aquatic animals are homologous, while lungs and gills on the other hand are analogous — that is, similar in point of use.^ And the trained and deepened morphological insight that is required to establish such distinctions is an utterly different thing from the present method of historical research, with its shallow comparisons of Christ and Buddha, Archimedes and Galileo, Caesar and Wallenstein, parcelled Germany and parcelled Greece. More and more clearly as we go on, we shall realize what immense views will offer themselves to the historical eye as soon as the rigorous morphological method has been understood and cultivated. To name but a few examples, homologous forms are: Classical sculpture and West European orchestration, the Fourth Dynasty pyra- mids and the Gothic cathedrals, Indian Buddhism and Roman Stoicism (Bud- dhism and Christianity are not even analogousy, the periods of "the Contending States" in China, the Hyksos in Egypt and the Punic Wars; the age of Pericles and the age of the Ommayads; the epochs of the Rigveda, of Plotinus and of Dante. The Dionysiac movement is homologous with the Renaissance, analog- ous to the Reformation. For us, "Wagner is the resume of modernity," as Nietzsche rightly saw; and the equivalent that logically must exist in the Classi- cal modernity we find in Pergamene art. (Some preliminary notion of the fruit-

1 See Ency. Brit., Xlth Ed., articles Owen, Sir Richard; Morphology and Zoology (p. 102.9). — Tr.

2 It is not superfluous to add that there is nothing of the causal kind in these fure phenomena of " Living Nature." Materialism, in order to get a system for the pedestrian reasoner, has had to adul- terate the picture of them with fitness-causes. But Goethe — who anticipated just about as much of Darwinism as there will be left of h in fifty years from Darwin — absolutely excluded the causality- principle. And the very fact that the Darwinians quite failed to notice its absence is a clear indica- tion that Goethe's "Living Nature" belongs to actual life, "cause"-less and "aim"-less; for the idea of the prime-phenomenon does not involve causal assumptions of any sort unless it has been misunderstood in advance in a mechanistic sense.


Ill THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

faincss of this way of regarding history, may be gathered from studying the tables included in this volume.)

The application of the "homology" principle to historical phenomena brings with it an entirely new connotation for the word "contemporary." I j' designate as contemporary two historical facts that occur in exactly the same — relative — positions in their respective Cultures, and therefore possess exactly equivalent importance. It has already been shown how the development of the Classical and that of the Western mathematic proceeded in complete con- gruence, and we might have ventured to describe Pythagoras as the contem- porary of Descartes, Archytas of Laplace, Archimedes of Gauss. The Ionic and the Baroque, again, ran their course contemporaneously. Polygnotus pairs in time with Rembrandt, Polycletus with Bach. The Reformation, Puritanism and, above all, the turn to Civilization appear simultaneously in all Cultures; in the Classical this last epoch bears the names of Philip and Alexander, in our West those of the Revolution and Napoleon. Contemporary, too, are the \ building of Alexandria, of Baghdad, and of Washington; Classical coinage and our double-entry book-keeping; the first Tyrannis and the Fronde; Augustus and Shih-huang-ti; ^ Hannibal and the World War.

I hope to show that without exception all great creations and forms in religion, art, politics, social life, economy and science appear, fulfil themselves and die down contemporaneously in all the Cultures; that the inner structure of one corresponds strictly with that of all the others; that there is not a single phe- nomenon of deep physiognomic importance in the record of one for which we could not find a counterpart in the record of every other; and that this counter- part is to be found under a characteristic form and in a perfectly definite chrono- logical position. At the same time, if we are to grasp such homologies of facts, we shall need to have a far deeper insight and a far more critical attitude towards the visible foreground of things than historians have hitherto been wont to display; who amongst them, for instance, would have allowed him- self to dream that the counterpart of Protestantism was to be found in the Dionysiac movement, and that English Puritanism was for the West what Islam was for the Arabian world?

Seen from this angle, history offers possibilities far beyond the ambitions of all previous research, which has contented itself in the main with arranging the facts of the past so far as these were known (and that according to a one- line scheme) — the possibilities, namely, of

Overpassing the present as a research-limit, and predetermining the spiritual form, duration, rhythm, meaning and product of the still un- accomplished stages of our western history; and

  • Reigned 246-xio b.c. He styled himself "first universal emperor" and intended a position

for himself and his successors akin to that of "Divus" in Rome. For a brief account of his energetic and comprehensive work see Ency. Brit., XI Ed., article China^ p. 194. — Tr.


PHYSIOGNOMIC AND SYSTEMATIC 113

Reconstructing long-vanished and unknown epochs, even whole Cul- tures of the past, by means of morphological connexions, in much the same way as modern palaeontology deduces far-reaching and trustworthy conclusions as to skeletal structure and species from a single unearthed skull-fragment. It is possible, given the physiognomic rhythm, to recover from scattered details of ornament, building, script, or from odd political, economic and reli- gious data, the organic characters of whole centuries of history, and from known elements on the scale of art-expression, to find corresponding elements on the scale of political forms, or from that of mathematical forms to read that of economic. This is a truly Goethian method — rooted in fact in Goethe's conception of the frime phenomenon — which is already to a limited extent current in comparative zoology, but can be extended, to a degree hitherto undreamed of, over the whole field of history.


CHAPTER IV THE PROBLEM OF WORLD-HISTORY

II

THE IDEA OF DESTINY AND THE PRINCIPLE OF CAUSALITY


CHAPTER IV

THE PROBLEM OF WORLD-HISTORY

II THE IDEA OF DESTINY AND THE PRINCIPLE OF CAUSALTTY


Following out this train of thought to the end, we come into the presence of an opposition in which we perceive the key — the only key — wherewith to approach, and (so far as the word has any meaning at all) to solve, one of the oldest and gravest of man's riddles. This is the opposition of the Destiny Idea and the Causality Principle — an opposition which, it is safe to say, has never hitherto been recognized for what it is, the necessary foundation of world- building.

Anyone who understands at all what is meant by saying that the soul is the idea of an existence, will also divine a near relationship between it and the sure sense of a destiny and must regard Life itself (our name for the form in which the actualizing of the possible is accomplished) as directed, irrevocable in every line, fate-laden. Primitive man feels this dimly and anxiously, while for the man of a higher Culture it is definite enough to become his vision of the world — though this vision is communicable only through religion and art, never through notions and proofs.

Every higher language possesses a number of words such as luck, doom, conjuncture, vocation, about which there is, as it were, a veil. No hypothesis, no science, can ever get into touch with that which we feel when we let our- selves sink into the meaning and sound of these words. They are symbols, not notions. In them is the centre of gravity of that world-picture that I have called the World-as-history as opposed to the World-as-nature. The Destiny- idea demands life-experience and not scientific experience, the power of seeing and not that of calculating, depth and not intellect. There is an organic logic ^ an instinctive, dream-sure logic of all existence as opposed to the logic of the inorganic, the logic of understanding and of things understood — a logic of direction as against a logic of extension — and no systematist, no Aristotle or Kant, has known how to deal with it. They are on their own ground when they tell us about "judgment," "perception," "awareness," and "recollec- tion," but as to what is in the words "hope," "happiness," "despair," "re-

"7


ii8 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

pentancc," "devotion," and "consolation" they are silent. He who expects here, in the domain of the living, to find reasons and consequences, or imagines that an inward certainty as to the meaning of life is the same thing as "Fatal- ism" or "Predestination," simply knows nothing of the matters in question, confusing experience lived with experience acquired or acquirable. Causality is the reasonable, the law-bound, the describable, the badge of our whole waking and reasoning existence. But destiny is the word for an inner certainty that is not describable. We bring out that which is in the causal by means of a physical or an epistemological system, through numbers, by reasoned classi- fication; but the idea of destiny can be imparted only by the artist working through media like portraiture, tragedy and music. The one requires us to distinguish and in distinguishing to dissect and destroy, whereas the other is creative through and through, and thus destiny is related to life and causality to death.

In the Destiny-idea the soul reveals its world-longing, its desire to rise into the light, to accomplish and actualize its vocation. To no man is it en- tirely alien, and not before one has become the unanchored "late" man of the megalopolis is original vision quite overpowered by matter-of-fact feeling and mechanizing thought. Even then, in some intense hour, the lost vision comes back to one with terrible clearness, shattering in a moment all the causality of the world's surface. For the world as a system of causal connexions is not only a "late" but also a highly rarefied conception and only the energetic intellects of high Cultures are capable of possessing it — or perhaps we should say, devising it — with conviction. The notion of causality is coterminous with the notion of law: the only laws that are, are causal laws. But just as there lies in the causal, according to Kant, a necessity of the thinking consciousness and the basic form of its relation to the essence of things, so also, designated by the words destiny, dispensation, vocation, there is a something that is an inevi- table necessity of life. Real history is heavy with fate but free of laws. One can divine the future (there is, indeed, a certain insight that can penetrate its secrets deeply) but one cannot reckon it. The physiognomic flair which enables one to read a whole life in a face or to sum up whole peoples from the picture of an epoch — and to do so without deliberate effort or "system" — is utterly remote from all "cause and effect."

He who comprehends the light-world that is before his eyes not physiog- nomically but systematically, and makes it intellectually his own by the methods of causal experience, must necessarily in the end come to believe that every living thing can be understood by reference to cause and effect — that there is no secret and no inner directedness. He, on the other hand, who as Goethe did — and for that matter as everyone does in nine out of ten of his waking moments — lets the impressions of the world about him work merely upon his senses, absorbs these impressions as a whole, feels the become in its


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 119

becoming. The stiff mask of causality is lifted by mere ceasing to think. Sud- denly, Time is no more a riddle, a notion, a "form" or "dimension" but be- comes an inner certainty, destiny itself; and in its directedness, its irreversibility^ its livingness, is disclosed the very meaning of the historical world-picture. Destiny and Causality are related as Time and Space.

In the two possible world-forms then — History and Nature, the physiog- nomy of all becoming and the system of all things become — destiny or causality ^ , prevails. Between them there is all the difference between a feeling of life and a method of knowledge. Each of them is the starting-point of a complete and self-contained, but not of a unique world. Yet, after all, just as the become is founded upon a becoming, so the knowledge of cause and effect is founded upon the sure feeling of a destiny. Causality is — so to say — destiny become, des- tiny made inorganic and modelled in reason-forms. Destiny itself (passed over in silence by Kant and every other builder of rational world-systems because with their armoury of abstractions they could not touch ///?) stands beyond and outside all comprehended Nature. Nevertheless, being itself the original, it alone gives the stiff dead principle of cause-and-effect the opportunity to figure in the later scenes of a culture-drama, alive and historical, as the incarnation of a tyrannical thinking. The existence of the Classical soul is the condition for the appearance of Democritus's method, the existence of the Faustian soul for that of Newton's. We may well imagine that either of these Cultures might have failed to produce a natural science of its own, but we cannot imagine the systems without their cultural foundations.

Here again we see how becoming and the become, direction and extension, \ include one another and are subordinated each to the other, according as we arc in the historical or in the ' ' natural ' ' focus. If history is that kind of world- order in which all the become is fitted to the becoming, then the products of scientific work must inter alia be so handled; and, in fact, for the historical eye there is only a history of physics. It was Destiny that the discoveries of oxygen, Neptune, gravitation and spectrum analysis happened as and when they did. It was Destiny that the phlogiston theory, the undulatory theory of light, the kinetic theory of gases could arise at all, seeing that they were elucidations of results and, as such, highly personal to their respective authors, and that other theories ("correct" or "erroneous") might equally well have been developed instead. And it is again Destiny and the result of strong personality when one theory vanishes and another becomes the lodestar of the physicist's world. Even the born physicist speaks of the "fate" of a problem or the "history" of a discovery.

Conversely, if "Nature" is that constitution of things in which the becom- ing should logically be incorporated in the thing-become, and living direction in rigid extension, history may best be treated as a chapter of epistemology; and so indeed Kant would have treated it if he had remembered to include it


no THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

at all in his system of knowledge. Significantly enough, he did not; for him as for every born systematist Nature is The World, and when he discusses time without noticing that it has direction and is irreversible, we see that he is dealing with the Nature-world and has no inkling of the possibility of an- other, the history-world. Perhaps, for Kant, this other world was actually impossible.

)' Now, Causality has nothing whatever to do with Time. To the world of to-day, made up of Kantians who know not how Kantian they are, this must seem an outrageous paradox. And yet every formula of Western physics exhibits the "how" and the "how long" as distinct in essence. As soon as the question is pressed home, causality restricts its answer rigidly to the statement that something happens — and not when it happens. The "effect " must of necessity be put with the "cause." The distance between them belongs to a different order, it lies within the act of understanding itself (which is an element of life) and not within the thing or things understood. It is of the essence of the extended that it overcomes directedness, and of Space that it contradicts Time, and yet the latter ^ as the more fundamental^ precedes and underlies the former. Destiny claims the same precedence; we begin with the idea of Destiny, and only later, when our waking-consciousness looks fearfully for a spell that will bind in the sense-world and overcome the death that cannot be evaded, do we conceive causality as an anti-Fate, and make it create another world to protect us from and console us for this. And as the web of cause and effect gradually spreads over the visible surfaces there is formed a convincing picture of timeless duration — essentially. Being, but Being endowed with attributes by the sheer force of pure thought. This tendency underlies the feeling, well known in all mature Cultures, that "Knowledge is Power," the power that is meant being power over Destiny. The abstract savant, the natural-science researcher, the thinker in systems, whose whole intellectual existence bases itself on the causality principle, are "late" manifestations of an unconscious hatred of the powers of incomprehensible Destiny. "Pure Reason" denies all possibilities that are outside itself. Here strict thought and great art are eternally in conflict. The one keeps its feet, and the other lets itself go. A man like Kant must always feel himself as superior to a Beethoven as the adult is to the child, but this will not prevent a Beethoven from regarding the "Critique of Pure Reason" as a pitiable sort of philosophy. Teleology ^ that nonsense of all nonsenses within science, is a misdirected attempt to deal mechanically with the living content of scientific knowledge (for knowledge implies someone to know, and though the substance of thought may be "Nature" the act of thought is history), and so with life itself as an inverted causality. Teleology is a caricature of the Destiny-idea which transforms the vocation of Dante into the aim of the savant. It is the deepest and most characteristic tendency both of Darwinism — the megalopolitan-intcllcctual product of the most abstract of all Civilizations —


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY m

and of the materialist conception of history which springs from the same root as Darwinism and, like it, kills all that is organic and fateful. Thus the mdr- phological element of the Causal is a Principle y and the morphological element of Destiny is an Idea^ an idea that is incapable of being "cognized," described or defined, and can only be felt and inwardly lived. This idea is something of which one is either entirely ignorant or else — like the man of the spring and every truly significant man of the late seasons, believer, lover, artist, poet — entirely certain.

Thus Destiny is seen to be the true existence-mode of the prime phenomenon^ that ^ in which the living idea of becoming unfolds itself immediately to the intuitive vision. And therefore the Destiny-idea dominates the whole world-picture of history, while causality, which is the existence-mode of oh'pcts and stamps out of the world of sensations a set of well-distinguished and well-defined things y properties and relations ^ dominates and penetrates, as the form of the under- 1 standing, the Nature-world that is the understanding's "alter ego." )

But inquiry into the degree of validity of causal connexions within a pre- sentation of nature, or (what is henceforth the same thing for us) into the destinies involved in that presentation, becomes far more difficult still when we come to realize that for primitive man or for the child no comprehensive causally-ordered world exists at all as yet and that we ourselves, though "late" men with a consciousness disciplined by powerful speech-sharpened thought, can do no more, even in moments of the most strained attention (the only ones, really, in which we are exactly in the physical focus), than assert that the causal order which we see in such a moment is continuously present in the actuality around us. Even waking, we take in the actual, "the living garment of the Deity," physiognomically^ and we do so involuntarily and by virtue of a power of experience that is rooted in the deep sources of life.

A systematic delineation, on the contrary, is the expression of an under- standing emancipated from perception, and by means of it we bring the mental picture of all times and all men into conformity with the moment's picture of Nature as ordered by ourselves. But the mode of this ordering, which has a history that we cannot interfere with in the smallest degree, is not the working of a cause, but a destiny.

II

The way to the problem of Time, then, begins in the primitive wistfulness and passes through its clearer issue the Destiny-idea. We have now to try to outline, briefly, the content of that problem, so far as it affects the subject of this book.

The word Time is a sort of charm to summon up that intensely personal something designated earlier as the "proper," which with an inner certainty we oppose to the " alien" something that is borne in upon each of us amongst


iix THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

and within the crowding impressions of the sense-life. "The Proper," "Des- tiny" and "Time" are interchangeable words.

The problem of Time, like that of Destiny, has been completely misunder- stood by all thinkers who have confined themselves to the systematic of the Become. In Kant's celebrated theory there is not one word about its character of directedness. Not only so, but the omission has never even been noticed. But what is time as a length, time without direction? Everything living, we can only repeat, has "life," direction, impulse, will, a movement-quality (Be- wegtheit) that is most intimately allied to yearning and has not the smallest element in common with the "motion" (Bewegung) of the physicists. The living is indivisible and irreversible, once and uniquely occurring, and its course is entirely indeterminable by mechanics. For all such qualities belong to the essence of Destiny, and "Time" — that which we actually feel at the sound of the word, which is clearer in music than in language, and in poetry than in prose — has this organic essence, while Space has not. Hence, Kant and the rest notwithstanding, it is impossible to bring Time with Space under one general Critique. Space is a conception, but time is a word to indicate something incon- ceivable, a sound-symbol, and to use it as a notion, scientifically, is utterly to misconceive its nature. Even the word direction — which unfortunately can- not be replaced by another — is liable to mislead owing to its visual content. The vector-notion in physics is a case in point.

For primitive man the word "time" can have no meaning. He simply lives, without any necessity of specifying an opposition to something else. He has time, but he knows nothing of it. All of us are conscious, as being aware, of space only, and not of time. Space "is," (i.e. exists, in and with our sense- world) — as a self-extension while we are living the ordinary life of dream, impulse, intuition and conduct, and as space in the strict sense in the moments of strained attention. "Time," on the contrary, is a discovery, which is only made by thinking. We create it as an idea or notion and do not begin till much later to suspect that we ourselves are Time, inasmuch as we live.^ And only the higher Cultures, whose world-conceptions have reached the mechanical-Nature stage, are capable of deriving from their consciousness of a well-ordered measurable and comprehensible Spatial, the projected image of time, the phantom time,^ which satisfies their need of comprehending, measuring and causally ordering all. And this impulse — a sign of the sophistication of existence that makes its appearance quite early in every Culture — fashions, outside and beyond the real life-feeling, that which is called time in all higher languages and has become for the town-intellect a completely inorganic magni-

  • The sensuous life and the intellectual life too are Time; it is only sensuous experience and in-

tellectual experience, the "world," that is spatial nature. (As to the nearer affinity of the Feminine to Time, see Vol. II, pp. 403 et seq.)

' The expression "space of time" (Zcitraum) which is common to many languages, is evidence of our inability to represent direction otherwise than by extension.


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 1x3

tude, as deceptive as it is current. But, if the characteristics, or rather the characteristic, of extension — limit and causality — is really wizard's gear where- with our proper soul attempts to conjure and bind alien powers — Goethe speaks somewhere of the "principle of reasonable order that we bear within ourselves and could impress as the seal of our power upon everything that we touch" — if all law is a fetter which our world-dread hurries to fix upon the incrowding sensuous, a deep necessity of self-preservation, so also the invention of a time that is knowable and spatially representable within causality is a later act of this same self-preservation, an attempt to bind by the force of notion the tormenting inward riddle that is doubly tormenting to the intellect that has attained power only to find itself defied. Always a subtle hatred underlies the intellectual process by which anything is forced into the domain and form-, world of measure and law. The living is killed by being introduced into space, for space is dead and makes dead. With birth is given death, with the fulfilment the end. Something dies within the woman when she conceives — hence comes that eternal hatred of the sexes, child of world-fear. The man destroys, in a very deep sense, when he begets — by bodily act in the sensuous world, by "knowing" in the intellectual. Even in Luther ^ the word "know" has the secondary genital sense. And with the "knowledge" of life — which remains alien to the lower animals — the knowledge of death has gained that power which dominates man's whole waking consciousness. By a -picture of time the actual is changed into the transitory. ^

The mere creation of the name Time was an unparalleled deliverance. To name anything by a name is to win power over it. This is the essence of primitive man's art of magic — the evil powers are constrained by naming them, and the enemy is weakened or killed by coupling certain magic procedures with his name.^

And there is something of this primitive expression of world-fear in the way in which all systematic philosophies use mere names as a last resort for getting rid of the Incomprehensible, the Almighty that is all too mighty for the in- tellect. We name something or other the "Absolute," and we feel ourselves at once its superior. Philosophy, the love of Wisdom, is at the very bottom defence against the incomprehensible. What is named, comprehended, measured is ipso facto overpowered, made inert and taboo."* Once more, "knowledge is power." Herein lies one root of the difference between the idealist's and the realist's attitude towards the Unapproachable; it is expressed by the two mean- ings of the German word Scheu — respect and abhorrence.^ The idealist con-

^ I.e., the translated Bible. — Tr. 2 ggg Vol. 11, pp. 19 et seq.

' See p. 80 of this volume, and Vol. II, pp. 166, 318.

< See Vol. II, p. 137.

8 The nearest English equivalent is perhaps the word "fear." "Fearful" would correspond exactly but for the fact that in the second sense the word is objective instead of subjective. The word "shy" itself bears the second meaning in such trivial words as gun-shy, work-shy. — Tr.


124 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

templates, the realist would subject, mechanize, render innocuous. Plato and Goethe accept the secret in humility, Aristotle and Kant would open it up and destroy it. The most deeply significant example of this realism is in its treat- ment of the Time problem. The dread mystery of Time, life itself, must be spellbound and, by the magic of comprehensibility, neutralized.

All that has been said about time in ' ' scientific ' ' philosophy, psychology and physics — the supposed answer to a question that had better never have been asked, namely what is time? — touches, not at any point the secret itself, but only a spatially-formed representative phantom. The livingness and directed- ness and fated course of real Time is replaced by a figure which, be it never so intimately absorbed, is only a line, measurable, divisible, reversible, and not a portrait of that which is incapable of being portrayed; by a "time" that can be mathematically expressed in such forms as V/, t^, — /, from which the assumption of a time of zero magnitude or of negative times is, to say the least, not excluded.^ Obviously this is something quite outside the domain of Life, Destiny, and living historical Time; it is a purely conceptual time-system that is remote even from the sensuous life. One has only to substitute, in any philosophical or physical treatise that one pleases, this word "Destiny" for the word "time" and one will instantly see how understanding loses its way when language has emancipated it from sensation, and how impossible the group "time and space" is. What is not experienced and felt, what is merely thought, necessarily takes a spatial form, and this explains why no systematic philosopher has been able to make anything out of the mystery-clouded, far- echoing sound symbols * * Past ' ' and * ' Future. ' ' In Kant's utterances concerning time they do not even occur, and in fact one cannot see any relation which could connect them with what is said there. But only this spatial form enables time and space to be brought into functional interdependence as magnitudes of the same order, as four-dimensional vector analysis ^ conspicuously shows. As early as 1813 Lagrange frankly described mechanics as a four-dimensional geometry, and even Newton's cautious conception of "tempus absolutum sive duratio" is not exempt from this intellectually inevitable transformation of the living into mere extension. In the older philosophy I have found one, and only one, profound and reverent presentation of Time; it is in Augustine — "If no one questions me, I know: if I would explain to a questioner, I know not." '

When philosophers of the present-day West "hedge" — as they all do —

  • The Relativity theory, a working hypothesis which is on the way to overthrowing Newton's

mechanics — which means at bottom his view of the problem of motion — admits cases in which the words "earlier" and "later" may be inverted. The mathematical foundation of this theory by Minkowski uses imaginary time units for measurement.

« The dimensions are x, j, z. (in respect of space) and / (in respect of time), and all four appear to be regarded as perfectly equivalent in transformations. [The English reader may be referred to A. Einstein, "Theory of Relativity," Ch. XI and appendices I, II. — Tri]

  • Si nemo ex me quacrat, scio; si quacrenti explicari velim, nescio. (Conf. XI, 14.)


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 115

by saying that things are in time as in space and that "outside" them nothing is ' ' conceivable," they are merely putting another kind of space (Raumlichkeit) beside the ordinary one, just as one might, if one chose, call hope and electric-' ity the two forces of the universe. It ought not, surely, to have escaped Kant when he spoke of the "two forms" of perception, that whereas it is easy enough to come to a scientific understanding about space (though not to "ex- plain ' ' it, in the ordinary sense of the word, for that is beyond human powers), treatment of time on the same lines breaks down utterly. The reader of the "Critique of Pure Reason" and the "Prolegomena" will observe that Kant gives a well-considered proof for the connexion of space and geometry but carefully avoids doing the same for time and arithmetic. There he did not go beyond enunciation, and constant reassertion of analogy between the two conceptions lured him over a gap that would have been fatal to his system. Vis-h-vis the Where and the How, the When forms a world of its own as distinct as is metaphysics from physics. Space, object, number, notion, causality are so intimately akin that it is impossible — as countless mistaken systems prov^e — to treat the one independently of the other. Mechanics is a copy of the logic of its day and vice versa. The picture of thought as psychology builds it up and the picture of the space-world as contemporary physics describes it are reflections of one another. Conceptions and things, reasons and causes, conclusions and processes coincide so nicely, as received by the consciousness, that the abstract thinker himself has again and again succumbed to the temptation of setting forth the thought-" process " graphically and schematically — witness Aris- totle's and Kant's tabulated categories. "Where there is no scheme, there is no philosophy" is the objection of principle — unacknowledged though it may be — that all professional philosophers have against the " intuitives," to whom inwardly they feel themselves far superior. That is why Kant crossly describes the Platonic style of thinking "as the art of spending good words in babble" (die Kunst, wortreich zu schwatzen), and why even to-day the lecture-room philosopher has not a word to say about Goethe's philosophy. Every logical operation is capable of being drawn, every system a geometrical method of handling thoughts. And therefore Time either finds no place in the system at all, or is made its victim.

This is the refutation of that widely-spread misunderstanding which con- nects time with arithmetic and space with geometry by superficial analogies, an error to which Kant ought never to have succumbed — though it is hardly surprising that Schopenhauer, with his incapacity for understanding mathemat- ics, did so. Because the living act of numbering is somehow or other related to time, number and time are constantly confused. But numbering is not number, any more than drawing is a drawing. Numbering and drawing are a becoming, numbers and figures are things become. Kant and the rest have in mind now the living act (numbering) and now the result thereof (the relations of the


ii6 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

finished figure); but the one belongs to the domain of Life and Time, the other to that of Extension and Causality. That I calculate is the business of organic, what I calculate the business of inorganic, logic. Mathematics as a whole — in common language, arithmetic and geometry — answers the Howl and the Whatl — that is, the problem of the Natural order of things. In oppo- sition to this problem stands that of the When? of things, the specifically historical problem of destiny, future and past; and all these things are com- prised in the word Chronology, which simple mankind understands fully and unequivocally.

Between arithmetic and geometry there is no opposition. ^ Every kind of number, as has been suflSciently shown in an earlier chapter, belongs entirely to the realm of the extended and the become, whether as a Euclidean magnitude or as an analytical function; and to which heading should we have to assign the cyclometric ^ functions, the Binomial Theorem, the Riemann surfaces, the Theory of Groups? Kant's scheme was refuted by Eulcr and d'Alcmbert before he even set it up, and only the unfamiliarity of his successors with the mathe- matics of their time — what a contrast to Descartes, Pascal and Leibniz, who evolved the mathematics oi their time from the depths of their own philosophy! — made it possible for mathematical notions of a relation between time and arithmetic to be passed on like an heirloom, almost uncriticized.

But between Becoming and any part whatsoever of mathematics there is not the slightest contact. Newton indeed was profoundly convinced (and he was no mean philosopher) that in the principles of his Calculus of Fluxions ' he had grasped the problem of Becoming, and therefore of Time — in a far subtler form, by the way, than Kant's. But even Newton's view could not be upheld, even though it may find advocates to this day. Since Weierstrass proved that continuous functions exist which either cannot be differentiated at all or are capable only of partial differentiation, this most deep-searching of all efforts to close with the Time-problem mathematically has been abandoned.

Ill

Tin:t is a counter-conception (Gegenbegriff) to Space, arising out of Space, just as the notion (as distinct from the fact) of Life arises only in opposition to thought, and the notion (as distinct from the fact) of birth and generation only

  • Save in elementary mathematics. (It may be remarked that most philosophers since Schopen-

hauer have approached these question with the prepossessions of elementary mathematics.)

' The "inverse circular functions" of English text-books. — Tr.

• The Newtonian form of the differential calculus was distinct from the Lcibnizian, which is now in general use. Without going into unnecessary detail, the characteristic of Newton's method was that it was meant not for the calculation of quadratures and tangents (which had occupied his predecessors), nor as an organ of functional theory as such (as the differential calculus became much later), but quite definitely as a method of dealing with rate of change in pure mechanics, with the "flowing" or "fluxion" of a dependent variable under the influence of a variable which for Ncwtoo was the " fluent," and which we call the argument of a function. — Tr.


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 117

in opposition to death. ^ This is implicit in the very essence of all awafeness. Just as any sense-impression is only remarked when it detaches itself from another, so any kind of understanding that is genuine critical activity ^ is only made possible through the setting-up of a new concept as anti-pole to one already present, or through the divorce (if wc may call it so) of a pair of inwardly-polar concepts which as long as they are mere constituents, possess no actuality.^ It has long been presumed — and rightly, beyond a doubt — that all root-words, whether they express things or properties, have come into being by pairs; but even later, even to-day, the connotation that every new word re- ceives is a reflection of some other. And so, guided by language, the understand- ing, incapable of fitting a sure inward subjective certainty of Destiny into its form-world, created ' ' time ' ' out of space as its opposite. But for this we should possess neither the word nor its connotation. And so far is this process of word-formation carried that the particular style of extension possessed by the Classical world led to a specifically Classical notion of time, differing from the time-notions of India, China and the West exactly as Classical space differs from the space of these Cultures.**

For this reason, the notion of an art-form — which again is a "counter- concept" — has only arisen when men became aware that their art-creations had a connotation (Gehalt) at all, that is, when the expression-language of the art, along with its effects, had ceased to be something perfectly natural and taken-for-granted, as it still was in the time of the Pyramid-Builders, in that of the Mycensean strongholds and in that of the early Gothic cathedrals. Men become suddenly aware of the existence of "works," and then for the first time the understanding eye is able to distinguish a causal side and a destiny side in every living art.

In every work that displays the whole man and the whole meaning of the existence, fear and longing lie close together, but they are and they remain different. To the fear, to the Causal, belongs the whole " taboo" side of art — its stock of motives, developed in strict schools and long craft-training, care- fully protected and piously transmitted; all of it that is comprehensible, learn- able, numerical; all the logic of colour, line, structure, order, which constitutes the mother-tongue of every worthy artist and every great epoch. But the other side, opposed to the " taboo" as the directed is to the extended and as the de- velopment-destiny within a form-language to its syllogisms, comes out in genius (namely, in that which is wholly personal to the individual artists^ their

  • Sec Vol. II, pp. 13, 19.

2 Sec Vol. II, p. 16.

' The original reads: *'(So ist jcdc Art von Verstchcn . . . nur dadurch moglich . . .) dass cin Bcgriffspaar von innerem Gegcnsatz gcwisscrmasscn dutch Auscinandcrtrctcn erst Wirklichkcit erhalt." ' — Tf.

At this point the German text repeats the paragraph which in this edition begins at "But inquiry" (p. lii) and ends at the close of section I (p. 12.1). — Tr.


ii8 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

imaginative powers, creative passion, depth and richness, as against all mere mastery of form) and, beyond even genius, in that superabundance of creativc- ness in the race which conditions the rise and fall of whole arts. This is the "totem" side, and owing to it — notwithstanding all the aesthetics ever penned — there is no timeless and solely-true way of art, but only a history of art, marked like everything that lives with the sign of irreversibility.^

And this is why architecture of the grand style — which is the only one of the arts that handles the alien and fear-instilling itself, the immediate Extended, the stone — is naturally the early art in all Cultures, and only step by step yields its primacy to the special arts of the city with their more mundane forms — the statue, the picture, the musical composition. Of all the great artists of the West, it was probably Michelangelo who suffered most acutely under the constant nightmare of world-fear, and it was he also who, alone among the Renaissance masters, never freed himself from the architectural. He even painted as though his surfaces were stone, become, stiff, hateful. His work was a bitter wrestle with the powers of the cosmos which faced him and challenged him in the form of material, whereas in the yearning Leonardo's colour we see, as it were, a glad materialization of the spiritual. But in every large architectural problem an implacable causal logic, not to say mathematic, comes to expression — in the Classical orders of columns a Euclidean relation of beam and load^ in the "analytically " disposed thrust-system of Gothic vault- ing the dynamic relation of force and mass. Cottage-building traditions — which are to be traced in the one and in the other, which are the necessary back- ground even of Egyptian architecture, which in fact develop in every early period and are regularly lost in every later — contain the whole sum of this logic of the extended. But the symbolism of direction and destiny is beyond all the* " technique " of the great arts and hardly approachable by way of aesthetics. It lies — to take some instances — in the contrast that is always felt (but never, cither by Lessing or by Hebbel, elucidated) between Classical and Western tragedy; in the succession of scenes of old Egyptian relief and generally in the serial arrangement of Egyptian statues, sphinxes, temple-halls; in the choice, as distinct from the treatment, of materials (hardest diorite to affirm, and softest wood to deny, the future); in the occurrence, and not in the grammar, of the individual arts, e.g., the victory of arabesque over the Early Christian picture, the retreat of oil-painting before chamber music in the Baroque; in the utter diversity of intention in Egyptian, Chinese and Classical statuary. All these arc not matters of * ' can ' ' but of ' ' must, * ' and therefore it is not mathematics and abstract thought, but the great arts in their kinship with the contemporary religions, that give the key to the problem of Time, a problem that can hardly be solved within the domain of history ^ alone.

  • Sec Vol. II, pp. 137, 159.
  • Here the author presumably means history in the ordinary acceptation of the word. — Tr»


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 119


IV


It follows from the meaning that we have attached to the Culture as a prime phenomenon and to destiny as the organic logic of existence, that each Culture must necessarily possess its own destiny-idea. Indeed, this conclusion is im- plicit from the first in the feeling that every great Culture is nothing but the actualizing and form of a single, singularly-constituted (einzigartig) soul. And what cannot be felt by one sort of men exactly as it is felt by another (since the life of each is the expression of the idea propr to himself) and still less transcribed, what is named by us "conjuncture," "accident," "Providence" or "Fate," by Classical man "Nemesis," " Ananke," "Tyche" or "Fatum," by the Arab "Kismet," by everyone in some way of his own, is just that of which each unique and unreproduceable soul-constitution, quite clear to those who share in it, is a rendering.

The Classical form of the Destiny-idea I shall venture to call Euclidean. Thus it is the sense-actual person of CEdipus, his "empirical ego," nay, his o-co/ia that is hunted and thrown by Destiny. CEdipus complains that Creon has misused his "body" ^ and that the oracle applied to his "body." ^ ^^schy- lus, again, speaks of Agamemnon as the "royal body, leader of fleets." ^ It is this same word udyia that the mathematicians employ more than once for the "bodies " with which they deal. But the destiny of King Lear is of the "ana- lytical" type — to use here also the term suggested by the corresponding number-world — and consists in dark inner relationships. The idea of father- hood emerges; spiritual threads weave themselves into the action, incorporeal and transcendental, and are weirdly illuminated by the counterpoint of the secondary tragedy of Gloster's house. Lear is at the last a mere name, the axis of something unbounded. This conception of destiny is the "infinitesimal" conception. It stretches out into infinite time and infinite space. It touches the bodily Euclidean existence not at all, but affects only the Soul. Consider the mad King between the fool and the outcast in the storm on the heath, and then look at the Laocoon group; the first is the Faustian, the other the Apollin- ian way of suffering. Sophocles, too, wrote a Laocoon drama; and we may be certain that there was nothing of fure soul-agony in it. Antigone goes below ground in the body, because she has buried her brother's body. Think of Ajax and Philoctetes, and then of the Prince of Homburg and Goethe's Tasso — is not the difference between magnitude and relation traceable right into the depths of artistic creation?

This brings us to another connexion of high symbolic significance. The drama of the West is ordinarily designated Character-Drama. That of the

^ (Ed. Rex., 641. jcoKws kLXrjtfMx Tdvfi&v aQfia aw rkx^ti kokq. (CI. Rudolf Hirsch, Die Person C1914), p. 9.)

CEd. Col., 355. fjiavTeia . . . & tov8' hxp^adv (Toj/iaros. ' Choephora, 710. k-Kl vav&pxv (roofiari... t4> fia<n\eicfi.


I30 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Greeks, on the other hand, is best described as Situat ion-Drama y and in the antithesis we can perceive what it is that Western, and what it is that Classical, man respectively feel as the basic life-form that is imperilled by the onsets of tragedy and fate. If in lieu of "direction" we say "irreversibility," if we let ourselves sink into the terrible meaning of those words "too late" wherewith we resign a fleeting bit of the present to the eternal past, we find the deep founda- tion of every tragic crisis. It is Time that is the tragic, and it is by the meaning that it intuitively attaches to Time that one Culture is differentiated from another; and consequently " tragedy" of the grand order has only developed in the Culture which has most passionately affirmed, and in that which has most passionately denied. Time. The sentiment of the ahistoric soul gives us a Classical tragedy of the moment, and that of the ultrahistorical soul puts before us Western tragedy th2.t deals with the development of a whole life. Our tragedy arises from the feeling of an inexorable Logic of becoming, while the Greek feels the illogicaly blind Casual of the moment — the life of Lear matures inwardly to- wards a catastrophe, and that of CEdipus stumbles without warning upon a situation. And now one may perceive how it is that synchronously with Western drama there rose and fell a mighty portrait-art (culminating in Rem- brandt), a kind of historical and biographical art which (because it was so) was sternly discountenanced in Classical Greece at the apogee of Attic drama. Consider the veto on likeness-statuary in votive offerings * and note how — from Demetrius of Alopeke (about 400) ^ — a timid art of "ideal" portraiture began to venture forth when, and only when, grand tragedy had been thrown into the background by the light society-pieces of the "Middle Comedy." * Fundamentally all Greek statues were standard masks, like the actors in the theatre of Dionysus; all bring to expression, in significantly strict form, somatic attitudes and positions. Physiognomically they are dumb, corporeal and of necessity nude — character-heads of definite individuals came only with the Hellenistic age. Once more we are reminded of the contrast between the Greek number-world, with its computations of tangible results, and the other, our own, in which the relations between groups of functions or equations or, gener-

  • Phidias, and through him his patron Pericles, were attacked for alleged introduction of

portraits upon the shield of Athene Parthenos. In Western religious art, on the contrary, portraiture was, as everyone knows, a habitual practice. Every Madonna, for instance, is more or less of a por- trait.

With this may be compared again the growing resistance of Byzantine art, as it matured, to portraiture in sacred surroundings, evidenced for instance in the history of the nimbus or halo — which was removed from the insignia of the Prince to become the badge of the Saint — in the legend of the miraculous effacement of Justinian's pompous inscription on Hagia Sophia, and in the banishment of the human patron from the celestial part of the church to the earthly. — Tr.

« Who was criticized as "no god-maker but a man-maker" and as one who spoilt the btauty of his work by aiming at likeness.

Cresilas, the sculptor from whom the only existing portrait of Pericles is derived, was a little earlier; in him, however, the "ideal" was still the supreme aim. — Tr.

' The writers immediately succeeding Aristophanes. — Tr.


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 131

ally, formula-elements of the same order are investigated morphologically, and , / the character of these relations fixed as such in express laws. /


In the capacity of expcricntially living history and the way in which history, particularly the history of personal becoming, is lived, one man differs very greatly from another.

Every Culture possesses a wholly individual way of looking at and comprc- 1 hcnding the world-as-Nature; or (what comes to the same thing) it has its own ' peculiar "Nature" which no other sort of man can possess in exactly the same ; form. But in a far greater degree still, every Culture — including the individu- / als comprising it (who are separated only by minor distinctions) — possesses ^ a specific and peculiar sort of history — and it is in the picture of this and the style of this that the general and the personal, the inner and the outer, the world-historical and the biographical becoming, are immediately perceived, felt and lived. Thus the autobiographical tendency of Western man — re- / vealed even in Gothic times in the symbol of auricular confession ^ — is utterly alien to Classical man; while his intense historical awareness is in complete contrast to the almost dreamy unconsciousness of the Indian. And when Magian man — primitive Christian or ripe scholar of Islam — uses the words "world-history," what is it that he sees before him?

But it is difficult enough to form an exact idea even of the "Nature" proper to another kind of man, although in this domain things specifically cognizable are causally ordered and unified in a communicable system. And it is quite impossible for us to penetrate completely a historical world-aspect of "becom> ing" formed by a soul that is quite diff^erently constituted from our own. Here there must always be an intractable residue, greater or smaller in proportion to our historical instinct, physiognomic tact and knowledge of men. All the same, the solution of this very problem is the condition-precedent of all really deep understanding of the world. The historical environment of another is a part of his essence, and no such other can be understood without the knowledge of his time-sense, his destiny-idea and the style and degree of acuity of his inner life. In so far therefore as these things are not directly confessed, we have to extract them from the symbolism of the alien Culture. And as it is thus and only thus that we can approach the incomprehensible, the style of an alien Culture, and the great time-symbols belonging thereto acquire an immeasurable importance.

As an example of these hitherto almost uncomprehended signs we may take the clock, a creation of highly developed Cultures that becomes more and more mysterious as one examines it. Classical man managed to do without the clock, and his abstention was more or less deliberate. To the Augustan period, and

^ Sec Vol. II, pp. 360 et scq.


131 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

far beyond it, the time of day was estimated by the length of one's shadow,* although sun-dials and water-clocks, designed in conformity with a strict time-reckoning and imposed by a deep sense of past and future, had been in regular use in both the older Cultures of Egypt and Babylonia. ^ Classical man's existence — Euclidean, relationless, point-formed — was wholly contained in the instant. Nothing must remind him of past or future. For the true Classical, archaeology did not exist, nor did its spiritual inversion^ astrology. The Oracle and the Sibyl, like the Etruscan-Roman "haruspices" and "augurs," did not foretell any distant future but merely gave indications on particular questions of immediate bearing. No time-reckoning entered intimately into everyday life (for the Olympiad sequence was a mere literary expedient) and what really matters is not the goodness or badness of a calendar but the questions : ' ' who uses it?" and "does the life of the nation run by it?" In Classical cities nothing suggested duration, or old times or times to come — there was no pious pres- ervation of ruins, no work conceived for the benefit of future generations; in them wc do not find that durable ^ material was deliberately chosen. The Dorian Greek ignored the Mycenaean stone-technique and built in wood or clay, though Mycenaean and Egyptian work was before him and the country produced first-class building-stone. The Doric style is a timber style — even in Pausanias's day some wooden columns still lingered in the Heraeum of Olympia. The real organ of history is "memory" in the sense which is always postulated in this book, viz., that which preserves as a constant present the image of one's personal past and of a national and a world-historical past * as well, and is conscious of the course both of personal and of super-personal becoming. That organ was not present in the make-up of a Classical soul. There was no "Time" in it. Immediately behind his proper present, the Classical historian sees a background that is already destitute of temporal and therefore of inward order. For Thucydides the Persian Wars, for Tacitus the agitation of the Gracchi, were already in this vague background; ^ and the great families of Rome had traditions that were pure romance — witness

  • Dicls, Antike Technik (192.0), p. 159.

' About 400 B.C. savants began to construct crude sun-dials in Africa and Ionia, and from Plato's time still more primitive clepsydra:- came into use; but in both forms, the Greek clock was a mere imitation of the far superior models of the older East, and it had not the slightest connexion with the Greek life-feeling. See Diels, op. cit., pp. 160 et seq.

» Horace's monumtntum are perennius (Odes III, 30) may seem to conflict with this: but let the reader reconsider the whole of that ode in the light of the present argument, and turn also to Leu- conoe and her " Babylonian " impieties (Odes I, 11) inter alia, and he will probably agree that so far as Horace is concerned, the argument is supported rather than impugned. — Tr.

< Ordered, for us, by the Christian chronology and the ancient-mediacval-modern scheme. It was on those foundations that, from early Gothic times, the images of religion and of art have been built up in which a large part of Western humanity continues to live. To predicate the same of Plato or Phidias is quite impossible, whereas the Renaissance artists could and did project a classical past, which indeed they permitted to dominate their judgments completely.

• See pp. 9. et seq.


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 135

Cassar's slayer, Brutus, with his firm belief in his reputed tyrannicide 'lie cestor. Cassar's reform of the calendar may almost be regarded as a deed of emancipation from the Classical life-feeling. But it must not be forgotten that Cassar also imagined a renunciation of Rome and a transformation of the City-State into an empire which was to be dynastic — marked with the badge of duration — and to have its centre of gravity in Alexandria, which in fact is the birthplace of his calendar. His assassination seems to us a last outburst of the antiduration feeling that was incarnate in the Polis and the Urbs Roma.

Even then Classical mankind was still living every hour and every day for itself; and this is equally true whether we take the individual Greek or Roman, or the city, or the nation, or the whole Culture. The hot-blooded pageantry, palace-orgies, circus-battles of Nero or Caligula ■^- Tacitus is a true Roman in describing only these and ignoring the smooth progress of life in the distant provinces — are final and flamboyant expressions of the Euclidean world-feeling that deified the body and the present.

The Indians also have no sort of time-reckoning (the absence of it in their case expressing their Nirvana) and no clocks, and therefore no history, no life memories, no care. What the conspicuously historical West calls "Indian history" achieved itself without the smallest consciousness of what it was doing. 1 The millennium of the Indian Culture between the Vedas and Buddha seems like the stirrings of a sleeper; here life was actually a dream. From all this our Western Culture is unimaginably remote. And, indeed, man has never — not even in the "contemporary" China of the Chou period with its highly- developed sense of eras and epochs ^ — been so awake and aware, so deeply sensible of time and conscious of direction and fate and movement as he has been in the West. Western history was willed and Indian history happned. In Classical existence years, in Indian centuries scarcely counted, but here the hour, the minute, yea the second, is of importance. Of the tragic tension of a histori- cal crisis like that of August, 1914, when even moments seem overpowering, neither a Greek nor an Indian could have had any idea.^ Such crises, too, a deep-feeling man of the West can experience within himself, as a true Greek could

  • The Indian history of our books is a Western reconstruction from texts and monuments. Sec

the chapter on epigraphy in the "Indian Gazetteer," Vol. II. — Tr.

2 See Vol. II, pp. 481, 52.1 et seq.

3 There is one famous episode in Greek history that may be thought to contradict this — the race against time of the galley sent to Mitylene to countermand the order of massacre (Thucydides, III, 49). But we observe that Thucydides gives twenty times the space to the debates at Athens that he gives to the drama of the galley-rowers pulling night and day to save life. And we are told that it was the Mitylenean ambassadors who spared no expense to make it worth the rowers' while to win, whereupon "there arose such a zeal of rowing that ..." The final comment is, strictly construing Thucydides's own words: "Such was the magnitude of the danger that Mitylene passed by" Qirapa to<t6vtov jxev fi MvtCKtjvt} rfkdt Kivbhvov), a phrase which recalls forcibly what has just been said regarding the "situation-drama." — Tr.


THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

£. vcr do. Over our country-side, day and night from thousands of belfries, ring the bells ^ that join future to past and fuse the point-moments of the Classi- cal present into a grand relation. The epoch which marks the birth of our Culture — the time of the Saxon Emperors — marks also the discovery of the wheel-clock.^ Without exact time-measurement, without a chronology of be- coming to correspond with his imperative need of archaeology (the preservation, excavation and collection of things-become) y Western man is unthinkable. The Baroque age intensified the Gothic symbol of the belfry to the point of gro- tesqueness, and produced the pocket watch that constantly accompanies the individual.'

Another symbol, as deeply significant and as little understood as the symbol of the clock, is that of the funeral customs which all great Cultures have con- secrated by ritual and by art. The grand style in India begins with tomb- temples, in the Classical world with funerary urns, in Egypt with pyramids, in early Christianity with catacombs and sarcophagi. In the dawn, innumerable equally-possible forms still cross one another chaotically and obscurely, de- pendent on clan-custom and external necessities and conveniences. But every Culture promptly elevates one or another of them to the highest degree of symbolism. Classical man, obedient to his deep unconscious life-feeling, picked upon burning, an act of annihilation in which the Euclidean, the here- and-now, type of existence was powerfully expressed. He willed to have no history, no duration, neither past nor future, neither preservation nor dissolu- tion, and therefore he destroyed that which no longer possessed a present, the body of a Pericles, a Cassar, a Sophocles, a Phidias. And the soul passed to join the vague crowd to which the living members of the clan paid (but soon ceased to pay) the homage of ancestor-worship and soul-feast, and which in its formlessness presents an utter contrast to the ancestor-j^riw, the genealogical tree, that is eternalized with all the marks of historical order in the family-vault of the West. In this (with one striking exception, the Vedic dawn in India) no

> Besides the clock, the bell itself is a Western "symbol." The passing-bell tolled for St. Hilda of Whitby in 680, and a century before that time bells had come into general use in Gaul both for monasteries and for parish churches. On the contrary, it was not till 865 that Constanti- nople possessed bells, and these were presented in that year by Venice. The presence of a belfry in a Byzantine church is accounted a proof of "Western influence": the East used and still largely uses mere gongs and rattles for religious purposes. (British Museum "Handbook of Early Christian Antiquities)" — Tr.

  • May we be permitted to guess that the Babylonian sun-dial and the Egyptian water-clock came

into being "simultaneously," that is, on the threshold of the third millennium before Christ? The history of clocks is inwardly inseparable from that of the calendar; it is therefore to be assumed that the Chinese and the Mexican Cultures also, with their deep sense of history, very early devised and used methods of time-measurement.

(The Mexican Culture developed the most intricate of all known systems of indicating year and day. Sec British Museum "Handbook of Mayan Antiquities. — Tr.}

' Let the reader try to imagine what a Greek would feci when suddenly made acquainted with this custom of ours-


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 135

other Culture parallels the Classical.^ And be it noted that the Doric-Homeric spring, and above all the "Iliad," invested this act of burning with all the vivid feeling of a new-bom symbol; for those very warriors whose deeds probably formed the nucleus of the epic were in fact buried almost in the Egyptian manner in the graves of Mycenas, Tiryns, Orchomenos and other places. And when in Imperial times the sarcophagus or "flesh-consumer" ^ began to supersede the vase of ashes, it was again, as in the time when the Homeric urn superseded the shaft-grave of Mycenas, a changed sense of Time that underlay the change of rite.

The Egyptians, who preserved their past in memorials of stone and hieroglyph so purposefully that we, four thousand years after them, can determine the order of their kings* reigns, so thoroughly eternalized their bodies that today the great Pharaohs lie in our museums, recognizable in every lineament, a symbol of grim triumph — while of Dorian kings not even the names have survived. For our own part, we know the exact birthdays and deathdays of almost every great man since Dante, and, moreover, we see nothing strange in the fact. Yet in the time of Aristotle, the very zenith of Classical education, it was no longer known with certainty if Leucippus, the founder of Atomism and a contemporary of Pericles — i.e., hardly a century before — had ever existed at all; much as though for us the existence of Giordano Bruno was a matter of doubt ^ and the Renaissance had become pure saga.

And these museums themselves, in which we assemble everything that is left of the corporeally-sensible past! Are not they a symbol of the highest rank? Are they not intended to conserve in mummy the entire "body" of cultural development?

As we collect countless data in milliards of printed books, do we not also collect all the works of all the dead Cultures in these myriad halls of West-European cities, in the mass of the collection depriving each indi- vidual piece of that instant of actualized purpose that is its own — the

1 The Chinese ancestor-worship honoured genealogical order with strict ceremonies. And whereas here ancestor- worship by degrees came to be the centre of all piety, in the Classical world it was driven entirely into the background by the cults of present gods; in Roman times it hardly existed at all.

(Note the elaborate precautions taken in the Athenian " Anthesteria " to keep the anonymous mass of ghosts at bay. This feast was anything but an All Souls' Day of re-communion with the departed spirits. — TV.)

, 2 With obvious reference to the resurrection of the flesh C^k v€KpQp). But the meaning of the term "resurrection" has undergone, from about looo a.d., a profound — though hardly noticed — change. More and more it has tended to become identified with "immortality." But in the resur- rection from the dead, the implication is that time begins again to repeat in space, whereas in " im- mortality" it is time that overcomes space.

' For English readers, the most conspicuous case of historic doubt is the Shakespeare-Bacon matter. But even here, it is only the work of Shakespeare that is in question, not his existence and personality, for which we have perfectly definite evidence. — Tr.


136 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

one property that the Classical soul would have respected — and if so facto dissolving it into our unending and unresting Time? Consider what it was that the Hellenes named l/Lovadov; ^ how deep a significance lies in the change of sense!

VI

It is the frimitive feeling of Care ^ which dominates the physiognomy of Western, as also that of Egyptian and that of Chinese history, and it creates, further, the symbolism of the erotic which represents the flowing on of endless life in the form of the familial series of individual existences. The point- formed Euclidean existence of Classical man, in this matter as in others, con- ceived only the here-and-now definitive act of begetting or of bearing, and thus it comes about that we find the birth-pangs of the mother made the centre of Demeter-worship and the Dionysiac symbol of the phallus (the sign of a sexuality wholly concentrated on the moment and losing past and future in it) more or less everywhere in the Classical. In the Indian world we find, corre- spondingly, the sign of the Lingam and the sect of worshippers of Parwati.^ In the one case as in the other, man feels himself as nature, as a plant, as a will- less and care-less element of becoming (dem Sinn des Werdens willenlos und sorglos hingegeben). The domestic religion of Rome centred on the genius^ i.e., the creative power of the head of the family. To all this, the deep and thoughtful care of the Western soul has opposed the sign of mother-love^ a, symbol which in the Classical Culture only appeared above the horizon to the extent that we see it in, say, the mourning for Persephone or (though this is only Hellenistic) the seated statue of Demeter of Knidos.* The Mother with the Child — the future — at her breast, the Mary-cult in the new Faus- tian form, began to flourish only in the centuries of the Gothic and found its highest expression in Raphael's Sistine Madonna.^ This conception is

1 Originally a philosophical and scientific Iccturc-tcmplc founded in honour of Aristotle, and later the great University of Alexandria, bore the title 'M.ovaeiov. Both Aristotle and the University amassed collections but they were collections of (<») books, (3) natural history specimens, living or taken from life. In the West, the collection of memorials of the past as such dates from the earliest days of the Renaissance. — Tr.

' The connotation of "care" is almost the same as that of "Sorge," but the German word in- cludes also a certain specific, ad Aoc apprehension, that in English is expressed by "concern" or "fear." — Tr.

» The Lingayats are one of the chief sects of the Saivas (that is, of the branch of Hinduism which devotes itself to Shiva) and Paewati worshippers belong to another branch, having the generic name of Saktas, who worship the "active female principle" in the persons of Shiva's consorts, of whom Parwati is one. Vaishnavism — the Vishnu branch of Indian religion — also contains an erotic clement in that form which conceives Vishnu as Krishna. But in Krishna worship the erotic is rather less precise and more amorous in character.

See "Imperial Gazetteer of India," Vol. I, pp. 411 ct scq., and Ency. Brit., XI Edition, article Hinduism. — Tr.

  • British Museum. — Tr.

» Dresden. — Tr.


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 137

not one belonging to Christianity generally. On the contrary, Magian Chris- tianity had elevated Mary as Theotokos, "she who gave birth to God" * into a symbol felt quite otherwise than by us. The lulling Mother is as alien to Early-Christian-Byzantine art as she is to the Hellenic (though for other reasons) and most certainly Faust's Gretchen, with the deep spell of un- conscious motherhood on her, is nearer to the Gothic Madonna than all the Marys of Byzantine and Ravennate mosaics. Indeed, the presumption of a spiritual relation between them breaks down completely before the fact that the Madonna with the Child answers exactly to the Egyptian Isis with Horus — both are caring, nursing mothers — and that nevertheless this symbol had vanished for a thousand years and more (for the whole duration of the Classical and the Arabian Cultures) before it was reawakened by the Faustian soul.^

From the maternal care the way leads to the paternal, and there we meet with the highest of all the time-symbols that have come into existence within a Culture, the State. The meaning of the child to the mother is the future, the continuation, namely, of her own life, and mother-love is, as it were, a welding of two discontinuous individual existences; likewise, the meaning of the state to the man is comradeship in arms for the protection of hearth and home, wife and child, and for the insurance for the whole people of its future and its efficacy. The state is the inward form of a nation, its "form" in the athletic sense, and history, in the high meaning, is the State conceived as kinesis and not as kinema (nicht als Bewegtes sondern als Bewegung gedacht). The Woman as Mother is, and the Man as Warrior and Politician makes. History.^

And here again the history of higher Cultures shows us three examples of state-formations in which the element of care is conspicuous: the Egyptian administration even of the Old Kingdom (from 3000 b.c); the Chinese state of the Chou dynasty (1169-2.56 b.c), of the organization of which the Chou Li gives such a picture that, later on, no one dared to believe in the authenticity of the book; and the states of the West, behind whose characteristic eye-to- the-future there is an unsurpassably intense Will to the future.^ And on the other hand we have in two examples — the Classical and the Indian world — a picture of utterly care-less submission to the moment and its incidents.

1 See Vol. II, p. 316.

2 In connexion with this very important link in the Author's argument, attention may be drawn to a famous wall-painting of very early date in the Catacomb of St. Priscilla. In this, Mary is defi- nitely and unmistakably the Stillende Mutter. But she is, equally unmistakably, different in soul and style from her "Early-Christian-Byzantine" successor the Theotokos. Now, it is well known that the art of the catacombs, at any rate in its beginnings, is simply the art of contemporary Rome, and that this "Roman" art had its home in Alexandria. See Woermann's Gcschichte der Kunst, III, 14-15, and British Museum "Guide to Early Christian Art," 72.-74, 86. Woermann speaks of this Madonna as the prototype of our grave, tenderly-solicitous Mother-Madonnas. Dr. Spengler would probably prefer to regard her as the last Isis. In any case it is significant that the symbol disappears: in the very same catacomb is a Theotokos of perhaps a century later date. — Tr.

3 Vol. II, pp. 403 et seq.

  • See, further, the last two sections of Vol. II (Der Stoat and Wirtschaftskben). — Tr.


138 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Different in themselves as are Stoicism and Buddhism (the old-age dispositions of these two worlds), they are at one in their negation of the historical feeling of care, their contempt of zeal, of organizing power, and of the duty-sense; and therefore neither in Indian courts nor in Classical market-places was there a thought for the morrow, personal or collective. The carpe diem of Apollinian man applies also to the Apollinian state.

As with the political, so with the other side of historical existence, the economic. The hand-to-mouth life corresponds to the love that begins and ends in the satisfaction of the moment. There was an economic organization on the grand scale in Egypt, where it fills the whole culture-picture, telling us in a thousand paintings the story of its industry and orderliness; in China, whose mythology of gods and legend-emperors turns entirely upon the holy tasks of cultivation; and in Western Europe, where, beginning with the model agriculture of the Orders, it rose to the height of a special science, "national economy," which was in very principle a working hypothesis, purporting to show not what happens but what shall happen. In the Classical world, on the other hand — to say nothing of India — men managed from day to day, in spite of the example of Egypt; the earth was robbed not only of its wealth but of its capacities, and the casual surpluses were instantly squandered on the city mob. Consider critically any great statesman of the Classical — Pericles and Cassar, Alexander and Scipio, and even revolutionaries like Cleon and Tiberius Gracchus. Not one of them, economically, looked far ahead. No city ever made it its business to drain or to afforest a district, or to introduce advanced cultivation methods or new kinds of live stock or new plants. To attach a Western meaning to the "agrarian reform" of the Gracchi is to misunderstand its purport entirely. Their aim was to make their supporters possessors of land. Of educating these into managers of land, or of raising the standard of Italian husbandry in general, there was not the remotest idea — one let the future come, one did not attempt to work upon it. Of this economic Stoicism of the Classical world the exact antithesis is Socialism, meaning thereby not Marx's theory but Frederick William I's Prussian practice which long preceded Marx and will yet displace him — the socialism, inwardly akin to the system of Old Egypt, that comprehends and cares for permanent economic relations, trains the individual in his duty to the whole, and glorifies hard work as an affirma- tion of Time and Future.

VII

The ordinary everyday man in all Cultures only observes so much of the physiognomy of becoming — his own and that of the living world around him — as is in the foreground and immediately tangible. The sum of his experi- ences, inner and outer, fills the course of his day merely as a series of facts. Only the outstanding (bedeutende) man feels behind the commonplace unities


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 139

of the history-stirred surface a deep logic of becoming. This logic, manifesting itself in the idea of Destiny, leads him to regard the less significant collocations of the day and the surface as mere incidents.

At first sight, however, there seems to be only a difference of degree in the connotations of "destiny" and "incident." One feels that it is more or less of an incident when Goethe goes to Sesenheim, but destiny when he goes to Weimar; ^ one regards the former as an episode and the latter as an epoch. But we can see at once that the distinction depends on the inward quality of the man who is impressed. To the mass, the whole life of Goethe may appear as a sequence of anecdotal incidents, while a very few will become conscious, with astonishment, of a symbolic necessity inherent even in its most trivial occur- rences. Perhaps, then, the discovery of the heliocentric system by Aristarchus was an unmeaning incident for the Classical Culture, but its supposed ^ redis- covery by Copernicus a destiny for the Faustian? Was it a destiny that Luther was not a great organizer and Calvin was? And if so, for whom was it a des- tiny — for Protestantism as a living unit, for the Germans, or for Western mankind generally? Were Tiberius Gracchus and Sulla incidents and Caesar a destiny?

Questions like these far transcend the domain of the understanding that operates through concepts (der begriffliche Verstandigung). What is destiny, what incident, the spiritual experiences of the individual soul — and of the Culture-soul — decide. Acquired knowledge, scientific insight, definition, arc all powerless. Nay more, the very attempt to grasp them epistemologically defeats its own object. For without the inward certainty that destiny is some- thing entirely intractable to critical thought, we cannot perceive the world of becoming at all. Cognition, judgment, and the establishment of causal con- nexions within the known (i.e., between things, properties, and positions that have been distinguished) are one and the same, and he who approaches history in the spirit oi judgment will only find "data." But that — be it Providence or Fate — which moves in the depths of present happening or of represented past happening is lived, and only lived, and lived with that same overwhelming and unspeakable certainty that genuine Tragedy awakens in the uncritical spectator. Destiny and incident form an opposition in which the soul is cease- lessly trying to clothe something which consists only of feeling and living and intuition, and can only be made plain in the most subjective religious and artistic creations of those men who are called to divination. To evoke this root-feeling of living existence which endows the picture of history with its meaning and content, I know of no better way — for " name is mere noise and

  • Sesenheim is the home of Friederike, and a student's holiday took him thither: Weimar, of

course, is the centre from which all the activity of his long life was to radiate. — Tr.

2 Vermeintlkh. The allusion is presumably to the fact that Copernicus, adhering to the hypothe- sis of circular orbits, was obliged to retain some elements of Ptolemy's geocentric machinery of epicycles, so that Copcmicus's sun was not placed at the true centre of any planetary orbit. — Tr.


I40 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

smoke" — than to quote again those stanzas of Goethe which I have placed at

the head of this book to mark its fundamental intention.

"In the Endless, self-repeating flows for evermore The Same, Myriad arches, springing, meeting, hold at rest the mighty frame. Streams from all things love of living, grandest star and humblest clod. All the straining, all the striving is eternal peace in God." *

On the surface of history it is the unforeseen that reigns. Every individual event, decision and personality is stamped with its hall-mark. No one foreknew the storm of Islam at the coming of Mohammed, nor foresaw Napoleon in the fall of Robespierre. The coming of great men, their doings, their fortune, arc all incalculables. No one knows whether a development that is setting in powerfully will accomplish its course in a straight line like that of the Roman patrician order or will go down in doom like that of the Hohenstaufen or the Maya Culture. And — science notwithstanding — it is just the same with the destinies of every single species of beast and plant within earth-history and beyond even this, with the destiny of the earth itself and all the solar systems and Milky Ways. The insignificant Augustus made an epoch, and the great Tiberius passed away ineffective. Thus, too, with the fortunes of artists, art- works and art-forms, dogmas and cults, theories and discoveries. That, in the whirl of becoming, one element merely succumbed to destiny when another became (and often enough has continued and will continue to be) a destiny itself — that one vanishes with the wave-train of the surface while the other makes this, is something that is not to be explained by any why-and- wherefore and yet is of inward necessity. And thus the phrase that Augustine in a deep moment used of Time is valid also of destiny — " if no one questions me, I know: if I would explain to a questioner, I know not."

So, also, the supreme ethical expression of Incident and Destiny is found in the Western Christian's idea of Grace — the grace, obtained through the sacri- ficial death of Jesus, of being made free to will.^ The polarity of Disposition (original sin) and Grace — a polarity which must ever be a projection of feeling, of the emotional life, and not a precision of learned reasoning — embraces the existence of every truly significant man of this Culture. It is, even for Protes- tants, even for atheists, hidden though it may be behind a scientific notion of

  • ' evolution" (which in reality is its direct descendant'), the foundation of

every confession and every autobiography; and it is just its absence from the constitution of Classical man that makes confession, by word or thought, impossible to him. It is the final meaning of Rembrandt's self-portraits and of

  • Sprflchc m Reimen. ' See Vol. II, pp. 194 et seq., 359 ct scq.
  • The path from Caivio to Darwin is easily seen in English philosophy.


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 141

music from Bach to Beethoven. We may choose to call that something which r correlates the life-courses of all Western men disposition, Providence or "inner' ', evolution" ^ but it remains inaccessible to thought. "Free will" is an inward \ certitude. But whatever one may will or do, that which actually ensues upon ' and issues from the resolution — abrupt, surprising, unforeseeable — subserves a deeper necessity and, for the eye that sweeps over the picture of the distant past, visibly conforms to a major order. And when the Destiny of that which was willed has been Fulfilment we are fain to call the inscrutable "Grace." What did Innocent III, Luther, Loyola, Calvin, Jansen, Rousseau and Marx will, and what came of the things that they willed in the stream of Western history? Was it Grace or Fate? Here all rationalistic dissection ends in non- sense. The Predestination doctrine of Calvin and Pascal — who, both of them ; more upright than Luther and Thomas Aquinas, dared to draw the causal con- clusion from Augustinian dialectic — is the necessary absurdity to which the I pursuit of these secrets by the reason leads. They lost the destiny-logic of the world-becoming and found themselves in the causal logic of notion and law; they left the realm of direct intuitive vision for that of a mechanical system of , objects. The fearful soul-conflicts of Pascal were the strivings of a man, at once ^ intensely spiritual and a born mathematician, who was determined to subject the last and gravest problems of the soul both to the intuitions of a grand instinctive faith and to the abstract precision of a no less grand mathematical plan. In this wise the Destiny-idea — in the language of religion, God's Provi- dence — is brought within the schematic form of the Causality Principle, i.e., the Kantian form of mind activity (productive imagination); for that is what Predesti- nation signifies, notwithstanding that thereby Grace — the causation-free, living Grace which can only be experienced as an inward certainty — is made to appear as a nature-force that is bound by irrevocable law and to turn the religious world- picture into a rigid and gloomy system of machinery. And yet was it not a Destiny again — for the world as well as for themselves — that the English Puritans, who were filled with this conviction, were ruined not through any passive self-surrender but through their hearty and vigorous certainty that their will was the will of God?

VIII

We can proceed to the further elucidation of the incidental (or casual) without running the risk of considering it as an exception or a breach in the

^ This is one of the eternal points of dispute in Western art-theory. The Classical, ahistorical, Euclidean soul has no "evolution " ; the Western, on the contrary, extends itself in evolving like the convergent function that it is. The one «, the other becomes. And thus all Classical tragedy as- sumes the constancy of the personality, and all Western its variability, which essentially constitutes a "character" in our sense, viz., a picture of being that consists in continuous qualitative movement and an endless wealth of relationships. In Sophocles the grand gesture ennobles the suffering, in Shakespeare the grand idea (Gesinnung) ennobles the doing. As our a:sthetic took its examples from both Cultures, it was bound to go wrong in the very enunciation of its problem.


142. THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

causal continuity of "Nature," for Nature is not the world-picture in which Destiny is operative. Wherever the sight emancipates itself from the sensible- become, spiritualizes itself into Vision, penetrates through the enveloping world and lets prime phenomena instead of mere objects work upon it, we have the grand historical^ trans-natural, super-natural outlook, the outlook of Dante and Wolfram and also the outlook of Goethe in old age that is most clearly manifested in the finale of Faust II. If we linger in contemplation in this world of Destiny and Incident, it will very likely seem to us incidental that the episode of "world-history" should have played itself out in this or that phase of one particular star amongst the millions of solar systems; incidental that it should be men, peculiar animal-like creatures inhabiting the crust of this star, that present the spectacle of "knowledge" and, moreover, present it in just this form or in just that form, according to the very different versions of Aristotle, Kant and others; incidental that as the counter-pole of this "know- ing" there should have arisen just these codes of "natural law," each sup- posedly eternal and universally-valid and each evoking a supposedly general and common picture of "Nature." Physics — quite rightly — banishes incidentals from its field of view, but it is incidental, again, that physics itself should occur in the alluvial period of the earth's crust, uniquely, as a particular kind of intellectual composition.

The world of incident is the world of once-actual facts that longingly or anxiously we live forward to (entgegenleben^ as Future^ that raise or depress us as the living Present y and that we contemplate with joy or with grief as Past. The world of causes and effects is the world of the constantly-possible ^ of the timeless truths which we know by dissection and distinction.

The latter only are scientifically attainable — they are indeed identical with science. He who is blind to this other, to the world as Divina Commedia or drama for a god, can only find a senseless turmoil of incidents,^ and here we use the word in its most trivial sense. So it has been with Kant and most other systematists of thought. But the professional and inartistic sort of historical research too, with its collecting and arranging of mere data, amounts for all its ingenuity to little more than the giving of a cachet to the banal-incidental. Only the insight that can penetrate into the metaphysical is capable of experiencing in data symbols of that which happened, and so of elevating an Incident into a Destiny. And he who is to himself a Destiny (like Napoleon) does not need this insight, since between himself as a fact and the other facts there is a harmony of metaphysical rhythm which gives his decisions their dreamlike certainty.^

It is this insight that constitutes the singularity and the power of Shakc-

  • "The older one becomes, the more one is persuaded that His Sacred Majesty Chance docs

three-quarters of the work of this miserable Universe." (Frederick the Great to Voltaire.) So, necessarily, must the genuine rationalist conceive it.

• Sec Vol. II, pp. xo ct scq.


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 143

speare. Hitherto, neither our research nor our speculation has hit upon this in him — that he is theDramatist of the Incidental. And yet this Incidental is the very- heart of Western tragedy, which is a true copy of the Western history idea and with it gives the clue to that which we understand in the world — so mis- construed by Kant — "Time." It is incidental that the political situation of "Hamlet," the murder of the King and the succession question impinge upon just that character that Hamlet is. Or, take Othello — it is incidental that the man at whom lago, the commonplace rogue that one could pick up in any street, aims his blow is one whose person possesses just this wholly special physiognomy. And Lear! Could anything be more incidental (and therefore more "natural") than the conjunction of this commanding dignity with these fateful passions and the inheritance of them by the daughters? No one has even to-day realized all the significance of the fact that Shakespeare took his stories as he found them and in the very finding of them filled them with the force of in- ward necessity, and never more sublimely so than in the case of the Roman dramas. For the will to understand him has squandered itself in desperate efforts to bring in a moral causality, a "therefore," a connexion of "guilt" and "expiation." But all this is neither correct nor incorrect — these are words that belong to the World-as-Nature and imply that something causal is being judged — but superficial^ shallow, that is, in contrast to the poet's deep subjectivizing of the mere fact-anecdote. Only one who feels this is able to admire the grand naivete of the entrances of Lear and Macbeth. Now, Hebbel is the exact opposite, he destroys the depth of the anecdote by a system of cause and effect. The arbitrary and abstract character of his plots, which everyone feels instinctively, comes from the fact that the causal scheme of his spiritual conflicts is in contradiction with the historically-motived world-feeling and the quite other logic proper to that feeling. These people do not live, they prove \ something by coming on. One feels the presence of a great understanding, not \ that of a deep life. Instead of the Incident we get a Problem.

Further, this Western species of the Incidental is entirely alien to the Classical world-feeling and therefore to its drama. Antigone has no incidental character to affect her fortunes in any way. What happened to CEdipus — unlike the fate of Lear — might just as well have happened to anyone else. This is the Classical "Destiny," the Fatum which is common to all mankind, which affects the ' ' body ' ' and in no wise depends upon incidents of personality.

The kind of history that is commonly written must, even if it does not lose itself in compilation of data, come to a halt before the superficially incidental — that is the . . . destiny of its authors, who, spiritually, remain more or less in the ruck. In their eyes nature and history mingle in a cheap unity, and incident or accident, "sa sacree majeste le Hazard," is for the man of the ruck the easiest thing in the world to understand. For him the secret logic of history

  • which he does not feel ' is replaced by a causal that is only waiting behind the


144 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

scene to come on and prove itself. It is entirely appropriate that the anbcdotal foreground of history should be the arena of all the scientific causality-hunters and all the novelists and skerch-wrriters of the common stamp. How many wars have been begun when they were because some jealous courtier wished to remove some general from the proximity of his wife! How many battles have been won and lost through ridiculous incidents! Only think how Roman history was written in the i8th Century and how Chinese history is written even to-day! Think of the Dey smacking the Consul with his fly-flap ^ and other such incidents that enliven the historical scene with comic-opera motives! Do not the deaths of Gustavus Adolphus and of Alexander seem like expedients of a nonplussed playwright; Hannibal a simple intermezzo, a sur- prise intrusion in Classical history; or Napoleon's "transit" more or less of a melodrama? Anyone who looks for the inner form of history in any causal succession of its visible detail-events must always, if he is honest, find a comedy of burlesque inconsequence, and I can well imagine that the dance-scene of the drunken Triumvirs in "Antony and Cleopatra" (almost overlooked, but one of the most powerful in that immensely deep work) ^ grew up out of the con- tempt of the prince of historical tragedy for the pragmatic aspect of history. For this is the aspect of it that has always dominated "the world," and has encouraged ambitious little men to interfere in it. It was because their eyes were set on this, and its rationalistic structure, that Rousseau and Marx could persuade themselves that they could alter the "course of the world" by a theory. And even the social or economic interpretation of political develop- ments, to which present-day historical work is trying to rise as to a peak-ideal (though its biological cast constantly leads us to suspect foundations of the causal kind), is still exceedingly shallow and trivial.

Napoleon had in his graver moments a strong feeling for the deep logic of world-becoming, and in such moments could divine to what extent he was, and to what extent he had, a. destiny. "I feel myself driven towards an end that I do not know. As soon as I shall have reached it, as soon as I shall become un- necessary, an atom will suffice to shatter me. Till then, not all the forces of mankind can do anything against me," he said at the beginning of the Russian campaign. Here, certainly, is not the thought of a pragmatist. In this moment he divined how little the logic of Destiny needs particular instances, better men or situations. Supposing that he himself, as ' ' empirical person, ' ' had fallen at Marengo — then that which he signified would have been actualized in some other form. A melody, in the hands of a great musician, is capable of a wealth of variations; it can be entirely transformed so far as the simple listener is con- cerned without altering itself — which is quite another matter — funda- mentally. The epoch of German national union accomplished itself through

  • The incident which is said to have precipitated the French war on Algiers (1817). — Tr.
  • Act. n. Scene VU. — Tr,


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 145

the person of Bismarck, that of the Wars of Freedom through broad and almost nameless events; but either theme, to use the language of music, could have been "worked out ' ' in other ways. Bismarck might have been dismissed early, the battle of Leipzig might have been lost, and for the group of wars 1864-1866- 1870 there might have been substituted (as "modulations") diplomatic, dynas- tic, revolutionary or economic facts — though it must not be forgotten that Western history , under the pressure of its own -physiognomic abundance (as distinct from physiognomic style, for even Indian history has that) demands, so to say, con- trapuntally strong accents — wars or big personalities — at the decisive points. Bismarck himself points out in his reminiscences that in the spring ojf 1848 national unity could have been achieved on a broader base than in 1870 but for the policy (more accurately, the personal taste) of the King of Prussia; ^ and yet, again, according to Bismarck, this would have been so tame a working-out that a coda of one sort or another (da capo e pot la coda) would have been im- peratively necessary. Withal, the Theme — the meaning of the epoch — would have been entirely unaltered by the facts assuming this or that shape. Goethe might — possibly — have died young, but not his "idea." Faust and Tasso would not have been written, but they would have "been" in a deeply mys- terious sense, even though they lacked the poet's elucidation.

For if it is incidental that the history of higher mankind fulfils itself in the form of great Cultures, and that one of these Cultures awoke in West Europe about the year 1000; yet from the moment of awakening it is bound by its charter. Within every epoch there is unlimited abundance of surprising and unforeseeable possibilities of self-actualizing in detail-facts, but the epoch it- self is necessary, for the life-unity is in it. That its inner form is precisely what it is, constitutes its specific determination (Bestimmung). Fresh incidentals can affect the shape of its development, can make this grandiose or puny, pros- perous or sorrowful, but alter it they cannot. An irrevocable fact is not merely a special case but a special type; thus in the history of the Universe we have the type of the "solar system" of sun and circling planets; in the history of our planet we have the type "life" with its youth, age, duration and reproduction; in the history of "life" the type "humanity," and in the world-historical stage of that humanity the type of the great individual Culture.^ And these Cultures are essentially related to the plants, in that they are bound for the whole duration of their life to the soil from which they sprang. Typical, lastly, is the manner in which the men of a Culture understand and experience Destiny, how-

^ In the general upheaval of 1848 a German national parliament was assembled at Frankfurt, of a strongly democratic colour, and it chose Frederick William IV of Prussia as hereditary emperor. Frederick William, however, refused to "pick up a crown put of the gutter." For the history of this momentous episode, the English reader may be referred to the Cambridge Modern History or to the article Germany (History) in the Ency. Brit., XI Edition. — Tr.

2 It is the fact that a whole group of these Cultures is available for our study that makes possible the "comparative" method used in the present work. See Vol. II, pp. 42. et seq.


146 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

ever differently the picture may be coloured for this individual and that; what I say here about it is not "true," but inwardly necessary for this Culture and this time-phase of it, and if it convinces you, it is not because there is only one "truth" but because you and I belong to the same epoch.

For this reason, the Euclidean soul of the Classical Culture could only ex- perience its existence, bound as this was to present foregrounds, in the form of incidents of the Classical style. If in respect of the Western soul we can regard incident as a minor order of Destiny, in respect of the Classical soul it is just the reverse. Destiny is incident become immense — that is the very significa- tion of Ananke, Heimarmene, Fatum. As the Classical soul did not genuinely live through history, it possessed no genuine feeling for a logic of Destiny. We must not be misled by words. The most popular goddess of Hellenism was Tyche, whom the Greeks were practically unable to distinguish from Ananke. But Incident and Destiny are felt by us with all the intensity of an opposition, and on the issue of this opposition we feel that everything fundamental in our existence depends. Our history is that of great connexions. Classical history — its full actuality, that is, and not merely the image of it that we get in the historian (e.g., Herodotus) — is that of anecdotes, of a series of plastic details. The style of the Classical life generally, the style of every individual life within it, is anecdotal, using the word with all seriousness. The sense-perceivable side of events condenses on anti-historical^ daemonic, absurd incidents; it is the denial and disavowal of all logic of happening. The stories of the Classical master- tragedies one and all exhaust themselves in incidents that mock at any meaning of the world; they are the exact denotation of what is connoted by the word elfxapukinj ^ in contrast to the Shakesperian logic of incident. Consider CEdipus once more: that which happened to him was wholly extrinsic, was neither brought about nor conditioned by anything subjective to himself, and could just as well have happened to anyone else. This is the very form of the Classical myth. Compare with it the necessity — inherent in and governed by the man's whole existence and the relation of that existence to Time — that resides in the destiny of Othello, of Don Quixote, of Werther. It is, as we have said before, the difference of situation-tragedy and character-tragedy. And this opposition repeats itself in history proper — every epoch of the West has character, while each epoch of the Classical only presents a situation. While the life of Goethe was one of fate-filled logic, that of Cassar was one of mythical incidentalness, and it was left to Shakespeare to introduce logic into it. Napo- leon is a tragic character, Alcibiades fell into tragic situations. Astrology, in the form in which from Gothic to Baroque the Western soul knew it — was dominated by it even in denying it — was the attempt to master one's whole future life-course; the Faustian horoscope, of which the best-known example

^ [>crivcd from fuipofiai, to receive as one's portion, to have allotted to one, or, colloquially, to "come in for" or "step into." — Tr.


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 147

is perhaps that drawn out for Wallenstein by Kepler, presupposes a steady and purposeful direction in the existence that has yet to be accomplished. But the Classical oracle, always consulted for the individual case, is the genuine symbol of the meaningless incident and the moment; it accepts the point-formed and the discontinuous as the elements of the world's course, and oracle-utterances were therefore entirely in place in that which was written and experienced as history at Athens. Was there one single Greek who possessed the notion of a historical evolution towards this or that or any aim? And we — should we have been able to reflect upon history or to make it if we had not possessed it? If we compare the destinies of Athens and of France at corresponding times after Themistocles and Louis XIV, we cannot but feel that the style of the historical feeling and the style of its actualization are always one. In France logic h outrancey in Athens un-logic.

The ultimate meaning of this significant fact can now be understood. His- tory is the actualizing of a soul, and the same style governs the history one makes as governs the history one contemplates. The Classical mathematic excludes the symbol of infinite space, and therefore the Classical history does so too. It is not for nothing that the scene of Classical existence is the smallest of any, the individual Polis, that it lacks horizon and perspective — notwith- standing the episode of Alexander's expedition ^ — just as the Attic stage cuts them off with its flat back-wall, in obvious contrast to the long-range efficacy of Western Cabinet diplomacy and the Western capital city. And just as the Greeks and the Romans neither knew nor (with their fundamental abhorrence of the Chaldean astronomy) would admit as actual any cosmos but that of the foreground; just as at bottom their deities are house-gods, city-gods, field-gods but never star-gods, ^ so also what they depicted wa.s only foregrounds. Never in Corinth or Athens or Sicyon do we find a landscape with mountain horizon and driving clouds and distant towns; every vase-painting has the same constitu-'; ents, figures of Euclidean separateness and artistic self-sufficiency. Every pedi- ment or frieze group is serially and not contrapuntally built up. But then, life-experience itself was one strictly of foregrounds. Destiny was not the "course of life" but something upon which one suddenly stumbles. And this is how Athens produced, with Polygnotus's fresco and Plato's geometry, a fate-tragedy in which fate is precisely the fate that we discredit in Schiller's "Bride of Messina." The complete unmeaning of blind doom that is embod- ied, for instance, in the curse of the House of Atreus, served to reveal to the ahistorical Classical soul the full meaning of its own world.

^ The expedition of the Ten Thousand into Persia is no exception. The Ten Thousand indeed formed an ambulatory Polis, and its adventures are truly Classical. It was confronted with a series of "situations." — Tr.

2 Helios is only a poetical figure; he had neither temples nor cult. Even less was Selene a moon- goddess.


148 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

iz

Wc may now point our moral with a few examples, which, though hazard- ous, ought not at this stage to be open to misunderstanding. Imagine Columbus supported by France instead of by Spain, as was in fact highly probable at one time. Had Francis I been the master of America, without doubt he and not the Spaniard Charles V would have obtained the imperial crown. The early Baroque period from the Sack of Rome to the Peace of Westphalia, which was actually the Spanish century in religion, intellect, art, politics and manners, would have been shaped from Paris and not from Madrid. Instead of the names of Philip, Alva, Cervantes, Calderon, Velasquez we should be talking to-day of great Frenchmen who in fact — if we may thus roundly express a very difficult idea — remained unborn. The style of the Church which was definitively fixed in this epoch by the Spaniard Loyola and the Council of Trent which he spiritually dominated; the style of politics to which the war-technique of Spanish captains, the diplomacy of Spanish cardinals and the courtly spirit of the Escorial gave a stamp that lasted till the Congress of Vienna and in essential points till beyond Bismarck; the architecture of the Baroque; the great age of Painting; ceremonial and the polite society of the great cities — all these would have been represented by other profound heads, noble and clerical, by wars other than Philip IFs wars, by another architect than Vignola, by another Court. The Incidental chose the Spanish gesture for the late period of the West. But the inward logic of that age, which was bound to find its fulfilment j in the great Revolution (or some event of the same connotation), remained intact.

This French revolution might have been represented by some other event of different form and occurring elsewhere, say in England or Germany. But its "idea," — which (as we shall see later) was the transition from Culture to Civilization, the victory of the inorganic megalopolis over the organic country- side which was henceforward to become spiritually "the provinces," — was necessary, and the moment of its occurrence was also necessary. To describe such a moment we shall use the term (long blurred, or misused as a synonym for period) epoch. When we say an event is epoch-making we mean that it marks in the course of a Culture a necessary and fateful turning-point. The merely incidental event, a crystallization-form of the historical surface, may be represented by other appropriate incidents, but the epoch is necessary and predeterminate. And it is evident that the question of whether, in respect of a particular Culture and its course, an event ranks as an epoch or as an episode is connected with its ideas of Destiny and Incidents, and therefore also with its idea of the Tragic as "epochal" (as in the West) or as "episodic" (as in the Classical world).

Wc can, further, distinguish between impersonal or anonymous and personal


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 149

epochs, according to their physiognomic type in the picture of history. Amongst "incidents" of the first rank we include those great persons who' arc endowed with such formative force that the destiny of thousands, of whole peoples, and of ages, are incorporated in their private destinies; but at the same time we can distinguish the adventurer or successful man who is destitute of inward greatness (like Danton or Robespierre) from the Hero of history by the fact that his personal destiny displays only the traits of the common destiny. Certain names may ring, but ' ' the Jacobins ' ' collectively and not individuals amongst them were the type that dominated the time. The first part of this epoch of the Revolution is therefore thoroughly anonymous, just as the second or Napoleonic is in the highest degree personal. In a few years the immense force of these phenomena accomplished what the corresponding epoch of the Classical (c. 386-31^), fluid and unsure of itself, required decades of undermining-work to achieve. It is of the essence of all Culture that at the out- set of each stage the same potentiality is present, and that necessity fulfils itself thereafter either in the form of a great individual person (Alexander, Diocletian, Mohammed, Luther, Napoleon) or in that of an almost anonymous happening of powerful inward constitution (Peloponnesian War, Thirty Years' War, Spanish Succession War) or else in a feeble and indistinct evolution (periods of the Diadochi and of the Hyksos, the Interregnum in Germany). And the question which of these forms is the more likely to occur in any given instance, is one that is influenced in advance by the historical and therefore also the tragic style of the Culture concerned.^

The tragic in Napoleon's life — which still awaits discovery by a poet great enough to comprehend it and shape it — was that he, who rose into effective being by fighting British policy and the British spirit which that policy so eminently represented, completed by that very fighting the continental victory of this spirit, which thereupon became strong enough, in the guise of "liber- ated nations," to overpower him and to send him to St. Helena to die. It was not Napoleon who originated the expansion principle. That had arisen out of the Puritanism of Cromwell's milieu which called into life the British Colonial Empire. 2 Transmitted through the English-schooled intellects of Rousseau and Mirabeau to the Revolutionary armies, of which English philosophical ideas were essentially the driving force, it became their tendency even from that day of Valmy which Goethe alone read aright. It was not Napoleon who formed the idea, but the idea that formed Napoleon, and when he came to the throne he was obliged to pursue it further against the only power, England namely, whose purpose was the same as his own. His Empire was a creation of

^ The original is somewhat obscure. It reads: "Welche Form die Wahrschcinlichkeit fiir sich hat, ist bereits eine Frage des historischen — und also des tragischen — Stils." — Tr.

^ The words of Canning at the beginning of the XlXth century may be recalled. "South America free! and if possible English!" The expansion idea has ncvct been expressed in greater purity than this.


I50 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

French blood but of English style. It was in London, again, that Locke, Shaftesbury, Samuel Clarke and, above all, Bentham built up the theory of "European Civilization" — the Western Hellenism — which Bayle, Voltaire and Rousseau carried to Paris. Thus it was in the name of this England of Parliamentarianism, business morality and journalism that Valmy, Marengo, Jena, Smolensk and Leipzig were fought, and in all these battles it was the English spirit that defeated the French Culture of the West.^ The First Consul had no intention of incorporating West Europe in France; his primary object was — note the Alexander-idea on the threshold of every Civilization! — to replace the British Colonial Empire by a French one. Thereby, French pre- ponderance in the Western culture-region would have been placed on a practi- cally unassailable foundation; it would have been the Empire of Charles V on which the sun never set, but managed from Paris after all, in spite of Columbus and Philip, and organized as an economic-military instead of as an ecclesiastical- chivalric unit. So far-reaching, probably, was the destiny that was in Napo- leon. But the Peace of Paris in 1763 had already decided the question against France, and Napoleon's great plans time and again came to grief in petty inci- dents. At Acre a few guns were landed in the nick of time from the British warships: there was a moment, again, just before the signature of the Peace of Amiens, when the whole Mississippi basin was still amongst his assets and he was in close touch with the Maratha powers that were resisting British prog- ress in India; but again a minor naval incident ^ obliged him to abandon the whole of a carefully-prepared enterprise: and, lastly, when by the occupa- tion of Dalmatia, Corfu and all Italy he had made the Adriatic a French lake, with a view to another expedition to the East, and was negotiating with the Shah of Persia for action against India, he was defeated by the whims of the Tsar Alexander, who at times was undoubtedly willing to support a march on India and whose aid would infallibly have secured its success. It was only after the failure of all extra-European combinations that he chose, as his ultima ratio in the battle against England, the incorporation of Germany and Spain, and so, raising against himself his own English-Revolutionary ideas, the very ideas of which he had been the vehicle,' he took the step that made him "no longer necessary."

  • The Western Culture of maturity was through-and-through a French outgrowth of the Spanish,

beginning with Louis XIV. But even by Louis XVI's time the English park had defeated the French, sensibility had ousted wit, London costume and manners had overcome Versailles, and Hogarth, Chippendale and Wedgwood had prevailed over Watteau, Boulle and Sivrcs.

' The allusion is to the voyage of Linois's small squadron to Pondichiry in 1803, its confronta- tion by another small British squadron there, and the counter-order which led Linois to retire to Mauritius. — Tr.

' Hardcnberg's reorganization of Prussia was thoroughly English in spirit, and as such incurred the severe censure of the old Prussian Von dcr Marwitz. Scharnhorst's army reforms too, as a break- away from the professional army system of the eighteenth-century cabinet-wars, are a sort of "return to nature" in the Rousseau-Revolutionary sense.


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 151

At one time it falls to the Spanish spirit to outline, at another to. the British or the French to remould, tjie world-embracing colonial system. A "United States of Europe," actualized through Napoleon as founder of a romantic and popular military monarchy, is the analogue of the Realm of the Diadochi; actualized as a iist-Century economic organism by a matter-of-fact Cassar, it is the counterpart of the imperium Komanum. These are incidentals, but they are in the picture of history. But Napoleon's victories and defeats (which always hide a victory of England and Civilization over Culture), his Imperial dignity, his fall, the Grande Nation^ the episodic liberation of Italy (in 1796, as in 1859, essentially no more than a change of political costume for a people long since become insignificant), the destruction of the Gothic ruin of the Roman-German Empire, are mere surface phenomena, behind which is marching the great logic of genuine and invisible History, and it was in the sense of this logic that the West, having fulfilled its French-formed Culture in the ancien regime, closed it off with the English Civilization. As symbols of "contemporary" epochal moments, then, the storming of the Bastille, Valmy, Austerlitz, Waterloo and the rise of Prussia correspond to the Classical-history facts of Chasronea, Gaugamela (Arbela), Alexander's Indian expedition and the Roman victory of Sentinum.^ And we begin to understand that in wars and political catastrophies — the chief material of our historical writings — victory is not the essence of the fight nor peace the aim of a revolution.


Anyone who has absorbed these ideas will have no difficulty in understand- ing how the causality principle is bound to have a fatal effect upon the capacity for genuinely experiencing History when, at last, it attains its rigid form in that "late" condition of a Culture to which it is proper and in which it is able to tyrannize over the world-picture. Kant, very wisely, established causality as a necessary form of knowledge, and it cannot be too often emphasized that this was meant to refer exclusively to the understanding of man's environment by the way of reason. But while the word "necessary" was accepted readily enough, it has been overlooked that this limitation of the principle to a single domain of knowledge is just what forbids its application to the contemplation and experiencing of living history. Man-knowing and Nature-knowing are in essence entirely incapable of being compared, but nevertheless the whole Nine- teenth Century was at great pains to abolish the frontier between Nature and History in favour of the former. The more historically men tried to think, the more they forgot that in this domain they ought not to think. In forcing the rigid scheme of a spatial and anti-temporal relation of cause and efl^ect upon something alive, they disfigured the visible face of becoming with the

^ Where in 2.95 b.c. the Romans decisively defeated the last great Samnitc effort to resist their hegemony over Italy. — Tr.


I5X THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

constxuction-lines of a physical nature-picture, and, habituated to their own late, megalopolitan and causally-thinking milieu^ they were unconscious of the fundamental absurdity of a science that sought to understand an organic be- coming by methodically misunderstanding it as the machinery of the thing- become. Day is not the cause of night, nor youth of age, nor blossom of fruit. Everything that we grasp intellectually has a causCy everything that we live organically with inward certitude has a past. The one recognizes the case, that which is generally possible and has a fixed inner form which is the same when- ever and wherever and however often it occurs, the other recognizes the event which once was and will never recur. And, according as we grasp something in our envelope-world critically and consciously or physiognomically and in- voluntarily, we draw our conclusion from technical or from living experience, and we relate it to a timeless cause in space or to a direction which leads from yesterday to to-day and to-morrow.

But the spirit of our great cities refuses to be involuntary. Surrounded by a machine-technique that it has itself created in surprising Nature's most dangerous secret, the "law," it seeks to conquer history also technically, "theoretically and practically." "Usefulness," suitableness to purpose (Zweckmassigkeit), is the great word which assimilates the one to the other. A materialist conception of history, ruled by laws of causal Nature, leads to the setting up of usefulness- ideals such as "enlightenment," "humanity," "world-peace," as aims of world-history, to be reached by the "march of progress." But in these schemes of old age the feeling of Destiny has died, and with it the young reckless courage that, self-forgetful and big with a future, presses on to meet a dark decision.

For only youth has a future, and is Future, that enigmatic synonym of directional Time and of Destiny. Destiny is always young. He who replaces it by a mere chain of causes and effects, sees even in the not-yet-actualized some- thing, as it were, old and past — direction is wanting. But he who lives towards a something in the superabundant flow of things need not concern himself with aims and abilities, for he feels that he himself is the meaning of what is to happen. This was the faith in the Star that never left Csesar nor Napoleon nor the great doers of another kind; and this it is that lies deepest of all — youthful melancholy notwithstanding — in every childhood and in every young clan, people. Culture, that extends forward over all their history for men of act and of vision, who are young however white their hair, younger even than the most juvenile of those who look to a timeless utilitarianism. The feeling of a significance in the momentarily present world-around discloses itself in the earliest days of childhood, when it is still only the persons and things of the nearest environment that essentially exist, and develops through silent and un- conscious experience into a comprehensive picture. This picture constitutes the general expression of the whole Culture as it is at the particular stage, and it is only the fine judge of life and the deep searcher of history who can interpret it.


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 153

At this point a distinction presents itself between the immediate impression of the present and the image of the past that is only presented in the spirit, in other words between the world as happening and the world as history. The eye of the man of action (statesman and general) appreciates the first, that of the man of contemplation (historian and poet) the second. Into the first one plunges practically to do or to suffer; chronology,^ that great symbol of irre- vocable past, claims the second. We look backwards, and we live forward towards the unforeseen, but even in childhood our technical experience soon introduces into the image of the singular occurrence elements of the foreseeable, that is, an image of regulated Nature which is subject not to physiognomic fact but to calculation. We apprehend a "head of game" as a living entity and immediately afterwards as food; we see a flash of lightning as a peril and then as an electrical discharge. And this second, later, petrifying projection of the world more and more tends to overpower the first in the Megalopolis; the image of the past is mechanized and materialized and from it is deduced a set of causal rules for present and future. We come to believe in historical laws and in a rational understanding of them.

Nevertheless science is always natural science. Causal knowledge and technical experience refer only to the become, the extended, the comprehended. As life is to history, so is knowledge (Wissen) to Nature, viz., to the sensible world apprehended as an element, treated as in space and subjected to the law of cause and effect. Is there, then, a science of History at all? To answer this question, let us remember that in every personal world-picture, which only approximates more or less to the ideal picture, there is both something of Nature and something of History. No Nature is without living, and no His- tory without causal, harmonies. For within the sphere of Nature, although two like experiments, conformably to law, have the like result, yet each of these experiments is a historical event possessing a date and not recurring. And within that of History, the dates or data of the past (chronologies, sta- tistics, names, forms ^) form a rigid web. "Facts are facts" even if we are unaware of them, and all else is image, Theoria, both in the one domain and in the other. But history is itself the condition of being "in the focus" and the material is only an aid to this condition, whereas in Nature the real aim is the winning of the material, and theory is only the servant of this purpose.

There is, therefore, not a science of history but an ancillary science for his-

1 Which, inasmuch as it has been detached from time, is able to employ mathematical symbols. These rigid figures signify for us a destiny of yore. But their meaning is other than mathematical. Past is not a cause, nor Fate a formula, and to anyone who handles them, as the historical materialist handles them, mathematically, the past event as such, as an actuality that has lived once and only once, is invisible.

2 That is, not merely conclusions of peaces or deathdays of persons, but the Renaissance style, the Palis, the Mexican Culture and so forth — are dates or data, facts that have been, even when we possess no representation of them.


154


THE DECLINE OF THE WEST


tory, which ascertains that which has been. For the historical outlook itself the data arc always symbols. Scientific research, on the contrary, is science and only science. In virtue of its technical origin and purpose it sets out to find data and laws of the causal sort and nothing else, and from the moment that it turns its glance upon something else it becomes Metaphysics^ something trans-scientific. And just because this is so, historical and natural-science data are different. The latter consistently repeat themselves, the former never. The latter arc truths, the former facts. However closely related incidentals and causals may appear to be in the everyday picture, fundamentally they belong to different worlds. As it is beyond question that the shallowness of a man's history-picture (the man himself, therefore) is in proportion to the dominance in it of frank incidentals, so it is beyond question that the emptiness of written history is in proportion to the degree in which it makes the establishment of purely factual relations its object. The more deeply a man lives History, the more rarely will he receive "causal" impressions and the more surely will he be sensible of their utter insignificance. If the reader examines Goethe's writ- ings in natural science, he will be astounded to find how "living nature" can be set forth without formulas, without laws, almost without a trace of the causal. For him, Time is not a distance but a feeling. But the experience of last and deepest things is practically denied to the ordinary savant who dissects and arranges purely critically and allows himself neither to contemplate nor to feel. In the case of History, on the contrary, this power of experience is the requisite. And thus is justified the paradox that the less a historical researcher has to do with real science, the better it is for his history. To elucidate once more by a diagram:


Soul-


World


Life, Direction

Destiny-Experience

The uniquely

occurring and irrevocable

"Fact"

Physiognomic tact (instinct)


Extension Causal Knowledge The constantly- possible "Truth" Systematic criticism (reason)


G>nsciousness

as servant of Being

The world-image of " History"

Life-experience

Image of the Past

G)nstructive Contemplation

(Historian, Tragic Dramatist)

to investigate Destiny

Direction into the Future

Constructive Action

(Statesman)

to be Destiny


Consciousness

as master of Being

The world-image of "Nature"

Scientific methods

Religion. Natural Science

Theoretical: Myth and Dogma. Hypothesis

Practical: Cult. Technique


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 155

Is it permissible to fix upon one, any one, group of social, religious, physio- logical or ethical facts as the "cause" of another? "Certainly," the rational- istic school of history, and still more the up-to-date sociology, would reply. That, they would say, is what is meant by our comprehending history and deepening our knowledge of it. But in reality, with "civilized" man there is always the implicit postulate of an underlying rational purpose — without which indeed his world would be meaningless. And there is something rather comic in the most unscientific freedom that he allows himself in his choice of his fundamental causes. One man selects this, another that, group as -prima causa — an inexhaustible source of polemics — and all fill their works with pretended elucidations of the "course of history" on natural-science lines. Schiller has given us the classical expression of this method in one of his immortal banali- ties, the verse in which the " Weltgetriebe " is stated to be kept up "durch Hunger und durch Liebe"; and the Nineteenth Century, progressing from Rationalism to Materialism, has made this opinion canonical. The cult of the useful was set up on high. To it Darwin, in the name of his century, sacrificed Goethe's Nature-theory. The organic logic of the facts of life was supplanted by a mechanics in physiological garb. Heredity, adaptation, natural selection, are utility-causes of purely mechanical connotation. The historical dispensa- tions were superseded by a naturalistic movement "in space." (But are there historical or spiritual "processes," or life-" processes " of any sort whatever? Have historical "movements" such as, for example, the Renaissance or the Age of Enlightenment anything whatever to do with the scientific notion of movement?) The word "process" eliminated Destiny and unveiled the secret of becoming, and lo! there was no longer a tragic but only an exact mathe- matical structure of world-happening. And thereupon the "exact" historian enunciated the proposition that in the history-picture we had before us a se- quence of "states" of mechanical type which were amenable to rational analy- sis like a physical experiment or a chemical reaction, and that therefore causes, means, methods and objects were capable of being grouped together as a com- prehensible system on the visible surface. It all becomes astonishingly simple. And one is bound to admit that given a sufficiently shallow observer, the hypothesis (so far as concerns his personality and its world-picture) comes off.

Hunger and Love ^ thus become mechanical causes of mechanical processes in the "life of peoples." Social problems and sexual problems (both belonging to a "physics" or "chemistry" of public — all-too-public — existence) become the obvious themes of utilitarian history and therefore of the corresponding tragedy. For the social drama necessarily accompanies the materialist treatment of history, and that which in Goethe's " Wahlverwandtschaften " was destiny

^ Sec Vol. II, pp. 403 et scq., 589 ct scq.


156 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

in the highest sense has become in Ibsen's "Lady from the Sea" nothing but a sexual problem. Ibsen and all the reason-poets of our great cities build — build from their very first causes to their very last effect — but they do not sing. As artist, Hebbel fought hard to overcome this merely prosaic element in his more critical than intuitive temperament, to be a poet quand mime, hence his desperate and wholly un-Goethean effort to motive his events. In Hebbel, as in Ibsen, motiving means trying to shape tragedy causally, and he dissected and re-dissected and transformed and retransformed his Anecdote until he had made it into a system that proved a case. Consider his treatment of the Judith story — Shakespeare would have taken it as it was, and scented a world-secret in the physiognomic charm of the pure adventure. But Goethe's warning: "Do not, I beg you, look for anything behind phenomena. They are themselves their own lesson (sie selbst sind die Lchre)" had become incomprehensible to the century of Marx and Darwin. The idea of trying to read a destiny in the physiognomy of the past and that of trying to represent unadulterated Destiny as a tragedy were equally remote from them. In both domains, the cult of the useful had set before itself an entirely different aim. Shapes were called into being, not to be, but to prove something. "Questions" of the day were "treated," social problems suitably "solved," and the stage, like the history-book, became a means to that end. Darwinism, however unconscious of what it was doing, has made biology politically effective. Somehow or other, democratic stirrings happened in the protoplasm, and the struggle for existence of the rain-worms is a useful lesson for the bipeds who have scraped through.

With all this, the historians have failed to learn the lesson that our ripest and strictest science. Physics, would have taught them, the lesson of prudence. Even if we concede them their causal method, the superficiality with which they apply it is an outrage. There is neither the intellectual discipline nor the keen sight, let alone the scepticism that is inherent in our handling of physical hypotheses.^ For the attitude of the physicist to his atoms, electrons, currents, and fields of force, to aether and mass, is very far removed from the naive faith of the layman and the Monist in these things. They are images which he sub- jects to the abstract relationships of his differential equations, in which he clothes trans-phenomenal numbers, and if he allows himself a certain freedom to choose amongst several theories, it is because he does not try to find in them any actuality but that of the "conventional sign." ^ He knows, too, that over

  • The formation of hypotheses in Chemistry is much more thoughtless, owing to the less close

relation of that science to mathematics. A house of cards such as is presented to us in the researches of the moment on atom-structure (see, for example, M. Born, Der Aufbau der Materie, 1910) would be impossible in the near neighbourhood of the electro-magnetic theory of light, whose authors never for a moment lost sight of the frontier between mathematical vision and its representation by a picture, or of the fact that this was only a picture.

> There is no difference essentially between these representations and the switchboard wiring- diagram.


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 157

and above an experimental acquaintance with the technical structure of tjic world-around, all that it is possible to achieve by this process (which is thz only one open to natural science) is a symbolic interpretation of it, no more — certainly not "Knowledge" in the sanguine popular sense. For, the image of Nature being a creation and copy of the Intellect, its "alter ego ' ' in the domain of the extended, to know Nature means to know oneself.

If Physics is the maturest of our sciences, Biology, whose business is to explore the picture of organic life, is in point both of content and of methods the weakest. What historical investigation really is, namely pure Physiognomic, cannot be better illustrated than by the course of Goethe's nature-studies. He works upon mineralogy, and at once his views fit themselves together into a conspectus of an earth-history in which his beloved granite signifies nearly the same as that which I call the proto-human signifies in man's history. He investigates well-known plants, and the prime phenomenon of metamor- phosis, the original form of the history of all plant existence, reveals itself; proceeding further, he reaches those extraordinarily deep ideas of vertical and spiral tendencies in vegetation which have not been fully grasped even yet. His studies of ossature, based entirely on the contemplation of life, lead him to the discovery of the " os intermaxillare " in man and to the view that the skull-structure of the vertebrates developed out of six vertebras. Never is there a word of causality. He feels the necessity of Destiny just as he himself expressed it in his Orphische Urworte:


h


"So must thou be. Thou canst not Self escape. So erst the Sibyls, so the Prophets told. Nor Time nor any Power can mar the shape Impressed, that living must itself unfold."


The mere chemistry of the stars, the mathematical side of physical observa- tions, and physiology proper interested him, the great historian of Nature very little, because they belonged to Systematic and were concerned with ex- periential learning of the become, the dead, and the rigid. This is what under- lies his anti-Newton polemic — a case in which, it must be added, both sides were in the right, for the one had " knowledge * ' of the regulated nature-process in the dead colour^ while the experiencing of the other, the artist, was intuitive- sensuous "feeling." Here we have the two worlds in plain opposition; and now therefore the essentials of their opposition must be stated with all strict- ness.

^ Goethe's theory of colour openly controverted Newton's theory of light. A long account of the controversy will be found in Chapter IX of G. H. Lewes 's Life of Goethe — a work that, taken all in all, is one of the wisest biographies ever written. In reading his critique of Goethe's theory, of course, it has to be borne in mind that he wrote before the modern development of the electro- magnetic theory, which has substituted a merely mathematical existence for the Newtonian physical existence of colour-rays as such in white light. Now, this physical existence was just what, in substance, Goethe denied. What he affirmed, in the simpler language of his day, was that white


158 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

History carries the mark of the singular-factual^ Nature that of the con- iinuously possible. So long as I scrutinize the image of the world-around in order to see by what laws it must actualize itself, irrespective of whether it does happen or merely might happen — irrespective, that is, of time — then I am working in a genuine science. For the necessity of a nature-law (and there arc no other laws) it is utterly immaterial whether it becomes phenomenal in- finitely often or never. That is, it is independent of Destiny. There are thousands of chemical combinations that never are and never will be produced, but they are demonstrably possible and therefore they exist — for the fixed System of Nature though not for the Physiognomy of the whirling universe. A system consists of truths, a history rests on facts. Facts follow one another, truths follow from one another, and this is the difference between "when" and "how." That there has been a flash of lightning is a fact and can be indicated, without a word, by the pointing of a finger. "When there is lightning there is thunder," on the contrary, is something that must be communicated by a proposition or sentence. Experience-lived may be quite wordless, while sys- tematic knowing can only be through words. "Only that which has no history is capable of being defined," says Nietzsche somewhere. But History is present becoming that tends into the future and looks back on the past. Nature stands beyond all time, its mark is extension, and it is without direc- tional quality. Hence, for the one, the necessity of the mathematical, and for the other the necessity of the tragic.

In the actuality of waking existence both worlds, that of scrutiny and that of acceptance (Hingebung), are interwoven, just as in a Brabant tapestry warp and woof together effect the picture. Every law must, to be available to the under- standing at all, once have been discovered through some destiny-disposition in the history of an intellect — that is, it must have once been in experiential life; and every destiny appears in some sensible garb — as persons, acts, scenes

light was something simple and colourless that becomes coloured through diminutions or modifi- cations imposed upon it by "darkness." The modern physicist, using a subtler hypothesis than Newton's and a more refined "balance" than that which Lewes reproaches Goethe for "flinging away," has found in white light, not the Newtonian mixture of colour-rays, but a surge of irregular wave-trains which are only regularized into colour-vibrations through being acted upon by analysers of one sort and another, from prisms to particulate matter. This necessity of a counter-agent for the production of colour seems — to a critical outsider at any rate — very like the necessity of an efficient negative principle or "opaque" that Goethe's intuitive interpretation of his experiments led him to postulate. It is this that is the heart of the theory, and not the "simplicity" of light per se.

So much it seems desirable to add to the text and the reference, in order to expand the author's statement that "both were right." For Lewes, with all his sympathetic penetration of the man and real appreciation of his scientific achievement, feels obliged to regard his methods and his theory as such as "erroneous." And it is perhaps not out of place in this book to adduce an instance of the peculiar nature and power of intuitive vision (which entirely escapes direct description) in which Vision frankly challenges Reason on its own ground, meets with refutation (or contempt) from the Reason of its day, and yet may come to be upheld in its specific tightness (its tightness as vision, that is, apart from its technical enunciation by the seer) by the Reasoo of a lata day. — Tr.


DESTINY AND CAUSALITY 159

and gestures — in which Nature-laws are operative. Primitive life is submissive before the daemonic unity of the fateful; in the consciousness of the mature Cul- ture this "early" world-image is incessantly in conflict with the other, "late," world-image; and in the civilized man the tragic world-feeling succumbs to the mechanizing intellect. History and nature within ourselves stand opposed to one another as life is to death, as ever-becoming time to ever-become space. In the waking consciousness, becoming and become struggle for control of the world-picture, and the highest and maturest forms of both sorts (possible only for the great Cultures) are seen, in the case of the Classical soul, in the opposition of Plato and Aristotle, and, in the case of our Western, in that of Goethe and Kant — the pure physiognomy of the world contemplated by the soul of an eternal child, and its pure system comprehended by the reason of an eternal greybeard.


XII


Herein, then, I see the last great task of Western philosophy, the only one which still remains in store for the aged wisdom of the Faustian Culture, the preordained issue, it seems, of our centuries of spiritual evolution. No Culture is at liberty to choose the path and conduct of its thought, but here for the first time a Culture can foresee the way that destiny has chosen for it.

Before my eyes there seems to emerge, as a vision, a hitherto unimagined ' mode of superlative historical research that is truly Western, necessarily alien to the Classical and to every other soul but ours — a comprehensive Physi- ognomic of all existence, a morphology of becoming for all humanity that drives onward to the highest and last ideas; a duty of penetrating the world- feeling not only of our proper soul but of all souls whatsoever that have con- tained grand possibilities and have expressed them in the field of actuality asj grand Cultures. This philosophic view — to which we and we alone are entitled in virtue of our analytical mathematic, our contrapuntal music and our perspective painting — in that its scope far transcends the scheme of the sys- tematist, presupposes the eye of an artist, and of an artist who can feel the whole sensible and apprehensible environment dissolve into a deep infinity of mys- terious relationships. So Dante felt, and so Goethe felt. To bring up, out of the web of world-happening, a millennium of organic culture-history as an entity and person, and to grasp the conditions of its inmost spirituality — such is the aim. Just as one penetrates the lineaments of a Rembrandt portrait or a Cassar-bust, so the new art will contemplate and understand the grand, fateful lines in the visage of a Culture as a superlative human individuality.

To attempt the interpretation of a poet or a prophet, a thinker or a con- queror, is of course nothing new, but to enter a culture-soul — Classical, Egyp- tian or Arabian — so intimately as to absorb into one's self, to make part of one's own life, the totality expressed by typical men and situations, by religion and polity, by style and tendency, by thought and customs, is quite a new man-


i6o THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

ner of experiencing life. Every epoch, every great figure, every deity, the cities, the tongues, the nations, the arts, in a word everything that ever existed and will become existent, are physiognomic traits of high symbolic significance that it will be the business of quite a new kind of " judge of men" (Menschen- kenner) to interpret. Poems and battles, Isis and Cybele, festivals and Roman Catholic masses, blast furnaces and gladiatorial games, dervishes and Dar- winians, railways and Roman roads, "Progress" and Nirvana, newspapers, mass-slavery, money, machinery — all these are equally signs and symbols in the world-picture of the past that the soul presents to itself and would interpret.

    • Alles Vergdngliche ist nur ein Gleichnis." Solutions and panoramas as yet un-

imagined await the unveiling. Light will be thrown on the dark questions which underlie dread and longing — those deepest of primitive human feelings — and which the will-to-know has clothed in the "problems" of time, neces- sity, space, love, death, and first causes. There is a wondrous music of the spheres which wills to be heard and which a few of our deepest spirits will hear. The physiognomic of world-happening will become the last Faustian philosophy.


1


CHAPTER V MAKROKOSMOS

I

THE SYMBOLISM OF THE WORLD-PICTURE AND THE SPACE-PROBLEM


CHAPTER V

MAKROKOSMOS

I

THE SYMBOLISM OF THE WORLD-PICTURE AND THE SPACE-PROBLEM


The notion of a world-history of physiognomic type expands itself therefore , into the wider idea of an all-embracing symbolism. Historical research, in the \ sense that we postulate here, has simply to investigate the picture of the once- living past and to determine its inner form and logic, and the Destiny-idea is the furthest limit to which it can penetrate. But this research, however comprehen- sive the new orientation tends to make it, cannot be more than a fragment and a foundation of a still wider treatment. Parallel with it, we have a Nature-in- vestigation that is equally fragmentary and is limited to its own causal system of relations. But neither tragic nor technical "motion" (if we may distinguish by these words the respective bases of the lived and the known) exhausts the living itself. We both live and know when we are awake, but, in addition, we live when mind and senses are asleep. Though night may close every eye, the blood does not sleep. We are moving in the moving (so at least we try to indi- cate, by a word borrowed from science, the inexpressible that in sleep-hours we feel with inward certainty). But it is only in the waking existence that " here " and "there" appear as an irreducible duality. Every impulse proper to oneself j has an expression and every impulse alien to oneself makes an impression. And thus everything of which we are conscious, whatever the form in which it is ap- prehended — ' ' soul ' ' and ' ' world, * ' or life and actuality, or History and Nature, or law and feeling. Destiny or God, past and future or present and eternity — has for us a deeper meaning still, a final meaning. And the one and only means ^ of rendering this incomprehensible comprehensible must be a kind of meta- j physics which regards everything whatsoever as having significance as a symbol. ' Symbols are sensible signs, final, indivisible and, above all, unsought im- pressions of definite meaning. A symbol is a trait of actuality that for the sensuously-alert man has an immediate and inwardly-sure significance, and that , is incommunicable by process of reason. The detail of a Doric or Early- Arabic or Early-Romanesque ornament; the forms of the cottage and the family, of intercourse, of costume and rite; the aspect, gait and mien of a man and of whole classes of peoples and men; the communication- and community-forms of man

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and beast; and beyond all this the whole voiceless language of Nature with her woods and pastures, flocks, clouds, stars, moonlight and thunderstorm, bloom and decay, nearness and distance — all this is the emblematical impression of the Cosmos upon us, who are both aware and in our reflective hours quite capable of listening to this language. Vice versa, it is the sense of a homogene- ous understanding that raises up the family, the class, the tribe, or finally the Culture, out of the general humanity and assembles it as such.

Here, then, we shall not be concerned with what a world "is," but with what it signifies to the being that it envelops. When we wake up, at once something extends itself between a * * here ' ' and a ' ' there. * ' We live the ' ' here ' * as something proper, we experience the "there" as something alien. There is a dualizing of soul and world as poles of actuality; and in the latter there arc both resistances which we grasp causally as things and properties, and impulses in which we feel beings, numina ("just like ourselves") to be operative. But there is in it, further, something which, as it were, eliminates the duality. Actuality — the world in relation to a soul — is for every individual the pro- jection of the Directed upon the domain of the Extended — the Proper mirror- ing itself on the Alien; one's actuality then signifies oneself. By an act that is both creative and unconscious — for it is not "I" who actualize the possible, but "it" actualizes itself through me — the bridge of symbol is thrown be- tween the living "here" and "there." Suddenly, necessarily, and completely "the" world comes into being out of the totality of received and remembered elements: and as it is an individual who apprehends the world, there is for each individual a singular world.

There are therefore as many worlds as there are waking beings and like- living, like-feeling groups of beings. The supposedly single, independent and external world that each believes to be common to all is really an ever-new, uniquely-occurring and non-recurring experience in the existence of each.

A whole series of grades of consciousness leads up from the root-beginnings of obscure childish intuition, in which there is still no clear world for a soul or self-conscious soul within a world, to the highly intellectualized states of which only the men of fully-ripened civilizations are capable. This gradation is at the same time an expansion of symbolism from the stage in which there is an inclusive meaning of all things to one in which separate and specific signs are distinguished. It is not merely when, after the manner of the child, the dreamer and the artist, I am passive to a world full of dark significances; or when I am awake without being in a condition of extreme alertness of thought and act (such a condition is much rarer even in the consciousness of the real thinker and man of action than is generally supposed) — it is continuously and always, for as long as my life can be considered to be a waking life at all, that I am endowing that which is outside me with the whole content that is in me, from the half-dreamy impressions of world-cohcrcncc to the rigid world of


SYMBOLISM AND SPACE 165

causal laws and number that overlies and binds them. And even in the domain of pure number the symbolical is not lacking, for we find that refined thought puts inexpressible meanings into signs like the triangle, the circle and the numbers 7 and ii.

This is the idea of the Macrocosm^ actuality as the sum total of all symbols in rela- tion to one soul. From this property of being significant nothing is exempt. All that is, symbolizes. From the corporeal phenomena like visage, shape, mien (of individuals and classes and peoples alike), which have always been known to possess meaning, to the supposedly eternal and universally-valid forms of knowledge, mathematics and physics, everything speaks out of the essence of one and only one soul.

At the same time these individuals* worlds as lived and experienced by men of one Culture or spiritual community arc interrelated, and on the greater or less degree of this interrelation depends the greater or less communicability of intuitions, sensations and thoughts from one to another — that is, the possi- bility of making intelligible what one has created in the style of one's own being, through expression-media such as language or art or religion, by means of word-sounds or formulas or signs that are themselves also symbols. The degree of interrelation between one's world and another's fixes the limit at which understanding becomes self-deception. Certainly it is only very im- perfectly that we can understand the Indian or the Egyptian soul, as manifested in the men, customs, deities, root-words, ideas, buildings and acts of it. The Greeks, ahistoric as they were, could not even guess at the essence of alien spiritualities — witness the naivete with which they were wont to rediscover their own gods and Culture in those of alien peoples. But in our own case too, the current translations of the dpxi?, or Atman^ or Tao of alien philosophers presuppose our proper world-feeling, which is that from which our "equiva- lents" claim their significance, as the basis of an alien soul-expression. And similarly we elucidate the characters of early Egyptian and Chinese portraits with reference to our own life-experience. In both cases we deceive ourselves. That the artistic masterpieces of all Cultures are still living for us — "im- mortal " as we say — is another such fancy, kept alive by the unanimity with which we understand the alien work in the proper sense. Of this tendency of ours the effect of the Laocoon group on Renaissance sculpture and that of Seneca on the Classicist drama of the French are examples.


II


Symbols, as being things actualized, belong to the domain of the extended. They are become and not becoming (although they may stand for a becoming) and they are therefore rigidly limited and subject to the laws of space. There are only sensible-spatial symbols. The very word ' * form ' ' designates something extended in the extended, — even the inner forms of music arc no exception.


i66 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

as we shall see. But extension is the hall-mark of the fact "waking conscious- ness," and this constitutes only one side of the individual existence and is intimately bound up with that existence's destinies. Consequently, every trait of the actual waking-consciousness, whether it be feeling or understanding, is in the moment of our becoming aware of it, already past. We can only reflect upon impressions, ** think them over" as our happy phrase goes, but that which for the sensuous life of the animals is fast, is for the grammatical (wortge- bundene) understanding of man passing, transient. That which happens is, of course, transient, for a happening is irrevocable, but every kind of significance is also transient. Follow out the destiny of the Column, from the Egyptian tomb-temple in which columns are ranked to mark the path for the traveller, through the Doric peripteros in which they are held together by the body of the building, and the Early-Arabian basilica where they support the interior, to the fagades of the Renaissance in which they provide the upward-striving clement. As we see, an old significance never returns; that which has entered the domain of extension has begun and ended at once. A deep relation, and one which is early felt, exists between space and death. Man is the only being that knows death; all others become old, but with a consciousness wholly limited to the moment which must seem to them eternal. They live, but like children in those first years in which Christianity regards them as still "inno- cent," they know nothing of life, and they die and they see death without knowing anything about it. Only fully-awakened man, man proper, whose understanding has been emancipated by the habit of language from dependence on sight, comes to possess (besides sensibility) the notion of transience, that is, a memory of the past as past and an experiential conviction of irrevocability. We are Time,^ but we possess also an image of history and in this image death, and with death birth, appear as the two riddles. For all other beings life pursues its course without suspecting its limits, i.e., without conscious knowl- edge of task, meaning, duration and object. It is because there is this deep and significant identity that we so often find the awakening of the inner life in a child associated with the death of some relation. The child suddenly grasps the lifeless corpse for what it is, something that has become wholly matter, wholly space, and at the same moment it feels itself as an individual being in an alien extended world. "From the child of five to myself is but a step. But from the new-born baby to the child of five is an appalling distance," said Tolstoi once. Here, in the decisive moments of existence, when man first becomes man and realizes his immense loneliness in the universal, the world-fear reveals itself for the first time as the essentially human fear in the presence of death, the limit of the light-world, rigid space. Here, too, the higher thought origi- nates as meditation upon death. Every religion, every scientific investigation, every philosophy proceeds from it. Every great symbolism attaches its form-

  • Sec p. 113


i


SYMBOLISM AND SPACE 167

language to the cult of the dead, the forms of disposal of the dead, the adornment of the graves of the dead. The Egyptian style begins with the tomb-temples of the Pharaohs, the Classical with the geometrical decoration of the funerary urns, the Arabian with catacomb and sarcophagus, the Western with the cathedral wherein the sacrificial death of Jesus is re-enacted daily under the hands of the priest. From this primitive fear springs, too, historical sensitiveness in all its modes, the Classical with its cleaving to the life-abundant present, the Arabian with its baptismal rite that wins new life and overcomes death, the Faustian with its contrition that makes worthy to receive the Body of Jesus and therewith immortality. Till we have the constantly-wakefuJ concern for the life that is not yet past, there is no concern for that which is past. The beast has only the future, but man knows also the past. And thus every new Culture is awakened in and with a new view of the world, that is, a sudden glimpse of death as the secret of the perceivable world. It was when the idea of the impending end of the world spread over Western Europe (about the year 1000) that the Faustian soul of this religion was born.

Primitive man, in bis deep amazement before death, sought with all the forces of his spirit to penetrate and to spellbind this world of the extended with the inexorable and always present limits of its causality, this world filled with dark almightiness that continuously threatened to make an end of him. This energetic defensive lies deep in unconscious existence, but, as being the first impulse that genuinely projects soul and world as parted and opposed, it marks the threshold of personal conduct of life. Ego-feeling and world-feeling begin to work, and all culture, inner or outer, bearing or performance, is as a whole only the intensification of this being-human. Henceforward all that resists our sensations is not mere resistance or thing or impression, as it is for animals and for children also, but an expression as well. Not merely are things actually contained in the world-around but also they possess meaning, as phenomena in the world-w>w. Originally they possessed only a relationship to men, but now there is also a relationship of men to them. They have become emblems of his existence. And thus the essence of every genuine — unconscious and inwardly necessary — symbolism proceeds from the knowledge of death in which the secret of space reveals itself. All symbolism implies a defensive; it is the expression of a deep Scheu in the old double sense of the word,^ and its form- language tells at once of hostility and of reverence.

Every thing-become is mortal. Not only peoples, languages, races and Culture? are transient. In a few centuries from now there will no more be a Western Culture, no more be German, English or French than there were Romans in the time of Justinian. Not that the sequence of human generations failed; it was the inner form of a people, which had put together a number of these genera- tions as a single gesture, that was no longer there. The Civis Komanus, one of

  • Sec page 113.


i68 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

the most powerful symbols of Classical being, had nevertheless, as a form, only a duration of some centuries. But the primitive phenomenon of the great Culture w^ill itself have disappeared some day, and with it the drama of world- history; aye, and man himself, and beyond man the phenomenon of plant and animal existence on the earth's surface, the earth, the sun, the whole world of sun-systems. All art is mortal, not merely the individual artifacts but the arts themselves. One day the last portrait of Rembrandt and the last bar of Mozart will have ceased to be — though possibly a coloured canvas and a sheet of notes may remain — because the last eye and the last ear accessible to their message will have gone. Every thought, faith and science dies as soon as the spirits in whose worlds their "eternal truths" were true and necessary arc extinguished. Dead, even, are the star-worlds which "appeared," a proper world to the proper eye, to the astronomers of the Nile and the Euphrates, for our eye is different from theirs; and our eye in its turn is mortal. All this we know. The beast does not know, and what he does not know does not exist in his experienced world-around. But if the image of the past vanishes, the longing to give a deeper meaning to the passing vanishes also. And so it is with reference to the purely human macrocosm that we apply the oft-quoted line, which shall serve as motto for all that follows : Alles Vergangliche ist nur ein Gleichnis.

From this we arc led, without our noticing it, back to the space-problem, though now it takes on a fresh and surprising form. Indeed, it is as a corollary to these ideas that it appears for the first time as capable of solution — or, to speak more modestly, of enunciation — just as the time-problem was made more comprehensible by way of the Destiny-idea. From the moment of our awakening, the fateful and directed life appears in the phenomenal life as an experienced depth. Everything extends itself, but it is not yet "space," not something established in itself but a self-extension continued from the moving here to the moving there. World-experience is bound up with the essence of deph (i.e. yfar-ness or distance). In the abstract system of mathematics, "depth " is taken along with "length" and "breadth" as a "third" dimension; but this trinity of elements of like order is misleading from the outset, for in our impression of the spatial world these elements are unquestionably not equiva- lents, let alone homogeneous. Length and breadth are no doubt, experientially, a unit and not a mere sum, but they are (the phrase is used deliberately) simply a form of reception; they represent the purely sensuous impression. But depth is a representation of expression, of Nature, and with it begins the "world."

This discrimination between the "third" and the other two dimensions, so called, which needless to say is wholly alien to mathematics, is inherent also in the opposition of the notions of sensation and contemplation. Exten- sion into depth converts the former into the latter; in fact, depth is the first


SYMBOLISM AND SPACE 169

and genuine dimension in the literal sense of the word.^ In it the waking con- sciousness is active, whereas in the others it is strictly passive. It is the symbolic content of a particular order as understood by one particular Culture that is ex- pressed by this original fundamental and unanalysable element. The experienc- ing of depth (this is a premiss upon which all that follows is dependent) is an act, as entirely involuntary and necessary as it is creative, whereby the ego keeps its world, so to say, in subordination (zudiktiert erhalt). Out of the rain of impressions the ego fashions a formal unit, a cinematic picture, which as soon as it is mastered by the understanding is subjected to law and the causality principle; and therefore, as the projection of an individual spirit it is transient and mortal.

There is no doubt, however reason may contest it, that this extension is capable of infinite variety, and that it operates differently not merely as between child and man, or nature-man and townsman, or Chinese and Romans, but as between individual and individual according as they experience their worlds contemplatively or alertly, actively or placidly. Every artist has rendered "Nature" by line and by tone, every physicist — Greek, Arabian or German — has dissected "Nature" into ultimate elements, and how is it that they have not all discovered the same? Because every one of them has had his own Nature, though — with a naivete that was really the salvation of his world-idea and of his own self — every one believed that he had it in common with all the rest. Nature is a possession which is saturated through and through with the most personal connotations. Nature is a junction of the particular Culture.

I

Kant believed that he had decided the great question of whether this a priori element was pre-existent or obtained by experience, by his celebrated formula that Space is the form of perception which underlies all world impres- sions. But the "world" of the careless child and the dreamer undeniably! possess this form in an insecure and hesitant way,^ and it is only the tense, practical, technical treatment of the world-around — imposed on the free-moving being which, unlike the lilies of the fields, must care for its life — that lets

1 The word dimension ought only to be used in the singular. It means extension but not exten- sions. The idea of the three directions is an out-and-out abstraction and is not contained in the im- mediate extension-feeling of the body (the "soul"). Direction as such, the direction-essence, gives rise to the mysterious animal sense of right and left and also the vegetable characteristic of below-ta above, earth to heaven. The latter is a fact felt dream-wise, the former a truth of waking existence to be learned and therefore capable of being transmuted. Both find expression in architecture, to wit, in the symmetry of the plan and the energy of the elevation, and it is only because of this that wc specially distinguish in the " architecture " of the space around us the angle of 90° in preference, for example, to that of 60°. Had not this been so, the conventional number of our "dimensions" would have been quite different.

2 The want of perspective in children's drawings is emphatically not perceptible to the children themselves.


I70 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

sensuous self-extension stiffen into rational tridimensionality. And it is only the city-man of matured Cultures that really lives in this glaring wakefulness, and only for his thought that there is a Space wholly divorced from sensuous life, "absolute," dead and alien to Time; and it exists not as a form of the intuitively-perceived but as a form of the rationally-comprehended. There is no manner of doubt that the "space" which Kant saw all around him with such unconditional certainty when he was thinking out his theory, did not exist in anything like so rigorous a form for his Carolingian ancestors. Kant's greatness consists in his having created the idea of a "form a priori/' but not in the application that he gave it. We have already seen that Time is not a ' ' form of perception ' ' nor for that matter a form at all — forms exist only in the extended — and that there is no possibility of defining it except as a counter- concept to Space. But there is the further question — does this word "space" exactly cover the formal content of the intuitively-perceived? And beyond all this there is the plain fact that the "form of perception" alters with distance. Every distant mountain range is "perceived" as a scenic plane. No one will pretend that he sees the moon as a body; for the eye it is a pure plane and it is only by the aid of the telescope — i.e. when the distance is artificially reduced — that it progressively obtains a spatial form. Obviously, then, the "form of perception" is a function of distance. Moreover, when we reflect upon anything, we do not exactly remember the impressions that we received at the time, but "represent to ourselves" the picture of a space abstracted from them. But this representation may and does deceive us regarding the living actuality. Kant let himself be misled; he should certainly not have permitted himself to distinguish between forms of perception and forms of ratiocina- tion, for his notion of Space in principle embraced both.^

Just as Kant marred the Time-problem by bringing it into relation with an essentially misunderstood arithmetic and — on that basis — dealing with a phantom sort of time that lacks the life-quality of direction and is therefore a mere spatial scheme, so also he marred the Space-problem by relating it to a common-place geometry.

It befell that a few years after the completion of Kant's main work Gauss discovered the first of the Non-Euclidean geometries. These, irreproachably

^ His idea that the a priori-ncss of space was proved by and through the unconditional validity of simple geometrical facts rests, as we have already remarked, on the aJl-too-popular notion that mathematics are either geometry or arithmetic. Now, even in Kant's time the mathematic of the West had got far beyond this naive scheme, which was a mere imitation of the Classical. Modern geometry bases itself not on space but on multiply-infinite number-manifolds — amongst which the three-dimensional is simply the undistinguished special case — and within these groups investigates functional formations with reference to their structure; that is, there is no longer any contact or even possibility of contact between any possible kind of sense-perception and mathematical facts in the domain of such extensions as these, and yet the dcmonstrability of the latter is in no wise impaired thereby. Mathematics, then, are independent of the perceived, and the question now is, how much of this famous demonstrability of the forms of perception is left when the artificiality of juxtapos- ing both in a supposedly single process of experience has been recognized.


SYMBOLISM AND SPACE 171

demonstrated as regards their own internal validity, enable it to be proved that there arc several strictly mathematical kinds of three-dimensional extension, all of which are a priori certain, and none of which can be singled out to rank as the genuine "form of perception."

It was a grave, and in a contemporary of Euler and Lagrange an unpardon- able, error to postulate that the Classical school-geometry (for it was that which Kant always had in mind) was to be found reproduced in the forms of Nature around us. In moments of attentive observation at very short range, and in cases in which the relations considered are sufficiently small, the living impressions and the rules of customary geometry are certainly in approximate agreement. But the exacf conformity asserted by philosophy can be demon- strated neither by the eye nor by measuring-instruments. Both these must always stop short at a certain limit of accuracy which is very far indeed be- low that which would be necessary, say, for determining which of the Non- Euclidean geometries is the geometry of "empirical" Space. ^ On the large scales and for great distances, where the experience of depth completely domi- nates the perception-picture (for example, looking on a broad landscape as against a drawing) the form of perception is in fundamental contradiction with mathematics. A glance down any avenue shows us that parallels meet at the horizon. Western perspective and the otherwise quite different perspective of Chinese painting are both alike based on this fact, and the connexion of these perspectives with the root-problems of their respective mathematics is unmistakable.

Experiential Depth, in the infinite variety of its modes, eludes every sorti of numerical definition. The whole of lyric poetry and music, the entire paint- ing of Egypt, China and the West by hypothesis deny any strictly mathematical structure in space as felt and seen, and it is only because all modern philosophers have been destitute of the smallest understanding of painting that they have failed to note the contradiction. The "horizon" in and by which every visual image gradually passes into a definitive plane, is incapable of any mathematical treatment. Every stroke of a landscape painter's brush refutes the assertions of conventional epistemology.

As mathematical magnitudes abstract from life, the "three dimensions" have no natural limits. But when this proposition becomes entangled with the surface-and-depth of experienced impression, the original epistemological error leads to another, viz., that apprehended extension is also without limits, although in fact our vision only comprises the illuminated portion of space and stops at the light-limit of the particular moment, which may be the star- heavens or merely the bright atmosphere. The "visual" world is the totality

  • It is true that a geometrical theorem may be proved, or rather demonstrated, by means of a

drawing. But the theorem is differently constituted in every kind of geometry, and that being so, the drawing ceases to be a proof of anything whatever.


/


V/


172. THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

of light-resistances, since vision depends on the presence of radiated or reflected light. The Greeks took their stand on this and stayed there. It is the Western world-feeling that has produced the idea of a limitless universe of space — a space of infinite star-systems and distances that far transcends all optical pos- sibilities — and this was a creation of the inner vision, incapable of all actuali- zation through the eye, and, even as an idea, alien to and unachievable by the men of a differently-disposed Culture.

IV

The outcome, then, of Gauss's discovery, which completely altered the course of modern mathematics,^ was the statement that there are severally equally valid structures of three-dimensional extension. That it should even be asked which of them corresponds to actual perception shows that the problem was not in the least comprehended. Mathematics, whether or not it employs visible images and representations as working conveniences, concerns itself with sys- tems that are entirely emancipated from life, time and distance, with form- worlds of pure numbers whose validity — not fact-foundation — is timeless and like everything else that is "known" is known by causal logic and not experienced.

With this, the difference between the living intuition-way and the mathe- matical form-language became manifest and the secret of spatial becoming opened out.

As becoming is the foundation of the become, continuous living history that of fulfilled dead nature, the organic that of the mechanical, destiny that of causal law and the causally-settled, so too direction is the origin of extension. The secret of Life accomplishing itself which is touched upon by the word Time forms the foundation of that which, as accomplished, is understood by (or rather indicated to an inner feeling in us by') the word Space. Every extension that is actual has first been accomplished in and with an experience of depth, and what is primarily indi- cated by the word Time is just this process of extending, first sensuously (in the main, visually) and only later intellectually, into depth and distance, i.e., the step from the planar semi-impression to the macrocosmically ordered world-pic- ture with its mysterious-manifest kinesis. We feel — and the feeling is what constitutes the state of all-round awareness in us — that we are in an extension that encircles us; and it is only necessary to follow out this original impression that we have of the worldly to see that in reality there is only one true "dimen- sion " of space, which is direction from one's self outwards into the distance, the "there" and the future, and that the abstract system of three dimensions is a mechanical representation and not a fact of life. By the depth-experience sensa- tion is expanded into the world. We have seen already that the directedness that

  • So much so that Gauss said nothing about his discovery until almost the end of his life for

fear of " the clamour of the Boeotians."


SYMBOLISM AND SPACE 173

is in life wears the badge of irreversibility ^ and there is something of this same hall-mark of Time in our instinctive tendency to feel the depth that is in the world uni-directionally also — viz., from ourselves outwards, and never from the horizon inwards. The bodily mobility of man and beast is disposed in this sense. We move forward — towards the Future, ncaring with every step not merely our aim but our old age — and we feel every backward look as a glance at something that is past, that has already become history.^

If we can describe the basic form of the understood, viz., causality, as destiny become rigid^ we may similarly speak of spatial depth as a time become rigid. That which not only man but even the beast feels operative around him as destiny, he perceives by touching, looking, listening, scenting as movement, and under his intense scrutiny it stiffens and becomes causal. We feel that it is drawing towards spring and we feel in advance how the spring landscape expands around! us; but we know that the earth as it moves in space revolves and that the duration* of spring consists of ninety such revolutions of the earth, or days. Time gives' birth to Space, but Space gives death to Time.

Had Kant been more precise, he would, instead of speaking of the "two! forms of perception," have called time the form of perception and space the' form of the perceived, and then the connexion of the two would probably have revealed itself to him. The logician, mathematician, or scientist in his moments of intense thought, knows only the Become — which has been detached from the singular event by the very act of meditating upon it — and true systematic space — in which everything possesses the property of a mathematically- expressible "duration." But it is just this that indicates to us how space is continuously "becoming." While we gaze into the distance with our senses, it floats around us, but when we are startled, the alert eye sees a tense and rigid space. This space is; the principle of its existing at all is that it is, outside time and detached from it and from life. In it duration, a piece of perished time, resides as a known property of things. And, as we know ourselves too as being in this space, we know that we also have a duration and a limit, of which the moving finger of our clock ceaselessly warns us. But the rigid Space itself is transient too — at the first relaxation of our intellectual tension it vanishes from the many-coloured spread of our world-around — and so it is a sign and symbol of the most elemental and powerful symbol, of life itself.

For the involuntary and unqualified realization of depth, which dominates the consciousness with the force of an elemental event (simultaneously with the awakening of the inner life^,m.a,rks the {rontier between child and . . . Man. The symbolic experience of depth is what is lacking in the child, who grasps at the moon and knows as yet no meaning in the outer world but, like the soul of primitive man, dawns in a dreamlike continuum of sensations (in traumhafter

  • The distinction of right and left (see p. 169) is only conceivable as the outcome of this directcd-

ness in the dispositions of the body. "In front " has no meaning whatever for the body of a plant.


174 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Vcrbundenhcic mit allcm Empfindungshaf ten hindaramcrt). Of course the child it HOC without experience of the extended, of a very simple kind, but there is no MmU'pmtptUn: distance is felt, but it does not yet speak to the soul. And with the seal's awakening, direction, too, first reaches living expression — Classical expression in steady adherence to the near-present and exclusion of the distant and future; Faustian in direction-energy which has an eye only for the most distant horizons; Chinese, in free hither-and-thither wandering that ocTcrthcless goes to the goal; Egyptian in resolute march down the path once entered. Thus the Destiny-idea manifests itself in every line of a life. With it alooe do we become members of a particular Culture, whose members are con- nected by a common world-feeling and a common world-form derived from it. ( A deep identity unites the awakening of the soul^ its birth into clear existence j in the name of a Culture, with the sudden realization of distance and time, the \CL' I ^trtb •/ tts auttr ucrU through the symbol of extension; and thenceforth this ' symbol is and remains the prime symbcl of that life, imparting to it its specific ' Style and the historical form in which it progressively actualizes its inward ponibilities. From the specific directedness is derived the specific prime- , symbol of extension, namely, for the Classical world-view the near, strictly limited, self<ontaincd Body, for the Western infinitely wide and infinitely profonod three-dimensional Space, for the Arabian the world as a Cavern. And cbere^'ith an old philosophical problem dissolves into nothing: this prime form of the world is innate in so far as it is an original possession of the soul of that Culture which is expressed by our life as a whole, and acquired in so far that cvety individual soul re-enacts for itself that creative act. and unfolds in early childhood the symbol of depth to which its existence is predestined, as the emerging butterfly unfolds its wings. The first comprehension of depth is an 4Kt §f ktrth — the spiritual complement of the bodily.^ In it the Culture is bom out oi its mother-landKape, and the act is repeated by every one of its individual souls throughout iu life-course. This is what Plato — connecting it with an early Hellenic belief — called anamnesis. The definiteness of the world-form, which for each dawning soul suddenly ij, derives meaning from Becoming. lUot the systematic, however, with his conception of the form a priori, would approidi the iotcrpretation of this very riddle from a dead result instead of mloog • living way.

From now on, we shall consider the kind of extension as the prime symbol of a Cmltmn. From it we are to deduce the entire form-language of its actuality, its j physiognooiy as contrasted with the physiognomy of every other Culture and toll more with the almost entire lack of physiognomy in primitive man's world-«fOiind. For now the interpretation of depth rises to acts, to formative caprcMlon in works, to the /r#»i-forming of actuality, not now merely in order

> h maf aoc be o«c of place hoc co fcfer w cbc coonaovt iaporuuxc Muchcd in tavoge watiof ID ioiuMMHwiia at adolMcaot. — 7>.


SYMBOLISM AND SPACE 175

to subserve necessities of life (as in the case of the animals) but above all to create a picture out of extensional elements of all sorts (material, line, colour, tone, motion) — a picture, often, that re-emerges with power to charm after lost centuries in the world-picture of another Culture and tells new men of the way in which its authors understood the world.

But the prime symbol does not actualize itself; it is operative through the form-sense of every man, every community, age and epoch and dictates the j style of every life-expression. It is inherent in the form of the state, the religious 1 myths and cults, the ethical ideals, the forms of painting and music and poetry, I the fundamental notions of each science — but it is not presented by these. 1 Consequently, it is not presentable by words, for language and words are them- selves derived symbols. Every individual symbol tells of it, but only to the inner feelings, not to the understanding. And when we say, as henceforth we shall say, that the prime-symbol of the Classical soul is the material and individual body, that of the Western pure infinite space, it must always be with the reservation that concepts cannot represent the inconceivable, and thus at the most a significative feeling may be evoked by the sound of words.

Infinite space is the ideal that the Western soul has always striven to find,^ and to see immediately actualized, in its world-around; and hence it is that the] countless space-theories of the last centuries possess — over and above all osten- sible "results " — a deep import as symptoms of a world-feeling. In how far does unlimited extension underlie all objective things? There is hardly a single problem that has been more earnestly pondered than this; it would almost seem as if every other world-question w^as dependent upon the one problem of the nature of space. And is it not in fact so — for usl And how, then, has it escaped notice that the whole Classical world never expended one word on it, and indeed did not even possess a word ^ by which the problem could be exactly outlined? Why had the great pre-Socratics nothing to say on it? Did they overlook in their world just that which appears to us the problem of all prob- lems? Ought we not, in fact, to have seen long ago that the answer is in the very fact of their silence? How is it that according to our deepest feeling the "world" is nothing but that world-of-space which is the true offspring of our depth-experience, and whose grand emptiness is corroborated by the star- systems lost in it? Could a "world" of this sense have been made even com- prehensible to a Classical thinker? In short, we suddenly discover that the "eternal problem" that Kant, in the name of humanity, tackled with a passion

^ Either in Greek or in Latin. t6xos (= locus') means spot, locality, and also social position; X^ipa (= s-patiuni) means space-between, distance, rank, and also ground and soil (e.g., to. tK rris x^po-^i produce); to Kevov {vacuum) means quite unequivocally a hollow body, and the stress is emphatically on the envelope. The literature of the Roman Imperial Age, which attempted to render the Magian world-feeling through Classical words, was reduced to such clumsy versions as oparos tottos (sen- sible world) or spafium inane ("endless space," but also "wide surface" — the root of the word "spatium" means to swell or grow fat). In the true Classical literature, the idea not being there, there was no necessity for a word to describe it.


176 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

that itself is symbolic, is a purely Western problem that simply docs not arise in the intellects of other Cultures.

What then was it that Classical man, whose insight into his own world- around was certainly not less piercing than ours, regarded as the prime problem of all being? It was the problem of dpxi?, the material origin and foundation of all sensuously-perceptible things. If we grasp this we shall get close to the significance of the fact — not the fact of space, but the fact that made it a necessity of destiny for the space-problem to become the problem of the West- ern, and only the Western, soul.^ This very spatiality (Raumlichkeit) that is the truest and sublimest element in the aspect of our universe, that absorbs into itself and begets out of itself the substantiality of all things. Classical humanity (which knows no word for, and therefore has no idea of, space) with one accord cuts out as the nonent, to fxii 6v, that which is not. The pathos of this denial can scarcely be exaggerated. The whole passion of the Classical soul is in this act of excluding by symbolic negation that which it would not feel as actual, that in which its own existence could not be expressed. A world of other colour suddenly confronts us here. The Classical statue in its splendid bodiliness — all structure and expressive surfaces and no incorporeal arriere-pensee whatsoever — contains without remainder all that Actuality is for the Classical eye. The material, the optically definite, the comprehensible, the immediately present — this list exhausts the characteristics of this kind of extension. The Classical universe, the Cosmos or well-ordered aggregate of all near and completely view-

^ It has not hitherto been seen that this fact is implicit in Euclid's famous parallel axiom ("through a point only one parallel to a straight line is possible")-

This was the only one of the Classical theorems which remained unproved, and as we know now, it is incapable of proof. But it was just that which made it into a dogma (as opposed to any ex- perience) and therefore the metaphysical centre and main girder of that geometrical system. Everything else, axiom or postulate, is merely introductory or corollary to this. This one proposition is neces- sary and universally-valid for the Classical intellect, and yet not deducible. What does this signify?

It signifies that the statement is a symbol of the first rank. It contains the structure of Classical corporeality. It is just this proposition, theoretically the weakest link in the Classical geometry (objections began to be raised to it as early as Hellenistic times), that reveals its soul, and it was just this proposition, self-evident within the limits of routine experience, that the Faustian number- thinking, derived from incorporeal spatial distances, fastened upon as the centre of doubt. It is one of the deepest symbols of our being that we have opposed to the Euclidean geometry not one but several other geometries all of which for us are equally true and self-consistent. The specific tendency of the anti-Euclidean group of geometries — in which there may be no parallel or two parallels or several parallels to a line through a point — lies in the fact that by their very plurality the corporeal sense of extension, which Euclid canonized by his principle, is entirely got rid of; for what they reject is that which all corporeal postulates but all spatial denies. The question of which of the three Non-EucHdcan geometries is the "correct" one (i-c, that which underlies actuality) — although Gauss himself gave it earnest consideration — is in respect of world-feeling entirely Classi- cal and therefore it should not have been asked by a thinker of our sphere. Indeed it prevents us from seeing the true and deep meaning implicit in the plurality of these geometries. The specifically Western symbol resides not in the reality of one or of another, but in the true plurality of equally possible geometries. It is the group of space-structures — in the abundance of which the classical system is a mere particular case — that has dissolved the last residuum of the corporeal into the pure space-feeling.


SYMBOLISM AND SPACE 177

able things, is concluded by the corporeal vault of heaven. More there is not. The need that is in us to think of "space" as being behind as well as before this shell was wholly absent from the Classical world-feeling. The Stoics went so far as to treat even properties and relations of things as * ' bodies. For Chrysippus, the Divine Pneuma is a "body," for Democritus seeing con- ^ sists in our being penetrated by material particles of the things seen. The State is a body which is made up of all the bodies of its citizens, the law knows i/ only corporeal persons and material things. And the feeling finds its last and noblest expression in the stone body of the Classical temple. The windowless \/ interior is carefully concealed by the array of columns; but outside there is not one truly straight line to be found. Every flight of steps has a slight sweep outward, every step relatively to the next. The pediment, the roof-ridge, the sides are all curved. Every column has a slight swell and none stand truly vertical or truly equidistant from one another. But swell and inclination and distance vary from the corners to the centres of the sides in a carefully toned-off / ratio, and so the whole corpus is given a something that swings mysterious about a centre. The curvatures are so fine that to a certain extent they are invisible to the eye and only to be "sensed." But it is just by these means that y direction in depth is eliminated. While the Gothic style soars, the Ionic hovers, v The interior of the cathedral pulls up with primeval force, but the temple is laid down in majestic rest. All this is equally true as relating to the Faustian and Apollinian Deity, and likewise of the fundamental ideas of the respective physics. To the principles of position, material and form we have opposed those of straining movement, force and mass, and we have defined the last- named as a constant ratio between force and acceleration, nay, finally volatilized both in the purely spatial elements of capacity and intensity. It was an obligatory consequence also of this way of conceiving actuality that the instrumental music of the great i8th-Century masters should emerge as a master-art — for it is the only one of the arts whose form-world is inwardly related to the con- templative vision of pure space. In it, as opposed to the statues of Classical temple and forum, we have bodiless realms of tone, tone-intervals, tone-seas. The orchestra swells, breaks, and ebbs, it depicts distances, lights, shadows, storms, driving clouds, lightning flashes, colours etherealized and transcendent — think of the instrumentation of Gluck and Beethoven. "Contemporary," in our sense, with the Canon of Polycletus, the treatise in which the great sculptor laid down the strict rules of human body-build which remained authoritative till beyond Lysippus, we find the strict canon (completed by Stamitz about 1740) of the sonata-movement of four elements which begins to relax in late-Beethoven quartets and symphonies and, finally, in the lonely, utterly infinitesimal tone-world of the "Tristan" music, frees itself from all\ earthly comprehensibleness. This prime feeling of a loosing, Erlosung, solution, i . ^' of the Soul in the Infinite, of a liberation from all material heaviness which the 1 ^


178 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

highest moments of our music always awaken, sets free also the energy of depth that is in the Faustian soul : whereas the effect of the Classical art-work is to bind and to bound, and the body-feeling secures, brings back the eye from distance to a Near and Still that is saturated with beauty.


Each of the great Cultures, then, has arrived at a secret language of world- feeling that is only fully comprehensible by him whose soul belongs to that Culture. We must not deceive ourselves. Perhaps we can read a little way into the Classical soul, because its form-language is almost the exact inversion > of the Western; how far wc have succeeded or can ever succeed is a question which necessarily forms the starting-point of all criticism of the Renaissance, and it is a very difficult one. But when we are told that probably (it is at best a doubtful venture to meditate upon so alien an expression of Being) the Indians conceived numbers which according to our ideas possessed neither value nor magnitude nor relativity, and which only became positive and negative, great or small units in virtue of position, we have to admit that it is impossible for us exactly to re-experience what spiritually underlies this kind of number. For us, 3 is always something, be it positive or negative; for the Greeks it was un- conditionally a positive magnitude, -f3 ; but for the Indian it indicates a possi- bility without existence, to which the word "something" is not yet applicable, outside both existence and non-existence which are properties to be introduced into it. -1-3, —3, \y are thus emanating actualities of subordinate rank which reside in the mysterious substance (3) in some way that is entirely hidden from us. It takes a Brahmanic soul to perceive these numbers as self-evident, as ideal emblems of a self-complete world-form ; to us they are as unintelligible as is the Brahman Nirvana, for which, as lying beyond life and death, sleep ^wriy comprise the whole content of his world. But this world is differently constituted from ours. It is, for us, alien and remote. We may take these words of Greek and translate them bywords of our own like "origin," "matter" and "form," but it is mere imitation, a feeble effort to penetrate into a world of feeling in which the finest and deepest elements, in spite of all we can do, remain dumb; it is as though one tried to set the Parthenon sculptures for a string quartet, or cast Voltaire's God in bronze. The master-traits of thought, life and world-consciousness are as manifold and different as the features of individual men; in those respects as in others there are distinctions of "races" and "peoples," and men are as unconscious of these distinctions as they are ignorant of whether "red" and "yellow" do or do not mean the same for others as for themselves. It is par- ticularly the common symbolic of language that nourishes the illusion of a homogeneous constitution of human inner-life and an identical world-form; in this respect the great thinkers of one and another Culture resemble the colour-blind in that each is unaware of his own condition and smiles at the errors of the rest.

And now I draw the conclusions. There is a plurality of prime symbols. It is the depth-experience through which the world becomes, through which perception extends itself to world. Its signification is for the soul to which it belongs and only for that soul, and it is different in waking and dreaming, acceptance and scrutiny, as between young and old, townsmen and peasant, man and woman. It actualizes for every high Culture the possibility of form upon which that Culture's existence rests and it does so of deep necessity. All fundamentals words like our mass, substance, material, thing, body, extension (and multitudes of words of the like order in other culture-tongues) are em- blems, obligatory and determined by destiny, that out of the infinite abundance


i8o THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

of world-possibilities evoke in the name of the individual Culture those possi- bilities that alone are significant and therefore necessary for it. None of them is exactly transferable just as it is into the experiential living and knowing of another Culture. And none of these prime words ever recurs. The choice of prime symbol in the moment of the Culture-soul's awakening into self-consciousness on its own soil — a moment that for one who can read world-history thus contains something catastrophic — decides all.

Culture, as the soul's total expression "become" and perceptible in ges- tures and works, as its mortal transient body, obnoxious to law, num- ber and causality: As the historical drama, a picture in the whole picture of world- history : As the sum of grand emblems of life, feeling and understanding: — this is the language through which alone a soul can tell of what it undergoes. The macrocosm, too, is a property of the individual soul; we can never know how it stands with the soul of another. That which is implied by "infinite space," the space that "passeth all understanding," which is the creative interpretation of depth-experience proper and peculiar to us men of the West — the kind of extension that is nothingness to the Greeks, the Universe to us — dyes our world in a colour that the Classical, the Indian and the Egyptian souls had not on their palettes. One soul listens to the world-experience in A flat major, another in F minor; one apprehends it in the Euclidean spirit, another in the contrapuntal, a third in the Magian spirit. From the purest analytical Space and from Nirvana to the most somatic reality of Athens, there is a series of prime symbols each of which is capable of forming a complete world out of itself. And, as the idea of the Babylonian or that of the Indian world was remote, strange and elusive for the men of the five or six Cultures that followed, so also the Western world will be incomprehensible to the men of Cultures yet unborn.


CHAPTER VI MAKROKOSMOS

II

APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN AND MAGIAN SOUL


CHAPTER VI

MAKROKOSMOS

II

APOLLINIAN. FAUSTIAN AND MAGIAN SOUL


Henceforth we shall designate the soul of the Classical Culture, which chose the sensuously-present individual body as the ideal type of the extended, by the name (familiarized by Nietzsche) of the Apollinian. In opposition to it we have the Faustian soul, whose prime-symbol is pure and limitless space, and whose "body" is the Western Culture that blossomed forth with the birth of the Romanesque style in the loth century in the Northern plain between the Elbe and the Tagus. The nude statue is Apollinian, the art of the fugue Faustian. Apollinian are: mechanical statics, the sensuous cult of the Olympian gods, the politically individual city-states of Greece, the doom of CEdipus and the phallus-symbol. Faustian are: Galileian dynamics. Catholic and Protestant dogmatics, the great dynasties of the Baroque with their cabinet diplomacy, the destiny of Lear and the Madonna-ideal from Dante's Beatrice to the last line of Faust 11. The painting that defines the individual body by contours is Apollinian, that which forms'space by means of light and shade is Faustian — this is the difference between the fresco of Polygnotus and the oil painting of Rembrandt. The Apollinian existence is that of the Greek who describes his ego as soma and who lacks all idea of an inner development and therefore all real history, inward and outward; the Faustian is an existence which is led with a deep consciousness and introspection of the ego, and a resolutely per- sonal culture evidenced in memoirs, reflections, retrospects and prospects and conscience. And in the time of Augustus, in the countries between Nile and Tigris, Black Sea and South Arabia, there appears — aloof but able to speak to us through forms borrowed, adopted and inherited — the Magian soul of the Arabian Culture with its algebra, astrology and alchemy, its mosaics and arabesques, its caliphates and mosques, and the sacraments and scriptures of the Persian, Jewish, Christian, "post-Classical" and Manichasan religions.

"Space " — speaking now in the Faustian idiom — is a spiritual something, rigidly distinct from the momentary sense-present, which could not be repre- sented in an Apollinian language, whether Greek or Latin. But the created

183


i84 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

expression-space of the Apollinian arts is equally alien to ours. The tiny cella of the early-Classical temple was a dumb dark nothingness, a structure (origin- ally) of perishable material, an envelope of the moment in contrast to the eternal vaults of Magian cupolas and Gothic naves, and the closed ranks of columns w^ere expressly meant to convey that for the eye at any rate this body possessed no Inward. In no other Culture is the firm footing, the socket, so emphasized. The Doric column bores into the ground, the vessels are always thought of from below upward (whereas those of the Renaissance float above their footing), and the sculpture-schools feel the stabilizing of their figures as their main problem. Hence in archaic works the legs are disproportionately emphasized, the foot is planted on the full sole, and if the drapery falls straight down, a part of the hem is removed to show that the foot is standing. The Classical relief is strictly stereometrically set on a plane, and there is an inter- space between the figures but no depth. A landscape of Claude Lorrain, on the contrary, is nothing but space, every detail being made to subserve its illus- tration. All bodies in it possess an atmospheric and perspective meaning purely as carriers of light and shade. The extreme of this disembodiment of the world in the service of space is Impressionism. Given this world-feeling, the Faustian soul in the springtime necessarily arrived at an architectural problem which had its centre of gravity in the spatial vaulting-over of vast, and from porch to choir dynamically deep, cathedrals. This last expressed its depth-experience. But with it was associated, in opposition to the cavernous Magian expression- space,^ the element of a soaring into the broad universe. Magian roofing, whether it be cupola or barrel-vault or even the horizontal baulk of a basilica, covers in. Strzygowski ^ has very aptly described the architectural idea of Hagia Sophia as an introverted Gothic striving under a closed outer casing. On the other hand, in the cathedral of Florence the cupola crowns the long Gothic body of 1367, and the same tendency rose in Bramante's scheme for St. Peter's to a veritable towering-up, a magnificent "Excelsior," that Michelangelo carried to completion with the dome that floats high and bright over the vast vaulting. To this sense of space the Classical opposes the symbol of the Doric peripteros, wholly corporeal and comprehensible in one glance.

The Classical Culture begins, then, with a great renunciation. A rich, pic- torial, almost over-ripe art lay ready to its hand. But this could not become the expression of the young soul, and so from about iioo b.c. the harsh, narrow, and to our eyes scanty and barbaric, early-Doric geometrical style appears in opposi- tion to the Minoan.^ For the three centuries which correspond to the flower- ing of our Gothic, there is no hint of an architecture, and it is only at about 650 B.C., "contemporarily" with Michelangelo's transition into the Baroque,

^ The word HohUngifuhl is Leo Frobcnius*s (Paideuma, p. 91). (The Early-Christian Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem [a.d, 3x7] is built over a natural cave. — Tr.^

  • Strzygowski's Ursprung dtr Cbristluhtn Kirchtnkutut (1910), p. 80.

• Sec Vol. II, p. 101 et seq.


APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN, AND MAGIAN SOUL 185

that the Doric and Etruscan temple-type arises. All "Early" art is religious, and this symbolic Negation is not less so than the Egyptian and the Gothic Affirmation. The idea of burning the dead accords with the cult-site but not with the cult-building; and the Early Classical religion which conceals itself from us behind the solemn names of Calchas, Tiresias, Orpheus and (probably) Numa ^ possessed for its rites simply that which is left of an architectural idea when one has subtracted the architecture, viz., the sacred precinct. The original cult-plan is thus the Etruscan templum, a sacred area merely staked off on the ground by the augurs with an impassable boundary and a propitious entrance on the East side.^ A "templum" was created where a rite was to be performed or where the representative of the state authority, senate or army, happened to be. It existed only for the duration of its use, and the spell was then removed. It was probably only about 700 b.c. that the Classical soul so far mastered itself as to represent this architectural Nothing in the sensible form of a built body. In the long run the Euclidean feeling proved stronger than the mere antipathy to duration.

Faustian architecture, on the contrary, begins on the grand scale simultane- ously with the first stirrings of a new piety (the Cluniac reform, c. 1000) and a new thought (the Eucharistic controversy between Berengar of Tours and Lanfranc 1050),' and proceeds at once to plans of gigantic intention; often enough, as in the case of Speyer, the whole community did not suffice to fill the cathedral,* and often again it proved impossible to complete the projected scheme. The passionate language of this architecture is that of the poems too.^ Far apart as may seem the Christian hymnology of the south and the Eddas of the still heathen north, they are alike in the implicit space-endlessness of prosody, rhythmic syntax and imagery. Read the Dies Ira together with the Voluspa,^ which is little earlier; there is the same adamantine will to over-

^ Se&Vol. II, pp. 345 ct scq.

2 Miiller-Deckcr, Die Etrusker (1877), II, pp. 12.8 ct scq. Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Romer (i9ix), p. 517. The oldest plan of Roma Quadrata was a " templum " whose limits had nothing to do with the building-up of the city but were connected with sacral rules, as the significance of this precinct (the " Pomccrium ") in later times shows. A " templum," too, was the Roman camp whose rectangular outline is visible to-day in many a Roman-founded town; it was the consecrated area within which the army felt itself under the protection of its gods, and originally had nothing what- ever to do with fortification, which is a product of Hellenistic times. (It may be added that Roman camps retained their rigidity of outhne even where obvious "military considerations" of ground, etc., must have suggested its modification. — Tr.^ Most Roman stone-temples Q'ades"^ were not "tcmpla" at all. On the other hand, the early Greek rkixevos of Homeric times must have had a similar significance.

3 The student may consult the articles "Church History," " Monasticism," "Eucharist" and other articles therein referred to in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, XI Edition. — Tr.

< English readers may remember that Cobbett ("Rural Rides," passim) was so impressed with the spaciousness of English country churches as to formulate a theory that mediaeval England must have been more populous than modern England is. — Tr.

6 Cf. my introduction to Ernst Droem's Gesdnge, p. ix.

• The oldest and most mystical of the poems of the "Elder Edda." — Tr,


i86 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

come and break all resistances of the visible. No rhythm ever imagined radiates immensities of space and distance as the old Northern does :

Zum Unhcil wcrdcn — noch allzulangc Manner und Wcibcr — zur Welt gcborcn Abcr wir beide — bleibcn zusammcn

Ich und Sigurd.

The accents of the Homeric hexameter are the soft rustle of a leaf in the midday sun, the rhythm oi matter; but the "Stabreim," like "potential energy" in the world-pictures of modern physics, creates a tense restraint in the void without limits, distant night-storms above the highest peaks. In its swaying indefiniteness all words and things dissolve themselves — it is the dynamics, not the statics, of language. The same applies to the grave rhythm of Media vita in mortt sumus. Here is heralded the colour of Rembrandt and the instru- mentation of Beethoven — here infinite solitude is felt as the home of the Faustian soul. What is Valhalla? Unknown to the Germans of the Migrations and even to the Merovingian Age, it was conceived by the nascent Faustian soul. It was conceived, no doubt, under Classic-pagan and Arabian-Christian impressions, for the antique and the sacred writings, the ruins and mosaics and miniatures, the cults and rites and dogmas of these past Cultures reached into the new life at all points. And yet, this Valhalla is something beyond all sensible actualities floating in remote, dim, Faustian regions. Olympus rests on the homely Greek soil, the Paradise of the Fathers is a magic garden somewhere in the Universe, but Valhalla is nowhere. Lost in the limitless, it appears with its inharmonious gods and heroes the supreme symbol of solitude. Siegfried, Parzeval, Tristan, Hamlet, Faust are the loneliest heroes in all the Cultures. Read the wondrous awakening of the inner life in Wolfram's Parzeval. The longing for the woods, the mysterious compassion, the ineffable sense of forsakenness — it is all Faustian and only Faustian. Every one of us knows it. The motive returns with all its profundity in the Easter scene of Faust I.

" A longing pure and not to be described drove me to wander over woods and fields, and in a mist of hot abundant tears I felt a world arise and live for me."

Of this world-experience neither ApoUinian nor Magian man, neither Homer nor the Gospels, knows anything whatever. The climax of the poem of Wolf- ram, that wondrous Good Friday morning scene when the hero, at odds with God and with himself, meets the noble Gawan and resolves to go on pilgrimage to Tevrezent, takes us to the heart of the Faustian religion. Here one can feel the mystery of the Eucharist which binds the communicant to a mystic com- pany, to a Church that alone can give bliss. In the myth of the Holy Grail and its Knights one can feel the inward necessity of the German-Northern Catholicism. In opposition to the Classical sacrifices offered to individual gods


APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN, AND MAGIAN SOUL 187

in separate temples, there is here the one never-ending sacrifice repeated everywhere and every day. This is the Faustian idea of the 9th-iith Centuries, the Edda time, foreshadowed by Anglo-Saxon missionaries like Winfried but only then ripened. The Cathedral, with its High Altar enclosing the accomplished miracle, is its expression in stone. ^

The plurality of separate bodies which represents Cosmos for the Classical soul, requires a similar pantheon — hence the antique polytheism. The single world-volume, be it conceived as cavern or as space, demands the single god of Magian or Western Christianity. Athene or Apollo might be represented by a statue, but it is and has long been evident to our feeling that the Deity of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation can only be "manifested" in the storm of an organ fugue or the solemn progress of cantata and mass. From the rich manifold of figures in the Edda and contemporary legends of saints to Goethe our myth develops itself in steady opposition to the Classical — in the one case a continuous disintegration of the divine that culminated in the early Empire in an impossible multitude of deities, in the other a process of simplification that led to the Deism of the i8th Century.

The Magian hierarchy of heaven — angels, saints, persons of the Trinity — has grown paler and paler, more and more disembodied, in the sphere of the Western pseudomorphosis,^ supported though it was by the whole weight of Church authority, and even the Devil — the great adversary in the Gothic world-drama ^ — has disappeared unnoticed from among the possibilities of the Faustian world-feeling. Luther could still throw the inkpot at him, but he has been passed over in silence by perplexed Protestant theologians long ago. For the solitude of the Faustian soul agrees not at all with a duality of world powers. God himself is the All. About the end of the 17th Century this reli- giousness could no longer be limited to pictorial expression, and instrumental music came as its last and only form-language: we may say that the Catholic faith is to the Protestant as an altar-piece is to an oratorio. But even the Germanic gods and heroes are surrounded by this rebuffing immensity and enigmatic gloom. They are steeped in music and in night, for daylight gives visual bounds and therefore shapes bodily things. Night eliminates body, day soul. Apollo and Athene have no souls. On Olympus rests the eternal light of the transparent southern day, and Apollo's hour is high noon, when great Pan ' sleeps. But Valhalla is light-less, and even in the Eddas we can trace that deep midnight of Faust's study-broodings, the midnight that is caught by Rem- brandt's etchings and absorbs Beethoven's tone colours. No Wotan or Baldur or Freya has "Euclidean" form. Of them, as of the Vedic gods of India, it can be said that they suffer not "any graven image or any likeness whatsoever"; and this impossibility carries an implicit recognition that eternal space, and not the corporeal copy — which levels them down, desecrates them, denies them

1 Sec Vol. II, p. 358 et seq. * See Vol. II, pp. 241 et seq. » See Vol. U, p. 354.


i88 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

— is the supreme symbol. This is the deep-felt motive that underlies the iconoclastic storms in Islam and Byzantium (J)othy be it noted, of the yth cen- tury), and the closely similar movement in our Protestant North. Was not Descartes's creation of the anti-Euclidean analysis of space an iconoclasm? The Classical geometry handles a number-world of day, the function-theory is the genuine mathematic of night.

II

That which is expressed by the soul of the West in its extraordinary wealth of media — words, tones, colours, pictorial perspectives, philosophical sys- tems, legends, the spaciousness of Gothic cathedrals and the formulas of func- tions — namely its world-feeling, is expressed by the soul of Old Egypt (which was remote from all ambitions towards theory and literariness) almost exclu- sively by the immediate language of Stone. Instead of spinning word-subtleties around its form of extension, its "space" and its "time," instead of forming hypotheses and number-systems and dogmas, it set up its huge symbols in the landscape of the Nile in all silence. Stone is the great emblem of the Timeless- Become; space and death seem bound up in it. "Men have built for the dead," says Bachofen in his autobiography, "before they have built for the living, and even as a perishable wooden structure suffices for the span of time that is given to the living, so the housing of the dead for ever demands the solid stone of the earth. The oldest cult is associated with the stone that marks the place of burial, the oldest temple-building with the tomb-structure, the origins of art and decoration with the grave-ornament. Symbol has created itself in the graves. That which is thought and felt and silently prayed at the grave-side can be expressed by no word, but only hinted by the boding symbol that stands in unchanging grave repose." The dead strive no more. They are no more Time, but only Space — something that stays (if indeed it stays at all) but does not ripen towards a Future; and hence it is stone, the abiding stone, that ex- presses how the dead is mirrored in the waking consciousness of the living. The Faustian soul looks for an immortality to follow the bodily end, a sort of marriage with endless space, and it disembodiesof the macrocosm as the man of the particular kind sees and comprehends it. Both have system. Each is pene- trated with the religious side of life — fear and love.^ A genuine symbol can instil fear or can set free from fear; the "right" emancipates and the "wrong" hurts and depresses. The imitative side of the arts, on the contrary, stands closer to the real race-feelings of hate and love, out of which arises the opposi-

^ Imitation, being life, is past in the very moment of accomplishment. The curtain falls, and it passes either into oblivion or, if the product is a durable artifact, into art-history. Of the songs and dances of old Cultures nothing remains, of their pictures and poems little. And even this little con- tains, substantially, only the ornamental side of the original imitation. Of a grand drama there remains only the text, not the image and the sound; of a poem only the words, not the recital; and of all their music the notes at most, not the tone-colours of the instruments. The essential is irrevocably gone, and every "reproduction" is in reality something new and different.

2 For the workshop of Thothmes at Tell-el-Amarna, see Mitteilungen der Deutschett-Qrimt-Gtsell' schaft. No. 5X, pp. x8 et seq.

3 K. Burdach, Deutsche Renaissance, p. ii. The pictorial art of the Gothic period also has its strict typism and symbolism.

  • E. Norden, Antike Kunst-prosa, pp. 8 et seq.

6 See Vol. II, p. 32.3.


194 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

tion of u^y and beautiful. This is in relation only with the living, of which the inner rhythm repels us or draws us into phase with it, whether it be that of the sunset-cloud or that of the tense breath of the machine. An imitation is beau- tiful, an ornament significant, and therein lies the difference between direction and extension, organic and inorganic logic, life and death. That which wc think beautiful is "worth copying." Easily it swings with us and draws us on to imitate, to join in the singing, to repeat. Our hearts beat higher, our limbs twitch, and we are stirred till our spirits overflow. But as it belongs to Time, it "has its time." A symbol endures, but everything beautiful vanishes with the life-pulsation of the man, the class, the people or the race that feels it as a specific beauty in the general cosmic rhythm.^ The "beauty" that Classical sculpture and poetry contained for Classical eyes is something different from the beauty that they contain for ours — something extinguished irrecoverably with the Classical soul — while what we regard as beautiful in it is some- thing that only exists for us. Not only is that which is beautiful for one kind of man neutral or ugly for another — e.g., the whole of our music for the Chinese, or Mexican sculpture for us. For one and the same life the accustomed, the habitual, owing to the very fact of its possessing duration, cannot possess beauty.

And now for the first time wc can see the opposition between these two sides of every art in all its depth. Imitation spiritualizes and quickens, ornament enchants and kills. The one becomes, the other is. And therefore the one is allied to love and, above all — in songs and riot and dance — to the sexual love, which turns existence to face the future; and the other to care of the past, to recollection ^ and to the funerary. The beautiful is longingly pursued, the significant instils dread, and there is no deeper contrast than that between the house of the living and the house of the dead.^ The peasant's cottage ^ and its derivative the country noble's hall, the fenced town and the castle are man- sions of life, unconscious expressions of circling blood, that no art produced and no art can alter. The idea of the family appears in the plan of the proto- house, the inner form of the stock in the plan of its villages — which after many a century and many a change of occupation still show what race it was that founded them^ — the life of a nation and its social ordering in the plan (not the elevation or silhouette) of the city.® On the other hand. Orna- mentation of the high order develops itself on the stiff symbols of death,

^ The translation is so far a paraphrase here that it is desirable to reproduce the German original : " AUes Schone vcrgcht mit dem Lebenspulsschlag (desscn) dcr cs aus dem kosmischcn Takt heraus als solches empfindet."

' Hence the ornamental character of script.

• See p. i88. < See Vol. II, p. 104.

» E.g., the Slavonic round-villages and Teutonic street-villages cast of the Elbe. Similarly, conclusions can be drawn as to many of the events of the Homeric age from the distribution of round and rectangular buildings in ancient Italy.

• Sec Vol. U, p. 109.


APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN, AND MAGIAN SOUL 195

the urn, the sarcophagus, the stele and the temple of the dead/ and beyoijd these in gods' temples and cathedrals which are Ornament through and through, not the expressions of a race but the language of a world-view. They are pure art through and through — just what the castle and the cottage arc not.2

For cottage and castle are buildings in which art, and, specifically, imitative art, is made and done, the home of Vedic, Homeric and Germanic epos, of the songs of heroes, the dance of boors and that of lords and ladies, of the min- strel's lay. The cathedral, on the other hand, is art, and, moreover, the only art by which nothing is imitated; it alone is pure tension of persistent forms, pure three-dimensional logic that expresses itself in edges and surfaces and volumes. But the art of villages and castles is derived from the inclina- tions of the moment, from the laughter and high spirit of feasts and games, and to such a degree is it dependent on Time, so much is it a thing of occasion, that the troubadour obtains his very name from finding, while Improvisation — as we see in the Tzigane music to-day — is nothing but race manifesting itself to alien senses under the influence of the hour. To this free creative power all spiritual art opposes the strict school in which the individual — in the hymn as in the work of building and carving — is the servant of a logic of timeless forms, and so in all Cultures the seat of its style-history is in its early cult architecture. In the castle it is the life and not the structure that possesses style. In the town the plan is an image of the destinies of a people, whereas the silhouette of emergent spires and cupolas tells of the logic in the builders' world-picture, of the "first and last things" of their universe.

In the architecture of the living, stone serves a worldly fur-pose, but in the architecture of the cult it is a symbol.^ Nothing has injured the history of the great architectures so much as the fact that it has been regarded as the history of architectural techniques instead of as that of architectural ideas which took their technical expression-means as and where they found them. It has been just the same with the history of musical instruments,^ which also were de- veloped on a foundation of tone-language. Whether the groin and the flying buttress and the squinch-cupola were imagined specially for the great archi- tectures or were expedients that lay more or less ready to hand and were taken into use, is for art-history a matter of as little importance as the question of whether, technically, stringed instruments originated in Arabia or in Celtic Britain. It may be that the Doric column was, as a matter of workmanship, borrowed from the Egyptian temples of the New Empire, or the late-Roman domical construction from the Etruscans, or the Florentine court from the North-African Moors. Nevertheless the Doric peripteros, the Pantheon, and

1 See p. 167. 2 See Vol. II, pp. i^x ct scq.

3 Sec p. iz8. * Sec p. 62..


196 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

the Palazzo Farnese belong to wholly different worlds — they subserve the artistic expression of the prime-symbol in three different Cultures.

IV

In every springtime, consequently, there arc two definitely ornamental and non-imitative arts, that of building and that of decoration. In the longing and pregnant centuries before it, elemental expression belongs exclusively to Orna- mentation in the narrow sense. The Carolingian period is represented only by its ornament, as its architecture, for want of the Ideay stands between the styles. And similarly, as a matter of art-history, it is immaterial that no buildings of the Mycenasan age have survived.^ But with the dawn of the great Culture, architecture as ornament comes into being suddenly and with such a force of ex- pression that for a century mere decoration-as-such shrinks away from it in awe. The spaces, surfaces and edges of stone speak alone. The tomb of Cheph- ren is the culmination of mathematical simplicity — everywhere right angles, squares and rectangular pillars, nowhere adornment, inscription or desinence — and it is only after some generations have passed that Relief ventures to in- fringe the solemn magic of those spaces and the strain begins to be eased. And the noble Romanesque of Westphalia-Saxony (Hildesheim, Gernrode, Paulin- zella, Paderborn), of Southern France and of the Normans (Norwich and Peterborough) managed to render the whole sense of the world with indescrib- able power and dignity in one line, one capital, one arch.

When the form-world of the springtime is at its highest, and not before, the ordained relation is that architecture is lord and ornament is vassal. And the word "ornament" is to be taken here in the widest possible sense. Even con- ventionally, it covers the Classical ««/>-motive with its quiet poised symmetry or meander supplement, the spun surface of arabesque and the not dissimilar sur- face-patterning of Mayan art, and the "Thunder-pattern" ^ and others of the early Chou period which prove once again the landscape basis of the old Chinese architecture without a doubt. But the warrior figures of Dipylon vases are also conceived in the spirit of ornament, and so, in a far higher degree still, are the statuary groups of Gothic cathedrals. "The figures were composed pillar- wise from the spectator, the figures of the pillar being, with reference to the spec- tator, ranked upon one another like rhythmic figures in a symphony that soars heavenward and expands its sounds in every direction." ^ And besides draper- ies, gestures, and figure-types, even the structure of the hymn-strophe and the parallel motion of the parts in church music are ornament in the service of the

^ The same applies to the architecture of Thinitc Egypt and to the Seleucid-Pcrsian sun and fire temples of the pre-Christian area.

• The combination of scrolls and "Greek keys" with the Dragon or other emblem of storm- power, — Tr.

• Dvorik, Idtalisnms und Natstralismus in der got. Skulptttr u. Malerti Qiist. Ztitschrift, 1918, pp. 44 et seq.).


APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN, AND MAGIAN SOUL 197

all-ruling architectural idea.^ The spell of the great Ornamentation remains unbroken till in the beginning of a "late" period architecture falls into a group of civic and worldly special arts that unceasingly devote themselves to pleasing and clever imitation and become ipso facto personal. To Imitation and Orna- ment the same applies that has been said already of time and space. Time gives birth to space, but space gives death to time.^ In the beginning, rigid symbol- ism had petrified everything alive; the Gothic statue was not permitted to be a living body, but was simply a set of lines disposed in human form. But now Ornament loses all its sacred rigour and becomes more and more decoration for the architectural setting of a polite and mannered life. It was purely as this, namely as a beautifying element, that Renaissance taste was adopted by the courtly and patrician world of the North (and by it alone!). Ornament meant something quite different in the Egyptian Old Kingdom from what it meant in the Middle; in the geometric period from what it meant in the Hellenistic; at the end of the lith Century from what it meant at the end of Louis XIV's reign. And architecture too becomes pictorial and makes music, and its forms seem always to be trying to imitate something in the picture of the world-around. From the Ionic capital we proceed to the Corinthian, and from Vignola through Bernini to the Rococo.

At the last, when Civilization sets in, true ornament and, with it, great art as a whole are extinguished. The transition consists — in every Culture — in Classicism and Romanticism of one sort or another, the former being a senti- mental regard for an Ornamentation (rules, laws, types) that has long been archaic and soulless, and the latter a sentimental Imitation, not of life, but of an older Imitation. In the place of architectural style we find architectural taste. Methods of painting and mannerisms of writing, old forms and new, home and foreign, come and go with the fashion. The inward necessity is no longer there, there are no longer "schools," for everyone selects what and where it pleases him to select. Art becomes craft-art (K.unstgewerhe) in all its branches — architec- ture and music, poetry and drama — and in the end we have a pictorial and literary stock-in-trade which is destitute of any deeper significance and is em- ployed according to taste. This final or industrial form of Ornament — no longer historical, no longer in the condition of "becoming" — we have before us not only in the patterns of oriental carpets, Persian and Indian metal work,

1 And, finally, ornament in the highest sense includes scrip, and with it, the Book, which is the true associate of the cult-building, and as an art-work always appears and disappears with it. (Sec Vol. II, pp. i8i et seq., pp. xgS et seq.) In writing, \x. is understanding as distinct from intuition that attains to form: it is not essences that those signs symbolize but notions abstracted therefrom by words, and as for the speech-habituated human intellect rigid space is the presented objective, the writing of a Culture is (after its stone-building) the purest of all expressions of its prime-symbol. It is quite impossible to understand the history of Arabesque if we leave the innumerable Arabian scripts out of consideration, and it is no less impossible to separate Egyptian and Chinese style- history from the history of the corresponding writing-signs and their arrangement and application.

2 See p. 173.


198 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Chinese porcelain, but also in Egyptian (and Babylonian) art as the Greeks and Romans met it. The Minoan art of Crete is pure craft-art, a northern outlier of Egyptian post-Hyksos taste; and its "contemporary," Hellenistic-Roman art from about the time of Scipio and Hannibal, similarly subserves the habit of comfort and the play of intellect. From the richly-decorated entablature of the Forum of Nerva in Rome to the later provincial ceramics in the West, we can trace the same steady formation of an unalterable craft-art that we find in the Egyptian and the Islamic worlds, and that wc have to presume in India after Buddha and in China after Confucius.


Now, Cathedral and Pyramid-temple are different in spite of their deep in- ward kinship, and it is precisely in these differences that we seize the mighty phenomenon of the Faustian soul, whose depth-impulse refuses to be bound in the prime symbol of a way, and from its earliest beginnings strives to transcend every optical limitation. Can anything be more alien to the Egyptian concep- tion of the State — whose tendency we may describe as a noble sobriety — than the political ambitions of the great Saxon, Franconian and Hohenstaufen Emperors, who came to grief because they overleapt all political actualities and for whom the recognition of any bounds would have been a betrayal of the idea of their rulership? Here the prime symbol of infinite space, with all its in- describable power, entered the field of active political existence. Beside the figures of the Ottos, Conrad II, Henry VI and Frederick II stand the Viking- Normans, conquerors of Russia, Greenland, England, Sicily and almost of Constantinople; and the great popes, Gregory VII and Innocent III — all of whom alike aimed at making their visible spheres of influence coincident with the whole known world. This is what distinguishes the heroes of the Grail and Arthurian and Siegfried sagas, ever roaming in the infinite, from the heroes of Homer with their geographically modest horizon; and the Crusades, that took men from the Elbe and the Loire to the limits of the known world, from the historical events upon which the Classical soul built the "Iliad" and which from the style of that soul wc may safely assume to have been local, bounded, and completely appreciable.

The Doric soul actualized the symbol of the corporally-present individual thing, while deliberately rejecting all big and far-reaching creations, and it is for this very good reason that the first post-Mycenasan period has bequeathed nothing to our archaeologists. The expression to which this soul finally attained was the Doric temple with its purely outward effectiveness, set upon the land- scape as a massive image but denying and artistically disregarding the space within as the fiii 6v, that which was held to be incapable of existence. The ranked columns of the Egyptians carried the roof of a hall. The Greek in bor- rowing the motive invested it with a meaning proper to himself — he turned


APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN, AND MAGIAN SOUL 199

the architectural type inside out like a glove. The outer column-sets are, in a sense, relics of a denied interior.^

The Magian and the Faustian souls, on the contrary, built high. Their dream-images became concrete as vaultings above significant inner-spaces, structural anticipations respectively of the mathematic of algebra and that of analysis. In the style that radiated from Burgundy and Flanders rib-vaulting with its lunettes and flying buttresses emancipated the contained space from the sense-appreciable surface ^ bounding it. In the Magian interior ' ' the window is merely a negative component, a utility-form in no wise yet developed into an art-form — to put it crudely, nothing but a hole in the wall. ' ' ^ When windows were in practice indispensable, they were for the sake of artistic impression concealed by galleries as in the Eastern basilica.'* The window as architecture^ on the other hand, is peculiar to the Faustian soul and the most significant symbol of its depth-experience. In it can be felt the will to emerge from the interior into the boundless. The same will that is immanent in contrapuntal music was native to these vaultings. The incorporeal world of this music was and re- mained that of the first Gothic, and even when, much later, polyphonic music rose to such heights as those of the Matthew Passion, the Eroica, and Tristan and Parsifal, it became of inward necessity cathedral-like and returned to its home, the stone language of the Crusade-time. To get rid of every trace of Classical corporeality, there was brought to bear the full force of a deeply significant Ornamentation, which defies the delimiting power of stone with its weirdly impressive transformations of vegetal, animal and human bodies (St. Pierre in Moissac), which dissolves all its lines into melodies and variations on a theme, all its fagades into many- voiced fugues, and all the bodiliness of its statuary into a music of drapery-folds. It is this spirituality that gave their deep meaning to the gigantic glass-expanses of our cathedral-windows with their polychrome, translucent and therefore wholly bodiless, painting — an art that has never and nowhere repeated itself and forms the completest contrast that can be imagined to the Classical fresco. It is perhaps in the Sainte-Chapelle at Paris that this emancipation from bodiliness is most evident. Here the stone practically vanishes in the gleam of the glass. Whereas the fresco-painting is co-material with the wall on and with which it has grown and its colour is effective as material, here we have colours dependent on no carrying surface

^ Certainly the Greeks at the time when they advanced from the Anta: to the Peripteros were under the mighty influence of the Egyptian series-cohimns — it was at this time that their sculpture in the round, indisputably following Egyptian models, freed itself from the relief manner which still clings to the Apollo figures. But this does not alter the fact that the motive of the Classical column and the Classical application of the rank-principle were wholly and peculiarly Classical.

2 The surface of the space-volume itself, not that of the stone. Dvorak, Hist. Ztschr., 1918, pp. 17 et seq.

^ Dehio, Gesch. der deutschen Kunst, I, p. 16.

  • For descriptions and illustrations of types of Doming and Vaulting, see the article Vault in

Ency. Brit., XI Ed. — Tr.


loo THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

but as free in space as organ notes, and shapes poised in the infinite. Compare with the Faustian spirit of these churches — almost wall-less, loftily vaulted, irradiated with many-coloured light, aspiring from nave to choir — the Ara- bian (that is, the Early-Christian Byzantine) cupola-church. The pendentive cupola, that seems to float on high above the basilica or the octagon, was indeed also a victory over the principle of natural gravity which the Classical expressed in architrave and column; it, too, was a defiance of architectural body, of "exterior." But the very absence of an exterior emphasizes the more the unbroken coherence of the wall that shuts in the Cavern and allows no look and no hope to emerge from it. An ingeniously confusing interpenetration of spherical and polygonal forms; a load so placed upon a stone drum that it seems to hover weightless on high, yet closing the interior without outlet; all structural lines concealed; vague light admitted, through a small opening in the heart of the dome but only the more inexorably to emphasize the walling-in — such are the characters that we see in the masterpieces of this art, S. Vitale in Ravenna, Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, and the Dome of the Rock ^ in Jerusalem. Where the Egyptian puts reliefs that with their flat planes studi- ously avoid any foreshortening suggestive of lateral depth, where the Gothic architects put their pictures of glass to draw in the world of space without, the Magian clothes his walls with sparkling, predominantly golden, mosaics and arabesques and so drowns his cavern in that unreal, fairy-tale light which for Northerners is always so seductive in Moorish art.

VI

The phenomenon of the great style, then, is an emanation from the essence of the Macrocosm, from the prime-symbol of a great culture. No one who can appreciate the connotation of the word sufficiently to see that it designates not a form-aggregate but a form-history, will try to aline the fragmentary and chaotic art-utterances of primitive mankind with the comprehensive certainty of a style that consistently develops over centuries. Only the art of great Cultures, the art that has ceased to be only art and has begun to be an efl^ectivc unit of expression and significance, possesses style.

The organic history of a style comprises a "pre — ," a "non — " and a "post — ." The bull tablet of the First Dynasty of Egypt ^ is not yet "Egyp- tian." Not till the Third Dynasty do the works acquire a style — but then they do so suddenly and very definitely. Similarly the Carolingian period stands " between-styles." We see difl^erent forms touched on and explored, but nothing of inwardly necessary expression. The creator of the Aachen Minster " thinks

  • "Mosque of Omar." — Tr.

' H. Schiifcr, Von Aegyptischtr Kunst, I, pp. 15 ct scq.

(The bulls arc shown in Fig. 18 in the article Eijpt in the Encyclopaedia Britaooica, XI Edition, Vol. IX, pp. 65-66. — TrO


APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN, AND MAGIAN SOUL loi

surely and builds surely, but does not feel surely." ^ The Marienkirche in, the Castle of Wiirzburg (c. 700) has its counterpart in Salonika (St. George), and the Church of St. Germigny des Pres (c. 800) with its cupolas and horseshoe niches is almost a mosque. For the whole of West Europe the period 850-950 is almost a blank. And just so to-day Russian art stands between two styles. The primitive wooden architecture with its steep eight-sided tent-roof (which extends from Norway to Manchuria) is impressed with Byzantine motives from over the Danube and Armenian-Persian from over the Caucasus. We can cer- tainly feel an "elective affinity" between the Russian and the Magian souls, but as yet the prime symbol of Russia, the plane without limit ^ finds no sure expression either in religion or in architecture. The church roof emerges, hill- ockwise, but little from the landscape and on it sit the tent-roofs whose points are coifed with the " kokoshniks " that suppress and would abolish the upward tendency. They neither tower up like the Gothic belfry nor enclose like the mosque-cupola, but sit, thereby emphasizing the horizontality of the building, which is meant to be regarded merely from the outside. When about 1760 the Synod forbade the tent roofs and prescribed the orthodox onion-cupolas, the heavy cupolas were set upon slender cylinders, of which there may be any number ^ and which sit on the roof-plane.^ It is not yet a style, only the promise of a style that will awaken when the real Russian religion awakens.

In the Faustian West, this awakening happened shortly before a.d. iooo. In one moment, the Romanesque style was there. Instead of the fluid organiza- tion of space on an insecure ground plan, there was, suddenly, a strict dynamic of space. From the very beginning, inner and outer construction were placed in a fixed relation, the wall was penetrated by the form-language and the form worked into the wall in a way that no other Culture has ever imagined. From the very beginning the window and the belfry were invested with their mean- ings. The form was irrevocably assigned. Only its development remained to be worked out.

The Egyptian style began with another such creative act, just as unconscious, just as full of symbolic force. The prime symbol of the Way came into being suddenly with the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty (2.930 b.c). The world- creating depth-experience of this soul gets its substance from the direction- factor itself. Spatial depth as stiffened Time, distance, death, Destiny itself

1 Frankl, Baukunst des Mimlalters (1918), pp. 16 et seq.

2 See Vol. II, pp. 361 et seq. The lack of any vertical tendency in the Russian life-feeling is perceptible also in the saga-figure of Ilya Murometz (see Vol. II, p. 2.31). The Russian has not the smallest relation with a Fafher-God. His ethos is not a filial but purely a. fraternal love, radiating in all directions along the human plane. Christ, even, is conceived as a Brother. The Faustian, wholly vertical, tendency to strive up to fulfilment is to the real Russian an incomprehensible pretension. The same absence of all vertical tendency is observable in Russian ideas of the state and property.

3 The cemetery church of Kishi has xx.

4 J. Grabar, " History of Russian Art " (Russian, 1911), I-III. Eliasberg, Kuss. Baukunst (1912.), Introduction.


2.01 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

dominate the expression, and the merely sensuous dimensions of length and breadth become an escorting plane which restricts and prescribes the Way of destiny. The Egyptian flat-relief, which is designed to be seen at close quarters and arranged serially so as to compel the beholder to pass along the wall-planes in the prescribed direction, appears with similar suddenness about the begin- ning of the Fifth Dynasty.^ The still later avenues of sphinxes and statues and the rock- and terrace-temples constantly intensify that tendency towards the one distance that the world of Egyptian mankind knows, the grave. Observe how soon the colonnades of the early period come to be systems of huge, close-set pillars that screen off all side-view. This is something that has never reproduced itself in any other architecture.

The grandeur of this style appears to us as rigid and unchanging. And cer- tainly it stands beyond the passion which is ever seeking and fearing and so imparts to subordinate characters a quality of restless personal movement in the flow of the centuries. But, vice versa, we cannot doubt that to an Egyptian the Faustian style (which is our style, from earliest Romanesque to Rococo and Empire) would with its unresting persistent search for a Something, appear far more uniform than we can imagine. It follows, we must not forget, from the conception of style that we are working on here, that Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo are only stages of one and the same style, in which it is naturally the variable that we and the constant that men of other eyes remark. In actual fact, the inner unity of the Northern Renaissance is shown in innumerable reconstructions of Romanesque work in Baroque and of late Gothic work in Rococo that are not in the least startling. In peasant art, Gothic and Baroque have been identical, and the streets of old towns with their pure harmony of all sorts of gables and facades (wherein definite attributions to Romanesque or Gothic Renaissance or Baroque or Rococo are often quite impossible) show that the family resemblance between the members is far greater than they themselves realize.

The Egyptian style was purely architectural, and remained so till the Egyp- tian soul was extinguished. It is the only one in which Ornamentation as a decorative supplement to architecture is entirely absent. It allowed of no diver- gence into arts of entertainment, no display-painting, no busts, no secular music. In the Ionic phase, the centre of gravity of the Classical style shifted from architecture to an independent plastic art; in that of the Baroque the style of the West passed into music, whose form-language in its turn ruled the entire building art of the i8th Century; in the Arabian world, after Justinian and

  • The disposition of Egyptian and that of Western history are so clear as to admit of comparison

being earned right down into the details, and it would be well worth the expert's while to carry out such an investigation. The Fourth Dynasty, that of the strict Pyramid style, b.c. 1930-1750 (Cheops, Chephren), corresponds to the Romanesque (980-1100), the Fifth Dynasty (1750-1615, Sahu-ri) «o the early Gothic (1100-1130), and the Sixth Dynasty, prime of the archaic portraiture (1613- 1475, Phiops I and II), to the mature Gothic of ii3o-x4oa


APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN, AND MAGIAN SOUL 103

Chosroes-Nushirvan, Arabesque dissolved all the forms of architecture, paint- ing and sculpture into style-impressions that nowadays we should consider as craft-art. But in Egypt the sovereignty of architecture remained unchallenged; it merely softened its language a little. In the chambers of the pyramid-temple of the Fourth Dynasty (Pyramid of Chephren) there are unadorned angular pillars. In the buildings of the Fifth (Pyramid of Sahu-re) the plant-column makes its appearance. Lotus and papyrus branches turned into stone arise gigantic out of a pavement of transparent alabaster that represents water, enclosed by purple walls. The ceiling is adorned with birds and stars. The sacred way from the gate-buildings to the tomb-chamber, the picture of life, is a stream — it is the Nile itself become one with the prime-symbol of direc- tion. The spirit of the mother-landscape unites with the soul that has sprung from it.

In China, in lieu of the awe-inspiring pylon with its massy wall and narrow entrance, we have the "Spirit-wall" (yin-pi) that conceals the way in. The Chinaman slips into life and thereafter follows the Tao of life's path; as the Nile valley is to the up-and-down landscape of the Hwang Ho, so is the stone- enclosed temple-way to the mazy paths of Chinese garden-architecture. And just so, in some mysterious fashion, the Euclidean existence is linked with the multitude of little islands and promontories of the i^gean, and the passion- ate Western, roving in the infinite, with the broad plains of Franconia and Burgundy and Saxony.


VII


The Egyptian style is the expression of a brave soul. The rigour and force of it Egyptian man himself never felt and never asserted. He dared all, but said nothing. In Gothic and Baroque, on the contrary, the triumph over heaviness became a perfectly conscious motive of the form-language. The drama of Shakespeare deals openly with the desperate conflict of will and world. Classi- cal man, again, was weak in the face of the "powers." The Kadapais of fear and pity, the relief and recovery of the Apollinian soul in the moment of the TreptTT^reta was, according to Aristotle, the effect deliberately aimed at in Attic tragedy. As the Greek spectator watched someone whom he knew (for every- one knew the myth and its heroes and lived in them) senselessly maltreated by fortune, without any conceivable possibility of resistance to the Powers, and saw him go under with splendid mien, defiant, heroic, his own Euclidean soul experienced a marvellous uplifting. If life was worthless, at any rate the grand gesture in losing it was not so. The Greek willed nothing and dared nothing, but he found a stirring beauty in enduring. Even the earlier figures of Odysseus the patient, and, above all, Achilles the archetype of Greek manhood, have this characteristic quality. The morale of the Cynics, that of the Stoics, that of Epicurus, the common Greek ideals of ao}(f>po<Tvvr] and arapa^la, Diogenes


104 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

devoting himself to Oeojpla in a tub — all this is masked cowardice in the face of grave matters and responsibilities, and different indeed from the pride of the Egyptian soul. Apollinian man goes below ground out of life's way, even to the point of suicide, which in this Culture alone (if we ignore certain related In- dian ideals) ranked as a high ethical act and was treated with the solemnity of a ritual symbol.^ The Dionysiac intoxication seems a sort of furious drowning of uneasinesses that to the Egyptian soul were utterly unknown. And con- sequently the Greek Culture is that of the small, the easy, the simple. Its technique is, compared with Egyptian or Babylonian, a clever nullity. ^ No ornamentation shows such a poverty of invention as theirs, and their stock of sculptural positions and attitudes could be counted on one's fingers. "In its poverty of forms, which is conspicuous even allowing that at the beginning of its development it may have been better off than it was later, the Doric style pivoted everything on proportions and on measure." ' Yet, even so, what adroitness in avoiding! The Greek architecture with its commensuration of load and support and its peculiar smallness of scale suggests a persistent evasion of difficult architectural problems that on the Nile and, later, in the high North were literally looked for, which moreover were known and cer- tainly not burked in the Mycenasan age. The Egyptian loved the strong stone of immense buildings; it was in keeping with his self-consciousness that he should choose only the hardest for his task. But the Greek avoided it; his architecture first set itself small tasks, then ceased altogether. If we survey it as a whole, and then compare it with the totality of Egyptian or Mexican or even, for that matter. Western architecture, we are astounded at the feeble development of the style. A few variations of the Doric temple and it was exhausted. It was already closed off about 400 when the Corinthian capital was invented, and everything subsequent to this was merely modification of what existed.

The result of this was an almost bodily standardization of form- types and style-species. One might choose between them, but never overstep their strict limits — that would have been in some sort an admission of an infinity of possibilities. There were three orders of columns and a definite disposition of the architrave corresponding to each; to deal with the difficulty (considered, as early as Vitruvius, as a conflict) which the alternation of triglyphs and metopes produced at the corners, the nearest intercolumniations were narrowed — no one thought of imagining new forms to suit the case. If greater dimen- sions were desired, the requirements were met by superposition, juxtaposition, etc., of additional elements. Thus the Colosseum possesses three rings, the Didymajum of Miletus three rows of columns in front, and the Frieze of the

  • That which differentiates the Japanese harakiri from this suicide is its intensely pu;poseful

and (so to put it) active and demonstrative character. — Tr. * Sec Vol. II, p. 616.

» Koldewcy-Puchstcin, DU griech. Ttmptl in Unttr-Italim und SiT^lim^ I, p. 1x8.


APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN, AND MAGIAN SOUL 105

Giants of Pergamum an endless succession of individual and unconnected motives. Similarly with the style-species of prose and the types of lyric poetry, narrative and tragedy. Universally, the expenditure of pov^rers on the basic form is restricted to the minimum and the creative energy of the artist directed to detail-fineness. It is a statical treatment of static genera, and it stands in the sharpest possible contrast to the dynamic fertility of the Faustian with its ceaseless creation of new types and domains of form.


VIII


We are now able to see the organism in a great style-course. Here, as in so many other matters, Goethe was the first to whom vision came. In his " Winckelmann " he says of Velleius Paterculus: "with his standpoint, it was not given to him to see all art as a living thing (XGmv) that must have an incon- spicuous beginning, a slow growth, a brilliant moment of fulfilment and a gradual decline like every other organic being, though it is presented in a set of individuals." This sentence contains the entire morphology of art-history. Styles do not follow one another like waves or pulse-beats. It is not the per- sonality or will or brain of the artist that makes the style, but the style that makes the tyfe of the artist. The style, like the Culture, is a prime phenomenon in the strictest Goethian sense, be it the style of art or religion or thought, or the style of life itself. It is, as "Nature" is, an ever-new experience of waking man, his alter ego and mirror-image in the world-around. And therefore in the general historical picture of a Culture there can be but one style, the style of the Culture. The error has lain in treating mere style-phases — Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Rococo, Empire — as if they were styles on the same level as units of quite another order such as the Egyptian, the Chinese (or even a prehistoric ' ') style. Gothic and Baroque are simply the youth and age of one and the same vessel of forms, the style of the West as ripening and ripened. What has been wanting in our art-research has been detachment, freedom from prepossessions, and the will to abstract. Saving ourselves trouble, we have classed any and every form-domain that makes a strong impression upon us as a "style," and it need hardly be said that our insight has been led astray still further by the Ancient-Mediasval-Modern scheme. But in reality, even a masterpiece of strictest Renaissance like the court of the Palazzo Farnese is infinitely nearer to the arcade-porch of St. Patroclus in Soest, the interior of the Magdeburg cathedral, and the staircases of South-German castles of the i8th Century than it is to the Temple of Passtum or to the Erechtheum. The same relation exists between Doric and Ionic, and hence Ionic columns can be as completely combined with Doric building forms as late Gothic is with early Baroque in St. Lorenz at Niirnberg, or late Romanesque with late Baroque in the beautiful upper part of the West choir at Mainz. And our eyes have scarcely yet learned to distinguish within the Egyptian style the Old King-


2.06 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

dom and Middle Empire elements corresponding to Doric and Gothic youth and to Ionic and Baroque maturity, because from the Twelfth Dynasty these elements interpenetrate in all harmony in the form-language of all the greater works.

The task before art-history is to write the comparative biographies of the great styles, all of which as organisms of the same genus possess structurally cognate life histories.

In the beginning there is the timid, despondent, naked expression of a newly-awakened soul which is still seeking for a relation between itself and the world that, though its proper creation, yet is presented as alien and un- friendly. There is the child's fearfulness in Bishop Bernward's building at Hildesheim, in the Early-Christian catacomb-painting, and in the pillar-halls of the Egyptian Fourth Dynasty. A February of art, a deep presentiment of a coming wealth of forms, an immense suppressed tension, lies over the land- scape that, still wholly rustic, is adorning itself with the first strongholds and townlets. Then follows the joyous mounting into the high Gothic, into the Constantinian age with its pillared basilicas and its domical churches, into the relief-ornament of the Fifth-Dynasty temple. Being is understood, a sacred form-language has been completely mastered and radiates its glory, and the Style ripens into a majestic symbolism of directional depth and of Destiny. But fervent youth comes to an end, and contradictions arise within the soul itself. The Renaissance, the Dionysiac-musical hostility to Apollinian Doric, the Byzantine of 450 that looks to Alexandria and away from the overjoyed art of Antioch, indicate a moment of resistance, of effective or ineffective impulse to destroy what has been acquired. It is very difficult to elucidate this moment, and an attempt to do so would be out of place here.

And now it is the manhood of the style-history that comes on. The Culture is changing into the intellectuality of the great cities that will now dominate the country-side, and pari passu the style is becoming intellectualized also. The grand symbolism withers; the riot of superhuman forms dies down; milder and more worldly arts drive out the great art of developed stone. Even in Egypt sculpture and fresco are emboldened to lighter movement. The artist appears, and "plans " what formerly grew out of the soil. Once more existence becomes self-conscious and now, detached from the land and the dream and the mystery, stands questioning, and wrestles for an expression of its new duty — as at the beginning of Baroque when Michelangelo, in wild discontent and kicking against the limitations of his art, piles up the dome of St. Peter's — in the age of Justinian I which built Hagia Sophia and the mosaic-decked domed basilicas of Ravenna — at the beginning of that Twelfth Dynasty in Egypt which the Greeks condensed under the name of Sesostris — and at the decisive epoch in Hellas (c. 600) whose architecture probably, nay certainly, expressed that which is echoed for us in its grandchild i^schylus.


APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN, AND MAGIAN SOUL 107

Then comes the gleaming autumn of the style. Once more the soul depipts its happiness, this time conscious of self-completion. The "return to Nature" which already thinkers and poets — Rousseau, Gorgias and their "contempo- raries" in the other Cultures — begin to feel and to proclaim, reveals itself in the form-world of the arts as a sensitive longing and pesentiment of the end. A perfectly clear intellect, joyous urbanity, the sorrow of a parting — these arc the colours of these last Culture-decades of which Talleyrand was to remark later: "Qui n'a pas vecu avant 1789 ne connait pas la douceur de vivre." So it was, too, with the free, sunny and superfine art of Egypt under Sesostris III (c. 1850 B.C.) and the brief moments of satiated happiness that produced the varied splendour of Pericles 's Acropolis and the works of Zeuxis and Phidias. A thousand years later again, in the age of the Ommaiyads, we meet it in the glad fairyland of Moorish architecture with its fragile col- umns and horseshoe arches that seem to melt into air in an iridescence of arabesques and stalactites. A thousand years more, and we see it in the music of Haydn and Mozart, in Dresden shepherdesses, in the pictures of Wat- teau and Guardi, and the works of German master-builders at Dresden, Potsdam, Wiirzburg and Vienna.

Then the style fades out. The form-language of the Erechtheum and the Dresden Zwinger, honeycombed with intellect, fragile, ready for self- destruction, is followed by the flat and senile Classicism that we find in the Hellenistic megalopolis, the Byzantium of 900 and the "Empire" modes of the North. The end is a sunset reflected in forms revived for a moment by pedant or by eclectic — semi-earnestness and doubtful genuineness dominate the world of the arts. We to-day are in this condition — playing a tedious game with dead forms to keep up the illusion of a living art.

IX

No one has yet perceived that Arabian art is a single phenomenon. It is an idea that can only take shape when we have ceased to be deceived by the crust which overlaid the young East with post-Classical art-exercises that, whether they were imitation-antique or chose their elements from proper or alien sources at will, were in any case long past all inward life; when we have discovered that Early Christian art, together with every really living element in "late- Roman," is in fact the springtime of the Arabian style; and when we see the epoch of Justinian I as exactly on a par with the Spanish- Venetian Baroque that ruled Europe in the great days of Charles V or Philip II, and the palaces of Byzantium and their magnificent battle-pictures and pageant-scenes — the van- ished glories that inspired the pens of courtly literati like Procopius — on a par with the palaces of early Baroque in Madrid, Vienna and Rome and the great decorative-painting of Rubens and Tintoretto. This Arabian style embraces the entire first millennium of our era. It thus stands at a critical position in


2.08 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

the picture of a general history of "Art," and its organic connectedness has been imperceptible under the erroneous conventions thereof. ^

Strange and — if these studies have given us the eye for things latent — moving it is to see how this young Soul, held in bondage to the intellect of the Classical and, above all, to the political omnipotence of Rome, dares not rouse itself into freedom but humbly subjects itself to obsolete value-forms and tries to be content with Greek language, Greek ideas and Greek art-elements. De- vout acceptance of the powers of the strong day is present in every young Culture and is the sign of its youth — witness the humility of Gothic man in his pious high-arched spaces with their pillar-statuary and their light-filled pictures in glass, the high tension of the Egyptian soul in the midst of its world of pyramids, lotus-columns and relief-lined halls. But in this instance there is the additional element of an intellectual prostration before forms really dead but supposedly eternal. Yet in spite of all, the taking-over and continu- ance of these forms came to nothing. Involuntarily, unobserved, not supported by an inherent pride as Gothic was, but felt, there in Roman Syria, almost as a lamentable come-down, a whole new form-world grew up. Under a mask of Grasco-Roman conventions, it filled even Rome itself. The master-masons of the Pantheon and the Imperial Fora were Syrians. In no other example is the primitive force of a young soul so manifest as here, where it has to make its own world by sheer conquest.

In this as in every other Culture, Spring seeks to express its spirituality in a new ornamentation and, above all, in religious architecture as the sublime form of that ornamentation. But of all this rich form-world the only part that (till recently) has been taken into account has been the Western edge of it, which consequently has been assumed to be the true home and habitat of Magian style-history. In reality, in matters of style as in those of religion, science and social-political life, what we find there is only an irradiation from outside the Eastern border of the Empire. ^ Riegl ^ and Strzygowski * have discovered this, but if we are to go further and arrive at a conspectus of the development of Arabian art we have to shed many philological and religious prepossessions. The misfortune is that our art-research, although it no longer recognizes the religious frontiers, nevertheless unconsciously assumes them. For there is in reality no such thing as a Late-Classical nor an Early-Christian nor yet an Islamic art in the sense of an art proper to each of those faiths and evolved by the community of believers as such. On the contrary, the totality of these religions — from Armenia to Southern Arabia and Axum, and from Persia to Byzantium and Alexandria — possess a broad uniformity of artistic expression

1 Sec Vol. II, Chapter III. « See Vol. II, pp. 140 et seq.

• Sfilfragen, Grundlagt ZM 'intf Gescbichtt dtr Ornamtntik (1893). Spatromische Kunstindustric (1901). « Amida (1910). Die bildende Kurut dts Osttns (1916), Altai-Iran (1917). Die Baukunst der Amunier und Ettropa (1918).


APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN, AND MAGIAN SOUL 109

that overrides the contradictions of detail.^ All these religions, the Christian, the Jewish, the Persian, the Manichasan, the Syncretic,^ possessed cult-buildings and (at any rate in their script) an Ornamentation of the first rank; and however different the items of their dogmas, they are all pervaded by an homogeneous religiousness and express it in a homogeneous symbolism of depth-experience. There is something in the basilicas of Christianity, Hellenistic, Hebrew and Baal-cults, and in the Mithrasum,^ the Mazdaist fire-temple and the Mosque, that tells of a like spirituality: it is the Cavem-iecling.

It becomes therefore the bounden duty of research to seek to establish the hitherto completely neglected architecture of the South-Arabian and Persian temple, the Syrian and the Mesopotamian synagogue, the cult-buildings of Eastern Asia Minor and even Abyssinia; ^ and in respect of Christianity to investigate no longer merely the Pauline West but also the Nestorian East that stretched from the Euphrates to China, where the old records significantly call its buildings ' ' Persian temples. ' ' If in all this building practically nothing has, so far, forced itself specially upon our notice, it is fair to suppose that both the advance of Christianity first and that of Islam later could change the religion of a place of worship without contradicting its plan and style. We know that this is the case with Late Classical temples : but how many of the churches in Armenia may once have been fire-temples?

The artistic centre of this Culture was very definitely — as Strzygowski has observed — in the triangle of cities Edessa, Nisibis, Amida. To the west- ward of it is the domain of the Late-Classical "Pseudomorphosis," ^ the Pauline Christianity that conquered in the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon,* Western Judaism and the cults of Syncretism. The architectural type of the Pseudo- morphosis^ both for Jew and Gentile, is the Basilica. It employs the means of the Classical to express the opposite thereof, and is unable to free itself from these means — that is the essence and the tragedy of "Pseudomorphosis." The more "Classical " Syncretism modifies a cult that is resident in a Euclidean place into one which is professed by a community of indefinite estate, the more the interior of the temple gains in importance over the exterior without needing to change either plan or roof or columns very much. The space-feeling is

1 These contradictions of detail are not greater, after all, than those between Doric, Attic and Etruscan art, and certainly less than those which existed about 1450 between Florentine Renaissance, North French, Spanish and East-German (brick) Gothic.

2 See Vol. II, pp. 304 et seq.

» For a brief description of the components of a Mithrasum, the student may be referred to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, XI Edition, art. Mithras (Section II). — Tr.

  • The oldest Christian designs in the Empire of Axum undoubtedly agree with the pagan work

of the Sabaeans.

6 See Vol. II, pp. 2.43 et seq. 6 See Vol. II, pp. 316 et seq.

' Kohl & Watzinger, Antike Synagogtn in Galilda (1916). The Baal-shrines in Palmyra, Baalbek and many other localities are basilicas : some of them are older than Christianity and many of them were later taken over into Christian use.


no THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

different, but not — at first — the means of expressing it. In the pagan relig- ious architecture of the Imperial Age there is a perceptible — though never yet perceived — movement from the wholly corporeal Augustan temple, in which the cella is the architectural expression of nothingness^ to one in which the interior only possesses meaning. Finally the external picture of the Pcrip- teros of the Doric is transferred to the four inside walls. Columns ranked in front of a windowless wall are a denial of space beyond — that is, for the Classical beholder, of space within, and for the Magian, of space without. It is therefore a question of minor importance whether the entire space is covered in as in the Basilica proper, or only the sanctuary as in the Sun-temple of Baalbek with the great forecourt,^ which later becomes a standing element of the mosque and is probably of South Arabian origin. ^ That the Nave originates in a court surrounded by halls is suggested not only by the special development of the basilica-type in the East Syrian steppe (particularly Hauran) but also by the basic disposition of porch, nave and choir as stages leading to the altar — for the aisles (originally the side-halls of the court) end blind, and only the nave proper corresponds with the apse. This basic meaning is very evident in St. Paul at Rome, albeit the Pseudomorphosis (inversion of the Classical temple) dictated the technical means, viz., column and architrave. How sym- bolic is the Christian reconstruction of the Temple of Aphrodisias in Caria, in which the cella within the colunms is abolished and replaced by a new wall outside them.'

Outside the domain of the "Pseudomorphosis," on the contrary, the cavern- feeling was free to develop its own form-language, and here therefore it is the definite roof that is emphasized (whereas in the other domain the protest against the Classical feeling led merely to the development of an interior). When and where the various possibilities of dome, cupola, barrel-vaulting, rib-vaulting, came into existence as technical methods is, as we have already said, a matter of no significance. What is of decisive importance is the fact that about the time of Christ's birth and the rise of the new world-feeling, the new space- symbolism must have begun to make use of these forms and to develop them further in expressiveness. It will very likely come to be shown that the fire- temples and synagogues of Mesopotamia (and possibly also the temples of Athtar in Southern Arabia) were originally cupola-buildings.* Certainly the

  • Fraubcrgcr, Dit Akropolis von Baalbek^ plate ii. (Sec Ency. Brit., XI Edition, art. " Baalbek,"

for plan, etc. — TV.)

  • Diez, Die Kunst dtr islamischen Volker, pp. 8 et scq. In old Sabican temples the altar-court

(mahdar) is in front of the oracle chapel (makanat).

  • WulfF, Altchristlicht und hyxantinische Kunst, p. xxj.

< Pliny records that this region was rich in temples. It is probable that the type of the transept- basilica — i.e., with the entrance in one of the long sides — which is found in Hauran and is dis- tinctly marked in the transverse direction of the altar space of St. Paul Without at Rome, is derived from a South Arabian archetype. (For the Hauran type of church see Ency. Brit., XI Ed., Vol. II, p. 390; and for St. Paul Without, Vol. Ill, p. 474. — Tr.


APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN, AND MAGIAN SOUL iii

pagan mama-temple at Gaza was so, and long before Pauline Christianity took possession of these forms under Constantine, builders of Eastern origin had introduced them, as novelties to please the taste of the Megalopolitans, into all parts of the Roman Empire. In Rome itself, Apollodorus of Damascus was employed under Trajan for the vaulting of the temple of "Venus and Rome," and the domed chambers of the Baths of Caracalla and the so-called "Minerva Medica" of Gallienus's time were built by Syrians. But the masterpiece, the earliest of all Mosques y is the Pantheon as rebuilt by Hadrian. Here, without a doubt, the emperor was imitating, for the satisfaction of his own taste, cult-buildings that he had seen in the East.^

The architecture of the central-dome, in which the Magian world-feeling achieved its purest expression, extended beyond the limits of the Roman Em- pire. For the Nestorian Christianity that extended from Armenia even into China it was the only form, as it was also for the Manichseans and the Maz- daists, and it also impressed itself victoriously upon the Basilica of the West when the Pseudomorphosis began to crumble and the last cults of Syncretism to die out. In Southern France — where there were Manichasan sects even as late as the Crusades — the form of the East was domesticated. Under Justinian, the interpenetration of the two produced the domical basilica of Byzantium and Ravenna. The pure basilica was pushed into the Germanic West, there to be transformed by the energy of the Faustian depth-impulse into the cathedral. The domed basilica, again, spread from Byzantium and Armenia into Russia, where it came by slow degrees to be felt as an element of exterior architecture belonging to a symbolism concentrated in the roof. But in the Arabian world Islam, the heir of Monophysite and Nestorian Christianity and of the Jews and the Persians, carried the development through to the end. When it turned Hagia Sophia into a mosque it only resumed possession of an old property. Islamic domical building followed Mazdaist and Nestorian along the same tracks to Shan-tung and to India. Mosques grew up in the far West in Spain and Sicily, where, moreover, the style appears rather in its East-Aramsean- Persian than in its West-Aramsean-Syrian mode.^ And while Venice looked to Byzantium and Ravenna (St. Mark), the brilliant age of the Norman- Hohenstaufen rule in Palermo taught the cities of the Italian west coast, and even Florence, to admire and to imitate these Moorish buildings. More than

1 Neither technically nor in point of space-feeling has this piece of purely interior architecture any connexion whatever with Etruscan round-buildings. (Altmann, Die ital. Rundbaufen, 1906.) With the cupolas of Hadrian's Villa at Tibur (Tivoli), on the contrary, its affinity is evident.

2 Probably synagogues of domical type reached these regions, and also Morocco, long before Islam, through the missionary enterprise of Mesopotamian Judaism (see Vol. II, p. 2.53), which was closely allied in matters of taste to Persia. The Judaism of the Pseudomorphosis, on the contrary, built basilicas; its Roman catacombs show that artistically it was entirely on a par with Western Christianity. Of the two, it is the Judxo-Persian style coming from Spain that has become the pattern for the synagogues of the West — a point that has hitherto entirely escaped the notice of art-research.


Ill THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

one of the motives that the Renaissance thought were Classical — e.g., the court surrounded by halls and the union of column and arch — really origi- nated thus.

What is true as regards architecture is even more so as regards ornamenta- tion, which in the Arabian world very early overcame all figure-representation and swallowed it up in itself. Then, as "arabesque," it advanced to meet, to charm and to mislead the young art-intention of the West.

The carly-Christian-Late-Classical art of the Pseudomorphosis shows the same ornament-p/«j-figure mixture of the inherited "alien" and the inborn "proper" as does the Carolingian-Early Romanesque of (especially) Southern France and Upper Italy. In the one case Hellenistic intermingles with Early- Magian, in the other Mauro-Byzantine with Faustian. The researcher has to examine line after line and ornament after ornament to detect the form-feeling which differentiates the one stratum from the other. In every architrave, in every frieze, there is to be found a secret battle between the conscious old and the unconscious, but victorious, new motives. One is confounded by this general interpenetration of the Late-Hellenistic and the Early-Arabian form- senses, as one sees it, for example, in Roman portrait-busts (here it is often only in the treatment of the hair that the new way of expression is manifested); in the acanthus-shoots which show — often on one and the same frieze — chisel-work and drill-work side by side; in the sarcophagi of the 3rd Century in which a childlike feeling of the Giotto and Pisano character is entangled with a certain late and megalopolitan Naturalism that reminds one more or less of David or Carstens; and in buildings such as the Basilica of Maxentius ^ and many parts of the Baths and the Imperial Fora that are still very Classical in conception.

Nevertheless, the Arabian soul was cheated of its maturity — like a young tree that is hindered and stunted in its growth by a fallen old giant of the forest. Here there was no brillant instant felt and experienced as such, like that of ours in which, simultaneously with the Crusades, the wooden beams of the Cathedral roof locked themselves into rib-vaulting and an interior was made to actualize and fulfil the idea of infinite space. The political creation of Diocle- tian was shattered in its glory upon the fact that, standing as he did on Classical ground, he had to accept the whole mass of the administrative tradition of Urbs Roma; this sufficed to reduce his work to a mere reform of obsolete con- ditions. And yet he was the first of the Caliphs. With him, the idea of the Arabian State emerges clearly into the light. It is Diocletian's dispensation, together with that of the Sassanids which preceded it somewhat and served in all respects as its model, that gives us the first notion of the ideal that ought to have gone on to fulfilment here. But so it was in all things. To this very day wc admire as last creations of the Classical — because we cannot or will

  • Generally called the " Basilica of G)nstantine." — Tr.


APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN, AND MAGIAN SOUL 2.13

not regard them otherwise — the thought of Plotinus and Marcus Aurelius, the cults of Isis, Mithras and the Sun-God, the Diophantine mathematics and, lastly, the whole of the art which streamed towards us from the Eastern marches of the Roman Empire and for which Antioch and Alexandria were merely points d'appui.

This alone is sufficient to explain the intense vehemence with which the Arabian Culture, when released at length from artistic as from other fetters, flung itself upon all the lands that had inwardly belonged to it for centuries past. It is the sign of a soul that feels itself in a hurry, that notes in fear the first symptoms of old age before it has had youth. This emancipation of Magian mankind is without a parallel. Syria is conquered, or rather delivered, in 634. Damascus falls in 637, Ctesiphon in 637. In 641 Egypt and India are reached, in 647 Carthage, in 676 Samarkand, in 710 Spain. And in 732. the Arabs stood before Paris. Into these few years was compressed the whole sum of saved-up passions, postponed hopes, reserved deeds, that in the slow maturing of other Cultures suffice to fill the history of centuries. The Crusaders before Jerusalem, the Hohenstaufen in Sicily, the Hansa in the Baltic, the Teutonic Knights in the Slavonic East, the Spaniards in America, the Portuguese in the East Indies, the Empire of Charles V on which the sun never set, the beginnings of England's colonial power under Cromwell — the equivalent of all this was shot out in one discharge that carried the Arabs to Spain and France, India and Turkestan.

True, all Cultures (the Egyptian, the Mexican and the Chinese excepted) have grown up under the tutelage of some older Culture. Each of the form- worlds shows certain alien traits. Thus, the Faustian soul of the Gothic, already predisposed to reverence by the Arabian origin of Christianity, grasped at the treasures of Late-Arabian art. An unmistakably Southern, one might even say an Arabian, Gothic wove itself over the fagades of the Burgundian and Provencal cathedrals, dominated with a magic of stone the outward language of Strassburg Minster, and fought a silent battle in statues and porches, fabric- patterns, carvings and metalwork — and not less in the intricate figures of scho- lastic philosophy and in that intensely Western symbol, the Grail legend^ — with the Nordic prime-feeling of Viking Gothic that rules the interior of the Magdeburg Cathedral, the points of Freiburg Minster and the mysticism of Meister Eckart. More than once the pointed arch threatens to burst its re- straining line and to transform itself into the horseshoe arch of Moorish- Norman architecture.

So also the Apollinian art of the Doric spring — whose first efforts are practically lost to us — doubtless took over Egyptian elements to a very large extent, and by and through these came to its own proper symbolism.

^ The Grail legend contains, besides old Celtic, well-marked Arabian elements; but where Wolfram von Eschenbach goes beyond his model Chrestien de Troyes, his Parzival is entirely Faus- tian. (See articles Grail and Perceval, Ency. Brit., XI Ed. — Tr.


114 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

But the Magian soul of the Pseudomorphosis had not the courage to appro- priate alien means without yielding to them. And this is why the physiognomic of the Magian soul has still so much to disclose to the quester.


The idea of the Macrocosm, then, which presents itself in the style-problem as simplified and capable of treatment, poses a multitude of tasks for the future to tackle. To make the form-world of the arts available as a means of pene- trating the spirituality of entire Cultures — by handling it in a thoroughly physiognomic and symbolic spirit — is an undertaking that has not hitherto got beyond speculations of which the inadequacy is obvious. We are hardly as yet aware that there may be a psychology of the metaphysical bases of all great architectures. We have no idea what there is to discover in the change of meaning that a form of pure extension undergoes when it is taken over into another Culture. The history of the column has never yet been written, nor have we any notion of the deeply symbolic significances that reside in the means and the instruments of art.

Consider mosaic. In Hellenic times it was made up of pieces of marble, it was opaque and corporeal-Euclidean (e.g., the famous Battle of Issus at Naples), and it adorned the floor. But with the awakening of the Arabian soul it came to be built up of pieces of glass and set in fused gold, and it simply covered the walls and roofs of the domed basilica. This Early-Arabian Mosaic- picturing corresponds exactly, as to phase, with the glass-picturing of Gothic cathedrals, both being "early" arts ancillary to religious architectures. The one by letting in the light enlarges the church-space into world-space, while the other transforms it into the magic, gold-shimmering sphere which bears men away from earthly actuality into the visions of Plotinus, Origen, the Manichasans, the Gnostics and the Fathers, and the Apocalyptic poems.

Consider, again, the beautiful notion of uniting the round arch and the column; this again is a Syrian, if not a North- Arabian, creation of the third (or "high Gothic") century.^ The revolutionary importance of this motive, which is specifically Magian, has never in the least degree been recognized; on the con- trary, it has always been assumed to be Classical, and for most of us indeed it is even representatively Classical. The Egyptians ignored any deep relation between the roof and the column; the latter was for them a plant-column, and represented not stoutness but growth. Classical man, in his turn, for whom the monolithic column was the mightiest symbol of Euclidean existence — all body, all unity, all steadiness — connected it, in the strictest proportions of vertical and horizontal, of strength and load, with his architrave. But here,

  • The relation of column and arch spiritually corresponds to that of wall and cupola, and the

interposition of the drum between the rectangle and the dome occurs "simultaneously" with that of the impost between the column and the arch.


APOLLINIAN, FAUSTIAN, AND MAGIAN SOUL 115

in this union of arch and column which the Renaissance in its tragicomic deludedness admired as expressly Classical (though it was a notion that the Classical neither possessed nor could possess), the bodily principle of load and inertia is rejected and the arch is made to spring clear and open out of the slender column. The idea actualized here is at once a liberation from all earth- gravity and a capture of space, and between this element and that of the dome which soars free but yet encloses the great "cavern," there is the deep relation of like meaning. The one and the other are eminently and powerfully Magian, and they come to their logical fulfilment in the ' ' Rococo * ' stage of Moorish mosques and castles, wherein ethereally delicate columns — often growing out of, rather than based on, the ground — seem to be empowered by some secret magic to carry a whole world of innumerable notched arcs, gleaming ornaments, stalactites, and vaultings saturated with colours. The full importance of this basic form of Arabian architecture may be expressed by saying that the com- bination of column and architrave is the Classical, that of column and round arch the Arabian, and that of pillar and pointed arch the Faustian Leitmotiv. Take, further, the history of the Acanthus motive.^ In the form in which it appears, for example, on the Monument of Lysicrates at Athens, it is one of the most distinctive in Classical ornamentation. It has body, it is and remains individual, and its structure is capable of being taken in at one glance. But already it appears heavier and richer in the ornament of the Imperial Fora (Nerva's, Trajan's) and that of the temple of Mars Ultor; the organic dis- position has become so complicated that, as a rule, it requires to be studied, and the tendency to fill up the surfaces appears. In Byzantine art — of which Riegl thirty years ago noticed the "latent Saracenic character" though he had no suspicion of the connexion brought to light here — the acanthus leaf was broken up into endless tendril-work which (as in Hagia Sophia) is disposed quite inorganically over whole surfaces. To the Classical motive are added the old-Aramasan vine and palm leaves, which have already played a part in Jewish ornamentation. The interlaced borders of "Late-Roman" mosaic pavements and sarcophagus-edges, and even geometrical plane-patterns are introduced, and finally, throughout the Persian-Anatolian world, mobility and bixarrerie culminate in the Arabesque. This is the genuine Magian motive — anti-plastic to the last degree, hostile to the pictorial and to the bodily alike. Itself bodi- less, it disembodies the object over which its endless richness of web is drawn. A masterpiece of this kind — a piece of architecture completely opened out into Ornamentation — is the fagade of the Castle of Mashetta in Moab built by the Ghassanids.^ The craft-art of Byzantine-Islamic style (hitherto called Lombard, Frankish, Celtic or Old-Nordic) which invaded the whole youthful

^ A. Riegl, Stilfragen (1893), pp. 148 et scq., iyi et scq.

2 The Ghassanid Kingdom flourished in the extreme North-west of Arabia dm-ing the sixth century of our reckoning. Its people were essentially Arab, and probably came from the south; and an outlying cousimy inhabited Medina in the time of the Prophet. — Tr.


xi6 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

West and dominated the Carolingian Empire, was largely practised by Oriental craftsmen or imported as patterns for our own weavers, metal-workers and armourers.^ Ravenna, Lucca, Venice, Granada, Palermo were the efficient centres of this then highly-civilized form-language; in the year looo, when in the North the forms of a new Culture were already being developed and established, Italy was still entirely dominated by it.

Take, lastly, the changed point of view towards the human body. With the victory of the Arabian world-feeling, men's conception of it underwent a complete revolution. In almost every Roman head of the period 100-2.50 that the Vatican Collection contains, one may perceive the opposition of Apollinian and Magian feeling, and of muscular position and "look" as different bases of expression. Even in Rome itself, since Hadrian, the sculptor made constant use of the drill, an instrument which was wholly repugnant to the Euclidean feeling towards stone — for whereas the chisel brings out the limiting surfaces and ipso facto affirms the corporeal and material nature of the marble block, the drill, in breaking the surfaces and creating effects of light and shade, denies it; and accordingly the sculptors, be they Christian or "pagan," lose the old feeling for the phenomenon of the naked body. One has only to look at the shallow and empty Antinous statues — and yet these were quite definitely "Classical." Here it is only the head that is physiognomically of interest — as it never is in Attic sculpture. The drapery is given quite a new meaning, and simply dominates the whole appearance. The consul-statues in the Capi- tol ine Museum ^ are conspicuous examples. The pupils are bored, and the eyes look into the distance, so that the whole expression of the work lies no longer in its body but in that Magian principle of the " Pneuma" which Neo-Platonism and the decisions of the Church Councils, Mithraism and Mazdaism alike presume in man.

The pagan "Father" lamblichus, about 300, wrote a book concerning statues of gods in which the divine is substantially present and working upon the beholder.^ Against this idea of the image — an idea of the Pseudo- morphosis — the East and the South rose in a storm of iconoclasm; and the sources of this iconoclasm lay in a conception of artistic creation that is nearly impossible for us to understand.

  • Dchio, Gesch. der deutschen Kunst, I, pp. 16 ct scq.

• WulfF, Altchristl.-byxant. Kunst, pp. 153 ct scq.

» Sec Vol. II, p. 315, Gcffckcn, Dtr Ausgang des griech-rom. Heidentums (1910), p. 113.


CHAPTER VII MUSIC AND PLASTIC

I

THE ARTS OF FORM


CHAPTER VII

MUSIC AND PLASTIC

I

THE ARTS OF FORM


The dearest type of symbolic expression that the world-feeling of higher mankind has found for itself is (if we except the mathematical-scientific domain of presentation and the symbolism of its basic ideas) that of the arts of form,^ of which the number is legion. And with these arts we count musk in its many and very dissimilar kinds; had these been brought within the domain of art- historical research instead of being put in a class apart from that of the pictorial- plastic arts, we should have progressed very much further in our understanding of the import of this evolution towards an end. For the formative impulse that is at work in the wordless ^ arts can never be understood until we come to regard the distinction between optical and acoustic means as only a superficial one. To talk of thFarFof the eye and the art of the ear takes us no further. It is not such things that divide one art from another. Only the 19th Century could so over-estimate the influence of physiological conditions as to apply it to expression, conception or communion. A "singing ' ' picture of Claude Lorrain or of Watteau does not really address itself to the bodily eye any more than the space-straining music since Bach addresses itself to the bodily ear. The

^ Die bildenden Kunsfe. The expression is a standard one in German, but unfamiliar in English. Ordinarily, however, "die bildenden Kiinste" (shaping arts, arts of form) are contrasted with " die redenden Kiinste " (speaking arts) — music, as giving utterance rather than spatial form to things, being counted among the latter. — Tr.

  • As soon as the word, which is a transmission-agent of the understanding, comes to be used as

the expression-agent of an art, the waking consciousness ceases to express or to take in a thing integrally. Not to mention the read word of higher Cultures — the medium of literature proper — > even the spoken word, when used in any artificial sense, separates hearing from understanding, for the ordinary meaning of the word also takes a hand in the process and, as this art grows in power, the wordless arts themselves arrive at expression-methods in which the motives are joined to word- meanings. Thus arises the Allegory, or motive that signifies a word, as in Baroque sculpture after Bernini. So, too, painting very often develops into a sort of painting-writing, as in Byzantium after the second Niccne Council (787) which took from the artist his freedom of choice and arrangement. This also is what distinguishes the arias of Gluck, in which the melody grew up out of the meaning of the libretto, from those of Alessandro Scarlatti, in which the texts arc in themselves of no sig- nificance and mostly serve to carry the voices. The high-Gothic counterpoint of the 13th Cen- tury is entirely free from any connexion with words : it is a pure architecture of human voices in which several texts, Latin and vernacular, sacred and secular, were sung together.

119


i2x> THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Classical relation between art-work and sense-organ — of which we so often and so erroneously remind ourselves here — is something quite different from, something far simpler and more material than ours. We read "Othello" and "Faust" and we study orchestral scores — that is, we change one sense-agency for another in order to let the undiluted spirit of these works take effect upon us. Here there is always an appeal from the outer senses to the "inner," to the truly Faustian and wholly un-Classical power of imagination. Only thus can we understand Shakespeare's ceaseless change of scene as against the Clas- sical unity of place. In extreme cases indeed, for instance in that of "Faust" itself, no representation of the work (that is, of its full content) is physically possible. But in music too — in the unaccompanied "A capella" of the Pales- trina style as well as a fortiori in the Passions of Heinrich Schiitz, in the fugues of Bach, in the last quartets of Beethoven, and in "Tristan" — we livingly experience behind the sensuous impressions a whole world of others. And it is only through these latter that all the fullness and depth of the work begins to be present to us, and it is only mediately — through the images of blond, brown, dusky and golden colours, of sunsets and distant ranked mountain- summits, of storms and spring landscapes, of foundered cities and strange faces which harmony conjures up for us — that it tells us something of itself. It is not an incident that Beethoven wrote his last works when he was deaf — deafness merely released him from the last fetters. For this music, sight and hearing equally are bridges into the soul and nothing more. To the Greek this visionary kind of artistic enjoyment was utterly alien. He jelt the marble with his eye, and the thick tones of an aulos moved him almost corporally. For him, eye and ear are the receivers of the whole of the impression that he wished to receive. But for us this had ceased to be true even at the stage of Gothic.

In the actual, tones are something extended, limited and numerable just as lines and colours are; harmony, melody, rhyme and rhythm no less so than perspective, proportion, chiaroscuro and outline. The distance separating two kinds of painting can be infinitely greater than that separating the painting and the music of a period. Considered in relation to a statue of Myron, the art of a Poussin landscape is the same as that of a contemporary chamber- cantata; that of Rembrandt as that of the organ works of Buxtehude, Pachelbel and Bach; that of Guardi as that of the Mozart opera — the /««^r form-language is so nearly identical that the difference between optical and acoustic means is negligible.

The importance which the "science of art" has always attached to a time- less and conceptual delimitation of the individual art-spheres only proves that the fundamentals of the problem have not been attacked. Arts are living units, and the living is incapable of being dissected. The first act of the learned pedant has always been to partition the infinitely wide domain into provinces


THE ARTS OF FORM 2.2.1

determined by perfectly superficial criteria of medium and technique and to endow these provinces with eternal validity and immutable (!) form-principles. Thus he separated "Music" and "Painting," "Music" and "Drama," "Paint- ing ' ' and ' ' Sculpture. ' ' And then he proceeded to define ' ' the ' * art of Painting, "the" art of Sculpture, and so on. But in fact the technical form-language is no more than the mask of the real work. Style is not what the shallow Semper — worthy contemporary of Darwin and materialism — supposed it to be, the product of material, technique, and purpose. It is the very opposite of this, something inaccessible to art-reason, a revelation of the metaphysical order, a mysterious "must," a Destiny. With the material boundaries of the different arts it has ho concern whatever.

To classify the arts according to the character of the sense-impression, then, is to pervert the problem of form in its very enunciation. For how is it possible to predicate a genus ' ' Sculpture " of so general a character as to admit of general laws being evolved from it? What is ' ' Sculpture?

Take painting again. There is no such thing as "the*' art of Painting, and anyone who compares a drawing of Raphael, effected by outline, with one of Titian, effected by flecks of light and shade, without feeling that they belong to two different arts; any one who does not realize a dissimilarity of essence between the works of Giotto or Mantegna — relief, created by brush- stroke — and those of Vermeer or Goya — music, created on coloured canvas — such a one will never grasp the deeper questions. As for the frescoes of Polyg- notus and the mosaics of Ravenna, there is not even the similarity of technical means to bring them within the alleged genus, and what is there in common between an etching and the art of Fra Angelico, or a proto-Corinthian vase- painting and a Gothic cathedral-window, or the reliefs of Egypt and those of the Parthenon?

If an art has boundaries at all — boundaries of its soul-become-form — they | ,^ art historical and not technical or physiological boundaries.^ An art is an j 1^1 c^ organism, not a system. There is no art-genus that runs through all the cen- ^

turies and all the Cultures. Even where (as in the case of the Renaissance) supposed technical traditions momentarily deceive us into a belief in the eternal validity of antique art-laws, there is at bottom entire discrepance. There is nothing in Greek and Roman art that stands in any relation whatever to the form-language of a Donatello statue or a painting of Signorelli or a fagade of Michelangelo. Inwardly, the Quattrocento is related to the contemporary Gothic and to nothing else. The fact of the archaic Greek Apollo-type being influenced" by Egyptian portraiture, or early Tuscan representation by Etrus-

  • Our pedantic method has given us an art-history that excludes music-history; and while the

one has become a normal clement of higher education, the other has remained an affair solely for the expert. It is just as though one tried to write a history of Greece without taking Sparta into account. The result is a theory of "Arc" that is a pious fraud.


212L THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

can tomb-painting, implies precisely what is implied by that of Bach's writing a fugue upon an alien theme — he shows what he can express with it. Every individual art — Chinese landscape or Egyptian plastic or Gothic counterpoint — is once existent^ and departs with its soul and its symbolism never to return.


With this, the notion of Form opens out immensely. Not only the tech- nical instrument, not only the form-language, but also the choice of art-genus itself is seen to be an expression-means. What the creation of a masterpiece means for an individual artist — the "Night Watch" for Rembrandt or the " Meistersinger " for Wagner — that the creation of a species of art, compre- hended as such, means for the life-history of a Culture. It is epochal. Apart from the merest externals, each such art is an individual organism without predecessor or successor. Its theory, technique and convention all belong to its character, and contain nothing of eternal or universal validity. When one of these arts is born, when it is spent, whether it dies or is transmuted into another, why this or that art is dominant in or absent from a particular Culture — all these are questions of Form in the highest sense, just as is that other question of why individual painters and musicians unconsciously avoid certain shades and harmonies or, on the contrary, show preferences so marked that authorship-attributions can be based on them.

The importance of these groups of questions has not yet been recognized by theory, even by that of the present day. And yet it is precisely from this side, the side of their physiognomic, that the arts are accessible to the under- standing. Hitherto it has been supposed — without the slightest examination of the weighty questions that the supposition involves — that the several "arts" specified in the conventional classification-scheme (the validity of which is assumed) are all possible at all times and places, and the absence of one or another of them in particular cases is attributed to the accidental lack of creative personalities or impelling circumstances or discriminating patrons to guide "art" on its "way." Here we have what I call a transference of the causality-principle from the world of the become to that of the becoming. Having no eye for the perfectly different logic and necessity of the Living, for Destiny and the inevitableness and unique occurrence of its expression-possibilities, men had recourse to tangible and obvious "causes" for the building of their art-history, which thus came to consist of a series of events of only superficial concordance.

I have already, in the earliest pages of this work, exposed the shallowness of the notion of a linear progression of "mankind" through the stages of "ancient," "mediaeval" and "modern," a notion that has made us blind to the true history and structure of higher Cultures. The history of art is a con- spicuous case in point. Having assumed as self-evident the existence of a


THE ARTS OF FORM 113

number of constant and well-defined provinces of art, one proceeded to order the history of these several provinces according to the — equally self-evident — scheme of ancient-mediasval-modern, to the exclusion, of course, of Indian and East-Asiatic art, of the art of Axum and Saba, of the Sassanids and of Russia, which if not omitted altogether were at best relegated to appendices. It occurred to no one that such results argued unsoundness in the method; the scheme was there, demanded facts, and must at any price be fed with them. And so a futile up-and-down course was stolidly traced out. Static times were described as "natural pauses," it was called "decline" when some great art in reality died, and "renaissance" where an eye really free from prepossessions would have seen another art being born in another landscape to express another humanity. Even to-day we are still taught that the Renaissance was a rebirth of the Classical. And the conclusion was drawn that it is possible and right to take up arts that are found weak or even dead (in this respect the present is a veritable battle-field) and set them going again by conscious reformation- program or forced "revival."

And yet it is precisely in this problem of the end, the impressively sudden end, of a great art — the end of the Attic drama in Euripides, of Florentine sculpture with Michelangelo, of instrumental music in Liszt, Wagner and Bruckner — that the organic character of these arts is most evident. If we look closely enough we shall have no difficulty in convincing ourselves that no one art of any greatness has ever been "reborn."

Of the Pyramid style nothing passed over into the Doric. Nothing connects the Classical temple with the basilica of the Middle East, for the mere taking over of the Classical column as a structural member, though to a superficial observer it seems a fact of the first importance, weighs no more in reality than Goethe's employment of the old mythology in the "Classical Walpurgis Night" scene of "Faust." To believe genuinely in a rebirth of Classical art, or any Classical art, in the Western 15th Century requires a rare stretch of the imagination. And that a great art may die not merely with the Culture but within it, we may see from the fate of music in the Classical world. ^ Possibili- ties of great music there must have been in the Doric springtime — how other- wise can we account for the importance of old-fashioned Sparta in the eyes of such musicians as there were later (for Terpander, Thaletas and Alcman were effective there when elsewhere the statuary art was merely infantile)? — and yet the Late-Classical world refrained. In just the same fashion everything that the Magian Culture had attempted in the way of frontal portraiture, deep relief and mosaic finally succumbed before the Arabesque; and everything of the plastic that had sprung up in the shade of Gothic cathedrals at Chartres, Reims, Bamberg, Naumburg, in the Niirnberg of Peter Vischer and the Florence of

^ This sentence is not in the original. It has been inserted, and the following sentence modified, for the sake of clarity. — Tr.


234 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Verrocchio, vanished before the oil-painting of Venice and the instrumental music of the Baroque.


Ill


The temple of Poseidon at Pa:stum and the Minster of Ulm, works of the ripest Doric and the ripest Gothic, differ precisely as the Euclidean geometry of bodily bounding-surfaces differs from the analytical geometry of the position of points in space referred to spatial axes. All Classical building begins from the outside, all Western from the inside. The Arabian also begins with the inside, but it stays there. There is one and only one soul, the Faustian, that craves for a style which drives through walls into the limitless universe of space and makes both the exterior and the interior of the building complemen- tary images of one and the same world-feeling. The exterior of the basilica and the domical building may be a field for ornamentation, but architecture it is not. The impression that meets the beholder as he approaches is that of some- thing shielding, something that hides a secret. The form-language in the cavern-twilight exists for the faithful only — that is the factor common to the highest examples of the style and to the simplest Mithrasa and Catacombs, the prime powerful utterance of a new soul. Now, as soon as the Germanic spirit takes possession of the basilical type, there begins a wondrous mutation of all structural parts, as to both position and significance. Here in the Faus- tian North the outer form of the building, be it cathedral or mere dwelling- house, begins to be brought into relation with the meaning that governs the arrangement of the interior, a meaning undisclosed in the mosque and non- existent in the temple. The Faustian building has a visage and not merely a facade (whereas the front of a peripteros is, after all, only one of four sides and the centre-domed building in principle has not even a front) and with this visage, this head, is associated an articulated trunk that draws itself out through the broad plain like the cathedral at Speyer, or erects itself to the heavens like the innumerable spires of the original design of Reims. The motive of the fagade, which greets the beholder and tells him the inner meaning of the house, dominates not only individual major buildings but also the whole aspect of our streets, squares and towns with their characteristic wealth of windows.*

The great architecture of the early period is ever the mother of all following arts; it determines the choice of them and the spirit of them. Accordingly, we find that the history of the Classical shaping art is one untiring effort to ac- complish one single ideal, viz., the conquest of the free-standing human body

^ Sec Vol. II, p. no. The aspect of the streets of Old Egypt may have been very similar to this, if we can draw conclusions from tessera: discovered in Cnossus (see H. Bossert, Alt Krefa (1911), T. 14). And the Pylon is an undoubted and genuine facade. (Such tessera:, bearing pictures of win- dowed houses, arc illustrated in Art. " /Egean Civilizafion," Ency. Brit., XI Edition, Vol. I, p. 151, plate IV, fig. I. — Tr.).


THE ARTS OF FORM 115

as the vessel of the pure real present. The temple of the naked body was t,o it what the cathedral of voices was to the Faustian from earliest counterpoint to the orchestral writing of the i8th Century. We have failed hitherto to understand the emotional force of this secular tendency of the Apollinian, because we have not felt how the purely material, soulless body (for the Temple of the Body, too, has no "interior "!)is the object 'which archaic relief, Corinthian painting on clay, and Attic fresco were all striving to obtain until Polycletus and Phidias showed how to achieve it in full. We have, with a wonderful blindness, assumed this kind of sculpture as both authoritative and universally possible, as in fact, "the art of sculpture." We have written its history as one concerned with all peoples and periods, and even to-day our sculptors, under the influence of unproved Renaissance doctrines, speak of the naked human body as the noblest and most genuine object of "the" art of sculpture. Yet in reality this statue-art, the art of the naked body standing free upon its footing and appreciable from all sides alike, existed in the Classical and the Classical only, for it was that Culture alone which quite decisively refused to transcend sense-limits in favour of space. The Egyptian statue is always meant to be seen from the front — it is a variant of plane-relief. And the seemingly Classically-conceived statues of the Renais- sance (we are astounded, as soon as it occurs to us to count them, to find how few of them there are ^^ nothing but a semi-Gothic reminiscence.

The evolution of this rigorously non-spatial art occupies the three centuries from 650 to 350, a period extending from the completion of the Doric and the simultaneous appearance of a tendency to free the figures from the Egyptian limitation of frontalness ^ to the coming of the Hellenistic and its illusion- painting which closed-ofF the grand style. This sculpture will never be rightly appreciated until it is regarded as the last and highest Classical, as springing from a plane art, first obeying and then overcoming the fresco. No doubt the technical origin can be traced to experiments in figure-wise treatment of the pristine column, or the plates that served to cover the temple wall,^ and no doubt there are here and there imitations of Egyptian works (seated figures of Miletus), although very few Greek artists can ever have seen one.'* But as a form-ideal the statue goes back through relief to the archaic clay-painting in which fresco also originated. Relief, like fresco, is tied to the bodily wall. All this sculpture right down to Myron may be considered as relief detached from the

^ Ghiberti has not outgrown the Gothic, nor has even Donatello; and already in Michelangelo the feeling is Baroque, i.e., musical.

  • The struggle to fix the problem is visible in the series of "Apollo-figures." See Deonna, Les

Apo lions archaiques (1909).

  • Woermann, Geschkhte der Kunsf, I (191 5), p. 136. The first tendency is seen in the

Samian Hera of Cheramues and the persistent turning of columns into caryatids; the second in the Delian figure dedicated to Artemis by Nicandra, with its relation to the oldest metope- technique.

  • Miletus was in a particular relation with Egypt through Naucratis. — Tr.


12.6 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

plane. In the end, the figure is treated as a self-contained body apart from the mass of the building, but it remains essentially a silhouette in front of a wall.' Direction in depth is excluded, and the work is spread out frontally before the beholder. Even the Marsyas of Myron can be copied upon vases or coins without much trouble or appreciable foreshortenings.^ Consequently, of the two major "late" arts after 650, fresco definitely has the priority. The small stock of types is always to be found first in vase-figuring, which is often exactly par- alleled by quite late sculptures. We know that the Centaur group of the West pediment at Olympia was worked out from a painting. On the ^gina temple, the advance from the West to the East pediment is an advance from the fresco- character to the body-character. The change is completed about 460 with Polycletus, and thenceforward plastic groups become the model for strict paint- ing. But it is from Lysippus that the wholly cubic and "all-ways" treatment becomes thoroughly veristic and yields "fact." Till then, even in the case of Praxiteles, we have still a lateral or planar development of the subject, with a clear outline that is only fully effective in respect of one or two standpoints. But an undeviating testimony to the picture-origin of independent sculpture is the practice of polychroming the marble — a practice unknown to the Renais- sance and to Classicism, which would have felt it as barbaric ' — and we may say the same of the gold-and-ivory statuary and the enamel overlaying of bronze, a metal which already possesses a shining golden tone of its own.

rv

The corresponding stage of Western art occupies the three centuries 1500- 1800, between the end of late Gothic and the decay of Rococo which marks the end of the great Faustian style. In this period, conformably to the persistent growth into consciousness of the will to spatial transcendence, it is instrumental music that develops into the ruling art. At the beginning, in the 17th Century, music uses the characteristic tone-colours of the instruments, and the contrasts of strings and wind, human voices and instrumental voices, as means where- with to faint. Its (quite unconscious) ambition is to parallel the great masters from Titian to Velasquez and Rembrandt. It makes pictures (in the sonata from Gabrieli [d. 1611] to Corelli [d. 1713] every movement shows a theme embellished with graces and set upon the background of a basso continuo), paints heroic landscapes (in the pastoral cantata), and draws a portrait in lines of melody (in Monteverde's "Lament of Ariadne," 1608). With the German masters, all this goes. Painting can take music no further. Music becomes itself absolute: it is music that (quite unconsciously again) dominates

  • Most of the works arc pcdimcnt-groups or metopes. But even the Apollo-figures and the

"Maidens" of the Acropolis could not have stood free.

« V. Salis, Yjtnst der Griechcn (1919), pp. 47, 98 et seq.

  • The decisive preference of the white stone is itself significant of the opposition of Renaissance

to Classical feeling.


THE ARTS OF FORM ill-j

both painting and architecture in the i8th Century. And, ever more and more decisively, sculpture fades out from among the deeper possibilities of this form-world.

What distinguishes painting as it was before, from painting as ix. was after, the shift from Florence to Venice — or, to put it more definitely, what sepa- rates the painting of Raphael and that of Titian as two entirely distinct arts — is that the plastic spirit of the one associates painting with relief, while the musical spirit of the other works in a technique of visible brush-strokes and atmospheric depth-effects that is akin to the chromatic of string and wind choruses. It is an opposition and not a transition that we have before us, and the recognition of the fact is vital to our understanding of the organism of these arts. Here, if anywhere, we have to guard against the abstract hypothesis of "eternal art-laws." "Painting" is a mere word. Gothic glass-painting was an element of Gothic architecture, the servant of its strict symbolism just as the Egyptian and the Arabian and every other art in this stage was the servant of the stone-language. Draped figures were built up as cathedrals were. Their folds were an ornamentation of extreme sincerity and severe expressiveness. To criticize their "stiffness" from a naturalistic-imitative point of view is to miss the point entirely.

Similarly "music" is a mere word. Some music there has been everywhere and always, even before any genuine Culture, even among the beasts. But the serious music of the Classical was nothing but a plastic for the ear. The tetra- chords, chromatic and enharmonic, have a structural and not a harmonic meaning: ^ but this is the very difference between body and space. This music was single-voiced. The few instruments that it employed were all developed in respect of capacity for tone-plastic; and naturally therefore it rejected the Egyptian harp, an instrument that was probably akin in tone-colour to the harpischord. But, above all, the melody — like Classical verse from Homer to Hadrian's time — was treated quantitatively and not accentually; that is, the syllables, their bodies and their extent, decided the rhythm. The few frag- ments that remain suffice to show us that the sensuous charm of this art is something outside our comprehension; but this very fact should cause us also

  • All Greek scales are capable of reduction to "tetrachords" or four-note scales of which the

form E — note — note — A is typical. In the diatonic the unspecified inner notes are F, G; in the chromatic they are F, F sharp; and in the enharmonic they are E half-sharp, F. Thus, the chromatic and enharmonic scales do not provide additional notes as the modern chromatic does, but simply displace the inner members of the scale downwards, altering the proportionate distances between the same given total. In Faustian music, on the contrary, the meaning of "enharmonic" is simply relational. It is applied to a change, say from A flat to G sharp. The difference between these two is not a quarter-tone but a "very small" interval (theory and practice do not even agree as to which note is the higher, and in tempered instruments with standardized scales the physical difference is eliminated altogether). While a note is being sounded, even without any physical change in it, its harmonic co-ordinates (i.e., substantially, the key of the harmony) may alter, so that hcQceforth the note, from A flat, has become G sharp. — Tr.


ii8 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

to reconsider our ideas as to the impressions purposed and achieved by the statuary and the fresco, for we do not and cannot experience the charm that these exercised upon the Greek eye.

Equally incomprehensible to us is Chinese music: in which, according to educated Chinese, wc arc never able to distinguish gay from grave. ^ Vice versa, to the Chinese all the music of the West without distinction is march- music. Such is the impression that the rhythmic dynamic of our life makes upon the accentless Tao of the Chinese soul, and, indeed, the impression that our entire Culture makes upon an alien humanity — the directional energy of our church-naves and our storey ed fagades, the depth-perspectives of our pictures, the march of our tragedy and narrative, not to mention our technics and the whole course of our private and public life. We ourselves have accent in our blood and therefore do not notice it. But when our rhythm is juxtaposed with that of an alien life, we find t]^ discordance intolerable.

Arabian music, again, is^uite another world. Hitherto we have only observed it through the medium of the Pseudomorphosis, as represented by Byzantine hymns and Jewish psalmody, and even these we know only in so far as they have penetrated to the churches of the far West as antiphons, re- sponsorial psalmody and Ambrosian chants. ^ But it is self-evident that not only the religious west of Edessa (the syncretic cults, especially Syrian sun- worship, the Gnostic and the Manda:an) but also those to the east (Mazdaists, Manichasans, Mithraists, the synagogues of Irak and in due course the Nesto- rian Christians) must have possessed a sacred music of the same style; that side by side with this a gay secular music developed (above all, amongst the South- Arabian and Sassanid chivalry 0; and that both found their culmination in the Moorish style that reigned from Spain to Persia.

Out of all this wealth, the Faustian soul borrowed only some few church- forms and, moreover, in borrowing them, it instantly transformed them root and branch (loth Century, Hucbald, Guido d'Arezzo). Melodic accent and beat produced the "march," and polyphony (like the rime of contemporary poetry) the image of endless space. To understand this, we have to distinguish between the i mitative ^ and the or namental sides of music, and although owing to the fleeting nature of all tone-creations ^ our knowledge is limited to the musical history of our own West, yet this is quite sufficient to reveal that duality of development which is one of the master-keys of all art-history.

' In the same way the whole of Russian music appears to us infinitely mournful, but real Rus- sians assure us that it is not at all so for themselves.

' See articles under these headings in Grove's "Dictionary of Music." — Tr.

» See Vol. II, p. i}8.

  • In Baroque music the word "imitation" means something quite different from this, viz.,

the exact repetition of a motive in a new colouring (starting from a different note of the scale).

6 For all that survives performance is the notes, and these speak only to one who still knows and can manage the tone and technique of the expression-means appropriate to them.


THE ARTS OF FORM


119


The one is soul, landscape, feeling, the other strict form, style, school. West Europe has an ornamental music of the grand style (corresponding to the full plastic of the Classical) which is associated with the architectural history of the cathedral, which is closely akin to Scholasticism and Mysticism, and which finds its laws in the motherland of high Gothic between Seine and Scheldt. Counterpoint developed simultaneously with the flying-buttress system, and its source was the "Romanesque" style of the Fauxbourdon and the Discant with their simple parallel and contrary motion.^ It is an architecture of human voices and, like the statuary-group and the glass-paintings, is only conceivable in the setting of these stone vaultings. With them it is a high art of space, of that space to which Nicolas of Oresme, Bishop of Lisieux, gave mathematical meaning by the introduction of co-ordinates.^ This is the genuine "rinascita" and "reformatio" as Joachim of Floris saw it at the end of the izth Century ^ — the birth of a new soul mirrored in the form^nguage of a new art.

Along with this there came into being in caSle and village a secular imita- tive music, that of troubadours, Minnesanger and minstrels. As "ars nova" this travelled from the courts of Provence to the palaces of Tuscan patricians about 1300, the time of Dante and Petrarch. It consisted of simple melodies that appealed to the heart with their major and minor, of canzoni, madrigals and caccias, and it included also a type of galante operetta (Adam de la Hale's "Robin and Marion"). After 1400, these forms give rise to forms of collec- tive singing — the rondeau and the ballade. All this is "art" for a public* Scenes are painted from life, scenes of love, hunting, chivalry. The point of it is in the melodic inventiveness, instead of in the symbolism of its linear progress.

Thus, musically as otherwise, the castle and the cathedral are distinct. The cathedral is music and the castle makes music. The one begins with theory, the other with impromptu: it is the distinction between waking consciousness and living existence, between the spiritual and the knightly singer. Imitation stands nearest to life and direction and therefore begins with melody, while the symbolism of counterpoint belongs to extension and through polyphony signifies infinite space. The result was, on the one side, a store of "eternal" rules and, on the other, an inexhaustible fund of folk-melodies on which even the 1 8th Century was still drawing. The same contrast reveals itself, artisti- cally, in the c/^jj-opposition of Renaissance and Reformation.^ The courtly taste of Florence was antipathetic to the spirit of counterpoint; the evolution

^ Sec articles Fauxbourdon, Discant and Gimel in Grove's "Dictionary of Music." — Tr.

  • Note that Oresme was a contemporary of Machault and Philippe de Vitry, in whose generation

the rules and prohibitions of strict counterpoint were definitively established.

' See p. 19 and Vol. II, p. 357.

  • Even the first great troubadour, Guilhem of Poitiers, though a reigning sovereign, made it his

ambition to be regarded as a "professional," as we should say. — Tr.

6 See also Vol. II, p. 365.


2.30 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

of strict musical form from the Motet to the four-voice Mass through Dun- staple, Binchois and Dufay (c. 1430) proceeded wholly within the magic circle of Gothic architecture. From Fra Angelico to Michelangelo the great Nether- landers ruled alone in ornamental music. Lorenzo de* Medici found no one in Florence who understood the strict style, and had to send for Dufay. And while in this region Leonardo and Raphael were painting, in the north Okeghem (d. 1495) ^^^ ^is school and Josquin des Pres (d. 1511) brought the formal polyphony of human voices to the height of fulfilment.

The transition into the "Late" age was heralded in Rome and Venice. With Baroque the leadership in music passes to Italy. But at the same time architecture ceases to be the ruling art and there is formed a group of Faustian special-arts in which oil-painting occupies the central place. About 1560 the empire of the human voice comes to an end in the a cappella style of Pales- trina and Orlando Lasso (both d. 1594). Its powers could no longer express the passionate drive into the infinite, and it made way for the chorus of in- struments, wind and string. And thereupon Venice produced Titian-music, the new madrigal that in its flow and ebb follows the sense of the text. The music of the Gothic is architectural and vocal, that of the Baroque pictorial and instrumental. The one builds, the other operates by means of motives. For all the arts have become urban and therefore secular. We pass from super- personal Form to the personal expression of the Master, and shortly before 1600 Italy produces the basso continuo which requires virtuosi and not pious participants.

Thenceforward, the great task was to extend the tone-corpus into the infinity, or rather to resolve it into an infinite space of tone. Gothic had developed the instruments into families of definite timbre. But the new-born ' ' orchestra ' ' no longer observes limitations imposed by the human voice, but treats it as a voice to be combined with other voices — at the same moment as our mathe- matic proceeds from the geometrical analysis of Fermat to the purely functional analysis of Descartes.^ In Zarlino's "Harmony" OSS^) appears a genuine perspective of pure tonal space. We begin to distinguish between ornamental and fundamental instruments. Melody and embellishment join to produce the Motive, and this in development leads to the rebirth of counterpoint in the form of the fugal style, of which Frescobaldi was the first master and Bach the culmination. To the vocal masses and motets the Baroque opposes its grand, orchestrally-conceived forms of the oratorio (Carissimi), the cantata (Viadana) and the opera (Monteverde). Whether a bass melody be set against upper voices, or upper voices be concerted against one another upon a background of basso continuo^ always sound-worlds of characteristic expres- sion-quality work reciprocally upon one another in the infinity of tonal space, supporting, intensifying, raising, illuminating, threatening, overshadowing —

» Sec p. 74.


THE ARTS OF FORM 131

a music all of interplay, scarcely intelligible save through ideas of contempo- rary Analysis.

From out of these forms of the early Baroque there proceeded, in the 17th Century, the sonata-like forms of suite, symphony and concerto grosso. The inner structure and the sequence of movements, the thematic working-out and modulation became more and more firmly established. And thus was reached the great, immensely dynamic, form in which music — now completely bodiless — was raised by Corelli and Handel and Bach to be the ruling art of the West. When Newton and Leibniz, about 1670, discovered the Infinitesimal Calculus, the fugal style was fulfilled. And when, about 1740, Euler began the definitive formulation of functional Analysis, Stamitz and his generation were discover- ing the last and ripest form of musical ornamentation, the four-part movement ^ as vehicle of pure and unlimited motion. For, at that time, there was still this one step to be taken. The theme of the fugue "is," that of the new sonata- movement "becomes," and the issue of its working out is in the one case a picture, in the other a drama. Instead of a series of pictures we get a cyclic succession, 2 and the real source of this tone-language was in the possibilities, realized at last, of our deepest and most intimate kind of music — the music of the strings. Certain it is that the violin is the noblest of all instruments that the Faustian soul has imagined and trained for the expression of its last secrets, and certain it is, too, that it is in string quartets and violin sonatas that it has experienced its most transcendent and most holy moments of full illumination. Here, in chamber-music. Western art as a whole reaches its highest point. Here our prime symbol of endless space is expressed as completely as the Spearman of Polycletus expresses that of intense bodiliness. When one of those ineffably yearning violin-melodies wanders through the spaces expanded around it by the orchestration of Tartini or Nardini, Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven, we know ourselves in the presence of an art beside which that of the Acropolis is alone worthy to be set.

With this, the Faustian music becomes dominant among the Faustian arts. It banishes the plastic of the statue and tolerates only the minor art — an entirely musical, refined, un-Classical and counter-Renaissance art — of porcelain, which (as a discovery of the West) is contemporary with the rise of chamber-music to full effectiveness. Whereas the statuary of Gothic is through-and-through architectural ornamentation, human espalier-work, that of the Rococo re- markably exemplifies the pseudo-plastic that results from entire subjection to the form-language of music, and shows to what a degree the technique govern-

  • A movement in sonata form consists essentially of (a) First Subject; (J>) Second Subject (in an

allied key); (c) Working-out, or free development of the themes grouped under (a) and (F); and (JP) Recapitulation, in which the two subjects are repeated in the key of the tonic.

The English usage is to consider (a) and Q>) with the bridge or modulation connecting them, to- gether as the "Exposition," and the form is consequtntly designated "three-part." — Tr.

  • Einstein, Gesch. der Musik, p. 6y.


131 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

ing the presented foreground can be in contradiction with the real expression- language that is hidden behind it. Compare Coysevox's ^ (1686) crouching Venus in the Louvre with its Classical prototype in the Vatican — in the one plastic is understudying music, in the other plastic is itself. Terms like "stac- cato," "accelerando," "andante" and "allegro" best describe the kind of movements that we have here, the flow of the lines, the fluidity in the being of the stone itself which like the porcelain has more or less lost its fine compact- ness. Hence our feeling that the granular marble is out of keeping. Hence, too, the wholly un-Classical tendency to work with reference to efi^ects of light and shade. This is quite in conformity with the principles of oil-painting from Titian onwards. That which in the i8th Century is called "colour" in an etch- ing, a drawing, or a sculpture-group really signifies music. Music dominates the painting of Watteau and Fragonard and the art of Gobelins and pastels, and since then, have we not acquired the habit of speaking of colour-tones or tone-colours? And do not the very words imply a recognition of a final homo- geneity between the two arts, superficially dissimilar as they are? And arc not these same words perfectly meaningless as applied to any and every Classical art? But music did not stop there; it transmuted also the architecture of Ber- nini's Baroque into accord with its own spirit, and made of it Rococo, a style of transcendent ornamentation upon which lights (or rather "tones") play to dissolve ceilings, walls and everything else constructional and actual into polyphonies and harmonies, with architectural trills and cadences and runs to complete the identification of the form-language of these halls and galleries with that of the music imagined for them. Dresden and Vienna are the homes of this late and soon-extinguished fairyland of visible chamber music, of curved furniture and mirror-halls, and shepherdesses in verse and porcelain. It is the final brilliant autumn with which the Western soul completes the expression of its high style. And in the Vienna of the Congress-time it faded and died.


The Art of the Renaissance, considered from this particular one of its many aspects,^ is a revolt against the spirit of the Faustian forest-music of counterpoint, which at that time was preparing to vassal ize the whole form-language of the Western Culture. It was the logical consequence of the open assertion of this will in matured Gothic. It never disavowed its origin and it maintained the character of a simple counter-movement; necessarily therefore it remained de- pendent upon the forms of the original movement, and represented simply the effect of these upon a hesitant soul. Hence, it was without true depth, either

^ Coysevox lived 1640-17x0. Much of the embellishmenc and statuary of Versailles is his work.

• See Vol. II, pp. 337 et scq., 365 et seq.


THE ARTS OF FORM 2.33

ideal or phenomenal. As to the first, we have only to think of the bursting passion with which the Gothic world-feeling discharged itself upon the whole Western landscape, and we shall see at once what sort of a movement it was that the handful of select spirits — scholars, artists and humanists — initiated about 1410.^ In the first the issue was one of life and death for a new-born soul, in the second it was a point of — taste. The Gothic gripped life in its entirety, penetrated its most hidden corners. It created new men and a new world. From the idea of Catholicism to the state-theory of the Holy Roman Emperors, from the knightly tourney to the new city-form, from cathedral to cottage, from language-building to the village maiden's bridal attire, from oil-painting to the Spielmann's song, everything is hall-marked with the stamp of one and the same symbolism. But the Renaissance, when it had mastered some arts of word and picture, had shot its bolt. It altered the ways of thought and the life-feeling of West Europe not one whit. It could penetrate as far as costume and gesture, but the roots of life it could not touch — even in Italy the world-outlook of the Baroque is essentially a continuation of the Gothic.^ It produced no wholly great personality between Dante and Michelangelo, each of whom had one foot outside its limits. And as for the other — phe- nomenal or manifested depth — the Renaissance never touched the people, even in Florence itself. The man for whom they had ears was Savonarola — a phe- nomenon of quite another spiritual order and one which begins to be compre- hensible when we discern the fact that, all the time, the deep under-currents are steadily flowing on towards the Gothic-musical Baroque. The Renaissance as an anti-Gothic movement and a reaction against the spirit of polyphonic music has its Classical equivalent in the Dibnysiac movement. This was a re- action against Doric and against the sculptural-Apollinian world-feeling. It did not "originate" in the Thracian Dionysus-cult, but merely took this up as a weapon against and counter-symbol to the Olympian religion, precisely as in Florence the cult of the antique was called in for the justification and confirma- tion of a feeling already there. The period of the great protest was the 7th Century in Greece and (therefore) the 15 th in West Europe. In both cases we have in reality an outbreak of deep-seated discordances in the Culture, which physi- ognomically dominates a whole epoch of its history and especially of its artistic world — in other words, a stand that the soul attempts to make against the Destiny that at last it comprehends. The inwardly recalcitrant forces — Faust's second Soul that would separate itself from the other — are striving to deflect the

^ It was not merely national-Italian (for that Italian Gothic was also): it was purely Florentine, and even within Florence the ideal of one class of society. That which is called Renaissance in the Trecento has its centre in Provence and particularly in the papal court at Avignon, and is nothing whatever but the southern type of chivalry, that which prevailed in Spain and Upper Italy and was so strongly influenced by the Moorish polite society of Spain and Sicily.

2 Renaissance ornament is merely embellishment and self-conscious "art "-inventiveness. It is only with the frank and outspoken Baroque that we return to the necessities of high symbolism.


234 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

sense of the Culture, to repudiate, to get rid of or to evade its inexorable neces- sity; it stands anxious in presence of the call to accomplish its historical fate in Ionic and Baroque. This anxiety fastened itself in Greece to the Dionysus- cult with its musical, dematerializing, body-squandering orgasm, and in the Renaissance to the tradition of the Antique and its cult of the bodily-plastic tradition. In each case, the alien expression-means was brought in consciously and deliberately, in order that the force of a directly-opposite form-language should provide the suppressed feelings with a weight and a pathos of their own, and so enable them to stand against the stream — in Greece the stream which flowed from Homer and the Geometrical to Phidias, in the West that which flowed from the Gothic cathedrals, through Rembrandt, to Beethoven.

It follows from the very character of a counter-movement that it is far easier for it to define what it is opposing than what it is aiming at. This is the diffi- culty of all Renaissance research. In the Gothic (and the Doric) it is just the opposite — men arc contending for something, not against it — but Renais- sance art is nothing more nor less than anti-Gothic art. Renaissance music, too, is a contradiction in itself; the music of the Medicean court was the Southern French "ars nova," that of the Florentine Duomo was the Low- German counterpoint, both alike essentially Gothic and the property of the whole West.

The view that is customarily taken of the Renaissance is a very clear instance of how readily the proclaimed intentions of a movement may be mistaken for its deeper meaning. Since Burckhardt,^ criticism has controverted every indi- vidual proposition that the leading spirits of the age put forward as to their own tendencies — and yet, this done, it has continued to use the word Renais- sance substantially in the former sense. Certainly, one is conscious at once in passing to the south of the Alps of a marked dissimilarity in architecture in particular and in the look of the arts in general. But the very obviousness of the conclusion that the impression prompts should have led us to distrust it and to ask ourselves, instead, whether the supposed distinction of Gothic and " antique" was not in reality merely a difi^erence between Northern and Southern aspects of one and the same form-world. Plenty of things in Spain give the impression of being "Classical" merely because they are Southern, and if a layman were confronted with the great cloister of S. Maria Novella or the fagade of the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence and asked to say if these were "Gothic" he would certainly guess wrong. Otherwise, the sharp change of spirit ought to have set in not beyond the Alps but only beyond the Apennines, for Tuscany is artistically an island in Italian Italy. Upper Italy belongs entirely to a Byzantine-tinted Gothic; Siena in particular is a genuine monument of the

^ Jacob Burckhardc, Die Cultur dtr Renaissanct in Italitn. (An English traaslation was published in 1878. — Tr.^


THE ARTS OF FORM 135

counter-Renaissance, and Rome is already the home of Baroque. But, in fact, it is the change of landscape that coincides with the change of feeling.

In the actual birth of the Gothic style Italy had indeed no inward share. At the epoch of 1000 the country was still absolutely under the domination of Byzantine taste in the East and Moorish taste in the South. When Gothic first took root here it was the mature Gothic, and it implanted itself with an intensity and force for which we look in vain in any of the great Renaissance creations — think of the "Stabat Mater," the "Dies Iras," Catharine of Siena, Giotto and Simone Martini! At the same time, it was lighted from the South and its strangeness was, as it were, softened in acclimatization. That which it suppressed or expelled was not, as has been supposed, some lingering strains of the Classical but purely the Byzantine-caw-Saracen form-language that ap- pealed to the senses in familiar everyday life — in the buildings of Ravenna and Venice but even more in the ornament of the fabrics, vessels and arms imported from the East.

If the Renaissance had been a "renewal" (whatever that may mean) of the Classical world-feeling, then, surely, would it not have had to replace the symbol of embraced and rhythmically-ordered space by that of closed structural bodyl But there was never any questiorTnTthis. On the contrary, the Renais- sance practised wholly and exclusively an architecture of space prescribed for it by Gothic, from which it differed only in that in lieu of the Northern "Sturm und Drang ' ' it breathed the clear equable calm of the sunny, care-free and un- questioning South. It produced no new building-idea, and the extent of its architectural achievement might almost be reduced to fagades and courtyards.

Now, this focussing of expressible effort upon the street-front of a house or the side of a cloister — many-windowed and ever significant of the spirit within ' — is characteristic of the Gothic (and deeply akin to its art of portraiture); and the cloistered courtyard itself is, from the Sun-temple of Baalbek to the Court of the Lions in the Alhambra, as genuinely Arabian. And in the midst of this art the Poseidon temple of Passtum, all body, stands lonely and un- related: no one saw it, no one attempted to copy it. Equally un-Attic is the Florentine sculpture, for Attic is free plastic, "in the round" in the full sense of the words, whereas every Florentine statue feels behind it the ghost of the niche into which the Gothic sculptor had built its real ancestors. In the relation of figure to background and in the build of the body, the masters of the "Kings' heads" at Chartres and the masters of the "George" choir at Bamberg exhibit the same interpenetration of "Antique" and Gothic expression-means that we have, neither intensified nor contradicted, in the manner of Giovanni Pisano and Ghiberti and even Verrocchio.

If we take away from the models of the Renaissance all elements that originated later than the Roman Imperial Age — that is to say, those belonging to the Magian form-world — nothing is left. Even from Late-Roman archi-


2-36 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

tccturc itself all elements derived from the great days of Hellas had one by one vanished. Most conclusive of all, though, is that motive which actually dominates the Renaissance, which because of its Southern-ness we regard as the noblest of the Renaissance characters, viz., the association of round-arch and column. This association, no doubt, is very un-Gothic, but in the Classical style it simply does not exist, and in fact it represents the leitmotif of the Magian architecture that originated in Syria.

But it was just then that the South received from the North those decisive impulses which helped it first of all to emancipate itself entirely from Byzantium and then to step from Gothic into Baroque. In the region comprised between Amsterdam, Koln and Paris ^ — the counter-pole to Tuscany in the style- history of our culture — counterpoint and oil-painting had been created in association with the Gothic architecture. Thence Dufay in 142.8 and Willaert in 1 5 16 came to the Papal Chapel, and in 152.7 the latter founded that Venetian school which was decisive of Baroque music. The successor of Willaert was de Rore of Antwerp. A Florentine commissioned Hugo van der Goes to exe- cute the Portinari altar for Santa Maria Nuova, and Mcmlinc to paint a Last Judgment. And over and above this, numerous pictures (especially Low- Countries portraits) were acquired and exercised an enormous influence. In 1450 Rogier van der Weyden himself came to Florence, where his art was both admired and imitated. In 1470 Justus van Gent introduced oil-painting to Umbria, and Antonello da Messina brought what he had learned in the Nether- lands to Venice. How much "Dutch" and how little "Classical" there is in the pictures of Filippino Lippi, Ghirlandaio and Botticelli and especially in the engravings of Pollaiulo! Or in Leonardo himself. Even to-day critics hardly care to admit the full extent of the influence exercised by the Gothic North upon the architecture, music, painting and plastic of the Renaissance.? It was just then, too, that Nicolaus Cusanus, Cardinal and Bishop of Brixen (1401-1464), brought into mathematics the "infinitesimal" principle, that contrapuntal method of number which he reached by deduction from the idea of God as Infinite Being. It was from Nicholas of Cusa that Leibniz received the decisive impulse that led him to work out his differential calculus; and thus was forged the weapon with which dynamic. Baroque, Newtonian, physics definitely overcame the static idea characteristic of the Southern physics that reaches a hand to Archimedes and is still efl^ective even in Galileo.

The high period of the Renaissance is a moment of apparent expulsion of music from Faustian art. And in fact, for a few decades, in the only area where Classical and Western landscapes touched, Florence did uphold — with one

^ Inclusive of Paris itself. Even as late as the fifteenth century Flemish was as much spoken there as French, and the architectural appearance of the city in its oldest parts connects it with Bruges and Ghent and not with Troycs and Poitiers.

  • A. Schmarsow, Gotik in der Renaissance (1911); B. Haendke, Der nitdtrl. Einfluss auf die Malerei

Toskana-Umbriens QAonatshejte jiir Kunstwissenscb. 1912,)'


THE ARTS OF FORM 137

grand effort that was essentially metaphysical and essentially defensive — an image of the Classical so convincing that, although its deeper characters were without exception mere anti-Gothic, it lasted beyond Goethe and, if not for our criticism, yet for our feelings, is valid to this day. The Florence of Lorenzo de* Medici and the Rome of Leo the Tenth — that is what for us the Classical /J", an eternal goal of most secret longing, the only deliverance from our heavy hearts and limit upon our horizon. And it is this because, and only because, it is anti-Gothic. So clean-cut is the opposition of Apollinian and Faustian spirituality.

But let there be no mistake as to the extent of this illusion. In Florence men practiced fresco and relief in contradiction of Gothic glass-painting and Byzan- tine gold-ground mosaic. This was the one moment in the history of the West when sculpture ranked as the paramount art. The dominant elements in the picture are the poised bodies, the ordered groups, the structural side of archi- tecture. The backgrounds possess no intrinsic value, merely serving to fill up between and behind the self-sufficient present of the foreground-figures. For a while here, painting is actually under the domination of plastic; Verrocchio, Pollaiuolo and Botticelli were goldsmiths. Yet, all the same, these frescoes have nothing of the spirit of Polygnotus in them. Examine a collection of Classical painted vases — not in individual specimens or copies (which would give the wrong idea) but in the mass, for this is the one species of Classical art in which originals are plentiful enough to impress us effectively with the will that is behind the art. In the light of such a study, the utter un-Classicalness of the Renaissance-spirit leaps to the eye. The great achievement of Giotto and Masaccio in creating a fresco-art is only a-pparently a revival of the Apollinian way of feeling; but the depth-experience and idea of extension that underlies it is not the Apollinian unspatial and self-contained body but the Gothic field (Bildraum). However recessive the backgrounds are, they exist. Yet here again there was the fullness of light, the clarity of atmosphere, the great noon-calm, of the South; dynamic space was changed in Tuscany, and only in Tuscany, to the static space of which Piero della Francesca was the master. Though fields of space were painted, they were put, not as an existence un- bounded and like music ever striving into the depths, but as sensuously definable. Space was given a sort of bodiliness and order in plane layers, and drawing, sharpness of outline, definition of surface were studied with a care that seem- ingly approached the Hellenic ideal. Yet there was always this difference, that Florence depicted space perspectively as singular in contrast with things as plural, whereas Athens presented things as separate singulars in contrast to general nothingness. And in proportion as the surge of the Renaissance smoothed down, the hardness of this tendency receded, from Masaccio *s frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel to Raphael's in the Vatican Stanze, until the sfumato of Leonardo, the melting of the edges into the background, brings a musical


138 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

ideal in place of the relief-ideal into painting. The hidden dynamic is equally unmistakable in the sculpture of Florence — it would be perfectly hopeless to look for an Attic companion for Verrocchio's equestrian statue.^ This art was a masky a mode of the taste of an elite, and sometimes a comedy — though never was comedy more gallantly played out. The indescribable inward purity of Gothic form often causes us to forget what an excess of native strength and depth it possessed. Gothic, it must be repeated again, is the only foundation of the Renaissance. The Renaissance never even touched the real Classical, let alone understood it or "revived" it. The consciousness of the Florentine 61ite, wholly under literary influences, fashioned the deceptive name to posi- tivize the negative element of the movement — thereby demonstrating how little such currents are aware of their own nature. There is not a single one of their great works that the contemporaries of Pericles, or even those of Csesar, would not have rejected as utterly alien. Their palace courtyards are Moorish courtyards, and their round arches on slender pillars are of Syrian origin. Cimabue taught his century to imitate with the brush the art of Byzantine mosaic. Of the two famous domical buildings of the Renaissance, the domed cathedral of Florence is a masterpiece of late Gothic, and St. Peter's is one of early Baroque. When Michelangelo set himself to build the latter as the "Pantheon towering over the Basilica of Maxentius," he was naming two buildings of the purest early Arabian style. And ornament — is there indeed a genuine Renaissance ornamentation? Certainly there is nothing comparable in symbolic force with the ornamentation of Gothic. But what is the prov- enance of that gay and elegant embellishment which has a real inward unity of its own and has captivated all Europe? There is a great difference between the home of a "taste" and the home of the expression-means that it employs: one finds a great deal that is Northern in the early Florentine motives of Pisano, Maiano, Ghiberti and Delia Querela. We have to distinguish in all these chancels, tombs, niches and porches between the outward and transferable forms (the Ionic column itself is doubly a transfer, for it originated in Egypt) and the spirit of the form-language that uses them as means and signs. One Classical element or item is equivalent to another so long as something un- Classical is being expressed — . significance lies not in the thing but in the way in which it is used. But even in Donatello such motives are far fewer than in mature Baroque. As for a strict Classical capital, no such thing is to be found. And yet, at moments, Renaissance art succeeded in achieving something wonderful that music could not reproduce — a feeling for the bliss of perfect nearness y for pure, restful and liberafing space-effects, bright and tidy and free from the passionate movement of Gothic and Baroque. It is not Classical, but it is a dream of Classical existence, the only dream of the Faustian soul in which it was able to forget itself.

^ The colossal statue of Bartolommeo CoUeone at Veaicc. — Tr,


VI


And now, with the i6th Century, the decisive epochal turn begins for West- ern painting. The trusteeship of architecture in the North and that of sculpture in Italy expire, and painting becomes polyphonic, "picturesque," infinity- seeking. The colours become tones. The art of the brush claims kinship with the style of cantata and madrigal. The technique of oils becomes the basis of an art that means to conquer space and to dissolve things in that space. With > Leonardo and Giorgione begins Impressionism.

In the actual picture there is trans valuation of all the elements. The back- ground, hitherto casually put in, regarded as a fill-up and, as space, almost shuffled out of sight, gains a preponderant importance. A development sets in that is paralleled in no other Culture, not even in the Chinese which in many other respects is so near to ours. The background as symbol of the infinite conquers the sense-perceptible foreground, and at last (herein lies the distinc- tion between the depicting and the delineating styles) the depth-experience of the Faustian soul is captured in the kinesis of a picture. The space-relief of Mantegna's plane layers dissolves in Tintoretto into directional energy, and there emerges in the picture the great symbol of an unlimited space-universe which comprises the individual things within itself as incidentals — the hori- Xpn. Now, that a landscape painting should have a horizon has always seemed so self-evident to us that we have never asked ourselves the important question: Is there always a horizon, and if not, when not and why not? In fact, there is not a hint of it, either in Egyptian relief or in Byzantine mosaic or in vase- paintings and frescoes of the Classical age, or even in those of the Hellenistic in spite of its spatial treatment of foregrounds. This line, in the unreal vapour of which heaven and earth melt, the sum and potent symbol of the far, contains the painter's version of the "infinitesimal" principle. It is out of the remote- ness of this horizon that the musk of the picture flows, and for this reason the great landscape-painters of Holland paint only backgrounds and atmospheres, just as for the contrary reason "anti-musical" masters like Signorelli and especially Mantegna, paint only foregrounds and ' ' reliefs. ' ' It is in the horizon, then, that Music triumphs over Plastic, the -passion of extension over its sub- stance. It is not too much to say that no picture by Rembrandt has a foreground at all. In the North, the home of counterpoint, a deep understanding of the meaning of horizons and high-lighted distances is found very early, while in the South the flat conclusive gold-background of the Arabic-Byzantine picture long remained supreme. The first definite emergence of the pure space-feeling is in the Books of Hours of the Duke of Berry (that at Chantilly and that at Turin) about 141 6. Thereafter, slowly and surely, it conquers the Picture.

The same symbolic meaning attaches to clouds. Classical art concerns itself with them no more than with horizons, and the painter of the Renaissance


2jp THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

treats them with a certain playful superficiality. But very early the Gothic looked at its cloud-masses, and through them, with the long sight of mysticism; and the Venetians (Giorgione and Paolo Veronese above all) discovered the full magic of the cloud-world, of the thousand-tinted Being that fills the heavens with its sheets and wisps and mountains. Griinewald and the Nether- landers heightened its significance to the level of tragedy. El Greco brought the grand art of cloud-symbolism to Spain.

It was at the same time that along with oil-painting and counterpoint the art of gardens ripened. Here, expressed on the canvas of Nature itself by ex- tended pools, brick walls, avenues, vistas and galleries, is the same tendency that is represented in painting by the effort towards the linear perspective that the early Flemish artists felt to be the basic problem of their art and Brunel- lesco, Alberti and Piero della Francesca formulated. We may take it that it was not entirely a coincidence that this formulation of perspective, this mathe- matical consecration of the picture (whether landscape or interior) as a field limited at the sides but immensely increased in depth, was propounded just at this particular moment. It was the proclamation of the Prime-Symbol. The point at which the perspective lines coalesce is at infinity. It was just because it avoided infinity and rejected distance that Classical painting pos- sessed no perspective. Consequently the Park, the deliberate manipulation of Nature so as to obtain space and distance effects, is an impossibility in Classical art. Neither in Athens nor in Rome proper was there a garden-art: it was only the Imperial Age that gratified its taste with ground-schemes of Eastern origin, and a glance at any of the plans of those "gardens " that have been preserved ^ is enough to show the shortness of their range and the emphasis of their bounds. And yet the first garden-theorist of the West, L. B. Alberti, was laying down the relation of the surroundings to the house (that is, to the spectators in it) as early as 1450, and from his projects to the parks of the Ludovisi and Albani villas,^ we can see the importance of the perspective view into distance be- coming ever greater and greater. In France, after Francis I (Fontainebleau) the long narrow lake is an additional feature having the same meaning.

The most significant element in the Western garden-art is thus the point de vue of the great Rococo park, upon which all its avenues and clipped-hedge walks open and from which vision may travel out to lose itself in the distances. This element is wanting even in the Chinese garden-art. But it is exactly matched by some of the silver-bright distance-pictures of the pastoral music of that age (in Couperin for example). It is the point de vue that gives us the key to a real understanding of this remarkable mode of making nature itself

  • Svoboda, Komische und Komanischt Paldstt (1919); Rostowzcw, Pompeianische Landschaften und

Komiscbe Villen (Kom. mitt., 1904).

  • Environs of Rome. They date from the late 17th and the mid-i8th centuries respectively; the

gardens of the V. Ludovisi were laid out by Lc Ndtre. — Tr.


THE ARTS OF FORM 141

speak the form-language of a human symbolism. It is in principle akin to the dissolution of finite number-pictures into infinite series in our mathematic: as the remainder-expression ^ reveals the ultimate meaning of the series, so the glimpse into the boundless is what, in the garden, reveals to a Faustian soul the meaning of Nature. It was we and not the Hellenes or the men of the high Renaissance that prized and sought out high mountain tops for the sake of the limitless range of vision that they afford. This is a Faustian craving — to be alone with endless space. The great achievement of Le Notre and the land- scape-gardeners of Northern France, beginning with Fouquet's epoch-making creation of Vaux-le-Vicomte, was that they were able fo render this symbol with such high emphasis. Compare the Renaissance park of the Medicean age — capable of being taken in, gay, cosy, well-rounded — with these parks in which all the water-works, statue-rows, hedges and labyrinths are instinct with the suggestion of long range. It is the Destiny of Western oil-painting told over again in a bit of garden-history.

But the feeling for long range is at the same time one for history. At a distance, space becomes time and the horizon signifies the future. The Baroque ■park is the park of the Late season, of the approaching end, of the falling leaf. A Renaissance park is meant for the summer and the noonday. It is timeless, and nothing in its form-language reminds us of mortality. It is perspective that begins to awaken a premonition of something passing, fugitive and final. The very words of distance possess, in the lyric poetry of all Western languages, a plaintive autumnal accent that one looks for in vain in the Greek and Latin. It is there in Macpherson's "Ossian" and Holderlin, and in Nietzsche's Dionysus- Dithyrambs, and lastly in Baudelaire, Verlaine, George and Droem. The Late poetry of the withering garden avenues, the unending lines in the streets of a megalopolis, the ranks of pillars in a cathedral, the peak in a distant mountain chain — all tell us that the depth-experience which constitutes our space- world for us is in the last analysis our inward certainty of a Destiny, of a prescribed direction, of time, of the irrevocable. Here, in the experience of horizon as future, we become directly and surely conscious of the identity of Time with the ' ' third dimension ' ' of that experienced space which is living self-extension. And in these last days we are imprinting upon the plan of our megalopolitan streets the same directional-destiny character that the 17th Century imprinted upon the Park of Versailles. We lay our streets as long arrow-flights into remote distance, regardless even of preserving old and historic parts of our towns (for the symbolism of these is not now prepo- tent in us), whereas a megalopolis of the Classical world studiously main- tained in its extension that tangle of crooked lanes that enabled Apollinian man to feel himself a body in the midst of bodies.^ Herein, as always,

^ That Is, the expression for the sum of a convergent series beyond any specified term. — Tr.

  • See Vol. II, pp. 117 et seq.


242. THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

practical requirements, so called, are merely the mask of a profound inward compulsion.

With the rise of perspective, then, the deeper form and full metaphysical significance of the picture comes to be concentrated upon the horizon. In Renaissance art the painter had stated and the beholder had accepted the con- tents of the picture for what they were, as self-sufficient and co-extensive with the title. But henceforth the contents became a means, the mere vehicle of a meaning that was beyond the possibility of verbal expression. With Mantegna or Signorelli the pencil sketch could have stood as the picture, without being carried out in colour — in some cases, indeed, we can only regret that the artist did not stop at the cartoon. In the statue-like sketch, colour is a mere supple- ment. Titian, on the other hand, could be told by Michelangelo that he did not know how to draw. The "object," i.e., that which could be exactly fixed by the drawn outline, the near and material, had in fact lost its artistic actual- ity; but, as the theory of art was still dominated by Renaissance impressions, there arose thereupon that strange and interminable conflict concerning the "form" and the "content" of an art-work. Mis-enunciation of the question has concealed its real and deep significance from us. The first point for con- sideration should have been whether painting was to be conceived of plastically or musically, as a static of things or as a dynamic of space (for in this lies the essence of the opposition between fresco and oil technique), and the second point, the opposition of Classical and Faustian world-feeling. Outlines define the material, while colour-tones interpret space. ^ But the picture of the first order belongs to directly sensible nature — it narrates. Space, on the contrary, is by its very essence transcendent and addresses itself to our imaginative powers, and in an art that is under its suzerainty, the narrative element enfeebles and obscures the more profound tendency. Hence it is that the theorist, able to feel the secret disharmony but misunderstanding it, clings to the superficial opposi- tion of content and form. The problem is purely a Western one, and reveals most strikingly the complete inversion in the significance of pictorial elements that took place when the Renaissance closed down and instrumental music of the grand style came to the front. For the Classical mind no problem of form and content in this sense could exist; in an Attic statue the two are completely identical and identified in the human body.

The case of Baroque painting is further complicated by the fact that it in- volves an opposition of ordinary popular feeling and the finer sensibility. Everything Euclidean and tangible is also popular, and the genuinely popular art is therefore the Classical. It is very largely the feeling of this popular char-

  • Id Classical painting, light and shadow were first consistently employed by Zeuxis, but only

for the shading of the thing itself, for the purpose of freeing the modelling of the body painted from the restriction of the relief-manner, i.e., without any reference to the relation of shadows to the timt of day. But even with the earliest of the Ncthcrlandcrs light and shade are already colour-tones and affected by atmosphere.


THE ARTS OF FORM 143

acter in it that constitutes its indescribable charm for the Faustian intellects that have to fight for self-expression, to win their world by hard wrestling. For us, the contemplation of Classical art and its intention is pure refreshment: here nothing needs to be struggled for, everything offers itself freely. And something of the same sort was achieved by the anti-Gothic tendency of Florence. Raphael is, in many sides of his creativeness, distinctly popular. But Rembrandt is not, cannot be, so. From Titian painting becomes more and more esoteric. So, too, poetry. So, too, music. And the Gothic per se had been esoteric from its very beginnings — witness Dante and Wolfram. The masses of Okeghem and Palestrina, or of Bach for that matter, were never intelligible to the average member of the congregation. Ordinary people are bored by Mozart and Bee- thoven, and regard music generally as something for which one is or is not in the mood. A certain degree of interest in these matters has been induced by concert room and gallery since the age of enlightenment invented the phrase " art for all. " But Faustian art is not, and by very essence cannot be, *' for all. " If modern painting has ceased to appeal to any but a small (and ever decreasing) circle of connoisseurs, it is because it has turned away from the painting of things that the man in the street can understand. It has transferred the prop- erty of actuality from contents to space — the space through which alone, according to Kant, things are. And with that a difficult metaphysical element has entered into painting, and this element does not give itself away to the lay- man. For Phidias, on the contrary, the word "lay" would have had no mean- ing. His sculpture appealed entirely to the bodily and not to the spiritual eye. An art without space is a priori unphilosophical.

VII

With this is connected an important principle of composition. In a picture it is possible to set the things inorganically above one another or side by side or behind one another without any emphasis of perspective or interrelation, i.e., without insisting upon the dependence of their actuality upon the structure of space which does not necessarily mean that this dependence is denied. Primi- tive men and children draw thus, before their depth-experience has brought the sense-impressions of their world more or less into fundamental order. But this order differs in the different Cultures according to the prime symbols of these Cultures. The sort of perspective composition that is so self-evident to us is a particular case, and it is neither recognized nor intended in the painting of any other Culture. Egyptian art chose to represent simultaneous events in super- posed ranks, thereby eliminating the third dimension from the look of the picture. The Apollinian art placed figures and groups separately, with a de- liberate avoidance of space-and-time relations in the plane of representation. Polygnotus's frescoes in the Lesche of the Cnidians at Delphi are a celebrated instance of this. There is no background to connect the individual scenes —


i44 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

for such a background would have been a challenge to the principle that things alone are actual and space non-existent. The pediment of the i^gina temple, the procession of gods on the Frangois Vase and the Frieze of the Giants of Pcrgamum are all composed as meander-syntheses of separate and interchange- able motives, without organic character. It is only with the Hellenistic age (the Telephus Frieze of the altar of Pergamum is the earliest example that has been preserved) that the un-Classical motive of the consistent series comes into existence. In this respect, as in others, the feeling of the Renaissance was truly Gothic. It did indeed carry group-composition to such a pitch of perfection that its work remains the pattern for all following ages. But the order of it all proceeded out of space. In the last analysis, it was a silent music of colour- illumined extension that created within itself light-resistances^ which the under- standing eye could grasp as things and as existence, and could set marching with an invisible swing and rhythm out into the distance. And with this spatial ordering, with its unremarked substitution of air- and light-perspective for line-perspective, the Renaissance was already, in essence, defeated.

And now from the end of the Renaissance in Orlando Lasso and Palestrina right up to Wagner, from Titian right up to Manet and Marees and Leibl, great musicians and great painters followed close upon one another while the plastic art sank into entire insignificance. Oil-painting and instrumental music evolve organically towards aims that were comprehended in the Gothic and achieved in the Baroque. Both arts — Faustian in the highest sense — are with- in those limits prime phenomena. They have a soul, a physiognomy and therefore a history. And in this they are alone. All that sculpture could thenceforward achieve was a few beautiful incidental pieces in the shadow of painting, garden- art, or architecture. The art of the West had no real need of them. There was no longer a style of plastic in the sense that there were styles of painting or music. No consistent tradition or necessary unity links the works of Maderna, Goujon, Puget and Schliiter. Even Leonardo begins to despise the chisel out- right: at most he will admit the bronze cast, and that on account of its pic- torial advantages. Therein he differs from Michelangelo, for whom the marble block was still the true element. And yet even Michelangelo in his old age could no longer succeed with the plastic, and none of the later sculptors are great in the sense that Rembrandt and Bach are great. There were clever and tasteful performances no doubt, but not one single work of the same order as the "Night Watch" or the "Matthew Passion," nothing that expresses, as these express, the whole depth of a whole mankind. This art had fallen out of the destiny of the Culture. Its speech meant nothing now. What there is in a Rembrandt portrait simply cannot be rendered in a bust. Now and then a sculptor of power arises, like Bernini or the masters of the contemporary Spanish school, or Pigalle or Rodin (none of whom, naturally, transcended the decora- tive and attained the level of grand symbolism), but such an artist is always


THE ARTS OF FORM 145

visibly either a belated imitator of the Renaissance like Thorwaldsen, a dis- guised painter like Houdon or Rodin, an architect like Bernini and Schliiter or a decorator like Coysevox. And his very appearance on the scene only shows the more clearly that this art, incapable of carrying the Faustian burden, has no longer a mission — and therefore no longer a soul or a life-history of specific style-development — in the Faustian world. In the Classical world, cor- respondingly, music was the art that failed. Beginning with probably quite important advances in the earliest Doric, it had to give way in the ripe centuries of Ionic (650-350) to the two truly Apollinian arts, sculpture and fresco; re- nouncing harmony and polyphony, it had to renounce therewith any pretensions to organic development as a higher art.


VIII


The strict style in Classical painting limited its palette to yellow, red, black and white. This singular fact was observed long ago, and, since the explanation was only sought for in superficial and definitely material causes, wild hypothe- ses were brought forward to account for it, e.g., a supposed colour-blindness in the Greeks. Even Nietzsche discussed this (Morgenrote, 42.6).

But why did this painting in its great days avoid blue and even blue-green, and only begin the gamut of permissible tones at greenish-yellow and bluish- red? It is not that the ancient artists did not know of blue and its effect. The metopes of many temples had blue backgrounds so that they should appear deep in contrast with the triglyphs; and trade-painting used all the colours that were technically available. There are authentic blue horses in archaic Acropolis work and Etruscan tomb-painting; and a bright blue colouring of the hair was quite common. The ban upon it in the higher art was, without a doubt, imposed upon the Euclidean soul by its prime symbol.

Blue and green are the colours of the heavens, the sea, the fruitful plain, the shadow of the Southern noon, the evening, the remote mountains. They are essentially atmospheric and not substantial colours. They are cold, they disembody, and they evoke impressions of expanse and distance and boundlessness.

For this reason they were kept out of the frescoes of Polygnotus. And for this reason also, an "infinitesimal" blue-to-green is the space-creating element throughout the history of our perspective oil-painting, from the Venetians right into the 19th Century; it is the basic and supremely important tone which supports the ensemble of the intended colour-effect, as the basso continuo supports the orchestra, whereas the warm yellow and red tones are put on sparingly and in dependence upon this basic tone. It is not the full, gorgeous and familiar green that Raphael and Diirer sometimes — and seldom at that — use for draperies, but an indefinite blue-green of a thousand nuances into white and grey and brown; something deeply musical, into which (notably in Gobelin


246 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

tapestry) the whole atmosphere is plunged. That quality which we have named aerial perspective in contrast to linear — and might also have called Baroque perspective in contrast to Renaissance — rests almost exclusively upon this. We find it with more and more intense depth-effect in Leonardo, Guercino, Albani in the case of Italy, and in Ruysdael and Hobbema in that of Holland, . but, above all, in the great French painters, from Poussin and Claude Lorrain and Watteau to Corot. Blue, equally a perspective colour, always stands in relation to the dark, the unillumined, the unactual. It does not press in on us, it pulls us out into the remote. An "enchanting nothingness" Goethe calls it in his Farbenlehre.

Blue and green are transcendent, spiritual, non-sensuous colours. They are missing in the strict Attic fresco and therefore dominant in oil-painting. Yellow and red, the Classical colours, are the colours of the material, the near, the full-blooded. Red is the characteristic colour of sexuality — hence it is the only colour that works upon the beasts. It matches best the Phallus-symbol — and therefore the statue and the Doric column — but it is pure blue that ctherealizes the Madonna's mantle. This relation of the colours has established itself in every great school as a deep-felt necessity. Violet, a red succumb- ing to blue, is the colour of women no longer fruitful and of priests living in • celibacy.

Yellow and red are the popular colours, the colours of the crowd, of children, of women, and of savages. Amongst the Venetians and the Spaniards high personages affected a splendid black or blue, with an unconscious sense of the aloofness inherent in these colours. For red and yellow, the Apollinian, Eucli- dean-polytheistic colours, belong to the foreground even in respect of social life; they are meet for the noisy hearty market-days and holidays, the naive imme- diateness of a life subject to the blind chances of the Classical Fatum, the point- existence. But blue and green — the Faustian, monotheistic colours — arc those of loneliness, of care, of a present that is related to a past and a future, of destiny as the dispensation governing the universe from within.

The relation of Shakespearian destiny to space and of Sophoclean to the in- dividual body has already been stated in an earlier chapter. All the genuinely transcendent Cultures — that is all whose prime-symbol requires the overcoming of the apparent, the life of struggle and not that of acceptance — have the same metaphysical inclination to space as to blues and blacks. There are profound observations on the connexion between ideas of space and the meaning of colour in Goethe's studies of "entoptic colours" in the atmosphere; the symbolism that is enunciated by him in the Farbenlehre and that which we have deduced here from the ideas of Space and Destiny are in complete agreement.

The most significant use of dusky green as the colour of destiny is Griine- wald's. The indescribable power of space in his nights is equalled only by Rem- brandt's. And the thought suggests itself here, is it possible to say that his


THE ARTS OF FORM 147

bluish-green, the colour in which the interior of a great cathedral is so often clothed, is the specifically Catholic colour? — it being understood that we mean by "Catholic" strictly the Faustian Christianity (with the Eucharist as its centre) that was founded in the Lateran Council of 1115 and fulfilled in the Council of Trent. This colour with its silent grandeur is as remote from the resplendent gold-ground of Early Christian-Byzantine pictures as it is from the gay, loquacious "pagan" colours of the painted Hellenic temples and statues. It is to be noted that the effect of this colour, entirely unlike that of yellow and red, depends upon work being exhibited indoors. Classical painting is emphatically a public art, Western just as emphatically a studio-art. The whole of our great oil-painting, from Leonardo to the end of the i8th Century, is not meant for the bright light of day. Here once more we meet the same opposition as that between chamber-music and the free-standing statue. The climatic explanation of the difference is merely superficial; the example of Egyptian painting would suffice to disprove it if disproof were necessary at all. Infinite space meant for Classical feeling complete nothingness, and the use of blue and green, with their powers of dissolving the near and creating the far, would have been a challenge to the absolutism of the foreground and its unit- bodies, and therefore to the very meaning and intent of Apollinian art. To the Apollinian eye, pictures in the colours of Watteau would have been destitute of all essence, things of almost inexpressible emptiness and untruth. By these colours the visually-perceived light-reflecting surface of the picture is made effectively to render, not circumscribed things, but circumambient space. And that is why they are missing in Greece and dominant in the West.


Arabian art brought the Magian world-feeling to expression by means of the gold ground of its mosaics and pictures. Something of the uncanny wizardry of this, and by implication of its symbolic purpose, is known to us through the mosaics of Ravenna, in the work of the Early Rhenish and especially North Italian masters who were still entirely under the influence of Lombardo- Byzantine models, and last but not least in the Gothic book-illustrations of which the archetypes were the Byzantine purple codices.

In this instance we can study the soul of three Cultures working upon very similar tasks in very dissimilar ways. The Apollinian Culture recognized as actual only that which was immediately present in time and place — and thus it repudiated the background as pictorial element. The Faustian strove through all sensuous barriers towards infinity — and it projected the centre of gravity of the pictorial idea into the distance by means of perspective. The Magian felt all happening as an expression of mysterious powers that filled the world- cavern with their spiritual substance — and it shut off" the depicted scene with a gold background, that is, by something that stood beyond and outside all


248 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

nature-colours. Gold is not a colour. As compared with simple yellow, it produces a complicated sense-impression, through the metallic, diffuse reful- gence that is generated by its glowing surface. Colours — whether coloured substance incorporated with the smoothed wall-face (fresco) or pigment ap- plied with the brush — are natural. But the metallic gleam, which is practi- cally never found in natural conditions, is unearthly.^ It recalls impressively the other symbols of the Culture, Alchemy and Kabbala, the Philosophers' Stone, the Holy Scriptures, the Arabesque, the inner form of the tales of the "Thousand and One Nights." The gleaming gold takes away from the scene, the life and the body their substantial being. Everything that was taught in the circle of Plotinus or by the Gnostics as to the nature of things, their in- dependence of space, their accidental causes — notions paradoxical and almost unintelligible to our world-feeling — is implicit also in the symbolism of this mysterious hieratic background. The nature of bodies was a principal subject of controversy amongst Neo-Pythagoreans and Neo-Platonists, as it was later in the schools of Baghdad and Basra. Suhrawardi distinguishes extension, as the primary existence of the body, from width and height and depth as its acci- dents. Nazzam pronounced against the corporeal substantiality and space-fill- ing character of the atom. These and the like were the metaphysical notions that, from Philo and Paul to the last great names of the Islamic philosophy, manifested the Arabian world-feeling. They played a decisive part in the dis- putes of the Councils upon the substantiality of Christ. ^ And thus the gold background possesses, in the iconography of the Western Church, an explicit dogmatic significance. It is an express assertion of the existence and activity of the divine spirit. It represents the Arabian form of the Christian world-con- sciousness, and with such a deep appropriateness that for a thousand years this treatment of the background was held to be the only one metaphysically — and even ethically — possible and seemly in representations of the Christian legend. When "natural" backgrounds, with their blue-green heavens, far horizons and depth perspective, began to appear in early Gothic, they had at first the appear- ance of something profane and worldly. The change of dogma that they implied was, if not acknowledged, at any rate felt, witness the tapestry backgrounds with which the real depth of space was covered up by a pious awe that disguised what it dared not exhibit. We have seen how just at this time, when the Faustian (German-Catholic) Christianity attained to consciousness of itself through the institution of the sacrament of Contrition — a new religion in the old garb — the tendency to perspective, colour, and the mastering of aerial

^ The brilliant polish of the stone in Egyptian art has a deep symbolic significance of much the same kind. Its effect is to dematerialize the statue by causing the eye to glide along its exterior. Hellas on the contrary manifests, by its progress from "Poros" stone, through Naxian, to the translucent Parian and Pentelic marbles, how determined it is that the look shall sink right into the material essence of the body.

« Sec Vol. II, pp. 314 ct scq.


THE ARTS OF FORM 149

space in the art of the Franciscans ^ transformed the whole meaning of painting.

The Christianity of the West is related to that of the East as the symbol of perspective to the symbol of gold-ground — and the final schism took place almost at the same moment in Church and in Art. The landscape-background of the depicted scene and the dynamic infiniteness of God were comprehended at the same moment; and, simultaneously with the gold ground of the sacred picture, there vanished from the Councils of the West that Magian, ontological problem of Godhead which had so passionately agitated Nicasa, Ephesus, Chalcedon and all the Councils of the East.


The Venetians discovered, and introduced into oil-painting as a space- forming and quasi-musical motive, the handwriting of the visihU brush-stroke. The Florentine masters had never at any time challenged the fashion — would- be Classical and yet in Gothic employ — of smoothing out all turns of the brush so as to produce pure, cleanly-outlined and even colour-surfaces. In consequence, their pictures have a certain air of hdng, something felt, un- mistakably, as the opposite of the inherent motion-o^^Wx.j of the Gothic expression-means that were storming in from over the Alps. The 15th-century manner of applying colour is a denial of past and future. It is only in the brushwork, which remains permanently visible and, in a way, perennially fresh, that the historical feeling comes out. Our desire is to see in the work of the painter not merely something that has become but something that is becoming. And this is precisely what the Renaissance wanted to avoid. A piece of Peru- gino drapery tells us nothing of its artistic origin; it is ready-made, given, simply present. But the individual brush-strokes — first met with as a com- plete new form-language in the later work of Titian — are accents of a per- sonal temperament, characteristic in the orchestra-colours of Monteverde, melodically-flowing as a contemporary Venetian madrigal: streaks and dabs, immediately juxtaposed, cross one another, cover one another, entangle one another, and bring unending movement into the plain element of colour. Just so the geometrical Analysis of the time made its objects become instead of being. Every painting has in its execution a history and does not disguise it; and a Faustian who stands before it feels that he too has a spiritual evolution. Before any great landscape by a Baroque master, the one word "historical" is enough to make us feel that there is a meaning in it wholly alien to the meaning of an Attic statue. As other melody, so also this of the restless outlineless brush- stroke is part of the dynamic stability of the universe of eternal Becoming, directional Time, and Destiny. The opposition of painting-style and drawing-

^ The life and teaching of St. Francis were, morally and aesthetically alike, the centres of in- spiration for Cimabue, Giotto and the Italian Gothic generally. — Tr.


150 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

style is but a particular aspect of the general opposition of historical and ahistorical form, of assertion and denial of inner development, of eternity and instantaneity. A Classical art-work is an event, a Western is a deed. The one symbolizes the here-and-now point, the other the living course. And the physiognomy of this script of the brush — an ornamentation that is entirely new, infinitely rich and personal, and peculiar to the Western Culture — is purely and simply musical. It is no mere conceit to compare the allegro feroce of Frans Hals with the andante con moto of Van Dyck, or the minor of Guercino with the major of Velasquez. Henceforward the notion oi tempo is comprised in the execution of a painting and steadily reminds us that this art is the art of a soul which, in contrast to the Classical, forgets nothing and will let nothing be forgotten that once was. The aery web of brush-strokes immediately dissolves the sensible surface of things. Contours melt into chiaroscuro. The beholder has to stand a very long way back to obtain any corporeal impression out of our coloured space values, and even so it is always the chromatic and active air itself that gives birth to the things.

At the same time with this, there appeared in Western painting another sym- bol of highest significance, which subdued more and more the actuality of all colour — the "studio-brown" (atelierbraun). This was unknown to the early Florentines and the older Flemish and Rhenish masters alike. Pacher, Diirer, Holbein, passionately strong as their tendency towards spatial depth seems, are quite without it, and its reign begins only with the last years of the i6th Century. This brown does not repudiate its descent from the "infini- tesimal" greens of Leonardo's, Schongauer's and Griinewald's backgrounds, but it possesses a mightier power over things than they, and it carries the battle of Space against Matter to a decisive close. It even prevails over the more primitive linear perspective, which is unable to shake off its Renaissance asso- ciation with architectural motives. Between it and the Impressionist technique of the visible brush-stroke there is an enduring and deeply suggestive connexion. Both in the end dissolve the tangible existences of the sense-world — the world of moments and foregrounds — into atmospheric semblances. Line disappears from the tone-picture. The Magian gold-ground had only dreamed of a mystic power that controlled and at will could thrust aside the laws governing cor- poreal existence within the world-cavern. But the brown of these pictures opened a prospect into an infinity of pure forms. And therefore its discovery marks for the Western style a culmination in the process of its becoming. As contrasted with the preceding green^ this colour has something Protestant in it. It antic- ipates the hyperbolic ^ Northern pantheism of the i8th Century which the Archangels voice in the Prologue of Goethe's "Faust." ^ The atmosphere of Lear and the atmosphere of Macbeth are akin to it. The contemporary striving

^ Dcr nordischc im Grcnzcnlosc schwcifcndc Panthcismus.

  • On the following page is a translation of this chorus. — Tr.


THE ARTS OF FORM 151

of instrumental music towards freer and ever freer chromatics (de Rore, Luca Marenzio) and towards the formation of bodies of tone by means of string and wind choruses corresponds exactly with the new tendency of oil-painting to create pictorial chromatics out of pure colours, by means of these unlimited brown shadings and the contrast-effect of immediately juxtaposed colour-strokes. Thereafter both the arts spread through their worlds of tones and colours — colour-tones and tone-colours — an atmosphere of the purest spatiality, which enveloped and rendered, no longer body — the human being as a shape — but the soul unconfined. And thus was attained the inwardness that in the deepest works of Rembrandt and of Beethoven is able to unlock the last secrets them- selves — the inwardness which Apollinian man had sought with his strictly somatic art to keep at bay.

From now onward, the old foreground-colours yellow and red — the Classical tones — are employed more and more rarely and always as deliberate contrasts to the distances and depths that they are meant to set off and emphasize (Vermeer in particular, besides of course Rembrandt). This atmospheric brown, which was entirely alien to the Renaissance, is the unrealest colour that there is. It is the one major colour that does not exist in the rainbow. There is white light, and yellow and green, and red and other light of the most entire purity. But a pure brown light is outside the possibilities of the Nature that we know. All the greenish-brown, silvery, moist brown, and deep gold tones that appear in their splendid variety with Giorgione, grow bolder and bolder in the great Dutch painters and lose themselves towards the end of the i8th Century, have the common quality that they strip nature of her tangible actuality. They con- tain, therefore, what is almost a religious profession of faith; we feel that here we are not very far from Port Royal, from Leibniz. With Constable on the other hand — who is the founder of the painting of Civilisation — it is a differ- ent will that seeks expression; and the very brown that he had learnt from the Dutch meant to him not what it had meant to them — Destiny, God, the mean- ing of life — but simply romance, sensibility, yearning for something that was gone, memorial of the great past of the dying art. In the last German masters too


Rafhael. The Sun outsings the brother-spheres

in olden rivalry of song, and thunder-girt pursues the years

the preordained path along. Tis from his face the angels gain

their strength; but scan it no one may. Thought is outranged and Works remain

sublime as on Creation-Day.

Gabriel. And, swift beyond description, flies

the circling scene of land and sea, in alternance of Paradise

with dark and awful Mystery. The ocean swings, the billows sway,

back from the cliff the waves are hurled. But cliff and waves alike obey

the mightier movement of the World.


Michael. And storms arise and swell and ebb

o'er sea and mountain, lake and field, in wild contention weave a web

of forces purposed though concealed. The lightning is thy flaming sword,

the thunder veils thee on thy way, yet ever spare thy envoys. Lord,

the gentle changing of thy day.

The Three. Tis from thy face the angels gain

their strength, but scan it no one may,. Beyond all thought thy Works remain sublime as on Creation-Day.


152. THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

' — Lessing, Marees, Spitzweg, Diez, Lcibl ^ — whose belated art is a romantic retrospect, an epilogue, the brown tones appear simply as a precious heirloom. Unwilling in their hearts to part with this last relic of the great style, they preferred to set themselves against the evident -tendency of their generation — the soulless and soul-killing generation of plein-air and Haeckel. Rightly understood (as it has never yet been), this battle of Rembrandt-brown and the plein-air of the new school is simply one more case of the hopeless resistance put up by soul against intellect and Culture against Civilization, of the opposition of symbolic necessary art and megalopolitan "applied" art which affects building and painting and sculpture and poetry alike. Regarded thus, the significance of the brown becomes manifest enough. When it dies, an entire Culture dies with it.

It was the masters who were inwardly greatest — Rembrandt above all — who best understood this colour. It is the enigmatic brown of his most telling work, and its origin is in the deep lights of Gothic church-windows and the twilight of the high-vaulted Gothic nave. And the gold tone of the great Venetians — Titian, Veronese, Palma, Giorgione — is always reminding us of that old perished Northern art of glass painting of which they themselves know almost nothing. Here also the Renaissance with its deliberate bodiliness of colour is seen as merely an episode, an event of the very self-conscious surface, and not a product of the underlying Faustian instinct of the Western soul, whereas this luminous gold-brown of the Venetian painting links Gothic and Baroque, the art of the old glass-painting and the dark music of Beethoven. And it coincides precisely in time with the establishment of the Baroque style of colour-music by the work of the Netherlanders Willaert and Cyprian de Rore, the elder Gabrieli, and the Venetian music-school which they founded.

Brown, then, became the characteristic colour of the soul, and more particu- larly of a historically-disposed soul. Nietzsche has, I think, spoken somewhere of the "brown " music of Bizet, but the adjective is far more appropriate to the music which Beethoven wrote for strings ^ and to the orchestration that even as late as Bruckner so often fills space with a browny-golden expanse of tone. All other colours are relegated to ancillary functions — thus the bright yellow

^ His portrait of Frau Gcdon, all steeped in brown, is the last Old-Masttr portrait of the West; it is painted entirely in the style of the past.

  • The strings in the Orchestra represent, as a class, the colours of the distance. The bluish green

of Watteau is found already in the Neapolitan bel canto of about 1700, in Couperin, in Mozart and Haydn; and the brown of the Ehitch in Corelli, Handel and Beethoven. The woodwind, too, calls up illumined distances. Yellow and red, on the other hand, the colours of nearness, the popular colours, are associated with the brass timbre, the effect of which is corporeal often to the point of vulgarity. The tone of an old fiddle is entirely bodiless. It is worth remarking that the Greek music, insignificent as it is, underwent an evolution from the Dorian lyre to the Ionian flute (aulos and syrinx) and that even in the time of Pericles strict Dorians blamed this as an enervating and lowering tendency.

(The horn is an exception, and is always treated as an exception, to the brass generally. Its place is with the woodwind, and its colours are those of the distance. — Tr.")


THE ARTS OF FORM 2.53

and the vermilion of Vermeer intrude with the spatial almost as though from another world and with an emphasis that is truly metaphysical, and the yellow-green and blood-red lights of Rembrandt seem at most to play with the symbolism of space. In Rubens, on the contrary — brilliant performer but no thinker — the brown is almost destitute of idea, a shadow-colour. (In him and in Watteau, the "Catholic" blue-green disputes precedence with the brown.) All this shows how any particular means may, in the hands of men of inward depth, become a symbol for the evocation of such high transcendence as that of the Rembrandt landscape, while for other great masters it may be merely a serviceable technical expedient — or in other words that (as we have already seen) technical "form," in the theoretical sense of something opposed to "content," has nothing whatever to do with the real and true form of a great work.

1 have called brown a historical colour. By this is meant that it makes the atmosphere of the pictured space signify directedness and future, and over- powers the assertiveness of any instantaneous element that may be represented. The other colours of distance have also this significance, and they lead to an important, considerable and distinctly bizarre extension of the Western sym- bolism. The Hellenes had in the end come to prefer bronze and even gilt- bronze to the painted marble, the better to express (by the radiance of this phenomenon against a deep blue sky) the idea of the individualness of any and every corporeal thing. ^ Now, when the Renaissance dug these statues up, it found them black and green with the patina of many centuries. The historic spirit, with its piety and longing, fastened on to this — and from that time forth our form-feeling has canonized this black and green of distance. To-day our eye finds it indispensable to the enjoyment of a bronze — an ironical illus- tration of the fact that this whole species of art is something that no longer concerns us as such. What does a cathedral dome or a bronze figure mean to us without the patina which transmutes the short-range brilliance into the tone of remoteness of time and place? Have we not got to the point of arti- ficially producing this patina? ^

But even more than this is involved in the ennoblement of decay to the level of an art-means of independent significance. That a Greek would have regarded the formation of patina as the ruin of the work, we can hardly doubt. It is not merely that the colour green, on account of its "distant" quality, was avoided by him on spiritual grounds. Patina is a symbol of mortality and hence related in a remarkable way to the symbols of time-measurement and the

^ The use of gold in this way, viz., to add brilliancy to bodies standing freely in the open, has nothing in common with its employment in Magian art to provide glittering backgrounds for figures seen in dim interiors.

2 The Chinese also attach enormous importance to the patinas of their old bronzes, which, owing to the different alloys used and the strong chemical characters of the soil, are of infinite variety and natural intricacy. They too, in later phases, have come to the production of artificial patina. — Tr.


154 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

funeral rite. We have already in an earlier chapter discussed the wistful regard of the Faustian soul for ruins and evidences of the distant past, its proneness to the collection of antiquities and manuscripts and coins, to pilgrimages to the Forum Romanum and to Pompeii, to excavations and philological studies, which appears as early as the time of Petrarch. When would it have occurred to a Greek to bother himself with the ruins of Cnossus or Tiryns? ^ Every Greek knew his * * Iliad ' ' but not one ever thought of digging up the hill of Troy. We, on the contrary, are moved by a secret piety to preserve the aqueducts of the Campagna, the Etruscan tombs, the ruins of Luxor and Karnak, the crumbling castles of the Rhine, the Roman Limes, Hersfeld and Paulinzella from becoming mere rubbish — but we keep them as ruinSy feeling in some subtle way that re- construction would deprive them of something, indefinable in terms, that can never be reproduced. ^ Nothing was further from the Classical mind than this reverence for the weather-beaten evidences of a once and a formerly. It cleared out of sight everything that did not speak of the present; never was the old preserved because it was old. After the Persians had destroyed old Athens, the citizens threw columns, statues, reliefs, broken or not, over the Acropolis wall, in order to start afresh with a clean slate — and the resultant scrap-heaps have been our richest sources for the art of the 6th Century. Their action was quite in keeping with the style of a Culture that raised cremation to the rank of a major symbol and refused with scorn to bind daily life to a chronology. Out choice has been, as usual, the opposite. The heroic landscape of the Claude Lorrain type is inconceivable without ruins. The English park with its atmos- pheric suggestion, which supplanted the French about 1750 and abandoned the great perspective idea of the latter in favour of the "Nature" of Addison, Pope and sensibility, introduced into its stock of motives perhaps the most astonishing bizarreric ever perpetrated, the artificial ruin^ in order to deepen the historical character in the presented landscape.' The Egyptian Culture restored the works of its early period, but it would never have ventured to build ruins as the symbols of the past. Again, it is not the Classical statue, but the Classical torso that we really love. It has had a destiny: something suggestive of the past as past envelops it, and our imagination delights to fill the empty

  • Pausanias, it should be observed, was neither by date nor by origin a Greek. — Tr.
  • "In places, as you stand on it, the great towered and embattled enceinte produces an illusion:

it looks as if it were still equipped and defended. One vivid challenge at any rate it flings down before you; it compels you to make up your mind on the matter of restoration. For myself, I have no hesitation; I prefer in every case the ruined, however ruined, to the reconstructed however splen- did. . . . After that, I am free to say that the restoration of Carcassonne is a splendid achievement." (Henry James, "A Little Tour in France," xxiii.) Yet if ever there was a reconstruction carried out with piety and scholarship as well as skill, it was Viollet-le-Duc's reconstruction of these old town- walls. — Tr.

' Home, an English philosopher of the i8th Centiuy, declared in a lecture on English parks that Gothic ruins represented the triumph of time over power. Classical ruins that of barbarism over taste. It was that age that first discovered the beauty of the ruin-studded Rhine, which was thenceforward the historic river of the Germans.


THE ARTS OF FORM 155

space ot missing limbs with the pulse and swing of invisible lines. A good restoration — and the secret charm of endless possibilities is all gone. I Ven- ture to maintain that it is only by way of this transposition into the musical that the remains of Classical sculpture can really reach us. The green bronze, the blackened marble, the fragments of a figure abolish for our inner eye the limi- tations of time and space. "Picturesque" this has been called — the brand- new statue and building and the too-well-groomed park arc not picturesque — and the word is just to this extent, that the deep meaning of this weather- ing is the same as that of the studio-brown. But, at bottom, what both express is the spirit of instrumental music. Would the Spearman of Polycletus, stand- ing before us in flashing bronze and with enamel eyes and gilded hair, affect us as it does in the state of blackened age? Would not the Vatican torso of Heracles lose its mighty impressiveness ii, one fine day, the missing parts were discovered and replaced? And would not the towers and domes of our old cities lose their deep metaphysical charm if they were sheathed in new copper? Age, for us as for the Egyptian, ennobles all things. For Classical man, it depreciates them.

Lastly, consider Western tragedy; observe how the same feeling leads it to prefer "historical" material — meaning thereby not so much demonstrably actual or even possible, but remote and crusted subjects. That which the Faustian soul wanted, and must have, could not be expressed by any event of purely momentary meaning, lacking in distance of time or place, or by a tragic art of the Classical kind, or by a timeless myth. Our tragedies, consequently, are tragedies of the past and of the future — the latter category, in which men jct to be are shown as carriers of a Destiny, is represented in a certain sense by "Faust," "Peer Gynt" and the " Gotterdammerung. " But tragedies of the present we have not, apart from the trivial social drama of the 19th Century. ^ If Shakespeare wanted on occasion to express anything of importance in the present, he at least removed the scene of it to some foreign land — Italy for preference — in which he had never been, and German poets likewise take England or France — always for the sake of getting rid of that nearness of time and place which the Attic drama emphasized even in the case of a mythological subject.

1 English readers will very likely think of the case of Shaw's "Back to Methuselah," with its extreme contrast of the cheaply-satirical present-day scene and the noble and tragic scenes of far past and far future. — Tr.


CHAPTER VIII MUSIC AND PLASTIC

II ACT AND PORTRAIT


/


CHAPTER VIII

MUSIC AND PLASTIC

II

ACT 1 AND PORTRAIT


The Classical has been characterized as a culture of the Body and the Northern as a culture of the Spirit, and not without a certain arriere-pensee of disprizing the one in favour of the other. Though it was mainly in trivialities that Renaissance taste made its contrasts between Classical and Modern, Pagan and Christian, yet even this might have led to decisive discoveries if only men had seen how to get behind formula to origins.

If the environment of a man (whatever else it may be) is with respect to him a macrocosm with respect to a microcosm, an immense aggregate of symbols, then the man himself, in so far as he belongs to the fabric of actuality, in so far as he is phenomenal, must be comprised in the general symbolism. But, in the impress of him made upon men like himself, what is it that possesses the force of Symbol, viz., the capacity of summing within itself and intelligibly presenting the essence of that man and the signification of his being? Art gives the answer.

But this answer is necessarily different in different Cultures. As each lives differently, so each is differently impressed by Life. For the mode of human imagining — metaphysical, ethical, artistic imagining alike — it is more than important, it is determinant that the individual feels himself as a body amongst bodies or, on the contrary, as a centre in endless space; that he subtilizes his ego into lone distinctness or, on the contrary, regards it as substantially part of the general consensus, that the directional character is asserted or, on the con- trary, denied in the rhythm and course of his life. In all these ways the prime- symbol of the great Culture comes to manifestation: this is indeed a world- feeling, but the life-ideal conforms to it. From the Classical ideal followed unreserved acceptance of the sensuous instant, from the Western a not less passionate wrestle to overcome it. The Apollinian soul, Euclidean and point- formed, felt the empirical visible body as the complete expression of its own way of being; the Faustian, roving into all distances, found this expression not in person, crco/xa, but in personality, character, call it what you will. "Soul" for the real Hellene was in last analysis the form of his body — and thus Aristotle

^ The word Akt means "pose" and, in art language, "nude." In this work h must be understood in a widened connotation — viz., as expressing the instantaneous-become as against the historically- becoming, the presentation in the perfect as against the imperfect sense, the act as against the action. It has therefore been retained, "nude" however being substituted in certain cases.

2-59


i6o THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

defined it. "Body" for Faustian man was the vessel of the soul — and thus Goethe felt it.

But the result of this is that Culture and Culture differ very greatly in their selection and formation of their humane arts. While Gluck expresses the woe of Armida by a melody combined with drear gnawing tones in the instrumental accompaniment, the same is achieved in Pergamene sculptures by making every muscle speak. The Hellenistic portraiture tries to draw a spiritual type in the structure of its heads. In China the heads of the Saints of Ling-yan-si tell of a wholly personal inner life by their look and the play of the corners of the mouth.

The Classical tendency towards making the body the sole spokesman is emphatically not the result of any carnal overload in the race (to the man of aQxt)po(rvvT] wantonness was not permitted 0» it was nofy as Nietzsche thought, an orgiastic joy of untrammelled energy and perfervid passion. This sort of thing is much nearer to the ideals of Germanic-Christian or of Indian chivalry. What Apollinian man and Apollinian art can claim as their very own is simply the apotheosis of the bodily phenomenon^ taking the word perfectly literally — the rhythmic proportioning of limbs and harmonious build of muscles. This is not Pagan as against Christian, it is Attic as against Baroque; for it was Baroque mankind (Christian or unbeliever, monk or rationalist) that first utterly put away the cult of the palpable cco/ia, carrying its alienation indeed to the extremes of bodily uncleanliness that prevailed in the entourage of Louis XIV, 2 whose full wigs and lace cuffs and buckled shoes covered up Body with a whole web of ornament.

Thus the Classical plastic art, after liberating the form completely from the actual or imaginary back-wall and setting it up in the open, free and unrelated, to be seen as a body among bodies, moved on logically till the naked body became its only subject. And, moreover, it is unlike every other kind of sculpture recorded in art-history in that its treatment of the bounding surfaces of this body is anatomically convincing. Here is the Euclidean world-principle carried to the extreme; any envelope whatever would have been in contradiction, however slightly, with the Apollinian phenomenon, would have indicated, however timidly, the existence of the circum-space.

In this art, what is ornamental in the high sense resides entirely in the pro- portions of the structure ' and the equivalence of the axes in respect of support and load. Standing, sitting, lying down but always self-secure, the body has,

' One need only contrast the Greek artist with Rubens and Rabelais.

' Of whom one of his mistresses remarked that he "smelt like a carcass " Cqu'il puait commc une charogne). Note also how the musician generally has a reputation for uncleanliness.

• From the solemn canon of Polycletus to the elegance of Lysippus the same process of lightening is going on in the body-build as that which brought the column from the Doric to the G)rinthian order. The Euclidean feeling was beginning to relax.


ACT AND PORTRAIT i6i

like the peripteros, no interior, that is, no "soul." The significance of the muscle-relief, carried out absolutely in the round, is the same as that of the self- closing array of the columns; both contain the whole of the form-language of the work.

It was a strictly metaphysical reason, the need of a supreme life-symbol for themselves, that brought the later Hellenes to this art, which under all the consummate achievement is a narrow one. It is not true that this language of the outer surface is the completest, or the most natural, or even the most obvious mode of representing the human being. Quite the contrary. If the Renaissance, with its ardent theory and its immense misconception of its own tendency, had not continued to dominate our judgment — long after the plastic art itself had become entirely alien to our inner soul — we should not have waited till to-day to observe this distinctive character of the Attic style. No Egyptian or Chinese sculptor ever dreamed of using external anatomy to ex- press his meaning. In Gothic image-work a language of the muscles is unheard of. The human tracery that clothes the mighty Gothic framework with a web of countless figures and reliefs (Chartres cathedral has more than ten thousand such) is not merely ornament; as early as about 12.00 it is employed for the expression of schemes and purposes far grander than even the grandest of Clas- sical plastic. For these masses of figures constitute a tragic unit. Here, by the North even earlier than by Dante, the historical feeling of the Faustian soul — of which the deep sacrament of Contrition is the spiritual expression and the rite of Confession the grave teacher — is intensified to the tragic fullness of a world-drama. That which Joachim of Floris, at this very time, was seeing in his Apulian cell — the picture of the world, not as Cosmos, but as a Divine History and succession of three world-ages ^ — the craftsmen were expressing at Reims, Amiens and Paris in serial presentation of it from the Fall to the Last Judgment. Each of the scenes, each of the great symbolic figures, had its sig- nificant place in the sacred edifice, each its role in the immense world-poem. Then, too, each individual man came to feel how his life-course was fitted as ornament in the plan of Divine history, and to experience this personal connex- ion with it in the forms of Contrition and Confession. And thus these bodies of stone are not mere servants of the architecture. They have a deep and particular meaning of their own, the same meaning as the memorial-tomb brings to expres- sion with ever-increasing intensity from the Royal Tombs of St. Denis onward; they speak of a personality . Just as Classical man properly meant, with his perfected working-out of superficial body (for all the anatomical aspiration of the Greek artist comes to that in the end), to exhaust the whole essence of the living phenomenon in and by the rendering of its bounding surfaces, so Faustian man no less logically found the most genuine, the only exhaustive, expres- sion of his life-feeling in the Portrait. The Hellenic treatment of the nude is

  • Sec p. 19. — Tr.


i6i THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

the great exceptional case; in this and in this only has it led to an art of the high order. ^

Act and Portrait have never hitherto been felt as constituting an opposition, and consequently the full significance of their appearances in art-history has never been appreciated. And yet it is in the conflict of these two form-ideals that the contrast of two worlds is first manifested in full. There, on the one hand, an existence is made to show itself in the composition of the exterior structure; here, on the other hand, the human interior, the Soul, is made to speak of itself, as the interior of a church speaks to us through its fagade or face. A mosque had no face, and consequently the Iconoclastic movement of the Moslems and the Paulicians — which under Leo III spread to Byzantium and beyond — necessarily drove the portrait-element quite out of the arts of form, so that thenceforward they possessed only a fixed stock of human ara- besques. In Egypt the face of the statue was equivalent to the pylon, the face of the temple-plan; it was a mighty emergence out of the stone-mass of the body, as we see in the " Hyksos Sphinx " of Tanis and the portrait of Amenem- het III. In China the face is like a landscape, full of wrinkles and little signs that mean something. But, for us, the portrait is musical. The look, the play of the mouth, the pose of head and hands — these things are a fugue of the subtlest meaning, a composition of many voices that sounds to the understand- ing beholder.

But in order to grasp the significance of the portraiture of the West more specifically in contrast with that of Egypt and that of China, we have to con- sider the deep change in the language of the West that began in Merovingian times to foreshadow the dawn of a new life-feeling. This change extended equally over the old German and the vulgar Latin, but it affected only the tongues spoken in the countries of the coming Culture (for instance, Norwegian and Spanish, but not Rumanian). The change would be inexplicable if we were to regard merely the spirit of these languages and their ' ' influence * ' of one upon another; the explanation is in the spirit of the mankind that raised a mere way of using words to the level of a symbol. Instead of sum, Gothic im, we say ich bin, I am, je suis; instead oi fecisti, we say tu hahts factum, tu as fait, du babes gitdn; and again, da^. wip, un homme, man hat. This has hitherto been a riddle * because families of languages were considered as beings, but the mystery is solved when we discover in the idiom the reflection of a soul. The Faustian soul is here beginning to remould for its own use grammatical material of the most varied provenance. The coming of this specific " I' * is the first dawning of

^ In other countries, e.g., old Egypt and Japan (to anticipate a particularly foolish and shallow assertion), the sipht of naked men was a far more ordinary and commonplace thing than it was in Athens, but the Japanese art-lover feels emphasized nudity as ridiculous and vulgar. The nude is depicted (as for that matter it is in the "Adam and Eve" of Bamberg Cathedral), but merely as an object without any significance of potential whatsoever.

  • Kluge, Deutsche Sprach^esch. (1910), pp. 2.01 et seq.


ACT AND PORTRAIT 163

that personality-idea which was so much later to create the sacrament of Contrition and -personal absolution. This "ego habeo factum," the insertion of the auxiliaries "have" and "be" between a doer and a deed, in lieu of the "feci" which expresses activated body, replaces the world of bodies by one of functions between centres of force, the static syntax by a dynamic. And this "I" and "Thou" is the key to Gothic portraiture. A Hellenistic portrait is the type of an attitude — a confession it is not, either to the creator of it or to the understanding spectator. But our portraits depict something sui generis^ once occurring and never recurring, a life-history expressed in a moment, a world-centre for which everything else is world-around, exactly as the gram- matical subject "I" becomes the centre of force in the Faustian sentence.

It has been shown how the experience of the extended has its origin in the living direction, time, destiny. In the perfected "being" of the all-round nude body the depth-experience has been cut away, but the "look" of a portrait leads this experience into the supersensuous infinite. Therefore the Ancient art is an art of the near and tangible and timeless, it prefers motives of brief, brief- est, pause between two movements, the last moment hejore Myron's athlete throws the discus, or the first moment after Pasonius's Nike has alighted from the air, when the swing of the body is ending and the streaming draperies have not yet fallen — attitudes devoid equally of duration and of direction, disen- gaged from future and from past. " Veni, vidi, vici" is just such another atti- tude. But in "I — came, I — saw, I — conquered" there is a becoming each time in the very build of the sentence.

The depth-experience is a becoming and effects a become, signifies time and evokes space, is at once cosmic and historical. Living direction marches to the horizon as to the future. As early as 12.30 the Madonna of the St. Anne entrance of Notre-Dame dreams of this future: so, later, the Cologne "Madonna with the Bean-blossom" of Meister Wilhelm. Long before the Moses of Michel- angelo, the Moses of Klaus Suter's well in the Chartreuse of Dijon meditates on destiny, and even the Sibyls of the Sistine Chapel are forestalled by those of Giovanni Pisano in Sant' Andrea at Pistoia (1300). And, lastly, there are the figures on the Gothic tombs — how they rest from the long journey of Destiny and how completely they contrast with the timeless grave and gay that is repre- sented on the stelas of Attic cemeteries.^ The Western portraiture is endless in every sense, for it begins to wake out of the stone from about 12.00 and it has become completely music in the 17th Century. It takes its man not as a mere centre of the World-as-Nature which as phenomenon receives shape and signi- ficance from his being, but, above all, as a centre of the World-as-History. The Classical statue is a piece of present "Nature" and nothing besides. The Classical poetry is statuary in verse. Herein is the root of our feeling that ascribes to the Greek an unreserved devotion to Nature. We shall never en-

1 A. Conze, Die Attischtn Grabreliefs (1893 etc.).


2.64 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

tircly shake off the idea that the Gothic style as compared with the Greek is "unnatural." Of course it is, for it is more than Nature; only we are unneces- sarily loath to realize that it is a deficiency in the Greek that our feeling has detected. The Western form-language is richer — portraiture belongs to Na- ture and to history. A tomb by one of those great Netherlanders who worked on the Royal graves of St. Denis from ii6o, a portrait by Holbein or Titian or Rembrandt or Goya, is a biography ^ and a self-portrait is a historical confession. To make one's confession is not to avow an act but to lay before the Judge the inner history of that act. The act is patent, its roots the personal secret. When the Protestant or the Freethinker opposes auricular confession, it never occurs to him that he is rejecting merely the outward form of the idea and not the idea itself. He declines to confess to the priest, but he confesses to himself, to a friend, or to all and sundry. The whole of Northern poetry is one outspoken confession. So are the portrait of Rembrandt and the music of Beethoven. What Raphael and Calderon and Haydn told to the priests, these men put into the language of their works. One who is forced to be silent because the great- ness of form that can take in even the ultimate things has been denied him . . . goes under like Holderlin. Western man lives in the consciousness of his becom- ing and his eyes are constantly upon past and future. The Greek lives point- wise, ahistorically, somatically. No Greek would have been capable of a genuine self-criticism. As the phenomenon of the nude statue is the com- pletely ahistoric copy of a man, so the Western self-portrait is the exact equivalent of the "Werther" or "Tasso" autobiography. To the Classical both are equally and wholly alien. There is nothing so impersonal as Greek art; that Scopas or Polycletus should make an image of himself is something quite inconceivable.

Looking at the work of Phidias, of Polycletus, or of any master later than the Persian Wars, do we not see in the doming of the brow, the lips, the set of the nose, the blind eyes, the expression of entirely non-personal, plantlike, soulless vitality? And may we not ask ourselves whether this is the form- language that is capable even of hinting at an inner experience? Michelangelo devoted himself with all passion to the study of anatomy, but the phenomenal body that he works out is always the expression of the activity of all bones, sinews and organs of the inside; without deliberate intention, the living that is under the skin comes out in the phenomenon. It is a physiognomy, and not a system, of muscles that he calls to life. But this means at once that the per- sonal destiny and not the material body has become the starting-point of the form-feeling. There is more psychology (and less "Nature ' ') in the arm of one of his Slaves * than there is in the whole head of Praxiteles's Hermes. ^ Myron's

  • Louvre. Replicas of the pair in the Vict, and Alb. Museum, London. — Tr.
  • Olympia — the only unquestioned original that we have from the "great age." References

would be superfluous, for few, if any. Classical works arc better or more widely known. — Tr.


ACT AND PORTRAIT 165

Discobolus/ on the other hand, renders the exterior form purely as itself, with- out relation of any sort to the inner organs, let alone to any "soul." One has only to take the best work of this period and compare it with the old Egyptian statues, say the "Village Sheikh" ^ or King Phiops (Pepi), or again with Donatello's "David," ' to understand at once what it means to recognize a body purely with reference to its material boundaries. Everything in a head that might allow something intimate or spiritual to become phenomenal the Greeks (and markedly this same Myron) most carefully avoid. Once this characteristic has struck us, the best heads of the great age sooner or later begin to pall. Seen in the perspective of our world-feeling, they are stupid and dull, wanting in the biographical element, devoid of any destiny. It was not out of caprice that that age objected so strongly to votive images. The statues of Olympian victors are representatives of a fighting attitude. Right down to Lysippus there is not one single character-head, but only masks. Again, con- sidering the figure as a whole, with what skill the Greeks avoid gWmg any impression that the head is the favoured part of the body! That is why these heads are so small, so un-significant in their pose, so un- thoroughly modelled. Always they are formed as a part of the body like arms and legs, never as the seat and symbol of an "I."

At last, even, we come to regard the feminine (not to say effeminate) look of many of these heads of the 5 th, and still more of the 4th, Centuries * as the

— no doubt unintentional — outcome of an effort to get rid of personal char- acter entirely. We should probably be justified in concluding that the ideal facial type of this art — which was certainly not an art for the people, as the later naturalistic portrait-sculpture at once shows — was arrived at by reject- ing all elements of an individual or historical character; that is, by steadily narrowing down the field of view to the pure Euclidean.

The portraiture of the great age of Baroque, on the contrary, applies to historical distance all those means of pictorial counterpoint that we already know as the fabric of their spatial distance — the brown-dipped atmosphere, the perspective, the dynamic brush-stroke, the quivering colour-tones and lights

— and with their aid succeeds in treating body as something intrinsically non- material, as the highly expressive envelope of a space-commanding ego. (This problem the fresco- technique, Euclidean that it is, is powerless to solve.) The whole painting has only one theme, a soul. Observe the rendering of the hands

^ Of the several copies that have survived, all imperfectly preserved, that in the Palazzo Massimi is accounted the best. The restoration which, once seen, convinces, is Professor Furtwanglcr's (shown in Ency. Brit., XI Ed., article Greek Art, fig. 68). — Tr.

  • A cast of this is in the British Museum (illustrated in the Museum Guide to Egypt. Antiq.,

pi. XXI). -Tr.

' In the Bargello, Florence. Replica in Vict, and Alb. Museum, London. — Tr.

  • The "Apollo with the lyre" at Munich was admired by Winckelmann and his time as a Muse.

Till quite recently a head of Athene (a copy of Praxiteles) at Bologna passed as that of a general. Such errors would be entirely impossible in dealing with a physiognomic art, e.g., Baroque.


i66 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

and the brow in Rembrandt (e.g., in the etching of Burgomaster Six or the por- trait of an architect at Cassel), and again, even so late, in Marees and Leibl ^ — spiritual to the point of dematerializing them, visionary, lyrical. Compare them with the hand and brow of an Apollo or a Poseidon of the Periclean age!

The Gothic, too, had deeply and sincerely felt this. It had draped body, not for its own sake but for the sake of developing in the ornament of the drapery a form-language consonant with the language of the head and the hands in a fugue of Life. So, too, with the relations of the voices in counterpoint and, in Baroque, those of the "continuo" to the upper voices of the orchestra. In Rembrandt there is always interplay of bass melody in the costume and motives in the head.

Like the Gothic draped figure, the old Egyptian statue denies the intrinsic importance of body. As the former, by treating the clothing in a purely orna- mental fashion, reinforces the expressiveness of head and hands, so the latter, with a grandeur of idea never since equalled (at any rate in sculpture), holds the body — as it holds a pyramid or an obelisk — to a mathematical scheme and confines the personal element to the head. The fall of draperies was meant in Athens to reveal the sense of the body, in the North to conceal it; in the one case the fabric becomes body, in the other it becomes music. And from this deep contrast springs the silent battle that goes on in high-Renaissance work between the consciously-intended and the unconsciously-insistent ideals of the artist, a battle in which the first — anti-Gothic — often wins the superficial, but the second — Gothic becoming Baroque — invariably wins the funda- mental victory.


The opposition of Apollinian and Faustian ideals of Humanity may now be stated concisely. Act and Portrait are to one another as body and space, instant and history, foreground and background, Euclidean and analytical number, proportion and relation. The Statue is rooted in the ground. Music (and the Western portrait is music, soul woven of colour-tones) invades and pervades space without limit. The fresco-painting is tied to the wall, trained on it, but the oil-painting, the "picture" on canvas or board or other table, is free from limitations of place. The Apollinian form-language reveals only the become, the Faustian shows above all a becoming.

It is for this reason that child-portraits and family groups are amongst the finest and most intimately right achievements of the Western art. In the Attic sculpture this motive is entirely absent, and although in Hellenistic times the playful motive of the Cupid or Putto came into favour, it was expressly as a being dijferent from the other beings and not at all as a person growing or be- coming. The child links past and future. In every art of human representation ^ In his portrait of Frau GcdoD, already alluded to, p. X3X.


ACT AND PORTRAIT 167

that has a claim to symbolic import, it signifies duration in the midst of phe- nomenal change, the endlessness of Life. But the Classical Life exhausted it- self in the completeness of the moment. The individual shut his eyes to time- distances; he comprehended in his thought the men like himself whom he saw- around him, but not the coming generations; and therefore there has never been an art that so emphatically ignored the intimate representation of children as the Greek art did. Consider the multitude of child-figures that our own art has produced from early Gothic to dying Rococo — and in the Renaissance above all — and find if you can in Classical art right down to Alexander one work of importance that intentionally sets by the side of the worked-out body of man or woman any child-element with existence still before it.

Endless Becoming is comprehended in the idea of Motherhood^ Woman as Mother is Time and is Destiny. Just as the mysterious act of depth-experience fashions, out of sensation, extension and world, so through motherhood the bodily man is made an individual member of this world, in which thereupon he has a Destiny. All symbols of Time and Distance are also symbols of ma- ternity. Care is the root-feeling of future, and all care is motherly. It expresses itself in the formation and the idea of Family and State and in the principle of Inheritance which underlies both. Care may be either affirmed or denied — one can live care-filled or care-free. Similarly, Time may be looked at in the light of eternity or in the light of the instant; and the drama of begetting and bearing, or the drama of the nursing mother with her child, may be chosen as the symbol of Life to be made apprehensible by all the means of art. India and the Classical took the first alternative, Egypt and the West the second.^ There is something of pure unrelated present in the Phallus and the Lingam, and in the phenomenon of the Doric column and the Attic statue as well. But the nursing Mother points into the future, and she is just the figure that is entirely missing in the Classical art. She could not possibly be rendered in the style of Phidias. One feels that this form is opposed to the sense of the phenomenon.

But in the religious art of the West, the representation of Motherhood is the noblest of all tasks. As Gothic dawns, the Theotokos of the Byzantine changes into the Mater Dolorosa, the Mother of God. In German mythology she ap- pears (doubtless from Carolingian times only) as Frigga and Frau Holle. The same feeling comes out in beautiful Minnesinger fancies like Lady Sun, Lady World, Lady Love. The whole panorama of early Gothic mankind is pervaded by something maternal, something caring and patient, and Germanic-Catholic Christianity — when it had ripened into full consciousness of itself and in one impulse settled its sacraments and created its Gothic Style — placed not the suffering Redeemer but the suffering Mother in the centre of its world-picture. About 1150, in the great epic of statuary of Reims Cathedral, the principal place in the

  • See p. 136 and also Vol. II, p. 354.


x68 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

centre of the main porch, which in the cathedrals of Paris and Amiens was still that of Christ, was assigned to the Madonna; and it was about this time, too, that the Tuscan school at Arezzo and Siena (Guido da Siena) began to infuse a suggestion of mother-love into the conventional Byzantine Theotokos. And after that the Madonnas of Raphael led the way to the purely human type of the Baroque, the mother in the sweetheart — Ophelia, Gretchen — whose secret reveals itself in the glorious close of Faust II and in its fusion with the early Gothic Mary.

As against these types, the imagination of the Greeks conceived goddesses who are either Amazons like Athene or hetasras like Aphrodite. In the root- feeling which produced the Classical type of womanhood, fruitfulness has a vegetal character — in this connexion as in others the word <rco/ia exhaustively expresses the meaning of the phenomenon. Think of the masterpieces of this art, the three mighty female bodies of the East Pediment of the Parthenon,^ and compare with them that noblest image of a mother, Raphael's Sistine Madonna. In the latter, all bodiliness has disappeared. She is all distance and space. The Helen of the "Iliad," compared with Kriemhild, the motherly comrade of Siegfried, is a courtesan, while Antigone and Clyta^mnestra are Amazons. How strangely even i^schylus passes over in silence the mother-tragic in Cly- tasmnestra! The figure of Medea is nothing less than the mythic inverse of the Faustian "Mater Dolorosa"; her tragic is not one of future or children, it is with her lover, the symbol of wholly-present life, that her universe collapses. Kriemhild revenges her unborn children — it is this future that has been mur- dered in her — but Medea revenges only a past happiness. When the Classical sculpture, late art that it is,'^ arrives at secularizing ^ the pictures of the god, it creates the antique ideal of female form in a Cnidian Aphrodite — merely a very beautiful object, not a character or an ego but a piece of Nature. And in the end Praxiteles finds the hardihood to represent a goddess entirely naked. This innovation met with severe criticism, for it was felt to be a sign of the decline of the Classical world-feeling; suitable as it was to erotic symbolism, it

  • The so-called "Three Fates" in the British Museum. — Tr.

» The Orphic springtime contemplates the Gods and does not see them. See Vol. 11, p. 345.

« There was indeed a beginning of this in the aristocratic epic of Homer — so nearly akin to the courtly narrative art of Boccaccio. But throughout the Classical age strictly religious people felt it as a profanation; the worship that shines through the Homeric poems is quite without idolatry, and a further proof is the anger of thinkers who, like Heraclitus and Plato, were in close touch with the temple tradition. It will occur to the student that the unrestricted handling of even the highest divinities in this very late art is not unlike the theatrical Catholicism of Rossini and Liszt, which is already foreshadowed in Corelli and Handel and had, earlier even, almost led to the condemnation of Church music in 1564.

(The event alluded to in the last line is the dispute in and after the Council of Trent as to the nature and conduct of Church music. If Wagner's suggestion that Pope Marcellus II tried to exclude it altogether is exaggerated, it is certain at least that the complaints were deep and powerful, and that the Council found it necessary to forbid " unworthy music in the house of God " and to bring the subject under the disciplinary control of the Bishops. — Tr.^


ACT AND PORTRAIT 169

was in sharp contradiction with the dignity of the older Greek religion. But exactly then, too, a portrait-art ventured to show itself, simultaneously with the invention of a form that has never since been forgotten, the bust. Un- fortunately (here as elsewhere) art-research has made the mistake of discovering in this the "beginnings" of "the" portrait. In reality, whereas a Gothic visage speaks of an individual destiny, and even an Egyptian — in spite of the rigid formalism of the iigure — has the recognizable traits of the individual person (since otherwise it could not serve as dwelling for the higher soul of the dead, his K^), the Greeks developed a taste for typical representations just as the contemporary comedy produced standard men and situations, to which any names whatever could be affixed. The "portrait" is distinguishable not by personal traits but by the label only. This is the general custom amongst children and primitive men, and it is connected with name-magic. The name serves to capture some essence of what is named and to bind it as an ob- ject which thereupon becomes specific for every beholder. The statues of the Tyrannicides,^ the (Etruscan) statues of Kings in the Capitol and the "iconic" portraits of victors at Olympia must have been portraits of this sort, viz., not likenesses but figures with names. But now, in the later phase, there was an additional factor — the tendency of the time towards genre and applied art, which produced also the Corinthian column. What the sculptors worked out was the types of life's stage, the ridos which we mistranslate by character but which is really the kinds and modes of public behaviour and attitude; thus there is "the" grave Commander, "the" tragic poet, "the" passion-torn actor, "the" absorbed philospher. Here is the real key to the understanding of the celebrated Hellenistic portraiture, for which the quite unjustifiable claim has been set up that its products are expressions of a deep spiritual life. It is not of much moment whether the work bears the name of someone long dead — the Sophocles 2 was sculptured about 340 — or of a living man like the Pericles of Cresilas.^ It was only in the 4th Century that Demetrius of Alopeke began to emphasize individual traits in the external build of the man and Lysistratus the brother of Lysippus to copy (as Pliny tells us) a plaster-of-paris cast of the subject's face without much subsequent modification. And how little such portraiture is portraiture in Rembrandt's sense should surely have been obvious to anyone. The soul is missing. The brilliant fidelity of Roman busts especially has been mistaken for physiognomic depth. But what really distinguishes the higher work from this craftsman's and virtuoso's work is an intention that is the precise opposite of the artistic intention of a Marees or a Leibl. That is, in such work the important and significant is not brought out^ it is -put in. An

^ Harmodius and Aristogiton. At Naples. Illustrated in Ency. Brit. XI ed., article Greek Arf^ fig. 50. Cast in British Museum. — Tr.

2 The famous statue now in the Lateran Museum, Rome. — Tr.

^ See foot-note, p. 130. An antique copy is in the British Museum. — Tr.


-L-jo THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

example of this is seen in the Demosthenes statue,^ the artist of which possibly saw the orator in life. Here the particulars of the body-surface are emphasized, perhaps over-emphasized ("true to Nature," they called this then), but into the disposition so conceived he works the character-type of the Serious Orator which we meet again on different bases in the portraits of i^schines and Lysias at Naples. That is truth to life, undoubtedly, but it is truth to life as Classical man felt it, typical and impersonal. We have contemplated the result with our eyes, and have accordingly misunderstood it.


Ill


In the oil-painting age that followed the end of the Renaissance, the depth of an artist can be accurately measured by the content of his portraits. To this rule there is hardly an exception. All forms in the picture (whether single, or in scenes, groups or masses) ^ are fundamentally felt as portraits; whether they are meant to be so or not is immaterial, for the individual painter has no choice in the matter. Nothing is more instructive than to observe how under the hands of a real Faustian man even the Act transforms itself into a portrait- study.' Take two German masters like Lucas Cranach and Tilmann Riemen- schneider who were untouched by any theory and (in contrast to Diirer, whose inclination to aesthetic subtlety made him pliant before alien tendencies) worked in unqualified naivete. They seldom depict the Act, and when they do so, they show themselves entirely unable to concentrate their expression on the immediately-present plane-specified bodiliness. The meaning of the human phenomenon, and therefore of the representation of it, remains entirely in the head, and is consistently physiognomical rather than anatomical. And the same may be said of Diirer's Lucrezia, notwithstanding his Italian studies and the quite opposite intention. A Faustian act is a contradiction in itself — hence the character-heads that we so often see on feeble act-representations (as far back as the Job of old French cathedral -sculpture) and hence also the labori- ous, forced, equivocal character that arouses our dislike in too manifest efforts to placate the Classical ideal — sacrifices offered up not by the soul but by the cultivated understanding. In the whole of painting after Leonardo there is not one important or distinctive work that derives its meaning from the Euclidean being of the nude body. It is mere incomprehension to quote Rubens here, and to compare his unbridled dynamism of swelling bodies in any respect whatever with the art of Praxiteles and even Scopas. It is owing precisely tx) his splendid sensuality that he is so far from the static of Signorelli's bodies. If there ever was an artist who could put a maximum of "becoming" into the beauty of

  • In the Vatican Museum. — Tr.
  • Even the landscape of the Baroque develops from composed baclcgroundai to portraits of

definite localities, representations of the soul of these localities which are thus endowed with jacts.

  • It could be said of Hellenistic portrait art that it followed exactly the opposite course.


ACT AND PORTRAIT -l-ji

naked bodies, who could treat bodily floridness historically and convey the (utterly un-Hellenic) idea of an inexhaustible outflowing from within, it was Rubens. Compare the horse's head from the Parthenon pediment ^ with his horses' heads in the Battle of the Amazons,^ and the deep metaphysical contrast between the two conceptions of the same phenomenal element is felt at once. In Rubens (recalling once more the characteristic opposition of Apollinian and Faustian mathematics) the body is not magnitude but relation. What matters is not the regimen of its external structure but the fullness of life that streams out of it and the stride of its life along the road from youth to age, where the Last Judgment that turns bodies into flames takes up the motive and intertwines it in the quivering web of active space. Such a synthesis is entirely un-Classical; but even nymphs, when it is Corot who paints them, are likewise shapes ready to dissolve into colour-patches reflecting endless space. Such was not the intention of the Classical artist when he depicted the Act.

At the same time, the Greek form-ideal — the self-contained unit of being expressed in sculpture — has equally to be distinguished from that of the merely beautiful bodies on which painters from Giorgione to Boucher were always exercising their cleverness, which are fleshly still-life, genre-work expressing merely a certain gay sensuousness (e.g., "Rubens's wife in a fur cloak." ^) and in contrast with the high ethical significance of the Classical Act have almost no symbolic force.'* Magnificent as these men's painting is, therefore, they have not succeeded in reaching the highest levels either of portraiture or of space-representation in landscape. Their brown and their green and their perspective lack "religiousness," future, Destiny. They are masters only in the domain of elementary form, and when it has actualized this their art is exhausted. It is they who constitute the substance-element in the development-history of a great art. But when a great artist pressed on beyond them to a form that was to be capable of embracing the whole meaning of the world, he had necessarily to push to perfection the treatment of the nude body if his world was the Classical, and not to do so if it was our North. Rembrandt never once painted an Act, in this foreground sense, and if Leonardo, Titian, Velasquez (and, among moderns, Menzel, Leibl, Marees and Manet) did so at all, it was very rarely; and even then, so to say, they painted bodies as landscapes. The portrait is ever the touchstone.^

But no one would ever judge masters like Signorelli, Mantegna, Botticelli or even Verrocchio, by the quality of their portraits. The equestrian statue of

^ British Museum. — Tr. 2 Pinakothek, Munich. — Tr.

  • Art Gallery, Vienna. — Tr.
  • Nothing more clearly displays the decadence of Western art since the middle of the 19th cen-

tury than its absurd mass- wise rendering of nudes; the deeper meaning of study of the nude and the importance of the motive have been entirely forgotten.

5 By that test Rubens, and, among moderns, especially Feuerbach and Bocklin, lose, while Goya, Daumier, and, in Germany, Oldach, Wasmann Rayski and many another almost forgotten artist of the earlier 19th Century, gain. And Marees passes to the rank of the very greatest.


-L-j-L THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Can Grande ^ of 1330 is in a far higher sense a portrait than the Bartolommeo Colleoni is; and Raphael's portraits (the best of which e.g., Pope Julius II were done under the influence of the Venetian Sebastian del Piombo), could be ignored altogether in an appreciation of his creative work. It is only with Leonardo that the portrait begins to count seriously. Between fresco-tech- nique and oil-painting there is a subtle opposition. In fact, Giovanni Bellini's "Doge" (Loredano) ' is the first great oil-portrait. Here too the character of the Renaissance as a protest against the Faustian spirit of the West betrays itself. The episode of Florence amounts to an attempt to replace the Portrait of the Gothic style (as distinct from the "ideal" portrait of late-Classical art, which was well known through the Cassar-busts) by the Act as human symbol. Logically, therefore, the entire art of the Renaissance should be wanting in the physiognomic traits. And yet the strong undercurrent of Faustian art-will kept alive, not only in the smaller towns and schools of middle Italy, but also in the instincts of the great masters themselves, a Gothic tradition that was never interrupted. Nay, the physiognomic of Gothic art even made itself master of the Southern nude body, alien as this element was. Its creations are not bodies that speak to us through static definition of their bounding surfaces. What we see is a dumb-show that spreads from the face over all parts of the body, and the appreciative eye detects in this very nudity of Tuscany a deep identity with the drapery of the Gothic. Both are envelopes, neither a limitation. The re- clining nude figures of Michelangelo in the Medici chapel are wholly and entirely the visage and the utterance of a soul. But, above all, every head, painted or modelled, became of itself a portrait, even when the heads were of gods or saints. The whole of the portrait-work of A. Rossellino, Donatello, Benedetto de Maiano, Mino da Fiesole, stands so near in spirit to that of Van Eyck, Memlinc and the Early Rhenish masters as to be often indistinguish- able from theirs. There is not and there cannot be, I maintain, any genuine Renaissance portraiture, that is, a portraiture in which just that artistic senti- ment which differentiates the Court of the Palazzo Strozzi from the Loggia dei Lanzi and Perugino from Cimabue applies itself to the rendering of a visage. In architecture, little as the new work was Apollinian in spirit, it was possible to create anti-Gothically, but in portraiture — no. It was too specifically Faustian a symbol. Michelangelo declined the task: passionately devoted as he was to his pursuit of a plastic ideal, he would have considered it an abdi- cation to busy himself with portraiture. His Brutus bust is as little of a por- trait as his de' Medici, whereas Botticelli's portrait of the latter is actual, and frankly Gothic to boot. Michelangelo's heads are allegories in the style of dawning Baroque, and their resemblance even to Hellenistic work is only superficial. And however highly we may value the Uzzano bust of Donatello "

  • Tombs of the Scaligcrs, Verona. — Tr, • National Gallery, London. — Tr.

» Museo Nazionale, Florence. — Tr,


ACT AND PORTRAIT 173

— which is perhaps the most important achievement of that age and that circle — it will be admitted that by the side of the portraits of the Venetians it hardly counts.

It is well worth noting that this overcoming of, or at least this desire to overcome, the Gothic Portrait with the Classical Act — the deeply historical and biographical form by the completely ahistoric — appears simultaneously with, and in association with, a decline in the capacity for self-examination and artistic confession in the Goethian sense. The true Renaissance man did not know what spiritual development meant. He managed to live entirely out- wardly, and this was the great good fortune and success of the Quattrocento. Between Dante's "Vita Nuova" and Michelangelo's sonnets there is no poetic confession, no self-portrait of the high order. The Renaissance artist and humanist is the one single type of Western man for whom the word "loneli- ness" remained unmeaning. His life accomplished its course in the light of a courtly existence. His feelings and impressions were all public, and he had neither secret discontents nor reserves, while the life of the great contemporary Netherlanders, on the contrary, moved on in the shadow of their works. Is it perhaps permissible to add that it was because of this that that other symbol of historic distance, duration, care and ponderation, the State^ also disappeared from the purview of the Renaissance, between Dante and Michelangelo? In "fickle Florence" — whose great men one and all were cruelly maltreated and whose incapacity for political creation seems, by the side of other Western state-forms, to border on sheer bi^arrerie — and, more generally, wherever the anti-Gothic (which in this connexion means anti-dynastic) spirit displayed itself vigorously in art and public life, the State made way for a truly Hellenic sorriness of Medicis, Sforzas, Borgias, Malatestas, and waste republics. Only that city where sculpture gained no foothold, where the Southern music was at home, where Gothic and Baroque joined hands in Giovanni Bellini and the Renaissance remained an affair of occasional dilettantism, had an art of por- traiture and therewith a subtle diplomacy and a will to political duration — Venice.

IV

The Renaissance was born of defiance, and therefore it lacked depth, width and sureness of creative instinct. It is the one and only epoch which was more consistent in theory than in performance and — in sharp contrast to Gothic and Baroque — the only one in which theoretically-formulated intention preceded (often enough surpassed) the ability to perform. But the fact that the individ- ual arts were forced to become satellites of a Classicist sculpture could not in the last analysis alter the essence of them, and could only impoverish their store of inward possibilities. For natures of medium size, the Renaissance theme was not too big; it was attractive indeed from its very plainness, and


174 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

we miss consequently that Gothic wrestling with overpowering imprecise prob- lems which distinguishes the Rhenish and Flemish schools. The seductive ease and clarity of the Renaissance rests very largely upon evasion — the evasion of deeper reluctances by the aid of speciously simple rule. To men of the inward- ness of Memlinc or the power of Griinewald such conditions as those of the Tuscan form-world would have been fatal. They could not have developed their strength in and through it, but only against it. Seeing as we do no weak- ness in the form of the Renaissance masters, we are very prone to overrate their humanity. In Gothic, and again in Baroque, an entirely great artist was ful- filling his art in deepening and completing its language, but in Renaissance he was necessarily only destroying it.

So it was in the cases of Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo, the only really great men of Italy after Dante. Is it not curious that between the mas- ters of the Gothic — who were nothing but silent workers in their art and yet achieved the very highest that could be achieved within its convention and its field — and the Venetians and Dutch of 1600 — who again were purely workers — there should be these three men who were not "sculptors" or "painters" but thinkers, and thinkers who of necessity busied themselves not merely with all the available means of artistic expression but with a thousand other things besides, ever restless and dissatisfied, in their effort to get at the real essence and aim of their being? Does it not mean — that in the Renaissance they could not "find themselves"? Each in his own fashion, each under his own tragic illusion, these three giants strove to be "Classical" in the Medicean sense; and yet it was they themselves who in one and another way — Raphael in respect of the line, Leonardo in respect of the surface, Michelangelo in respect of the body — shattered the dream. In them the misguided soul is finding its way back to its Faustian starting-points. What they intended w^s to substitute pro- portion for relation, drawing for light-and-air efl^ect, Euclidean body for pure space. But neither they nor others of their time produced a Euclidean-static sculpture — for that was possible once only, in Athens. In all their work one feels a secret music, in all their forms the movement-quality and the tending into distances and depths. They are on the way, not to Phidias but to Palestrina, and they have come thither not from Roman ruins but from the still music of the cathedral. Raphael thawed the Florentine fresco, and Michelangelo the statue, and Leonardo dreamed already of Rembrandt and Bach. The higher and more conscientious the effort to actualize the ideas of the age, the more in- tangible it became.

Gothic and Baroque, however, are something that /j, while Renaissance is only an ideal, unattainable like all ideals, that floats over the will of a period. Giotto ;■/ a Gothic, and Titian is a Baroque, artist. Michelangelo would be a Renaissance artist, but fails. Visibly, the plastic in him, for all its ambitious- ncss, is overpowered by the pictorial spirit — and a pictorial spirit, too, in


ACT AND PORTRAIT 175

which the Northern space-perspective is implicit. Even as soon as 1510 the beautiful proportion, the pure rule — that is, the conscious Classical — ate felt as frigid and formal. The cornice which he put on to Sangallo's purely "Classical" fagade of the Palazzo Farnese was no doubt, from the strictly Renaissance standpoint, a disfigurement, but he himself and many with him felt it to be far superior to the achievements of Greeks and Romans.

As Petrarch was the first, so Michelangelo was the last Florentine who gave himself up passionately to the Antique. But it was no longer an entire devotion. The Franciscan Christianity of Fra Angelico, with its subtle gentleness and its quiet, reflective piety — to which the Southern refinement of ripe Renaissance work owes far more than has been supposed ^ — came now to its end. The majestic spirit of the Counter-Reformation, massive, animated, gorgeous, lives already in Michelangelo. There is something in Renaissance work which at the time passed for being "Classical" but is really only a deliberately noble dress for the Christian-German world-feeling; as we have already mentioned, the combination of round-arch and pillar, that favourite Florentine motive, was of Syrian origin. But compare the pseudo-Corinthian column of the 15th Cen- tury with the columns of a real Roman ruin — remembering that these ruins were known and on the spot! Michelangelo alone would tolerate no half-and- half. Clarity he wanted and he would have. The question of form was for him a religious matter; for him (and only for him) it was all or nothing. And this is the explanation of the lonely fearful wrestlings of this man, surely the un- happiest figure in our art; of the fragmentary, the tortured, the unsatisfied, the terribile in his forms that frightened his contemporaries. The one half of his nature drew him towards the Classical and therefore to sculpture — we all know the effect produced upon him by the recently-discovered Laocoon. No man ever made a more honest effort than he did to find a way with the chisel into a buried world. Everything that he created he meant sculpturally — sculp- turally, that is, in a sense of the word that he and he alone stood for. "The world, presented in the great Pan," the element which Goethe meant to render when he brought Helena into the Second Part of Faust, the Apollinian world in all its powerful sensuous corporal presence — that was what Michelangelo was striving with all his might to capture and to fix in artistic being when he was painting the Sistine ceiling. Every resource of fresco — the big contours, the vast surfaces, the immense nearness of naked shapes, the materiality of colour

^ It is the same "noble simplicity and quiet greatness" — to speak in the language of the German Classicists — that produces such an impression of the antique in the Romanesque of Hilde- sheim, Gcrnrode, Paulinzella and Hersfeld. The ruined cloisters of Paulinzella, in fact, have much of what Brunellesco so many centuries later strove to obtain in his palace-courts. But the basic feel- ing that underlies these creations is not something which we got from the Classical, but something that we projected on to our own notion of Classical being. And our own notion of peace is one of an infinite peace. We feel the "Rest in God" to be an expanse of quietude. All Florentine work, in so far as sureness does not turn into the Gothic challenge of Verrocchio, is characterized by this feel- ing, with which Attic cux^poabvi^ has nothing whatever in common.


176 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

— was here for the last time strained to the utmost to liberate the paganism, the high-Renaissance paganism, that was in him. But his second soul, the soul of Gothic-Christian Dante and of the music of great expanses, is pulling in the opposite sense; his scheme for the ensemble is manifestly metaphysical in spirit.

His was the last effort, repeated again and again, to put the entirety of the artist-personality into the language of stone. But the Euclidean material failed him. His attitude to it was not that of the Greek. In the very character of its being the chiselled statue contradicts the world-feeling that tries to find something by, and not to possess something in, its art-works. For Phidias, marble is the cosmic stuff that is crying for form. The story of Pygmalion and Galatea expresses the very essence of that art. But for Michelangelo marble was the foe to be subdued, the prison out of which he must deliver his idea as Siegfried delivered Brunhilde. Everyone knows his way of setting to work. He did not approach the rough block coolly from every aspect of the intended form, but attacked it with a passionate frontal attack, hewing into it as though into space, cutting away the material layer by layer and driving deeper and deeper until his form emerged, while the members slowly developed themselves out of the quarry. Never perhaps has there been a more open expression of world-dread in the presence of the become — Death — of the will to overpower and capture it in vibrant form. There is no other artist of the West whose rela- tion to the stone has been that of Michelangelo — at once so intimate and so violently masterful. It is his symbol of Death. In it dwells the hostile princi- ple that his daemonic nature is always striving to overpower, whether he is cutting statues or piling great buildings out of it.^ He is the one sculptor of his age who dealt only with marble. Bronze, as cast, allows the modeller to com- promise with pictorial tendencies, and it appealed therefore to other Renaissance artists and to the softer Greeks. The Giant stood aloof from it.

The instantaneous bodily posture was what the Classical sculptor created, and of this Faustian man was incapable. It is here just as it is in the matter of

  • It has never been sufficiently noticed that the few sculptors who came after Michelangelo

had no more than a mere workaday relation with marble. But we see at once that it is so when wc think of the deeply intimate relation of great musicians to their favourite instruments. The story of Tartini's violin, which shattered itself to pieces on the death of the master — and there are a hundred such stories — is the Faustian counterpart of the Pygmalion legend. Consider, too, E. T. A. HoflFmann's "Johannes Kreisler the Kapellmeister"; he is a figure worthy to stand by the side of Faust, Werther and Don Juan. To see his symbolic significance and the inward necessity of him, we have only to compare him with the theatrical painter-characters in the works of contemporary Romanticists, who are not in any relation whatever with the idea of Painting. As the fate of 19th- century art-romances shows — a painter cannot be made to stand for the destiny of Faustian art.

(E. T. A. Hoffmann, the strange many-sided genius who was at once musician, caricaturist, novelist, critic, wit, able public official and winebibber, at one time in his career wrote in the char- acter of "Johannes Kreisler." See his Fantasiestucke in Callots Manier and Dtr Kafer Murr, also Thomas Carlyle's " Miscellanies" and the biographical sketches of Hoffmann in Grove's Dictionary of Music aod the Ency. Brit. — Tr.^


ACT AND PORTRAIT 177

love, in which Faustian man discovers, not primarily the act of union between man and woman, but the great love of Dante and beyond that the caring Mother. Michelangelo's erotic — which is that of Beethoven also — is as un- Classical as it is possible to be. It stands sub specie aternitatis and not under that of sense and the moment. He produced acts — a sacrifice to the Hellenic idol — but the soul in them denies or overmasters the visible form. He wills in- finity as the Greek willed proportion and rule, he embraces past and future as the Greek embraced present. The Classical eye absorbs plastic form into itself, but Michelangelo saw with the spiritual eye and broke through the foreground- language of immediate sensuousness. And inevitably, in the long run, he destroyed the conditions for this art. Marble became too trivial for his will- to-form. He ceased to be sculptor and turned architect. In full old age, when he was producing only wild fragments like the Rondanini Madonna and hardly cutting his figures out of the rough at all, the musical tendency of his artistry broke through. In the end the impulse towards contrapuntal form, was no longer to be repressed and, dissatisfied through and through with the art upon which he had spent his life, yet dominated still by the unquenchable will to self-expression, he shattereed the canon of Renaissance architecture and created the Roman Baroque. For relations of material and form he substituted the con- test offeree and mass. He grouped the columns in sheaves or else pushed them away into niches. He broke up the storeys with huge pilasters and gave the fa§ade a sort of surging and thrusting quality. Measure yielded to melody, the static to the dynamic. And thus Faustian music enlisted in its service the chief of all the other arts.

With Michelangelo the history of Western sculpture is at an end. What of it there was after him was mere misunderstandings or reminiscences. His real heir was Palestrina.

Leonardo speaks another language. In essentials his spirit reached forward into the following century, and he was in nowise bound, as Michelangelo was bound by every tie of heart, to the Tuscan ideal. He alone had neither the ambition to be sculptor nor the ambition to be architect. It was a strange illu- sion of the Renaissance that the Hellenic feeling and the Hellenic cult of the exterior structure could be got at by way of anatomical studies. But when Leonardo studied anatomy it was not, as in Michelangelo's case, foreground anatomy, the topgra-phy of human surfaces, studied for the sake of plastic, but physiology studied for the inward secrets. While Michelangelo tried to force the whole meaning of human existence into the language of the living body, Leonardo's studies show the exact opposite. His much-admired sfumato is the first sign of the repudiation of corporeal bounds, in the name of space^ and as such it is the starting-point of Impressionism. Leonardo begins with the inside, the spiritual space within us, and not with the considered definition- line, and when he ends (that is, if he ends at all and does not leave the picture


178 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

unfinished), the substance of colour lies like a mere breathing over the real structure of the picture, which is something incorporeal and indescribable. Raphael's paintings fall into planes in which he disposes his well-ordered groups, and he closes off the whole with a well-proportioned background. But Leonardo knows only one space, wide and eternal, and his figures, as it were, float therein. The one puts inside a frame a sum of individual near things, the other a portion cut out of the infinite.

Leonardo discovered the circulation of the blood. It was no Renaissance spirit that brought him to that — on the contrary, the whole course of his thought took him right outside the conceptions of his age. Neither Michelangelo nor Raphael could have done it, for their painter's anatomy looks only at the form and position, not the function, of the parts. In mathematical language, it is stereometry as against analysis. Did not the Renaissance find it quite sufficient preparation for great painted scenes to study corpses^ suppressing the becoming in favour of the become and calling on the dead to make Classical drapa^la accessible to Northern creative energy? But Leonardo investigated the life in the body as Rubens did, and not the body-in-itself as Signorelli did. His discovery was contemporary with that of Columbus, and the two have a deep affinity, for they signify the victory of the infinite over the material limitcdness of the tangibly present. Would a Greek ever have concerned himself with questions like theirs? The Greeks inquired as little into the interior of their own organization as they sought for the sources of the Nile; these were prob- lems that might have jeopardized the Euclidean constitution of their being. The Baroque, on the other hand, is truly the priod of the great discoveries. The very word ' ' discovery ' ' has something bluntly un-Classical in it. Classical man took good care not to take the cover, the material wrapping, off anything cosmic, but to do just this is the most characteristic impulse of a Faustian na- ture. The discoveries of the New World, the circulation of the blood, and the Copernican universe were achieved almost simultaneously and, at bottom, are completely equivalent; and the discovery of gunpowder (that is, the long-range weapon and of printing (the long-range script^ were little earlier.

Leonardo was a discoverer through-and-through, and discovery was the sum in one word of his whole nature. Brush, chisel, dissecting-knife, pencil for calculating and compasses for drawing — all were for him of equal import- ance. They were for him what the Mariner's Compass was for Columbus. When Raphael completes with colour the sharp-drawn outline he asserts the

  • Although gunpowder is much older than the Baroque, its application in real earnest to long-

ranging fire-arms was only accomplished during the i6th Century. It cannot be said that there was any technical reason why ioo years should have elapsed between the first use of powder in European warfare and the first effective soldier's fire-arm. No careful student of this period of military history can fail to be struck with this fact — the significance of which, not being technical, must be cultural. Much the same could be said of printing, which, so far as concerns technical fac- tors, might just as well have been invented in the loth as in the 15th Century. — Tr.


ACT AND PORTRAIT 179

corporeal phenomenon in every brush-stroke, but Leonardo, in his red-chalk sketches and his backgrounds reveals aerial secrets with every line. He was the first, too, who set his mind to work on aviation. To fly, to free one's self from earth, to lose one's self in the expanse of the universe — is not this ambition Faustian in the highest degree? Is it not in fact the fulfilment oi our dreams? Has it never been observed how the Christian legend became in Western painting a glorious transfiguration of this motive? All the pictured ascents into heaven and falls into hell, the divine figures floating above the clouds, the blissful detachment of angels and saints, the insistent emphasis upon freedom from earth's heaviness, are emblems of soul-flight, peculiar to the art of the Faustian, utterly remote from that of the Byzantine.


The transformation of Renaissance fresco-painting into Venetian oil-painting is a matter of spiritual history. We have to appreciate very delicate and subtle traits to discern the process of change. In almost every picture from Masaccio's "Peter and the Tribute Money" in the Brancacci Chapel, through the soaring background that Piero della Francesca gave to the figures of Federigo and Battista of Urbino,^ to Perugino's " Christ Giving the Keys," ^ the fresco manner is contending with the invasive new form, though Raphael's artistic develop- ment in the course of his work on the Vatican " stanze" is almost the only case in which we can see comprehensively the change that is going on. The Floren- tine fresco aims at actuality in individual things and produces a sum of such things in an architectonic setting. Oil-painting, on the other hand, sees and handles with ever-growing sureness extension as a whole, and treats all objects only as representatives thereof. The Faustian world-feeling created the new technique that it wanted. It rejected the drawing style, as, from Oresme's time, ^o-ordinate geometry rejected it. It transformed the linear perspective asso- ciated with the architectural motive into a purely aerial perspective rendered by imponderable gradations of tone. But the condition of Renaissance art generally — its inability either to understand its own deeper tendencies or to make good its anti-Gothic principle — made the transition an obscure and difficult process. Each artist followed the trend in a way of his own. One painted in oils on the bare wall, and thereby condemned his work to perish (Leonardo's "Last Supper"). Another painted pictures as if they were wall- frescoes (Michelangelo). Some ventured, some guessed, some fell by the way, some shied. It was, as always, the struggle between hand and soul, between eye and instrument, between the form willed by the artist and the form willed by time — the struggle between Plastic and Music.

In the light of this, we can at last understand that gigantic effort of Leo- nardo, the cartoon of the "Adoration of the Magi" in the Ufiizi. It is the 1 Uffizi, Florence. — Tr. 2 Sistine Chapel, Rome. — Tr.


i8o THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

grandest piece of artistic daring in the Renaissance. Nothing like it was even imagined till Rembrandt. Transcending all optical measures, everything then called drawing, outline, composition and grouping, he pushes fearlessly on to challenge eternal space; everything bodily floats like the planets in the Coper- nican system and the tones of a Bach organ-fugue in the dimness of old churches. In the technical possibilities of the time, so dynamic an image of distance could only remain a torso.

In the Sistine Madonna, which is the very summation of the Renaissance, Raphael causes the outline to draw into itself the entire content of the work. It is the last grand line of Western art. Already (and it is this that makes Ra- phael the least intelligible of Renaissance artists) convention is strained almost to breaking-point by the intensity of inward feeling. He did not indeed wrestle with problems. He had not even an inkling of them. But he brought art to the brink where it could no longer shirk the plunge, and he lived to achieve the utmost possibilities within its form-world. The ordinary person who thinks him flat simply fails to realize what is going on in his scheme. Look again, reader, at the hackneyed Madonna. Have you ever noticed the little dawn-cloudlets, transforming themselves into baby heads, that surround the soaring central figure? — these are the multitudes of the unborn that the Ma- donna is drawing into Life. We meet these light clouds again, with the same meaning, in the wondrous finale of Faust 11.^ It is just that which does not charm in Raphael, his sublime unpopularity, that betrays the inner victory over the Renaissance-feeling in him. We do understand Perugino at a glance, we merely think we understand Raphael. His very line — that drawing-character that at first sight seems so Classical — is something that floats in space, su- pernal, Beethoven-like. In this work Raphael is the least obvious of all artists, less obvious even than Michelangelo, whose intention is manifest through all the fragmentariness of his works. In Fra Bartolommeo the material bounding- line is still entirely dominant. It is all foreground, and the whole sense of the work is exhaustively rendered by the definition of bodies. But in Raphael line has become silent, expectant, veiled, waiting in an extremity of tension for dissolution into the infinite, into space and music.

Leonardo is already over the frontier. The Adoration of the Magi is already music. It is not a casual but a deeply significant circumstance that in this work, as also in his St. Jerome,^ he did not go beyond the brown underpainting, the "Rembrandt" stage, the atmospheric brown of the following century. For him, entire fullness and clearness of intention was attained with the work in that state, and one step into the domain of colour (for that domain was still under the metaphysical limitations of the fresco style) would have destroyed the soul of what he had created. Feeling, in all its depth, the symbolism of which oil-painting was later to be the vehicle, he was afraid of the fresco » " Doctor Marianus." — Tr, ■ Vatican. — Tr,


ACT AND PORTRAIT i8i

"slickness" OFertigkeit) that must have mined his idea. His studies for this painting show how close was his relation to the Rembrandt etching — an art whose home was also that of the art (unknown to Florence) of counterpoint. Only it was reserved for the Venetians, who stood outside the Florentine conventions, to achieve what he strove for here, to fashion a colour-world subserving space instead of things.

For this reason, too, Leonardo (after innumerable attempts) decided to leave the Christ-head in the "Last Supper" unfinished. The men of his time were not even ripe for portraiture as Rembrandt understood the word, the magistral building-up of a soul-history out of dynamic brush-strokes and lights and tones. But only Leonardo was great enough to experience this limitation as a Destiny. Others merely set themselves to paint heads (in the modes pre- scribed by their respective schools) but Leonardo — the first, here, to make the hands also speak, and that with a physiognomic maestria — had an infinitely wider purpose. His soul was lost afar in the future, though his mortal part, his eye and hand, obeyed the spirit of the age. Assuredly he was the freest of the three great ones. From much of that which Michelangelo's powerful nature vainly wrestled with, he was already remote. Problems of chemistry, geometri- cal analysis, physiology (Goethe's "living Nature" was also Leonardo's), the technique of fire-arms — all were familiar to him. Deeper than Diirer, bolder than Titian, more comprehensive than any single man of his time, he was essentially the artist of torsos.^ Michelangelo the belated sculptor was so, too, but in another sense, while in Goethe's day that which had been unattainable for the painter of the Last Supper had already been reached and overpassed. Michelangelo strove to force life once more into a dead form-world, Leonardo felt a new form-world in the future, Goethe divined that there could be no new form-worlds more. Between the first and the last of these men lie the ripe centuries of the Faustian Culture. ^

VI

It remains now to deal with the major characters of Western art during the phase of accomplishment. In this we may observe the deep necessity of all history at work. We have learned to understand arts as prime phenomena. We no longer look to the operations of cause and effect to give unity to the story of development. Instead, we have set up the idea of the Destiny of an art, and admitted arts to be organisms of the Culture, organisms which are born, ripen, age and for ever die.

When the Renaissance — its last illusion — closes, the Western soul has come to the ripe consciousness of its own strength and possibilities. It has chosen its arts. As a "late" period, the Baroque knows, just as the Ionic had

^ In Renaissance work the finished product is often quite depressingly complete. The absence of "infinity" is palpable. No secrets, no discoveries.


2.8i THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

known, what the form-language of its arts has to mean. From being a philo- sophical religion, art has to be a religious philosophy. Great masters come for- ward in the place of anonymous schools. At the culmination of every Culture we have the spectacle of a splendid group of great artSy well-ordered and linked as a unit by the unity of the prime symbol underlying them all. The Apollinian groups to which belong vase-painting, fresco relief, the architecture of ranked columns, the Attic drama and the dance, centres upon the naked statue. The Faustian group forms itself round the ideal of pure spatial infinity and its centre of gravity is instrumental music. From this centre, fine threads radiate out into all spiritual form-languages and weave our infinitesimal mathematic, our dynamic physics, the propaganda of Jesuits and the power of our famous slogan of "progress," the modern machine-technique, credit economics and the dynastic-diplomatic State — all into one immense totality of spiritual expres- sion. Beginning with the inward rhythm of the cathedral and ending with Wagner's "Tristan" and "Parsifal," the artistic conquest of endless space deploys its full forces from about 1550. Plastic is dying with Michelangelo in Rome just when planimetry, dominant hitherto, is becoming the least im- portant branch of our mathematic. At the same time, Venice is producing Zarlino's theories of harmony and counterpoint (1558) and the practical method of the basso continuo — a perspective and an analysis of the world of sound — and this music's sister, the Northern mathematic of the Calculus, is beginning to mount.

Oil-painting and instrumental music, the arts of space, are now entering into their kingdom. So also — constquently ^ we say — the two essentially material and Euclidean arts of the Classical Culture, viz., the all-round statue and the strictly planar fresco, attain to their primacy at the corresponding date of c. 600 B.C. And further, in the one and in the other case, it is the painting that ripens ^rj-/. For in either kind painting on the plane is a less ambitious and more accessible art than modelling in solid or composing in immaterial extension. The period 15 50-1650 belongs as completely to oil-painting as fresco and vase- painting belong to the 6th Century b.c. The symbolism of space and of body, expressed in the one case by perspective and in the other by proportion, are only indicated and not immediately displayed by pictorial arts. These arts, which can only in each case produce their respective prime-symbols (i.e., their possi- bilities in the extended) as illusions on a painted surface, are capable indeed of denoting and evoking the ideal — Classical or Western, as the case may be — but they are not capable oi fulfilling it; they appear therefore in the path of the "late" Culture as the ledges before the last summit. The nearer the grand style comes to its point of fulfilment, the more decisive the tendency to an ornamental language of inexorable clarity of symbolism. The group of great arts is further simplified. About 1670, just when Newton and Leibniz were discovering the Differential Calculus, oil-painting had reached the limit of its


ACT AND PORTRAIT 183

possibilities. Its last great masters were dead or dying — Velasquez 1660, Poussin 1665, Franz Hals 1666, Rembrandt 1669, Vermeer 1675, MuriUo, Ruysdael and Claude Lorrain i68z — and one has only to name the few succes- sors of any importance (Watteau, Hogarth, Tiepolo) to feel at once the descent, the end, of an art. In this time also, the great forms of pictorial music expired. Heinrich Schiitz died in 1672., Carissimi in 1674, and Purcell in 1695 — the last great masters of the Cantata, who had played around image-themes with infinite variety of vocal and instrumental colour and had painted veritable pictures of fine landscape and grand legend-scene. With Lully (1687) the heart of the heroic Baroque opera of Monteverde ceased to beat. It was the same with the old "classical" sonata for orchestra, organ and string trio, which was a development of image-themes in the fugal style. There- after, the forms become those of final maturity, the concerto grosso, the suite, and the three-part sonata for solo instruments. Music frees itself from the relics of bodiliness inherent in the human voice and becomes absolute. The theme is no longer an image but a pregnant junction, existent only in and by its own evolution, for the fugal style as Bach practised it can only be regarded as a ceaseless process of differentiation and integration. The victory of pure music over painting stands recorded in the Passions which Heinrich Schiitz composed in his old age — the visible dawn of the new form- language — in the sonatas of Dall'Abaco and Corelli, the oratorios of Handel and the Baroque polyphony of Bach. Henceforth this music is the Faustian art, and Watteau may fairly be described as a painter-Couperin, Tiepolo as a painter-Handel.

In the Classical world the corresponding change occurred about 460, when Polygnotus, the last of the great fresco-painters, ceded the inheritance of the grand style to Polycletus and free sculpture in the round. Till then — as late even as Polygnotus 's contemporaries Myron and the masters of the Olympia pediment — the form-language of a purely planar art had dominated that of statuary also; for, just as painting had developed its form more and more to- wards the ideal of the silhouette of colour with internal drawing superposed — to such an extent that at last there was almost no difference between the painted relief and the flat picture — so also the sculptor had regarded the frontal outline as it presented itself to the beholder as the true symbol of the Ethos, the cultural type, that he meant his figure to represent. The field of the temple-pediment constitutes a picture; seen from the proper distance, it makes exactly the same impression as its contemporary the red-figure vase-painting. In Polycletus's generation the monumental wall-painting gives place to the board-picture, the "picture" proper, in tempera or wax — a clear indication that the great style has gone to reside elsewhere. The ambition of x\pollodorus's shadow painting was not in any sense what we call chiaroscuro and atmosphere, but sheer modelling in the round in the sculptor's sense; and of Zeuxis


i84 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Aristotle says expressly that his work lacked "Ethos." Thus, this newer Classical painting with its cleverness and human charm is the equivalent of our iSth-Century work. Both lacked the inner greatness and both tried by force of virtuosity to speak in the language of that single and final Art which in each case stood for ornamentation in the higher sense. Hence Polycletus and Phidias aline themselves with Bach and Handel; as the Western masters liberated strict musical form from the executive methods of the Painting, so the Greek masters finally delivered the statue from the asso- ciations of the Relief.

And with this full plastic and this full music the two Cultures reach their respective ends. A pure symbolism of mathematical rigour had become pos- sible. Polycletus could produce his "canon" of the proportions of the human body, and his contemporary Bach the "Kunst der Fuge" and "Wohltem- pcriertes Klavier." In the two arts that ensued, we have the last perfection of achievement that pure form saturated with meaning can give. Compare the tone-body of Faustian instrumental music, and within that system again the body of the strings (in Bach, too, the virtual unity of the winds), with the bodies of Attic statuary. Compare the meaning of the word * ' figure ' * to Haydn with its meaning to Praxiteles. In the one case it is the figure of a rhythmic mo- tive in a web of voices, in the other the figure of an athlete. But in both cases the notion comes from mathematics and it is made plain that the aim thus finally attained is a union of the artistic and the mathematical spirit, for analy- sis like music, and Euclidean geometry like plastic, have both come to full comprehension of their tasks and the ultimate meaning of their respective number-languages. The mathematics of beauty and the beauty of mathematics are henceforth inseparable. The unending space of tone and the all-round body of marble or bronze are immediate interpretations of the extended. They belong to number-as-relation and to number-as-measure. In fresco and in oil-painting, in the laws of proportion and those of perspective, the mathematical is only indicated, but the two final arts are mathematics, and on these peaks Apollinian art and Faustian art are seen entire.

With the exit of fresco and oil-painting, the great masters of absolute plastic and absolute music file on to the stage, man after man. Polycletus is followed by Phidias, Pasonius, Alcamenes, Scopas, Praxiteles, Lysippus. Behind Bach and Handel come Gluck, Stamitz, the younger Bachs, Haydn, Mozart, Bee- thoven — in their hands an armoury of wonderful and now long-forgotten instruments, a whole magician's world created by the discovering and inventing spirit of the West in the hope of getting more and more tones and timbres for the service and enhancement of musical expression — in their winds an abun- dance of grand, solemn, ornate, dainty, ironic, laughing and sobbing forms of perfectly regular structure, forms that no one now understands. In those days, in iSth-Ccntury Germany especially, there was actually and effectively a Cul-


ACT AND PORTRAIT 185

ture of Music that suffused all Life. Its type was Hoffmann's Kapellmeister Krcisler. To-day it is hardly even a memory.

And with the i8th Century, too, architecture died at last, submerged and choked in the music of Rococo. On that last wonderful fragile growth of the Western architecture criticism has blown mercilessly, failing to realize that its origin is in the spirit of the fugue and that its non-proportion and non-form, its evanescence and instability and sparkle, its destruction of surface and visual order, are nothing else than a victory of tones and melodies over lines and walls, the triumph of pure space over material, of absolute becoming over the become. They are no longer buildings, these abbeys and castles and churches with their flowing fagades and porches and "gingerbread" courts and their splendid staircases, galleries, salons and cabinets; they are sonatas, minuets, madrigals in stone, chamber-music in stucco, marble, ivory and fine woods, cantilene of volutes and cartouches, cadences of fliers and copings. The Dresden Zwinger is the most completely musical piece in all the world's architecture, with an ornamentation like the tone of an old violin, an allegro fugitivo for small orchestra.

Germany produced the great musicians and therefore also the great architects of this century (Poppelmann, Schliiter, Bahr, Naumann, Fischer von Erlach, Dinzenhofer). In oil-painting she played no part at all: in instrumental music, on the contrary, hers was the principal r61e.

vn

There is a word, "Impressionism," which only came into general use in Manet's time (and then, originally, as a word of contempt like Baroque and Rococo) but very happily summarizes the special quality of the Faustian way of art that has evolved from oil-painting. But, as we ordinarily speak of it, the idea has neither the width nor the depth of meaning that it ought to have: we regard it as a sequel to or derivative of the old age of an art which, in fact, belongs to it entirely and from first to last. What is the imitation of an "im- pression"? Something purely Western, something related to the idea of Baroque and even to the unconscious purposes of Gothic architecture and diametrically opposed to the deliberate aims of the Renaissance. Does it not signify the tendency — the deeply-necessary tendency of a waking conscious- ness to feel pure endless space as the supreme and unqualified actuality, and all sense-images as secondary and conditioned actualities "within it" ? A tendency that can manifest itself in artistic creations, but has a thousand other outlets besides. Does not Kant's formula "space as a priori form of perception " sound like a slogan for the whole movement that began with Leonardo? Impression- ism is the inverse of the Euclidean world-feeling. It tries to get as far as possible from the language of plastic and as near as possible to that of music. The effect that is made upon us by things that receive and reflect light is made not because


2.S6 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

the things are there but as though they "in themselves" are not there. The things are not even bodies, but light-resistances in space, and their illusive density is to be unmasked by the brush-stroke. What is received and rendered is the impression of such resistances, which are tacitly evaluated as simple func- tions of a transcendent extension. The artist's inner eye penetrates the body, breaks the spell of its material bounding surfaces and sacrifices it to the majesty of Space. And w^ith this impression, under its influence, he feels an endless movement-quality in the sensuous element that is in utter contrast to the statu- esque "Ataraxia" of the fresco. Therefore, there was not and could not bff any Hellenic impressionism; if there is one art that must exclude it on principle, it is Classical sculpture.

Impressionism is the comprehensive expression of a world-feeling, and it must obviously therefore permeate the whole physiognomy of our "Late" Culture. There is an impressionistic mathematic, which frankly and with in- tent transcends all optical limitations. It is Analysis, as developed after Newton and Leibniz, and to it belong the visionary images of number-" bodies," aggregates, and the multidimensional geometry. There is again an impression- istic physics which "sees" in lieu of bodies systems of mass-points — units that are evidently no more than constant relations between variable efficients. There are impressionistic ethics, tragedy, and logic, and even (in Pietism) an impressionistic Christianity.

Be the artist painter or musician, his art consists in creating with a few strokes or spots or tones an image of inexhaustible content, a microcosm meet for the eyes or ears of Faustian man; that is, in laying the actuality of infinite space under enchantment by fleeting and incorporeal indications of something objective which, so to say, forces that actuality to become phenomenal. The daring of these arts of moving the immobile has no parallel. Right from the later work of Titian to Corot and Menzel, matter quivers and flows like a solu- tion under the mysterious pressure of brush-stroke and broken colours and lights. It was in pursuit of the same object that Baroque music became "the- matic" instead of melodic and — reinforcing the "theme" with every expedi- ent of harmonic charm, instrumental colour, rhythm, and tempo — developed the tone-picture from the imitative piece of Titian's day to the leitmotiv-fabric of Wagner, and captured a whole new world of feeling and experience. When German music was at its culmination, this art penetrated also into lyric poetry (German lyric, that is, for in French it is impossible) and gave rise to a whole scries of tiny masterpieces, from Goethe's "Urfaust" to Holderlin's last poems — passages of a few lines apiece, which have never yet been noticed, let alone collected, but include nevertheless whole worlds of experience and feeling. On a small scale, it continually repeats the achievements of Copernicus and Colum- bus. No other Culture possesses an ornament-language of such dynamical im- pressivencss relatively to the means it employs. Every point or stroke of colour,


ACT AND PORTRAIT 187

every scarce-audible tone releases some surprising charm and continually feeds the imagination with fresh elements of space-creating energy. In Masaccio and Piero della Francesca we have actual bodies bathed in air. Then Leonardo, the first, discovers the transitions of atmospheric light and dark, the soft edges, the outlines that merge in the depth, the domains of light and shade in which the individual figures are inseparably involved. Finally, in Rembrandt, objects dissolve into mere coloured impressions, and forms lose their specific human- ness and become collocations of strokes and patches that tell as elements of a passionate depth-rhythm. Distance, so treated, comes to signify Future, for what Impressionism seizes and holds is by hypothesis a unique and never- recurring instant, not a landscape in being but a fleeting moment of the history thereof. Just as in a Rembrandt portrait it is not the anatomical relief of the head that is rendered, but the second visage in it that is confessed; just as the art of his brush-stroke captures not the eye but the look, not the brow but the experience, not the lips but the sensuousness; so also the impressionist picture in general presents to the beholder not the Nature of the foreground but again a second visage, the look and soul of the landscape. Whether we take the Catholic-heroic landscape of Claude Lorrain, the "paysage intime" of Corot, the sea and river-banks and villages of Cuyp and Van Goyen, we find always a portrait in the physiognomic sense, something uniquely-occurring, unforeseen, brought to light for the first and last time. In this love of the character and physiognomy in landscape — just the motive that was unthinkable in fresco art and permanently barred to the Classical — the art of portraiture widens from the immediately human to the mediately human, to the representation of the world as a part of the ego or the self-world in which the painter paints him- self and the beholder sees himself. For the expansion of Nature into Distance reflects a Destiny. In this art of tragic, daemonic, laughing and weeping land- scapes there is something of which the man of another Culture has no idea and for which he has no organ. Anyone who in the presence of this form-world talks of Hellenistic illusion-painting must be unable to distinguish between an ornamentation of the highest order and a soulless imitation, an ape-mimicry of the obvious. If Lysippus said (as Pliny tells us he said) that he represented men as they appeared to him, his ambition was that of a child, of a layman, of a savage, not that of an artist. The great style, the meaning, the deep necessity, are absent; even the cave-dwellers of the stone age painted thus. In reality, the Hellenistic painters could do more when they chose. Even so late, the wall- paintings of Pompeii and the "Odyssey" landscapes in Rome contain a symbol. In each case it is a group of bodies that is rendered — rocks, trees, even "the Sea" as a body among bodies! There is no depth, but only superposition. Of course, of the objects represented one or several had necessarily to be furthest away (or rather least near') but this is a mere technical servitude without the remotest affinity to the illumined supernal distances of Faustian art.


i88 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST


VIII


I have said that oil-painting faded out at the end of the 17th Century, when one after another all its great masters died, and the question will naturally, therefore, be asked — is Impressionism (in the current narrow sense) a creation of the 19th Century? Has painting lived, after all, two centuries more? Is it still existing? But we must not be deceived by appearances. Not only was there a dead space between Rembrandt and Delacroix or Constable — for when we think of the living art of high symbolism that was Rembrandt's the purely decorative artists of the i8th Century do not count — but, further, that which began with Delacroix and Constable was, notwithstanding all technical con- tinuity, something quite different from that which had ended with Rembrandt. The new episode of painting that in the 19th Century (i.e., beyond the 1800 frontier and in "Civilization") has succeeded in awakening some illusion of a great culture of painting, has itself chosen the word Plein-air QFreilichi) to designate its special characteristic. The very designation suffices to show the significance of the fleeting phenomenon that it is. It implies the conscious, intellectual, cold-blooded rejection of that for which a sudden wit invented the name "brown sauce," but which the great masters had, as we know, regarded as the one truly metaphysical colour. On it had been built the painting-culture of the schools, and especially the Dutch school, that had vanished irretrievably in the Rococo. This brown, the symbol of a spatial infinity, which had for Faustian mankind created a spiritual something out of a mere canvas, now came to be regarded, quite suddenly, as an offence to Nature. What had happened? Was it not simply this, that the soul for which this supernal colour was some- thing religious, the sign of wistfulness, the whole meaning of " Living Nature," had quietly slipped away? The materialism of a Western cosmopolis blew into the ashes and rekindled this curious brief flicker — a brief flicker of two genera- tions, for with the generation of Manet all was ended again. I have (as the reader will recall) characterized the noble green of Griinewald and Claude and Giorgione as the Catholic space-colour and the transcendent brown of Rem- brandt as the colour of the Protestant world-feeling. On the other hand, Plein-air and its new colour scale stand for irreligion.^ From the spheres of Beethoven and the stellar expanses of Kant, Impressionism has come down again to the crust of the earth. Its space is cognized, not experienced, seen, not contemplated; there is tunedness in it, but not Destiny. It is the mechanical object of physics and not the felt world of the pastorale that Courbet and Manet give us in their landscapes. Rousseau's tragically correct prophecy of a "return

^ Hence the impossibility of achieving a genuinely religious painting on plein-air principles. The world-feeling that underlies it is so throughly irreligious, so worthless for any but a "religion of reason " so-called, that every one of its efforts in that direction, even with the noblest intentions (Uhde, Puvis de Chavannes), strikes us as hollow and false. One instant of plein-air treatmeac su£Bccs to secularize the interior of a church and deKrade it into a showroom.


ACT AND PORTRAIT 189

to Nature" fulfils itself in this dying art — the senile, too, return to Nature day by day. The modern artist is a workman, not a creator. He sets unbroken spectrum-colours side by side. The subtle script, the dance of brush-strokes, give way to crude commonplaces, pilings and mixings and daubings of points, squares, broad inorganic masses. The whitewasher's brush and the trowel ap- pear in the painter's equipment; the oil-priming of the canvas is brought into the scheme of execution and in places left bare. It is a risky art, meticulous, cold, diseased — an art for over-developed nerves, but scientific to the last degree, energetic in everything that relates to the conquest of technical ob- stacles, acutely assertive of programme. It is the "satyric pendant" of the great age of oil-painting that stretches from Leonardo to Rembrandt; it could only be at home in the Paris of Baudelaire. Corot's silvern landscapes, with their grey-greens and browns, dream still of the spiritual of the Old Masters; but Courbet and Manet conquer bare physical space, "factual" space. The meditative discoverer represented by Leonardo gives way to the painting experimentalist. Corot, the eternal child, French but not Parisian, finds his transcendent landscapes anywhere and everywhere; Courbet, Manet, Cezanne, portray over and over again, painfully, laboriously, soullessly, the Forest of Fontainebleau, the bank of the Seine at Argenteuil, or that remarkable valley near Aries. Rembrandt's mighty landscapes lie essentially in the universe, Manet's near a railway station. The plein-air painters, true megalopolitans, obtain as it were specimens of the music of space from the least agitated sources^ of Spain and Holland — from Velasquez, Goya, Hobbema, Franz Hals — in order (with the aid of English landscapists and, later, the Japanese, •' highbrows" all) to restate it in empirical and scientific terms. It is natural science as opposed to nature experience, head against heart, knowledge in contrast to faith.

In Germany it was otherwise. Whereas in France it was a matter of closing- off the great school, in Germany it was a case of catching up with it. For in the picturesque style, as practised from Rottmann, Wasmann, K. D. Friedrich and Runge to Marees and Leibl, an unbroken evolution is the very basis of tech- nique, and even a new-style school requires a closed tradition behind it. Herein lies the weakness and the strength of the last German painters. Whereas the French possesised a continuous tradition of their own from early Baroque to Chardin and Corot, whereas there was living connexion between Claude Lor- rain and Corot, Rubens and Delacroix, all the great Germans of the i8th Cen- tury had been musicians. After Beethoven this music, without change of inward essence, was diverted (one of the modalities of the German Romantic move- ment) back into painting. And it was in painting that it flowered longest and bore its kindliest fruits, for the portraits and landscapes of these men are suf- fused with a secret wistful music, and there is a breath of EichendorfF and Morike left even in Thoma and Bocklin. But a foreign teacher had to be asked


Z90 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

to supply that which was lacking in the native tradition, and so these painters one and all went to Paris, where they studied and copied the old masters of 1670. So also did Manet and his circle. But there was this difference, that the Frenchmen found in these studies only reminiscences of something that had been in their art for many generations, whereas the Germans received fresh and wholly different impressions. The result was that, in the 19th Century, the German arts of form (other than music) were a phenomenon out of season — hasty, anxious, confused, puzzled as to both aim and means. There was indeed no time to be lost. The level that German music or French painting had taken centuries to attain had to be made good by German painting in two generations. The expiring art demanded its last phase, and this phase had to be reached by a vertiginous race through the whole past. Hence the unsteadiness, in every- thing pertaining to form, of high Faustian natures like Marees and Bocklin, an unsteadiness that in German music with its sure tradition (think of Bruck- ner) would have been impossible. The art of the French Impressionists was too explicit in its programme and correspondingly too poor in soul to expose them to such a tragedy. German literature, on the contrary, was in the same condi- tion as German painting; from Goethe's time, every major work was intended to found something and obliged to conclude something. Just as Kleist felt in himself both Shakespeare and Stendhal, and laboured desperately, altering and discarding without end and without result, to forge two centuries of psycho- logical art into a unit; just as Hebbel tried to squeeze all the problems from Hamlet to Rosmersholm into one dramatic type; so Menzel, Leibl, and Marees sought to force the old and new models — Rembrandt, Claude, Van Goyen, and Watteau, Delacroix, Courbet and Manet — into a single form. While the little early interiors of Menzel anticipated all the discoveries of the Manet circle and Leibl not seldom succeeded where Courbet tried and failed, their pictures renew the metaphysical browns and greens of the Old Masters and are fully expressive of an inward experience. Menzel actually re-experienced and reawakened some- thing of Prussian Rococo, Marees something of Rubens, Leibl in his "Frau Gedon" something of Rembrandt's protraiture. Moreover, the studio-brown of the 17th Century had had by its side a second art, the intensely Faustian art of etching. In this, as in the other, Rembrandt is the greatest master of all time; this, like the other, has something Protestant in it that puts it in a quite different category from the work of the Southern Catholic painters of blue- green atmospheres and the Gobelin tapestries. And Leibl, the last artist in the brown, was the last great etcher whose plates possess that Rembrandtesquc infinity that contains and reveals secrets without end. In Mar6es, lastly, there was all the mighty intention of the great Baroque style, but, though Gericault and Daumicr were not too belated to capture it in positive form, he — lacking just that strength that a tradition would have given him — was unable to force it into the world of painter's actuality.


1


ACT AND PORTRAIT 191

IX

The last of the Faustian arts died in "Tristan." This work is the giant keystone of Western music. Painting achieved nothing like this as a finale — on the contrary, the effect of Manet, Menzel and Leibl, with their combination of "free light" and resurrected old-master styles, is weak.

"Contemporaneously," in our sense, ApoUinian art came to its end in Per- gamene sculpture. Pergamum is the counterpart of Bayreuth. The famous altar itself,^ indeed, is later, and probably not the most important work of the epoch at that; we have to assume a century (33o-xio b.c.) of development now lost in oblivion. Nevertheless, all Nietzsche's charges against Wagner and Bay- reuth, the "Ring" and "Parsifal" — decadence, theatricalness and the like — could have been levelled in the same words at the Pergamene sculpture. A masterpiece of this sculpture — a veritable ' ' Ring ' ' — has come down to us in the Gigantomachia frieze of the great altar. Here is the same theatrical note, the same use of motives from ancient discredited mythology as points d'appui, the same ruthless bombardment of the nerves, and also (though the lack of inner power cannot altogether be concealed) the same fully self-conscious force and towering greatness. To this art the Farnese Bull and the older model of the Laocoon group certainly belong.

The symptom of decline in creative power is the fact that to produce some- thing round and complete the artist now requires to be emancipated from form and proportion. Its most obvious, though not its most significant, manifesta- tion is the taste for the gigantic. Here size is not, as in the Gothic and the Pyramid styles, the expression of inward greatness, but the dissimulation of its absence. This swaggering in specious dimensions is common to all nascent Civilizations — we find it in the Zeus altar of Pergamum, the Helios of Chares called the "Colossus of Rhodes," the architecture of the Roman Imperial Age, the New Empire work in Egypt, the American skyscraper of to-day. But what is far more indicative is the arbitrariness and immoderateness that tramples on and shatters the conventions of centuries. In Bayreuth and in Pergamum, it was the superpersonal Rule, the absolute mathematic of Form, the Destiny immanent in the quietly-matured language of a great art, that was found to be intolerable. The way from Polycletus to Lysippus and from Lysippus to the sculptors of the groups of Gauls ^ is paralleled by the way from Bach, by Bee- thoven, to Wagner. The earlier artists felt themselves masters, the later uneasy slaves, of the great form. While even Praxiteles and Haydn were able to speak freely and gaily within the limits of the strictest canon, Lysippus and Bee- thoven could only produce by straining their voices. The sign of all living art,

1 State Museum, Berlin. — Tr.

  • I.e., the "giants" of the great frieze, who were in fact Galatians playing the part. This

Gigantomachia, a programme-work like the Ring, represented a situation, as the Ring represented characters, under mythological labels. — Tr.


191 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

the pure harmony of "will," "must" and "can," the self -evidence of the aim, the un-self-consciousness of the execution, the unity of the art and the Culture — all that is past and gone. In Corot and Tiepolo, Mozart and Cimarosa, there is still a real mastery of the mother- tongue. After them, the process of mutila- tion begins, but no one is conscious of it because no one now can speak it fluently. Once upon a time. Freedom and Necessity were identical; but now what is understood by freedom is in fact indiscipline. In the time of Rembrandt or Bach the "failures" that we know only too well were quite unthinkable. The Destiny of the form lay in the race or the school, not in the private ten- dencies of the individual. Under the spell of a great tradition full achievement is possible even to a minor artist, because the living art brings him in touch with his task and the task with him. To-day, these artists can no longer per- form what they intend, for intellectual operations are a poor substitute for the trained instinct that has died out. All of them have experienced this. Mar6es was unable to complete any of his great schemes. Leibl could not bring him- self to let his late pictures go, and worked over them again and again to such an extent that they became cold and hard. Cezanne and Renoir left work of the best quality unfinished because, strive as they would, they could do no more. Manet was exhausted after he had painted thirty pictures, and his "Shooting of the Emperor Maximilian," in spite of the immense care that is visible in every item of the picture and the studies for it, hardly achieved as much as Goya managed without effort in its prototype the "shootings of the 3rd of May." Bach, Haydn, Mozart and a thousand obscure musicians of the i8th Century could rapidly turn out the most finished work as a matter of routine, but Wag- ner knew full well that he could only reach the heights by concentrating all his energy upon "getting the last ounce" out of the best moments of his artistic endowment.

Between Wagner and Manet there is a deep relationship, which is not, in- deed, obvious to everyone but which Baudelaire with his unerring flair for the decadent detected at once. For the Impressionists, the end and the culmination of art was the conjuring up of a world in space out of strokes and patches of colour, and this was just what Wagner achieved with three bars. A whole world of soul could crowd into these three bars. Colours of starry midnight, of sweeping clouds, of autumn, of the day dawning in fear and sorrow, sudden glimpses of sunlit distances, world-fear, impending doom, despair and its fierce effort, hopeless hope — all these impressions which no composer before him had thought it possible to catch, he could paint with entire distinctness in the few tones of a motive. Here the contrast of Western music with Greek plastic has reached its maximum. Everything merges in bodiless infinity, no longer even does a linear melody wrestle itself clear of the vague tone-masses that in strange surgings challenge an imaginary space. The motive comes up out of dark terrible deeps. It is flooded for an instant by a flash of hard bright sun.


ACT AND PORTRAIT 193

Then, suddenly, it is so close upon us that we shrink. It laughs, it coaxes, it threatens, and anon it vanishes into the domain of the strings, only to return again out of endless distances, faintly modified and in the voice of a single obocr, to pour out a fresh cornucopia of spiritual colours. Whatever this is, it is neither painting nor music, in any sense of these words that attaches to previous work in the strict style. Rossini was asked once what he thought of the music of the "Huguenots"; "Music?" he replied. "1 heard nothing resembling it." Many a time must this judgment have been passed at Athens on the new painting of the Asiatic and Sicyonian schools, and opinions not very different must have been current in Egyptian Thebes with regard to the art of Cnossus and Tell-el-Amarna. /

All that Nietzsche says of Wagner is applicable, also, to Manet. Ostensibly a ret\irn to the elemental, to Nature, as against contemplation-painting (In- haltsmalerei) and abstract music, their art really signifies a concession to the '> barbarism of the Megalopolis, the beginning of dissolution sensibly manifested I ' in a mixture of brutality and refinement. As a step, it is necessarily the last! step, ^vn artificial art has no further organic future, it is the mark of the end.

And the bitter conclusion is that it is all irretrievably over with the arts of form of the West. The crisis of the 19th Century was the death-struggle. Like the Apollinian, the Egyptian and every other, the Faustian art dies of senility, having actualized its inward possibilities and fulfilled its mission within the course of its Culture.

What is practised as art to-day — be it music after Wagner or painting after Cezanne, Leibl and Menzel — is impotence and falsehood. Look where one will, can one find the great personalities that would justify the claim that there is still an art of determinate necessity? Look where one will, can one find the self-evidently necessary task that awaits such an artist? We go through all the exhibitions, the concerts, the theatres, and find only industrious cobblers and noisy fools, who delight to produce something for the market, something that will ' ' catch on ' ' with a public for whom art and music and drama have long ceased to be spiritual necessities. At what a level of inward and outward dignity stand to-day that which is called art and those who are called artists! In the shareholders' meeting of any limited company, or in the technical staff of any first-rate engineering works there is more intelligence, taste, character and capacity than in the whole music and painting of present-day Europe. There have always been, for one great artist, a hundred superfluities who prac- tised art, but so long as a great tradition (and therefore great art) endured even these achieved something worthy. We can forgive this hundred for existing, for in the ensemble of the tradition they were the footing for the individual great man. But to-day we have only these superfluities, and ten thousand of them, working art "for a living" (as if that were a justification!). One thing is quite certain, that to-day every single art-school could be shut down without


194 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

art being affected in the slightest. We can learn all we wish to know about the art-clamour which a megalopolis sets up in order to forget that its art is dead from the Alexandria of the year loo. There, as here in our world-cities, we find a pursuit of illusions of artistic progress, of personal peculiarity, of

  • ' the new style," of "unsuspected possibilities," theoretical babble, pretentious

fashionable artists, weight-lifters with cardboard dumb-bells — the "Lit<;rary Man " in the Poet's place, the unabashed farce of Expressionism which th : art- trade has organized as a "phase of art-history," thinking and feeling and form- ing as industrial art. Alexandria, too, had problem-dramatists and box-)ffice artists whom it preferred to Sophocles, and painters who invented new tenden- cies and successfully bluffed their public. What do we possess to-day as " trt"? A faked music, filled with artificial noisiness of massed instruments; a raked painting, full of idiotic, exotic and showcard effects, that every ten years or so concocts out of the form-wealth of millennia some new "style" which is in fact no style at all since everyone does as he pleases; a lying plastic tha-j steals from Assyria, Egypt and Mexico indifferently. Yet this and only this, tie taste of the "man of the world," can be accepted as the expression and sig!i of the age; everything else, everything that "sticks to" old ideals, is for provincial consumption.

The grand Ornamentation of the past has become as truly a dead language as Sanskrit or Church Latin. ^ Instead of its symbolism being honoured and obeyed, its mummy, its legacies of perfected forms, are put into the pot anyhow, and recast in wholly inorganic forms. Every modern age holds change to be development, and puts revivals and fusions of old styles in the place of real be- coming. Alexandria also had its Pre-Raphaelite comedians with their vases, chairs, pictures and theories, its symbolists, naturalists and expressionists. The fashion at Rome was now Grseco-Asiatic, now Graeco-Egyptian, now (after Praxiteles) neo-Attic. The relief of the XlXth Dynasty — the modern age in the Egyptian Culture — that covered the monstrous, meaningless, in- organic walls, statues and columns, seems like a sheer parody of the art of the Old Kingdom. The Ptolemaic Horus-temple of Edfu is quite unsurpassed in the way of vacuous eclecticism — so far, for we are only at the beginning of our own development in this liiic, showy and assertive as the style of our streets and squares already is.

In due course, even the strength to wish for change fades out. Rameses the Great — so soon — appropriated to himself buildings of his predecessors by cutting out their names and inserting his own in the inscriptions. It was the same consciousness of artistic impotence that led Constantine to adorn his triumphal arch in Rome with sculptures taken from other buildings; but Classical craftsmanship had set to work long before Constantine — as early, in fact, as 150 — on the business of copying old masterpieces, not because these

  • Sec Vol. II, pp. 138 ct scq.


1


ACT AND PORTRAIT X95

were understood and appreciated in the least, but because no one was any longer capable of producing originals. It must not be forgotten that these copyists were the artists of their time; their work therefore (done in one style or another according to the moment's fashion) represent the maximum of creative power then available. All the Roman portrait statues, male and female, go back for posture and mien to a very few Hellenic types; these, copied more or less true to style, served for torsos, while the heads were executed as "Likenesses" by simple craftsmen who possessed the knack. The famous statue of Augustus in armour, for example, is based on the Spearman of Polycletus, just as — to name the first harbingers of the same phase in our own world — Lenbach rests upon Rembrandt and Makart upon Rubens. For 1500 years (Amasis I to Cleopatra) Egypticism piled portrait on portrait in the same way. Instead of the steady development that the great age had pursued through the Old and Middle King- doms, we find fashions that change according to the taste of this or that dynasty. Amongst the discoveries at Turfan are relics of Indian dramas, contemporary with the birth of Christ, which are similar in all respects to the Kalidasa of a later century. Chinese painting as we know it shows not an evolution but an up-and-down of fashions for more than a thousand years on end; and this unsteadiness must have set in as early as the Han period. The final result is that endless industrious repetition of a stock of fixed forms which we see to-day in Indian, Chinese, and Arabian-Persian art. Pictures and fabrics, verses and vessels, furniture, dramas and musical compositions — all is patternwork.* We cease to be able to date anything within centuries, let alone decades, by the language of its ornamentation. So it has been in the Last Act of all Cultures.

  • Sec pp. 197 et scq.


CHAPTER IX SOUL-IMAGE AND LIFE-FEELING

I

ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL


CHAPTER IX

SOUL -IMAGE AND LIFE -FEELING

I

ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL


Every professed philospher is forced to believe, without serious examination, in the existence of a Something that in his opinion is capable of being handled by the reason, for his whole spiritual existence depends on the possibility of such a Something. For every logician and psychologist, therefore, however sceptical he may be, there is a point at which criticism falls silent and faith begins, a point at which even the strictest analytical thinker must cease to em- ploy his method — the point, namely, at which analysis is confronted with itself and with the question of whether its problem is soluble or even exists at all. The proposition "it is possible by thought to establish the forms of thought" was not doubted by Kant, dubious as it may appear to the unphilo- sophical. The proposition "there is a soul, the structure of which is scientif- ically accessible; and that which I determine, by critical dissection of conscious existence-acts into the form of psychic elements, functions, and complexes, is my soul " is a proposition that no psychologist has doubted hitherto. And yet it is just here that his strongest doubts should have arisen. Is an abstract science of the spiritual possible at all? Is that which one finds on this path identical with that which one is seeking? Why has psychology — meaning thereby not knowledge of men and experience of life but scientific psychology — always been the shallowest and most worthless of the disciplines of philosophy, a field so empty that it has been left entirely to mediocre minds and barren systematists? The reason is not far to seek. It is the misfortune of "experimental" psy- chology that it does not even possess an object as the word is understood in any and every scientific technique. Its searches and solutions are fights with shadows and ghosts. What is it — the Soul? If the mere reason could give an answer to that question, the science would be ab initio unnecessary.

Of the thousands of psychologists of to-day not one can give an actual analysis or definition of "the" Will — or of regret, anxiety, jealousy, disposi- tion, artistic intention. Naturally, since only the systematic can be dissected, and we can only define notions by notions. No subtleties of intellectual play with notional distinctions, no plausible observations of connexions between

Z99


300 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

scnsuous<orporcal states and "inward processes" touch that which is in ques- tion here. Will — this is no notion, but a name, a prime-word like God, a sign for something of which we have an immediate inward certainty but which we are for ever unable to describe.

We are dealing here with something eternally inaccessible to learned inves- tigation. It is not for nothing that every language presents a baffling com- plexity of labels for the spiritual, warning us thereby that it is something not susceptible of theoretical synthesis or systematic ordering. Here there is noth- ing for us to order. Critical (i.e., literally, separating) methods apply only to the world-as-Nature. It would be easier to break up a theme of Beethoven with dissecting-knife or acid than to break up the soul by methods of abstract thought. Nature-knowledge and man-knowledge have neither aims nor ways in common. The primitive man experiences "soul," first in other men and then in himself, as a Numeriy just as he knows numina of the outer world, and de- velops his impressions in mythological form. His words for these things arc symbols, soimds, not descriptive of the indescribable but indicative of it for him who hath ears to hear. They evoke images, likenesses (in the sense of Faust II) — the only language of spiritual intercourse that man has discovered to this day. Rembrandt can reveal something of his soul, to those who are in inward kinship with him, by way of a self-portrait or a landscape, and to Goethe "a god gave it to say what he suffered." Certain ineffable stirrings of soul can be imparted by one man to the sensibility of another man through a look, two bars of a melody, an almost imperceptible movement. That is the real language of souls, and it remains incomprehensible to the outsider. The word as utterance, as poetic element, may establish the link, but the word as notion, as element of scientific prose, never. \ "Soul," for the man who has advanced from mere living and feeling to the alert and observant state, is an image derived from quite primary experiences of life and death. It is as old as thought, i.e., as the articulate separation of thinking (thinking-over) from seeing. We see the world around us, and since every free-moving being must for its own safety understand that world, the accumulating daily detail of technical and empirical experience becomes a stock of permanent data which man, as soon as he is proficient in speech, col- lects into an image of what he understands. This is the World-as-Nature.^ What is not environment we do not see, but we do divine "its" presence in ourselves and in others, and by virtue of " its" physiognomic impressive power it evokes in us the anxiety and the desire to know; and thus arises the meditated or pondered image of a counterworld which is our mode of visualizing that which remains eternally alien to the physical eye. The image of the soul is mythic and remains objective in the field of spiritual religion so long as the image of Nature is contemplated in the spirit of religion; and it transforms itself into a

  • Sec pp. 55 ct scq.


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 301

scientific notion and becomes objective in the field of scientific criticism as soon as ' ' Nature ' ' comes to be observed critically. As ' ' Time " is a counter-concept ^ to space, so the "soul" is a counterworld to "Nature" and therefore variable in dependence upon the notion of Nature as this stands from moment to mo- ment. It has been shown how ' ' Time ' ' arose, out of the feeling of the direction- quality possessed by ever-mobile Life, as a conceptual negative to a positive magnitude, as an incarnation of that which is not extension; and that all the "properties" of Time, by the cool analysis of which the philosophers believe they can solve the problem of Time, have been gradually formed and ordered in the intellect as inverses to the properties of space. In exactly the same way, the notion of the spiritual has come into being as the inverse and negative of the notion of the world, the spatial notion of polarity assisting ("outward "-"in- ward") and the terms being suitably transvalued. Every psychology is a counter- physics.

To attempt to get an "exact" science out of the ever-mysterious soul is futile. But the late-period City must needs have abstract thinking and it forces the "physicist of the inner world" to elucidate a fictitious world by ever more fictions, notions by more notions. He transmutes the non-extended into the extended, builds up a system as "cause" for something that is only manifested physiognomically, and comes to believe that in this system he has the structure of "the" soul before his eyes. But the very words that he selects, in all the Cultures, to notify to others the results of his intellectual labours betray him. He talks of functions, feeling-complexes, mainsprings, thresholds of consciousness; course, breadth, intensity and parallelism in spiritual proc- esses. All these are words proper to the mode of representation that Natural Science employs. "The Will is related to objects" is a spatial image pure and simple. "Conscious" and "unconscious" are only too obviously deriv- atives of "above-ground" and "below-ground." In modern theories of the Will we meet with all the vocabulary of electro-dynamics. Will-functions and thought-functions are spoken of in just the same way as the function of a system of forces. To analyse a feeling means to set up a representative silhouette in its place and then to treat this silhouette mathematically and by definition, partition, and measurement. All soul-examination of this stamp, however remarkable as a study of cerebral anatomy, is penetrated with the mechanical notion of locality, and works without knowing it under imagi- nary co-ordinates in an imaginary space. The "pure" psychologist is quite unaware that he is copying the physicist, but it is not at all surprising that the naivest methods of experimental psychology give depressingly orthodox results. Brain-paths and association-threads, as modes of representation, conform entirely to an optical scheme — the "course" of the will or the feeling; both deal with cognate spatial phantoms. It does not make much dif-

^ See p. iz6.


30X THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

ference whether I define some psychic capacity conceptually or the correspond- ing brain-region graphically. Scientific psychology has worked out for itself a complete system of images, in which it moves with entire conviction. Every individual pronouncement of every individual psychologist proves on examina- tion to be merely a variation of this system conformable to the style of outer- world science of the day.

Clear thought, emancipated from all connexion with seeing, presupposes as its organ a culture-language, which is created by the soul of the Culture as a part supporting other parts of its expression; ^ and presently this language itself creates a "Nature" of word -meanings, a linguistic cosmos within which abstract notions, judgments and conclusions — representations of number, causality, motion — can lead a mechanically determinate existence. At any particular time, therefore, the current image of the soul is a function of the current language and its inner symbolism. All the Western, Faustian, languages possess the notion of Will. This mythical entity manifested itself, simultane- ously in all, in that transformation of the verb ^ which decisively differentiated our tongues from the Classical tongues and therefore our soul from the Classical soul. When "ego habeo factum" replaced "feci," a new numen of the inner world spoke. And at the same time, under specific label, there appeared in the scientific soul-pictures of all the Western psychologies the figure of the Will, of a well-rounded capacity of which the definition may be formulated in dif- ferent ways by different schools, but the existence is unquestionable.


II


I maintain, then, that scientific psychology (and, it may be added, the psychology of the same kind that we all unconsciously practise when we try to "figure to ourselves" the stirrings of our own or others' souls) has, in its inability to discover or even to approach the essence of the soul, simply added one more to the symbols that collectively make up the Macrocosm of the culture-man. Like everything else that is no longer becoming but become, it has put a mechanism in place of an organism. We miss in its picture that which fills our feeling of life (and should surely be " soul " if anything is) the Destiny- quality, the necessary directedness of existence, the possibility that life in its course actualizes. I do not believe that the word "Destiny" figures in any psychological system whatsoever — and we know that nothing in the world could be more remote from actual life-experience and knowledge of men than

^ Primitive languages afford no foundations for abstract ordered thought. But at the beginning of every Culture an inner change takes place in the language that makes it adequate for carrying the highest symbolic tasks of the ensuing cultural development. Thus it was simultaneously with tbt Romanesque style that English and German arose out of the Teutonic languages of the Prankish period, and French, Italian and Spanish out of the " lingua rustica" of the old Roman provinces — languages of identical metaphysical coaccac though so dissimilar in origin.

«Sccp.i6x.




ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 303

a system without such elements. Associations, apperceptions, affections, mo- tives, thought, feeling, will — all are dead mechanisms, the mere topography of which constitutes the insignificant total of our "soul-science." One looked for Life and one found an ornamental pattern of notions. And the soul re- mained what it was, something that could neither be thought nor represented, the secret, the ever-becoming, the pure experience.

This imaginary soul-body (let it be called so outright for the first time) is never anything but the exact mirror-image of the form in which the matured culture-man looks on his outer world. In the one as in the other, the depth- experience actualizes the extension-world.^ Alike out of the perception of the outside and the conception of the inside, the secret that is hinted at in the root-word Time creates Space. The soul-image like the world-image has its directional depth, its horizon, and its boundedness or its unboundedness. An "inner eye" sees, an "inner ear" hears. There exists a distinct idea of an inner order, and this inner order like the outer wears the badge of causal necessity.

This being so, everything that has been said in this work regarding the phenomenon of the high Cultures combines to demand an immensely wider and richer sort of soul-study than anything worked upon so far. For everything that our present-day psychologist has to tell us — and here we refer not only to the systematic science but also in the wider sense to the physiognomic knowl- edge of men — relates to the present condition of the Western soul, and not, as hitherto gratuitously assumed, to "the human soul" at large.

A soul-image is never anything but the image of one quite definite soul. No observer can ever step outside the conditions and the limitations of his time and circle, and whatever it may be that he "knows" or "cognizes," the very cognition itself involves in all cases choice, direction and inner form, and is therefore ab initio an expression of his proper soul. The primitive himself appropriates a soul-image out of facts of his own life as subjected to the form- ative working of the basic experiences of waking consciousness (distinction of ego and world, of ego and tu) and those of being (distinction of body and soul, sense-life and reflection, sex-life and sentiment). And as it is thoughtful men who think upon these matters, an inner numen (Spirit, Logos, Ka, Ruach) always arises as an opposite to the rest. But the dispositions and relations of this numen in the individual case, and the conception that is formed of the spiritual elements — layers of forces or substances, unity or polarity or plu- rality — mark the thinker from the outset as a part of his own specific Culture. When, therefore, one convinces one's self that one knows the soul of an alien Culture from its workings in actuality, the soul-image underlying the knowl- edge is really one's own soul-image. In this wise new experiences are readily assimilated into the system that is already there, and it is not surprising

  • See p. 172..


304 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

that in the end one comes to believe that one has discovered forms of eternal validity.

In reality, every Culture possesses its own systematic psychology just as it possesses its own style of knowledge of men and experience of life; and just as even each separate stage — the age of Scholasticism, that of the Sophists, that of Enlightenment — forms special ideas of number and thought and Nature that pertain to itself only, so even each separate century mirrors itself in a soul- image of its own. The best judge of men in the Western world goes wrong when he tries to understand a Japanese, and vice versa. But the man of learn- ing goes equally wrong when he tries to translate basic words of Arabic or Greek by basic words of his own tongue. "Nephesh" is not "animus" and "itmin" is not "soul," and what we consistently discover under our label "will" Classical man did not find in his soul-picture at all.

Taking one thing with another, it is no longer possible to doubt the immense importance of the individual soul-images that have severally arisen in the general history of thought. Classical, Apollinian man, the man of Euclidean point-formed being, looked upon his soul as a Cosmos ordered in a group of excellent parts. Plato called it vovs, OvfiSs, kirtdufila and compared it with man, beast and plant, in one place even with Southern, Northern and Hellenic man. What seems to be copied here is Nature as seen by the Classical age, a well- ordered sum of tangible things, in contrast to a space that was felt as the non- existent, the Nonent. Where in this field is "Will"? or the idea of functional connexions? or the other creations of our psychology? Do we really believe that Plato and Aristotle were less sure in analysis than we are, and did not sec what is insistently obvious to every layman amongst us? Or is it that Will is missing here for the same reason as space is missing in the Classical mathe- matic and force in the Classical physics?

Take, on the contrary, any Western psychology that you please, and you will always find a functional and never a bodily ordering. The basic form of all impressions which we receive from within isy = fC^X and that, because the func- tion is the basis of our outer world. Thinking, feeling, willing — no Western psychologist can step outside this trinity, however much he may desire to do so; even in the controversies of Gothic thinkers concerning the primacy of will or reason it already emerges that the question is one of a relation between forces. It matters not at all whether these old philosophers put forward their theories as original or read them into Augustine or Aristotle. Associations, apperceptions, will-processes, call them what you will, the elements of our picture are without exception of the type of the mathematico-physical Func- tion, and in very form radically un-Classical. Now, such psychology examines the soul, not physiognomically to indicate its traits, but physically, as an object, to ascertain its elements, and it is quite natural therefore to find psy- chology reduced to perplexity when confronted with the problem of motion.


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 305

Classical man, too, had his inward Eleatic difficulty,^ and the inability of the Schoolmen to agree as to the primacy of Will or Reason foreshadows the dangerous flaw in Baroque physics — its inability to reach an unchallengeable statement of the relation between force and movement. Directional energy, denied in the Classical and also in the Indian soul-image (where all is settled and rounded), is emphatically affirmed in the Faustian and in the Egyptian (wherein all is systems and centres of forces); and yet, precisely because this affirmation cannot but involve the element of time, thought, which is alien to Time, finds itself committed to self-contradictions.

The Faustian and the ApoUinian images of the soul are in blunt opposition. Once more all the old contrasts crop up. In the ApoUinian we have, so to call it, the soul-body, in the Faustian the soul-space, as the imagination-unit. The body possesses parts, while the space is the scene of processes. Classical man conceives of his inner world plastically. Even Homer's idiom betrays it; echoing, we may well believe, immemorial temple-traditions, he shows us, for instance, the dead in Hades as well-recognizable copies of the bodies that had been. The Pre-Socratic philosophy, with its three well-ordered parts \oyi<TTLK6vy kTn6vfn]TLK6vy Ovfioetdes, suggests at once the Laocoon group. In our case the impress is a musical one; the sonata of the inner life has the will as first subject, thought and feeling as themes of the second subject; the movement is bound by the strict rules of a spiritual counterpoint, and psychology's business is to discover this counterpoint. The simplest elements fall into an- tithesis like Classical and Western number — on the one hand magnitudes, on the other spiritual relations — and the s-piritual static of ApoUinian exist- ence, the stereometric ideal of <T03<f>poavvri and drapa^ta, stands opposed to the soul-dynamic of Faustian.

The ApoUinian soul-image — Plato's biga-team with vovs as charioteer — takes to flight at once on the approach of the Magian soul. It is fading out already in the later Stoa, where the principal teachers came predominantly from the Aramaic East, and by the time of the Early Roman Empire, even in the literature of the city itself, it has come to be a mere reminiscence.

The hall-mark of the Magian soul-image is a strict dualism of two mysterious

^ That is, discussion of the doctrines of the Eleatic school regarding unity and plurality, the Ent and Nonent, focussed themselves, in Zeno, down to the famous paradoxes concerning the nature of motion (such as "Achilles and the Tortoise") which within the Greek discipline were unanswer- able. Their general effect was to show that motion depended upon the existence of an indefinitely great plurality, that is, of infinitely small subdivisions as well as infinitely great quantities, and, the denial of this plurality being the essential feature of the Eleatic philosophy, its application to motion was bound to produce "paradoxes."

The enunciations, with a brief but close critique, will be found in the Ency. Brit., XI ed., Article Zeno of Elea. Here it suffices to draw attention to the difficulties that arc caused by the absence (or xmwelcome presence) of time and direction elements, not only in the treatment of plurality itself (which is conceived of indifferently as an augmentation or as a subdivision of the finite magnitude) but especially in the conclusion of the "arrow" paradox and in the very obscure enunciation of Paradox 8. — Tr.


3o6 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

substances^ Spirit and Soul. Between these two there is neither the Classical (static) nor the Western (functional) relation, but an altogether differently constituted relation which we are obliged to call merely "Magian" for want of a more helpful term, though we may illustrate it by contrasting the physics of Democritus and the physics of Galileo with Alchemy and the Philosopher's Stone. On this specifically Middle-Eastern soul-image rests, of inward necessity, all the psychology and particularly the theology with which the "Gothic " springtime of the Arabian Culture (0-300 a.d.) is filled. The Gospel of St. John belongs thereto, and the writings of the Gnostics, the Early Fathers, the Neoplatonists, the Manichasans, and the dogmatic texts in the Talmud and the Avesta; so, too, does the tired spirit of the Imperium Romanum, now expressed only in religiosity and drawing the little life that is in its philosophy from the young East, Syria, and Persia. Even in the ist Century b.c. the great Posidonius, a true Semite and young-Arabian in spite of the Classical dress of his immense learning, was inwardly sensible of the complete opposition between the Classical life-feeling and this Magian soul-structure which for him was the true one. There is a patent difference of value between a Substance permeating the body and a Substance which falls from the world-cavern into humanity, abstract and divine, making of all participants a Consensus.^ This "Spirit" it is which evokes the higher world, and through this creation tri- umphs over mere life, "the flesh" and Nature. This is the prime image that underlies all feeling of ego. Sometimes it is seen in religious, sometimes in philosophical, sometimes in artistic guise. Consider the portraits of the Con- stantinian age, with their fixed stare into the infinite — that look stands for the TTvevfjia. It is felt by Plotinus and by Origen. Paul distinguishes, for example in I Cor., xv, 44, between cccfia rfwxf-KSv and o-w/xa irvevfiaTLKSv. The concep- tion of a double, bodily or spiritual, ecstasy and of the partition of men into lower and higher, psychics and pneumatics, was familiar currency amongst the Gnostics. Late-Classical literature (Plutarch) is full of the dualistic psy- chology of vovs and \l/vxv, derived from Oriental sources. It was very soon brought into correlation with the contrast between Christian and Heathen and that between Spirit and Nature, and it issued in that scheme of world-history as man's drama from Creation to Last Judgment (with an intervention of God as means) which is common to Gnostics, Christians, Persians and Jews alike, and has not even now been altogether overcome.

This Magian soul-image received its rigorously scientific completion in the schools of Baghdad and Basra.^ Alfarabi and Alkindi dealt thoroughly with the problems of this Magian psychology, which to us are tangled and largely inaccessible. And we must by no means underrate its influence upon the young and wholly abstract soul-theory (as distinct from the ego-feeling) of the West.

  • Sec Vol. II, pp. X96 ct scq.

s De Boer, Gtscb. d. Fbilos. im Islam (1901), pp. 93, 108.


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 307

Scholastic and Mystic philosophy, no less than Gothic art, drew upon Moorish Spain, Sicily and the East for many of its forms. It must not be forgotten that the Arabian Culture is the culture of the established revelation-religions, all of which assume a dualistic soul-image. The Kabbala ^ and the part played by Jewish philosophers in the so-called mediaeval philosophy — i.e., late- Arabian followed by early-Gothic — is well known. But I will only refer here to the remarkable and little-appreciated Spinoza.^ Child of the Ghetto, he is, with his contemporary Schirazi, the last belated representative of the Magian, a stranger in the form-world of the Faustian feeling. As a prudent pupil of the Baroque he contrived to clothe his system in the colours of Western thought, but at bottom he stands entirely under the aspect of the Arabian dualism of two soul-substances. And this is the true and inward reason why he lacked the force- concept of Galileo and Descartes. This concept is the centre of gravity of a dynamic universe and ipso facto is alien to the Magian world-feeling. There is no link between the idea of the Philosopher's Stone (which is implicit in Spinoza's idea of Deity as "causa sui") and the causal necessity of our Nature-picture Consequently, his determinism is precisely that which the orthodox wisdom of Baghdad had maintained — "Kismet." It was there that the home of the more geometrico ^ method was to be looked for — it is common to the Talmud, the Zend A vesta and the Arabian Kalaam; ^ but its appearance in Spinoza's "Ethics" is a grotesque freak in our philosophy.

Once more this Magian soul-image was to be conjured up, for a moment. German Romanticism found in magic and the tangled thought-threads of Gothic philosophers the same attractiveness as it found in the Crusade-ideals of cloisters and castles, and even more in Saracenic art and poetry — without of course understanding very much of these remote things. Schelling, Oken, Baader, Gorres and their circle indulged in barren speculations in the Arabic- Jewish style, which they felt with evident self-satisfaction to be "dark" and "deep" — precisely what, for Orientals, they were not — understanding them but partially themselves and hoping for similar quasi-incomprehension in their audiences. The only noteworthy point in the episode is the attractiveness of obscurity. We may venture the conclusion that the clearest and most accessible conceptions of Faustian thought — as we have it, for instance, in Descartes or in Kant's "Prolegomena" — would in the same way have been regarded by an Arabian student as nebulous and abstruse. What for us is true, for them is false, and vice versa; and this is valid for the soul-images of the different Cultures as it is for every other product of their scientific thinking.

  • A detailed summary will be found in Ency. Brit., XI ed., article Kabbalah, by Dr. Ginsburg

and Dr. Cook. — Tr.

^ See Windelband, Gessh. d. neueren Philosofhie (1919), I, ro8; also Hinnebcrt, Kulfur der Gegenwartt I, V (1913), p. 484.

' See Ency. Brit., XI ed., article Cartesianism (V, 411). — Tr.

4 See Vol. II, p. 196.


3o8 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

III

The separation of its ultimate elements is a task that the Gothic world- outlook and its philosophy leaves to the courage of the future. Just as the ornamentation of the cathedral and the primitive contemporary painting still shirk the decision between gold and wide atmosphere in backgrounds — be- tween the Magian and the Faustian aspects of God in Nature — so this early, timid, immature soul-image as it presents itself in this philosophy mingles characters derived from the Christian-Arabian metaphysic and its dualism of Spirit and Soul with Northern inklings of functional soul -forces not yet avowed. This is the discrepance that underlies the conflict concerning the primacy of will or reason, the basic problem of the Gothic philosophy ^ which men tried to solve now in the old Arabian, now in the new Western sense. It is this myth of the mind — which under ever-changing guises accompanies our philosophy throughout its course — that distinguishes it so sharply from every other. The rationalism of late Baroque, in all the pride of the self-assured city-spirit, decided in favour of the greater power of the Goddess Reason (Kant, the Jaco^ bins); but almost immediately thereafter the 19th Century (Nietzsche above all) went back to the stronger formula Voluntas superior intellectu, and this indeed is in the blood of all of us.^ Schopenhauer, the last of the great system- atists, has brought it down to the formula "World as Will and Idea," and it is only his ethic and not his metaphysic that decides against the Will.

Here we begin to see by direct light the deep foundations and meaning of philosophizing within a Culture. For what we see here is the Faustian soul trying in labour of many centuries to paint a self-portrait, and one, moreover, that is in intimate concordance with its world-portrait. The Gothic world- view with its struggle of will and reason is in fact an expression of the life- feeling of the men of the Crusades, of the Hohenstaufen empire, of the great cathedrals. These men saw the soul thus, because they were thus.

Will and thought in the soul-image correspond to Direction and Extension, History and Nature, Destiny and Causality in the image of the outer world. Both aspects of our basic characters emerge in our prime-symbol which is infinite extension. Will links the future to the present, thought the unlimited to the here. The historic future is distance-becoming, the boundless world-horizon distance-become — this is the meaning of the Faustian depth-experience. The direction-feeling as "Will" and the space-feeling as "Reason" are imagined as entities, almost as legend-figures; and out of them comes the picture that our psychologists of necessity abstract from the inner life.

To call the Faustian Culture a Will-Culture is only another way of expressing

  • When, therefore, in the present work also, precedence is consistently given to Time, Direction

and Destiny over Space and Causality, this must not be supposed to be the result of reasoned proofe. It is the outcome of (quite unconscious) tendencies of life-fccling — the only mode of origin of philosophic ideas.


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 309

the eminently historical disposition of its soul. Our first-person idiom, our "ego habeo factum" — our dynamic syntax, that is — faithfully renders the "way of doing things " that results from this disposition and, with its positive directional energy, dominates not only our picture of the World-as-History but our own history to boot. This first person towers up in the Gothic architec- ture; the spire is an "I," the flying buttress is an "I." And therefore the entire Faustian ethic, from Thomas Aquinas to Kant, is an excelsior — ful- filment of an "I," ethical work upon an "I," justification of an "I" by faith and works; respect of the neighbour "Thou" for the sake of one's "I" and its happiness; and, lastly and supremely, immortality of the "I."

Now this, precisely this, the genuine Russian regards as contemptible vain- glory. The Russian soul, will-less, having the /limitless plane as its prime- symbol,^ seeks to grow up — serving, anonymous, self-oblivious — in the brother-world of the plane. To take "I" a^ the starting-point of relations with the neighbour, to elevate "I" morally through "I's" love of near and dear, to repent for "I's" own sake, are to him traits of Western vanity as presumptuous as is the upthrusting challenge to heaven of our cathedrals that he compares with his plane church-roof and its sprinkling of cupolas. Tolstoi's hero Nechludov looks after his moral "I" as he does after his finger-nails; this is just what betrays Tolstoi as belonging to the pseudomorphosis of Petrin- ism. But Raskolnikov is only something in a "we." His fault is the fault of all,^ and even to regard his sin as special to himself is pride and vanity. Some- thing of the kind underlies the Magian soul-image also. "If any man come to me," says Jesus (Luke xiv, i6), "and hate not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, yea, and his own life (rrjv Iomtov ypvx^v) also^ he cannot be my disciple"; and it is the same feeling that makes him call himself by the title that we mistranslate "Son of Man." * The Consensus of the Orthodox too is impersonal and condemns " I " as a sin. So too with the — truly Russian — conception of truth as the anonymous agreement of the elect.

Classical man, belonging wholly to the present, is equally without that di- rectional energy by which our images of world and of soul are dominated, which sums all our sense-impressions as a path towards distance and our inward expe- riences as a feeling of future. He is will-less. The Classical idea of destiny and the symbol of the Doric column leave no doubt as to that. And the contest of thinking and willing that is the hidden theme of every serious portrait from. Jan van Eyck to Marees is impossible in Classical portraiture, for in the Clas-\ sical soul-image thought (vous), the inner Zeus, is accompanied by the wholly ahistoric entities of animal and vegetative impulse (Bviih% and ^irt^uMta),

1 See p. xoi. 2 See Vol. II, p. 363.

^ In the German, " Vor allem aber sein eignes Ich," (But in Luther's Bible, characteristically, " Auch dazu sein eigen Lcben.") — Tr.

  • Barnasha. The underlying idea is not the filial relation, but an impersonal coming-up in the

field of mankind.


3IO THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

wholly somatic and wholly destitute of conscious direction and drive towards an end.

The actual designation of the Faustian principle, which belongs to us and to us alone, is a matter of indifference. A name is in itself mere sound. Space, too, is a word that is capable of being employed with a thousand nuances — by mathematicians and philosophers, poets and painters — to express one and the same indescribable; a word that is ostensibly common to all mankind and yet, carrying a metaphysical under-meaning that we gave it and could not but give it, is in that sense valid only for our Culture. It is not the notion of "Will," but the circumstance that we possess it while the Greeks were entirely ignorant of ity that gives it high symbolic import. At the very bottom, there is no distinction between space-as-depth and will. For the one, and therefore for the other also, the Classical languages had no expression.^ The pure space of the Faustian world-picture is not mere extension, but efficient extension into the distance, as an overcoming of the merely sensuous, as a strain and tendency, as a spiritual will-to-power. I am fully aware how inadequate these peri- phrases are. It is entirely impossible to indicate in exact terms the diff"erencc between what we and what the men of the Indian or the Arabian Culture call space, or feel or imagine in the word. But that there is some radical distinc- tion is proved by the very diff'erent fundamentals of the respective mathematics, arts of form, and, above all, immediate utterances of life. We shall see how the identity of space and will comes to expression in the acts of Copernicus and Columbus — as well as in those of the Hohenstaufen and Napoleon — but it underlies also, in another way, the physical notions of fields of force and potential, ideas that it would be impossible to convey to the comprehension of any Greek. "Space as a priori form of perception," the formula in which Kant finally enunciated that for which Baroque philosophy had so long and tire- lessly striven, implies an assertion of supremacy of soul over the alien; the ego, through the form, is to rule the world. ^

  • ^^Xa> and 06v\onai imply, to have the intention, or wish, or inclination (fiovXii means counsel,

council, plan, and ^Xa> has no equivalent noun). Voluntas is not a psychological concept but, like fotestas and virtus, a thoroughly Roman and matter-of-fact designation for a practical, visible and outward asset — substantially, the mass of an individual's being. In like case, we use the word energy. The "will" of Napoleon is something very different from the energy of Napoleon, being, as it were, lift in contrast to weight. We must not confuse the outward-directed intelligence, which distinguishes the Romans as civilized men from the Greeks as cultured men, with "will" as under- stood here. Cxsar is net a man of will in the Napoleonic sense. The idioms of Roman law, which represent the root-feeling of the Roman soul far better than those of poetry, are significant in this regard. Intention in the legal sense is animus (animus occidendi^; the wish, directed to some criminal end, is dolus as distinct from the unintended wrongdoing (culpa"). Voluntas is nowhere used as a technical term.

' The Chinese soul " wanders " in its world. This is the meaning of the East-Asiatic perspective, which places the vanishing point in the middle of the picture instead of in the depth as we do. The function of perspective is to subject things to the "I," which in ordering comprehends them; and it is a further indication that " will" — the claim to command the world — is absent from the Classi- cal make-up that its painting denies the perspective background. In Chinese perspective as in Chinese


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 311

This is brought to expression in the depth-perspective of oil-painting which makes the space-field of the picture, conceived as infinite, dependent on the observer, who in choosing his distance asserts his dominion. It is this attrac- tion of distance that produces the type of the heroic and historically-jelt land- scape that we have alike in the picture and the park of the Baroque period, and that is expressed also in the mathematico-physical concept of the vector. For centuries painting fought passionately to reach this symbol, which con- tains all that the words space, will and force are capable of indicating. And correspondingly we find in our metaphysic the steady tendency to formulate pairs of concepts (such as phenomena and things-in-themselves, will and idea, ego and non-ego) all of the same purely dynamic content, and — in utter contrast to Protagoras 's conception of man as the measure, not the creator, of things — to establish a functional dependence of things upon spirit. The \ Classical metaphysic regarded man as a body among bodies, and knowledge as a sort of contact ^ passing from the known to the knower and not vice versa. The optical theories of Anaxagoras and Democritus were far from admitting any active participation of the percipient in sense-perception. Plato never felt, as Kant was driven to feel, the ego as centre of a transcendent sphere of effect. \ The captives in his celebrated cave are really captives, the slaves and not the masters of outer impressions — recipients of light from the common sun and not themselves suns which irradiate the universe.

The relation of our will to our imaginary space is evidenced again in the physical concept of space-energy — that utterly un-Classical idea in which even spatial interval figures as a form, and indeed as prime form thereof, for the notions of "capacity" and "intensity" rest upon it. We feel will and space, the dynamic world-picture of Galileo and Newton and the dynamic soul-picture which has will as its centre of gravity and centre of reference, as of identical significance. Both are Baroque ideas, symbols of the fully-ripened Faustian Culture.

It is wrong, though it may be usual, to regard the cult of the "will" as common, if not to mankind, at any rate to Christendom, and derived in con- sequence from the Early- Arabian ethos. The connexion is merely a phenom- enon of the historical surface, and the deduction fails because it confuses the (formal) history of words and ideas such as "voluntas" with the course of their destiny, thereby missing the profoundly symbolical changes of con- notation that occur in that course. When Arabian psychologists — Murtada for instance — discuss the possibility of several "wills," a will that hangs together with the act, another will that independently precedes the act, another


technique (see Vol. II, p. 6x7), directional energy is wanting, and it would not be illegitimate to call East-Asiatic perspective, in contrast with the powerful thrust into depth of our landscape-painting, a perspective of "Tao"; for the world-feeling indicated by that word is unmistakably the operative element in the picture.


311 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

that has no relation to the act at all, a will that is simply the parent of a willing, they are obviously working in deeper connotations of the Arabic word and on the basis of a soul-image that in structure differs entirely from the Faustian.

For every man, whatever the Culture to which he belongs, the elements of the soul are the deities of an inner mythology. What Zeus was for the outer Olympus, vovs was for the inner world that every Greek was entirely con- scious of possessing — the throned lord of the other soul-elements. What "God" is for us, God as Breadth of the world, the Universal Power, the ever- present doer and provider, that also — reflected from the space of world into the imaginary space of soul and necessarily felt as an actual presence — is "Will." With the microcosmic dualism of the Magian Culture, with ruach and nepheshy pneuma and psyche, is necessarily associated the macrocosmic opposi- tion of God and Devil — Ormuzd and Ahriman for Persians, Yah we and Beelzebub for Jews, Allah and Eblis for Mohammedans — in brief. Absolute Good and Absolute Evil. And note, further, how in the Western world-feeling bofh these oppositions pale together. In proportion as the Will emerges, out of the Gothic struggle for primacy between " intellectus " and "voluntas," as the centre of a spiritual monotheism^ the figure of the Devil fades out of the real world. In the Baroque age the pantheism of the outer world immediately resulted in one of the inner world also; and the word "God" in antithesis to "world" has always — however interpreted in this or that case — implied exactly what is implied in the word "will" with respect to soul, viz., the power that moves all that is within its domain.^ Thought no sooner leaves Religion for Science than we get the double myth of concepts, in physics and psychology. The concepts "force," "mass," "will," "passion" rest not on objective experience but on a life-feeling. Darwinism is nothing but a specially shallow formulation of this feeling. No Greek would have used the word " Nature " as our biology employs it, in the sense of an absolute and methodical activity. "The will of God" for us is a pleonasm — God (or "Nature," as some say) is nothing but will. After the Renaissance the notion of God sheds the old sensuous and personal traits (omnipresence and omnipotence are almost mathematical concepts), becoines little by little identical with the notion of infinite space and in becoming so becomes transcendent world-will. And there- fore it is that about 1700 painting has to yield to instrumental music — the only art that in the end is capable of clearly expressing what we feel about God. Consider, in contrast with this, the gods of Homer. Zeus emphatically does not possess full powers over the world, but is simply "primus inter pares," a body amongst bodies, as the Apollinian world-feeling requires. Blind necessity,

^ Obviously, atheism is no exception to this. When a Materialist or Darwinian speaks of a "Nature" that orders everything, that effects selections, that produces and destroys anything, he differs only to the extent of one word from the i8th-Ccntury Deist. The world-feeling has undergone no change.


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 313

the Anankc immanent in the cosmos of Classical consciousness, is in no sense dependent upon him; on the contrary, the Gods are subordinate to It. i^schylus says so outright in a powerful passage of the "Prometheus," ^ but it is per- ceptible enough even in Homer, e.g., in the Strife of the Gods and in that decisive passage in which Zeus takes up the scales of destiny, not to settle, but to learn, the fate of Hector. ^ The Classical soul, therefore, with its parts and its properties, imagines itself as an Olympus of little gods, and to keep these at peace and in harmony with one another is the ideal of the Greek life-ethic of acocfypoavvT] and arapa^ia. More than one of the philosophers betrays the connexion by calling vovs, the highest part of the soul, Zeus. Aristotle as- signs to his deity the single function of deojpla, contemplation, and this is Diogenes 's ideal also — a completely-matured static of life in contrast to the equally ripe dynamic of our i8th-Century ideal.

The enigmatic Something in the soul -image that is called "will," the passion of the third dimension^ is therefore quite specially a creation of the Baroque, like the perspective of oil-painting and the force-idea of modern physics and the tone-world of instrumental music. In every case the Gothic had foreshadowed what these intellectualizing centuries brought to fullness. Here, where we are trying to take in the cast of Faustian life in contradiction to that of all other lives, what we have to do is to keep a firm hold on the fact that the primary words will, space, force, God, upborne by and permeated with connotations of Faustian feeling, are emblems, are the effective framework that sustains the great and kindred form-worlds in which this being expresses itself. It has been believed, hitherto, that in these matters one was holding in one's grip a body of eternal facts, of facts-in-themselves, which sooner or later would be suc- cessfully treated, "known," and proved by the methods of critical research. This illusion of natural science was shared by psychology also. But the view that these "universally-valid" fundamentals belong merely to the Baroque style of apprehension and comprehension^ that as expression-forms they are only of tran- sitory significance, and that they are only "true" for the Western type of intellect, alters the whole meaning of those sciences and leads us to look upon them not only as subjects of systematic cognition but also, and in a far higher degree, as objects of physiognomic study.

Baroque architecture began, as we have seen, when Michelangelo replaced the tectonic elements of the Renaissance, support and load, by those of dyna- mics, force and mass. While Brunelleschi's chapel of the Pazzi in Florence expresses a bright composedness, Vignola's facade of the Gesu in Rome is will become stone. The new style in its ecclesiastical form has been designated the "Jesuit," and indeed there is an inward connexion between the achievement of

1 Lines 52.5-534:

XO. TOVTCjiv &pa Zefis ia-riv kadevkarepos;

nP. ovKovv oLveKipbyoL ye TfjP ireirpoinkvqv, etc. — Tr.

2 Iliad, XXII, Z08-2.I5. — Tr.


314 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Vignola and Giacomo Delia Porta and the creation by Ignatius Loyola of the Order that stands for the pure and abstract will of the Church,^ just as there is between the invisible operations and the unlimited range of the Order and the arts of Calculus and Fugue.

Henceforward, then, the reader will not be shocked if we speak of a Baroque, and even of a Jesuit, style in psychology y mathematics , and pure physics. The form- language of dynamics, which puts the energetic contrast of capacity and inten- sity in place of the volitionless somatic contrast of material and form, is one common to all the mind-creations of those centuries.

IV

The question is now: How far is the man of this Culture himself fulfilling what the soul-image that he has created requires of him? If we can, to-day, state the theme of Western physics quite generally to be efficient space, we have ipso facto defined also the kind of existence, the content of existence as lived by contemporary man. We, as Faustian natures, are accustomed to take note of the individual according to his effective and not according to his plastic-static appearance in the field of our life-experience. We measure what a man is by his activity, which may be directed inwardly or outwardly, and we judge all intentions, reasons, powers, convictions and habits entirely by this directed- ness. The word with which we sum up this aspect is character. We habitually speak of the "character" of heads and landscapes; of ornaments, brush-strokes and scripts; of whole arts and ages and Cultures. The art of the characteristic is, above all. Baroque music — alike in respect of its melody and its instrumen- tation. Here again is a word indicating an indescribable, a something that emphasizes, among all the Cultures, the Faustian in particular. And the deep relation between this word "character" and the word " will " is unmistakable; what will is in the soul-image, character is in the picture of life as we see it, the Western life that is self-evident to Western men. It is the fundamental postulate of all our ethical systems, differ otherwise as they may in their metaphysical or practical precepts, that man has character. Character, which forms itself in the stream of the world — the personality , the relation of living to doing — is a Faustian impression of the man made by the man; and, significantly enough, just as in the physical world-picture it has proved impossible (in spite of the most rigorous theoretical examination) to separate the vectorial idea

  • The great part played by learned Jesuits in the development of theoretical physics must not be

overlooked. Father Boscovich, with his system of atomic forces (1759), made the first serious ad- vance beyond Newton. The idea of the equivalence of God and pure space is even more evident in Jesuit work than it is in that of the Jansenists of Port Royal with whom Descartes and Pascal were associated.

(Boscovich's atomic theory is discussed by James Clerk Maxwell in Ency. Brit., XI cd., XVIII, 655 — a reference that, for more general reasons, no student of the Faustian-as-scientist should fail to follow up. — Tr.")


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 315

of forces from the idea of motion (because of the inherent directional quality of the vector), so also it is impossible to draw a strict distinction between will and soul, character and life. At the height of our Culture, certainly since the 17th Century, we feel the word " life " as a pure and simple synonym of willing. Expressions like living force, life-will, active energy, abound in our ethical literature and their import is taken for granted, whereas the Age of Pericles could not even have translated them into its language.

Hitherto the pretension of each and every morale to universal validity has obscured the fact that every Culture, as a homogeneous being of higher order, possesses a moral constitution proper to itself. There are as many morales as there are Cultures. Nietzsche was the first to have an inkling of this; but he never came anywhere near to a really objective morphology of morale "beyond good " (all good) "and evil " (all evil). He evaluated Classical, Indian, Christian and Renaissance morale by his own criteria instead of understanding the style of them as a symbol. And yet if anything could detect the prime-phenomenon of Morale as such, it should have been the historical insight of a Westerner. However, it appears that we are only now ripe enough for such a study. The conception of mankind as an active, fighting, progressing whole is (and has been since Joachim of Floris and the Crusades) so necessary an idea for us that we find it hard indeed to realize that it is an exclusively Western hypothesis, living and valid only for a season. To the Classical spirit mankind appears as a stationary mass, and correspondingly there is that quite dissimilar morale that we can trace from the Homeric dawn to the time of the Roman Empire. And, more generally, we shall find that the immense activity of the Faustian life-feeling is most nearly matched in the Chinese and the Egyptian, and the rigorous passivity of the Classical in the Indian.

If ever there was a group of nations that kept the "struggle for existence" constantly before its eyes, it was the Classical Culture. All the cities, big and little, fought one another to sheer extinction, without plan or purpose, without mercy, body against body, under the stimulus of a completely anti-historical instinct. But Greek ethics, notwithstanding Heraclitus, were far from making struggle an ethical principle. The Stoics and the Epicureans alike preached abstention from it as an ideal. The overcoming of resistances may far more justly be called the typical impulse of the Western soul. Activity, determi- nation, self-control, are postulates. To battle against the comfortable fore- grounds of life, against the impressions of the moment, against what is near, tangible and easy, to win through to that which has generality and duration and links past and future — these are the sum of all Faustian imperatives from earliest Gothic to Kant and Fichte, and far beyond them again to the Ethos of immense power and will exhibited in our States, our economic sys- tems and our technics. The carpe diem, the saturated being, of the Classical standpoint is the most direct contrary of that which is felt by Goethe and Kant


3i6 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

and Pascal, by Church and Freethinker, as alone possessing value — activcy fighting and victorious being. ^

As all the forms of Dynamic (whether pictorial, musical, physical, social or political) are concerned with the working-out of infinite relations and deal, not with the individual case and the sum of individual cases as the Classical physics had done, but with the typical course or process and its functional rule, "character" must be understood as that which remains in principle constant in the working-out of life; where there is no such constant we speak of "lack of character." It is character — the form in virtue of which a moving existence can combine the highest constancy in the essential with the maximum varia- bility in the details — that makes telling biography (such as Goethe's " Wahr- heit und Dichtung "), possible at all. Plutarch's truly Classical biographies are by comparison mere collections of anecdotes strung together chronologically and not ordered pictures of historical development, and it will hardly be disputed that only this second kind of biography is imaginable in connexion with Alcibiades or Pericles or, for that matter, any purely Apollinian figure. Their experiences lack, not mass, but relation; there is something atomic about them. Similarly in the field of Science the Greek did not merely forget to look for general laws in the sum of his experiential data; in his cosmos they were simply not there to be found.

It follows that the sciences of character-study, particularly physiognomy and graphology, would not be able to glean much in the Classical field. Its handwriting we do not know, but we do know that its ornament, as com- pared with the Gothic, is of incredible simplicity and feebleness of character- expression — think of the Meander and the Acanthus-shoot. On the other hand, it has never been surpassed in timeless evenness.

It goes without saying that we, when we turn to look into the Classical life-feeling, must find there some basic element of ethical values that is anti- thetical to "character" in the same way as the statue is antithetical to the fugue. Euclidean geometry to Analysis, and body to space. We find it in the Gesture. It is this that provides the necessary foundation for a spiritual static. The word that stands in the Classical vocabulary where "personality" stands in our own is irpoffcbirovy "persona" — namely r^le or mask. In late Greek or Roman speech it means the public aspect and mien of a man, which for Classical

^ Luther placed practical activity (the day's demands, as Goethe said) at the very centre of morale, and that is one of the main reasons why it was to the deeper natures that Protestantism appealed most cogently. Works of piety devoid of directional energy (in the sense that we give the words here) fell at once from the high esteem in which they had been sustained (as the Renaissance was sustained) by a relic of Southern feeling. On ethical grounds monasticism thenceforth falls into ever-increasing disrepute. In the Gothic Age entry into the cloister, the renunciation of care, deed and will, had been an act of the loftiest ethical character — the highest sacrifice that it was pos- sible to imagine, that of ///*. But in the Baroque even Roman Catholics no longer felt thus about it. And the institutions, no longer of reaunciatioa but merely of inactive comfort, went down before the spirit of the Eolightcnmcnt.


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 317

man is tantamount to the essence and kernel of him. An orator was described as speaking in the TrpocruiTrov — not the character or the vein as we should say — of a priest or a soldier. The slave was dLirpdaoiros — that is, he had no attitude or figure in the public life — but not do-cojuaros — that is, he did have a soul. The idea that Destiny had assigned the role of king or general to a man was expressed by Romans in the words persona regis, imperatoris .^ The Apol- linian cast of life is manifest enough here. What is indicated is not the person- ality (that is, an unfolding of inward possibilities in active striving) but a permanent and self-contained posture strictly adapted to a so-to-say plastic ideal of being. It is only in the Classical ethic that Beauty plays a dis- tinct r61e. However labelled — as ao)(f>poavvrj, KoKoKayadla or drapa^ia — it always amounts to the well-ordered group of tangible and publicly evident traits, defined for other men rather than specific to one's self. A man was the object and not the subject of outward life. The pure present, the moment, the foreground were not conquered but worked up. The notion of an inward life is impossible in this connexion. The significance of Aristotle's phrase ^cbov ttoXltLkov — quite untranslatable and habitually translated with a Western connotation — is that it refers to men who are nothing when single and lonely (what could be more preposterous than an Athenian Robinson Crusoe!) and only count for anything when in a plurality, in agora or forum, where each reflects his neighbour and thus, only thus, acquires a genuine reality. It is all implicit in the phrase cufxaTa TroXecos, used for the burghers of the city. And thus we see that the Portrait, the centre of Baroque art, is identical with the representation of a man to the extent that he possesses char- acter, and that in the best age of Attic the representation of a man in respect of his attitude, as persona, necessarily leans to the form-ideal of the nude statue.


This opposition, further, has produced forms of tragedy that differ from one another radically in every respect. The Faustian character-drama and the Apollinian drama of noble gesture have in fact nothing but name in common. ^

Starting, significantly enough, from Seneca and not from i^schylus and Sophocles ^ (just as the contemporary architecture linked itself with Imperial Rome and not with Passtum), the Baroque drama with ever-increasing emphasis makes character instead of occurrence its centre of gravity, the origin of a system of spiritual co-ordinates (so to express it) which gives the scenic facts position, sense, and value in relation to itself. The outcome is a tragedy of

1 irpoadirov meant in the older Greek "visage," and later, in Athens, "mask." As late as Aristotle the word is not yet in use for person. "Persona," originally also a theatre-mask, came to have a juristic application, and in Roman Imperial times the pregnant Roman sense of this word affected the Greek irpoaciirov also. See R. Hirzel, Die Person (1914), pp. 40 et seq.

» See pp. 117 et seq. 3 w. Creizenach, Gesch, d. neueren Dramas (1918), II, 346 et scq.


3i8 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

willing, of efficient forces, of inward movement not necessarily exhibited in visible form, whereas Sophocles's method was to employ a minimum of hap- pening and to put it behind the scenes particularly by means of the artifice of the "messenger." The Classical tragedy relates to general situations and not particular personalities. It is specifically described by Aristotle as ixlurjaLs ohK iLvOpcoTTchv dXXd Tpa^ecos Kal ^lov. That which in his Poetica — assuredly the most fateful of all books for our poetry — he calls ij^os, namely the ideal bearing of the ideal Hellene in a painful situation, has as little in common with our notion of character (viz., a constitution of the ego which determines events) as a surface in Euclidean geometry has with the like-named concept in Rie- mann's theory of algebraic equations. It has, unfortunately, been our habit for centuries past to translate rfios as "character" instead of paraphrasing it (exact rendering is almost impossible) by "r61e," "bearing" or "gesture"; to reproduce myth, y.Wos, which is timeless occurrence, by "action"; and to derive 6pa/xa from "doing." It is Othello, Don Quixote, Le Misanthrope, Werther and Hedda Gabler that are characters, and the tragedy consists in the mere existence of human beings thus constituted in their respective milieux. Their struggle — whether against this world or the next, or themselves — is forced on them by their character and not by anything coming from outside; a soul is placed in a web of contradictory relations that admits of no net solution. Classical stage-figures, on the contrary, are r61es and not characters; over and over again the same figures appear — the old man, the slayer, the lover, all slow-moving bodies under masks and on stilts. Thus in Classical drama — even of the Late period — the mask is an element of profound symbolic neces- sity, whereas our pieces would not be regarded as played at all without the play of features. It is no answer to point to the great size of the Greek theatre, for even the strolling player — even the portrait-statue ^ — wore a mask, and had there been any spiritual need of a more intimate setting the required archi- tectural form would have been forthcoming quickly enough.

In the tragedy of a character, what happens is the outcome of a long inner development. But in what befalls Ajax and Philoctetes, Antigone and Electra, their psychological antecedents (even supposing them to have any) play no part. The decisive event comes upon them, brutally, as accident, from with- out, and it might have befallen another in the same way and with the same result. It would not be necessary even for that other to be of the same sex.

It is not enough to distinguish Classical and Western tragedy merely as action-drama and event-drama. Faustian tragedy is biographical. Classical anec- dotal; that is, the one deals with the sense of a whole life and the other with the content of the single moment. ^ What relation, for instance, has the entire

» Sec p. 165.

• Wc too have our anecdote, but it is of our own type and diametrically opposed to the Classical. It is the "short story" (Now//*) — the story of Cervantes, Kleist, Hoffmann and Storm — and wc


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 319

inward past of CEdipus or Orestes to the shattering event that suddenly meets him on his way? ^ There is one sort of destiny, then, that strikes like a flash of lightning, and just as blindly, and another that interweaves itself with the course of a life, an invisible thread ^ that yet distinguishes this particular life from all others. There is not the smallest trait in the past existence of Othello — that masterpiece of psychological analysis — that has not some bearing on the catastrophe. Race-hatred, the isolation of the upstart amongst the patri- cians, the Moor as soldier and as child of Nature, the loneliness of the ageing bachelor — all these things have their significance. Lear, too, and Hamlet — compare the exposition of these characters with that of Sophoclean pieces. They are psychological expositions through-and-through and not summations of outward data. The psychologist, in our sense of the word, namely the fine student (hardly nowadays to be distinguished from the poet) of spiritual turn- ing-points, was entirely unknown to the Greeks. They were no more analytical in the field of soul than in that of number; f/V-^-wj the Classical soul, how could they be so? "Psychology" in fact is the proper designation for the Western way of fashioning men; the word holds good for a portrait by Rembrandt as for the music of "Tristan," for Stendhal's Julian Sorel as for Dante's "Vita Nuova." The like of it is not to be found in any other Culture. If there is anything that the Classical arts scrupulously exclude it is this, for psychology is the form in which art handles man as incarnate will and not as o-co^ia. To call Euripides a psychologist is to betray ignorance of what psychology is. What an abundance of character there is even in the mere mythology of the North with its sly dwarfs, its lumpy giants, its teasing elves, its Loki, Baldr and the rest! Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, Ares are simply "men," Hermes the "youth," Athene a maturer Aphrodite, and the minor gods — as the later plastic shows — distinguishable only by the labels. And the same is true without reservation of the figures of the Attic stage. In Wolfram von Eschenbach, Cer- vantes, Shakespeare, Goethe, the tragic is individual, life develops from within outwards, dynamic, functional, and the life-courses are only fully understand- able with reference to the historical background of the century. But in the great tragedians of Athens it comes from outside, it is static, Euclidean. To repeat a phrase already used in connexion with world-history, the shattering event is epochal in the former and merely episodic in the latter, even the finale of death being only the last bead in the string of sheer accidents that makes up an existence.

A Baroque tragedy is nothing but this same directive character brought

admire it in proportion as we are made to feel that its motive is possible only this once, at this time and with these people, whereas the mythic type of anecdote, the Fable, is judged by precisely opposite criteria.

1 Sec pp. 143 et seq.

' The Fates of the Greeks arc represented as spinning, measuring out and cutting the thread of a maa's destiny, but not as weaving it into the web of his life. It is a mere dimension. — Tr.


310 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

into and developed in the light-world, and shown as a curve instead of as an equation, as kinetic instead of as potential energy. The visible person is the character as potential, the action the character at work. This, under the heap of Classicist reminiscences and misunderstandings that still hides it, is the whole meaning of our idea of Tragedy. The tragic man of the Classical is a Euclidean body that is struck by the Heimarmene in a position that it did not choose and cannot alter, but is seen, in the light that plays from without upon its surfaces, to be indeformable quand mhne. This is the sense in which Aga- memnon is vavapxov aw^ia ^aalXeiov and in which OEdipus's cufxa is subjected to the Oracle.^ Down to Alexander the significant figures of Greek history astonish us with their inelasticity; not one of them, apparently, undergoes in the battle of life any such inward transformation as those which we know took place in Luther and Loyola. What we are prone — too prone — to call "characterization" in Greek drama is nothing but the reflection of events upon the rjdos of the hero, never the reflection of a personality on events.

Of deep necessity, therefore, we Faustians understand drama as a maximum of activity; and, of deep necessity also, the Greek understood it as a maximum of passivity.2 Speaking generally, the Attic tragedy had no "action" at all. The Mysteries were purely dphfiara or Spcb/xeva, i.e., ritual performances, and it was from the Mystery-form with its "peripeteia" that ^schylus (himself an Eleusinian) derived the high drama that he created. Aristotle describes tragedy as the imitation of an occurrence. This imitation is identical with the "profanation" of the mysteries; and we know that i^schylus went further and made the sacral vestments of the Eleusinian priesthood the regular costume of the Attic stage, and was accused on that account.^ For the 5pd/ia proper, with its reversal from lamentation to joy, consisted not in the fable that was narrated but in the ritual action that lay behind it, and was understood and felt by the spectator as deeply symbolic. With this element of the non-Homeric early religion ^ there became associated another, a boorish — the burlesque (whether phallic or dithyrambic) scenes of the spring festivals of Demeter and Dionysus. The beast-dances ^ and the accompanying song were the germ of

' Sec p. 119.

' The evolution of meaning in the Classical words pathos and fassio corresponds with this. The second was formed from the first only in the Imperial period, and carried its original sense in the "Passion" of Christ. It was in the early Gothic times, and particularly in the language of the Franciscan "Zealots" and the disciples of Joachim of Floris, that its meaning underwent the deci- sive reversal. Expressing thenceforward a condition of profound excitement which strained to dis- charge itself, it became finally a generic name for all spiritual dynamic; in this sense of strong will and directional energy it was brought into German as Leidenschaft by Zesen in 1647.

• The Eleusinian mysteries contained no secrets at all. Everyone knew what went on. But upon the believers they exercised a strange and overpowering effect, and the " betrayal " consisted in profaning them by imitating their holy forms outside the temple-precinct. See, further, A. Dieterich, KJtine Schriften (191 1), pp. 414 et seq. < See Vol. II, pp. 345 et seq.

' The dancers were goats, Silcnus as leader of the dance wore a horsetail, but Aristophanes's "Birds," "Frogs" and "Wasps" suggest that there were still other animal disguises.


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 311

the tragic Chorus which puts itself before the actor or "answerer" of Thespis

(534)-

The genuine tragedy grew up out of the solemn death-lament (threnos,

nsenia). At some time or other the joyous play of the Dionysus festival (which also was a soul-feast) became a mourners' chorus of men, the Satyr-play being relegated to the end. In 494 Phrynichus produced the "Fall of Miletus" — not a historical drama but a lament of the women of Miletus — and was heavily fined for thus recalling the public calamity. It was i^schylus's in- troduction of the second actor that accomplished the essential of Classical tragedy; the lament as given theme was thenceforward subordinated to the visual presentation of a great human suffering as present motive. The foreground- story (^fiWos) is not "action" but the occasion for the songs of the Chorus, which still constitutes the rpaycpdia proper. It is immaterial whether the occurrence is indicated by narrative or exposition. The spectator was in solemn mood and he felt himself and his own fate to be meant in the words of pathos. It was in him that the Treptx^reta, the central element of the holy pageant, took place. Whatever the environment of message and tale, the liturgical lament for the woe of mankind remained always the centre of gravity of the whole, as we see more particularly in the "Prometheus," the "Agamemnon" and the "(Edipus Rex." But presently — at the very time when in Polycletus the pure plastic was triumphing over the fresco ^ — there emerges high above the lament the grandeur of human endurance, the attitude, the rjOos of the Hero. The theme is, not the heroic Doer whose will surges and breaks against the resistance of alien powers or the demons in his own breast, but the will- less Patient whose somatic existence is — gratuitously — destroyed. The Pro- metheus trilogy of i^schylus begins just where Goethe would in all probability have left off. King Lear's madness is the issue of the tragic action, but Soph- ocles 's Ajax is made mad by Athene before the drama opens — here is the difference between a character and an operated figure. Fear and compassion, in fact, are, as Aristotle says, the necessary effect of Greek tragedy upon the Greek (and only the Greek) spectator, as is evident at once from his choice of the most effective scenes, which are those of piteous crash of fortune (TreptTrereta) and of recognition (^avayvcopLaii). In the first, the ruling impression is </)6i3os (terror) and in the second it is eXeos (pity), and the Kadapats in the spec- tator presupposes his existence-ideal to be that of drapa^ta.^ The Classi-

^ See pp. 183 et seq.

2 As the student of cultural history to-day is not necessarily familiar with technical Greek, it may be helpful to reproduce from Cornish's edition of Smith's "Greek and Roman Antiquities," s.v. "Tragoedia," the following paragraph, as clear as it is succinct:

"Tragedy is described by Aristotle CPoet., VI, 2.) as effecting by means of pity and terror that purgation [of the soul] QKadapais) which belongs to [is proper for] such feelings." . . . Tragedy excites pity and terror by presenting to the mind things which are truly pitiable and terrible. When pity and terror are moved, as tragedy moves them, by a worthy cause, then the mind experiences that sense of relief which comes from finding an outlet for a natural energy. And thus the impressions


32J. THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

cal soul is pure "present," pure aw/ua, unmoved and point-formed being. To see this imperilled by the jealousy of the Gods or by that blind chance that may crash upon any man's head without reason and without warning, is the most fearful of all experiences. The very roots of Greek being are struck at by what for the challenging Faustian is the first stimulus to living activity. And then — to find one's self delivered^ to see the sun come out again and the dark thunder clouds huddle themselves away on the remote horizon, to rejoice profoundly in the admired grand gesture, to see the tortured mythical soul breathe again — that is the Kkdapci's. But it presupposes a kind of life-feeling that is entirely alien to us, the very word being hardly translatable into our languages and our sensations. It took all the aesthetic industry and assertiveness of the Baroque and of Classicism, backed by the meekest submissiveness before ancient texts, to persuade us that this is the spiritual basis of our own tragedy as well. And no wonder. For the fact is that the effect of our tragedy is precisely the oppo- site. It does not deliver us from deadweight pressure of events, but evokes active dynamic elements in us, stings us, stimulates us. It awakens the primary feelings of an energetic human being, the fierceness and the joy of tension, danger, violent deed, victory, crime, the triumph of overcoming and destroying — feelings that have slumbered in the depths of every Northern soul since the days of the Vikings, the Hohenstaufen and the Crusades. That is Shakespearian effect. A Greek would not have tolerated Macbeth, nor, generally, would he have comprehended the meaning of this mighty art of directional biography at all. That figures like Richard III, Don Juan, Faust, Michael Kohlhaas, Golo — un-Classical from top to toe — awaken in us not sympathy but a deep and strange envy, not fear but a mysterious desire to suffer, to suffer-with ("com- passion" of quite another sort), is visibly — even to-day when Faustian tragedy in its final form, the German, is dead at last — the standing motive of the literature of our Alexandrian phase. In the "sensational "adventure- and detective-story, and still more recently in the cinema-drama (the equivalent of the Late-Classical mimes), a relic of the unrestrainable Faustian impulse to conquer and discover is still palpable.

There are corresponding differences between the Apollinian and the Faust- ian outlook in the forms of dramatic presentation, which are the complement of the poetic idea. The antique drama is a piece of plastic, a group of pathetic scenes conceived as reliefs, a pageant of gigantic marionettes disposed against the definitive plane of the back-wall.^ Presentation is entirely that of grandly- imagined gestures, the meagre facts of the fable being solemnly recited rather

made by Tragedy leave behind them in the spectator a temperate and harmonious state of the soul. Similarly Aristotle speaks of the enthusiastic worshippers of Dionysus as obtaining a x&Bapcis, a healthful relief, by the "lyric utterance of their sacred frenzy." — Tr.

  • The evolution of ideals of stagc-prcscntation in the minds of ^chylus, Sophocles and Euripi-

des successively is perhaps comparable with that of sculptural style which we see in the pediments of ^gina, of Olympia and of the Parthenon.


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 313

than presented. The technique of Western drama aims at just the opposite — unbroken movement and strict exclusion of flat static moments. The famous "three unities" of place, time and action, as unconsciously evolved (though not expressly formulated) in Athens, are a paraphrase of the type of the Clas- sical marble statue and, like it, an indication of what classical man, the man of the Polls and the pure present and the gesture, felt about life. The unities are all, effectively, negative^ denials of past and future, repudiation of all spiritual action-at-a-distance. They can be summed in the one word drapa^ta. The postulates of these "unities" must not be confused with the superficially similar postulates in the drama of the Romance peoples. The Spanish theatre of the i6th Century bowed itself to the authority of "Classical" rules, but it is easy to see the influence oi noblesse oblige in this; Castilian dignity responded to the appeal without knowing, or indeed troubling to. find out, the original sense of the rules. The great Spanish dramatists, Tirso da Molina above all, fashioned the "unities" of the Baroque, but not as metaphysical negations, but purely as expressions of the spirit of high courtesy, and it was as such that Corneille, the docile pupil of Spanish "grandezza," borrowed them. It was a fateful step. If Florence threw herself into the imitation of the Classical sculp- ture — at which everyone marvelled and of which no one possessed the final criteria — no harm was done, for there was by then no Northern plastic to suffer thereby. But with tragedy it was another matter. Here there was the possibility of a mighty drama, purely Faustian, of unimagined forms and daring. That this did not appear, that for all the greatness of Shakespeare the Teutonic drama never quite shook off the spell of misunderstood convention, was the consequence of blind faith in the authority of Aristotle. What might not have come out of Baroque drama had it remained under the impression of the knightly epic and the Gothic Easter-play and Mystery, in the near neigh- bourhood of Oratorios and Passions, without ever hearing of the Greek theatre! A tragedy issuing from the spirit of contrapuntal music, free of limitations proper to plastic but here meaningless, a dramatic poetry that from Orlando Lasso and Palestrina could develop — side by side with Heinrich Schiitz, Bach, Handel, Gluck and Beethoven, but entirely free — to a pure form of its own: that was what was possible, and that was what did not happen ;"and it is only to the fortunate circumstance that the whole of the fresco-art of Hellas has been lost that we owe the inward freedom of our oil-painting.

VI

The unities were not sufficient for the Attic drama. It demanded, further, the rigid mask in lieu of facial play, thus forbidding spiritual characterization in the same spirit as Attic sentiment forbade likeness-statuary. It demanded more- than-life-sized figures and got them by means of the cothurnus and by padding and draping the actor till he could scarcely move, thus eliminating all his


314 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

individuality. Lastly, it required monotonous sing-song delivery, which it ensured by means of a mouthpiece fixed in the mask.

The bare text as we read it to-day (not without reading into it the spirit of Goethe and Shakespeare and of our perspective vision) conveys little of the deeper significance of these dramas. Classical art-works were created entirely for the eye, even the physical eye, of Classical man, and the secrets reveal themselves only when put in sensuous forms. And here our attention is drawn to a feature of Greek tragedy that any true tragedy of the Faustian style must find intolerable, the continual presence of the Chorus. The Chorus is the primitive tragedy, for without it the fjdos would be impossible. Character one possesses for one's self, but attitude has meaning only in relation to others.

This Chorus as crowd (the ideal opposite to the lonely or inward man and the monologue of the West), this Chorus which is always there, the witness of every "soliloquy," this Chorus by which, in the stage-life as in the real life, fear before the boundless and the void is banished, is truly Apollinian. Self-review as a public action, pompous public mourning in lieu of the solitary anguish of the bedchamber, the tears and lamentations that fill a whole series of dramas like the " Philoctetes " and the "Trachinias," the impossibility of being alone, the feeling of the Polls, all the feminine of this Culture that we see idealized in the Belvedere Apollo, betrays itself in this symbol of the Chorus. In comparison with this kind of drama, Shakespeare's is a single monologue. Even in the conversations, even in the group-scenes we are sensible of the immense inner distance between the persons, each of whom at bottom is only talking with himself. Nothing can overcome this spiritual remoteness. It is felt in Hamlet as in " Tasso ' * and in Don Quixote as in Werther, but even Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzeval is filled with and stamped by the sense of infinity. The distinction holds for all Western poetry against all Classical. All our lyric verse from Walther von der Vogelweide to Goethe and from Goethe to the poems of our dying world-cities is monologue, while the Classical lyric is a choral lyric, a singing before witnesses. The one is received inwardly, in word- less reading, as soundless music, and the other is publicly recited. The one be- longs to the still chamber and is spread by means of the book, the other belongs to the place where it is voiced.

Thus, although the Eleusinian Mysteries and the Thracian festival of the epiphany of Dionysus had been nocturnal celebrations, the art of Thespis de- veloped, as its inmost nature required, as a scene of the morning and the full sunlight. On the contrary, our Western popular and Passion plays, which originated in the sermon of allocated parts and were produced first by priests in the church, and then by laymen in the open square, on the mornings of high festivals, led almost unnoticed to an art of evening and night. Already in Shakespeare's time performances took place in the late afternoon, and by Goethe's this mystical sense of a proper relation between art-work and light-


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 315

setting had attained its object. In general, every art and every Culture has its significant times of day. The music of the i8th Century is a music of the dark* ness and the inner eye, and the plastic of Athens is an art of cloudless day. That this is no superficial contrast we can see by comparing the Gothic plastic, wrapped eternally in "dim religious light," and the Ionic flute, the instrument of high noon. The candle affirms and the sunlight denies space as the opposite of things. At night the universe of space triumphs over matter, at midday things and nearness assert themselves and space is repudiated. The same con- trast appears in Attic fresco and Northern oil-painting, and in the symbols of Helios and Pan and those of the starry night and red sunset. It is at midnight, too, and particularly in the twelve long nights after Christmas, that the souls of our dead walk abroad. In the Classical world, the souls belong to the day — even the early Church still speaks of the diadeKa-fjfiepoVy the twelve dedicated days; but with the awakening of the Faustian soul these become "Twelfth Night."

The Classical vase-painting and fresco — though the fact has never been remarked — has no time-of-day. No shadow indicates the state of the sun, no heaven shows the stars. There is neither morning nor evening, neither spring nor autumn, but pure timeless brightness.^ For equally obvious reasons our oil- painting developed in the opposite direction, towards an imaginary darkness, also independent of time-of-day, which forms the characteristic atmosphere of the Faustian soul-space. This is all the more significant as the intention is from the outset to treat the field of the picture with reference to a certain time- of-day, that is, historically. There are early mornings, sunset-clouds, the last gleams upon the sky-line of distant mountains, the candle-lighted room, the spring meadows and the autumn woods, the long and short shadows of bushes and furrows. But they are all penetrated through and through with a subdued darkness that is not derived from the motion of the heavenly bodies. In fact, steady brightness and steady twilight are the respective hall-marks of the Classical and the Western, alike in painting and in drama; and may we not also describe Euclidean geometry as a mathematic of the day and Analysis as a mathematic of the night?

Change of scene, undoubtedly regarded by the Greeks as a sort of profana- tion, is for us almost a religious necessity, a postulate of our world-feeling. There seems something pagan in the fixed scene of Tasso. We inwardly need a drama of perspectives and wide backgrounds, a stage that shakes off sensuous limitations and draws the whole world into itself. In Shakespeare, who was born when Michelangelo died and ceased to write when Rembrandt came into

' It must be repeated that the Hellenistic shadow-painting of Zeuxis and Apollodorus is a model- ling of the individual body for the purpose of producing the plastic effect on the eye. There was no idea of rendering space by means of light and shade. The body is "shaded" but it casts no shadow.

(Contrast with this Dante's exact and careful specification of the time-of-day in every episode of the Purgatorio and the Paradisoy sublimely imaginative as these poems are. — Tr.)


32.6 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

the world, dramatic infinity, the passionate overthrow of all static limitations, attained the maximum. His woods, seas, alleys, gardens, battlefields lie in the afar, the unbounded. Years fly past in the space of minutes. The mad Lear between fool and reckless outcast on the heath, in the night and the storm, the unutterably lonely ego lost in space — here is the Faustian life-feeling! From such a scene as this it is but a step to the inwardly seen and inwardly felt land- scapes of the almost contemporary Venetian music; for on the Elizabethan stage the whole thing was merely indicated, and it was the inner eye that out of a few hints fashioned for itself an image of the world in which the scenes — far-fetched always — played themselves out. Such scenes the Greek stage could not have handled at all. The Greek scene is never a landscape; in general, it is nothing, and at best it may be described as a basis for movable statues. The figures are everything, in drama, as in fresco. It is sometimes said that Classical man lacked the feeling for Nature. Insensitive to Faustian Nature, that of space and of landscape. Classical man certainly was. His Nature was the body, and if once we have let the sentiment of this sink into us, we suddenly compre- hend the eye with which the Greek would follow the mobile muscle-relief of the nude body. This, and not clouds and stars and horizon, was his "Living Nature."

VII

Now, whatever is sensuously-near is understandable for all, and therefore of all the Cultures that have been, the Classical is the most popular, and the Faustian the least popular, in its expressions of life-feeling. A creation is "popular" that gives itself with all its secrets to the first comer at the first glance, that incorporates its meaning in its exterior and surface. In any Culture, that element is "popular" which has come down unaltered from primitive states and imaginings, which a man understands from childhood without having to master by effort any really novel method or standpoint — and, generally, that which is immediately and frankly evident to the senses, as against that which is merely hinted at and has to be dis- covered — by the few, and sometimes the very, very few. There are popular ideas, works, men and landscapes. Every Culture has its own quite definite sort of esoteric or popular character that is immanent in all its doings, so far as these have symbolic importance. The commonplace eliminates difl^er- cnccs of spiritual breadth as well as depth between man and man, while the esoteric emphasizes and strengthens them. Lastly, considered in relation to the primary depth-experience of this and that kind of awakening man — that is, in relation to the prime-symbol of his existence and the cast of his world- around — the purely "popular" and naive associates itself with the symbol of the bodily, while to the symbol of endless Space belongs a frankly ««-populaf relation between the creations and the men of the Culture.


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 3x7

The Classical geometry is that of the child, that of any layman — Euclid's Elements are used in England as a school-book to this day. The workaday mind will always regard this as the only true and correct geometry. All other kinds of natural geometry that are possible (and have in fact, by an im- mense effort of overcoming the popular-obvious, been discovered) are under- standable only for the circle of the professional mathematicians. The famous "four elements" of Empedocles are those of every naive man and his "instinc- tive" physics, while the idea of isotopes which has come out of research into radioactivity is hardly comprehensible even to the adept in closely-cognate sciences. Everything that is Classical is comprehensible in one glance, be it the Doric temple, the statue, the Polls, the cults; backgrounds and secrets there are none. But compare a Gothic cathedral-fagade with the Propylasa, an etch- ing with a vase-painting, the policy of the Athenian people with that of the modern Cabinet. Consider what it means that every one of our epoch-making works of poetry, policy and science has called forth a whole literature of explanations, and not indubitably successful explanations at that. While the Parthenon sculptures were "there" for every Hellene, the music of Bach and his contemporaries was only for musicians. We have the types of the Rembrandt expert, the Dante scholar, the expert in contrapuntal music, and it is a reproach — a justifiable reproach — to Wagner that it was possible for far too many people to be Wagnerians, that far too little of his music was for the trained musician. But do we hear of Phidias-experts or even Homer- scholars? Herein lies the explanation of a set of phenomena which we have hitherto been inclined to treat — in a vein of moral philosophy, or, better, of melodrama — as weaknesses common to humanity, but which are in fact symptoms of the Western life-feeling, viz., the "misunderstood" artist, the poet "left to starve," the "derided discoverer," the thinker who is "centuries in advance of his time" and so on. These are types of an esoteric Culture. Destinies of this sort have their basis in the passion of distance in which is concealed the desire-to-infinity and the will-to-power, and they are as necessary in the field of Faustian mankind — at all stages — as they are unthinkable in the Apollinian.

Every high creator in Western history has in reality aimed, from first to last, at something which only the few could comprehend. Michelangelo made the remark that his style was ordained for the correction of fools. Gauss con- cealed his discovery of non-Euclidean geometry for thirty years, for fear of the "clamour of the Boeotians." It is only to-day that we are separating out the masters of Gothic cathedral art from the rank-and-file. But the same applies also to every painter, statesman, philosopher. Think of Giordano Bruno, or Leibniz, or Kant, as against Anaximander, Heraclitus or Protagoras. What does it mean, that no German philosopher worth mentioning can be under- stood by the man in the street, and that the combination of simplicity with


3i8 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

majesty that is Homer's is simply not to be found in any Western language? The Nibclungenlied is a hard, reserved utterance, and as for Dante, in Germany at any rate the pretension to understand him is seldom more than a literary pose. We find everywhere in the Western what we find nowhere in the Clas- sical — the exclusive form. Whole periods — for instance, the Provencal Cul- ture and the Rococo — are in the highest degree select and uninviting, their ideas and forms having no existence except for a small class of higher men. Even the Renaissance is no exception, for though it purports to be the rebirth of that Antique which is so utterly w«-exclusive and caters so frankly for all, it is in fact, through-and-through, the creation of a circle or of individual chosen souls, a taste that rejects popularity from the outset — and how deep this sense of detachment goes we can tell from the case of Florence, where the generality of the people viewed the works of the elect with indifference, or with open mouths, or with dislike, and sometimes, as in the case of Savonarola, turned and rent them. On the contrary, every Attic burgher belonged to the Attic Culture, which excluded nobody; and consequently, the distinctions of deeps and shallows, which are so decisively important for us, did not exist at all for it. For us, popular and shallow arc synonymous — in art as in science — but for Classical man it was not so.

Consider our sciences too. Every one of them, without exception, has besides its elementary groundwork certain "higher" regions that are inacces- sible to the layman — symbols, these also, of our will-to-infinity and direc- tional energy. The public for whom the last chapters of up-to-date physics have been written numbers at the utmost a thousand persons, and certain problems of modern mathematics are accessible only to a much smaller circle still — for our "popular" science is without value, ditraquU^ and falsified. We have not only an art for artists, but also a mathematic for mathematicians, a politic for politicians (of which the frofanum vulgus of newspaper-readers has not the smallest inkling,* whereas Classical politics never got beyond the horizon of the Agora), a religion for the "religious genius " and a poetry for philosophers. Indeed, we may take the craving for wide effect as a sufficient index by itself of the commencing and already perceptible decline of Western science. That the severe esoteric of the Baroque Age is felt now as a burden, is a symptom of sinking strength and of the dulling of that distance-sense which confessed the limitation with humility. The few sciences that have kept the old fineness, depth, and energy of conclusion and deduction and have not been tainted with journalism — and few indeed they are, for theoretical physics, mathematics, Catholic dogma, and perhaps jurisprudence exhaust the list — address them- selves to a very narrow and chosen band of experts. And it is this expert, and his opposite the layman , that are totally lacking in the Classical life, wherein everyone

^ The great mass of Socialists would cease to be Socialists if they could understand the Socialism of the nine or ten men who to-day grasp it with the full historical consequences that it involves


i


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 319

knows everything. For us, the polarity of expert and layman has all the signif- icance of a high symbol, and when the tension of this distance is beginning to' slacken, there the Faustian life is fading out.

The conclusion to be argued from this as regards the advances of Western science in its last phase (which will cover, or quite possibly will not cover, the next two centuries) is, that in proportion as megalopolitan shallowness and triviality drive arts and sciences on to the bookstall and into the factory, the posthumous spirit of the Culture will confine itself more and more to very narrow circles; and that there, remote from advertisement, it will work in ideas and forms so abstruse that only a mere handful of superfine intelligences will be capable of attaching meanings to them.


VIII


In no Classical art-work is a relation with the beholder attempted, for that would require the form-language of the individual object to affirm and tomake use of the existence of a relation between that object and ambient unlimited space. An Attic statue is a completely Euclidean body, timeless and relation- less, wholly self-contained. It neither speaks nor looks. // is quite unconscious of the spectator. Unlike the plastic forms of every other Culture, it stands wholly for itself and fits into no architectural order; it is an individual amongst in- dividuals, a body amongst bodies. And the living individuals merely perceive it as a neighbour, and do not feel it as an invasive influence, an efficient capable of traversing space. Thus is expressed the Apollinian life-feeling.

The awakening Magian art at once reversed the meaning of these forms. The eyes of the statues and portraits in the Constantinian style are big and staring and very definitely directed. They represent the Pneuma, the higher of the two soul-substances. The Classical sculptor had fashioned the eyes as blind, but now the pupils are bored, the eye, unnaturally enlarged, looks into the space that in Attic art it had not acknowledged as existing. In the Classical fresco-painting, heads are turned towards one another, but in the mosaics of Ravenna and even in the relief-work of Early-Christian-Late-Roman sarcophagi they are always turned towards the beholder, and their wholly spiritual look is fixed upon him. Mysteriously and quite un-Classically the beholder's sphere is invaded by an action-at-a-distance from the world that is in the art-work. Something of this magic can still be traced in early Florentine and early Rhenish gold-ground pictures.

Consider, now. Western painting as it was after Leonardo, fully conscious of its mission. How does it deal with infinite space as something singular which comprehends both picture and spectator as mere centres of gravity of a spatial dynamic? The full Faustian life-feeling, the passion of the third dimension, takes hold of the form of the picture, the painted plane, and transforms it in an unheard-of way. The picture no longer stands for its/^lf, nor looks at the


330 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

spectator, but takes him into its sphere. The sector defined by the sides of the frame — the peepshow-field, twin with the stage-field — represents universal space itself. Foreground and background lose all tendency to materiality and propinquity and disclose instead of marking off. Far horizons deepen the field to infinity, and the colour-treatment of the close foreground eliminates the ideal plane of separation formed by the canvas and thus expands the field so that the spectator is in it. It is not he, now, who chooses the standpoint from which the picture is most effective; on the contrary, the picture dictates position and distance to him. Lateral limits, too, are done away with — from 1500 on- wards overrunnings of the frame are more and more frequent and daring. The Greek spectator stands before the fresco of Polygnotus. We sink into a picture, that is, we are pulled into it by the power of the space-treatment. Unity of space being thus re-established, the infinity that is expanded in all directions by the picture is ruled by the Western perspective; ^ and from perspective there runs a road straight to the comprehension of our astronomical world- picture and its passionate pioneering into unending farness.

Apollinian man did not want to observe the broad universe, and the philo- sophical systems one and all are silent about it. They know only problems concerned with tangible and actual things, and have never anything positive or significant to say about what is between the ' ' things. * ' The Classical thinker takes the earth-sphere, upon which he stands and which (even in Hipparchus) is enveloped in a fixed celestial sphere, as the complete and given world, and if we probe the depths and secrets of motive here we are almost startled by the persistency with which theory attempted time after time to attach the order of these heavens to that of the earth in some way that would not inpugn the primacy of the latter.^

Compare with this the convulsive vehemence with which the discovery of Copernicus — the "contemporary" of Pythagoras — drove through the soul of the West, and the deep spirit of awe in which Kepler looked upon the laws of planetary orbits which he had discovered as an immediate revelation from God, not daring to doubt that they were circular because any other form would have been too unworthy a symbol. Here the old Northern life-feeling, the Viking infinity-wistfulness, comes into its own. Here, too, is the meaning of the characteristically Faustian discovery of the telescope which, penetrating into spaces hidden from the naked eye and inaccessible to the will-to-power, widens the universe that we possess. The truly religious feeling that seizes us even to-day when we dare to look into the depths of starry space for the first time — the same feeling of power that Shakespeare's greatest tragedies aim at awakening — would to Sophocles appear as the impiety of all impieties.

Our denial of the "vault" of heaven, then, is a resolve and not a sense-ex- perience. The modern ideas as to the nature of starry space — or, to speak

  • Sec p. 139 ct scq. * Sec p. 68.


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 331

more prudently, of an extension indicated by light-indices that are communi- cated by eye and telescope — most certainly do not rest upon sure knowledge, for what we see in the telescope is small bright disks of different sizes. The photographic plate yields quite another picture — not a sharper one but a different one — and the construction of a consistent world-picture such as wc crave depends upon connecting the two by numerous and often very daring hypotheses (e.g., of distances, magnitudes and movements) that we ourselves frame. The style of this picture corresponds to the style of our own soul. In actual fact we do not know how different the light-powers of one and another star may be, nor whether they vary in different directions. We do not know whether or not light is altered, diminished, or extinguished in the immensities of space. We do not know whether our earthly conceptions of the nature of light, and therefore all the theories and laws deduced from them, have validity beyond the immediate environment of the earth. What we "see" are merely light-indices; what we understand are symbols of ourselves.

The strong upspringing of the Copernican world-idea — which belongs exclusively to our Culture and (to risk an assertion that even now may seem paradoxical) would be and will be deliberately forced into oblivion whenever the soul of a coming Culture shall feel itself endangered by it ^ — was founded on the certainty that the corporeal-static, the imagined preponderance of the plastic earth, was henceforth eliminated from the Cosmos. Till then, the heav- ens which were thought of, or at any rate felt, as a substantial quantity, like the earth, had been regarded as being in polar equilibrium with it. But now it was Sface that ruled the universe. "World" signifies space, and the stars are hardly more than mathematical points, tiny balls in the immense, that as material no longer affect the world-feeling. While Democritus, who tried (as on behalf of the Apollinian Culture he was bound to try) to settle some limit of a bodily kind to it all, imagined a layer of hook-shaped atoms as a skin over the Cosmos, an insatiable hunger drives us ever further and further into the remote. The solar system of Copernicus, already expanded by Giordano Bruno to a thousand such systems, grew immeasurably wider in the Baroque Age; and to-day we "know" that the sum of all the solar systems, about 35,000,000, constitutes a closed (and demonstrably finite stellar system which forms an ellipsoid of rotation and has its equator approximately along the band of the Milky Way. Swarms of solar systems traverse this space, like flights of migrant birds, with the same velocity and direction. One such group, with an apex in the constellation of Hercules, is formed by our sun together with the bright stars Capella, Vega, Altair and Betelgeuse. The axis of this immense system, which has its mid-point not far from the present position of

^ Sec Vol. II, p. 363, note.

  • As we increase the powers of the telescope we find that the number of newly appearing stars

falls off rapidly towards the edges of the field.


331 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

our sun, is taken as 47o,cx)o,ooo times as long as the distance from the earth to the sun. Any night, the starry heavens give us at the same moment impres- sions that originated 3,700 years apart in time, for that is the distance in light-years from the extreme outer limit to the earth. In the picture of history as it unfolds before us here, this period corresponds to a duration covering the whole Classical and Magian ages and going back to the zenith of the Egyptian Culture in the Xllth Dynasty. This aspect — an image^ I repeat, and not a matter of experimental knowledge — is for the Faustian a high and noble^ aspect, but for the Apollinian it would have been woeful and terrible, an anni- hilation of the most profound conditions of his being. And he would have felt it as sheer salvation when after all a limit, however remote, had been found. But we, driven by the deep necessity that is in us, must simply ask ourselves the new question: Is there anything outside this system? Are there aggregates of such systems, at such distances that even the dimensions estab- lished by our astronomy ^ are small by comparison? As far as sense-observa- tions are concerned, it seems that an absolute limit has been reached; neither light nor gravitation can give a sign of existence through this outer space, void of mass. But for us it is a simple necessity of thought. Our spiritual passion, our unresting need to actualize our existence-idea in symbols, suffers under this limitation of our sense-perceptions.

DC

So also it was that the old Northern races, in whose primitive souls the Faustian was already awakening, discovered in their grey dawn the art of sailing the seas which emancipated them.* The Egyptians knew the sail, but

  • The thrill of big figures is a feeling peculiar to Western mankind. In the Civilization of to-day

this significant passion for gigantic sums, for indefinitely big and indefinitely minute measurements, for "records'* and statistics, is playing a conspicuous part.

(Our very notation of number is ceasing to rest on sense-standards. Science has carried number, as ordinarily written, so high and so low that it now uses a movable base for its numerical state- ments. For example, a number in astronomy is written, not as 3,450,000,000 but as 3.45 X lo', one relating to ordinary experience as 5.45 (i.e., 3.45 X 10°) and one in electromagnetic theory, not as 0.00000345 but as 3 .45 X io~*. Under this system the conceptual unit may be as large or as small, compared with the unit of daily experience, as the region of thought in which the calculation is taking place requires. And different conceptual worlds can be connected as to number [say, a number of kilometres brought into an order of thought that deals with millimetres] by simply changing the ten-power. — Tr!)

2 In stellar calculations even the mean radius of the earth's orbit (1493 X 10*' cm.) hardly suffices as unit, as the distance of a star of one second parallax is already io6,x65 such units away from us; star-distances arc reckoned therefore either in light-years or in terms of the unit distance of a Kar of this standard parallax. — Tr.

  • As early as the second millennium before Christ they worked from Iceland and the North Sea

past Finisterre to the Canaries and West Africa. An echo of these voyagings lingers in the Atlantis- laga of the Greeks. The realm of Tartessus (at the mouth of the Guadalquivir) appears to have been a centre of these movements (see Leo Frobcnius, Das unbekannte Afrika, p. 139). Some sort of relation, too, there must have been between them and the movements of the "sea peoples," Viking swarms which after long land-wanderings from North to South built themselves ships again on the


i


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 333

only profited by it as a labour-saving device. They sailed, as they had done before in their oared ships, along the coast to Punt and Syria, but the idea oi the high-seas voyage — what it meant as a liberation, a symbol — was not in them. Sailing, real sailing, is a triumph over Euclidean land. At the be- ginning of our 14th Century, almost coincident with each other (and with the formation-periods of oil-painting and counterpoint!) came gunpowder and the compass, that is, long-range weapons and long-range intercourse (means that the Chinese Culture^ too had, necessarily, discovered for itself). It was the spirit of the Vikings and the Hansa, as of those dim peoples, so unlike the Hellenes with their domestic funerary urns, who heaped up great barrows as memorials of the lonely soul on the wide plains. It was the spirit of those who sent theif dead kings to sea in their burning ships, thrilling manifests of their dark yearning for the boundless. The spirit of the Norsemen drove their cockle- boats — in the Tenth Century that heralded the Faustian birth — to the coasts of America. But to the circumnavigation of Africa, already achieved by Egyp- tians and Carthaginians, Classical mankind was wholly indifferent. How stat- uesque their existence was, even with respect to intercourse, is shown by the fact that the news of the First Punic War — one of the most intense wars of history — penetrated to Athens from Sicily merely as an indefinite report. Even the souls of the Greeks were assembled in Hades as unexcitable shadows (etSwXa) without strength, wish or feeling. But the Northern dead gathered themselves in fierce unresting armies of the cloud and the storm.

The event which stands at the same cultural level as the discoveries of the Spaniards and Portuguese is that of the Hellenic colonizations of the 8th Cen- tury B.C. But, while the Spaniards and the Portuguese were possessed by the adventured-craving for uncharted distances and for everything unknown and dangerous, the Greeks went carefully, point by point, on the known tracks of the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Etruscans, and their curiosity in no wise extended to what lay beyond the Pillars of Hercules and the Isthmus of Suez, easily accessible as both were to them. Athens no doubt heard of the way to the North Sea, to the Congo, to Zanzibar, to India — in Nero's time the posi- tion of the southern extremity of India was known, also that of the islands of

Black Sea or the i€gean and burst out against Egypt from the time of Ramescs II (1x92.-1115). The Egyptian reliefs show their ship-types to have been quite different from the native and the Phoeni- cian; but they may well have been similar to those that Caesar found afterwards among the Veneti of Brittany. A later example of such outbursts is afforded by the Varyags or Varangians in Russia and at Constantinople. No doubt more light will shortly be thrown on the courses of these movement-streams.

1 Here there is no need to postulate firearms (as distinct from gunpowder used in fireworks) in the Chinese Culture. The archery of the Chinese and Japanese was such as only the British 14th-century archery could match in the Western and nothing in the Classical.

It should be noted also that it was in our 14th Century that — quite independently of gun- power — archery and the construction of siege-engines reached their zenith in the West. The

  • ' English " bow had long been used by the Welsh, but it was left to Edward I and Edward III to

make it the tactical weapon par excellence. — Tr.


334 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

Sunda — but Athens shut its eyes to these things just as it did to the astronomi- cal knowledge of the old East. Even when the lands that we call Morocco and Portugal had become Roman provinces, no Atlantic voyaging ensued, and the Canaries remained forgotten. Apollinian man felt the Columbus-longing as little as he felt the Copernican. Possessed though the Greek merchants were with the desire of gain, a deep metaphysical shyness restrained them from extending the horizon, and in geography as in other matters they stuck to near things and foregrounds. The existence of the Polis, that astonishing ideal of the State as statue, was in truth nothing more nor less than a refuge from the wide world of the sea-peoples — and that though the Classical, alone of all the Cultures so far, had a ring of coasts about a sea of islands, and not a con- tinental expanse, as its motherland. Not even Hellenism, with all its proneness to technical diversions, ^ freed itself from the oared ship which tethered the mariner to the coasts. The naval architects of Alexandria were capable of constructing giant ships of 2.60-ft. length,^ and, for that matter, the steamship was discovered in principle. But there arc some discoveries that have all the pathos of a great and necessary symbol and reveal depths within, and there arc others that are merely play of intellect. The steamship is for Apollinians one of the latter and for Faustians one of the former class. It is prominence or insignificance in the Macrocosm as a whole that gives discovery and the appli- cation thereof the character of depth or shallowness.

The discoveries of Columbus and Vasco da Gama extended the geographical horizon without limit, and the world-sea came into the same relation with land as that of the universe of space with earth. And then first the political tension within the Faustian world-consciousness discharged itself. For the Greeks, Hellas was and remained the important part of the earth's surface, but with the discovery of America West-Europe became a province in a gigantic whole. Thenceforward the history of the Western Culture has a flanetary character.

Every Culture possesses a proper conception of home and fatherland, which is hard to comprehend, scarcely to be expressed in words, full of dark metaphysi- cal relations, but nevertheless unmistakable in its tendency. The Classical home-feeling which tied the individual corporally and Euclidean-ly to the Polis ' is the very antithesis of that enigmatic "Heimweh" of the Northerner which has something musical, soaring and unearthly in it. Classical man felt as "Home" just what he could see from the Acropolis of his native city. Where the horizon of Athens ended, the alien, the hostile, the "fatherland" of another began. Even the Roman of late Republican times understood by "patria" nothing but Urbs Roma, not even Latium, still less Italy. The Classical world,

1 Sec Vol. II, pp. 6r6 ct scq.

' Half as long again as Nelson's Victory and about the same length as the last wooden steam three-deckers (e.g., Duht of Wellington) of the mid-i9th Century. — Tr. • Sec Vol. II, pp. Z07 ct scq., and Chapter IV B.


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 335

as it matured, dissolved itself into a large number of point-patrise, and the need of bodily separation between them took the form of hatreds far more intense than any hatred that there was of the Barbarian. And it is therefore the most convincing of all evidences of the victory of the Magian world-feeling that Caracalla ^ in iii a.d. granted Roman citizenship to all provincials. For this grant simply abolished the ancient, statuesque, idea of the citizen. There was now a Realm and consequently a new kind of membership. The Roman notion of an army, too, underwent a significant change. In genuinely Classical times there had been no Roman Army in the sense in which we speak of the Prussian Army, but only "armies," that is, definite formations (as we say) created as corps, limited and visibly present bodies, by the appointment of a Legatus to command — an exercitus Scipionis, Crassi for instance — but never an exercitus Komanus. It was Caracalla, the same who abolished the idea of "civis Romanus" by decree and wiped out the Roman civic deities by making all alien deities equivalent to them, who created the un-Classical and Magian idea of an Imperial Army, something manifested in the separate legions. These now meant something, whereas in Classical times they meant nothing, but simply were. The old "fides exercituum" is replaced by "fides exercitus" in the inscriptions and, instead of individual bodily-conceived deities special to each legion and ritually honoured by its Legatus, we have a spiritual principle common to all. So also, and in the same sense, the " fatherland "-feeling under- goes a change of meaning for Eastern men — and not merely Christians — in Imperial times. Apollinian man, so long as he retained any effective remnant at all of his proper world-feeling, regarded " home " in the genuinely corporeal sense as the ground on which his city was built — a conception that recalls the "unity of place" of Attic tragedy and statuary. But to Magian man, to Christians, Persians, Jews, "Greeks," ^ Manichasans, Nestorians and Moham- medans, it means nothing that has any connexion with geographical actualities. And for ourselves it means an impalpable unity of nature, speech, climate, habits and history — not earth but "country," not point-like presence but historic past and future, not a unit made up of men, houses and gods but an idea, the idea that takes shape in the restless wanderings, the deep loneliness, and that ancient German impulse towards the South which has been the ruin of our best, from the Saxon Emperors to Holderlin and Nietzsche.

The bent of the Faustian Culture, therefore, was overpoweringly towards extension, political, economic or spiritual. It overrode all geographical-material bounds. It sought — without any practical object, merely for the Symbol's own sake — to reach North Pole and South Pole. It ended by transforming the entire surface of the globe into a single colonial and economic system. Every thinker from Meister Eckhardt to Kant willed to subject the "phe-

» Sec Vol. II, p. 80.

» I.e., adherents of the various syncretic cults. See Vol. 11, pp. iii et scq.


336 THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

nomeoal" world to the asserted domination of the cognizing ego, and every leader from Otto the Great to Napoleon did it. The genuine object of their ambitions was the boundless, alike for the great Franks and Hohenstaufen with their world-monarchies, for Gregory VII and Innocent III, for the Spanish Habsburgs "on whose empire the sun never set," and for the Imperialism of to-day on behalf of which the World-War was fought and will continue to be fought for many a long day. Classical man, for inward reasons, could not be a conqueror, notwithstanding Alexander's romantic expedition — for we can discern enough of the inner hesitations and unwillingnesses of his companions not to need to explain it as an "exception proving the rule." ^ The never-stilled desire to be liberated from the binding element, to range far and free, which is the essence of the fancy-creatures of the North — the dwarfs, elves and imps — is utterly unknown to the Dryads and Oreads of Greece. Greek daughter- cities were planted by the hundred along the rim of the Mediterranean, but not one of them made the slightest real attempt to conquer and penetrate the hinter- lands. To settle far from the coast would have meant to lose sight of ' ' home," while to settle in loneliness — the ideal life of the trapper and prairie-man of America as it had been of Icelandic saga-heroes long before — was something entirely beyond the possibilities of Classical mankind. Dramas like that of the emigration to America — man by man, each on his own account, driven by deep promptings to loneliness — or the Spanish Conquest, or the Cali- fornian gold-rush, dramas of uncontrollable longings for freedom, solitude, immense independence, and of giantlike contempt of all limitations whatso- ever upon the home-feeling — these dramas are Faustian and only Faustian. No other Culture, not even the Chinese, knows them.

The Hellenic emigrant, on the contrary, clung as a child clings to its mother's lap. To make a new city out of the old one, exactly like it, with the same fellow citizens, the same gods, the same customs, with the linking sea never out of sight, and there to pursue in the Agora the familiar life of the ^i^v iroXiTucSv — this was the limit of change of scene for the Apollinian life. To us, for whom freedom of movement (if not always as a practical, yet in any case as an ideal, right) is indispensable, such a limit would have been the most crying of all slaveries. It is from the Classical point of view that the oft-misunderstood expansion of Rome must be looked at. It was anything rather than an extension of the fatherland; it confined itself exactly within fields that had already been taken up by other culture-men whom they dis- possessed. Never was there a hint of dynamic world-schemes of the Hohen- staufen or Habsburg stamp, or of an imperialism comparable with that of our own times. The Romans made no attempt to penetrate the interior of Africa Their later wars were waged only for the preservation of what they already

1 This applies even more forcibly to the other " long-range " episode, that of the Ten Thou- sand (Xenophon, Anabasit I). — Tr.


ON THE FORM OF THE SOUL 337

possessed, not for the sake of ambition nor under a significant stimulus from within. They could give up Germany and Mesopotamia without regret.

If, in fine, we look at it all together — the expansion of the Copernican world-picture into that aspect of stellar space that we possess to-day; the development of Columbus's discovery into a worldwide command of the earth's surface by the West; the perspective of oil-painting and of tragedy- scene; the sublimed home-feeling; the passion of our Civilization for swift transit, the conquest of the air, the exploration of the Polar regions and the climbing of almost impossible mountain-peaks — we see, emerging everywhere the prime-symbol of the Faustian soul, Limitless Space. And those specially (in form, uniquely) Western creations of the soul-myth called "Will," "Force" and "Deed" must be regarded as derivatives of this prime-symbol.


CHAPTER X SOUL-IMAGE AND LIFE-FEELING

11

BUDDHISM, STOICISM, SOCIALISM


CHAPTER X

SOUL-IMAGE AND LIFE-FEELING

II

BUDDHISM, STOICISM, SOCIALISM

I

We are now at last in a position to approach the phenomenon of Morale y^ the intellectual interpretation of Life by itself, to ascend the height from which it is possible to survey the widest and gravest of all the fields of human thought. At the same time, we shall need for this survey an objectivity such as no one has as yet set himself seriously to gain. Whatever we may take Morale to be, it is no part of Morale to provide its own analysis; and we shall get to grips with the problem, not by considering what should be our acts and aims and standards, but only by diagnosing the Western feeling in the very form of the enunciation. In this matter of morale. Western mankind, without exception, is under the influence of an immense optical illusion. Everyone demands something of the rest. We say "thou shalt" in the conviction that so-and-so in fact will, can and must be changed or fashioned or arranged conformably to the order, and our belief both in the efficacy of, and in our title to give, such orders is un- shakable. That, and nothing short of it, />, for us, morale. In the ethics of the West everything is direction, claim to power, will to affect the distant. Here Luther is completely at one with Nietzsche, Popes with Darwinians, Socialists with Jesuits; for one and all, the beginning of morale is a claim to general and permanent validity. It is a necessity of the Faustian soul that this should be so. He who thinks or teaches "otherwise" is sinful, a backslider, a foe, and he is fought down without mercy. You "shall," the State "shall," society "shall" — this form of morale is to us self-evident; it represents the only real meaning that we can attach to the word. But it was not so either in the Classical, or in India, or in China. Buddha, for instance, gives a pattern to take or to leave, and Epicurus offers counsel. Both undeniably are forms of high morale, and neither contains the will-element.

^ In this place it is exclusively with the conscious, religio-philosophical morale — the morale which can be known and taught and followed — that we are concerned, and not with the racial rhythm of Life, the habit, Sitte, ^5os, that is unconsciously present. The morale with which we are dealing turns upon intellectual concepts of Virtue and Vice, good and bad; the other, upon ideals in the blood such as honour, loyalty, bravery, the feeling that attributes nobility and vuigarity. Sec Vol. n, 411 et^eq.

341


342. THE DECLINE OF THE WEST

What wc have entirely failed to observe is the peculiarity of moral dynamic. If we allow that Socialism (in the ethical, not the economic, sense) is that world-feeling which seeks to carry out its own views on behalf of all, then wc arc all without exception, willingly or no, wittingly or no. Socialists. Even Nietzsche, that most passionate opponent of "herd morale," was perfectly incapable of limiting his zeal to himself in the Classical way. He thought only of "mankind," and he attacked everyone who differed from himself. Epicurus, on the contrary, was heartily indifferent to others* opinions and acts and never wasted one thought on the "transformation" of mankind. He and his friends were content that they were as they were and not otherwise. The Classical ideal was indifference (Jiirkdua) to the course of the world — the very thing which it is the whole business of