David Ross (dyvyd) wrote,
David Ross

Further Crowley-cations and Musil-ings

In Robert Musil's work The Man Without Qualities, Ulrich floats on the culture, acts, but does not know himself well (though he observes himself), he merely knows what is required of him.  Pierce Moffit is in the process of knowing himself, but not knowing his current world well, not knowing how to act.  Pierce is almost the inverse of Ulrich.  A man with qualities perhaps.  Ulrich is capable but detached. Pierce is engaged but incapable.

Both Pierce and Ulrich are set ambiguous tasks that they will observe, analyze, partially engage in, but not accomplish in the usual sense.

Pierce's loves: Rose the vixen, Rosie the nurturer, Roo the "real" one, and Robbie, the self image.  In Musil, Ulrich's loves are Diotima, the universal, Bonadea the nympho, Agathe, the other self (sister, twin), and Clarisse, the will to power. Matchings: Rosie/Diotima; Rose/Bonadea; Roo/Clarisse; Robbie/Agathe.  I am perhaps matching characters almost like baseball cards here: I got a catcher-- you got a catcher? As in most comparisons, there may be something of interest, but in what way is that important? Something for me to talk among myselves....

So what do we have for Beau?  Moosebrugger?  Both fill the job of  "catalytic agent."

Like Bruno, I am just constructing new literary neigborhoods.  So, were will P.M. build his house in my memory?  Somewhere on Musil Drive? Or is Ulrich itching to move to the Faraways?

Certainly both works concern themselves with the historic moment-- how old ages pass, slip into something else.  Crowley's "great works of time" is obscure yet personal, as new things come to being, and old things leave.  Only some can see them come and go.

In Musil we have social change, art, mysticism perhaps, but no magic.  The attempt is made to sum up the glorious history of Austria/Hungary, and make something appropriately grand of it.  Then to ride the wave into a new future, guide the wave, and thus define the future most desirable.  A noble, if impossible task. If Musil's work proves anything it is that Crowley's description of change is the better working model.  Ulrich's and Diotima's "Parallel Campaign" expands and then evaporates like so much gas from the sun.  A little real magic would have been necessary to make things work-- or maybe a real priestess or astrologer?

Ulrich sees himself as a man of possibilities, he sees choices that others do not.  So it is sad that he probably could not make some of these choices come to being, even if he knew which ones he preferred.  In Musil it is the social apparatus that cannot be controlled, that cascades into the new, and not a mechanistic, external system-- though it must be a sub-part of such a system.

So the winds of change whether in Crowley or Musil are not something well understood or easily controlled by us humans.  In both, we are swept along, participants willingly, or unwillingly.  But all swept, every one of us.
Tags: john crowley

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