Category: Hans Abendroth

What it’s aboutWhat it’s about

“Power concerns the organization, arrangement, and distribution of material objects in physical space. Whatever ideas and ideals are brought to bear on this process are necessarily corrupted and weighed down by their contact with decaying matter. Politics, in other words, is the art of juggling corpses and anyone whose highest value is power stinks of the grave.” – Hans Abendroth, The Zero and the One

Free fallingFree falling

“Of all literary genres, tragedy alone remains free from the pretensions to arithmetic that, until history caught up with them, were still indulged in by German philosophers and English novelists, who compensated for their thematic anxieties as an ostrich might—by limiting their scope to the trifling situations of everyday morality. Such moralists are nothing more, in the final analysis, than the authors of etiquette manuals, dressed up in logic and argument, on the one hand, and narrative and dialogue, on the other. In their books, they were content to waltz and quadrille over the depths where tragedy is written because a century of improvements in shoe manufacture enabled them to forget that, in history, there is no floor.” – Hans Abendroth, The Zero and the One

Mad monkeys, angry apesMad monkeys, angry apes

“Moderns regard violence as something internal to human beings: they often speak of the violence that originates in mankind, as if violence were a series of actions a man might perform, or—were he less ignorant, irrational, or superstitious—might as well not perform. That is why moderns are always surprised by sudden outbreaks of violence; it is why they ultimately cannot understand the phenomenon, even as their scientific and technological achievements multiply it exponentially. The ancients, however, knew better. Violence does not exist in man; man exists in violence. Man is merely a vessel for violence, the site where it occurs, the name given by violence itself to the instrument that enacts it. When the man in man is stripped away, he returns to his source and becomes his God.” – Hans Abendroth, The Zero and the One

Just the routine stuffJust the routine stuff

“In practice, everyday morality rarely ever rises to the level of the tragic. Most moral decisions are as simple as basic arithmetic; just so, failures are not matters of knowledge but of social training. Where genuine moral problems are encountered—that is, what are called tragic dilemmas—it is the nature of the dilemma that none of the possible responses ultimately suffices. Any decision, therefore, made in response to a tragic dilemma, will still be, to some more or less pardonable extent, immoral, and any moral agent, when faced with such a dilemma, no matter how much he deliberates, according to whichever ethical system he favors, will not fail to be responsible for this immorality. Nor, if he is truly a man of conscience, will he fail to be permanently damaged by the outcome of his response, whatever it may be.” – Hans Abendroth, The Zero and the One

The cover-upThe cover-up

“The origins of clothing should be sought in man’s desire to forget that his skin is already a kind of uniform. Masks, disguises, costumes—these are worn above all to conceal something from the wearer, who wishes to appear as someone or something else, in order to convince himself that his body is not what it really is: a mask, a disguise, a costume worn by Nature. Just so, we are never more deceived than when we speak of the nakedness of truth. Truth is something tailored, something we have sewn together, stitched up, embroidered, woven, hemmed, and cut. It is something that has to be put on—one leg at a time.” – Hans Abendroth, The Zero and the One

Taking a standTaking a stand

“Beneath each of us shifts the sand of a desert vaster than the Sahara, the desert of our past, over whose dry dunes memory can only skim, blowing temporary patterns of recollection and reinterpretation across the surface of a noumenal landscape wherein the ever-changing is indistinguishable from the eternally-the-same.” – Hans Abendroth, The Zero and the One

Wandering the wildernessWandering the wilderness

“Thought exiles man from being, being exiles him from his self, his self exiles him from the external world, the external world exiles him from time, and his tomorrow will exile him from his today just as surely as his today exiled him from his yesterday. Never and nowhere is man truly at home. In order to experience this all he needs to do is to return, after even a short absence, to the city of his birth.” – Hans Abendroth, The Zero and the One

Mebbe you doan wanna knowMebbe you doan wanna know

“It’s a terrible thing, at any age, to be able to point to some period of your past and say, Those were the best days of my life. For it means that when you divide what is to come by what has already been, the remainder will be the same decimal repeating repeating repeating to infinity. Happiness, when ill timed, can maim a life just as thoroughly as sorrow.” – Hans Abendroth, The Zero and the One (emphasis in original)