Oswald Spengler

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On this date Oswald Spengler died (1880 – 1936).

Frye’s “Spengler Revisted” can be found here.

Frye in one of the late notebooks:

Spengler: I never did buy his “decline” thesis, which I realized from the beginning was Teutonic horseshit, closely related to the Nazi hatred for all forms of human culture.  (Well, not just Nazi; Stalin had just as much of it.)  No, as I’ve said, what struck me was, first, the sense of the interpenetration of historical phenomena, a conception of history in which every phenomenon symbolizes every other phenomenon.

Along with that came the conception of a culture in which works of culture show a progressively aging process.  You have pure tradition in primitive societies, where conventions just repeat over and over, and you have a culture in which tradition accruse a self-consciousness in regard to itself, so that it must be where it is: i.e. Beethoven could only have come between Mozart and Wagner.  This growth of self-awareness in tradition is recapitulated in the life of the poet or artist, which gives biography a genuine function in criticism. (CW, 6, 649)

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3 thoughts on “Oswald Spengler

  1. Ben Steigmann

    I am just getting into Spengler – and I find him to be a genius. His warnings are absolutely prophetic, and an affirmation of the creative and productive impulse.

    To say that he had a “hatred of all culture” is one of the most idiotic statements I have ever heard.


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