Written and published in 1934, a year after Hitler's rise to power in Germany, Ernst Juenger's On Pain is an astonishing essay that announces the rise of a new metaphysics of pain in a totalitarian age. One of the most controversial authors of twentieth-century Germany, Juenger rejects the liberal values of liberty, security, ease, and comfort, and seeks instead the measure of man in the capacity to withstand pain and sacrifice. Juenger heralds the rise of a breed of men who--equipped with an unmatched ability to treat themselves and others in a cold and detached way--become one with new, terrorizing machines of death and destruction in human-guided torpedoes and manned airborne missiles, and whose "peculiarly cruel way of seeing," resembling the insensitive lens of a camera, anticipates the horrors of World War II. With a preface by Russell A. Berman and an introduction by translator David C. Durst, this remarkable essay not only provides valuable insights into the cult of courage and death in Nazi Germany, but also throws light on the ideology of terrorism today.
Early Praise for On Pain
"With this superbly introduced and meticulously translated edition of On Pain, scholars will have access to a key Juenger text, which demonstrates his uncanny ability not only to analyze the ruptures and crises brought about by modernity in his day, but also to anticipate world-historical phenomena that critical social theory still grapples with in the twenty-first century."
--Elliot Neaman, Professor of History, University of San Francisco, and author of A Dubious Past: Ernst Juenger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism
"Juenger represents a way of thinking about those things we fear the most....This excellent translation introduces readers to a work of primary importance that will open a new perspective on human experience to all who read it in this volume."
--Marcus Bullock, Professor Emeritus of English, The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and author of The Violent Eye: Ernst Juenger's Visions and Revisions on the European Right
"Until Telos Press's newly translated edition of Juenger's On Pain, there has been no clear-cut introduction to this, his vital critique of social liberalism and the culture of modernity, for scholars of literary, military, and intellectual history. Important yet contentious, On Pain offers a perfect entry point for readers unfamiliar with Juenger the political essayist, focusing upon such issues and ideas as torture and terror, horror and affliction."
--John Armitage, Principal Lecturer of Media & Communication, Northumbria University, United Kingdom, and Founder and Co-Editor of Cultural Politics
"In On Pain, Ernst Juenger shifts a code word of modern subjectivity, derived from Nietzsche and Baudelaire, into the realm of phenomenological objectivity. His 'pain' no longer emphasizes the liberal gesture of 'me, me,' but rather the affirmation of the anonymous condition of the soldier in modern war and the worker in industrial production.... Unique insight into the cruel phenomena of the twentieth century and pre-fascist impulses coalesce in a gaze both analytic and fantastic."
--Karl Heinz Bohrer, Professor of Aesthetics and European Literature, University of Bielefeld