Sunday, January 9, 2011

#9 / Out Of Revolution

Pictured is Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, the author, among other works, of a book entitled, Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man.

I recently recommended this book to a friend, and though it is now out of print, she tracked down a copy, and read all of its 796 pages. At least I think she did.

Actually, I got some feedback from her, questioning what the heck this book is really all about. Not actually remembering the book very well, I thought it only fair to read it again, myself, since I had sent her off on that mission.

Of course, it was easier for me to read the book this time around than it probably had been for me to read it for the first time, since I could rely on my heavy underlining, and my marginal notes.

But what is this book all about? I am not certain that my rereading has given me a greater ability to respond to that question, and it's not the sort of book that "summarizes" very easily.

I did remember, on my rereading, my vivid sense that Rosenstock-Huessy has seen some important things in the "History of Western Civilization" (this chauvinistic phrase actually being the title of one of the main, required courses I took as a college undergraduate). But those insights don't "summarize" very easily, either. You'll have to take on the 796 pages yourself, or make do with this brief excerpt, which is not a "summary," but is certainly worth thinking about:

What the Levellers, the left-wing, the lunatic fringe of Cromwell's revolution, had first arrived at, in 1648 - the idea of a law paramount - was now put into practice in the form of a written Constitution. And the colonists cannot dispense with Thomas Paine, this typical Leveller, this English radical. He crosses the threshold of the English sanctuary, Canaan, he relinquishes the language of Israel, and dares to set foot outside, in free space. Paine exclaims: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now." We are outside Revelation, in the free world of Nature.

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