Re-thinking Spengler Part 4: Bourgeoisie vs Romantics

Let me begin with the conclusion I reached from the last two posts which I never spelled out concisely:  I don’t find Spengler’s concept of pseudomorphosis to be valid. The idea that the dominance of one culture over another leads to hatred independent of the far more obvious psychological explanations that come from being politically disenfranchised (Nietzsche’s slave morality) doesn’t stack up for me, especially as Spengler shows a lack of rigor by extrapolating this one special concept from only two examples (the Magian and a hypothesised modern Russian that seems to rest on little more evidence than Dostoevsky novels).

If it was underlying cultural differences that really drove such hatreds, how can we explain the incessant violence and hatred of all the different Magian religions and societies (Islamic, Jewish, Orthodox Christian, Western Christian) against each other? Why have European Faustians for centuries committed violence against each other every bit as bad as that which they committed against people of different cultures?

More generally, doesn’t the most deep-seated hatred arise from those who are closest to us? Don’t we hate friends who have betrayed us far more than our worst enemies? And don’t family feuds often lead to loathing that lasts a lifetime?

Furthermore, even if it was true that there was a relation between cultures which was destructive and led to hatred, that does not rule out the possibility that there could also be the opposite relation where cultures are mutually beneficial to each other leading to feelings of appreciation and affection. That is exactly the relation the early Faustian had with the Classical-Magian symbiosis. Faustian culture worshipped the Classical-Magian and rightly so because it was on that foundation that the Faustian raised itself.

Spengler was perfectly well aware of this. He repeatedly laments the fact that even some modern Europeans were still in thrall to Classical thinking. But he never gave this dynamic a name because he sees it as a problem. The underlying pessimism behind the pseudomorphosis concept was a feature of the German intelligentsia going back at least to Schopenhauer. We’ll examine what I believe to be the root of it later.

Firstly, though, let’s look at an example of cultural sharing that contrasts with Spengler’s default assumption that cultures are in a Darwinian struggle to the death.

Everybody knows that modern rock and jazz music are derived from the blues and that the blues originated in west African folk music. African folk music influenced black American culture leading to the R&B and early jazz music that was played mostly in small clubs and which developed an underground following in the US in the early 20th century. Later on, that milieu gave birth to rock’n’roll and, as rock’n’roll relied on technology such as electric guitars, amplifiers, electricity and light shows, I think we can properly call rock’n’roll Faustian music.

There’s a scene in the 90s movie White Men Can’t Jump which, funnily enough, explores this progression of rock music from its African roots in a Spenglerian fashion.

Wesley Snipes’ character is in the car with Woody Harrelson’s character. It’s Woody Harrelson’s car and he’s got Jimi Hendrix playing on the car stereo. Wesley Snipes’ character tells him “you can’t hear Jimi” (because you’re white). An argument ensues in which Harrelson’s girlfriend points out that the rest of Jimi’s band was white and so the argument on racial lines makes no sense.

If we assume that rock music belongs to Faustian culture and blues music to African, then we also have to posit that, at some point in the progression from blues to rock, the music became truly Faustian? Where does Jimi Hendrix fit in that progression? Is he a blues player or a rock player? Is his music Faustian or African?

No doubt Spengler, as an unashamed elitist, would write off the pop culture reference as irrelevant. Nevertheless, this is exactly the same dynamic he identifies in Faustian culture. Just like rock music grew from exposure to the blues, Faustian culture grew from exposure to the Magian-Classical symbiosis. And just as there would have been a time when rock music became recognisably rock and no longer blues, there would have been a time when the Faustian became itself.

Of course, Spengler’s book deals with exactly this issue. It’s because Faustian culture had still not recognised itself as a historical entity that he needed to write The Decline of the West . The fact that Spengler became wildly popular after the book was published is evidence that many people were eager to hear just this kind of message. He was an overnight success in much the same way that the early rock’n’roll musicians were. What novel elements do we find in Spengler that could explain this enthusiastic reception by his contemporaries?

There is the positing of a cultural “soul” as the true location of “real” culture against the surface phenomena. In the terminology I have been using, Spengler’s is an esoteric account as contrasted with a materialist or exoteric account. This was something new since almost all historical scholarship up til that point had been concerned entirely with exoteric phenomena: the Who, the What and the When with almost nothing about the Why.

Spengler provided an explanation of the Why. He also provided a notion of identity that went beyond the nationalist categories that had dominated history until that point. Thus we have the Faustian “soul” and not the British or French or German. With the concept of soul, Spengler could also talk about emotions as historical phenomena.

In the pseudomorphosis concept, we see a deep hatred (esoteric) welling up from the soul when it is held back by external forces (exoteric). This hatred is not explained by external political and economic factors but by the more human factors of emotions and feelings. In this way, Spengler fits within the German romantic tradition with its emphasis on feeling over thinking and its predilection for emotional states that were mostly negative such as seen in the pessimist and nihilist movements.

This brings me back to a point I made in a post late last year about the underlying causes of German romanticism. The executive summary is this: following the French revolution, the concept of nationalism became dominant in Europe. The problem for Germany was that it was still a relatively dis-unified group of small states and, despite a popular desire to unify into a country, the politicians could not find a way to create a single nation-state. Many decades of failed political negotiations, riots, uprisings and attempted coups passed until finally the Prussians under Bismarck created the modern nation state of Germany in the 1870s.

Because of the political prevarication, there had been a significant push from the intellectual sphere to define and determine a German identity that would be the basis for a corresponding political structure. This movement inevitably got tied up in populist nationalism which was then hijacked by the Nazis who used it for propaganda. (It should also be noted that many of the intellectuals involved got sucked in by the Nazis to varying degrees, including Spengler). Spengler’s focus on identity and soul fits perfectly within this trend that was taking place in Germany. 

Running parallel with the tide of nationalism was the idea of a pan-European political entity. This notion had begun in earnest with Napoleon. It took varying forms but included most of the things that we’ve seen enacted in the post-war years such as customs unions, freedom of movement etc.

Thus, we can see that Spengler’s positing of a cultural “soul” fulfilled a need that had been created in Germany specifically but which was also relevant to the whole of the (continental) Faustian realm. His book fits better with the pan-European or pan-Faustian viewpoint and yet it has the distinctive style of German romanticism which, in my opinion, was born out of the political and cultural identity crisis that Germany had gone through in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Arnold Toynbee

This identity crisis was far more prevalent on the continent than in Britain, which was enjoying a long period of political stability as well as the economic benefits of a growing empire. And so it’s not a coincidence that we see an absence of the romantic concepts that Spengler uses in the work of his British contemporary, Arnold Toynbee.

Toynbee writes in the clear, concise prose of 19th century English scholarship. He is Darwin to Spengler’s Nietzsche. Like Darwin, Toynbee is methodical and thorough to the point of being boring and repetitive. Whereas Spengler focuses almost entirely on the Faustian-Classical-Magian axis with occasional references to the Chinese or Egyptians, Toynbee catalogues 21 civilisations and gives them all roughly equal attention (well, for the most part). In that way, he came closer than Spengler to Spengler’s own stated goal of achieving a Copernican revolution in historical scholarship that shifted the focus away from parochialism.

Perhaps most importantly for the terms of reference I have been using in this series, Toynbee is concerned with the exoteric while Spengler is concerned with the esoteric. He is the yang to Spengler’s yin.

Whereas Spengler ignores the obvious cases of cultural inheritance and sharing, Toynbee notes that there can be many different relations between cultures that are in close contact with each other including animosity, ignorance and appreciation. Conversely, Toynbee is embarrassingly shallow on esoteric questions which he either resolves down to a timid moral discussion or avoids them altogether and slips back into talking about mechanism. This distinction between the two historians fits with the other differences between Britain and Germany that had manifested in the 19th century.

Because of Britain’s political stability and economic growth, it was the natural home of the bourgeoisie whose primary preoccupation was comfort and materialism. Not without good reason, the bourgeoisie came to be associated with the term philistine, meaning a willful ignorance of the higher things in life combined with a petty moralising that is nothing more than a flimsy veneer for a stifling social conformity.

The bourgeoisie, for all its moralising, turned a blind eye to the poverty, crime, child labour, horrific workplace conditions and all the other very tangible and very obvious negative results of industrialisation that immiserated thousands if not millions of the working class. Hence, bourgeois philistinism came with a generous side order of hypocrisy and sanctimony.

19th Century London slum

The rise of the bourgeosie was correlated with the creation of mass movements which saw the homogenisation of society. The romantic movement was in large part a revolt against this process. Its focus on the individual came as a direct response to the fact that real individuality was disappearing.

It’s because the romantic movement was reactionary that it was primarily concerned with negative emotional traits and states of mind which captured the feelings of meaninglessness and despair that were prevalent in a society which had broken with tradition and seemed to lose its moorings. Spengler’s romantic pessimism places him firmly in this camp while Toynbee belonged to the British stiff upper lip stoicism which preferred to dissociate itself from real emotions and real moral questions altogether.

One thing they both agreed on was that the homogenisation of the populace into a single mass had happened before in the declining years of the Roman empire. Thus the 19th century can be seen as directly analogous to that period in Classical history. But the esoteric reactionary movement of the Romantics also had a parallel in the ancient world. In order to understand this, we must put on our Spenglerian glasses and look past the surface phenomena that might seem to contradict this reading.

Firstly, there is the question of slavery. The latter stages of the Roman empire saw a new kind of brutal slavery that was very different from the earlier forms. This large scale slavery caused the cities of the time to become slums as conditions for the poor worsened.

By contrast, the 19th century saw the abolition of slavery in 1833 in Britain and 1865 in the USA. We might, therefore, think that our age was more enlightened. However, as I have already alluded to, the conditions in the sweatshops and mines of the 19th century were horrendous and the streets of London were arguably not much better than the streets of Rome back in ancient times.  

If we look beneath the surface, what we find is that in both cases what was going on was the creation of the proletariat; a homogenous mass of workers and poor. That’s exactly what happened in the 19th century and Britain was the first to take this step.

The second important point is that, in ancient Rome, the formation of the proletariat was followed by an esoteric reaction in the form of Magian religion. This gave us the table we saw in the last post:


Here, again, we must look beyond the surface phenomenon which tells us that the 19th century was different. The Magian religion which had been used to found modern Europe (Christianity) went into seemingly terminal decline. This appears to contradict a supposed correspondence with the ancient world.

However, the Magian was simply the form of the esoteric that arose in Roman times. To compare to our time, we need to look for any kind of esoteric activity in general and, when we do, we see that there was an explosion of the esoteric in the 19th century and that the romantic movement itself was a primary exemplar.

Thus, literature and the arts started to focus on subterranean themes and emotions. There was surge of popular interest in the occult. Interest in eastern religions grew with a particular focus on the esoteric practices of meditation and yoga. Perhaps most importantly, we see the birth of modern psychology at the end of the 19th century, an esoteric discipline that cloaked itself in the guise of modern science.

If we lump all these esoteric developments under the banner of Romanticism, we get the following table:-

BourgeoisieExotericConsciousExtrovertNation State, industrial capitalismBusinessman, worker, voter
RomanticsEsotericSub-consciousIntrovertArt, psychology, literature, occultIndividual

The bourgeoisie dominated in the Anglo countries through the influence of the British empire while the continent became the primary location for the romantic movement due to the thwarting of imperial ambition. While Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and Holland had been off sailing the seven seas, the beginnings of the esoteric counterpoint naturally found expression in Germany which was a latecomer to the exoteric developments of the nation state, industrial economy and imperialism. There’s a reason why Mozart, Beethoven and Bach came from the German-speaking lands.

Thus, I finally have my answer to the question which prompted this series of posts: why was there an explosion of the Magian in the 19th century. But, actually, I was asking the wrong question. The real question is: why was there an explosion of the esoteric. The answer is because we are in that part of the cycle where the esoteric arises due to thwarted exoteric ambitions. The Magian was the Classical world’s esoteric turn in Roman times. It came right after the creation of the proletariat. The same process happened in the 19th century.

The esoteric explosion of the 19th century often took Magain form because the Faustian was built upon the Classical-Magian symbiosis. So, it makes sense that the modern Faustian would use the Magian for inspiration because it is the primarily reference point for the esoteric in our culture. Thus, much of the esoteric turn of the 19th century used Magian symbolism and theory as its guide.

However, there is a meta element to this. The esoteric is not just concerned with negative emotions and states of mind. It is also concerned with death. And it’s exactly the question of death that had arisen in the 19th century. But the form that question took was very different to the form it took back in the ancient world. Thus, the Magian turn in the 19th century was actually, to bastardise Spengler’s concept, a pseudomorphosis. Something was hiding beneath.

In the next post, we’ll explore that development in more detail and then we’ll be ready to wrap up this series by addressing whether Spengler’s predictions for the future are still valid or whether something else might be going on.

All posts in this series:-
Re-thinking Spengler Part 1: Morphological Thinking
Re-thinking Spengler Part 2: The Psychology of Pseudomorphosis
Re-thinking Spengler Part 3: The Problem of the Magian
Re-thinking Spengler Part 4: Bourgeoisie vs Romantics
Re-thinking Spengler Part 5: On Elitism
Re-thinking Spengler Part 6: Rogue Priests and Rebel Commanders
Re-thinking Spengler Part 7: A Pop Culture Interlude
Re-thinking Spengler Part 8: Kings and Commoners
Re-thinking Spengler Part 9: Escape from the Tyrannical Father
Re-thinking Spengler Part 10: The USA (Universal State of America)
Re-thinking Spengler Final

Re-thinking Spengler Part 3: The Problem of the Magian

One of things in the study of history that our modern mindset chaffs against is the imprecision of it all. We want to do “science”. We want clean and firmly delineated categories that we can then use to test and map out relationships between the interacting components. We want a system, a machine.

As Spengler correctly points out, this is not possible when it comes to history. We can only look for patterns and those patterns will be more or less well-defined. I have mentioned before that I did my degree in linguistics and linguistics suffers from the same problem. It is clear that there is a deeper structure at play in language but that structure consistently eludes attempts to nail it down into a fixed system. Part of the reason for that is that the structure is in a constant process of becoming. Language is always changing. Even if you could systematise it for some period of time, it will soon have evolved to something new.

Modern scholarship in the life science and humanities with its physics envy avoids these problems by overlaying a veneer of rigor which simply isn’t there. We saw a great example of this during the last 3 years as virologists, with their preferred mathematical algorithms, analysed the genetic code of the sars-cov-2 virus and generated a stupefying number of sub-sub-sub-variants. Viruses provide perhaps the ultimate example of the categorisation problem involved in the life sciences since they are in a constant state of becoming (mutation) and so defy definition. The etymology of the word define is to finish, to conclude. But life never concludes. It rolls on leaving the scholar scratching his or her head.

As I mentioned in the last post, it is this problem of definitions which led me to go back and re-read Spengler recently with a particular focus on the definitions of the Magian and the Faustian cultures.

It is no coincidence that Spengler gives the most attention to the Faustian, the Classical and the Magian in Decline of the West since these are the three cultures that we have the most knowledge of due to the close historical relationship of the three. The distinction between the Classical and the Faustian is clear. Spengler refers to the Classical as day and the Faustian as night and they are in many respects inversions. The distinction between the Magian and the Faustian is far less clear. They share a number of important properties as we’ll see shortly.

One way I’ve been trying to make sense of the problem is to think about politics and culture as different things. Spengler uses a similar distinction between nobility and priesthood, which he assumes are united but also in conflict but I think politics and culture work better in modern terminology. We saw many examples of this conflict in the 20th century and preceding centuries.

Perhaps the ultimate example of the mismatch between politics and culture can be seen in practice of politicians drawing arbitrary borders on maps and calling them countries. (For those who haven’t seen it, there’s a great Laurie and Fry sketch satirising the drawing of maps at the Treaty of Westphalia.)

The business of elites drawing political maps that didn’t correspond to reality had been a problem in Europe for centuries but reached a peak at the time of the world wars. One of the reasons Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia was because there was a substantial German-speaking population there that he claimed he wanted to reunite with the fatherland. But most of central and eastern Europe at that time had minority populations that had been displaced by wars and other political happenings. Many of them ended up stateless and were thrown into internment camps while politicians figured out what to do with them.

The current war in Ukraine is partly about reuniting people who speak and think of themselves as Russian with the political entity known as Russia. With Taiwan, we have the reverse issue of a people who are culturally Chinese but don’t want to be reunited with the political entity known as China.

Such problems did not exist for the Classical culture. You belonged to a polis. A polis was a place with a fixed geographical position. The polis was the location of all politics and culture. Outside the polis was nothing. It was for this reason that ostracism (expulsion) was considered the worst punishment for Classical man, even worse than death. It was akin to being annihilated (literally, reduced to nothingness).

We might summarise the Classical as follows:


With the pseudomorphosis of the Magian, we must add a new layer to the dynamic. The Magian grows up under the auspices of the Classical. A Christian in, let’s say, the second century AD who was a citizen of the Roman Empire was expected to follow the exoteric requirements of Rome. But they also had a separate set of beliefs that were esoteric and, from the point of view of official Roman life, subconscious. Thus, we can add the Magian to the table as follows:-


Using the above-mentioned concepts of politics and culture, the Magian had become a sub-culture within the political structure of the Roman Empire. Over time, as the Classical culture atrophied, the Magian became the culture but this led to a split because now culture was separate or out of sync with politics.

Later on, as Spengler notes, the Magian culture (religion) managed to influence and change the exoteric political structure in subtle ways. Once this had happened, however, we must look beneath the surface to understand what is going on. Now we have a subconscious and introverted culture rising up from the shadows to affect the body politic. Therefore, with the appearance of the Magian we, as amateur historians, can no longer take things on face value. It is with the appearance of the Magian that Spengler’s kind of historical analysis becomes valid.

Thus, the Classical is a problem for Spenglerian analysis because it seemingly has no hidden parts. Spengler admits that there is no evidence for a priestly or religious basis for the Classical. He simply asserts that it must be there because that’s what his model requires.

Eventually, of course, the Roman Empire faded away. What lived on, however, was the combination of the Classical and the Magian preserved by the scholars of the time who were almost universally monks and hermits who lived in monasteries scattered throughout Europe and the east including as far afield as the western shores of Ireland. It was these religious people who fostered what is sometimes called medieval philosophy which combined study of the Classical philosophy, mostly Plato and Aristotle, with Christianity. There was also significant influence from Islamic and Jewish scholarship.

All this wasn’t just random, of course. Christianity had become the state religion under Constantine and the spread of Christianity happened in areas under Roman influence. When Charlemagne ascended to power, it was to these religious institutions he turned to guide the development of what became Faustian culture. Christianity was fundamental to this development. Charlemagne and later rulers forced the remaining pagan tribes of Europe to convert to Christianity either voluntarily or at the point of a sword.

In this way, the Classical-Magian symbiosis became the basis for the Faustian. We could map it out this way:-

FaustianExotericConsciousExtrovertFiefVassal or Peasant

But this diagram is perhaps more accurate of what happened later when one’s religion became a personal matter that was separate from one’s political identity (again, a separation of politics and culture).

In the early years of the Faustian, the Church was arguably the main organising force in society. That is certainly what is implied by the Crusades which were initiated by the Pope. The crusaders primarily saw themselves as Christians fighting a holy war. In fact, the structure of the Christian realm of Europe at that time looked an awful like the structure of the Islamic caliphate that it was fighting against. The early Faustian mirrored the Magian in that religion had now become the exoteric political structure in the form of the caliphate.

Spengler acknowledges these developments a few times in his book but de-emphasises them because he is trying to get away from the linear version of history that they imply. For example, he says of the Faustian:

“He required a past in order to find meaning and depth in the present. On the spiritual side the past which presented itself to him was ancient Israel, on the mundane it was ancient Rome, whose relics he saw all about him.”

Is this true? Did Faustian man “require” a past or was he simply making use of what was there? The Islamic caliphate paradigm was not just there, it was dominant. It had conquered the Visigoths in Spain and was threatening the rest of Europe. The unification of Europe into what was basically a Christian caliphate makes sense as a political response in much the same way that Russia and China are currently trying to compete with western political hegemony by creating economic networks (belt and road) and establishing rival financial systems.

This would help to explain one of the ambiguities about the early Faustian that Spengler left unanswered: the question of Magian-Classical influence.

If the Magian arose in pseudomorphosis, unwillingly and resentfully dominated by the Classical, what do we call the Faustian’s willing embrace of the Magian-Classical. It could be a “love of the past” as Spengler asserts or it could have been political-military pressure and mimicry. Spengler appeals to the “Faustian soul” while the latter explanation applies an evolutionary understanding of history. New evolutionary paradigms which are advantageous to the organism (society) will spread and propagate. The caliphate model was adopted because it had been proven to work. The success of that approach can perhaps best be seen in the fact that Christians recaptured Spain in the late 13th century, coincidentally at just the time when the crusades ended.

It also seems to me that the relationship of the Faustian to the Magian doesn’t make sense within Spengler’s framework.

There are 3 different relationships of the Magian to the Faustian. The Muslim was the enemy in a political and military sense. The Christian had been adopted willingly as an organising principle of society. And the Jewish had become the Other. If the Muslim, Christian and Jewish are all, at base, Magian, how can it be that the early Faustians should have such different relationships with all three?

But it’s more complicated than that and the issue of the Jews can help us to see why. One way to explain this while also giving an insight into the mindset of the early Faustians is through the story of Peter the Hermit, one of the first crusaders.

Peter the Hermit on a recruitment drive

Prior to the crusade, Peter had gone on a pilgrimage to the holy land but he only began his preaching career once Pope Urban II announced the crusade. Apparently Peter was good at his job. He assembled no less than 40,000 crusaders in Cologne, most of whom were apparently peasants. But, before leaving for the crusade, Peter came to be a leader in what later was called the Rhineland Massacres which might have been the first pogroms against the Jews driven by mob psychology.

Within Spengler’s framework, this would be a signal for a pseudomorphosis. The Jews were the older civilisation and were in a position of some power being traders and financiers. The hatred towards them from the nascent Faustians would make sense. But, again, how can we square that with the fact that the Faustians had embraced Christianity? That would mean they both hated the Magian and worshipped the Magian at the same time.

Of course, the crusading mobs were barely Christianised at all. They’d certainly skipped the parts of the scriptures about loving thine enemy. Peter the Hermit and other mob leaders were interested primarily in the creation of the Other and the Jews filled that role from the Christian point of view in exactly the same way that we see in the other Magian religions: Jew/Gentile, Muslim/Infidel, Christian/Heathen.

The crusading mobs had an obvious target in the Jews. The people knew enough about their new religion to know who had killed Jesus. However, there was also a significant financial element to the violence. Many crusaders financed their expedition by buying supplies and borrowing money from Jewish traders.  The pogroms were certainly partly motivated by a desire to get out of debt. This reading is enhanced by the fact that Peter the Hermit and his merry band would later set fire to Belgrade on the way to the holy land, killing 4,000 people and stealing anything that wasn’t nailed down.

Of crucial importance is the fact that all this lawless violence, including against the Jews, was forbidden by both church and feudal leaders and this gives us an insight into how tenuous was the grip on power of the elites of that time because the mobs were not afraid to disobey. In one case, the Bishop of Worms had tried to hide a group of Jews who were escaping from the mob but the mob broke into the church and slaughtered them on the spot (if this sounds like an early version of Schindler’s List, it’s because it was).

Officially, the Jews were afforded a status in the Christian lands that was almost identical to that given to Christians and Jews by regions under Islamic rule. That is, they had a subordinate but protected status. Thus, we see a clear difference in attitude between the nobility/priesthood and the average person.

But it was more than a difference of attitude. It is just a simple fact of history that the Jews became financiers to the European elites, most notably in times of war. Jewish negotiators were also used to nut out the details of peace treaties following the wars where they played the role objective observers who were also able to facilitate the financial transactions once the deal was done. This dynamic lasted all the way up until the Franco-Prussian war. The Treaty of Versailles was the first not negotiated by Jewish intermediaries (and if you look at the quality of that treaty, you might conclude that it would have been better to have enlisted Jewish help on that one too).

What all this looks like to me is the elites of the nascent Faustian adopting the means necessary to build a society. Let’s be honest, the Europeans of the time were barbarians. Peter the Hermit was not unique. The Jews were not just traders and financiers but also played an important role in the scholarship of medieval period. Meanwhile, the Islamic countries were way ahead economically, militarily and culturally. Thus, the adoption of the Magian-Classical paradigm at the start of the Faustian made sense on purely pragmatic grounds.

Spengler notes that the Faustian culture has always been ruled by elites but those elites did not come out of nowhere. They formed themselves around the Magian-Classical paradigm. The knowledge of the Classical and the Magian was revered because it really was the cutting edge knowledge of the time. If there was a real Faustian then it too must have bubbled up from the common folk. But if that’s true then I fail to see why this isn’t a pseudomorphosis exactly as Spengler describes it. The difference would be that the Faustian elites themselves were the ones preventing the emergence of the new culture by clinging to the Magian-Classical paradigm that was the basis of their power.

But maybe there was no pseudomorphosis. Maybe it’s all just mob psychology, the resentment of the poor against the rich, the weak against the powerful. If that’s true, then a linear explanation appealing to general evolutionary and psychological principles works better.

This wouldn’t negate Spengler’s cyclical view of history or even his idea of a “Faustian soul”. On the contrary, the appearance of a linear progression through evolutionary history is facilitated by the lifecycles of the individual organisms who participate in the process. The question here may be a theological one: is there an immutable (cultural) “soul”?

In the next post, we’ll use these concepts to look at the developments that happened in the 19th and 20th century that originally got me thinking about all this. There really does seem to have been an explosion of the Magian at that time and next week we’ll try to unpack it and find out why.

All posts in this series:-
Re-thinking Spengler Part 1: Morphological Thinking
Re-thinking Spengler Part 2: The Psychology of Pseudomorphosis
Re-thinking Spengler Part 3: The Problem of the Magian
Re-thinking Spengler Part 4: Bourgeoisie vs Romantics
Re-thinking Spengler Part 5: On Elitism
Re-thinking Spengler Part 6: Rogue Priests and Rebel Commanders
Re-thinking Spengler Part 7: A Pop Culture Interlude
Re-thinking Spengler Part 8: Kings and Commoners
Re-thinking Spengler Part 9: Escape from the Tyrannical Father
Re-thinking Spengler Part 10: The USA (Universal State of America)
Re-thinking Spengler Final

Re-thinking Spengler Part 2: The Psychology of Pseudomorphosis

I said at the end of the last post that I was going to talk about Hyper Masculinity this week. However, I’ve decided to push that topic back to later on. So, in this post I want to talk about the not necessarily unrelated topic of psychology.

Spengler devotes a section of the first book of Decline of the West to a critique of psychology on the grounds that it falls into the same error as modern history by applying cause-and-effect analysis to a domain where it does not belong. That criticism is valid. Psychology and history belong to the group of disciplines that should be doing morphological analysis based on pattern, form and the other elements on the right-hand side of the table we looked in the last post.

Curiously, Spengler also criticises the modern psychological distinction between conscious and unconscious on the basis that it invokes a spatial metaphor. This is a strange thing to complain about since Spengler grounds his own concept of pseudomorphosis in a spatial-geological metaphor.

You get the feeling that Spengler simply has something against psychology and this is all the weirder since the entire basis of his analysis is, in my opinion, predicated on the concept of the Unconscious. Indeed, it might not be an exaggeration to say that Faustian culture is the culture of the Unconscious, as we will see later.

It’s noteworthy, and just a little bit synchronous, that Spengler had finished writing the first book of Decline of the West in 1914, just one year after Jung’s famous break with Freud and at the same time when Jung began to have the psychological experiences that he describes in The Red Book. Those experiences changed his life and his attitude to psychology. From that time on, Jung pursued exactly the kind of psychology that Spengler would have approved of (with reservations) and this led Jung to the very Spenglerian idea of the archetypes.  

Jung would later write one of his better known books “Modern man in search of a soul”. But the whole concept of “soul” is central to Spengler. Spengler’s analysis is predicated on discovering the Faustian “soul”. Jung identified the soul as belonging to the Unconscious, although capable of integration into consciousness. Meanwhile, Spengler seems to suggest that the task of Faustian culture, the collective “soul”, was also to finally become self-aware. Thus, the tasks the two men set for their respective fields was very similar.

All this makes Spengler’s rejection of the Unconscious more mysterious. He clearly sees Faustian culture as being concerned with that which lies beneath.

“To battle against the comfortable foregrounds of life, against the impressions of the moment, against what is near, tangible and easy, to win through to that which has generality and duration and links past and future – these are the sum of all Faustian imperatives…”

This could serve as an exact description of Jung’s psychology of the Unconscious. It is difficult and most people will try to avoid it. But it aims to see beyond the cognitive impressions of the day and link modern psychology back to its history. In doing so, it aims to find the parts of the psyche that have duration. In other words, it’s very Faustian.

If Faustian culture is primarily concerned with the depths, it is almost certainly because that culture has been lurking away somewhere beneath the surface from the very beginning. This is a point that Spengler makes time and again in his book and the easiest way to understand it is to compare the Faustian against the Classical culture because the two are, in many ways, antithetical.

The Classical is perhaps the ultimate example of an exoteric, extroverted culture. Everything that we think of as Classical culture happened out in the open. That culture was centred around the polis. Whatever happened outside the polis was simply irrelevant. This included all the activities that were tied up with existence such as growing and preparing food, making clothes, tending the house etc. The Classical man had a contempt for work and not having to work to support yourself was a basic criterion for membership of the polis.  

This latter fact is why slaves, women and children were excluded from the polis and, by extension, the culture. They were relegated to the household and the household was the economy (the word economy comes from Greek oikos, meaning “house”). Our obsession with the economy is the opposite of the Classical mindset.

The Greek psychology was a tripartite distinction between God – animal – plant. But the latter two were synonymous with the economy and were explicitly excluded from both psychology and politics. It was only the godlike in man that could take part in the polis. Man was godlike to the extent that he had disconnected himself from the activities required for basic subsistence.

Viewed from the frame of modern psychology, the Unconscious did not exist for the Greeks and Romans. What we have in the Classical culture is the purest form of the exoteric at the macrocosmic (political) level and the purest form of the conscious at the microcosmic (psychological). There were no priests, no experts, no middlemen, no psychoanalysts, no deep state or anything of the sort in Classical culture. Everything was right out in the open.

Et tu, Brute?

Julius Caesar was knifed on the steps of the Senate in full view of everybody. There was no mystery about who killed him or why. Compare that with the assassination of JFK, where decades later documents are still being released (how very Faustian) and conspiracy theories stoked.

Compared against the Classical, both the Magian and then the Faustian cultures introduced the esoteric, the occult and the unconscious into the equation. Note that this happened at both the microcosmic and the macrocosmic levels. The various religious communities of the Magian grew up underneath the political structure of the Classical. Spengler called this a pseudomorphosis. In his analysis, the Magian was a brand new culture that was trying to emerge but was stifled by being made to conform to the exoteric forms of the Classical.

But just as there was a congruence between the political and the psychological in the Classical societies, we can also see that the pseudomorphosis gives rise to its own psychology. This is something that Spengler seems to have missed, which is strange because he was clearly an admirer of Nietzsche and Nietzsche devoted an entire book (The Antichrist) to the subject.

To translate Nietzsche’s argument into Spenglerian terms: it was because the Magian could not find exoteric expression that it became esoteric. A community which could not have politicians and citizens would have priests and a consenus of the faithful instead. What emerges is a dual society and a dual psychology with the Classical taking its familiar role as the exoteric and the Magian becoming the esoteric. You give unto Caesar what is his while keeping your real beliefs to yourself.

Viewed psychologically, this amounts to the emergence of the Unconscious. In the pure world of the Classical, there is no difference between believing and doing. But when the Magian cultures got stuck in a pseudomorphosis, they had to separate their culture from the dominant culture. When the persecution of the Christians started, many decided it was easier to renounce the faith. Others chose to become martyrs. Once the Magian found an esoteric toehold, it created a society which needed to be deciphered. The exterior form could no longer be taken at face value. One had to look beneath to understand what was really going on.

Nietzsche wrote the whole thing off as an example of slave morality compared to the master morality of Rome. This was consonant with the anti-Jewish and anti-Christian sentiment that became popular in the 19th century. But it also followed a pattern whose history goes right back to the start of the Faustian. Spengler talks about this dynamic numerous times. It’s the Faustian obsession with the Classical.

Consider that, even to this day, much of our technical language of law, science and medicine is derived from Latin and Greek. We might write this up to simple pragmatism. After all, the texts that formed the early Faustian culture were written in Latin for the most part. But, even if it was just pragmatism, it still created a dynamic where the Classical culture came to constitute the exoteric form of the Faustian. The Renaissance was just an especially enthusiastic episode in the ongoing attraction of the Classical for Faustian culture.

Classical architecture has had numerous “revivals” including in the 18th century.

It is strange that Spengler never tries to explain the worship of the Classical in general terms even though he refers to it countless times throughout the book. The reason could be because it causes problem for his analysis.

It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that Faustian culture was in a dual pseudomorphosis. There was a Magian pseudomorphosis in the religious sphere and a Classical pseudomorphosis in the intellectual, legal and political sphere. Technically, this explanation doesn’t work because a pseudomorphosis requires a dominant culture and neither the Magian nor the Classical were politically dominant in Europe at the time of the birth of the Faustian. Rather, it seems that the Faustian willingly incorporated the Classical and the Magian.

Things get more complicated when we consider that, by Spengler’s own analysis, the Magian religion had taken over the Classical in its civilisational phase. The Classical was still exoterically present while the Magian was esoterically or spiritually dominant.

Thus, there is an obvious linear explanation. First, there was the Classical culture as purely exoteric. The Magian came along and added the esoteric/unconscious. When Faustian culture began, it took both of these as its starting point. This idea of a linear progression, ancient – medieval – modern, is exactly what Spengler is arguing against in his book. He argues in favour of a cyclical pattern based on biology where a culture is born, rises to its peak and then dies.

Whether the linear or the cyclical explanation is ultimately true, it is just a fact that with both the Magian and then the Faustian cultures we must posit a deeper reality behind appearance. It’s because the Faustian borrowed so explicitly from the Magian and the Classical that the real Faustian can only be found beneath the surface. Spengler repeatedly insists that we must ignore the exoteric appearance of Faustian society (Magian in religion, Classical in intellect) and look beneath. He uses the word “soul” to refer to this but if we translate it into Jungian terms it is nothing more or less than the Unconscious.

The result is that Faustian culture has always, to use a Nietzschean phrase, worn a mask. We have worn the Magian mask in religion and we have worn the Classical mask in the intellectual sphere. To understand Faustian culture, is to learn to look beneath the mask, to disregard the exoteric and the conscious and to get down into the esoteric and the unconscious.

And herein lies a fascinating possibility. What if the 19th century is the age in which Faustian culture finally throws off the dual pseudomorphosis and learns to see itself for the first time. Can it be a coincidence that just at this time Jung and Spengler were working on very similar ideas? The other cultural trends of the time seem to fit too. We see the Christian church (the Magian pseudomorphosis) become all but irrelevant to the general culture while the Classical has almost disappeared from architecture.

Hyper-masculine phallic symbol?

What if in Schopenhauer and Nietzsche we see the true Faustian philosophy; in Jung, the true Faustian psychology; in Spengler, the true Faustian history; quantum mechanics is the true Faustian physics; electronic fiat currency (and possibly Bitcoin!) is the true Faustian currency. Planes, trains and automobiles are the true Faustian transport etc etc.

If this sounds fanciful, we have to bear in mind another assumption of Spengler’s and this is another point where comparison to the Classical can help us understand a key point about our own culture.

In the Classical polis, everybody was an equal. The polis was not a universal institution (slaves and women were excluded). But once you were in the polis, you were equal to everybody else. Nothing could have been more absurd in the Classical world than the idea of “trusting the experts”. There was no hidden knowledge, and even if there was, it was worthless and even dangerous, something to be fought against. In the Classical, a man was synonymous with his deeds and his words. Russell Crowe’s line in the movie Gladiator captures the ethic perfectly: “what we do in this life echoes in eternity.”

By contrast, Faustian culture (the real Faustian culture, not the exoteric form of the culture) has from the start been limited to the elites. Spengler is quite open and, from a modern point of view, derogatory about this. For him, only a small number of people have ever been real players in Faustian culture. Nevertheless, as we saw in the last 3 years, the vast majority of people agree with the him. The general public believes that we must trust the experts. The assumption of the culture is that there is a small number of people who know what’s really going on and our job is to do what they say.

This has been the (unspoken) conviction right from the start of the Faustian. There are deeper “truths” that only a select few can know. Trusting the experts is a peculiarly Faustian quality. The Classical would have rejected it outright and for the Magian there needed to be general consensus through understanding.

Thus, if the Faustian really is the culture of the elites, it does look like something big happened in the 19th and early 20th centuries because this was the golden age of the genius. Just think of names like Nietzsche, Boltzmann, Einstein, Faraday, Rutherford, Darwin, Bohr, Pasteur, Gödel. The list could go on and on. Has there been even one person in the post war years to compare against these giants? Similarly, has there been a single scientific breakthrough in the post war years to match those of the 19th and early 20th centuries? I can’t think of any.

Spengler hypothesised that, in the years prior to the war, there was a great battle going on between money and intellect. This battle had its roots in the original grand cosmic contest which begins every culture and that is the contest between nobility and priesthood. Well, we now know who won: money. Money destroyed intellect (although it could very well be argued that the intellect destroyed itself. How many 19th C geniuses were half insane?). The corona debacle is the clearest possible indication of how decisive that victory was. There appears to no longer be a single institution of society which has not been corrupted by money, including and especially “science”.

The post war period has only been held together by the domination of money which is why for decades the only thing we ever heard about in the media was the GDP or the inflation rate or the unemployment figures. Given the current state of money, it may very well be that its dominance too is coming to an end. What should happen next according to Spengler is the arrival of the Caesars and the Second Religiosity. And, yet, this is the one prediction in the book that Spengler seemed to get wrong. The question is: did he just get the timing wrong or is something more fundamental at work? We’ll return to that question in the last post of the series.

All posts in this series:-
Re-thinking Spengler Part 1: Morphological Thinking
Re-thinking Spengler Part 2: The Psychology of Pseudomorphosis
Re-thinking Spengler Part 3: The Problem of the Magian
Re-thinking Spengler Part 4: Bourgeoisie vs Romantics
Re-thinking Spengler Part 5: On Elitism
Re-thinking Spengler Part 6: Rogue Priests and Rebel Commanders
Re-thinking Spengler Part 7: A Pop Culture Interlude
Re-thinking Spengler Part 8: Kings and Commoners
Re-thinking Spengler Part 9: Escape from the Tyrannical Father
Re-thinking Spengler Part 10: The USA (Universal State of America)
Re-thinking Spengler Final

Re-thinking Spengler Part 1: Morphological Thinking

It must be more than ten years since I first read Spengler’s The Decline of the West. My recollection was that I found it a little tedious and that I skimmed through some parts while broadly agreeing with the ideas for which the book is most famous, almost all of which are, as the title of the book suggests, critiques of the current state of western society and culture. Most of those critiques have only become more perspicacious in recent times.

At the end of last year, I realised I needed to read Spengler again, mostly to work through a hypothesis that occurred to me while writing my Unconscious Empire series, which was that the modern West has been undergoing what seemed to me like a Magian pseudomorphosis. This idea contradicts one of the key components of Spengler’s own analysis which is that what is really going on in the West is that we are entering the Civilisation phase of the cycle, the final transformation before “death”. 

So, I used the Christmas break to re-read Spengler and in this series of posts I want to address some of the major themes that occurred to me, including the idea that we are in a Magian pseudomorphosis (spoiler alert: it’s complicated). By coincidence, 2023 is also the 100-year anniversary of the publication of the combined edition of The Decline of the West (originally published in 1923). So, what better time to re-evaluate one of the great works of historical analysis.

From a personal point of view, the big change in mindset I have gone through since first reading the book is exactly the one which Spengler describes in the introduction and which forms the core of his critique of modern history as a discipline and the new method of history which he proposes. I have been calling this mindset symbolic or archetypal thinking but Spengler refers to it as morphological analysis. We can distinguish this approach from the default mindset of our culture known to all and sundry as simply “science”. Science looks for cause-and-effect relationships while the morphological approach looks for structure and pattern.

Long-term readers of the blog would know that it was corona which really got me into archetypal-thinking especially through the works of Carl Jung and then Jean Gebser. So, in this sense, reading Spengler for the second time has been far more intense and also far more rewarding as I’ve been able to compare the paradigm I have been using against Spengler’s. I now have a far more precise picture of where I agree and disagree with Spengler and I’ll be sketching that out in later posts.

In any case, the tools of the job are the same whether you’re doing Spenglerian, Gebserian or Jungian analysis. We summarise them as follows using Spengler’s vocabulary:-

ScienceMorphological Analysis
Cause and EffectForm/pattern, Morphological Analysis, Archetypes (Urphänomene)
Logic/CognitionIntuition, Comparison, Empathy, Instinct
Space, Matter, LifeTime, Destiny, Death
“Hard Science”“Humanities” (“soft science”)
Pretty much everybody elseGoethe, Spengler, Gebser, Jung, Nietzsche (sort of), Gregory Bateson, Systems Thinking (esp. Weinberg)

When Spengler criticises the historians of his time (as well as the psychologists) he is accusing them of the category error of applying the methods of the hard sciences where they don’t belong. Corona provided us with a perfect example of this exact error and so we can use it as a way to elucidate the distinction between the two ways of thinking.

It is the Destiny of all living things to die. The pattern, or morphology, that this takes for a person is so obvious that we never need to spell it out. But let’s do so here for the sake of argument: you’re born, you come of age, go through middle age into old age and eventually die. That is the archetypal pattern in a stable society, although obviously death can come earlier for a variety of reasons. This pattern or archetypal way of thinking about death leads us to statements of the obvious like the older you get, the more likely you are to die. Nevertheless, over the last 3 years, such statements of the obvious were completely disregarded in favour of “science”.

Science wants to know about causes and so the cause of death becomes the primary bit of information. But what is the meaning of cause of death when the person dying has 5 co-morbidities and is 85 years old? According to the “science” way of thinking, the cause is all important. Somebody was alive, caught a cold and then died. Ergo, the cold is the cause of death. According to the morphological way of thinking, the cold is irrelevant. The person is at the end of their archetypal life-journey and something is going to do them in. If it’s not a cold, it will be something else.

In a world where causal, “scientific” thinking dominates while archetypal or morphological thinking is no longer acceptable, these most basic facts of life and death are ignored. That’s what we saw during corona. Ironically, even the broader facts of “science” have become irrelevant.

Consider this. Over the past 3 years, the median age for somebody in Australia to die “with covid” is about 3 years older than the median from all causes. In other words, on average the people dying with a positive covid test are older than those dying without one. Taking this statistic at face value, we should all want to get covid. We’ll live longer.

How did we end up in a society which commits such basic errors of understanding? The answer to this question can be found in another question: why did morphological or archetypal thinking become verboten in the West? The answer lies with WW2 and is therefore tied up in the Hitler Complex I wrote about last year.

It was the German-speaking countries that were at the forefront of the morphological approach and Spengler is a prime exponent. That approach had roots in German romanticism and it was the language of German romanticism that the Nazis used for their propaganda. Concepts like destiny, race and fatherlands, all discussed in intricate technical detail by Spengler, were used as propaganda by the Nazis. To this day, anybody who gets themselves into the public sphere and so much as hints at these kinds of ideas can count on being smeared with those most terrible of labels “far right” or “fascist”.

Thus, even Spengler, who called the Nazis “idiotic” and foresaw that they would bring disaster to Germany, got tainted by association. So did Nietzsche. Jung was pushed aside for Freud (who was in the “hard science” camp) while Gebser and his milieu were merely forgotten about in the chaos. The result is that we now live in a culture that is in active denial of almost all the elements in the right-hand column of the table above and this denial is present not just in the general culture but even more in academia and among the “elites”.

Of course, we should acknowledge that the thinkers referred to above really did get caught up in German romanticism. Even Spengler, with his hard-nosed scepticism, cannot help but declare his new method to be the last great historical task of Faustian civilisation before it dies a heroic death at the hands of fate. He also projects the archetypal romantic concept of the misunderstood genius onto the “Faustian soul”. Nobody in the future will understand us Faustians. That is the cross we must bear.

In fairness, Spengler would not shy away from this judgement. He assumes that all “real cultures” are not understandable by other cultures and his invocation of a prime Faustian archetype is not a problem within his framework. Maybe he’s right. But the sceptic in me can’t help but be wary whenever the language of romanticism creeps into a scholarly work.

Unfortunately for Spengler, it is the same language that Hitler would later use and so the challenge can be levelled against Spengler that Dostoevsky, through the character of Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov, makes against the whole romantic movement; namely, that when a scholar’s words are put into action by a lowly scoundrel like Smerdyakov (who is not at all dissimilar to Hitler) and horrific outcomes ensue, to what extent is the scholar responsible? Looking at the last years of Spengler’s life, I wonder if that thought didn’t cross is mind as he watched the Nazis rise to power. (Spengler died of a heart attack in 1936).

A hundred years later, with a fuller understanding of what happened next and watching the current madness of our own time, I think we should be able to see that Spengler, Nietzsche, Jung and Gebser really were on to something and that what they were onto might be just what we need. Certainly now would be a good time to do that since our society seems to be descending into a similar kind of madness to the Germans of the early 20th century. If the Germans were obsessed with the right hand side of the table, we have arrived at blind worship of the left. Either way, we’re massively out of balance.

To finish, let’s apply the distinction between science and morphological analysis to elucidate the problem of corona and pandemics in general.

There are 3 different disciplines involved in the analysis of a pandemic: virology, epidemiology and medicine.

Virology, in theory, belongs in the “science” camp. I say in theory because science is all about cause-and-effect and the cause-and-effect relationship between a virus and a purported disease has only ever been weakly shown. If we believe the latest research, there is no necessary cause-and-effect relationship between being “infected” and getting sick. At best, it is nothing more than a probability distribution and that probability distribution changes over time both for the individual and the population. Think of it like a game of poker only the cards you hold in your hand are constantly changing so that you never really know with any certainty what the probabilities are.

Interestingly, this was an issue that Spengler noted was creeping into science even during his time. He talks in his book about how the “hard” sciences were becoming more probabilistic. That’s even more true of virology. We really are scraping the bottom of the cause-and-effect barrel.

Medicine is another discipline that would claim to be in the “hard science” camp and yet, especially in relation to nursing and personal patient-doctor relationships, it has always had a strong humanitarian bent. Nevertheless, our technocrat overlords are doing their level best to remove all humanity from medicine and reduce everything to tests and pharmaceutical interventions. Even if they succeed (and God help us if they do), medicine inevitably deals with the human body, one of the most complex systems in existence, and any pretense of “hard science” is just that, pretense.

With epidemiology, things are much clearer. It is definitely not a hard science as it does not deal in cause-and-effect but simply looks for patterns of disease and death. Thus, it falls into the morphological analysis category. Epidemiology is completely reliant on virology to provide it with accurate infection statistics and medicine to provide it with accurate disease and death statistics. If these statistics are wrong or noisy, any patterns that epidemiology finds will be meaningless.

With these considerations in mind, here is how our general culture/official narrative would categorise the 3 disciplines involved in viral disease:-

Hard ScienceSoft Science

Personally, I would draw it like this:-

Hard ScienceSoft Science

What this means is the viral disease and pandemics are to be understood using the elements in the right-hand side of our table.

Viral disease and pandemics are a function of Time and Destiny. Any individual’s likelihood of dying from all causes, including respiratory viruses, increases as they get older and/or as their general health deteriorates. All of the copious data collected during corona has done nothing more than affirm these simple statements. The people dying were the elderly and those who were already in poor health. These results are exactly what we would expect from basic intuition and all the data in the world hasn’t added anything to this basic understanding.

What all this amounts to, of course, is common sense. And here we have an important point which Spengler would probably disagree with but which seems true to me. Morphological thinking is founded in our basic intuitions about the world including common sense but also empathy and compassion. All the so-called compassion we have seen during corona has been completely fake. In truth, genuine empathy and compassion has been missing in action.

This is not surprising when we go back to our table and realise that the right-hand column, which includes the concept of empathy, has been systematically removed from our culture. The post-war loss of the humanities and the blind worship of “science” has had the effect of creating the society around us which is more and more lacking in basic empathy and compassion. Hence, the people who wish death on the unvaccinated. Hence, the people who wish death on those who follow a different political party or any of the other craziness we see on an almost daily basis. It’s actually the quite logical outcome of having erased an entire mindset of understanding from the culture.

And so here is another reason to rescue the lessons that Spengler, Jung and Gebser have to teach us: so that we can reconnect with empathy and compassion. This is also why it’s so important to see beyond the language of German romanticism because that language was explicitly masculine with a grandiosity that made it so easy to apply to military adventurism.

The irony is that two of the prime exponents of that language style, Spengler and Nietzsche, were not especially masculine men. They were both sickly recluses, unmarried, living alone on small pensions. Both died young in their mid-50s. In addition, they had both clearly cultivated the (feminine) trait of empathy to an extremely high degree. That is a mandatory requirement to do morphological/archetypal analysis.

Were they simply compensating for lives devoid of what we might call everyday masculinity? Was that what was behind the grandiose, heroic language? Maybe. But it’s also true that both men, and Jung too to a lesser degree, were following the archetypal Faustian man which includes Don Quixote, Don Juan, Hamlet and, of course, Faust. It’s what I like to call the Hyper-Masculine. In the next post, we’ll unpack it in more detail.