Our mummy of culture

An excerpt from Ernst Junger’s War Diaries, included in Martin Meyer’s afterword to Junger’s Aladdin’s Problem.  War Diaries (or Paris Diaries, 1941-1944??) seems to have been translated into English and published by Columbia University press at some point, but I’ve never managed to find a copy and have yet to splurge on the French Pleiade edition of a few years ago.

 

While reading [Maurice Pillet’s Thebes, Palais et Necropoles], I again realized how thoroughly, albeit on a lower level, our museum-like existence corresponds to the cult of the dead among the Egyptians.  Our mummy of culture parallels their mummy of the human image, and our anxiety about history matches their anxiety about metaphysics: we are driven by the fear that our magical expression could go under in the river of time.  Our resting in the bosom of the pyramids and in the solitude of caverns amid artworks, writings, implements, icons of God, jewelry, and rich funeral goods is aimed at eternity, albeit in a more subtle fashion.

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