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A Note on Homogenesis, Part 1

 

Il nous est souvenu du lieu natal
o nous n’avons naissance

[With us is remembered the natal place
where we were not born]

— St. John Perse, Amers, IV

The process of human generation is psychic as well as physical. The fact of psychic phylogenesis was corroborated in clinical research a generation ago by the analytical psychologist Carl Jung. The dialectical process itself was intuited by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche three generations before that. Many years ago, as a university student, I traced out the principal facts of human genealogy in Nietzsche’s pages without complete awareness of their significance. I trace them again here, in these pages, with, I hope, more understanding.

In Beyond Good and Evil, section 257, Nietzsche observed:

Let us admit to ourselves, without trying to be considerate, how every higher culture on earth so far has begun. Human beings whose nature was still natural, barbarians in every terrible sense of the word, men of prey who were still in possession of unbroken strength of will and lust for power, hurled themselves upon weaker, more civilized, more peaceful races. . . . In the beginning, the noble caste was always the barbarian caste: their predominance did not lie mainly in physical strength but in strength of the soul–they were more whole human beings (which means, at every level, “more whole beasts”).

Foreseeing objections, he added in section 264:

One cannot erase from the soul of a human being what his ancestors liked most to do and did most constantly. . . . It is simply not possible that a human being should not have the qualities and preference of his parents and ancestors in his body, whatever appearances may suggest to the contrary. This is the problem of race.

In section 260, he had already stated:

There are master morality and slave morality – I add immediately that in all the higher and more mixed cultures there also appear attempts at mediation between these two moralities, and yet more often the interpenetration and mutual misunderstanding of both, and at times they occur directly alongside each other – even in the same human being, within a single soul. (SeeSupplement 1)

This invention of history, the subjective relationship of master and slave, predator and prey, grows into a conjugal relation which seems to me no less fantastic than the inventions of biology: Two peoples become absorbed in one another, they mingle and exchange what is in them, until they evolve or become a new kind of human being, collectively and individually.

The triangle of European plain below the Baltic Sea, delimited on the west and east by the rivers Saale and Elbe and on the south by the Ore Mountains. PHOTO: Wikipedia

On a triangle of European plain in the fifth century of our era, such a relationship was consummated along the banks of the Elbe River between the Alan Serb and a handful of Western Slavic tribes. From that moment in time there has been the Sarmatian Slav – the East Alan Slav – identified in our time as the Serbian. Before that moment there had been two separate series of parental incarnations. On the paternal side, the Sarmatian East Alan, it is said, arose through a genealogy of cultures and races from the early nomads of the North Kazakhstan steppes, who themselves had derived from others who had peopled the Androvian or Alarodian culture of the Bronze Age, and earlier, from some as yet unknown people of neolithic times. On the maternal side, the Western Slav, through a vague genesis of circumstances and events, derived from the primordial Slav, the first Slavic race, who was born to a mother race sometimes called the “Veneti” and a father who is still anonymous to us.

This remembrance (I do not hesitate to use this ghostly noun) has not only convinced me of the barbaric origin of my mundane soul and human nature, my homogenized supersentient anima; this remembrance has also brought me face to face with the fact that my psyche is, among other things, a juncture and a blend of the mentalities, cultures, and primal natures of overlord and subject, master and slave, predator and prey. I am awed by the mere fact of this fierce marriage, but moreso by its proximity in time. Fewer than fifty or sixty couplings separate me from the origin of what nineteenth century historians had called my “nationality” and what twentieth-century anthropologists call my “racial stock.” The number of couples, men and women, involved in the direct line of my ancestral descent from that distant point of origin on a central European plain is fewer than the number which I, with modest means, might entertain at my own wedding. So it is with us all. No one alive – no one who has lived – escapes this sequence or this pattern. What a miscarried world that exists and reproduces itself in so rude a manner!

I offer these pages as an analogy, and my countenance as a parallel, to the reader’s own. The origin of every person of European descent is subject to the same irrefutable laws and is a reflection of similar ignominious events. What happened, for better or for worse, during the fifth and sixth centuries of our era to create the modern Serb and the Croat (See Supplement 2), the Pole and the Old Russian (both new and separate breeds of the Slav and the West Alan), the Avarized Slovene and the Germanized Czech, happened, in kind and at about the same time, to create the Bulgarian, the Rumanian, the Hungarian, the Spaniard, the African Berber, the North Italian, the English, the Swiss, the French, and another of the more recent complexions of the Russian (See Supplement 3); and what happened to create them happened also at other, earlier, times to create the Lapp, the Finn, the Basque, the Greek, the Irish and Scot, the German, the Scandinavian, and the Frison of the Netherlands. The same holds true for any of the myriad peoples who inhabit the valley of Mesopotamia or the Iranian plateau. Several times each millennium a new predator race drives out another from the steppes to introduce a new complication to the human event. (About 560 CE one of the most recent strains of the Turk sprang up there and extended itself, over a thousand years, across half of Europe.) The Indian and the Chinese, since neolithic times, have been shaped and revitalized continuously by the antagonists of the north and the south. The African, the dweller on the coast of Asia, the islander of Oceania, the American of pre-Columbian times – all are inventions of other rude, and nearly timeless, marriages.

Robert Petrovich 1995

 

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