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> The Disciples of Abraxas: 1.0 Introduction

Cosmopolitan Designs in Salman Rushdie's 'The Enchantress of Florence'
and Hermann Hesse's 'Demian'
(Including an excursus on Kunihiko Ikuhara's anime-series 'Revolutionary Girl Utena')

This analysis was donated by Meike Nederveld.

1.1 On Object and Method

    In this paper I will discuss cosmopolitanism in Hermann Hesse's Demian and Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence. I will highlight cosmopolitan themes in situations, characters and places in both novels and compare them, to find a description for what, within the novels, constitutes, and what is required of, a citizen of the world. Concerning Echantress, I will also discuss Kim Anderson Sasser's reading of Rushdie's cosmopolitanism. I will briefly touch on the role of Carl Gustav Jung's worldview as an influence on both texts, and finally offer an excursus on a topic from my native field of Japanology, the thematically related japanese animation series Shôjo Kakumei Utena, and its own version of micro-cosmopolitanism.

    The method employed will be that of close reading and intertextual analysis on the grounds of – as will be demonstrated – shared sources of inspiration.

1.2 Notation

    The titles of The Enchantress of Florence and Shôjo kakumei Utena may appear abbreviated as Enchantress and Utena for reasons of concision, but will remain italicized. The appendix contains a few images to illustrate the object of the excursus, since its original extent – 39 Episodes à 20 minutes and a 85 minute theatrical movie – is simply too large to be retraced for the sake of this paper.

1.3 Terminology and History – What is Cosmopolitanism?

The nebulous core shared by all cosmopolitan views is the idea that all human beings, regardless of their political affiliation, are (or can and should be) citizens in a single community. (SEP, “Cosmopolitanism”)

     The summary of the concept of cosmopolitanism in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines it as inherently prescriptive; not just a phenomenon but a moral concept that has taken different forms through history.

     The Term “cosmopolitanism” is ascribed to Diogenes, a word constructed from the terms cosmos (world) and politês (citizen), and is originally a concept of negative affiliation, of not-belonging, which can be interpreted, in the context of the cynicist renunciation of fame and wealth, as a rejection of conventions, or conventional attachments (Cf. SEP). Diogenes does not, however, formulate the concept of cosmopolitanism as a moral one, so he may be accredited with coining the term, but not with inventing the concept.

     The service-based cosmopolitanism of the stoics, echoing Socrates1 , proposes cosmopolitanism as a readiness to leave ones home in order to serve (Cf. SEP). This adds morality to the concept in so far as a man of virtue should be ready to leave his home and travel elsewhere if that is where he can best serve others. This approach, however, has two prerequisites: a common language (through extensive language learning/teaching or a lingua franca), and infrastructure. Both are met already in Greece, and expand at the rise of the Roman empire, so the stoics', and even Diogenes' ideas of cosmopolitanism can be read as a direct consequence of the cosmopolitan status quo. The Roman empire's extent additionally eases the perception of its subject as citizens of the world (Cf. SEP), since there seems hardly much world (worth being part of) left beyond its borders.

     Early Christian cosmopolitanism interpreted the cosmopolitan status as a fellowship of shared faith, a set of identification and obligation existing in parallel to local obligations to worldly rulers, who in their right may be legitimized by god (Cf. SEP). However, this view excludes non-christian people from the cosmopolitan community, and lays the foundations for secular-clerical conflict.

     Early modernity, arriving with the renaissance, sees a revival of the arts and sciences of the cosmopolitan age of the Greeks and Romans, and renewed cosmopolitan exchange throughout Europe, as well as a tremendous expansion of the “known world” from a eurocentric perspective. It is peculiar that despite these cosmopolitan realities, cosmopolitan philosophy apparently played no part in humanist thinking but for some exceptions, such as the ideals of Erasmus of Rotterdam, who notably already raises the topic of worldwide peace (Cf. SEP), which is raised again at the end of the 30 year war, in the form of the peace of Westphalia, and its philosophical groundwork of natural law.

    The question of how to evaluate the natural law-, and social contract theory of enlightenment in relation to cosmopolitanism is disputed, as is the question whether the peace of Westphalia is the ultimate example of particularism, as it focuses on cultural “containers”, or a significant step towards a european community, and in this way a cosmopolitan effort (Cf. SEP). While Immanuel Kant argued that the a peace like that of Westphalia, based on the legal independence of states and mutual intimidation, was a chimera (Cf. Kant 312- 313), and no real peace at all, Hegel argued that legally defining the state in the first place was an important achievement of the peace of Westphalia, laying the foundations for a future of international law. (Cf. Fine 30)

     During Kant's time, the term “cosmopolitanism” also sees a reinterpretation as a lifestyle of travel and a general open-mindedness (Cf. SEP), coinciding with an improved travel infrastructure as well as an ongoing cultural mapping and stereotyping of countries traveled. The individual gains focus in general, and as a consequence the American and French revolution emphasize individual human rights on a global scale. Additionally, economic cosmopolitanism emerges (Cf. SEP), proposing ethics based on mutual profit.

     In the 19th and early 20th century, cosmopolitanism is discussed within the parameters of various social changes. The rights-based universalism of the 18th century revolutions is fundamental to Marxist and socialist ideas of an international proletariat, while cosmopolitanism as the “ideological reflection” of capitalism, the successor of economic cosmopolitanism, is the freedom of the 3 privileged at the expanse of the proletariat. In national socialism, cosmopolitanism is the antithesis of the “Blut und Boden”-rhetoric with which the Reich, as a container of a homogenous people in its expanded borders, is justified, and merges with the concept of the jewish enemy, thus employing the stereotype of the cosmopolitan jew.

     With international travel, trade, cultural and scholarly exchange, as well as greater political organizations like the United Nations and the European Union, the present day can be read as a realization of some of Kant's postulates, such as the “league of peoples” (Völkerbund, Kant 164), the reduction of standing armies (Cf. Kant 154), or a general “hospitality” based on the right to visit any place (Cf. Kant 169). Other efforts, such as an international criminal court, or relief efforts funded by wealthier countries to aid the poorer, go beyond what Kant imagined (Cf. SEP). Even more recently, the global interconnectedness through the internet has created a cosmopolitan plane on which several international movements were conceived, such as the “occupy”-movements, and in the political field, direct political participation on a national and international level is on the rise.

     On this background, recent discussion of cosmopolitanism is mainly divided into two concepts: universal cosmopolitanism and a rooted (or local) cosmopolitanism. An advocate of the former would be Martha Nussbaum, the latter is more prominent in Ulrich Beck's theoretical approach, or even Kwame Appiah's patriotic cosmopolitanism.

1.4 Outlining the Novels

     Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence, published in 2008, is the more recent of the novels discussed herein. Its narratvive spanning more than fifty years and three continents, Enchantress reads as a collection of fictional and factual accounts woven side by side into a larger, meaningful picture, a world in which the magical is equal to the causal, making the novel a typical example of magic realism(Cf. Metzler Lexikon "Magischer Realismus“). A very pronounced feature of the novel is its extensive preoccupation with textualization, another magic realist topos (Cf. Thiem 240), which calls attention to the narrator, and makes the border between text and reader seem permeable. Its most pronounced themes are human existence as both persons and histories, cultural misunderstandings and involuntary synchronicities spanning the whole world, and how telling a story may create life, or un-tell its narrator.

     Enchantress received mostly praise by the critics, though some have found its lovestory-apect too kitschy, or the whole novel "too pleased with itself"2 . Realtively new, it has not been the focus of much scholarly research, except for mention in a few articles, as chapters within a few monographs.

     Hesse's Demian: Die Geschichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend, first published in 1919, is probably the epitome of the 20th century Bildungsroman, and considered heavily influenced by Carl Gustav Jung's depth psychology (Cf. Baumann 1). In the novel, the narrator Emil Sinclair describes, in retrospect, his youth – from childhood to early adulthood – and his attempts to come to terms with the profound impact growing up has on the self. Facilitator of his coming of age is the eponymous (Max) Demian, a mysterious boy with apparently supernatural powers, his rescuer from the oppression of the bully Kromer, and a guide in Sinclair's search for a “new god” named Abraxas, who is good and evil as one, and whose apparent emissary is Demian's own mother, Frau Eva. Frau Eva is a perfect mother figure, modeled after Jung's archetype of the Great Mother (Cf. Baumann 11), and has surrounded herself with a multinational, multicultural group of men who more or less follow the idea of the god Abraxas. It is this aspect of the novel which will play a role in my analysis.

     Probably due to to its conceptual roots in psychology, but also because of a shared experience of late 19th to early 20th century bourgeois young men in the way they were educated, the novel became a bestseller and was perceived as the voice of a generation.

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1 "[...] he insists that these examinations [of himself and others] are political, and extended to all, Athenians and foreigners alike. […] This decicion [not to travel widely] [may be] consistent with cosmopolitan ideals, for he may have thought that his best bet for serving human beings generally lay at home [because of] Athens' superior freedom of speech.
2 Namely David Gates' Review in the New York Times.

Personality + Relationship + Narrative + Miscellany + Music

Introduction + Characters + Reference + Submission

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Analysis of Utena + Empty Movement

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