Vol. 14 No. 1 (2021): Aesthetics in Times of Contagion

A noble anarchy. Musil and the metaphor between Spengler and Rilke

Giacomo Gambaro
Università degli Studi di Padova
Published July 20, 2021
  • Robert Musil,
  • critics of identity,
  • feeling and non-rational sphere,
  • massification,
  • metaphor
How to Cite
Gambaro, G. (2021). A noble anarchy. Musil and the metaphor between Spengler and Rilke. Aisthesis. Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi dell’estetico, 14(1), 125-134. https://doi.org/10.36253/Aisthesis-12480


This paper aims to examine the relationship between stupidity and massification in Robert Musil’s thinking moving from the speech Über die Dummheit (1937). According to the definition of stupidity as a historical epidemic associated with emotions, I take into account the essays of the earlies twenties of the XX century, in which the author interrogates the connection between the “non rational sphere” and the nationalist identity in the context of civilization (Zivilisation). To explain this connection, I highlight the centrality that Musil ascribes to the method of “analogy” in criticizing Spengler’s thought to clarify how the welding of the dimension of “feeling” (Gefühl) and the abstract idea of “national identity” occurs. Based on Musil’s essay dedicated to Rilke (1927), I illustrate the different type of bonds produced by “metaphor” (Gleichnis) to define an alternative concept of community based on the common lack of quality and foundation. 


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