Anarch and Waldgänger (1)


Comments I made on differences and commonalities in Ernst Jünger´s figures of the Anarch and the Waldgänger (the Forest Goer) went over well on a Jünger mailing list ( ), so I have reworked and copied them below.

(For clarification, the Waldgänger was first developed in Jünger´s study “Der Waldgang” (The Forest Flight). Although it precedes “Eumeswil” and the Anarch chronologically (1951 vs 1977), in metaphysical terms much in the concept of the Anarch is already contained in that of the Waldgänger. The two do not exclude each other, but rather the former further develops the latter. In terms of level of being, they are more or less identical – differences only concern existential situations and the specific strategies that result.

Thus, although Jünger had not yet coined the word Anarch when writing “Der Waldgang”, he said then that one could be a Waldgänger in the heart of the city, a clear foreshadowing of an Anarch. Later, when he explicitly refined the Waldgänger into an Anarch in “Eumeswil”, he specified that the Anarch is the free man living in private autonomy within society; he becomes a Waldgänger when he is uncovered as a spiritual outsider and forced to flee society to preserve this autonomy. An Anarch thus comprehends a Waldgänger as a weaker form to be resorted to in an emergency. Just as an undiscovered Waldgänger living peacefully in the city was already in essence an Anarch. But on to the copied discussion …)

From “Der Waldgang”:

Man sleeps in the forest. When he awakens and realizes his power, then order is reconstituted.

Man does not become a Waldgänger (and by extension an Anarch) only then when he enters or flees to the literal forest: at the deepest level of being, each single man is already in the forest, is already a forest-goer, the forest being the original untamed core of his being. But in his sleep he has lost sight of this, forgotten where he is, hypnotized by dreams which are not even his. In sleep, he dreams the dreams that society has implanted in him and he is controlled by them, their slave, without having the slightest sensation of the chains. He (merely!) needs to awaken from the illusion to see that he (and not the protagonist of his dreams) is really in his own forest, and he has always been there. With this awakening, the Anarch/Waldgänger discovers the metaphysical separation of that forest from the tamed world, its absolute autonomy from civilization that wants to trap him, hypnotize him, seduce him, control him in its various ways for its own selfish purposes. Now he can make a realistic attempt to become his own master, to restore his own order to his life. Whatever it may have promised, in the dream there was never a real possibility of that, it was always another´s order.

If existential difficulties require it, the Anarch is forced to flee to the literal forest and transform into the Waldgänger form. But in his inner wilderness nothing changes – there he remains master where ever external life may take him.


  • This is very interesting thank you. Just recently I thought about the Anarch / Waldgänger in connection to Hakim Bey's TAZ.

By SiFr



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