My admiration for the work of Northrop Frye is no secret, and in my reading of works by and about Frye, I became acquainted with the work of Oswald Spengler, which had influenced Frye in turn. While some of the German’s more mystical leanings are a bit spooky for me, his ideas of cultural life cycles resonate with me in an Ecclesiasticus/”These Things Too“/”Dust in the Wind” kind of way. My tragic view of the world tends to render me sensitive to the perceived chill of a Spenglerian winter, and I think my native contrarianism does as well. My temperament is more suited to the clocks in Auden’s “As I Went Out One Evening” than to visions of hope and change. (All this is tempered by my Christianity, which reminds me that there will ultimately be a happy ending — but that achieving it is forever beyond our capabilities. I have abundant faith in God, which suits me, as I have virtually none in man. This puts me at odds with myths of progress, and that brings me back to Spengler again.)
As it happens, The National Interest offers a lengthy but interesting examination of Spengler’s magnum opus, including its ramifications for the Huntington-vs.-Fukuyama discussion, and for the rise of the imperial Presidency and a possible death of the Republic. Check it out.