Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Guest Post: Oswald Spengler, Man is a Beast of Prey

Oswald Spengler
From Man and Technics, Knopf, 1932, 1st ed.

MAN is a beast of prey. Acute thinkers, like Montaigne and Nietzsche, have always known this. The old fairy-tales and the proverbs of peasant and nomad folk the world over, with their lively cunning: the half-smiling penetration characteristic of the great connoisseur of men, whether statesman or general, merchant or judge, at the maturity of his rich life: the despair of the world-improver who has failed: the invective of the angered priest — in none of these is denial or even concealment of the fact as much as attempted. Only the ceremonious solemnity of idealist philosophers and other . . . theologians has wanted the courage to be open about what in their hearts they knew perfectly well. Ideals are cowardice. Yet, even from the works of these one could cull a pretty anthology of opinions that they have from time to time let slip concerning the beast in man.

Today we must definitely settle accounts with this view. Scepticism, the last remaining philosophical attitude that is possible to (nay, that is worthy of) this age, allows no such evasion of issues. Yet, for this very reason, neither would I leave unchallenged other views that have been developed out of the natural science of last century. Our anatomical treatment and classification of the animal world is (as is to be expected from its origin) dominated entirely by the materialist outlook. Granted that the picture of the body, as it presents itself to the human (and only to the human) eye, and a fortiori that of the body as dissected and chemically treated and experimentally maltreated, eventuates in a system — the system founded by Linn├Žus and deepened in its pal├Žological aspect by the Darwinian school — a system of static and optically appreciable details, yet after all there is another, a quite other and unsystematic, ordering according to species of life, which is revealed only through unsophisticated living with it, through the inwardly felt relationship of Ego and Tu, which is known to every peasant, but also to every true artist and poet. I love to meditate upon the physiognomic of the kinds of animal living, the kinds of animal soul, leaving the systematic of bodily structure to the zoologists. For thereupon a wholly different hierarchy, one of life and not of body, discloses itself.

A plant lives, although only in the restricted sense a living being. Actually there is life in it, or about it. “It” breathes, “it” feeds, “it” multiplies, we say, but in reality it is merely the theatre of processes that form one unity along with the processes of the natural environment, such as day and night, sunshine and soil-fermentation, so that the plant itself cannot will or choose. Everything takes place with it and in it. It selects neither its position, nor its nourishment, nor the other plants with which it produces its offspring. It does not move itself, but is moved by wind and warmth and light.

Above this grade of life now rises the freely mobile life of the animals. But of this there are two stages. There is one kind, represented in every anatomical genus from unicellular animals to aquatic birds and ungulates, whose living depends for its maintenance upon the immobile plant-world, for plants cannot flee or defend themselves. But above this there is a second kind, which lives on other animals and whose living consists in killing. Here the prey is itself mobile, and highly so, and moreover it is combative and well equipped with dodges of all sorts. This second kind also is found in all the genera of the system. Every drop of water is a battlefield and we, who have the land-battle so constantly before our eyes that it is taken for granted or even forgotten, shudder to see how the fantastic forms of the deep sea carry on the life of killing and being killed.

The animal of prey is the highest form of mobile life. It implies a maximum of freedom for self against others, of responsibility to self, of singleness of self, an extreme of necessity where that self can hold its own only by fighting and winning and destroying. It imparts a high dignity to Man, as a type, that he is a beast of prey.

A herbivore is by its destiny a prey, and it seeks to escape this destiny by flight, but beasts of prey must get prey. The one type of life is of its innermost essence defensive, the other offensive, hard, cruel, destructive. The difference appears even in the tactics of movement — on the one hand the habit of flight, fleetness, cutting of corners, evasion, concealment, and on the other the straight-line motion of the attack, the lion’s spring, the eagle’s swoop. There are dodges and counter-dodges alike in the style of the strong and in that of the weak. Cleverness in the human sense, active cleverness, belongs only to beasts of prey. Herbivores are by comparison stupid, and not merely the “innocent” dove and the elephant, but even the noblest sorts like the bull, the horse, and the deer; only in blind rage or sexual excitement are these capable of fighting; otherwise they will allow themselves to be tamed, and a child can lead them.

Besides these differences in kind of motion, there are others, still more effective, in the organs of sense. For these are accompanied by differences in the mode of apprehending, of having, a “world.” In itself every being lives in Nature, in an environment, irrespective of whether it notices this environment, or is noticeable in it, or neither. But it is the relation — mysterious, inexplicable by any human reasoning — that is established between animal and environment by touching, ordering, and understanding, which creates out of mere environment a world-around. The higher herbivores are ruled by the ear, but above all by scent; the higher carnivores on the other hand rule with the eye. Scent is the characteristically defensive sense. The nose catches the quarter and the distance of danger and so gives the flight- movement the appropriate direction, away from something.

But the eye of the preying animal gives a target. The very fact that, in the great carnivores as in man, the two eyes can be fixed on one point in the environment enables the animal to bind its prey. In that hostile glare there is already implicit for the victim the doom that it cannot escape, the spring that is instantly to follow. But this act of fixation by two eyes disposed forward and parallel is equivalent to the birth of the world, in the sense that Man possesses it — that is, as a picture, as a world before the eyes, as a world not merely of lights and colours, but of perspective distance, of space and motions in space, and of objects situated at definite points. This way of seeing which all the higher carnivores possess — in herbivores, e.g. ungulates, the eyes are set sideways, each giving a different and non-perspective impression — implies in itself the notion of commanding. The world-picture is the environment as commanded by the eyes. The eye of the beast of prey determines things according to position and distance. It apprehends the horizon. It measures up in this battle field the objects and conditions of attack. Sniffing and spying, the way of the hind and the way of the falcon, are related as slavery and dominance. There is an infinite sense of power in this quiet wide-angle vision, a feeling of freedom that has its source in superiority, and its foundations in the knowledge of greater strength and consequent certainty of being no one’s prey. The world is the prey, and in the last analysis it is owing to this fact that human culture has come into existence.

And, lastly, this fact of an innate superiority has become intensified, not only outwards, with respect to the light-world and its endless distances, but also inwards, as regards the sort of soul that the strong animals possess. The soul — this enigmatic something which we feel when we hear the word used, but of which the essence baffles all science, the divine spark in this living body which in this divinely cruel, divinely indifferent world has either to rule or to submit — is the counter-pole of the light-world about us, and hence man’s thought and feeling are very ready to assume the existence of a world-soul in it. The more solitary the being and the more resolute it is in forming its own world against all other conjunctures of worlds in the environment, the more definite and strong the cast of its soul. What is the opposite of the soul of a lion? The soul of a cow. For strength of individual soul the herbivores substitute numbers, the herd, the common feeling and doing of masses. But the less one needs others, the more powerful one is. A beast of prey is everyone’s foe. Never does he tolerate an equal in his den. Here we are at the root of the truly royal idea of property. Property is the domain in which one exercises unlimited power, the power that one has gained in battling, defended against one’s peers, victoriously upheld. It is not a right to mere having, but the sovereign right to do as one will with one’s own.

Once this is understood, we see that there are carnivore and there are herbivore ethics. It is beyond anyone’s power to alter this. It pertains to the inward form, meaning, and tactics of all life. It is simply a fact. We can annihilate life, but we cannot alter it in kind. A beast of prey tamed and in captivity — every zoological garden can furnish examples — is mutilated, world-sick, inwardly dead. Some of them voluntarily hunger-strike when they are captured. Herbivores give up nothing in being domesticated.

Such is the difference between the destiny of herbivores and that of the beast of prey. The one destiny only menaces, the other enhances as well. The former depresses, makes mean and cowardly, while the latter elevates through power and victory, pride and hate. The former is a destiny that is imposed on one, the latter a destiny that is identical with oneself. And the fight of nature-within against nature- without is thus seen to be, not misery, as Schopenhauer and as Darwin’s “struggle for existence” regard it, but a grand meaning that ennobles life, the amor fati of Nietzsche. And it is to this kind and not the other that Man belongs.

Man And Technics and DOTW
*  *  *  *  *

Many years ago, I was a student of Allan Bloom's at Chicago, and attended his final series of lectures on political philosophy before his death.  His famous thesis in The Closing of the American Mind was that leftist academics had used the awesome critical power of Nietzsche's philosophy as a battering ram to advance a relativist and nihilist agenda, completely ignoring the inegalitarian and elitist aspects of his thought.  Their conclusions of course would have appalled Nietzsche.

Spengler, and Leo Strauss after him, are both continuations of Nietzsche's thought from the right instead of the left.  Both should be taken very seriously today.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Charts 02-24: Getting close now

Away for a few days with the family visiting the San Francisco.

For some reason, the Oakland P.D. had this little number parked next to the beach on Ghirardelli Square.  I would think it would be badly needed back in Oakland.

Oakland PD on the move

We just hung out around town, introducing our girls to a great city.   Here's Chinatown.

Chinatown gate
And here's the hole at Alcatraz.  Finally did the tour.  It was that kind of trip, with sunny California weather.

The hole at Alcatraz

It looks like the tape since 2/13 may be forming the legs of an ending-diagonal 5th wave, which could wrap up as early as Wednesday.  Either way we are getting close to some important events with GDP on Friday and a New Moon over the weekend.

Short-term wave count:

SPX 02-24

And the larger projection of Jaws of Death from a top at SPX 1866.  The 560 target on the 2002-2009 lows trendline would arrive in late July, 2015.

SPX 02-24 JOD

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Charts 02-19: USDJPY 102 being defended

The apparently key level of USDJPY 102 is being defended aggressively this morning.  If it holds, then we next look at that SPX 1886 level toward the end of the month.  The daily chart lines it up nicely for 2/27, with U.S. GDP data out the next day.

SPX 02-19 a.m.

Already the danger is so great, for every individual, every class, every people, that to cherish any illusion whatever is deplorable. Time does not suffer itself to be halted; there is no question of prudent retreat or wise renunciation. Only dreamers believe that there is a way out. Optimism is cowardice.
- Oswald Spengler, Man and Technics, Knopf, 1932

Monday, February 17, 2014

Yen-watching season

All eyes on USDJPY now to see if it will reject from underneath the important 102 level.  This will decide if we have two more weeks (at least) of bear-winter, or if the "1929 fractal" will emerge with a vengeance.

102 as OH resistance now:


Larger picture, USDJPY is near the edge of a channel that has run since the January 1 "major" Bradley turn.

USDJPY channel since 1/1 Bradley turn

If we do break down, I would speculate (as is the task of this blog) that it would get very nasty into the Spring.

SPX 02-16 teh OMG super-bearish

If the Jaws of Death model describes a reverse symmetrical triangle -- an epic megaphone -- then, according to Bulkowski, we should expect its E wave to be a 3, as was the 2007-2008 bear market.  Maybe something like this.

SPX 02-16 3Y

If the rain holds off, I'm going to sneak out tonight to take some night pix of some empty office buildings downtown.  Please keep an eye on USDJPY in the meantime.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

DJIA 1929 fractal is still very much alive

I don't usually do this, but I had my eye on the DJIA today, watching to see if it would (a) make a new high, and (b) reach its 50 DMA.  It succeeded in the first, barely, and failed in the second.

So ... what can we say but that the 1929 fractal scenario is still very much alive.  I know, I know, I hate the Dow, I hate this shitty little 30-company index that is a pain in the ass to chart.  I hate its place in the popular mind, where a +300 day can be powered by some quant jerks pumping IBM like crazy.

I hate the Dow.  And it couldn't reach its 50 DMA today.  Despite the SPX retracing 80%, despite the techs making new highs, despite everything I hate about this index ... the '29 scenario is still very much alive.

Let's talk about what this may mean.

First of all, should this play out, I would expect a wave 3 on the SPX, the main index of interest here in Deflation Land.  At an expected 1.618x magnitude of wave 1, it would get us down to SPX 1646 by about the end of February.  If we check the chart, we notice that critical chart support from the 1074 low in 2011 lives down here.

But the 1929 fractal describes a FIVE WAVE move.  At three waves, you could label it a "wave 4" of some degree and start plotting out major wave 5 UP targets.  But if it traces 5 waves down and breaks this key trendline, it's a whole new ballgame.  So we would likely bounce and then violate the trendline from 1074, completing a wave 1 down from the top, bottoming into Purim, like so.

SPX 02-13

Oh, you noticed I drew a few extra waves.  

Well this W1 is part of a larger structure, that runs through May and June and halfway into July.  I mentioned the other day how insanely important the 4/30 FOMC is, for the GDP print, New Moon, FOMC meeting, and general seasonality.  April 30, 2014, could be the best turn date ever.

OK, so what next?  Wellllll ... this would set up a real crash in the fall.

SPX 02-13 3Y

Moving a little fast here, you're thinking?  You remembered that this whole market is pumped-up and completely fake, right?  Just like our entire economy.  How did you THINK this would end?  Five waves takes us across the giant megaphone, to the 2002-2009 lows trendline, and a final crisis in the $USD and bonds.  

Got geese?

All this ... if the little '29 fractal plays out in the next few weeks.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Charts 02-12: End of February

The only problem with the '29 fractal scenario is that we overshot its upper target by about 15 points on the SPX yesterday.

So it looks again that Bryan's counsel is correct, that we had one sharp drop left before a top was possible in the chart.  I like the SPX 1886 area by the end of February and a New Moon going into March.  My friend Jeff noticed that there is very little news pending for the next couple of weeks, which leaves the market vulnerable to volumeless drift up.  So let it.

If this is a 5th of a 5th, then it corresponds to the wave 1 we began back in June of 2013.  Look at how that wave just ambled up or sideways, with no deep corrections.  With any bears stunned and bleeding at this point, the rest of February could look like this.  Feb 28 / March 3 then becomes our next "candidate top".  We will watch for upper Bollinger-band touches on the daily and weekly SPX, and some sort of extreme on the McClellan oscillator.


Spring of 2014 gets much more exciting with the next few FOMC meetings, too.  The April 30th one is especially important, because of the GDP print out earlier in that day, and the -- spooky now -- New Moon the previous night.

We have to take what we get from this market, but prudent bears absolutely do not NOT want a 1929-style waterfall, at least not yet.  It needs to happen like in 2008 after an A-B decline and retrace, which sets up the true waterfall.  Bears most of all must hope for a technically-sensible and tradable market, just one that goes in our direction.

Probably another move down on the Yen as well, before it goes into a deep retrace and upsets the carry trade.  Die Yen, die.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Quick take on the 1929 DJIA tape

I stretched it proportionally and overlaid it on the S&P 500. 

FWIW, we shall see ... .618 of the drop to 1737 SPX is up around 1807.

If it plays out then we need to decide if the entire structure is only a "wave 1" from the top, or if we have finished some larger-degree wave 4 in very dramatic fashion.

The outcome most likely depends on the FOMC meetings and announcements this Spring, particularly as regards the QE policy.  I can't stress enough how important this is, so I will do so below in BOLD TEXT.

The April 30 and July 30 FOMC releases are both on afternoons where a GDP print is announced in the morning.  If we print a red or recessionary GDP number, and the Fed decides to wind down the QE program, continuing the "taper", later that day, IMO, the markets will immediately waterfall into a 2008-style collapse.  The Fed will be seen as tightening into a recession.  Game over.

The April 30 meeting is particularly sensitive to this thanks to seasonal considerations, "Sell in May" and all.

I'll see if I can do a better job of a 1929 mock-up over the weekend.  This is just a quick hack.

SPX with 1929 Crash overlaid

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Charts 02-03: Jaws of Death is Complete

I am going to follow McHugh's sage judgment here and agree with him that the top of the Jaws of Death mega-megaphone pattern is now complete.

Lower targets for the coming crash are SPX 560, if the 2002-2009 lows trendline holds, or down around SPX 460 if we overshoot the megaphone on the bottom like we did on the top.  This would be a complete market retrace back to mid-1990s levels.

SPX 02-03 a.m.

The long-term count on the Yen is what convinced me -- I had been hoping for One More Leg Down on the JPY, but instead we broke its 2-4 trendline rather decisively.

JPY weekly

Monday, February 3, 2014

E-W count for a top at 1850

It certainly looks like the Yen is calling it a day for the bull market.

Here's a wave count for the entire rally since SPX 1266 as an ending-diagonal, with legs in triplets.

SPX giant E-D since 1266 low

Good luck out there -- a cold wind is blowing.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Enchanted Valley Chalet threatened by East Fork Quinault River

After seeing the news about the Enchanted Valley Chalet in Olympic National Park, I took advantage of some sunny weather last weekend to hike out to see the old girl before she is gone.  I've hiked through this area countless times, either as a destination, or on the way to somewhere else.  Last Saturday, I hiked the East Fork Quinault trail as a 26-mile dayhike, moving fast and light.

Enchanted Valley Chalet

It was a beautiful winter day for a hike, crisp and clear.  I left Seattle at 4:00 a.m. to get to the trailhead early enough for our short winter days.  Roosevelt elk are a common sight in the in the low valleys this time of year.

East Fork Quinault trail

Roosevelt elk near O'Neill camp