Surviving thanks to intuition

Defending the claims of magic against Occidental reason, Ross cites his own reliance on premonitions during World War I.

Ross compares magical thinking, considered to be primitive superstition, to his own experiences on the hunt or during World War I. Thus, the Great War is presented as an atavistic experience, making civilized men into warriors who answer to deeply-rooted impulses, rather than being pawns in national struggles for power.

This digression gives Ross the opportunity to boast that, within his army division, he was “famous, or rather notorious for the reckless way in which I exposed myself to enemy fire.” [p. 148] Rather than simply having been imprudent, Ross claims he was guided by his instincts, being defensive when he had “an uneasy feeling”. [p. 148]

Ross concedes that these hunches might have been figments of the imagination, but his survival without many wounds is a sign that they were effectual no matter their reality status. This last argument is very much in line with Ross’s radical relativism in his more philosophically inclined writing around this time. In Der Wille der Welt (1932), he argues that Western culture needs to find subjective, useful ‘truths’ and let go of the standards of both objective proof and universality.1

Joachim Schätz

Colin Ross. [Excerpt from] Magie. In: Haha Whenua - das Land, das ich gesucht. Mit Kind und Kegel durch die Südsee. 4. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1933: 148–9.

Topic: The Great War
Case: Oceania-Asia trip 1928-30


1 Colin Ross. Schöpferische Weltanschauung. In: Der Wille der Welt: eine Reise zu sich selbst. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1932: 198–216. See Library.

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