This article examines how the activity of writing mediates among the private, the public, and the transcendent in the work of Siegfried Kracauer and Ernst Jünger. For each, the task of modern criticism requires personal, embodied, and agonistic participation in a prototypical technological milieu. The article compares Kracauer’s position to Jünger’s on the prospect of an impersonal, transcendent “Beyond,” examines how each thinker diagnoses the deficiencies of the historical present, and shows how Jünger and Kracauer make allied use of modernist writing as a practice for deeply embedding the self in an ambivalent historical context in which coherent subjectivity is impossible.

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