What I am about to say does not concern the ordinary man of our day. On the contrary, I have in mind the man who finds himself involved in today’s world, even at its most problematic and paroxysimal points; yet he does not belong inwardly to such a world, nor will he give in to it. He feels himself, in essence, as belonging to a different race from that of the overwhelming majority of his contemporaries. ~ Julius Evola.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Hilaire Belloc, This and That and the Other

The Barbarian hopes — and that is the mark of him, that he can have his cake and eat it too. He will consume what civilization has slowly produced after generations of selection and effort, but he will not be at pains to replace such goods, nor indeed has he a comprehension of the virtue that has brought them into being. Discipline seems to him irrational, on which account he is ever marvelling that civilization, should have offended him with priests and soldiers.
The Barbarian wonders what strange meaning may lurk In that ancient and solemn truth, " Sine Auctoritate nulla vita."
In a word, the Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this, that he cannot make: that he can befog and destroy but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilization exactly that has been true.
We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. 
We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.
We permit our jaded intellects to play with drugs of novelty for the fresh sensation they arouse, though we know well there is no good in them, but only wasting at the last. Yet there is one real interest in watching the Barbarian and one that is profitable. The real interest of watching the Barbarian is not the amusement derivable from his antics, but the prime doubt whether he will succeed or no, whether he will flourish. He is, I repeat, not an agent, but merely a symptom, yet he should be watched as a symptom. It is not he in his impotence that can discover the power to disintegrate the great and ancient body of Christendom, but if we come to see him triumphant we may be certain that that body, from causes much vaster than such as he could control, is furnishing him with sustenance and forming for him a congenial soil—and that is as much as to say that we are dying.

Hilaire Belloc, This and That and the Other, Chp 32, p. 281-83, (1912). 

Gegend im Morgennebel mit einem Kruzifix, Caspar David Friedrich c. 1810

Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Seafarer, Ezra Pound (based upon the Anglo-Saxon poem of the same title).

May I for my own self song's truth reckon,
Journey's jargon, how I in harsh days
Hardship endured oft.
Bitter breast-cares have I abided,
Known on my keel many a care's hold,
And dire sea-surge, and there I oft spent
Narrow nightwatch nigh the ship's head
While she tossed close to cliffs. Coldly afflicted,
My feet were by frost benumbed.
Chill its chains are; chafing sighs
Hew my heart round and hunger begot
Mere-weary mood. Lest man know not
That he on dry land loveliest liveth,
List how I, care-wretched, on ice-cold sea,
Weathered the winter, wretched outcast
Deprived of my kinsmen;
Hung with hard ice-flakes, where hail-scur flew,
There I heard naught save the harsh sea
And ice-cold wave, at whiles the swan cries,
Did for my games the gannet's clamour,
Sea-fowls, loudness was for me laughter,
The mews' singing all my mead-drink.
Storms, on the stone-cliffs beaten, fell on the stern
In icy feathers; full oft the eagle screamed
With spray on his pinion.
Not any protector
May make merry man faring needy.
This he little believes, who aye in winsome life
Abides 'mid burghers some heavy business,
Wealthy and wine-flushed, how I weary oft
Must bide above brine.
Neareth nightshade, snoweth from north,
Frost froze the land, hail fell on earth then
Corn of the coldest. Nathless there knocketh now
The heart's thought that I on high streams
The salt-wavy tumult traverse alone.
Moaneth alway my mind's lust
That I fare forth, that I afar hence
Seek out a foreign fastness.
For this there's no mood-lofty man over earth's midst,
Not though he be given his good, but will have in his youth greed;
Nor his deed to the daring, nor his king to the faithful
But shall have his sorrow for sea-fare
Whatever his lord will.
He hath not heart for harping, nor in ring-having
Nor winsomeness to wife, nor world's delight
Nor any whit else save the wave's slash,
Yet longing comes upon him to fare forth on the water.
Bosque taketh blossom, cometh beauty of berries,
Fields to fairness, land fares brisker,
All this admonisheth man eager of mood,
The heart turns to travel so that he then thinks
On flood-ways to be far departing.
Cuckoo calleth with gloomy crying,
He singeth summerward, bodeth sorrow,
The bitter heart's blood. Burgher knows not --
He the prosperous man -- what some perform
Where wandering them widest draweth.
So that but now my heart burst from my breast-lock,
My mood 'mid the mere-flood,
Over the whale's acre, would wander wide.
On earth's shelter cometh oft to me,
Eager and ready, the crying lone-flyer,
Whets for the whale-path the heart irresistibly,
O'er tracks of ocean; seeing that anyhow
My lord deems to me this dead life
On loan and on land, I believe not
That any earth-weal eternal standeth
Save there be somewhat calamitous
That, ere a man's tide go, turn it to twain.
Disease or oldness or sword-hate
Beats out the breath from doom-gripped body.
And for this, every earl whatever, for those speaking after --
Laud of the living, boasteth some last word,
That he will work ere he pass onward,
Frame on the fair earth 'gainst foes his malice,
Daring ado, ...
So that all men shall honour him after
And his laud beyond them remain 'mid the English,
Aye, for ever, a lasting life's-blast,
Delight mid the doughty.
Days little durable,
And all arrogance of earthen riches,
There come now no kings nor Cæsars
Nor gold-giving lords like those gone.
Howe'er in mirth most magnified,
Whoe'er lived in life most lordliest,
Drear all this excellence, delights undurable!
Waneth the watch, but the world holdeth.
Tomb hideth trouble. The blade is layed low.
Earthly glory ageth and seareth.
No man at all going the earth's gait,
But age fares against him, his face paleth,
Grey-haired he groaneth, knows gone companions,
Lordly men are to earth o'ergiven,
Nor may he then the flesh-cover, whose life ceaseth,
Nor eat the sweet nor feel the sorry,
Nor stir hand nor think in mid heart,
And though he strew the grave with gold,
His born brothers, their buried bodies
Be an unlikely treasure hoard. 

The Seafarer, Ezra Pound, 1911, based upon the Anglo-Saxon poem of the same title, which gives a first-person account of a man alone on the sea. Recorded only in the Exeter Book, the Old English poem is one of the four surviving manuscripts of Old English poetry.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Frithjof Schuon, Transcendental Unity of Religions.

Religion translates metaphysical or universal truths into the language & forms of the various religions. These are accessible through faith which is, for the vast majority, the only way they can participate in Divine Truths. The transcendent Truth, the Reality common to the great religions, is, less accessible to the majority of believers who are often comfortable with the exoteric practices, the rituals of a religion. For the esoteric, while they participate in rites & observances, they see the need to transcend these forms by fathoming their depths & discerning their universal content. For them, rituals are doorways to be entered in order to reach the Absolute, & not an end in themselves. The esoteric finds the Absolute within the traditions as poets find poetry in poems.

 Intellectual knowledge proceeds neither from belief nor reasoning. It goes beyond dogma, without ever contradicting it, and finds the infinite Truth that dominates all forms; and religion, by its very nature, contains & transmits this purely intellectual knowledge which lies beneath the veil of dogma & rituals.

Transcendent unity means that the unity of all religious forms must be realized in a purely inward and spiritual way, and without prejudice to any other form. The antagonisms between the various forms cannot affect the one Universal Truth just as opposing colours cannot affect the transmission of one uncoloured light. Just as every colour, by its negation of darkness and its affirmation of light, provides the possibility of discovering the ray that makes it visible and of tracing this ray back to the luminous source, so all forms, all symbols, all religions, all dogmas, by their negation of error and their affirmation of Truth, makes it possible to follow the ray of Revelation, which is no other than the ray of the Intellect, back to its Divine Source. 

Frithjof Schuon, Transcendental Unity of Religions. 

Pythagoreans celebrate sunrise by Fyodor Bronnikov c. 1869

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Holy War ~ Julius Evola, Metaphysics of War.

In this respect the greater holy war belongs to the spiritual order. The lesser holy war, in contrast, is the physical struggle, the material war, fought in the outer world. The greater holy war is the struggle of man against the enemies he bears in himself. More precisely, it is the fight of the supernatural element, innate in man, against everything which is instinctual, passionate, chaotic and subject to the forces of nature. This is also the idea that reveals itself in a text of the ancient Aryan warrior wisdom, the Bhagavad-Gita: ‘"Thus knowing oneself to be transcendental to the material senses, mind and intelligence, O mighty-armed Arjuna, one should steady the mind by deliberate spiritual intelligence and thus – by spiritual strength – conquer this insatiable enemy known as lust."

The necessary condition for the inner work of liberation is that this enemy is destroyed once and for all. In the context of a heroic tradition the lesser holy war – that is, external combat – serves only as something by means of which the greater holy war is achieved. For this reason ‘holy war’ and ‘Path of God’ are often treated as synonymous in the texts. Thus we read in the Qur’an: "So let those who sell the life of this world for the Next World fight in the Way of Allah. If someone fights in the Way of Allah, whether he is killed or is victorious, We will pay him an immense reward". And further: "As for those who fight in the Way of Allah, He will not let their actions go astray. He will guide them and better their condition and He will admit them into the Garden which He has made known to them."

This is an allusion to physical death in war, which corresponds perfectly to the so-called mors triumphalis – ‘triumphant death’ – of the Classical traditions. However, the same doctrine can also be interpreted in a symbolic sense. The one who, in the ‘lesser holy war’, has been able to live a ‘greater holy war’ has created within himself a force which puts him in a position to overcome the crisis of death. Even without getting killed physically, through the asceticism of action and combat, one can experience death, one can win inwardly and realise ‘more-than-life’. In the esoteric respect, as a matter of fact, ‘paradise’, ‘the celestial realm’ and analogous expressions are nothing but symbolic representations – concocted for the people – of transcendent states of consciousness on a higher plane than life and death.

These considerations should allow us to discern the same contents and meanings, under the outer garment of Christianity, which the Nordic-Western heroic tradition was forced to wear during the Crusades in order to be able to manifest itself in the external world. In the ideology of the Crusade the liberation of the Temple and the conquest of the ‘Holy Land’ had points of contact – much more numerous than one is generally inclined to believe – with the Nordic-Aryan tradition, which refers to the mystical Asgard, the remote land of the Aesir and heroes, where death does not reign and the inhabitants enjoy immortal life and supernatural peace. Holy war appeared as an integrally spiritual war, so much so that it could be compared literally by preachers to ‘a bathing which is almost like the fire of purgatory, but before death’.

Saint Bernard declared to the Templars, "It is a glory for you never to leave the battle [unless] covered with laurels. But it is an even greater glory to earn on the battlefield an immortal crown ..." The ‘absolute glory’ – attributed to the Lord who is above, in the skies – in excelsis Deo – is ordained also for the Crusader. Against this background Jerusalem, the coveted goal of the ‘lesser holy war’, could be seen in the twofold aspect of terrestrial city and celestial city and the Crusade proved to be the prelude to a true fulfilment of immortality.

The oscillating military vicissitudes of the Crusades provoked bafflement, initial confusion and even a wavering of faith. But later their sole effect was to purify the idea of holy war from every residue of materiality. The ill-fated outcome of a Crusade came to be compared to virtue persecuted by misfortune, a virtue whose value can be judged and rewarded only in the light of a supraterrestrial life. Beyond victory or defeat the judgement of value focused on the spiritual dimension of action. Thus, the holy war was worthwhile for its own sake, irrespective of its visible results, as a means to reach a supra-personal realisation through the active sacrifice of the human element.

~ Julius Evola, Metaphysics of War.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Short extract on the nature of heroes from J.R.R. Tolkien's Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics, 1936.

The significance of a myth is not easily to be pinned on paper by analytical reasoning. It is at its best when it is presented by a poet who feels rather than makes explicit what his theme portends; who presents it incarnate in the world of history and geography, as our poet has done [referring to anonymous author of Beowulf]. Its defender is thus at a disadvantage: unless he is careful, and speaks in parables, he will kill what he is studying by vivisection, and he will be left with a formal or mechanical allegory, and what is more, probably with one that will not work. For myth is alive at once and in all its parts, and dies before it can be dissected. It is possible, I think, to be moved by the power of myth and yet to misunderstand the sensation, to ascribe it wholly to something else ( that is also present: to metrical art, style, or verbal skill. Correct and sober taste my refuse to admit that there can be an interest for usthe proud we that includes all intelligent living people-in ogres and dragons; We then perceive its puzzlement in face of the odd fact that it has derived great pleasure from a poem that is actually about these unfashionable creatures. Even though it attributes 'genius',
It does not seem plain that ancient taste supports the modern as much as it has been represented to do. I have the author of Beowulf, at any rate, on my side: a greater man than most of us. And I cannot myself perceive a period in the North when one kind alone was esteemed: there was room for myth and heroic legend, and for blends of these. As for the dragon: as far as we know anything about these old poets, we know this: the prince of the heroes of the North, supremely memorable - hans nafn mun uppi, meðan veröldin stendr* - was a dragon-slayer. And his most renowned deed, from which in Norse he derived his title Fafnisbani, was the slaying of the prince of legendary worms. Although there is plainly considerable difference between the later Norse and the ancient English form of the story alluded to in Beowulf, already there it had these two primary features: the dragon, and the slaying of him as the chief deed of the greatest of heroes - he wres wreccena wide mrerost**. A dragon is no idle fancy. Whatever may be his origins, in fact or invention, the dragon in legend is a potent creation of men's imagination, richer in significance than his barrow is in gold.
Beowulf's dragon, if one wishes really to criticize, is not to be blamed for being a dragon, but rather for not being dragon enough, plain pure fairy-story dragon. There are in the poem some vivid touches of the right kind - as Pa se wynn onwoc, wroht wees geniwad stone refter stane*** - in which this dragon is real worm, with a bestial life and thought of his own, but the conception, none the less, approaches draconitas rather than draco: a personification of malice, greed, destruction (the evil side of heroic life), and of the l undiscriminating cruelty of fortune that distinguishes not good or , bad (the evil aspect of all life). But for Beowulf, the poem, that is as it should be. In this poem the balance is nice, but it is preserved. The large sybolism is near the surface but it does not break through, nor become allegory. Something more significant than a standard hero, a man faced with a foe more evil than any human enemy of house or realm, is before us, and yet incarnate in time, walking in heroic history, and treading the named lands of the North. And this, we are told, is the radical defect of Beowulf, that its author, coming in a time rich in the legends of heroic men, has used them afresh in an original fashion, giving us not just one more, but something akin yet different: a measure and interpretation of them all. We do not deny the worth of the hero by accepting Grendel and the dragon. Let us by all means esteem the old heroes: men caught in the chains of circumstance or of their own character, torn between duties equally sacred, dying with their backs to the wall. But Beowulf, I fancy, plays a larger part than is recognized in helping us to esteem them.
When we have read his poem, as a poem, rather than as a collection of episodes, we perceive that he who wrote hafað under heofonum may have meant in dictionary terms 'heroes under heaven', or 'mighty men upon earth', but he and his hearers were thinking of the eormengrund, the great earth, ringed with garsecg, the shoreless sea, beneath the sky's inaccessible roof; whereon, as in a little circle of light about their halls, men with courage as their stay went forward to that battle with the hostile world and the offspring of the dark which ends for all, even the kings and champions, in defeat. That even this 'geography', once held as a material fact, could now be classed as a mere folk-tale affects its value very little. It transcends astronomy. 

~ J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics, 1936. Extracts from a lecture by Tolkien on literary criticism om the Old English heroic epic poem Beowulf.

Beowulf and the Dragon John Howe.

*"And his [Sigurd's] name will endure while the world remains", The Saga of the Volsungs.
**He was the most famous of exiles," Beowulf, lines 898-99.
***"When the dragon awoke, strife was renewed; he sniffed along the stone," Beowulf, lines 2287-88.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Roger Scruton, The End of the University.

When something has a high moral price, only committed people will pursue it. I therefore found, in the underground seminars, a unique student body—people dedicated to ­knowledge, as I understood it, and aware of the ease and the danger of replacing knowledge with mere opinion. Moreover, they were looking for knowledge in the place where it is most necessary and also hardest to find—in philosophy, history, art, and literature, in the places where critical understanding, rather than scientific method, is our only guide. And what was most interesting to me was the urgent desire among all my new students to inherit what had been handed down to them. They had been raised in a world where all forms of belonging, other than submission to the ruling Party, had been marginalized or denounced as crimes. They understood instinctively that a cultural heritage is precious, precisely because it offers a rite of passage into the thing that you truly are and the community of feeling that is yours.
~ Roger Scruton, The End of the University.
Find the whole article here:

The Knight of the Holy Grail by Frederick J. Waugh, 1912.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The Nature of Liberalism.

The second item in the liberal creed, after self-righteousness, is unaccountability. Liberals have invented whole college majors— psychology, sociology, women's studies— to prove that nothing is anybody's fault. No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you'd have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers. A callous pragmatist might favour abortion and capital punishment. A devout Christian would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view.

~ P. J. O'Rourke, Give War a Chance 1992.

The Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens, 1611-12.

The Dark Blue Sea, Byron.

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.-

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean-roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin-his control
Stops with the shore;-upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and unknown.

His steps are not upon thy paths-thy fields
Are not a spoil for him-thou dost arise
And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields
For earth's destruction thou dost all despise,
Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,
And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray,
And howling, to his gods, where haply lies
His petty hope in some near port or bay,
And dashest him again to earth: there let him lay.

The armaments which thunderstrike the walls
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,
And monarchs tremble in their capitals,
The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make
Their clay creator the vain title take
Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war;
These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,
They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar
Alike the armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar.

Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee-
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they?
Thy waters washed them power while they were free,
And many a tyrant since: their shores obey
The stranger, slave or savage; their decay
Has dried up realms to deserts:-not so thou,
Unchangeable, save to thy wild waves' play-
Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow-
Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.

Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time
Calm or convulsed-in breeze, or gale, or storm,
Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime
Dark-heaving; boundless, endless and sublime-
The image of eternity-the throne
Of the invisible; even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.

And I have loved thee, ocean! And my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy
I wanton'd with thy breakers-they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
Made them a terror-'twas a pleasing fear,
For I was as it were a child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane - as I do here. 

The Dark, Blue Sea, George Gordon Byron, 1842. 

Carl Blechen Stormy Sea with Lighthouse, 1826.