Perennialism and Cthonic forces

Although I had tended to see Julius Evola as something of a pagan, he did make some good points on “mysticism.”  One of the most dangerous things one can do is “open yourself to the beyond,” or let your reason go.  This opens the self to “cthonic forces.” This isn’t good.  It is descending to the lower levels.  You become less god-like and more bestial.

This sheds some light on demon possession.

This also explains a problem that arose in the 4th Political Theory.  Unlike the racist Western liberal, we believe each culture has its own Dasein, its mode of existing that doesn’t have to be determined by NATO and the World Bank.  Since each culture is finite and no one has a God’s-eye view on history, then there is a legitimate motion in each culture.

So far so good, but here are some problems.  What about widow-immolation in Hindu India?  What about female circumcision in Muslim Africa?  Is not our revulsion and, yea moral duty to stop it a form of Western hegemony?

Maybe.  But it doesn’t have to be Western hegemony.  Ancient Israel, by no means a Western Enlightenment outpost, condemned similar practices.  Whether Ba’al was a hypostasized god is beside the point. Those who worshiped him descended to cthonic levels and were violently opposed by the prophets.

One can probably find similar actions in other ancient societies.  So Perennialism offers a model of opposing cthonic practices but not from a standpoint of Western Liberalism.

My own take on the Alt Right

The “Alternative Right” came out around 2010 and few took them seriously because it seemed more keyboard warriors than anything else.  Now that Donald Trump has given them concrete existence, people are paying attention.

I’m not part of the Alt Right, whatever it is.  As Dugin says, we shouldn’t be “Right-wing” or “left-wing” or “Alt-Right,” but simply “Heideggerian.”

It’s hard to find a good analysis of them.  Milo did a decent job, but given Milo’s own eccentricities, few took him seriously. National Review does a piece on them every few weeks, but it seems like “They are racists.  It’s 2016” and little of substance.  In other words, it’s basically any usual NR piece.

I’ll offer a different sort of thesis:  if you aren’t familiar with the intellectual background, then any thesis you have will be little more than a variant of “you are a racist.”  Okay, fair enough: some alt-right guys are racist.  But let’s get to the more substantial issues.  If you want to understand where these guys are coming from, you need to be familiar with the following thinkers and ideas.

Robert E. Howard.  The Conan guy?  Yes, hear me out.  Howard represented an era where barbarian honor was more important than quantified civilization.  In other words, men revert to who they really are at the pre-theoretical level, which means they probably aren’t interested in global markets.

Julius Evola.  Evola is a pagan and so quite wrong on many levels.  His criticism of democracy is not easily dismissed, however.   The forms exist.  Do rights and binding law flow from the flux of the demos or from a transcendent realm? If all is flux and Platonic forms do not exist, then what exactly grounds liberal idols like “democracy” and “rights?”  Nothing.

F. Nietzsche.  As in Evola, if rights and morality derive from the realm of flux and time, then they are arbitrary and all we have left is power.  That probably explains why attempts to spread neo-liberal markets overseas are always bloody.

H. P. Lovecraft.  Okay, he is a racist.  And to be honest I don’t think his stories are that scary.  But you can sort of see him as a Freud in action.  Men aren’t cold, neutrally rational beings. There are dark, simmering forces underneath each one of us.  In fact, that sounds kind of like Augustine.

Martin Heidegger. Ignoring the Nazi stuff, Heidegger created modern philosophy.  More pertinently, Heidegger attacks rationalist compartmentalization.  We are “thrown” into a world of facticity. The borders are porous.  Even more, his essay “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” is a frontal attack on Globalism.

Alexander Dugin.  Unlike Dugin’s critics, I’ve read Dugin.  He isn’t saying “Nuke America.”  He is saying that the neo-liberal is a product of a very specific set of cultural presuppositions that cannot be made universal. Any attempt to make them universal is racist.  Liberals, obviously, are the most racist people in the world. In other words, neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism are wrong.

Ironically, Dugin isn’t what the Left calls a “nationalist,” since he sees that as an Enlightenment abstraction.  Dugin is more pro-EU than most right-wing critics.  If you actually read his stuff, he is the most humble and gentle of thinkers.

Revolt against the Modern World (evola)

The best way to describe this book is as a “Pagan Systematic Theology.” That’s not entirely accurate, though. Julius Evola, though an enemy of Christianity, isn’t so stupid to think that the pagan gods actually exist. In fact, Evola is quite clear that the “God-principle” is at best removed, if non-existent.

Rather, paganism–or better, the ancient tradition–is an instantiation of the realm of the Forms. And as long as Evola sticks with quasi-Platonic concepts, he’s okay. In fact, he is quite insightful.

Evola as Anti-Positivist

The danger of the “unconscious:” It’s easy to criticize materialism and positivism as blocking man’s path up to God; but the occult religion opens the path below man–which is equally deadly (xii). While Evola’s larger vision is incompatible with Christianity, there is some truth in this: you simply do not want to “let yourself go” with your unconscious. That is how demons enter.

For Evola “Tradition” isn’t something proved or demonstrated. It is remembered. It just “is.” It’s origin is “nonhuman” (Evola xxxiv). Presumably by this he means “transcendent,” which would be “universal” (xxxv).

Metaphysics

Key to his argument is the Doctrine of “two natures.” There is a superior realm of being and an inferior realm of becoming (3). The invisible element is always “more real” and anchors the visible.

The realm of “nature” was flux. It is an eternal state of “deprivation.” It reveals a lack of direction. Matter = becoming. There must be a transcendent order that gives meaning to this flux. This is where Evola advances the idea of “divine kingship” as a bridge between the two realms.

So far, so good.  This is Plato 101.

Regality

Kings in traditional societies were viewed as “mediators” (pontifex). They possessed a transcendent quality that allowed them to participate in the Forms. “The roots of authority always had a metaphysical character” (8). Kingship is often associated with the solar symbol. The solar glory denoted a metaphysical reality (9). The king draws his authority from the “above” and not from the earth.

The Law, The Empire, the State

A transcendent realism is the presupposition of law (21).Law has to have a divine character. Doctrine of the two natures reflects the relationship that exists between state and people. Legitimacy can never derive its principle from the demos (24).

So far all of this is good and is the same as you would find in any monarchist/anti-republican treatise. But Evola takes it several steps further in a) defending the Hindu caste system and in an open attack on Christianity.

In a harsh, cruel way the caste system makes sense. It reflects an ordered hierarchy. On the other hand, it seems that the people who actually like the caste system are already at the top (remember Uncle Ruckus’s defense of slavery?). Warning: Language.

Evola dislikes Christianity because it relativised the warrior caste society, or so he thinks. His understanding of Christianity is appallingly bad (though he does have some sympathy for Eastern Orthodoxy). His problem is that Christianity borrowed disparate elements from the different polar societies. Well, maybe so but that’s not a refutation. It’s a rebuttal.

There is little reason for me to offer a detailed refutation of his system.  In fact, I’m not sure why he cares.  He holds to a cyclical view of history and since Kali Yuga is about to end, we’ll get a go at it next go around.

The Hermetic Tradition: Review and Principles

Evola, Julius. The Hermetic Tradition.

Short of it: the first half was quite good, but the second half was either incoherent or just plain wrong. Julius Evola correctly notes that the ancient teaching of alchemy wasn’t simply about transmuting metals. It was about developing the soul (or ascending to higher realms). Using alchemical language, he offers a manual for purifying the soul.

In the first half of the book he decodes numerous symbols. These discussions are often exhilarating and always exciting. They reveal a robust metaphysics which has strong affinities with Christianity and Torah/Prophets. For example, “chaos” simply means the realm of undifferentiated potentiality–prime matter. Saturn is heaviness, inertia. “The Tomb,” infamous in Plato, notes the body By itself and apart from the animating spirit, it is dead matter, the flux of chaos. The hermeticist does not want to escape the body because it is bad, but to temporarily separate to reestablish a dominating and causal solar principle.

All well and good. And then comes the second half. To be honest, I am not sure what he was getting at. And it’s probably best I didn’t.

Theses of Hermeticism (and many of these are quite insightful to a classical metaphysic)

En kai pan and Orobouros

  1. Unity: it is not a doctrine but an actual state.  It is represented by a circle 🌕, a line that encloses upon itself.  It is the realm of transcendence.  
  2. Chaos:  the realm of undifferentiated potentiality; prime matter.  
  3. Solar principle:  when the One takes on a center we get the solar principle, ⊙. This is the realm of form and the power of individuation. It is the power of differentiation, of coagula as opposed to solve (37).
  4. The lunar principle:  that upon which the Solar operates.  This is the world of changing and becoming, opposed to the uranian realm of being (35).  
  5. Arsenikon: an alchemical element similar to sun.  Its ideogram is 🕕, A cutting through of prime matter.  
  6. Water principle:  ∇, represents desire, pointing downward to the earth.
  7. Flame: △, oriented to the sun, to the world of forms.
  8. Earth: , the flat line represents the stoppage downward. It stops the fall of the waters.
  9. “Like is known by like.”  To know the four elements man must have in himself the four elements.
  10. Air: breaks the ascending direction of fire.  
  11. Saturn: principle of “heaviness” preceding man. Primordial individuation; Demiourgos.  It is inverted gold, or lead. The Golden Age of yore symbolizes the eternal kingdom of being.
    1. Saturn carries the sickle, which is dissolution and the compass is the power to measure and set limits.
  12. Tomb of Osiris.  This might explain what Plato meant by calling the body a tomb.  By itself and apart from the animating spirit, it is dead matter, the flux of chaos. The hermeticist does not want to escape the body because it is bad, but to temporarily separate to reestablish a dominating and causal solar principle.
  13. Wheels:  Chakras, in Hindu thought.  Resembles a lotus, a key of life and regeneration.

Primordial Man: The original Form being reflected.  The myth of Narcissus; cf. also Plotinus, Enneads, 6.4.14.