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lundi, 19 novembre 2018

Colin Wilson’s The Outsider


Colin Wilson’s The Outsider

The following review was published in The European, a journal owned and published by Sir Oswald Mosley and his wife, Diana, between 1953 and 1959, in its February 1957 issue. It was signed only “European,” although it is now known this was a pseudonym used by Sir Mosley himself. Published only a short time after The Outsider [2] was first released in May 1956, it remains one of the best analyses of Colin Wilson [3]‘s most famous book, and was reprinted in the anthology Colin Wilson, A Celebration: Essays and Recollections (London: Woolf, 1988), which was edited by Colin’s bibliographer, Colin Stanley. The footnotes are Mosley’s own. The somewhat antiquated spelling and punctuation have been retained as they were in the original text.

It is always reassuring when men and things run true to form. It was, therefore, satisfactory that the silliest thing said in the literary year — the most frivolous and superficial in judgment — should emerge with the usual slick facility from the particular background of experience and achievement which has made Mr. Koestler the middle-brow prophet. He wrote of Mr. Colin Wilson’s remarkable book in the Sunday Times: “Bubble of the year: The Outsider (Gollancz), in which an earnest young man imparts his discovery to the world that genius is prone to Weltschmerz.”

Otherwise Mr. Wilson’s book had a very great success, and well deserved it. In fact, it was received with such a chorus of universal praise that it became almost suspect to those who believe that a majority in the first instance is almost always wrong, particularly when at this stage of a crumbling but still static society the opinion of the majority is so effectively controlled by the instruments of a shaken but yet dominant establishment. Why has a book so exceptional, and so serious, been applauded rather than accorded the “preposterous” treatment which English literary criticism reserved for such as Spengler? The first answer is that Mr. Wilson’s mind is very attractive, and his lucid style makes easy reading; the suggestion that this book is so difficult that everyone buys it but no one reads it, would brand the reading public as moronic if it had any vestige of truth. The second answer is that Mr. Wilson has as yet said nothing, and consequently cannot be attacked for the great crime of trying to “get somewhere”; somewhere new in thought, or worse still, somewhere in deed and achievement. What he has so far published is a fine work of clarification. A strangely mature and subtle mind has produced a brilliant synopsis of the modern mind and spirit. He does not claim to advance any solution, though he points in various directions where solutions may be found; “it is not my aim to produce a complete and infallible solution of the Outsider’s problem, but only to point out that traditional solutions, or different solutions, do exist”. No one could possibly yet guess where he is going, or what he may ultimately mean. He probably does not know himself; and, at his age, it is not a bad thing to be a vivid illustration of the old saying: “no man goes very far, who knows exactly where he is going”. What makes this book important is that it is a symptom and a symbol; a symptom of the present division between those who think and those who do; a symbol of the search in a world of confusion and menace by both those who think and those who do for some fresh religious impulse which can give meaning and direction to life. To achieve this, those who only do need sensitivity to receive a vision of purpose without which they are finally lost, while those who only think and feel require, in order to face life, the robustness and resolution which in the end again can only be given by purpose.

cw2.jpgMr. Wilson begins his “inquiry into the nature of the sickness of mankind in the twentieth century” at the effective point of the writers who have most influence in the present intellectual world. They are mostly good writers; they are not among the writers catering for those intellectuals who have every qualification except an intellect. They are good, some are very good: but at the end of it all what emerges? One of the best of these writers predicted that at the end of it all comes “the Russian man” described by Mr. Wilson as “a creature of nightmare who is no longer the homo sapiens, but an existentialist monster who rejects all thought”, As Hesse, the prophet of this coming, put it: “he is primeval matter, monstrous soul stuff. He cannot live in this form; he can only pass on”. The words “he can only pass on” seem the essence of the matter; this thinking is a chaos between two orders. At some point, if we are ever to regain sanity, we must regard again the first order before we can hope to win the second. It was a long way from Hellas to “the Russian man”; it may not be so far from the turmoil of these birth pangs to fresh creation. It is indeed well worth taking a look at the intellectual situation; where Europeans were, and where we are.

But who’er can know, as the long days go
That to live is happy, hath found his heaven.

wrote Euripides in the Bacchae,[1] [4] which to some minds is the most sinister and immoral of all Greek tragedies. For others these dark mysteries which were once held to be impenetrable contain the simple message that men do themselves great hurt if they reject the beauty which nature offers, a hurt which can lead to the worst horrors of madness. “Il lui suffit d’eclairer et de developper le conflict entre les forces naturelles et l’âme qui pretend se soustraire à leur empire” — wrote Gide in his Journal — “Je rencontrai les Bacchantes, au temps ou je me debattais encore contre l’enserrement d’une morale puritaine“. To anyone familiar with such thinking it is not surprising to find the dreary manias of neo-existentialism succeeding the puritan tradition.

Man denies at his risk the simple affirmation: “Shall not loveliness be loved for ever?” The Greeks, as Goethe saw them, felt themselves at home within “the delightful boundaries of a lovely world. Here they had been set; this was their appropriate place; here they found room for their energy, material and nourishment for their essential life.” And again he wrote: “feeling and thought were not yet split in pieces, that scarce remediable cleavage in the healthy nature of man had not yet taken place”. Goethe was here concerned with the early stages of the disease to whose conclusion Mr. Wilson’s book is addressed.

cw3.jpgThis union of mind and will, of intellect and emotion in the classic Greek, this essential harmony of man and nature, this at-oneness of the human with the eternal spirit evoke the contrast of the living and the dying when set against the prevailing tendencies of modern literature. For, as Mr. Wilson puts it very acutely: when “misery will never end” is combined with “nothing is worth doing”, “the result is a kind of spiritual syphillis that can hardly stop short of death or insanity”. Yet such writers are not all “pre-occupied with sex, crime and disease”, treating of heroes who live in one room because, apparently, they dare not enter the world outside, and derive their little satisfaction of the universe from looking through a hole in the wall at a woman undressing in the next room. They are not all concerned like Dostoievsky’s “beetle man” with life “under the floor boards” (a study which should put none of us off reading him as far as the philosophy of the Grand Inquisitor and a certain very interesting conversation with the devil in the Brothers Karamazof, which Mr. Wilson rightly places very high in the world’s literature). Many of these writers of pessimism, of destruction and death have a considerable sense of beauty. Hesse’s remarkable Steppenwolf found his “life had become weariness” and he “wandered in a maze of unhappiness that led to the renunciation of nothingness”; but then “for months together my heart stood still between delight and stark sorrow to find how rich was the gallery of my life, and how thronged was the soul of wretched Steppenwolf with high eternal stars and constellations . . . this life of mine was noble. It came of high descent, and turned, not on trifles, but on the stars.” Mr. Wilson well comments that “stripped of its overblown language,” “this experience can be called the ultimately valid core of romanticism — a type of religious affirmation”. And in such writing we can still see a reflection of the romantic movement of the northern gothic world which Goethe strove to unite with the sunlit classic movement in the great synthesis of his Helena. But it ends generally in this literature with a retreat from life, a monastic detachment or suicide rather than advance into such a wider life fulfilment. The essence is that these people feel themselves inadequate to life; they feel even that to live at all is instantly to destroy whatever flickering light of beauty they hold within them. For instance De Lisle Adam’s hero Axel had a lady friend who shot at him “with two pistols at a distance of five yards, but missed him both times.” Yet even after this dramatic and perfect illustration of the modern sex relationship, they could not face life : “we have destroyed in our strange hearts the love of life . . . to live would only be a sacrilege against ourselves . . .” “They drink the goblet of poison together and die in ecstasy.” All of which is a pity for promising people, but, in any case, is preferable to the “beetle man”, “under the floor boards”, wall-peepers, et hoc genus omne, of burrowing fugitives; “Samson you cannot be too quick”, is a natural first reaction to them. Yet Mr. Wilson teaches us well not to laugh too easily, or too lightly to dismiss them; it is a serious matter. This is serious if it is the death of a civilisation; it is still more serious if it is not death but the pangs of a new birth. And, in any case, even the worst of them possess in some way the essential sensitivity which the philistine lacks. So we will not laugh at even the extremes of this system, or rather way of thinking; something may come out of it all, because at least they feel. But Mr. Wilson in turn should not smile too easily at the last “period of intense and healthy optimism that did not mind hard work and pedestrian logic.” He seems to regard the nineteenth century as a “childish world” which presaged “endless changes in human life” so that “man would go forward indefinitely on ‘stepping stones of his dead self’ to higher things.” He thinks that before we “condemn it for short-sightedness”, ” we survivors of two world wars and the atomic bomb” (at this point surely he outdoes the Victorians in easy optimism, for it is far from over yet) “would do well to remember that we are in the position of adults condemning children”. Why? — is optimism necessarily childish and pessimism necessarily adult? Sometimes this paralysed pessimism seems more like the condition of a shell-shocked child. Health can be the state of an adult and disease the condition of a child. Of course, if serious Victorians really believed in “the establishment of Utopia before the end of the century”, they were childish; reformist thinking of that degree is always childish in comparison with organic thinking. But there are explanations of the difference between the nineteenth and the twentieth century attitude, other than this distinction between childhood and manhood. Spengler said somewhere that the nineteenth century stood in relation to the twentieth century as the Athens of Pericles stood in relation to the Rome of Caesar. In his thesis this is not a distinction between youth and age — a young society does not reach senescence in so short a period — but the difference between an epoch which is dedicated to thought and an epoch which has temporarily discarded thought in favour of action, in the almost rhythmic alternation between the two states which his method of history observes. It may be that in this most decisive of all great periods of action the intellectual is really not thinking at all; he is just despairing. When he wakes up from his bad dream he may find a world created by action in which he can live, and can even think. Mr. Wilson will not quarrel with the able summary of his researches printed on the cover of his book : “it is the will that matters.” And he would therefore scarcely dispute the view just expressed; perhaps the paradox of Mr. Wilson in this period is that he is thinking. That thought might lead him through and far beyond the healthy “cowboy rodeo” of the Victorian philosophers in their sweating sunshine, on (not back) to the glittering light and shade of the Hellenic world — das Land der Griechen mit der Seele suchen — and even beyond it to the radiance of the zweite Hellas. Mr. Wilson does not seem yet to be fully seized of Hellenism, and seems still less aware of the more conscious way of European thinking that passes beyond Hellas to a clearer account of world purpose. He has evidently read a good deal of Goethe with whom such modern thinking effectively begins, and he is the first of the new generation to feel that admiration for Shaw which was bound to develop when thought returned. But he does not seem to be aware of any slowly emerging system of European thinking which has journeyed from Heraclitus to Goethe and on to Shaw, Ibsen and other modems, until with the aid of modern science and the new interpretation of history it begins to attain consciousness.

cwb4.jpgHe is acute at one point in observing the contrasts between the life joy of the Greeks and the moments when their art is “full of the consciousness of death and its inevitability”. But he still apparently regards them as “healthy, once born, optimists,” not far removed from the modern bourgeois who also realises that life is precarious. He apparently thinks they did not share with the Outsider the knowledge that an “exceptional sense of life’s precariousness” can be “a hopeful means to increase his toughness”. The Greeks, of course, had not the advantage of reading Mr. Toynbee’s Study of History, which does not appear on a reasonably careful reading to be mentioned in Mr. Wilson’s book.

However, as Trevelyan[2] [5] puts it, Goethe followed them when he “firmly seized and plucked the nettle of Greek inhumanity, and treated it as the Greeks themselves had done, making new life and beauty out of a tale of death and terror”. Yet, in the continual contrast from which the Greeks derive their fulness of life : “healthy and natural was their attitude to death. To them he was no dreadful skeleton but a beautiful boy, the brother of sleep”. It is an attitude very different to Dostoievsky’s shivering mouse on the ledge, which Mr. Wilson quotes: . . . “someone condemned to death says or thinks an hour before his death, that if he had to live on a high rock, on such a narrow ledge that he’d only have room to stand, and the ocean, everlasting darkness, everlasting solitude, everlasting tempest around him, he yet remains standing in a square yard of space all his life, a thousand years, eternity, it were better to live so than die at once.” But is the attitude of the “once born Greek” so inferior to the possibly many times born ledge clinger? On the contrary, is not the former attitude a matter of common observation among brave men and the latter attitude a matter of equally common observation among frightened animals whose fear of death is not only pathetic but irrational in its exaggeration. Mr. Wilson’s view of the Greeks seems to rest in the Winckelmann Wieland stage of an enchanted pastoral symplicity. He has not yet reached Goethe’s point of horror when he realised the full complexities of the Greek nature and only emerged to a new serenity when, again in Trevelyan’s words, he realised: “they had felt the cruelty of life with souls sensitive by nature to pain no less than to joy. They had not tried to shut their eyes to suffering. They had used it, as all great artists must, as material for their art; but they had created out of it, not something that made the world more horrible to live in, but something that enriched man’s life and strengthened him to endure and to enjoy, by showing that new life, new beauty, new greatness, could grow even out of pain and death.

Jaeger[3] [6] quotes Pythagoras to express something of the same thought; “that which opposes, fits; different elements make the finest harmony ever”.

Were these “once born” people really much less adult than the Outsider in his understanding that “if you subject a man to extremes of heat and cold, he develops resistance to both”? Perhaps they even understood that if we subject ourselves to more interesting extremes we may learn to achieve Mr. Wilson’s desire (and how right he is in this) “to live more abundantly”. And Mr. Wilson certainly does not desire to rest in the Outsider’s dilemma; he is looking for solutions. In Hellas he may find something of a solution, and much more than that; the rediscovery of a direction which can lead far beyond even the Greeks.

As a sensitive and perceptive student of Nietzsche he is aware of Dionysus, but is not so fully conscious of the harmony achieved between the opposing tensions of Apollo and Dionysus. “Challenge and response” too, was more attractive in the Greek version; Artemis and Aphrodite had a charming habit of alternating as good and evil in a completely natural anticipation of Goethe’s Prologue in Heaven, which we shall later regard as the possible starting point of a new way of thinking, and of that modern writing of history which supports it with a wealth of detail. But we should first briefly consider Mr. Wilson’s view of Nietzsche and others who are rather strangely classified with him; it is a surprise at first to find him described as an existentialist, though in one sense it is quite comprehensible. For instance, Thierry Maulnier’s play Le Profanateur recently presented essentially Nietzschian thought in an existentialist form. But to confine Nietzsche to existentialism is to limit him unduly, even if we recognise, as the author points out, that definitions of existentialism have greatly varied in recent times, and also, as all can observe, that Nietzsche may be quoted in contradictory senses almost as effectively as the dominant faith of our time. The finer aspects of Nietzsche seem beyond this definition; for instance the passage in Zarathustra which culminates in the great phrase: seinen Willen will nun der Geist, seine Welt gewinnt sich der Weltverlorene, or again the harmony of mind and will in the lovely passage of Menschliches, Allzumenschliches which seems a direct antithesis of the currently accepted view of Existentialism: “The works of such poets — poets, that is, whose vision of man is exemplary — would be distinguished by the fact that they appear immune from the glow and blast of the passions. The fatal touch of the wrong note, the pleasure taken in smashing the whole instrument on which the music of humanity has been played, the scornful laughter and the gnashing of teeth, and all that is tragic and comic in the old conventional sense, would be felt in the vicinity of this new art as an awkward archaic crudeness and a distortion of the image of man. Strength, goodness, gentleness, purity, and that innate and spontaneous sense of measure and balance shown in persons and their actions . . . a clear sky reflected on faces and events, knowledge and art at one: the mind, without arrogance and jealousy dwelling together with the soul, drawing from the opposites of life the grace of seriousness, not the impatience of conflict: all this would make the background of gold against which to set up the real portrait of man, the.picture of his increasing nobleness.”[4] [7] But far more than a whole essay of this length would be needed to do justice to Mr. Wilson’s interpretation of Nietzsche and in particular, perhaps, to examine his possible over-simplification of the infinite complexities of the eternal recurrence. There is little enough space to cover the essential thinking of this remarkable book; and we must omit altogether a few of the more trivial little fellows who sometimes detain the author. Why, for instance, does he lose so much time with Lenin’s “dreadful little bourgeois”, who crowned the career of a super egotist with the damp surmise that the world could not long survive the pending departure of Mr. H. G. Wells? Here again Mr. Wilson is acute in linking Wells with greater figures like Kierkegaard in the opinion that “philosophic discussion was completely meaningless”. Kierkegaard was a “deeply religious soul” who found Hegel “unutterably shallow”.  So he founded modern Existentialism with the remark: “put me in a system and you negate me — I am not a mathematical symbol — I am.” Is such an assertion of the individual against the infinite ” unutterably shallow”, or is it relieved from this suggestion by the depths of its egotism? Such a statement can really only be answered by the unwonted flippancy of Lord Russell’s·reply to Descartes’ “cogito ergo sum“; “but how do you know it is you thinking”? Kierkegaard concluded that you cannot live a philosophy but you “can live religion”; but the attempt of this pious pastor to live his religion did not restrain him from “violently attacking the Christian Church on the grounds that it had solved the problem of living its religion by cutting off its arms and legs to make it fit life.” All these tendencies in Kierkegaard seem to indicate a certain confusion of Existentialism with Perfectionism — from which exhypothesi it should surely be very remote — but certainly qualify him as father of the inherent dissidence of modern Existentialism, and, perhaps, inspired M. Sartre to confer on the Communist Party the same benefits which the founder’s assistance had granted to the Church. All this derives surely from that initial impulse of sheer anarchy with which he assailed the Hegelian attempt at order. “There is discipline in heaven”, as one of Mr. Wilson’s favourites remarks (also more competence to exercise it, we may add) and we are left in the end with a choice between Kierkegaard’s great “I am” and Hegel’s majestic symbol in his Philosophy of History concerning the conflicting forces of the elements finally blending in a divine harmony of order. Yes, it is good that it is so plain where it all began; such pious and respectable origin. After the initial revolt against all sense of order it is not a long journey from “I am” to Sartre’s “l’homme est une passion inutile“, and to his hero, Roquentin, who finds that “it is the rational element that pushes into nihilism” and that his “only glimpse of salvation” comes from a negro woman singing “Some of these days”; yes, they certainly got rid of Hegel, but “these days” scarcely belong to Kierkegaard. Yet when they have reached “the rock bottom of self contempt ” they need again ”something rhythmic, purposive;” so man cannot live, after all, by “I am” alone. Sartre wanted freedom from all this and found that “freedom is terror”, during one of his all too brief experiences of action. Mr. Wilson comments with rare insight: ” freedom is not simply being allowed to do what you like”; ” it is intensity of will, and it appears under any circumstances that limit man and arouse man to more life.” If you do not “claim this freedom” you “slip to a lower form of life”; at this point the author seems to reach the opposite pole to the original premise of the existentialist theory. He states his position in this matter in a particularly fine passage: “Freedom posits free will; that is self-evident. But will can only operate when there is first a motive. No motive, no willing . But motive is a matter of belief; you would not want to do anything unless you believed it possible and meaningful. And belief must be belief in the existence of something; that is to say, it concerns what is real. So ultimately freedom depends on the real. The Outsider’s sense of unreality cuts off his freedom at the roots. It is as impossible to exercise freedom in an unreal world as it is to jump while you are falling.” How much nearer to clarity, sanity and effective purpose is this thinking than Sartre’s “philosophy of commitment”, which is only to say that, “since all roads lead nowhere, it is as well to choose any of them and throw all the energy into it . . .” It was at this point no doubt that the Communist Party became the fortunate receptacle of the great “I am” in its flight from the nightmare of the “useless passion”, and a few existential exercises in “freedom” from self were provided for Mr. Sartre until a change of weather rendered such exercises temporarily too uncomfortable. But again, yet again, we must seek freedom from our own besetting sin of laughing too easily and lightly at serious searchers after truth, when they on occasion fall into ridiculous situations; as Aristotle remarked to Alexander when the King caught him in an embarrassing position: “Sire, you will observe the straits to which the passions can reduce even the most eminent minds.” Despite all the nonsense, there is much to be said for Sartre. He is a great artist, one of the greatest masters of the theatre in all time. It is to be hoped that Mr. Wilson will one day extend his study of him to include Le Diable et le Bon Dieu. It is not merely a narrow professional interest which makes us regard this play as his greatest work — the incidental fact that in the first act he presents some of us as others see us, and in the last act as we see ourselves — but the manner in which he reviews nearly the whole gamut of human experiences in the body of the play. It is when he ceases to think and as a sensitive artist simply records his diverse impressions of this great age in an almost entirely unconscious fashion, that Sartre becomes great; so in the end, he is the true Existentialist.

cwb5.jpgBut Mr. Wilson moves far beyond Sartre in regarding the thinkers of an earlier period; notably Blake. At this point he recovers direction. The reader will find pages 225 to 250 among the most important of this book, but he must read the whole work for himself; this review is a commentary and an addendum, not a précis for the idle, nor a primer for those who find anything serious too difficult. The author advances a long way when he considers Blake’s “skeleton key” to a solution for those who “mistake their own stagnation for the world’s”. Here we reach realisation that the “crises of’living demand the active co-operation of intellect, emotions, body on equal terms”; contact is made here with Goethe’s Ganzheit, although it is not mentioned. “Energy is eternal delight” takes us a long way clear o the damp caverns of neo-existentialism and

When thought is closed in caves
Then love shall show its root in deepest hell

brings us nearer to the thought of Euripides with which this essay began. To Blake the greatest crime was to “nurse unfulfilled desire”; he was not only an enemy of the repressive puritanism and of all nature-denying creeds, but realised their disastrous effect upon the human psyche. He sought consciously the harmony of mind and nature, the blessed state the Greeks found somewhere between Apollo and Dionysus.

The law that abides and changes not, ages long
The eternal and nature born — these things be strong

declare the chorus in the Bacchae in warning to those who deny nature in the name of morality or reason.

A strait pitiless mind
Is death unto godliness.

Yet the great nature urge is not the enemy of the intellect but its equipoise and inspiration, declares the Bacchanal.

Knowledge, we are not foes
I seek thee diligently;
But the world with a great wind blows,
Shining, and not from thee;
Blowing to beautiful things . . . .

It is when intellect becomes separate from nature and combats nature that the madness, “the vastation” descends; the mind seeks flight from life in the womb-darkness whence it came; the end is under the floor boards, and worse, far worse. When intellect fails in a frenzy of self denial and self destruction, life must begin again at the base. Then the Euripidean chorus declares

The simple nameless herd of humanity
Has deeds and faith that are truth enough for me.

When mind fails, life is still there; and begins again, always begins again. Did these “once born” Greeks really see less than some of the wall-peepers, less even than the more advanced types considered in this fascinating book? Wretched “Steppenwolf”, you had only to look over your shoulder to see more constellations than you had ever dreamt. And it was no junketing cowboy in a hearty’s rodeo who wrote.

Not to be born is past all prizing
But when a man has seen the light
This is next best by far, that with all speed
He shall go thither, whence he came.

cwb7.jpgNo men ever had a deeper sense of the human tragedy than the Greeks; none ever faced it with such brilliant bravery or understood so well not only the art of grasping the fleeting, ecstatic moment, but of turning even despair to the enhancement of beauty. Living was yet great; they understood dennoch preisen; they did not “leave living to their servants”. Mr. Wilson in quoting Aristotle in the same sense as the above lines of Sophocles — “not to be born is the best thing, and death is better than life” — holds that “this view” lies at one extreme of religion, and that “the other extreme is vitalism”. He does not seem at this point fully to understand that the extremes in the Hellenic nature can be not contradictory but complementary, or interacting. The polarity of Greek thought was closely observed and finely interpreted by Nietzsche in diverse ways. But it was left to Goethe to express the more conscious thought beyond polarity in his Faust: the Prologue in Heaven:

The Lord speaks to Mephistopheles:

Des Menschen Thätigkeit kann allzuleicht erschlaffen
Er liebt sich bald die unbedingte Ruh;
Drum geb’ ich gern ihm den Gesellen zu,
Der reizt und wirkt, und muss, als Teufel, schaffen.

What is this but the definite statement that evil is the instrument of good? It is not only a better key to Faust than most of the tomes which have been written in analysis of this world masterpiece, but it is also the effective beginning of a new way of thinking. It was very obliging of Mr. Toynbee to collect so many facts in support of the thesis which becomes visible to any sentient mind in reading the first few pages of Faust, and his final intrusion of a personal opinion supported by belief rather than by fact detracts only slightly from his painstaking support for creative thought. “Challenge and Response” was born in Faust; and more, much more. Mr. Wilson moves towards this way of thinking on page 239 in the course of his study of Blake, and to us it is his most interesting moment. He writes “the whole was necessary” . . . “evolution towards God is impossible without a fall.” This passage follows the penetrating observation: “Yet it is the Outsider’s belief that life aims at more life, and higher forms of life” (our italics). At this point this interesting thinker and gifted writer reaches towards that decisive movement of European thought which began, perhaps, originally with Heraclitus and evolved through philosophers, prophets and poets, such as Goethe combined in his own genius, until it touched thinkers like Shaw and Ibsen in the modern age. This remarkable young man may end as the saint whom he suggests in his last line may be the Outsider’s goal, or worse, much worse, as just a success; yet the fact will remain that at this point he touched reality.

cwb8.jpgMay we end with a few questions based on that doctrine of higher forms which has found some expression in this Journal and in previous writings? Is it not now possible to observe with reason and as something approaching a clearly defined whole, what has hitherto only been revealed in fitful glimpses to the visionary? What are the means of observation available to those who are not blessed with the revelation of vision? Are they not the thoughts of great minds which have observed the working of the divine in nature and the researches of modern science which appear largely to confirm them?

Is it not possible by following such thinking and such observation of science to arrive at a new religious impulse? Can we not now see the wholeness, the harmony and the purpose of life by a process of normal thought, even more surely than the sensitive artist in the ecstasy of vision and at least as surely as the revealed faiths which have been accorded to some? Has modern man not reached the point where he requires neither prophets nor priests to show him truth ? Can he not now open his eyes and see sufficient truth to guide him, in the thought and discovery of the human intellect during nearly 3000 years of striving by the human will toward the light? Is it not at least clear that life began in a very low form and has reached a relative height by a process which it is easier to believe is inspired than the subject of an almost incredible series of chances? Is it not clear that a persistent and, in the end, consistent, movement from lower to higher forms is the process and purpose of life? It is at least what has so far happened, if we regard the process over an appreciable period of time. And if this be the purpose it solves the problem of the individual; he has no duty and should have no purpose but to place himself at the disposal and to the service of that higher purpose. It is true that the divine work in nature during the movement from lower to higher forms is apparently subject to restriction and almost to paradox. The reckless, brutal waste of nature in experiment with types which fail, the agony and useless extinction of a suffering child without trace of purpose and with still less trace of kindness or of goodness, etc., all indicate some failure of power, or lack of direction, which are not easily explained by any process of thought limited to the confines of this world. Even these phenomena of fitful horror are, of course, explicable if men be more than once born, and various degrees of solipsistic explanation could also exist. But in the light of this world and its observed events they are admittedly not easily explained in terms of coherent, and certainly not of beneficent purpose. Yet is it really necessary to be able to explain every method of the process in order to observe the result of the process as a whole? Aristotle helps us again to some extent: “the process of evolution is for the sake of the thing finally evolved and not for the sake of the process.” While, too, we cannot explain all the apparent freaks of nature — freaks of seemingly gratuitous horror — we can now in considerable degree explain the method of nature which to a large extent contains a purpose for suffering. Primitive types simply do not move except under the impulse of necessity. There can in the beginning be no movement from lower to higher forms except under the stress of pain. But there can and should come a point in evolution when man moves forward by motive power of the fire within and not by pressure of the agony without.

cwb9.jpgAt some point the spirit, the soul — call it what you will — is ignited by some spark of the divine and moves without necessity; yet, again it is a matter of common observation that this only occurs in very advanced types. In general it is only the “challenge” of adverse circumstance which evokes the “response” of movement to a higher state. Goethe expressed this thought very clearly in Faust by his concept of evil’s relationship to good; he also indicated the type where the conscious striving of the aspiring spirit replaces the urge of suffering in the final attainment of salvation: wer immer strebend sich bemüht, den können wir erlösen.  In the early stages of the great striving all suffering, and later all beauty must be experienced and sensed; but to no moment of ecstasy can man say, verweile doch, du bist so schön until the final passing to an infinity of beauty at present beyond man’s ken. Complacency, at any point, is certainly excluded. So must it be always in a creed which begins effectively with Heraclitus and now pervades modern vitalism. The philosophy of the “ever living fire”, of the ewig werdende could never be associated with complacency. Still less can the more conscious doctrine of higher forms co-exist with the static, or with the illusory perfections of a facile reformism. Man began very small, and has become not so small; he must end very great, or cease to be. That is the essence of the matter. Is it true? This is a question which everyone must answer for himself after studying European literature which stretches from the Greeks to the vital thought of modern times and, also, the world thinking of many different climes and ages which in many ways and at most diverse points is strangely related. He should study, too, either directly or through the agency of those most competent to judge, the evolutionary processes revealed so relatively recently by modern biology and the apparently ever increasing concept of ordered complexity in modern physics. He must then answer two questions: the first is whether it is more likely than not that a purpose exists in life? — the second is whether despite all failures and obscurities the only discernable purpose is a movement from lower to higher forms? If he comes at length to a conclusion which answers both these questions with a considered affirmative, he has reached the point of the great affirmation. The new religious impulse which so many seek is really already here. We need neither prophets nor priests to find it for ourselves, although we are not the enemies but the friends of those who do. For ourselves we can find in the thought of the world the faith and the service of the conscious and sentient man.



[1] [8] Professor Gilbert Murray’s translation.

[2] [9] Goethe and the Greeks by Humphrey Trevelyan, Cambridge University Press.

[3] [10] Paideia, 3 vols, by Werner Jaeger.

[4] [11] Professor Heller’s translation in his book The Disinherited Mind (Bowes and Bowes).


Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: https://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2018/11/colin-wilsons-the-outsider-2/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: https://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/11-16-17-1.jpg

[2] The Outsider: https://www.amazon.com/Outsider-Exploration-Rebellion-Creativity-Cornerstone/dp/0399173102/

[3] Colin Wilson: https://www.counter-currents.com/2013/12/a-heroic-vision-for-our-time/

[4] [1]: #_ftn1

[5] [2]: #_ftn2

[6] [3]: #_ftn3

[7] [4]: #_ftn4

[8] [1]: #_ftnref1

[9] [2]: #_ftnref2

[10] [3]: #_ftnref3

[11] [4]: #_ftnref4

mercredi, 14 novembre 2018

Evola’s Other Club: Mitch Horowitz & the Self-Made Mystic


Evola’s Other Club:
Mitch Horowitz & the Self-Made Mystic

mhmc.jpgMitch Horowitz
The Miracle Club: How Thoughts Become Reality
Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2018

“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me. . . . When you decide to be something, you can be it. That’s what they don’t tell you in the church.”[1] [2]

The latest meme promulgated by the Dissident Right, which seems to be driving the Ctrl-Left and its media mouthpieces even more crazy than they were by Pepe the Frog, is the NPC [3] (Non-Player Character). And why shouldn’t it? It’s funny because it’s true. But it’s also more common than the 4Chan crowd might think.

As Mitch Horowitz says at the beginning of The Miracle Club, “the basic sense of human identity,” at least since Shakespeare expressed it in Macbeth, has been pretty much indistinguishable from the NPC:

Each of us “plays his part,” living, serving, struggling, until “mere oblivion.” We sometimes bring a ripple of change to our surroundings. . . . But overall, we remain bound to a familiar pattern.

Just one modern idea[2] [4] has “suggested that we are not ‘merely players,’ but also possess a creative agency”: thoughts are causative. As Neville Goddard, whom Horowitz considers the greatest figure of this alternative school of thought, says:

It is my belief that all men can change the course of their lives. By our imagination, by our affirmations, we can change our world, we can change our future. I have always preached that if we strive passionately to embody a new and higher concept of ourselves, then all things will be at our service. Most men are totally unaware of the creative power of imagination and invariably bow before the dictates of “facts” and accepts life on the basis of the world without. But when you discover this creative power within yourself, you will boldly assert the supremacy of imagination and put all things in subjection to it.[3] [5]

This is the uniquely American thought-phenomenon called “New Thought” (how American a name!), which should be regarded, as I’ve argued in a number of essays, [4] [6] as our homegrown Hermeticism, native Neoplatonism, and two-fisted Traditionalism.[5] [7]

Yet for almost a century now, New Thought has been the punchline and punching bag of everyone from learned scholars and hard-nosed scientists, to journalists looking for a feature full of cheap laughs.[6] [8] As religious scholar Jeffrey J. Kripal says in his blurb for Horowitz’s book:

The American lineage of mind metaphysics, or positive thinking, takes a beating from both the religious right and the intellectual left, who seem to share in little other than this fear and loathing of the possibility that we might actually be able to imagine ourselves into other realities, histories, and humanities.

Indeed, not only the “religious” Right; concurrent with the NPC meme, another frequently-encountered theme among the “Alt Right” of late is the disparagement of “magical thinking,” presented as something unique to the Left,[7] [9] despite the election of Donald J. Trump, a devotee of Normal Vincent Peale’s “Positive Thinking.”[8] [10] One is tempted to respond in the Trump persona: “I’m the billionaire president, and you’re not. You’re fired!”

At least one cause – or effect? – of this mockery has been that New Thought hasn’t been seriously studied since William James (who both studied and practiced what he called “the religion of healthy-edness”) died in 1910; and, as a consequence, New Thought itself hasn’t intellectually developed. [9] [11]

Comes now Mitch Horowitz[10] [12] to move the discussion of this very American stream of thought onto that very American methodological ground of proof by experience. In short, try it!

By this strategy, Horowitz first reaches back to evoke the original Miracle Club, a gathering of esoteric experimenters who banded together in New York City back in 1875, when their President received a mysterious letter reading, “Don’t give up thy club. TRY.” And in the end, he will propose that the reader join him in a new, informal miracle club.

But “club” also suggests, to me at least, Baron Julius Evola, who ran his own series of magical clubs, UR and KRUR, back in the 1920s.[11] [13] Moreover, after disbanding these groups, he founded a periodical titled La Torre (The Tower); in his autobiography, he notes that:

Backlash followed – and not because of the doctrinal or cultural content of the magazine (which, given its elevated standard, was largely ignored by Fascists), but on account of one rubric entitled ‘The Bow and the Club’ (‘L’arco e la clava’: where the bow strikes at a distance, the club does so only within range of one’s hands).[12] [14]

Without pressing the analogy too far, I would suggest that Horowitz has set himself a similar task: to deal with the far (skeptics and scientific materialists) and the near (the all-too-frequently naïve and even childish proponents of “The Secret” or “The Law of Attraction”)[13] [15] to arrive at a true, rectified picture of New Thought: “For all its shortcomings, and for all its being disparaged by critics as a dogma of wishful delusion, New Thought, in its essentials, is true – and can be tested in your experience.”

First, some terminological matters:

Some colleagues have cautioned me that terms like positive thinking seem old-fashioned and musty; the phrase puts off younger or more sophisticated readers. But the “power of positive thinking,” to use the title phrase of Peale’s 1952 book, has so fully entered the public mind that most people have an immediate association with it. It is plain. For that reason I have continued to use Peale’s phraseology, musty or not.

I am also wary of jettisoning old terms, such as ESP, New Age, and occult, simply because they have taken on critical baggage, and one hopes to arrive at something more “respectable.”

Here, too, the note is Evolian; the latter had no hesitation to use the term “magic,” despite its modern “show business” connotations; not even, like Crowley, adding a “k”.

As another, even more important preliminary, Horowitz is quick to emphasize that he writes as a participant-observer. While acknowledging the need for some level of objectivity, he rightly points out that we are quite used to, for instance, histories of Mormonism written by Mormons, or accounts of the Inquisition, say, written by Roman Catholics. And if we are to prove a method by experience – otherwise, in what sense are we being empirical? – then we must have these experiences. “The perspective of the critics requires leavening by experience. But experience will not touch the staunchest among them simply because they avoid participation in ideas.”

Even worse than professionally skeptical scientists are the half-baked journalists. Some, like Tom Wolfe, will express some sympathy with these ideas in private, but for public consumption fear it to be too infra dig to do their reputation any good. Others, like Lewis Lapham – who went all the way to India to hang out with the Beatles and the Maharishi, and even got a mantra, but couldn’t be bothered, then or in the ensuing fifty years, to actually try meditation – seem to exhibit what René Guénon considered to be a typical “Western mental distortion”: to prefer the theory of knowledge to knowledge itself.[14] [16]


As a participant-observer, Horowitz starts, appropriately enough, with himself. At some point those journalists, or TV producers, or academics, will ask him: “You don’t believe this stuff, do you?” Yes, he does:

I believe that thinking, in a directed, highly focused, and emotively charged manner, expands our capacity to perceive and concretize events, and relates us to a nontactile field of existence that surpasses ordinarily perceived boundaries of time and thought.

Or, even more concretely:

Your mind is a creative agency, and the thoughts with which you impress it contribute to the actualized events of your existence.

This is less a doctrine than a “line of experimentation” that he invites the reader to join in with. In any event, New Thought has been very good for Mitch Horowitz. In fact, despite being the son of a bankrupt Long Island attorney, he’s now a millionaire! Ordinarily, I wouldn’t bring up such personal matters, but he talks about it himself, quite openly and out of the gate. It’s actually a legitimate part of his participant/observer model.

And why not talk about money and success? One of the most basic, and laziest criticisms, of New Thought has been to deplore it as “materialistic.” Horowitz is having none of that. Although he believes in “labor unions, moderately redistributive tax policies, and personal thrift,” he also knows that we live in a material world, and we need money to obtain power, and thus to be able to actualize our basic desires.

Horowitz deplores the “recycle[d] ideas from the Vedic and Buddhist traditions,” such as “nonattachment” or “transcendence,” which have been “cherry-picked from religious structures that were . . . highly stratified and hierarchical” and which “would have regarded social mobility almost as unlikely as space travel.”[15] [17]

This ersatz “Easternism” . . . has not provided Westerners with a satisfying response to materialism because it often seeks to divert the individual from the very direction in which he may find meaning, which is toward the compass point of achievement.

My conviction is that the true nature of life is to be generative. I believe that in order to be happy, human beings must exercise their fullest range of abilities – including the exertions of outer achievement.

I believe that the simplest and most resounding truth on the question of the inner life and attainment appears in the dictum of Christ: “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s.”

I do not view nonattachment as a workable goal for those of us raised in the West, and elsewhere, today. Rather, I believe that the ethical pursuit of achievement holds greater depth, and summons more from within our inner natures, than we may realize.

Although Horowitz seems to assume this is a function of the modern, globalized world (“the West and elsewhere, today”), I would suggest that this is actually true of something uniquely, essentially, and timelessly Western: what Spengler, and others after him, have called Faustian Man.[16] [18] And this is another point of contact with the work of Evola, who argued that both original Buddhism and Taoism were essentially Aryan paths to personal power.[17] [19]

Horowitz himself sees a connection with Nietzsche and . . . Ayn Rand.

New Thought at its best and most infectious celebrates the primacy of the individual. Seen in a certain light, the mystical teacher Neville Goddard, the New Thought figure whom I most admire, was a kind of spiritualized objectivist. Or perhaps I could say that Ayn Rand, the founder of philosophical Objectivism, and an ardent atheist, was a secularized Neville.

How can this be?

The motivated person must select among the possibilities and circumstances of reality.[18] [20] In their view, the individual is solely responsible, ultimately, for what he does with his choices. Rand saw this selection as the exercise of personal will and rational judgment; Neville saw it as vested in the creative instrumentalities of your imagination. But both espoused the same principle: the world that you occupy is your own obligation.[19] [21]

mhoa.jpgSpeaking of obligation, having “promised you a philosophy of results,” Horowitz feels obligated to provide early on “two vital, inner steps to opening yourself to money.” The first – I’ll let you read the book to find the second – could have come from Howard Roark himself:

You must know exactly what you want to accomplish, and you must feel it passionately, even obsessively. You must be willing to turn aside everything and everyone who doesn’t contribute to your realization for that aim. . . . If that strikes you as ruthless or extreme, it is because you do not yet possess, or are not yet honest about, your definite aim. When you find it, it will be like finding breath itself.

As Neville insisted, your desires are clues given to you by God, to guide your actions in life, and should be followed without guilt, modesty, or shame. And they can be realized, precisely because they accord with the will of God, the greatest power in the universe, who is ultimately “your own wonderful human imagination.”[20] [22]

In a key chapter, “The Centrality of Neville Goddard,” Horowitz expands on his earlier precis of New Thought, presenting a three-step method, based on Neville’s many books and lectures:

First, clarify a sincere and deeply felt desire. Second, enter a state of relaxed immobility, bordering on sleep. Third, enact a mental scene that contains the assumption and feeling of your wish fulfilled. Run the little drama over and over in your mind until you experience a sense of fulfillment. Then resume your life. Evidence of your achievement will unfold at the right moment in your outer experience.

As I’ve noted before, this is exactly the method that Evola espoused in his magickal writings; first, create an image of the desired state, then:

In order for any image to act in the way I am talking about, it must be loved. It must be assumed in a great, inner calm and then warmed up, almost nourished, with sweetness, without bringing the will or any effort into play, and much less without expectations.[21] [23] The Hermeticists called this agent “sweet fire,” “fire that does not burn,” and even “fire of the lamp” since it really has an enlightening effect on the images.[22] [24]

Although in contexts such as this one here at Counter-Currents, I’ve been calling attention to how Traditional the method is, Horowitz is right to emphasize how profoundly American it is. Deriving in the first instance from Emerson, it is indeed, as Horowitz says, “applied Transcendentalism.”

In fact, it is clearly a manifestation of what Camille Paglia has called “The North American [Literary] Tradition.” Paglia argues that the confrontation of Romanticism with North American Protestantism “achieved a new fusion of ideas – a sensory pragmatism or engagement with concrete experience, rooted in the body, and at the same time a visionary celebration of artistic metaspace – that is, the fictive realm of art, fantasy and belief projected by great poetry and prefiguring our own cyberspace.”[23] [25]

This uniquely American “synthesis of the pragmatic and the visionary,” from Emerson to James, continues, I would say, in Neville’s method, which crucially combines both physical relaxation (the body) and visionary intensity (mind and will); [24] [26] conversely, Horowitz notes that most New Age practitioners of “the law of attraction,” “the Secret,” and so on fail because they seem to think they can rely on thought and wishing alone.

We saw how Horowitz disparages the “ersatz Hinduism” derived from socially stagnant societies, and Paglia notes that American democracy and capitalism “enhanced individualism and promoted social mobility.” So at first glance it may seem somewhat ironic that he devotes two chapters to Neville, born in Barbados, and James Allen (author of the New Thought classic As a Man Thinketh), an Englishman. Yet their stories are almost archetypically American.

Neville, like so many before him, emigrated from Barbados to New York to make his fortune.[25] [27] Though the Great Depression caused his Broadway career to flame out, his career as a “metaphysical lecturer” led to a certain amount of prosperity (to judge from his teaching stories, he and his small family seem to have lived one of those Nick and Nora Charles lifestyles, moving from one swanky hotel or apartment house to another), while his extended clan in Barbados used the same methods to expand a grocery store into the food services conglomerate Goddard Enterprises, still the largest multinational headquartered in the Caribbean. [26] [28]

It was James Allen’s father who emigrated to New York, but with less success, being murdered and robbed two days after arrival; as a result, young Allen had to leave school to support the family. He married, lived quietly, produced more than one book a year, and died from tuberculosis at the age of forty-seven.

Allen’s story is compelling not because he became rich – he didn’t, monetarily, at least – but for the way it brings together Horowitz’s other themes of power, self-effort, and testing by experience.

The noblest aspects of human nature emerge when the individual is striving toward something. When the thing striven for is attained, however, such as a comfortable and prosperous old age, the human mind often redirects its attention onto the smallest and most fleeting details of quotidian life.

James Allen, by contrast, was compelled to struggle most of his life. But that struggle never deformed him. The decisive factor in his life . . . was that he saw life’s upward hill not as a path toward comfort but toward refinement.

mhoroot.jpgOne is reminded of Colin Wilson’s frequent observation, that those born well-off tend to develop a lazy and pessimistic view of life, while those who need to constantly struggle acquire an optimistic attitude; positive thinking, indeed. Allen’s wife’s description of her husband also reminds us of Wilson’s concept of existential philosophizing;

He never wrote theories, or for the sake of writing; but he wrote when he had a message, and it became a message only when he had lived it out in his own life, and knew that it was good. Thus he wrote facts, which he had proven by practice.

As I said above, Horowitz devotes much attention to critiquing the intellectually stagnant, naïve, and, sometimes, dishonest forms of New Thought today, as well as the unfair attacks of the sciencey folks; he also marshals fascinating evidence that mainstream, not even “cutting edge,” science provides ways to understand how and why New Thought – Neville’s method in particular – works.

Most quantum physicists wouldn’t be caught dead/alive as Schrodinger’s cat dealing with the theories of Neville. But there is an elegant intersection of possibility between his theology and the quantum theorizing of Schrodinger and Everett.

Everett’s concept of multiple worlds and outcomes could be the key to why thoughts are causative, or, put differently, why reality bends to the vantage point of the observer.

It’s not so much that our thinking and perspective make things happen, but that we choose from among things that already exist in potential – like the superposition of a particle in a wave state.

If thoughts register data, then a shift in the use of the sensory tool of thought – like a physicist deciding whether to take a measurement and the perspective from which it is taken – determines or alters what data is experienced. Based upon how your thoughts and feeling states are used, they expose you to different, and coexisting, phenomena.

Neville argued that everything you see and experience, including others, is the product of your own individual dream of reality. Through a combination of emotional conviction and mental images, he taught, you imagine your world into being – and all people and events are rooted in you, as you are ultimately rooted in God, or an Over-Mind. When you awaken to your true self, Neville argued, you will know yourself to be a slumbering branch of the Creator clothed in human form and at the helm of infinite possibilities. We all have this experience within our own dreams of reality.

As noted in my review [29] of one of Horowitz’s previous books,[27] [30] I find this sort of thing intriguing, but not necessarily entirely compelling – and Horowitz doesn’t insist he has all the right answers, anyway; as always, your mileage may vary.[28] [31]

New to me, and more intriguing, are examples he draws from biology and medicine: he concludes that “we are living through a period of new findings in placebo research, ranging from placebo surgeries to myriad studies liking positive expectancy to a strengthened immunological response, as well as widely accepted findings in the nascent field of neuroplasticity, in which redirected thoughts are seen to alter brain biology.”

Perhaps more important are his attempts to tease out some consistency and plausibility in the claims of New Thought practitioners and what passes for theorists among them.

One of his most important contributions is emphasizing one reason why it doesn’t always appear to work: most New Thinkers not only seem content to just vaguely hope for the best, they also seem to believe that thought is the only power at work.

If I posit a connection between the individual and some kind of higher capacity of the mind, that does not mean that only “one thing” – a law of mentation – is going on in your life. Lots of events, whether biological, mechanical, or metaphysical, can be simultaneously occurring. We live under many laws and forces, of which the impact of the mind is one.

The law of gravity is ever operative, but it is mitigated by other laws, such as mass. The experience of gravity radically differs on the moon, Earth, and Jupiter. So it is with the mind: surrounding events and realities matter.[29] [32]

I would suggest – and hope to develop in a future essay – that even if, as Neville insists, we are “all imagination,” and that imagination is God, that there are levels of power or accomplishment here as with other cosmic forces or natural talents;[30] [33] it may be possible to train one’s imagination, as an athlete or dancer (like Neville, remember) trains their body, to attain greater mastery, but there are limits. As Horowitz says:

Contrary to many purveyors of spiritual self-help, I reject the notion that we can become anything we dream of. Not all desires are realistic. . . . Your age, training, and education matter – as do geography, finances, and time. These are not to be seen as barriers – but they are serious considerations.

“There are surprises,” he adds – as he says elsewhere, there have been notably short basketball stars – but don’t bet on it.[31] [34]

Understanding the hand you’ve been dealt is all part of the preliminary step of finding one’s true aim; and this in itself may be the most valuable part of the practice of positive thought:

Positive-mind philosophy places a demand on us, one that we may think we’ve risen to but have never really tried. And that is: To come to an understanding of precisely what we want. When we organize our thoughts in a certain way – with a fearless maturity and honesty – we may be surprised to discover our true desires.


The need to recognize that we work within cosmic limits is complementary to Horowitz’s ethical meditations. All this talk of Rand and Nietzsche might make some readers (though not many on this site, perhaps) a little uneasy. And isn’t actually existing New Thought a part of the whole “Social Gospel” wing of Progressivism?

Is there a dichotomy between Neville’s radical individualism and the communal vision of [for example, early twentieth-century socialist and New Thought guru Wallace D.] Wattles? Not for me. . . . Not only do opposites attract, but paradoxes complete.

Neville’s vision of individual excellence, and Wattles’ ideal of community enrichment are inextricably bound because New Thought – unlike secular Objectivism and varying forms of ceremonial magick or Thelemic philosophy – functions along the lines of Scriptural ethics. New Thought . . . promulgates a radically karmic ethos, in which the thoughts and actions enacted toward others simultaneously play out toward the self; doing unto others is doing unto self – the part and the whole are inseparable.

Must a seeker choose between a nice car and “awareness”? Must I choose between Wallace D. Wattles and Neville? Both were bold, beautiful, and right in many ways; both had a vision of ultimate freedom – of the creative individual determining rather than bending to circumstance.

If Horowitz sees Neville as not that different from free-marketeer Rand or socialist Wattles, perhaps that’s because he hearkens back to an earlier kind of Progressive thought, also part of Paglia’s North American tradition rather than the Frankfurt School of pessimistic European thinkers she deplores. This kind of Leftism preached action (Reform! Progress!) rather than passive nursing of grievances and demands for special privileges and reparations; the Left that used to sing “Don’t mourn, organize [35]!” rather than “Born this way [36].”

This contrast is manifested here in a blistering, several-page critique of modern Progressive Barbara Ehernreich’s critique of positive thinking, which “stems from laziness of research . . . willful neglect of facts for the sake of scoring a witty point,” and a shallow, entirely secondhand approach to its intellectual history.[32] [37]

Her sloppiness stems from her elitism, which he contrasts with her former co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of American, Michael Harrington (who died in 1989):

You cannot love a country in any authentic sense when you offhandedly disparage – and make no effort to take full measure of – an outlook embraced by varied millions of Americans, of all backgrounds and classes.[33] [38]

In my review of Horowitz’s edition of Neville’s At Your Command, I noted that it appeared at a synchronous moment – Election Day – and provided a useful guide to understanding Trump’s meme mastery as the key to his victory.[34] [39] I’ve argued that Positive Thinking ultimately gave America Trump. If the Left actually want to avoid another Trump, they will need to engage in the kind of self-analysis Horowitz advises here – what do they, or rather the voters, really want? – and move back to Harrington’s kind of working-class solidarity. As Spencer J. Quinn has argued on this site [40]:

Carlson sees a civil war on the horizon and argues that the Left and Left-leaning members of the Right are the ones who are primarily responsible. They are also the reason why we got Donald Trump in 2016. If the Left wishes to not have populist nationalists like Trump in the White House, then they’d better clean up their acts and start catering to the needs of the majority.[35] [41]

Just as Horowitz’s edition of At Your Command arrived on Election Day, so Horowitz’s latest comes at a propitious time, just as the Dissident Right has created a new meme, the NPC. “Offhandedly disparage” does indeed suggest the literally mindless sloganeering of the Left’s minions.[36] [42] Horowitz’s discussion would lead us to think it is hardly confined to the Left, however; it is a result of eschewing the supposedly lazy and self-indulgent world of Positive Thinking for the “hard-headed” philosophy of materialism.

But as Horowitz shows, it is Positive Thinking – Blake’s “mental strife” – that requires work, while as Kathleen Raine said of Blake’s war against Locke and Newton:

The Big Brother of materialist philosophy must of necessity become a tyrant because he compels humanity (in Yeats’ words) to become passive before a mechanized nature.[37] [43]

Identity politics is pure passivity: their constituents want benefits. It is only “dreamers” like Neville or Horowitz who want to work.[38] [44]

With all this talk of integrity and right action, it’s no surprise that Horowitz eventually gets around to offering some life coaching, which, given the reversal of causality postulated by quantum mechanics,[39] [45] he presents as advice for the past you. It bears being quoted in extenso, since it’s pretty good in itself, and also seems like the sort of thing our own Jef Costello, or even Jack Donovan, but probably not Jordan Peterson, might offer as well:

Immediately disassociate from destructive people and forces, if not physically then ethically – and watch for the moment when you can do so physically.

Use every means to improve your mental acuity. Every sacrifice of empty leisure or escapism for study, industry, and growth is a fee paid to personal freedom.

Train the body. Grow physically strong. Reduce consumption. You will be strengthened throughout your being.

Seek no one’s approval through humor, servility, or theatrics. Be alone if necessary. But do not compromise with low company.

At the earliest possible point, learn meditation (i.e., Transcendental Meditation), yoga, and martial arts (select good teachers).

Go your own way – literally. Walk/bike and don’t ride the bus or in a car, except when necessary. Do so in all weather: rain, snow, etc. Be independent physically and you will be independent in other ways.

Learn-study-rehearse. Pursue excellence. Or else leave something alone. Go to the limit in something or do not approach it.

Starve yourself of the compulsion to derive your sense of wellbeing from your perception of what others think of you. Do this as an alcoholic avoids a drink or an addict a needle. It will be agonizing at first, since you may have no other perception of self; but this, finally, is the sole means of experiencing Self.

At the end, he issues a challenge to the presumably now buff and fully intellectually-prepped reader: a specific practice that will allow you to join your will to his and whoever else has the courage to take it up. As we’ve seen throughout, from the title on, there are echoes of Evola here; for the aim of UR and KRUR was also the creation of such “magical chains.”[40] [46]

There are some arguable points in Horowitz’s exploration of Positive Thinking, and even some missteps. As an example of the latter, several pages devoted to Senator Cory Booker as an exemplar of positive thought will likely produce a different impression after his buffoonish performance at the recent Kavanaugh hearings, as well as more recent allegations [47]; perhaps he exemplifies Horowitz’s sound advice about taking an honest inventory of your strengths and limits before formulating a goal.

On the other hand, Jef Costello will be pleased to find Jonathan Frid’s landing the role of Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows adduced as an example of perseverance in pursuit of one’s true goal.

Horowitz also distances himself from many New Thought figures by demurring from the idea that the human imagination is God, tout court; he finds room for a personal God, and even insists on the efficacy of icons, medallions, and so forth. Horowitz even goes so far as to endorse William James’ notion of a deity created or supported by our prayers. One recalls how Jason Jorjani handles the same material – parapsychology and the gods – with the suggestion that these so-called “gods” are higher, but not necessarily “divine,” powers, or even extraterrestrials, ruthlessly exploiting us.[41] [48]

By contrast, Neville, for example, always insisted that “God is your own wonderful human imagination,” and heaped scorn on those who not only worship an external deity, but focus their attentions on “little medals and statues.”

Here again, Evola has preceded us; Evola, in fact, explains the differences between the “dry” and “wet” paths by considering their use of images. The pupil first constructs an image of his ideal Self, concentrating all his thoughts and will on it. In the wet path, the duality remains, the Self is worshipped from afar; while in the dry path, one attempts to gradually achieve unity, to become the Self.[42] [49]

Perhaps most importantly, one might also ask whether the example of quantum superposition (in layman’s terms, the observer determining the observed), adduced to explain the possibility of “changing the future,” as Neville would say, contradicts or makes questionable the value of Horowitz’s participant/observer model?

In the end, how are we to evaluate Horowitz’s project? Positive Thinking turns out to be not at all like the airy-fairy, feel-good notions peddled by Oprah and Co.[43] [50] It’s about the hard work of analyzing your own self to find out what it is you truly want, the honesty of admitting what that deepest desire is (power, money, success, fame, glamour), and the integrity and commitment to concentrate on it to the exclusion of anything else.

Going back to my reference to Colin Wilson’s notion of existential philosophy – that is, a philosophy developed and tested in one’s real life – we can add something Kathleen Raine said about Blake, Neville’s favorite writer (other than the author of the Bible):

He understood that ideas, like passions, cannot otherwise exist than in men; and for Blake the final test of any philosophy is the kind of human beings it produces.[44] [51]

So take the challenge, join the Miracle Club, and see what you can make of yourself – and thus, what you can make of your world. It might even be, as David Lynch suggests on the cover, “solid gold.”[45] [52]


[1] [53] Frank Costello, The Departed [54] (Martin Scorsese, 2006).

[2] [55] Mitch Horowitz, One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life (New York: Crown, 2014).

[3] [56] What appears to be a linked series of quotations from the back cover of a collection of his lectures entitled Be What You Wish (Floyd, Va.: Sublime Books, 2015).

[4] [57] These essays, published variously in Aristokratia and on Counter-Currents, are now collected in Magick for Housewives: Essays on Alt-Gurus [58] (Melbourne, Victoria: Manticore, 2018).

[5] [59] Which is not to say that important contributions haven’t come from furriners, such as Emile Coué (remembered for his mantra, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better”) and the Englishmen James Allen (to whom Horowitz devotes a chapter) and Arnold Bennett.

[6] [60] Even Adlai Stevenson got into the act. When running for president in 1956, Peale said that Stevenson was unfit because he was divorced; Stevenson famously quipped, “I find Saint Paul appealing and Saint Peale appalling.” In 1960, Peale called Kennedy unfit, as a Catholic, and Stevenson responded thus: “America was not built by wishful thinking. It was built by realists, and it will not be saved by guess work and self-deception. It will only be saved by hard work and facing the facts.” Says the guy who lost. Twice. See the section on “Peale and Stevenson” on Wikipedia [61].

[7] [62] For example, Ramzpaul, here [63].

[8] [64] Did positive thinking help elect Trump? See my Kindle single, Trump: The Art of the Meme [65] (Amazon, 2016).

[9] [66] One might compare the situation of institutions and disciplines dominated by the PC mentality – bereft of any need to actually defend their ideas, the academic Left has intellectually degenerated to a point where its ideas are preposterous, and its spokesmen incapable of mounting a defense, anyway.

[10] [67] “Mitch Horowitz is a PEN Award-winning historian, longtime publishing executive, and a leading New Thought commentator with bylines in The New York TimesTimePoliticoSalon, and The Wall Street Journal and media appearances on Dateline NBCCBS Sunday MorningAll Things Considered, and Coast to Coast AM. He is the author of several books, including Occult America and One Simple Idea. He lives in New York City.”—Publisher’s note.

[11] [68] Reprinted in three volumes several decades later; the first volume has been translated as Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2001), and the second volume is due out next year. Inner Traditions also happens to publish The Miracle Club.

[12] [69] The Path of Cinnabar: An Intellectual Autobiography; translated by Sergio Knipe (London: Artkos Media, 2009), p. 107.

[13] [70] “I want to strike at the blithe, sometimes childish tone that pervades much of its culture. . . . Services at many New Thought-oriented churches are a cross between pep rallies and preschool birthday parties, with attendant exhortations from the pulpit: ‘Isn’t this the most fun ever?’” Camille Paglia describes “New Age” as “all-accepting and undemanding, suspending guilt and judgement. It offers a psychology without conflict and a subjective ethics without challenge or moral responsibility.” See “The Mighty River of Classics: Tradition and Innovation in Modern Education,” reprinted in Provocations: Collected Essays (New York: Pantheon, 2018).

[14] [71] “It is truly strange that proof is demanded concerning the possibility of a kind of knowledge instead of searching for it and verifying it for one’s self by undertaking the work necessary for its acquisition. For those who possess this knowledge, what interest can there be in all this discussion? Substituting a ‘theory of knowledge’ for knowledge itself is perhaps the greatest admission of impotence in modern philosophy.” “Oriental Metaphysics [72],” from Tomorrow, Vol. 12, No. 1. (Winter 1964) (the journal later continued as Studies in Comparative Religion).

[15] [73] Unless, of course, the Ancient Astronaut theorists are right about vimanas [74].

[16] [75] See Collin Cleary, “What is Odinism?, Part III: The Odinic & the Faustian [76],” and Ricardo Duchesne, “Oswald Spengler & the Faustian Soul of the West [77].”

[17] [78] See Julius Evola, The Doctrine of Awakening: The Attainment of Self-Mastery According to the Earliest Buddhist Texts (London: Luzac &  Co., 1951; Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 1995) and Julius Evola, The Yoga of Power: Tantra, Shakti, and the Secret Way, trans. Guido Stucco (Rochester, Vt. Inner Traditions, 1992); as well as his “Spiritual Virility in Buddhism [79]” and “What Tantrism Means to Modern Western Civilization [80],” included in Julius Evola, East and West [81] (San Francisco: Counter-Currents Publishing, 2018).

[18] [82] As we’ll see, this is not just an offhand remark; both Neville and quantum mechanics postulate a four-dimensional, serial universe in which the future is determined only by the choice of the observer in the present.

[19] [83] For example, Horowitz notes the importance of the New Thought principle, that you tend to become what you think about, dwell on, hate, or envy; we might compare this to the classic scene where Toohey asks Roark, “What do you think of me?” and Roark replies, “But I don’t think of you.”

[20] [84] “God’s a champ,” as Dr. Hannibal Lecter says, adding that, “It feels good because God has power. If one does what God does enough times, one will become as God is” (Red Dragon, aka Manhunter). Conversely, it doesn’t work for “manifesting” trivial desires, or parlor tricks to satisfy skeptics, like King Herod: “Prove to me that you’re no fool / Walk across my swimming pool” (Jesus Christ Superstar). As Alan Watts said, the Westerner thinks that if you say, I am God, then you should be able to “prove it” by doing random, meaningless things like make lightning strike. But if you are God, what you want to do is exactly what’s happening now all around yourself and within yourself; you’ve simply chosen to get out of your own way.

[21] [85] No expectations, because, as Neville would say, you assume that what you wish for already exists; he calls this “thinking from the end.”

[22] [86] “Commentary on the Opus Magicum,” in Evola, Introduction to Magic , op. cit., p. 57. Dr. Lechter’s protégé, The Tooth Fairy, a kind of perverted New Thinker, comes to mind: an investigator, Buffalo Bill, muses over one of his tell-tale moths, “Somebody grew this guy. Fed him honey and nightshade, kept him warm. Somebody loved him.” Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1990).

[23] [87]The North American intellectual tradition [88]; Paglia: To hell with European philosophers: The breakthroughs of non-European thinkers are the 1960s’ greatest legacy,” Salon.com, March 4, 2000; reprinted in Provocations: Collected Essays.

[24] [89] Paglia cites the “exploration of the body [which] inspired the revolutionary choreography of Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham” [see “Isadora Duncan: Pagan Priestess of Dance [90]”] and “the Stanislavskian ‘Method’ of Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio” as examples of “the primacy of the body in the North American intellectual tradition.” Neville was initially both a dancer and an actor on Broadway, and although Duncan would likely have hated his act, Horowitz and others believe his physical training suggested, and added, his ability to attain states of deep relaxation. Horowitz also explicitly mentions “method” acting as an analogy to Neville’s own “method.”

[25] [91] On the basis of the same itinerary, today’s SJWs claim Alexander Hamilton as an immigrant of color and the hero of the hip-hip hit Hamilton [92]; in realty, of course, he was not only white but an elitist. Neville’s “English background and elegant bearing” might lead one to think him another toff, but Horowitz notes that Neville, unlike the historic Hamilton, thought that “privilege did not belong to the rich but to the truly imaginative,” in the manner of Jefferson’s natural aristocracy (thought the latter certainly opposed unlimited immigration [92]). In one of his visions, Neville heard the words, “Down with the blue bloods!”

[26] [93] Drafted in late 1942, Neville used his methods to obtain an honorable discharge by early 1943, so as to perform “necessary war-related work” – metaphysical lectures in Greenwich Village – as well as automatic American citizenship. Horowitz has done considerable legwork to verify such stories.

[27] [94]Lord Kek Commands: A Look at the Origins of Meme Magic [29],” now reprinted in Magick for Housewives, op. cit.; see also Trump: The Art of the Meme, op. cit.

[28] [95] For an equally recent book-length treatment, see Dean Radin’s Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe (New York: Harmony, 2018); Radin figures in a couple of Horowitz’s anecdotes.

[29] [96] “The bird attained whatever grace its shape possesses not as a result of the mere desire for flight, but because it had to fly in air, against gravitation.” T. E. Hulme, quoted by Colin Wilson in The Age of Defeat (1959; London: Aristea Press, 2018). Though no friend of what he calls “magical thinking,” the ZMan makes a similar point [97] when he attributes the fanaticism of the Left to the loss of the “leash” or “governor” of Christianity, which put limits on the zeal with which one could pursue heavenly perfection.

[30] [98] As Jesus says, in one of Neville’s favorite quotes, “I and the Father are one; yet the Father is greater than me.” Kathleen Raine says that for Blake (Neville’s favorite source outside the Bible), “All spaces and places are in reality created by the one universal imagination which in every individual being varies the ratio at will.” Kathleen Raine, Blake and the New Age (New York: Routledge, 2011), p. 172.

[31] [99] Despite the medical evidence of efficacy of what Horowitz calls “hopeful expectancy,” he calls this a “complement” to recognized medical treatment; if a belief deters you from seeking treatment, it is not a hope, but “a delusion.” He also firmly condemns New Thought theorists and practitioners who, when their methods fail, try to save their theories by “blaming the victim” for lack of faith.

[32] [100] “How can the leading critic of positive-mind mechanics evidently not have read . . . the very philosopher who made the movement possible to begin with? If a freshman quoted Emerson from secondary sources in a term paper I’d have questions for that student.”

[33] [101] Ehrenreich’s elitist disdain is of a piece with Obama’s “bitter clingers to God and guns,” Hillary’s disparagement of half the electorate as “a basket of deplorables,” the general media attitude to positive-thinking Trump, and indeed just about any media treatment of the Dissident Right. “Progressive politics is now [1995!] too often merely empty rhetoric, divorced from the everyday life of the people for whom liberals claim to speak.” Camille Paglia, “Language and the Left,” The Advocate, March 7, 1995; reprinted in Provocations, op. cit.

[34] [102]Lord Kek Commands: A Look at the Origins of Meme Magic [29].”

[35] [103] Spencer J. Quinn, “Tucker Carlson’s Ship of Fools [40].”

[36] [104] In Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny (New York: Dell, 1951), Lieutenant Keefer calls Captain Queeg “a Freudian playground,” mentioning his manner of conversing “in second phrases and slogans: ‘I kid you not’.”

[37] [105] Op. cit., pp. 157-158. Jason Jorjani gives a similar analysis of eighteenth-century materialism, arguing that De Sade can be understood as articulating the logical result of the “claustrophobia of the Cartesian ego” trapped in a mechanical universe; see his Prometheus and Atlas (London: Arktos Media, 2016), Introduction, loc. 189-196 (quote at loc. 2201).

[38] [106] “Who the hell is in charge? A bunch of accountants trying to make a dollar into a dollar ten? I want to work. I want to build something of my own. How do you not understand that? You did it yourself forty years ago.” Don Draper to Bert Cooper, Mad Men S03E13, “Shut the Door, Have a Seat.”

[39] [107] “This chap is called Feynman, Richard Feynman, Professor Feynman at Cal. Tech. He is considered one of the world’s greatest physicists. . . . He wrote a paper which came out in 1949. It was printed in what is known as The Science Newsletter and he was describing the behavior of a little particle which is produced by atomic disintegration. It is named today by our scientists as the positron. He wrote of the positron that ‘it starts from where it hasn’t been and speeds to where it was but an instant ago; arriving there it is bounced so hard its time sense is reversed, and it returns to where it hasn’t been.’” Neville, “On the Law [108],” February 19, 1965.

[40] [109] “[There] is an interesting and enigmatic account in the last chapter of the third volume [of Magic, still untranslated] entitled ‘”La Grande Orma”: la scena e le quinte’ (The ‘Great Trail’: The Stage and the Wings), signed by a mysterious ‘Ekatlos.’ In it the author strives to point out the traces of a long-perpetuated, ancient initiatic chain in the very bosom of the land around Rome, and its attempt, however futile, to exert a rectifying influence within the sphere of the Fas­cist movement during the first years in which it took power. In regard to this, Evola himself wrote that the aim of the ‘chain’ of the UR Group, aside from ‘awakening a higher force that might serve to help the singular work of every individual,’ was also to act ‘on the type of psychic body that begged for creation, and by evocation to connect it with a genuine influence from above,’ so that ‘one may perhaps have the possi­bility of working behind the scenes in order to ultimately exert an effect on the prevailing forces in the general environment.’ Although this attempt did not meet with its hoped-for success . . .” Introduction to Magic, op. cit., Preface by Retano Del Ponte. For a critique by The Archdruid, and my response, see “Battle of the Magicians: Baron Evola between the Dancer & the Druid [110],” reprinted in Magick for Housewives, op. cit.

[41] [111] Jorjani, op. cit.

[42] [112] “You must generate – first by imagining and then by realizing it – a superior principle confronting everything you usually are (e.g., an instinctive life, thoughts, feelings) [This is the bondage of experiences]. This principle must be able to control, contemplate, and measure what you are, in a clear knowledge, moment by moment. There will be two of you: yourself standing before ‘the other.’ All in all, the work consists of a ‘reversal’: you have to turn the ‘other’ into ‘me’ and the ‘me’ into ‘the other.’

“Then, in contrast to the mystical, or Christian, path, where the Other remains Other, and the Self remains in the feminine position of need and desire . . . In the magical, dry, or solar way, you will create a duality in your being not in an unconscious and passive manner (as the mystic does), but consciously and willingly; you will shift directly on the higher part and identify yourself with that superior and subsistent principle, whereas the mystic tends to identify with his lower part, in a relationship of need and of abandonment.

“Slowly but gradually, you will strengthen this ‘other’ (which is yourself) and create for it a supremacy, until it knows how to dominate all the powers of the natural part and master them totally. Then, the entire being, ready and compliant, reaffirms itself, digests and lets itself be digested, leaving nothing behind.” Julius Evola, Introduction to Magic, op. cit., pp. 88-91. The process of lovingly “cultivating” the Other as part of the process of initiation is referenced in The Silence of the Lambs, by the aforementioned Buffalo Bill. I consider this process of imaginal magic in the context of two Hollywood films in my essay “Of Costner, Corpses, and Conception: Mother’s Day Meditations on The Untouchables and The Big Chill,” here [113] and reprinted in my collection The Homo and the Negro [114] (San Francisco: Counter-Currents Publishing, 2012; 2nd, Embiggened Edition, 2017).

[43] [115] One “expert” interviewed for Rhonda Byrne’s Oprah-approved video The Secret [116] says that one day, checks just started arriving in the mail, golly gee!

[44] [117] Kathleen Raine, op. cit., p. 156.

[45] [118] Lynch also says: “Dear Twitter Friends, Please check out my interview with Mitch Horowitz on @RadioInterfaith [119].” Or take a look at the transcript here [120]. We learn that “every morning since 1973, he has gotten up. . . closed his eyes . . . slowed down his breathing . . . and ‘gone fishing’ in the ocean he calls the ‘unified field,’ using Transcendental Meditation.”

Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: https://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2018/11/evolas-other-club/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: https://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/11-6-18-1.jpg

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[3] NPC: https://www.startpage.com/do/asearch

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[29] my review: https://www.counter-currents.com/2016/12/lord-kek-commands-a-look-at-the-origins-of-meme-magic/

[30] [27]: #_ftn27

[31] [28]: #_ftn28

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[35] Don’t mourn, organize: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=AwrJ6yvK591bWW4AajFXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyZTRpYjU3BGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjYwNTdfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=joan+baez+joe+hill+woodstock+youtube&fr=yset_widemail_chr_win&turl=https%3A%2F%2Ftse4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOVT.VF_YSm1qgdyz0lTGg_1540936141%26amp%3Bpid%3DApi%26w%3D144%26h%3D77%26c%3D7&rurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dl-JW4DKxwQM&tit=Joan+Baez%2C+%26quot%3BJoe+Hill%26quot%3B+live+at+the+Woodstock+Festival%2C+1969&w=144&h=78&pos=1&vid=4c393430bd2454f202c433dcaa4732d4&sigr=11bm7tcl3&sigt=124t08j2s&sigi=12qk41vlp

[36] Born this way: https://youtu.be/XTWoTR2a7JM

[37] [32]: #_ftn32

[38] [33]: #_ftn33

[39] [34]: #_ftn34

[40] argued on this site: https://www.counter-currents.com/2018/10/tucker-carlsons-ship-of-fools/?fbclid=IwAR0DIWLnz3M_jda7hDK_EqWP2VC3uTJSoqW2zAzA0plChVo7Minsu0GuGLw

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[47] more recent allegations: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10-21/spartacus-falls-cory-booker-accused-sexually-assaulting-man-restroom

[48] [41]: #_ftn41

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[53] [1]: #_ftnref1

[54] The Departed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhqhP58t5O0

[55] [2]: #_ftnref2

[56] [3]: #_ftnref3

[57] [4]: #_ftnref4

[58] Magick for Housewives: Essays on Alt-Gurus: https://manticore.press/product/magick-for-housewives/

[59] [5]: #_ftnref5

[60] [6]: #_ftnref6

[61] Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Vincent_Peale

[62] [7]: #_ftnref7

[63] here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXVtEH8Ng74

[64] [8]: #_ftnref8

[65] Trump: The Art of the Meme: https://www.amazon.com/Trump-Meme-James-J-OMeara-ebook/dp/B01NBLFMIR/

[66] [9]: #_ftnref9

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[68] [11]: #_ftnref11

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[72] Oriental Metaphysics: http://www.studiesincomparativereligion.com/public/articles/Oriental_Metaphysics-by_Rene_Guenon.aspx

[73] [15]: #_ftnref15

[74] vimanas: https://www.gaia.com/article/do-hindu-texts-describing-the-flying-vimanas-also-detail-a-nuclear-war

[75] [16]: #_ftnref16

[76] What is Odinism?, Part III: The Odinic & the Faustian: https://www.counter-currents.com/2017/08/the-odinic-and-the-faustian/

[77] Oswald Spengler & the Faustian Soul of the West: https://www.counter-currents.com/2015/01/oswald-spengler-and-the-faustian-soul-of-the-west-part-1/

[78] [17]: #_ftnref17

[79] Spiritual Virility in Buddhism: https://www.counter-currents.com/2013/06/spiritual-virility-in-buddhism/

[80] What Tantrism Means to Modern Western Civilization: https://www.counter-currents.com/2010/10/what-tantrism-means-to-modern-western-civilization/

[81] East and West: https://www.counter-currents.com/product/east-westcomparative-studies-in-pursuit-of-tradition/

[82] [18]: #_ftnref18

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[88] The North American intellectual tradition: https://www.salon.com/2000/03/04/inteltrad/

[89] [24]: #_ftnref24

[90] Isadora Duncan: Pagan Priestess of Dance: https://www.counter-currents.com/tag/isadora-duncan/

[91] [25]: #_ftnref25

[92] the hero of the hip-hip hit Hamilton: https://www.counter-currents.com/2018/09/hamilton-and-white-centrist-delusions/

[93] [26]: #_ftnref26

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[97] makes a similar point: http://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=15461

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[108] On the Law: https://freeneville.com/on-the-law-feb-19-1965-neville-goddard-pdf-lecture/

[109] [40]: #_ftnref40

[110] Battle of the Magicians: Baron Evola between the Dancer & the Druid: https://www.counter-currents.com/2016/07/battle-of-the-magicians/

[111] [41]: #_ftnref41

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[113] here: https://www.counter-currents.com/2012/05/of-costner-corpses-and-conception/

[114] The Homo and the Negro: https://www.counter-currents.com/product/the-homo-and-the-negro-second-ed/

[115] [43]: #_ftnref43

[116] The Secret: https://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=AwrJ7FzoGd9biNAA3ZBXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEydTlsZjJwBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMzBHZ0aWQDQjYwNTdfMQRzZWMDc3I-/RV=2/RE=1541376617/RO=10/RU=https%3a%2f%2fwww.imdb.com%2ftitle%2ftt0846789%2f/RK=2/RS=ut0Yk2KFIAZ0M.MvfC1Fi.qAy8g-

[117] [44]: #_ftnref44

[118] [45]: #_ftnref45

[119] @RadioInterfaith: http://bit.ly/2fRL

[120] here: https://medium.com/galleys/david-lynch-uncut-1fd6fb15e5e

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samedi, 23 novembre 2013

Occult Roots of the Russian Revolution


Occult Roots of the Russian Revolution

Ex: http://www.gnostics.com

Dearest friend, do you not see
All that we perceive –
Only reflects and shadows forth
What our eyes cannot see.
Dearest friend, do you not hear
In the clamour of everyday life –
Only the unstrung echoing fall of
Jubilant harmonies.
– Vladimir Soloviev, 1892

The Great Russian Revolution of 1917, launched by Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevic party, profoundly influenced the history of the twentieth century. The fall of the Russian Empire and its replacement by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ushered in а new аgе in world politics. More than this, the Russian Revolution was the triumph of а dynamic revolutionary ideology that directly challenged Western capitalism. But what of the hidden origins of this Revolution? Did secret influences contribute to the victory of Lenin and the Bolshevics?

Innumerable books, not to forget massive scholarly studies, are devoted to examining the Russian Revolution and the rise of Soviet Communism. All this impressive research is almost exclusively devoted to the obvious political, economic and social dimensions, i.e. the surface manifestations of history. However, within or behind this mundane history lies another reality that is more interesting and more important than the everyday analysis offered by mainstream historians and writers.

Establishment historians pay little attention to the remarkable impact occult and Gnostic ideas had on the rise of Bolshevism and the victory of the Russian Revolution.

A number of social and political movements, including Marxism and Lenin’s Bolshevism, have been linked to Gnosticism, which flourished in the early centuries of the Christian era. The political scientists A. Besancon and L. Pellicani argue the intellectual roots of Russian Bolshevism are a structural repetition of the ancient Gnostic paradigm. A distinguishing feature of Gnosticism is an illusive, symbolic interpretation of reality, including history.

For the early Christian Gnostics the Absolute – termed the ‘Unknown Father’– has nothing in common with the wrathful ‘God’ worshipped by theist religion. In fact, for these Gnostics, the ‘God’ of the Old Testament is the adversary of their ‘Unknown Father’, the true God. Our world, including all human institutions, is not the work of the true God, but of a false creator, the Demiurge, who keeps us captive in the world, away from the divine light and truth.

Therefore, in Gnosticism, the world is merely a sort of illusion, a set of allegorical symbols, a reverse image of the real essence of history. Man, who is asleep to his inner potential, must awake and become an active partner of the ‘Unknown Father’ in the transformation of all life. Otherwise he remains a prisoner in what the eminent Russian Gnostic philosopher Vladimir Solviev (1853-1900) aptly described as “a kind of nightmare of sleeping humanity.” A number of Gnostic communities – like nineteenth century communists – held contempt for material goods and lived communally, teaching “the world and its laws, religious, moral and social, are of little relevance to the plan of salvation.”1

Gnostics, Mystic Sects & Radicals

Russian mystical sects played an extremely important part in the Bolshevik revolution, on the side of the Bolsheviks. In spite of their rejection of the state and the church, these sects were deeply nationalistic, since their members were hostile to foreign innovations. They hated the West.
— Mikhail Agursky, The Third Rome

Throughout nineteenth century Europe we find numerous connections between Gnostics, mystics, occultists and radical socialists. They constituted what the historian James Webb calls “a progressive underground” united by a common opposition to the established order of their day. Constantly, Webb writes, “we find socialists and occultists running in harness.”2 Sundry spiritual communities emerged across the United States, with clear Gnostic and occult doctrines, which attempted to follow a pure communistic life style. Victoria Woodhull, the president of the American Association of Spiritualists during the 1870s, was a radical socialist. Woodhull believed that Spiritualism signified not only religious enlightenment, but also a cultural, political and social revolution. She published the first English translation of the Communist Manifesto and tried in vain to persuade Karl Marx that the goals of Spiritualism and Communism were the same.

Dissident Christian mystics, spiritualists, occultists and radical socialists often found themselves together at the forefront of political movements for social justice, worker’s rights, free love and the emancipation of women. Nineteenth century occultists and socialists even used the same language in calling for a new age of universal brotherhood, justice and peace. They all shared a charismatic vision of what the future could be – a radical alternative to the oppressive old political, social, economic and religious power structures. And more often than not they found themselves facing the same common enemy in the unholy alliance of State and Church.

The birth of radical socialist ideas in Russia cannot be easily separated from the spiritual communism practiced by diverse Russian sects. For centuries folk myths nourished a widespread belief in the possibility of an earthly communist paradise united by fraternal love, where justice, truth and equality prevailed. One prominent Russian legend told of the lost land of Belovode (the Kingdom of the White Waters), said to be “across the water” and inhabited by Russian Old Believer mystics. In Belovode, spiritual life reigned supreme, and all went barefoot sharing the fruits of the land and their labour. There were no oppressive rules, crime, and war. Another Russian legend concerned Kitezh, the radiant city beneath the lake. Kitezh will only rise from the waters and appear again when Russia returns to the true Christ and is once more worthy to see it and its priceless treasures. Early in the twentieth century such myths captured the popular imagination and were associated with the hopes of revolution.

In the latter half of the seventeenth century, a schism occurred within the Russian Orthodox Church of a new religious movement called the Old Believers. The result was that many Russian spiritual dissidents took courage from the split to found their own communities, giving vent to Gnostic ideas that had long been simmering underground. The Old Believers, in the face of severe repression, clung tenaciously to their ancient mystic tradition and expressed their separation from the official world of Imperial Orthodox Russia in collective migration to the fringes of the state, mass suicide by fire, rebellion, and a monastic communism.

Gnostic communities, with their communalism and disdain for private property, proliferated throughout Russia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Known by a variety of names such as Common Hope, United Brotherhood, Love of Brotherhood, Righthanded Brotherhood, White Doves, Believers in Christ, Friends of God, Wanderers, their followers reportedly numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Ruthlessly persecuted by the authorities, they made up a spiritual underground, often hiding themselves from inquisitive eyes. A countrywide revolutionary sectarianism that rejected the state, the church, society, law, and even religious commandments, which they declared were abolished when the Holy Spirit descended to humanity.

The origin of Gnostic ideas in Russia is difficult to trace, but they appear to be an outgrowth of two powerful spiritual impulses in Russian religious history. The first is the Christian esoteric tradition preserved within the monastic communities of the Russian Orthodox Church. A mystical tradition going back by way of Greek Neoplatonism, Origin and Clement of Alexandria to St. John the “beloved disciple”. “Russian Orthodox mystical theology has bent more than a little in the direction of the Gnostic heresy,” notes the historian Maria Carlson.3 The second impulse originated with Essene and Manichean missionaries who reached Russia in the early centuries of the Christian era. An impulse later given new vitality by the Bogomils whose Gnostic teachings had gained a foothold in Russia by the thirteenth century.

By the end of the nineteenth century occult and Gnostic ideas enjoyed wide circulation among all segments of the Russian population. At one point the Russian philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev (1874-1948) welcomed the Gnostics, urging “Gnosticism should be revived and should enter into our life for all time.”4 After the 1917 Revolution, Gnosticism, observed the Russian scholar Mikhail Agursky, “contributed considerably to Soviet culture and even influenced Soviet political life. Its foundations were laid before the revolution…[by] several gnostic trends in nineteenth century Russian culture.”

While Russian Gnostics rejected the world order and strove to live by the apostolic precept to hold “all things in common,”5 they were also profoundly aware of the approaching end of the age. “Russian popular Gnosticism had a very pronounced apocalyptic character,” says Mikhail Agursky. “Russian mystical sectarians lived in anticipation of a catastrophe. The degradation of human life demanded purifying fire from heaven, which would devour the new Sodom and Gomorrah and replace them with the Kingdom of God. Any revolution could easily be identified by such sectarians as this fire, regardless of its external form.”6

Russian Socialism

Bolshevik collectivism had roots in long-standing Russian values of individual self-sacrifice. The suffering, martyrdom, humility, and sacrifice of Christ was deeply embedded in the texture of Russian religious thought and practice, and the lives of Russian saints were a litany of suffering. The Old Believers, heretics in the eyes of the official church for their adherence to their own version of the truth, suffered persecution for centuries at the hands of the government and sought escape in mass immolation, colonization, and, finally, economic mutual aid.
— Robert C. Williams, The Other Bolsheviks

Alexander_Herzen_7.jpgAlexander Herzen (1812-1870), seen by many as the father of Russian socialism, was a friend and admirer of the French revolutionary Proudhon, who viewed himself as a Christian socialist. Proudhon worked intermittently all his adult life on a never completed study of the original teachings of Jesus Christ. Herzen also paid special attention to Russia’s persecuted religious sectarians. He printed a special supplement for the Old Believers, the mystic Christian traditionalists who had been driven out of the Russian Orthodox Church. Nicholas Chernyshevsky, another Russian socialist thinker of the nineteenth century, wrote an article in praise of the “fools for Christ’s sake” and defended members of the spiritual underground.

The Russian radicals of the 1800s, in the words of James H. Billington, looked upon “socialism as an outgrowth of suppressed traditions within heretical Christianity.”7 They saw the genesis of Russian socialism in the spiritual underground of the Gnostics and religious sectarians. One influential network of Russian socialists openly claimed to be rediscovering “the teaching of Christ in its original purity,” which “had as its basic doctrine charity and its aim the realisation of freedom and the destruction of private property.”8

ho.jpgNicholas Chernyshevsky (1828-1889), who spent much of his life in penal servitude, penned the utopian novel What Is To Be Done? as a vision of the future new society and a guidebook for the revolutionaries who would build it. Chernyshevsky wrote:

Then say to all: this is what will come to pass in the future, a radiant and beautiful future. Have love for it, strive toward it, work on behalf of it, bring it ever nearer, bear what you can from it into your present life. The more you can carry from that future into your present life, the more your life will be radiant and good, the richer it will be in happiness and pleasure.

Chernyshevsky’s novel inspired two generations of idealistic young radicals. Among them was Alexandre Ulianov, the beloved elder brother of V.I. Lenin. He was executed in 1887 for his part in the attempted assassination of Tsar Alexander III. Vladimir Lenin told how Chernyshevsky’s What Is To Be Done? “captivated my brother, and captivated me… It transformed me completely.” What impressed the future leader of the Russian Revolution was how Chernyshevsky:

not only demonstrated the necessity for every correctly thinking and really honest man to become a revolutionary, but also showed – even more importantly – what a revolutionary should be like, what his principles should be, how he must achieve his goals, what methods and means he should employ to realise them.9

Nicholas Berdyaev observed that the “Russian revolutionaries who were to be inspired by the ideas of Chernyshevsky present an interesting psychological problem. The best of Russian revolutionaries acquiesced during this earthly life in persecution, want, imprisonment, exile, penal servitude, execution, and they had no hope whatever of another life beyond this. The comparison with Christians of that time is almost disadvantageous to the latter; they highly cherished the blessings of this earthly life and counted upon the blessings of heavenly life.”10

Chernyshevsky, like those who followed him, was passionately committed to the power of reason. His philosophy firmly grounded in the materialist outlook and a sober utilitarianism. But in his life Chernyshevsky was the embodiment of self-abnegation, single-mindedness and asceticism. Like a true saint he asked nothing for himself, but wanted everything for the people as a whole. When the police officers took him into exile in Siberia they said, “Our orders were to bring a criminal and we are bringing a saint. “These two elements, the religious and the secular, the ascetic and the calculating,” writes historian Geoffrey Hosking, “remained in unresolved tension in his personality, but on the level of theory he sought a resolution in the idea of a social revolution to be promoted by the best people on the basis of personal example.”11

Inspired by Chernyshevsky, groups of young radicals emerged committed to the reconstruction of Russia as a federation of village communes and communally run factories. The reading list of one such revolutionary cell is revealing because it included the New Testament and histories of Russian Gnostic communities. The leader of the main radical circle in the Russian capital St. Petersburg spoke of founding “a religion of humanity.” He called his circle “an Order of Knights” and included in its ranks members of a Gnostic “God-manhood sect” which taught that each individual is potentially destined to become a god. It was not uncommon for the revolutionary call “liberty, equality, and fraternity” to be written on crosses, or for Russian revolutionaries to declare their belief in “Christ, St. Paul, and Chernyshevsky.”

The Russian socialists frequently visited religious sectarians and sought their support because of their history of alienation from the tsarist regime. Emil Dillon, an English journalist who had personal contact with several persecuted religious communities, reminds us:

Among the various revolutionary agencies which were at work… the most unpretending, indirect, and effective were certain religious sectarians…. Coercion in religious matters did more to spread political disaffection than the most enterprising revolutionary propagandists. It turned the best spirits of the nation against the tripartite system of God, Tsar, and fatherland, and convinced even average people not only that there was no lifegiving principle in the State, but that no faculty of the individual or the nation had room left for unimpeded growth.12

 V.I. Lenin & The Spiritual Underground

Men who are participating in a great social movement always picture their coming action as a battle in which their cause is certain to triumph. These constructions… I propose to call myths; the syndicalist “general strike” and Marx’s catastrophic revolution are such myths.
— Georges Sorel, 1906

Religious sectarians played a significant part in the formation of Bolshevism, V.I. Lenin’s unique brand of revolutionary Marxism. Indeed, Marxism with its aggressive commitment to atheism and scientific materialism, scorned all religion as “the opium of the people.” Yet this did not prevent some Bolshevic leaders from utilising concepts taken directly from occultism and radical Gnosticism. Nor did the obvious materialist outlook of Communism, as Bolshevism became known, stop Russia’s spiritual underground from giving valuable patronage to Lenin’s revolutionary cause.

One of Vladimir Lenin’s early supporters was the radical Russian journalist V. A. Posse, who edited a Marxist journal Zhizn’ (Life) from Geneva. Zhizn’ aimed to enlist the support of Russia’s burgeoning dissident religious communities in the fight to overthrow the tsarist autocracy. Posse’s publishing enterprise received the backing of V.D. Bonch-Bruevich, a Marxist revolutionary and importantly a specialist on Russian Gnostic sects. Through Bonch-Bruevich’s connections to the spiritual underground of Old Believers and Gnostics, Posse secured important financial help for Zhizn’.

The goal of Zhizn’ was to reach a broad peasant and proletarian audience of readers that would some day constitute a popular front against the hated Russian government. Lenin soon began contributing articles to Zhizn’. To Posse, Lenin appeared like some kind of mystic sectarian, a Gnostic radical, whose asceticism was exceeded only by his self-confidence. Both Bonch-Bruevich and Posse were impressed by Lenin’s zeal to build an effective revolutionary party. Lenin disdained religion and showed little interest in the ‘religious’ orientation of Zhizn’. The Russian Marxist thinker Plekhanov, one of Lenin’s early mentors, openly expressed his hostility to the journal’s ‘religious’ bent. He wrote to Lenin complaining that Zhizn’, “on almost every page talks about Christ and religion. In public I shall call it an organ of Christian socialism.”

The Zhizn’ publishing enterprise came to an end in 1902 and its operations were effectively transferred into Lenin’s hands. This led to the organisation in 1903-1904 of the very first Bolshevic publishing house by Bonch-Bruevich and Lenin. Both men viewed the Russian sectarians as valuable revolutionary allies. As one scholar notes, “Russian religious dissent appealed to Bolshevism even before that movement had acquired a name.”13

5325987-a-stamp-printed-in-the-ussr-show-mikhail-bonch-bruevich-soviet-radio-engineerings-the-founder-of-the.jpgV.D. Bonch-Bruevich (1873-1955) came to revolutionary Marxism under the influence of the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy’s social teachings. Like Lenin’s wife Krupskaya, he started his revolutionary career distributing Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God Is within You, a work infused with neo-Gnostic themes. In 1899 Bonch-Bruevich left Russia for Canada to live among the Doukhobors, Russian Gnostic communists whose refusal to pay taxes and serve in the army drove them into exile. Bonch-Bruevich reported on the secret doctrines of the Doukhobors and put in writing their fundamental oral teachings known as the ‘Living Book’. On his return to Europe in 1901 Bonch-Bruevich introduced Lenin to the chief tenets of these Gnostic communists. The Doukhobors, with their radical rejection of the Church and State, with their denial of the uniqueness of the historical Christ, and their neglect of the Bible in favour of their own secret tradition, were of some interest to the founder of Bolshevism.

In 1904 Bonch-Bruevich, with Lenin’s support, began publishing Rassvet (Dawn) in an effort to spread revolutionary Marxism among the religious dissidents. His first editorial attacked all the Russian tsars for their persecution of the Old Believers and sectarians, and stated that the journal’s goal was to report events occurring world wide, “in various corners of our vast motherland, and among the ranks of Sectarians and Schismatics.” Rassvet combined Communist and apocalyptic themes that were both compelling and comprehensible to Russia’s spiritual underground.

By the early years of the twentieth century Russia was in a revolutionary mood. Bonch-Bruevich wrote that this would soon produce a “street battle of the awakened people.” He urged his fellow Communist revolutionaries to use the language of the spiritual underground in persuading the masses that the government was “Satan” and that “all men are brothers” in the eyes of God. He wrote:

If the proletariat-sectarian in his speech requires the word ‘devil’, then identify this old concept of an evil principle with capitalism, and identify the word ‘Christ’, as a concept of eternal good, happiness, and freedom, with socialism.

 Communist God-Builders  & The Occult

If a newcomer to the vast quantity of occult literature begins browsing at random, puzzlement and impatience will soon be his lot; for he will find jumbled together the droppings of all cultures, and occasional fragments of philosophy perhaps profound but almost certainly subversive to right living in the society in which he finds himself. The occult is rejected knowledge: that is, an Underground whose basic unity is that of Opposition to an establishment of Powers That Are.
— James Webb, Occult Underground

A Marxist pamphlet written before 1917 and later reissued by the Soviet government bluntly declared that man is destined to “take possession of the universe and extend his species into distant cosmic regions, taking over the whole solar system. Human beings will be immortal.” Anatoly Lunacharsky, the first Commissar of Enlightenment in the new Soviet state, believed that as religious conviction had been a great force of change in history, Marxists should conceive the struggle to transform nature through labor as their form of devotion, and the spirit of collective humanity as their god.

lunacharski_.jpgA.V. Lunacharsky (1875-1933) and the Russian writer Maxim Gorky (1868-1936), close friends of Vladimir Lenin, were acquainted with a broad spectrum of occult thought, including Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy and Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophy. Both these prominent Bolshevic revolutionaries shared a life-long interest in ancient mystery cults, religious sectarianism, parapsychology and Gnosticism. Maria Carlson maintains that Gorky’s “vision of a New Nature and a New World, subsequently assimilated to its socialist expression as the Radiant Future, is fundamentally Theosophic.”14 Gorky valued the writings of the occultists Emanuel Swedenborg and Paracelsus, as well as those of Fabre d’Olivet and Eduard Schure.

Drawing on the imagery of the ancient solar mysteries, Gorky declared in Children of the Sun, “we people are the children of the sun, the bright source of life; we are born of the sun and will vanquish the murky fear of death.” In his Confession, the “people” have become God, creators of miracles, possessors of true religious consciousness, and immortal. Gorky envisioned a beautiful future of work for the love of work and of man as “master of all things.” Revealing his familiarity with parapsychology and faith healing, Gorky tells how an assembled crowd uses its collective energy to heal a paralysed girl. He was deeply impressed by research into thought transference, often writing of the “miraculous power of thought”, while expressing the hope that one day reason and science would end fear.

The ideas advanced by Lunacharsky and Gorky became known as God building, described by one researcher as a “movement of secular rejuvenation with mystery cult aspects.”15 God building implied that a human collective, through the concentration of released human energy, can perform the same miracles that were assigned to supra-natural beings. God builders regarded early Christianity as an authentic example of collective God building, Christ being nothing other than the focus of collective human energy. “The time will come,” said Gorky, “when all popular will shall once again amalgamate in one point. Then an invincible and miraculous power will emerge, and God will be resurrected.”16 Years before, Fyodor Dostoyevsky had written in The Possessed, “God is the synthetic personality of the whole people.” According to Mikhail Agursky:

For Gorky, God-building was first of all a theurgical action, the creation of the new Nature and the annihilation of the old, and therefore it coincided fully with the Kingdom of the Spirit. He considered God to be a theurgical outcome of a collective work, the outcome of human unity and of the negation of the human ego.17

Before the Russian Revolution, Lunacharsky’s political propaganda relied heavily on words and images ultimately derived from Russian Gnostics and religious sectarians. In one pamphlet he urged readers to refuse to pay taxes or serve in the army, to form local revolutionary committees, to demand ownership of their land, overthrow the autocracy and replace it with a “brotherly society” of socialism. Indeed, there was as much attention given to Christ as to Marx in Lunacharsky’s writings. “Christianity, in all its forms, even the purest and most progressive,” he wrote, “is the ideology of the downtrodden classes, the hopelessly immobile, those who cannot believe in their own powers; Christianity is also a weapon of exploitation.” But Lunacharsky realised there is also an underground spiritual tradition, the arcane language and symbols of which might be used to mobilise the people to carry out the revolution.

Occult elements are obvious in Lunacharsky’s early plays and poems, including a reference to the “astral spirit”, and a familiarity with white magic and demonology. He discussed Gnosticism, the Logos, Pythagoras, and solar cults in his two volume work Religion and Socialism. After the Bolshevic Revolution, Lunacharsky wrote an occult play called Vasilisa the Wise. This was to be followed by a never published “dramatic poem” entitled Mitra the Saviour, a clear reference to the pre-Christian occult deity. Significantly, it is Lunacharsky, along with the scholar of Russian Gnostic sects V.D. Bonch-Bruevich, who is credited with developing the so-called “cult of Lenin” which dominated Soviet life following the Bolshevic leaders’ death in 1924.

 Soviet Power & Spiritual Revolution

A Weltanschauung has conquered a state, and emanating from this state it will slowly shatter the entire world and bring about its collapse. Bolshevism, if unchecked, will change the world as completely as Christianity did. Three hundred years from now it will no longer be said that it is merely a question of organising production in a different way… If this movement continues to develop, Lenin, three hundred years from now, will be regarded not only as one of the revolutionaries of 1917, but as the founder of a new world doctrine, and he will be worshipped as much perhaps as Buddha.
— Adolf Hitler, 193218

In the wake of the total collapse of Imperial Russia and the devastation caused by the First World War, Lenin and the Bolshevics seized power in October 1917. A revolution that would not have been possible without the active support and participation of the Russian spiritual underground. The Bolshevics, in the opinion of one Russian scholar:

most probably would not have been able to take power or to consolidate it if the multimillion masses of Russian sectarians had not taken part in the total destruction brought about by the revolution, which acquired a mystical character for them. To them the state and the church were receptacles of all kinds of evil, and their destruction and debasement were regarded as a mystic duty, exactly as it was with the [medieval Gnostic sects of] Anabaptists, Bogomils, Cathars, and Taborites.19

Ground down by centuries of autocratic tsarist rule as well as the Orthodox Church, its mere appendage, the Russian people came to accept the Communism of Lenin. “Bolshevism is a Russian word,” wrote an anti-Communist Russian in 1919. “But not only a word. Because in that guise, in that form and in those manifestations which have crystallized in Russia… Bolshevism is a uniquely Russian phenomenon, with deep ties to the Russian soul.”20 Even the Nazi propaganda minister Dr. Goebbels, who built his political career fighting Communism, confessed that no tsar had ever understood the Russian people as deeply as Lenin, who gave them what they wanted most – land and freedom.

Lenin wedded the dialectical materialism of Marx to the deep-rooted tradition of Russian socialism permeated as it was by Gnostic, apocalyptic, and messianic elements. In the same manner he reconciled the Marxist commitment to science, atheism and technological progress with the Russian ideas of justice, truth and self-sacrifice for the collective. Similarly the leader of Bolshevism merged the Marxist call for proletarian internationalism and world revolution with the centuries old notion of Russia’s great mission as the harbinger of universal brotherhood. Violently opposed to all religion, atheistic Bolshevism drew much from the spiritual underground, becoming in the words of one of Lenin’s comrades, “the most religious of all religions.”

“Nonetheless we have studied Marxism a bit,” wrote Lenin, “we have studied how and when opposites can and must be combined. The main thing is: in our revolution… we have in practice repeatedly combined opposites.” Several centuries earlier the Muslim Gnostic teacher Jalalladin Rumi pointed out, “It is necessary to note that opposite things work together even though nominally opposed.”

After the 1917 Bolshevic Revolution:

occultism was part of a cluster of ideas that inspired a mystical revolutionism based on the belief that great earthly events such as revolution reflect a realignment of cosmic forces. Revolution, then, had eschatological significance. Its result would be a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ peopled by a new kind of human being and characterized by a new kind of society cemented by love, common ideals, and sacrifice.

The Bolshevic Revolution did not quash interest in the occult. Some pre-revolutionary occult ideas and symbols were transformed along more ‘scientific’ lines. Mingled with compatible concepts, they permeated early Soviet art, literature, thought, and science. Soviet political activists who did not believe in the occult used symbols, themes, and techniques drawn from it for agitation and propaganda. Further transformed, some of them were incorporated in the official culture of Stalin’s time.21

Apocalyptic and mess-ianic themes, popularised for centuries by the Russian spiritual underground, were played out in the Bolshevic Revolution and fueled the drive to build a classless, communist society. The dream of a communist paradise on earth created by human hands, a new world adorned by technological perfection, social justice and brotherhood, was found both in Marx and in the Russian spiritual underground.

Lenin promulgated a law exempting religious sectarians from military service. Writers and poets, drawing inspiration from the Russian religious underground, hailed the Revolution as a messianic, world mystery. One writer compared the Bolshevic Revolution with the origin of Christianity. “Christ was followed,” he exclaimed, “not by professors, nor by virtuous philosophers, nor by shopkeepers. Christ was followed by rascals. And the revolution will also be followed by rascals, apart from those who launched it. And one must not be afraid of this.”

alexander_blok.jpgAlexander Blok (1880-1921) was the most important Russian poet to recognise the Bolshevics. A student of Gnosticism, Blok discerned the inner meaning of the tumultuous political and social events. There was a hidden spiritual content at the core of the external upheavals of the Revolution and the bloody Civil War that followed. Blok clearly expressed this in his famous poem The Twelve, where the invisible Christ leads the revolutionary march.

Another Russian poet and occultist, Andrei Bely, a disciple of Steiner’s Anthroposophical movement, hailed the Revolution as the first stage of a far greater cultural and spiritual revolution to come. For Bely, as for his contemporary Blok, the Bolshevic Revolution was above all a powerful theurgical instrument. Andrei Bely (1880-1934) saw theurgy as a means to change the world actively in collaboration with God. In spite of the turmoil and bloodshed, for these Russian occultists the revolution served as an instrument of the new creation. Bely celebrated the 1917 Revolution in a poem, Christ is Resurrected, in which the Bolshevic take over is compared with the mystery of Crucifixion and Resurrection. Rudolf Steiner understood why the Russians welcomed the October Revolution, but criticised Bolshevism as a dangerous mix of Western abstract thinking and Eastern mysticism.

The Russian spiritual underground spawned several important writers and poets who welcomed the Bolshevic Revolution. Two of the most outstanding were Nikolai Kliuev (1887-1937) and Sergei Esenin (1895-1925). Occult images and Russian messianic themes abound in their poems. Kliuev saw Lenin as the popular leader and embodiment of the Old Belief. In typically Gnostic fashion Esenin disdained the old God of the Church and proclaimed a “new Nazareth”. The young Esenin gave support to the Bolshevic Red Army and even tried to join the Bolshevic party. Tragically, Kliuev felt betrayed by the Revolution, was arrested and died on the way to a labor camp in 1937. Esenin took his own life in 1925 believing dark forces had usurped the Russian Revolution.

By the early 1920s the Bolshevics had consolidated their hold over much of the former Russian Empire. The Communist Party emerged as the monolithic embodiment of the popular will. All occult societies, including the Theosophists and Anthroposophists, were disbanded. Freemasonry was virulently condemned and its lodges closed. In the drive to modernise Russia and build a technologically advanced Soviet Union, occult notions were publicly classed as superstition and openly ridiculed. The new Soviet State, with its Marxist-Leninist ideology, became the sole arbitrator of all thought. Leading occult teachers were forced into exile. Yet many of those associated with the spiritual underground joined the Communist Party and found employment in various Soviet organisations.

The sway of the spiritual underground did not disappear. Arcane truths and primordial urges took on new forms in keeping with the new reality. Esoteric ideas were clothed in the language of a new epoch. One writer explains:

In Stalin’s time, occult themes and techniques detached from their doctrinal base became part of the official culture…. The occult themes of Soviet literature of the 1920s were transformed into the magical or fantastic elements that observers have noted in Socialist Realism. Stalin himself was invested with occult powers.22

The Russian thinker, Isai Lezhnev (1891-1955), insisted on the profoundly religious character of Communism, which was “equal to atheism only in a narrow theological sense.” Emotionally, psychologically, Bolshevism was extremely religious, seeing itself as the only custodian of absolute truth. Lezhnev correctly discerned in Bolshevism the rise of a “new religion” which brought with it a new culture and political order. He embraced Marxism-Leninism and welcomed Stalin as a manifestation of the “popular spirit”.

The Russian Revolution, which gave rise to the super power known as the Soviet Union, cast a gigantic shadow over the twentieth century. Bolshevism, the materialistic worldview developed by Vladimir Lenin, left its mark on all aspects of modern thought. And the roots of Lenin’s Communism and the Soviet Union go deep into the ancient secret tradition of humanity.

Was atheistic Bolshevism, for all its worship of science and materialism, the expression of something supra-natural? Many in the spiritual underground passionately believed so. The Gnostic poet Valery Briusov (1873-1924), who joined the Bolshevic party in 1920, had been involved in magick, occultism and spiritualism prior to the revolution. Briusov stressed that Russia’s destiny was being worked out, not on earth, but by mystic forces for which the 1917 Revolution was part of the occult plot.

Another prominent Russian occultist, the acclaimed artist Nicholas Roerich, acknowledged Lenin and Communism as cosmic phenomenon. In 1926 he wrote:

He [Lenin] incorporated and circumspectly fitted every material into the world order. This opened up for him the path into all parts of the world. And people have formed a legend not only as a record of his deeds but also as a mark of his aspirations…. We have seen for ourselves how the nations have understood the magnetic power of communism. Friends, the worst counsellor is negativity. Behind every negation ignorance is concealed.

The philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev, a former Marxist who came to embrace Christian mysticism, was exiled from the Soviet Union in the 1920s. He had studied occultism and was acquainted with many Russian Gnostic sects. His 1909 book The Philosophy of Freedom is full of Gnostic themes. And like the Gnostics, Berdyaev opposed the institution of the family as yoking men and women to “necessity” and the endless chain of birth and death. Writing from exile, more than twenty-five years after the Revolution, Berdyaev observed:

Russian communism is a distortion of the Russian messianic idea; it proclaims light from the East which is destined to enlighten the bourgeois darkness of the West. There is in communism its own truth and its own falsehood. Its truth is a social truth, a revelation of the possibility of the brotherhood of man and of peoples, the suppression of classes, whereas its falsehood lies in its spiritual foundations which result in a process of dehumanisation, in the denial of the worth of the individual man, in the narrowing of human thought…. Communism is a Russian phenomenon in spite of its Marxist ideology. Communism is the Russian destiny, it is a moment in the inner destiny of the Russian people and it must be lived through by the inward strength of the Russian people. Communism must be surmounted but not destroyed, and into the highest stage which will come after communism there must enter the truth of communism also but freed from its element of falsehood. The Russian Revolution awakened and unfettered the enormous powers of the Russian people. In this lies its principle meaning.23


The Hammer and Sickle: Occult Symbols?

Throughout the twentieth century the hammer and sickle were universally recognised as symbols of communism and the Soviet Union. For millions of people the hammer and sickle symbolised a new political and economic order offering progress, justice and liberty. While countless others looked on the same hammer and sickle as ominous emblems of oppression, hatred and tyranny.

Occultists and students of ancient wisdom saw something more. Behind the outward appearance of these communist emblems, which officially represented the emancipation of labor, there was an element unknown to the masses.

Russian occultists saw the Bolshevics as unconsciously working for the cosmic mission of Russia and interpreted the Soviet hammer and sickle as hidden symbols of the blacksmith’s art, hinting at future transmutation and transformation. Both metallurgy and alchemy (regarded as an occult science) sort to destroy impure elements with fire and thereby release a refined product, whether forged metal (the smith) or spiritual gold (the alchemist). Fire is associated with transfiguration, regeneration, and purification, while iron is associated with Mars (the god of war) and the astral world.

To the occultist, the communist hammer and sickle symbolised conflict and transmutation. The forging – in the fires of struggle – of base elements into a purer, higher form. The atheistic Bolshevic, like the occultist, proclaimed that ordinary man must be transformed into new man, free of the bonds of selfish desires and of the oppressive past, in order to freely build the new civilisation of the future.


1. Benjamin Walker, Gnosticism Its History & Influence

2. James Webb, Occult Underground

3. Maria Carlson, No Religion Higher Than Truth

4. As quoted in Maria Carlson, No Religion Higher Than Truth

5. Acts 2:44-47

6. Mikhail Agursky, The Third Rome

7. James H. Billington, The Icon and the Axe

8. As quoted in James H. Billington, The Icon and the Axe

9. As quoted in Nina Tumarkin, Lenin Lives: The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia

10. Nicholas Berdyaev, The Russian Idea

11. Geoffrey Hosking, Russia: People and Empire

12. As quoted in Mikhail Agursky, The Third Rome

13. Robert C. Williams, The Other Bolsheviks

14. Maria Carlson, No Religion Higher Than Truth

15. Richard Noll, The Jung Cult

16. Mikhail Agursky, The Third Rome

17. The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture, edited by Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal

18. As quoted in Hitler’s Words, edited by Gordon Prange

19. Mikhail Agursky, The Third Rome

20. As quoted in Richard Pipes, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime 1919-1924

21. The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture, edited by Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal

22. Ibid

23. Nicholas Berdyaev, The Russian Idea

samedi, 06 novembre 2010

Ezra Pound and the Occult

PoundNoelStock.jpgEzra Pound and the Occult

Brian Ballentine

In 1907, when Ezra Pound was still teaching Romance languages at Wabash
College in Indiana, he completed the poem "In Durance":

I am homesick after mine own kind
And ordinary people touch me not.
Yea, I am homesick
After mine own kind that know, and feel
And have some breath for beauty and the arts (King 86).

Pound left America and its "ordinary people" behind for Europe shortly after. When he arrived in London in 1908, Pound wasted no time becoming a part of the community of writers which he considered his "own kind." He was quickly running among the more prestigious of London’s literary society including members from the Rhymer’s Club and W. B. Yeats’s publisher Elkin Mathews. Of course, it was Yeats’s association that Pound truly desired and successfully sought out. In Poetry 1, Pound begins his "Status Rerum" by declaring that he found "Mr. Yeats the only poet worthy of serious study" (123). Pound would eventually be content to condense his esoteric community of cutting edge writers down to two men: himself and Yeats. In 1913 he wrote Harriet Monroe proclaiming that London’s writers are divided into two groups: "Yeats and I in one class, and everybody else in the other" ("Status Rerum" 123).When Pound first met Yeats, the older poet was heavily involved and experimenting with theurgy, or magic, that is performed with the aid of beneficent spirits. This form of occult study was not at all of interest to Pound. Shortly after their introduction, it was arranged for Pound to serve as Yeats’s "secretary" at the winter retreat Stone Cottage. Not trying to hide his skepticism , Pound wrote this letter to his mother just prior to his first winter with Yeats at Stone Cottage:

My stay at Stone Cottage will not be in the least profitable. I detest
the country. Yeats will amuse me part of the time and bore me to
death with psychical research the rest. I regard the visit as a duty to
posterity (Paige 25).

The purpose of this research is to expose the various types of occultism that were prevalent during Pound's life and determine what elements of the occult he subscribed to. Although there are signs of an occult influence all the way through his later writing, Pound’s own stance on the occult is difficult to pin down. Pound’s own belief in the occult was one that was constantly being rethought and revised. There are moments when Pound was on the brink of exploration into Yeats’s world of spirits as well as moments when he was ready to abandon the occult altogether. Pound’s exploration of "retro-cognition," his revitalization
of the Greek idea of the "phantastikon," his pursuit of gnosis or what he termed a "crystal" state, and his associations with some of
London’s premiere occultists provide evidence for the former. The latter is demonstrated in his revisions on the original 1917 Three Cantos and his apparent desire to be disassociated with the "pseudo-sciences" of the occult. Much of the occult element that dominated the original publication has been edited entirely out of the final and existing copy. In any case, much of Pound’s writing is indebted to an occult influence and it will be explored in this paper.

In his essay "Ezra Pound’s Occult Education," Demetres Tryphonopoulos warns other critics not to view Pound’s skeptical letter to his mother as a rejection towards all forms of the occult. He states that "it is only theurgy and spiritualism that Pound rejects" (76). These "pseudo-sciences" are what Tryphonopoulos believes to be "the areas of human interest which many true occultists would reject as involving the degradation of humanity" ("Occult Education" 74). Yeats’s other interests in astrology and numerology, both of which were popular in the early twentieth century, are also included among the "pseudo-sciences." Occult studies such as gnosticism and theosophy are understood as legitimate pursuits by scholars like Tryphonopoulos. Gnosis, an esoteric form of knowledge that made possible the direct awareness of the Divine, was one of Pound’s major interests with the occult. James Longenbach argues that Pound labored over creating a "priest-like status" for himself and his work (92). The quest for becoming as close to God as possible led Pound on a long exploration of occult texts. According to Walter Baumann, Pound’s quest drove him to "provide further ingredients for [his] own vision of Paradise" (311). These esoteric components or "ingredients" then become the source of much difficulty in understanding Pound’s work. To date only a few scholars have made the occult element in Pound’s work more accessible and in the past only people "deeply steeped in occult literature" could successfully navigate his writing (Baumann 318). Pound never came so far around as to accept Yeats’s interests in what he considered less useful facets of the occult, but he would humor Yeats. The older poet was also interested in astrology and asked Pound for his birth date so he could determine his horoscope. In a letter to Dorothy Shakespear Pound exclaimed:

The Eagle [Yeats] is welcomed to my dashed horoscope tho’ I
think Horace was on the better track when he wrote
"Tu ne quaesaris, scire nefas, quem
mihi quem tibi
Finem dii dederunt" (Litz 113).
[Ask not, we cannot know, what ends the gods have set for me, for thee]

Despite Pound’s show of pessimism, he provided Yeats with all of the necessary information, which included writing a letter to his mother for the exact time of his birth. He told his mother that "half a million people, some of them intelligent, who still believe in the possibility of planetary influences . . . When astrology is taken hold of systematically by modern science there will be some sort of discoveries. In the meantime there is no reason why one should not indulge in private experiment and investigation (Paige 152).A subject of particular interest to both men is something that psychologists today have termed "retro-cognition." Yeats, Pound and the rest of England received their introduction to this phenomenon when Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain published An Adventure in 1911. On August 10, 1901 the two women claimed to have been strolling through the Versailles gardens and found themselves transported back into the eighteenth century. Apparently, neither of them had realized what had occurred at the time but recounted the experience in a narrative:

We walked briskly forward, talking as before, but from the moment we left the lane an
extraordinary depression had come over me. . . In front of us was a wood, within which,
and overshadowed by trees, was a light garden kiosk, circular and like a small bandstand,
by which a man was sitting. There was no greensward, but the ground was covered by
rough grass and dead leaves as in a wood. The place was so shut that we could not see
beyond it. Everything suddenly looked unnatural, therefore unpleasant; even the trees
behind the building seemed to have become flat and lifeless, like a wood worked in a
tapestry (41).

Ten years of research in the French National Archives led them to believe that all the things they saw that day existed not in 1901 but in 1789. Also, they determined the person Moberly saw by the terrace, who is referred to as a "man" in the narrative, to be Marie Antoinette (Longenbach 222-23).Shortly after the publication of An Adventure, Yeats completed two essays for Lady Gregory’s Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland. In his essays, Yeats references An Adventure, making it highly probable that the two men had possession of the book during the Stone Cottage years if not sooner. An Adventure became an important beginning for the work of Pound and how the artist can relate to the spirit of his ancestors. The key to these relations with the past is the soul. Pound borrowed from a lot of different sources to derive his own theories on the human soul. He used Cicero’s idea of the "immortality of the soul" in De Senectute (Longenbach 222-23).He also borrowed from Plato and the Phaedrus in the Spirit of Romance: "And this is the recollection of those things which our souls saw when in company with God-when looking down from above on that which we now call being, and upward toward the true being" (140-41). Pound himself claimed to have had two experiences with retrocognition which were extremely important to him. As Longenbach writes, "Pound’s poetic goal was the cultivation of ‘adventures,’ the soul’s visionary memories of the paradise or the past it once knew" (229).Pound recounts his own experiences with retrocognition in an essay on Arnold Dolmetsch published in 1914. "So I had two sets of adventures. First, I perceived a sound which was undoubtedly derived from the Gods, and then I found myself in a reconstructed century- in a century of music, back before Mozart or Purcell, listening to clear music, to tones clear as brown amber" (Eliot 433). Pound was drawing on or participating in what he determined to be the soul’s eternal memory. His essay begins with a description of his first adventure:

I have seen the God Pan and it was in this manner: I heard a bewildering and pervasive music moving from precision to precision within itself. Then I heard a different music, hollow and laughing. Then I looked up and saw two eyes like the eyes of a wood- creature peering at me over a brown tube of wood. Then someone said: Yes, once I was playing a fiddle in the forest and I walked into a wasps’ nest. Comparing these things with what I can read of the Earliest and best authenticated appearances of Pan, I can but conclude that they relate to similar experiences. It is true that I found myself later in a room covered with pictures of what we now call ancient instruments, and that when I picked up the brown tube of wood I found that it had ivory rings upon it. And no proper reed has ivory rings on it, by nature. . . .Our only measure of truth is, however, our own perception of truth. The undeniable tradition of metamorphoses teaches us that things do not remain always the same. They become other things by swift and unanalysable process (Eliot 431).

Pound’s own understanding of truth and what he perceived to be his reality are bold advancements from what was presented in the original An Adventure. The visionary’s experience becomes the sole measure of reality and therefore Pound’s encounter with Dolmetsch as Pan becomes factual. In his essay, "Psychology and Troubadours," Pound draws a parallel between himself and early visionaries who had no way of differentiating imaginary visions from a "real" environment: "These things are for them real" (Spirit of Romance 93). Also, although Pound’s adventures and experiences cannot technically be affirmed in any way, they "stand in a long tradition of similar experiences recorded in the literature of folklore, mythology, and the occult" (Longenbach 230). In the essay on Dolmetsch, Pound works to place himself in this tradition when he writes: "When any man is able, by a pattern of notes or by an arrangement of planes or colours, to throw us back into the age of truth, everyone who has been cast back into that age of truth for one instant gives honour to the spell which has worked, to the witch-work or the art-work, or whatever you like to call it" (Eliot 432). Like Moberly and Jourdain, who had peered into the past and subsequently took ten years to write about it, Pound was wrestling with putting his visions into poetry. The "arrangement of planes or colours," the "art-work" which "throws us back into the age of truth" is what Pound wanted to create with the early Cantos. Pound began writing the first of the Cantos around 1910 but did not pursue them in earnest until 1915. It was during this time that Pound is documented in his letters as having read Robert Browning’s poem "Sordello" out loud to Yeats at Stone Cottage. Although Pound had read the poem before, it was not until he read it to Yeats that "Sordello" became a major influence. He praises the poem in a letter to his father on December 18, 1915: "It is probably the greatest poem in English. Certainly the best long poem since Chaucer. You’ll have to read it sometime as my big long endless poem that I am now struggling with starts out with a barrel full of allusions to ‘Sordello’" (Bornstein 119-20). However, the original support Pound relied on from Browning would soon be replaced with occult references. In the June, July and August 1917 edition of Poetry Magazine, Pound published his Three Cantos. These three were supposed to be the beginning of his existing long work The Cantos. Even after the highly positive review of Browning’s poem to his father, Pound would have nothing to do with Browning’s style. The original opening, which served more or less as a dialogue with Browning, is deceiving. Pound makes no effort to sustain Browning’s technique through his poem. It does not function in a lyric mode, rather it is an "apologia for the lyric mood" (Nassar 12). Pound began to question Browning’s elaborate metaphor for the stage and his character’s acting on it. Pound did not hide his "aesthetic and philosophic problems" (Nassar 13) that he had with Browning when he wrote:

. . . what were the use
Of setting figures up and breathing life upon them,
Were’t not our life, your life, my life extended?
I walk
Verona. (I am here in England.)
I see Can Grande. (Can see whom you will.)
You had one whole man?
And I have many fragments, less worth? Less worth?
Ah, had you quit my age, quit such a beastly age and
cantankerous age?
You had some basis, had some set belief (Poetry, June 1917, 115).

As if to answer his own question, and provide Browning with proper examples, Pound continued with passages in the mode of An Adventure. The only way to contain the "beastly and cantankerous age" in which one lived was to tap into the past as Moberly and Jordain had done.

Sweet lie!-Was I there truly? . . .
Let’s believe it . . .
No, take it all for lies
I have but smelt this life, a wiff of it-
. . . And shall I claim;
Confuse my own phantastikon,
Or say the filmy shell that circumscribes me
Contains the actual sun;
confuse the thing I see
With actual gods behind me?
Are they gods behind me?
How many worlds we have! If Botticelli
Brings her ashore on that great cockle-shell-
His Venus (Simonetta?),
And Spring and Aufidus fill the air
With their clear outlined blossoms?
World enough.
(Poetry, June 1917, 120-21)


Eugene Nassar claims that Pound demonstrated the "mind circumscribed by its diaphanous film-its limits-[which] imagines gods when in the presence of beauty . . . The mind as ‘phantastikon’ may be intuiting transcendent truths" (12). Pound wrestled with the "truth" about his occult link to the past in his revisions on Three Cantos all the way up until its republication in 1925. The once long opening addressed to Browning was reduced to the opening four lines of Canto II:

Hang it all, Robert Browning,
There can be but the one Sordello.
But Sordello and my Sordello?
Lo Sordels si fo di Mantovana" (6).

Following the address to Browning, Pound presents his vision of his characters or in this case "Ghosts" that "move about me / Patched with histories" (Poetry 116). There is no need for Pound to go "setting up figures and breathing life into them" because his characters were already part of a living past. Pound’s "fragments" are in fact not "less worth" because together they form a more complete whole than Browning’s characters. Pound sees these apparitions hovering over the water at Lake Garda. As with his Imagist poetry, these early portions of the Cantos reflect Pound’s attention to presenting the clearest possible picture of his experience:

And the place is full of spirits.
Not lemures, not dark and shadowy ghosts,
But the ancient living, wood white,
Smooth as the inner bark, and firm of aspect,
And all agleam with colors-no, not agleam,
But colored like the lake and like the olive leaves (Poetry June 1917, 116).


Pound used specific people and places, such as Lake Garda, to set up a desired historical backdrop. Often with Pound, the more oblique source was championed. The names are obscure and esoteric, leaving "ordinary people" in the dark just as Pound intended. Pound’s references to antiquated places, his use of foreign language, all in addition to his occult content, contribute to a higher level of difficulty in his poetry:

‘Tis the first light-not half light-Panisks
And oak-girls and the Maenads
Have all the wood. Our olive Sirmio
Lies in its burnished mirror, and the Mounts Balde and Riva
Are alive with song, and all the leaves are full of voices (Poetry June 1917,118).


The visionary experiences that Pound recreates in the Three Cantos are matched with these areas to "emphasize their origin in the meeting of a particular consciousness with a particular place" (Longenbach 232). This association was a technique that Pound had already begun experimenting with in some of his writing such as "Provincia Deserta." Yeats put it into his own words in a portion of his prose piece Per Amica Silentia Lunae: "Spiritism . . . will have it that we may see at certain roads and in certain houses old murders acted over again, and in certain fields dead huntsmen riding with horse and hound, or in ancient armies fighting above bones or ashes" (354). The spirits that haunt Pound’s Cantos are ones which he spent much time excavating from history during his reading at Stone Cottage. Also, Pound used specific names and places from his research to create a sense of locality. In the first Canto it was places such as Sirmio, and in the second there were others such as the Dordogne valley in France:

So the murk opens.
Dordogne! When I was there,
There came a centaur, spying the land,
And there were nymphs behind him.
Or going on the road by
Procession on procession-
For that road was full of peoples,
Ancient in various days, long years between them.
Ply over ply of life still wraps the earth here.
Catch at Dordoigne (Poetry July 1917, 182).

At the same time that Pound was struggling with the original Three Cantos, Yeats was preparing his own take on An Adventure. The older poet was busy formulating what he called the "doctrine of the mask" (Autobiography 102). According to Yeats, this doctrine "which has convinced [him] that every passionate man . . . is, as it were, linked with another age, historical or imaginary, where alone he finds images that rouse his energy" (Autobiography 102). Yeats’s link to the past came in a voice which he claimed to have heard for awhile but ignored. The voice even provided him with information leading to its identity. Yeats discovered that he was communicating with a Cordovan Moor named Leo Africanus. However, he did not take Leo seriously until a seance conducted on July 20, 1915. After the seance, Yeats began to consider the possibility of an anti-self existing from another period of time. Communication with this opposite personality would lead to a more complete existence as well as a better understanding of the self. Yeats began writing letters to Leo and in turn would write letters back to himself believing that Leo’s intentions could be conveyed through him. Now that Yeat’s theory had advanced to a stage where his opposite existed in another century, his idea advanced from one that was grounded in psychology to a theory that had just as much to do with history (Longenbach 190-91). There is no documented proof of Pound ever participating in one of Yeats’s seances. Despite Pound’s lack of involvement, it is impossible to overlook the parallels between the two poets work at the time. Pound was using his own ghosts and their historical associations in his early Cantos. In his final winter at Stone Cottage, Pound took interest in the seventeenth-century Neo-Platonic occult philosopher John Heydon. In 1662, Heydon published his Holy Guide. Although Pound enthusiastically read Heydon’s book, he presented a mixed image of him with Heydon’s debut in the original Three Cantos . In the final version of the original Three Cantos III, Pound introduces Heydon in a fashion that is somewhere between mockery and praise:

Another’s a half-cracked fellow-John Heydon,
Worker of miracles, dealer in levitation,
In thoughts upon pure form, in alchemy,
Seer of pretty visions (‘servant of God and secretary of nature’);
Full of a plaintive charm, like Botticelli’s,
With half-transparent forms, lacking the vigor of gods. . .
Take the old way, say I met John Heydon,
Sought out the place,
Lay on the bank, was ‘plunged deep in the swevyn;’
And saw the company-Layamon, Chaucer-
Pass each his appropriate robes; (Poetry Aug, 1917, 248)


Walter Bauman refers to Heydon as Pound’s "spiritual brother" (314). Despite the not-so flattering introduction of Heydon, Pound would appear to agree with Bauman. One possible explanation for Pound’s harsher opening remarks on Heydon could be that many people of Heydon’s own time did not think highly of his work. To many, Heydon was simply "a charlatan trifling with occult lore" (Bauman 306). In any case, Pound seems to make a point of acknowledging Heydon’s uncertain past before citing him as a credible source. Pound begins to spell out exactly what one could obtain by reading Heydon in a section of his prose piece Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir. In section 16, Pound writes positively about artists like Brzeska, Wyndham Lewis and Jacob Epstein who were on the forefront of the new movement Vorticism. Here he discusses the power a work of art can have:

A clavicord or a statue or a poem, wrought out of ages of knowledge, out of fine perception and skill, that some other man, that a hundred other men, in moments of weariness can wake beautiful sound with little effort, that they can be carried out of the realm of annoyance into the realm of truth, into the world unchanging, the world of fine animal life, the world of pure form. And John Heydon, long before our present day theorists, had written of the joys of pure form . . . inorganic, geometrical form, in his "Holy Guide" (157).


Pound also closes the section with a final reminder to read "John Heydon’s ‘Holy Guide’ for numerous remarks on pure form and the delights thereof" (Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir 167). There are several facets of the occult found in Pound’s memoir. He infers that the perfect work of art is layered with history. It is hundreds of years and hundreds of men in the making. The "realm of truth" is reached when the mind, as Nassar previously described it, has the ability to imagine "gods when in the presence of beauty." The "transcendent truths," that are a conglomeration of the past, can then be tapped as a source for the pure form Pound is describing (Nassar 12).Much of Pound’s desire for a pure truth goes hand in hand with his quest to be close to the Divine and obtain his "priest-like status." His use of Heydon becomes clearer as one reads that Heydon pondered questions such as "if God would give you leave and power to ascend to those high places, I meane to these heavenly thoughts and studies (Heydon 26). Pound borrows almost verbatim from Heydon and then cites him in "Canto 91":

to ascend those high places
wrote Heydon
stirring and changeable
‘light fighting for speed’ (76).

Heydon continues stating that people involved with studies such as his should realize that "their riches ought to be imployed in their own service, that is, to win Wisdome" (31). This "Wisdome" was something Pound wanted to make certain the masses or the "ordinary people" would not be privy to. It was exactly the divine wisdom, or gnosis, that Pound was in search of. Pound was asking the same questions and desiring the same answers that Heydon was asking hundreds of years earlier: "let us know first, that the minde of man being come from that high City of Heaven" (33). With these overt connections to Heydon, Pound’s opening remarks on him as a "half-cracked fellow" remain puzzling. Again, it is likely that Pound was initially shy about such overt references to a less-than-favorable occultist just as he was with some of Yeats’s mysticism. As it turns out, the title "Secretary of Nature" was actually Heydon’s and was printed on the title page of Holy Guide. Pound was respectful enough to include the title. Also in the Cantos, Heydon is in the company of men such as Ocellus, Erigena, Mencius and Apollonius. Pound appears to have thought much higher of Heydon than his opening remarks lead a reader to believe. In total, over half a dozen quotes are taken from Heydon’s work adding to the "crystal clear" quality of Pound’s Cantos (Davie 224).


From the green deep
he saw it,
in the green deep of an eye:
Crystal waves weaving together toward the gt/healing
Light compenetrans of the spirits
The Princess Ra-Set has climbed
to the great knees of stone,
She enters protection,
the great cloud is about her,
She has entered the protection of crystal . . .
Light & the flowing crystal
never gin in cut glass had such clarity
That Drake saw the splendour and wreckage
in that clarity
Gods moving in crystal
(Canto 91, 611)


In this selection, the "Pricess Ra-Set" has completed a journey that has allowed a metamorphosis to take place about her. The crystal which has encompassed her represents Heydon’s "pure form" that Pound was himself searching for. Inside this crystal protection "gods are manifest, whatever their ontological status outside" (Nassar 110). Pound’s metaphor shows up in several places. In "Canto 92," Pound describes "a great river" with the "ghosts dipping in crystal" (619). Also, in "Canto 91," Pound wrote:

"Ghosts dip in crystal,
. . . A lost kind of experience?
Queen Cytherea,
che ‘l terzo ciel movete
[who give motion to the third heaven]


Pound already knew the answer to his own question about experience when he asked it. Crystal was chosen not only for its clarity to represent the pureness of form but it is hard and durable as well. The experience was not lost in the protection of this divine state that is the "crystal."

There are several individuals who were contemporaries of Pound that had a large influences on Pound and exposed him to their own ideas about the occult. People such as Yeats, A. R. Orage, Allen Upward, Dorothy Shakespear, and Olivia Shakespear all had their own occult interests. However, the largest occult influence on Pound, even greater than that of Yeats, was G. R. S. Mead. Mead became a member of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society in 1884. In 1889 he was Blavatsky’s private secretary and kept that position until her death in 1891. He served as the society’s editor for their monthly magazine but branched off and quit the society altogether in 1909. Blavatsky’s writings and practices aligned themselves more with the "pseudo-sciences" that Pound would not have approved of. Oddly enough, in Mead’s essay "‘The Quest’ - Old and New:

Retrospect and Prospect," he apparently does approve of Blavatsky’s ways either:I had never, even while a member, preached the Mahatma - gospel of H. P. B. [Blavatsky], or propagandized Neo-theosophy and its revelations. I had believed that "theosophy" proper meant the wisdom-element in the great religions and philosophies of the world (The Quest 296-97).

This passage represents thinking that was in line with Pound’s ideas on gnosis and his own pursuit of wisdom. Mead is considered by some to be "the best scholar the Theosophical Society ever produced" (Godwin 245).Pound’s assessment of what he experienced in his visionary episodes as well as his readings was heavily influenced by the writings and teachings of Mead. Pound met him at one of Yeats’s "Monday Evenings" at 18 Woburn Building in London which Mead regularly attended. On October 21, 1911, Pound wrote to his parents: "I’ve met and enjoyed Mead, who’s done so much research on primitive mysticism - that I’ve written you at least four times." [1] In another letter to his parents dated February 12, 1912, Pound praises Mead writing: "G. R. S. Mead is about as interesting - along his own line - as anyone I meet"(Beinecke 238). In a letter to his mother dated September 17, 1911, Pound relays that Mead had asked him to write a publishable lecture. Pound discusses the task with his more skeptical side of the occult: "I have spent the evening with G. R. S. Mead, edtr. of The Quest, who wants me to throw a lecture for his society which he can afterwards print. ‘Troubadour Psychology,’ whatever the dooce that is" (Beinecke 223). Pound did go on to give the lecture which gave birth to his essay "Psychology and the Troubadours." In this essay Pound wrote that "Greek myth arose when someone having passed through delightful psychic experience tried to communicate it to others" (92). Again Pound was referring to an occult "adventure" similar to that of Moberly and Jourdain. Once an individual has undergone this event "the resulting symbol is perfectly clear and intelligible" (Longenbach 91). Pound also endeavors to explain further his idea of the Greek "phantastikon." According to Pound, "the consciousness of some seems to rest, or to have its center more properly, in what the Greek psychologists called the phantastikon. Their minds are, that is, circumvolved about them like soap-bubbles reflecting sundry patches of the macrocosmos" (92). In April of 1913, Pound wrote a letter to Harriet Monroe attempting to clarify this element of his essay: "It is what Imagination really meant before the term was debased presumably by the Miltonists, tho’ probably before them. It has to do with the seeing of visions."

Pound’s phantastikon became his link to tapping into the purest form of "real symbolism." Dorothy Shakespear requested that Pound explain to her the difference between this symbolism and aesthetic or literary symbolism. He wrote her stating:


There’s a dictionary of symbols, but I think it immoral. I mean that I think a superficial acquaintance with the sort of shallow, conventional, or attributed meaning of a lot of symbols weakens - damnably, the power of receiving an energized symbol. I mean a symbol appearing in a vision has a certain richness and power of energizing joy - whereas if the supposed meaning of the symbol is familiar it has no more force, or interest of power of suggestion than any other word, or than a synonym in some other language (Pound/Shakespear 302).


Of course, the ability to perceive these symbols was not within the reach of everyone. It was only for those who have set sail in the pursuit of higher wisdom. Those in pursuit of gnosis "possess the key to the mysteries of its symbolism and establish themselves as priests - divinely inspired interpreters to whom the uninitiated public must turn for knowledge" (Longenbach 91). From here, the possibilities are endless according to Pound:

"All is within us", purgatory and hell,
Seeds full of will, the white of the inner bark
the rich and the smooth colours,
the foreknowledge of trees,
sense of the blade in seed, to each its pattern.
Germinal, active, latent, full of will,
Later to leap and soar,
willess, serene,
Oh one could change it easy enough in talk.
And no one vision will suit all of us.

Say I have sat then, the low point of the cone,
hollow and reaching out beyond the stars,
reaches and depth, the massive parapets,
Walls whereon chariots went by four abreast (Longenbach 237).

Pound made it a habit to not only read Mead’s article’s and books but he also religiously attended his lectures outside the "Monday Evenings." In another letter to his parents he wrote: "I’m going out to Mead’s lecture. And so on as usual. This being Tuesday" (Beinecke 271). From these readings and lectures, Pound most likely got his inspiration for the beginning of his revised Cantos:

the passing into the realms of the dead, while living, refers to the initiation of the soul of the candidate into the states of after- death consciousness, while his body was left in a trance. The successful passing through these states of consciousness removed the fear of death, by giving the candidate an all sufficing proof of the immortality of the soul and of its consanguinity with the gods (Taylor 319).

The "initiation" process of the soul was one that Pound decided must begin his entire Cantos. "Canto 1" starts with: "And then went down . . ." which initiates a descent that is the beginning of this journey (3). Pound made it clear in "Canto 1" that the Odysseus figure was alive during his descent just as Mead required the figure to be "living." Also, in a blatant attempt to achieve the "consanguinity with the gods," Pound’s character drank the blood of the sheep that was sacrificed to them.

The process that Pound is discussing is palingenesis, or the birth and the growth of the soul. The ultimate goal of the entire process, as Pound saw it, was "the expansion of the initiand’s consciousness into a state where he awakes to his relationship with the gods, and participates in their world" (Celestial Tradition 107). At this initial stage the initiate knows nothing except that he is on a quest for gnosis. As Pound wrote in Canto 47: "Knowledge the shade of a shade, / Yet must thou sail after knowledge / Knowing less than drugged beasts" (30).

The completion of the journey is the passage into what was previously described as "the crystal." This stage is the graduation from the ephemeral world of man to the realm of the gods. The soul has passed "from fire" of the "Kimmerian lands" of "Canto 1" "to crystal / via the body of light" (Canto 91,61). Pound put it much more bluntly when he stated that one must "bust thru" to this realm of understanding but he made his point (Celestial Tradition 107). Although he makes references to the exceptions, Tryphonopoulos contends that "Scholarly comment on Pound’s relation to the occult is virtually nonexistent" ("Occult Education" 75). The difficulty in analyzing Pound’s occult studies is that his reading and influences are so vast. From his amassed material Pound would piece together a detailed mosaic. This method provided a coherence for his presentation. In this fashion, structure begins to surface in even his most dense work The Cantos. Tryphonopoulos understands The Cantos to be a "collection of fragments gathered according to a predetermined plan for the purpose of validating the author’s original value system" (1). Pound seems to be speaking of this in the very late "Canto 110" when he writes: "From times wreckage shored / these fragments shored against ruin" (781). These elements pulled from the rubble of history and which Pound tiles together are what make the picture complete.

vendredi, 29 janvier 2010

De zwarte zon - Religie en extreem-rechts in de VS

De zwarte zon


Religie en extreem-rechts in de VS


De VS kennen een gevarieerde fauna van blank en niet-blank racisme, vaak ingebed in bizarre religieuze wereldbeelden. In een nieuw boek probeert Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke dit ideologisch landschap te beschrijven, of althans het blanke segment ervan. Objectief blijven blijkt in de behandeling van dit sensatiethema echter erg moeilijk.


Koenraad Elst



Black%20Sun.jpgDe Brit Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke maakte naam met zijn proefschrift, The Occult Roots of Nazism.  Daarin doorprikt hij eigenlijk de theorie die in de titel vervat is, als zou occultisme de wortel van het nazisme vormen.  Dat was dus niét zo, want elk van de componenten van het nazisme had een basis in de algemene tijdsgeest: teleurstelling in de democratie, blank superioriteitsgevoel, eugenisme, jodenhaat.  Democratische landen waren pioniers in de eugenetica (Zweden, VS) of pasten rassendiscriminatie toe.  Nazibestrijder Winston Churchill was een overtuigd racist, Jozef Stalin en Charles de Gaulle hadden iets tegen de joden.  Het gepraat over nazi-occultisme wekt de valse indruk dat het nazisme op iets buitenissigs gebaseerd was, terwijl het eigenlijk een extreme toepassing was van destijds wijdverbreide politieke en biologische opvattingen.


Goodrick-Clarke had het best bij die eerste nuchtere bevinding gelaten.  Hij was echter op een goudmijn gestoten en is die sindsdien blijven uitbaten.  Zijn boek Hitler’s Priestess behandelde Maxiami Portas (1905-82), beter bekend als Savitri Devi.  Zij was een Frans-Griekse nazi, in 1941-45 ook spionne voor de Japanners in Calcutta, zenuwcentrum van de geallieerde campagne tegen Japan.  Haar asurn werd bijgezet in het schrijn van de Amerikaanse Nazipartij.  Bovendien was zij een radicale ecologe, wat Goodrick-Clarke inspireert tot een kritiek op de nazi-banden van de milieubeweging.  Adolf Hitler vaardigde immers de eerste moderne milieuwetgeving uit.  Tip voor een anti-Gaia-leuze: “Hitler was óók voor de dierenrechten.” 



Zon en bliksem


Goodrick-Clarke’s nieuwste boek betreft de neo-nazi’s in de Angelsaksische wereld, vooral in de VS: Black Sun. Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity.  De titel, “zwarte zon”, verwijst naar een middeleeuws siermotief, een soort twaalfarmige swastika, dat in zwarte uitvoering op de vloer van het SS-hoofdkwartier prijkte.  Het schutblad toont zwart op goud een zonsverduistering met dito bliksemschicht, een verwijzing naar Savitri Devi’s boek The Lightning and the Sun.  In haar wereldbeeld torenen drie individuen boven de rest van de mensheid uit: farao Echnaton was de zon, Dzjengis Khan de bliksem, en Adolf Hitler combineerde de diepzinnigheid van de farao met het militaire genie van de khan (sic).


Dit boek behandelt hoofdzakelijk drie stromingen.  De eerste is het eigenlijke occultisme.  Deze stroming is niet intrinsiek racistisch of antisemitisch (ze integreert juist gretig weetjes uit Aziatische en joodse tradities) maar in de praktijk soms wel.  Goodrick-Clarke gaat een heel rijtje af van Hitler-“channelers” (mediums) en ufologen die de hemel afspeuren naar de in 1943 naar Aldebaran vertrokken nazi-ruimteschepen, jawel.


Ten tweede is er een christelijk-apocalyptisch racisme, met groepen als de Ku Klux Klan en Christian Identity.  Tot voor kort werden slavernij, raciale apartheid en jodenhaat moeiteloos met bijbelteksten gerechtvaardigd, en christelijke racisten houden dit vol.  Het bijbelboek der Apocalyps inspireert velen tot eindtijdfantasieën met concrete implicaties, zoals collectieve sektezelfmoorden.  Bij christelijke racisten wordt dit de verwachting van een eindstrijd tussen de rassen, die vaak een eigen leven gaat leiden bij mensen die voorts het geloof achter zich gelaten hebben.


Het voorbeeld bij uitstek is het boek The Turner Diaries van William Pierce, dat de eindstrijd beschrijft tussen de krachten der duisternis (waarin men moeiteloos de joden herkent) en het Arische uitverkoren volk.  Het inspireerde Timothy McVeigh tot zijn bomaanslag in Oklahoma City die 168 mensen doodde.  Noteer echter dat McVeigh voor zover bekend niets tegen kleurlingen had (zijn bom doodde hoofdzakelijk blanken) en in Hitler een tiran zag die net als Bill Clinton het privé-wapenbezit trachtte te verbieden.





De derde stroming is het odinisme.  Goodrick-Clarke stelt het ten onrechte zo voor dat dit soort religieuze nostalgie naar de voorouderlijke cultus van Odin een politiek project is.  In het zeer Germaanse IJsland bijvoorbeeld, waar Savitri Devi tot haar teleurstelling geen enkel gehoor vond voor haar neonazisme, is het odinisme hersticht zonder enige politieke connotatie (en trouwens als religie erkend, zodat een odinistische huwelijksvoltrekking er rechtsgeldig is).  In de VS zelf doen sommige odinisten zoals Kveldulf Gundarsson alle moeite om hun religie gescheiden te houden van politieke recuperatie in het algemeen en blank racisme in het bijzonder.


Gundarsson wijst erop dat uit het voorouderlijke heidendom geen uiting van racisme of jodenhaat bekend is.  Toen de Germanen naar warmere streken uitzwermden, assimileerden zij zich meestal binnen één generatie met de plaatselijke bevolking.  Apartheid was aan hen niet besteed.  Pro dictatuur waren ze evenmin: de meeste odinisten, inbegrepen de racisten onder hen, vermelden trots op hun webstek dat founding father Thomas Jefferson de moderne republiek als een herleving van de oude Saksische principes beschouwde.  Hitler daarentegen dreef in Mein Kampf de spot met de nieuwheidense “zwerfgeleerden”, die vaak ook pacifist, provinciaal separatist of anarchist waren.  Hij vond het juist on-Germaans om in het verleden te leven en zelfs om aan religie überhaupt tijd te verspillen.  Daarom gelastte hij in 1935 de ontbinding van alle odinistische en andere alternatief-religieuze groeperingen.


Niets van dat alles bij Goodrick-Clarke, die het net van “neonazisme” zo breed mogelijk uitwerpt.  Hij merkt bijvoorbeeld niet op dat zelfs een racist geen nazi hoeft te zijn (zie Churchill).  Nochtans blijkt dat vele racistische groeperingen in de VS elke associatie met Hitler verwerpen: omdat ze als libertaire Amerikanen zijn autoritair systeem niet lusten, omdat hij hun Slavische rasgenoten als Untermenschen behandelde, of omdat hij een oorlog op gang bracht die vooral blanken doodde.  Echte neonazi’s zijn zelfs in het racistische milieu een kleine minderheid.


            Black_Sun_svg.pngGoodrick-Clarke verduivelt echter achteloos talloze mensen en groeperingen als “neonazi”, wat in het huidige opinieklimaat op een maatschappelijk doodvonnis neerkomt.  Zo betrekt hij in zijn amalgaam herhaaldelijk “de New Age-beweging”.  Op die brede stroming valt weliswaar veel aan te merken, maar ze is wel individualistisch, pacifistisch, feministisch en xenofiel, dus diametraal tegengesteld aan het nazisme.



Rangen sluiten


Op die manier wordt Goodrick-Clarke’s kruistocht tegen de alom loerende neonazi’s contraproductief.  Bovendien ontgaat hem het belangrijkste feit omtrent de stroming die racisme met religie combineert, hoewel hij het in de inleiding heel terloops aanstipt.  Wie regelmatig met immigrantengemeenschappen omgaat, herkent het patroon: als gemeenschap de rangen sluiten, je dochters overtuigen om vooral niet met iemand van buiten de gemeenschap te trouwen, je religie (die je in het thuisland misschien verwaarloosde) extra in de verf zetten.  Wel, nu blanken op steeds meer plaatsen in een minderheidspositie komen, ontwikkelen zij ditzelfde patroon.  Blanken die zich generen voor dat ongenereuze racisme van destijds, stellen vast dat racisme bij de minderheden wèl getolereerd wordt en keren er zelf naar terug eens zij zich ook minderheid beginnen te voelen.  En omdat racisme op zich maar armzalig is als ideologische ruggengraat, combineert men het met religie, soms in occulte variant.



Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke: Black Sun. Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity, New York University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-8147-3124-4, 371 pp.


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