Tag Archives: Paganism

Klages and the Biocentric Worldview – Andersen

Ludwig Klages and the Biocentric Worldview

By Joakim Andersen

 

Ludwig Klages (1872–1956) was one of the most interesting thinkers of the twentieth century. He was also one of the most complex. Klages was a philosopher, a psychologist, and a leading graphologist. Together with Alfred Schuler and Karl Wolfskehl, he formed the ‘Cosmic Circle’ in Munich. The Circle consisted of the milieu around the poet Stefan George, but it did not fully adhere to George’s patriarchal worldview.

Klages was a productive and original thinker. Among other things, he was the father of the term ‘id’ which was later to be picked up by Sigmund Freud. Klages also coined the term logocentrist, which today is a term used in certain types of feminist theories. He gave his psychological school the name characterology, and wrote several classics on graphology.

Klages was a man of paradox. In his writings he was an anti-Semite, yet he spent several years editing the works of his Jewish-Hungarian colleague, the natural philosopher Melchior Palagyi, after he had passed away. Klages was not very popular in the Third Reich, but neither did he renounce his theories about Judaism even after the Second World War, either. Recently, Jürgen Habermas stated that there is much of value in Klages, given that he was such an original and interesting thinker. But his unique perspective is now largely forgotten. It is therefore of great value that Arktos Media has published two books consisting of excerpts from his writings, translated by Joseph D. Pryce (Pryce has also written a valuable introduction to both collections). This present review focuses on the first of them, The Biocentric Worldview.

The Biocentric Worldview

‘Wild boar, ibex, fox, pine marten, weasel, duck and otter — all animals with which the legends dear to our memory are intimately intertwined — are shrinking in numbers, where, that is, they have not already become extinct…’ — Klages, 1913

What I appreciate the most in Klages’ thought is his so-called biocentric worldview. Klages claims that the distinction between ‘idealism’ and ‘materialism’ is rather irrelevant. In its place he describes a deeper, less well-known historical conflict. Klages puts Life in the centre, but he also identifies an anti-Life force that gradually infiltrated the world and took it over. Klages uses the German terms Seele and Geist, usually translated as Spirit and Mind. There is an intimate connection between Life and Spirit, but Mind is connected to abstractions, like ‘sin’, ‘will to power’, and similar concepts. Klages illuminates the difference:

‘Just as the philosopher of spirit considers everything that denies spirit to be a “sin”, the philosopher of life regards that which denies life to be an offense… no one speaks of a sin against a tree, but men have certainly spoken in the past — and even today many still speak — of an offense against a tree.’

Among these expressions of anti-Life he mentions moralism, Judaism, and Christianity, as well as capitalism and militarism. Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’ also risks becoming a part of the anti-Life forces and an unhealthy obsession. Klages develops a useful deep ecological perspective, related to and complementing Naess, Abbey, and Linkola. He also describes how ‘progress’ has hurt the world. In the essay ‘Man and Earth’, Klages describes how animals and plants became extinct, but also how folk cultures and authentic human emotions are pushed aside. Klages was an anti-colonialist, and discusses how both species of animals and human cultures are extinguished. In their place everything, is homogenised, and the vampire that is Geist spreads over the world. Thus Klages connects the threat against biological diversity with the threat against cultural.

‘Modern man´s conscious striving for power far surpasses that of any previous epoch… in the service of human needs, the ever-increasing mechanization has brought about the desecration of the natural world.’ — Klages

These essays are also interesting from the perspective of the history and philosophy of science. Klages analyses both psychoanalysis and Socrates, among many other things. He criticises concepts like ‘progress’ and utopianism as being hostile to Life. His perspective places primary value on Spirit and Life, and on the non-conscious and the qualitative. One does well to compare Klages with Guénon’s The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, along with Heidegger and Alexander Jacob’s De Naturae Natura.

Klages and Romanticism

‘Man should look upon the harvested fruits of the unconscious as an unexpected windfall bestowed by Heaven above.’ — Goethe

Among Klages’ own sources we find Nietzsche and the pre-Socratic philosophers. We also find the German Romantics and Goethe. Among the Romantics, Klages focuses on the now largely forgotten Carl Gustav Carus. He demonstrates that German Romanticism has permanent value.

In one’s own life, Klages is of value in showing that too much Geist leads to a worse and less authentic life. When the process has gone too far, one loses the ability to perceive the beauty of a forest, and instead only sees it as something merely quantifiable: as a bunch of timber. Likewise, the Romantics and Klages are also of use in politics. They show that the tendency towards hyper-politicisation and ideological thinking are among the enemies of Life. Family, nature, emotions, beauty, folk culture — they are all threatened by too much Geist. When Karlheinz Weissmann identifies the living as the leitmotiv of conservatism, or when Heinrich von Leo described his mission as protecting the ‘God-given, real life, in its development following its inner forces’, they are clearly related to Klages. Conservatism, defined as taking care of the living, not only animals and plants but also such ‘organisms’ as cultures, can also be biocentric.

When it comes to the philosophy of science, Carus, Goethe, and Klages are also of great use, given their focus on the whole rather than on the parts of things, on the sub- or non-conscious, and on reality and life above the prevailing focus on the mechanical and quantifiable. Klages quotes Carus: ‘…the key to an understanding of conscious thought resides in the realm of the unconscious.’

The Biocentric Worldview is thus of great value due to its deep ecological qualities as well as Klages’ original conception of history. Klages’ description of the rise and vampire-like spread of Geist has much in common with Nietzsche’s description of how ressentiment and slave morality takes over the world. (However, some aspects of Nietzsche are also dangerously close to the vampire.)

Klages is not a determinist. He does not rule out that Spirit and Life may be defended against Mind. He also reminds us that the goal of a Spirit-oriented science is to understand, rather than to reduce and manipulate. His role models are thus heroes, poets, and gods. The anthology is highly recommended.

 

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Andersen, Joakim. “Ludwig Klages and the Biocentric Worldview.” RightOn, 6 November 2015. < https://www.righton.net/2015/11/06/ludwig-klages-and-the-biocentric-worldview/ >.

 

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Conversation with Alain de Benoist – Versluis

A Conversation with Alain de Benoist by Arthur Versluis (PDF – 303 KB):

A Conversation with Alain de Benoist by Arthur Versluis

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De Benoist, Alain. “A Conversation with Alain de Benoist.” Interview by Arthur Versluis. Journal for the Study of Radicalism, No. 8.2 (Fall 2014), pp. 79-106. Retrieved from <http://files.alaindebenoist.com/alaindebenoist/pdf/jsr-entretien_avec_arthur_versluys.pdf >.

 

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Review of Krasskova’s Essays in Modern Heathenry – Living Traditions

Review of Galina Krasskova’s Essays in Modern Heathenry

By the Editor of Living Traditions

 

Essays in Modern Heathenry

Galina Krasskova

Asphodel Press 2012

 

Galina Krasskova is a heathen and academic and takes a perceptive look at trends within modern heathenism. She offers four insightful essays covering significant issues and controversies.

The first essay examines the development of culture within modern heathenism; the delicate balancing of the reconstruction of earlier Heathen practises and the demands of the modern world. Krasskova also considers the markers of heathenry including right order, hospitality, right and the integrity of the Innangard. She also discusses the sensitive issue of other cultural pre-Christian influence on heathen traditions such as the Sami which tend to be dismissed by modern practitioners.

In the second essay Krasskova considers the role of ritual and performance as central to the modern heathen movement. Many of these practises such as Seidr have led to major debates over the authority of established lore versus personal gnosis. Krasskova also discusses how ritual forms the link between the theoretical, objects and the practical and how this influences such practises as the Symbel and the blot. Issues relating to Christianity, accepting the familiar and carrying over prejudices and not acknowledging overt Christian influence on source texts is also discussed.

The third essay considers the revival of blot within modern Asatru with its different forms including animal sacrifice. She considers the nature of sacrifice, the role of the sacred king and it’s relation to Odin. Krasskova offers an excellent summary of the traditions of heathen and pagan sacrifice in history.

The volume ends with a superb essay on the demonization of Loki which offers a very well researched discussion on the most controversial figures among the Norse Gods. She examines original sources, discusses current academic theories and considers his role as a trickster, breaker of boundaries and social outcast.

Galina Krasskova is a highly respected academic bringing her not inconsiderate knowledge to the subject of heathenry, a tradition in which she is also a practitioner. This volume is challenging, thought provoking and offers an excellent balance of academia with knowledge from within our tradition.

It is available as a print edition or digital download.

 

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Living Traditions Magazine, 2012. “Review of Galina Krasskova’s Essays in Modern Heathenry.” <http://www.users.on.net/~mmellors_nbn/essays.html >.

 

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Stachniuk & the Spirit of the World – Bielawski

Jan Stachniuk and the Spirit of the World

By Paweł Bielawski

 

Jan Stachniuk was born in 1905 in Kowel, Wołyń (in what is today Ukraine). In 1927, he began his public activity in Poznań, where he studied economics. There, he became active in the Union of Polish Democratic Youth and published his first books: Kolektywizm a naród (1933) and Heroiczna wspólnota narodu (1935). Beginning in 1937, Stachniuk published the monthly magazine Zadruga, which gave birth to a new idea current of the same name. In 1939, two additional books were published: Państwo a gospodarstwo and Dzieje bez dziejów (“History of unhistory”). During the Second World War, he inspired the ideology of the Faction of the National Rise (Stronnictwo Zrywu Narodowego) and the Cadre of Independent Poland (Kadra Polski Niepodległej). In 1943, Stachniuk published Zagadnienie totalizmu (with the help of the Faction). He fought in the Warsaw Uprising and was wounded. After the war, he failed to resume publishing Zadruga, but before the Stalinists attained power in the country, he managed to publish three more books: Walka o zasady, Człowieczeństwo i kultura, and Wspakultura. In 1949, Stachniuk was arrested and sentenced to death in a political show trial. The sentence was not carried out, and he got out of prison in 1955, but he was no longer able to perform any kind work. He died in 1963 and was buried in the Powązki Cemetery.

Stachniuk is the creator of the philosophical system known as “Culturalism” or “Evolutionary Pantheism,” which in its axiological plane is based on the spirituality of the ancient Slavs. The influence of Frederick Nietzsche, Max Weber, Georges Sorel, and Stanisław Brzozowski are also evident, but nevertheless Culturalism, when compared to other currents of European philosophy and humanities, is one of a kind. If we had to compare it to something, then, in my opinion, the closest analogue would the philosophy of Vedanta.

Cosmology and philosophical anthropology

Man is the vanguard of the creative world evolution, the most perfect expression and tool of the Creative Will, active in the world; he struggles to be something greater than he is. This process of exponentiation of the human power over nature and the elements of his own nature is culture. The cessation of this process, for whatever reason, passively submitting to the laws of bare biology and the charms of pure vegetation—this is the opposition of culture; this is back-culture (“wspakultura”).[1]

The world is a will. It strives for more and more complex and higher forms.”[2] “The world is a living organic unity, developing towards perfectness. […] The vanguard of the world-in-creation is man. […] The development ability of man relies on his capability of creatively re-creating the existing natural order into a new form of power, which is the objective world of accomplishments of culture. On a biological level, man is part of the natural world order. We are born; we multiply; we feed like all mammals; but we are distinct from this level by an enigmatic capability of binding nature’s energy into a new form of cultural power.[3]

Every species of animals that exists on this world struggles to survive. In opposition to dead matter, animals try, by different means, to “manage” the environment in which they live—they hunt, defend their turf, create a herd with its own hierarchy, and so on. In a way, animals fill the world with themselves, by managing the environment—they struggle to fulfill their needs; they struggle for an existential optimum (“biovegetation” in Stachniuk’s terminology). This “optimum of biovegetational existence” Stachniuk calls “physiological happiness.” Everything that lives, including humans (as biological entities), struggles for “physiological happiness.” The essence of biovegetation is the “eternal turn”[4]—during millions of years of evolution, the lives of mammals and insects does not change significantly; they all live more or less the same way. They are constantly in the confines of “biovegetation.”

The factor that distinguishes man from other living species is his capability of creation, the enigmatic creative element. Only man is capable of progress, of development, of creating ever more perfect and better forms, to material, social and spiritual life.[5]

As we all know, man is the only species that managed to lift itself above and beyond pure biology. He created cities, states, law, culture, art, science, technology, civilization. Man forced himself out of the eternal turn of biovegetation. How? According to Stachniuk, man remains an animal and part of the world of biology, “but in his essence there was a breach. This breach is the ability of creation, the creative genius. It is an over-biologic plane. From its nozzles, the humanistic world opens up.”[6]

The creative evolution is perpetrated by another bearing, on another level. The cosmic will has forgone its prime intent and instead strives towards recycling the world into a pulsating organism of concentrated cultural power, of which man is the core. […] [E]very one of us is a very tragic being, because we belong simultaneously to two levels of existence: biovegetational and creative-humanist.[7]

The nature of man is then dualist. On the one hand, man is an animal and a part of biovegetation. On the other hand, he is something over-biological, something beyond an animal; he has a spiritual element and the capability to create. He is the creator of “culture.” Man, as a type of being “flounces” between two levels of existence.

The moment when the emotional element was able to vanquish its internal inertia and induced man do the first cultural action is the birth of the creative will.[8]

According to Stachniuk, the fullness of humanity—panhumanism—is reached when man, with all of himself, submits to the creative will and embraces his mission, i.e., when he creates “culture.” Panhumanism can be defined as man’s will and capability to mold being according to his ever more magnificent visions, as well as the awareness and readiness of man to fulfill his leading role in the creative world evolution. Man has the capability to process the energy of the world into objective works of culture, which, in turn, serve to intensify the process of culture itself. This is his mission—it manifests itself in action and is the process of building the process of culture.

All of this is possible thanks to the “organ of man’s genius.”

It is not a bio-morphological organ, but has consisted of our whole physiological apparatus. […] The intangible organ in our bio-physical organism transmutes the normal course of physiological processes into dispositions of creation. This is why we speak of the organ of man’s genius.[9]

The primal biological energy, which in the animal-plant world is directed towards unlimited biological expansion, is transmuted, in man, into man’s genius, that is, the creative will. It, in turn, leads to an unlimited development of the instrumentarium as a tool of its mission.

The creative will is what enables man to pull himself out of the vicious circle of the “eternal turn,” thereby attaining a higher mode of existence, which enables the fulfillment of man’s mission, by building culture—which manifests itself by creating ever new “culture-creations” or the “instrumentarium of culture.”

The full and proper life of a human depends on overcoming the inertia of the biological level of existence and transforming the elemental life energy of our bodies into the creative will, which, in turn, should most fruitfully manifest itself in the development of an “instrumental will.”[10]

The organ of man’s genius enables him to experience being and life in a specific way, namely in feeling the organic unity of the world, ever evolving into ever higher forms. This way of sensing the world is (evolutionary) pantheism. It is the creative will that is the factor that distinguishes man from the rest of the animals. “Our contingent biological shell is a bearing, by which the creative will flows by divine stream; our psycho-physical personality is a contingent tool; by humbly submitting to this will, we can perform the most profound, the most burdened transmogrifications in the world.”[11]

Humanity, in Stachniuk’s eyes, is a process of creation that consists of three elements: a) human biology, b) creative will and c) instrumental will. These are the three elements of “panhumanist man.”[12] Human biology—that is, our organisms, our physical potential, our muscles, and the work of our hands. Creative will is our “inborn direction of emotion and drives in man”; it is the subject of the humanist world.[13] The third element is the instrumental will, in other words the ability of binding the energy of the natural world into a form of cultural power.

Man is seen as a being eternally developing himself by his creations, and this work is a process that is constant throughout generations. In the light of the philosophy of Culturalism, man is not an individual, a monad existing in a void or a set of individuals, but a string of generations. Humanity is perceived by Stachniuk as the process of creating and re-creating the world, constantly perfecting it, while dismissing it means—ultimately—the rejection of humanity itself.

The philosophical anthropology of Culturalism is very much interconnected and intertwined with its theory of culture as meta-narration.

Theory of Culture as Meta-narration

Stachniuk’s theory of culture makes up the core of his philosophy. It is really the backbone of Culturalism. Every current in Stachniuk’s thought springs from it.

The sensation of the creative pressure, the feeling of the cosmic mission of creation, the desire to contribute to the creative world evolution by man is, in the lens of Culturalism, a sign of health and moral youth. According to Stachniuk, this is normal, the way it should be. Human history is the eternal antagonism of two, contradictory, directions—“the first one is the blind pressure of man towards panhumanism, the second is the escape into a solidified system.”[14]

The axis of human history on the globe is not the struggle between Spirit and Matter, egoism and altruism, God and Satan; it is also not the class struggle or race struggle, but the struggle of culture and back-culture [wspakultura] for the power over humanity […] Each of us is a warzone between the culture current and the back-culture current. […] The current of culture is the process of becoming of the force and power, the richness and dynamism of life.[15]

What is “culture”? It is the “process of binding the energy of the field of the elements.”[16] For Stachniuk, culture is not something meant to tackle or inhibit nature, it is a process of reforming it. Culture is something that emerges from nature and is its higher level. A human of “panhumanism” acts as a transformer of energy—the energy of the elements—that produces “culture-creations.” What are culture-creations? Examples are law, the state, poetry, technology, music, philosophy, a factory, and the Internet. Humanity is thus (in its ideal state) an interconnected web of energy transformers, constantly updating and perfecting the world and humanity, producing culture-creations that are, in turn, used as fuel for even more powerful culture-creations. Culture—the process of reorganizing the field of the (natural) elements—is the ultimate mission of humanity.

It is, of course, clear as day that we don’t live in a world full of conscious “panhumanists.” Why is that? As I mentioned earlier, the nature of human is dualistic—there is the bio-vegetational level and the creative-humanist level. A human being is a warzone of the battle between culture and back-culture. What is back-culture? It is the cessation of the process of culture; the passive yielding to the laws of bare biology and appeal of pure vegetation. It is passiveness, inertia, standstill. It is the “cosmic illness.”

The effects of back-culture in the world of man can be seen as the “unhistoric” attitude and the desire to free oneself from the requirement of creation. It is the degrading of oneself to the primitive, primordial, animal level by directing oneself towards passive consumption of culture-creations. The defective human, who is under the influence of back-culture, sees culture only as something to be consumed. He does not see culture as a fertile field than can be farmed in order to raise crops of culture-creations. Culture is seen purely as a thing for pleasure, for individual gratification, something that helps the individual attain “physiological happiness,” not as a mine of mighty energy capable of recreating the world as we know it.

Prime examples of back-culture are, according to Stachniuk, universalist world religions like Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism, which show “contempt for creativeness.” They reduce human life to a place to score points for the “other life” or the “other world.” They show an anti-humanist and anti-creative attitude. This is why the creator of Zadruga dismisses them and looks to Paganism instead.

The wave of total back-cultures (…) in the last three thousand years has extinguished the dawn of the creative actions of man. The first sparks of the fire have been covered with darkness. The just barely ignited fire of India has been quickly extinguished under the shroud of Brahmanism, and then different types of Buddhism. The procession of the cross extinguished the march of Hellenic culture. In other places, Buddhism and Islam have acted similarly. On the once fertile fields poisonous weeds have spread. We know them: Brahmanism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam, and countless other forms of elements of back-culture. They captured enormous pieces of humanity. All bigger human congeries were its victims. India, China, almost all of Asia is to this day paralyzed. After a magnificent blooming of the Greco-Roman culture, lasting only a few centuries, it seemed that it has fallen into the eternal darkness of unhistory [bezdzieje]. They’ve lasted one and a half thousand years. After this period, an unbelievably lively mixture of European peoples freed themselves partially, creating modern culture. It would be disingenuous to think that all of Europe took part in its creation. All the Slavic east and almost all Romantic nations have been deeply paralyzed by Christian back-culture. The world in its overwhelming mass is immersed in the darkness of this or another total back-culture. Generally speaking, it rules over 90% of humanity.[17]

One may ask, of course: “How can you say that medieval Europe was decadent if it was then united and powerful? How can you call Christianity a destructive force considering the whole of European Christian culture?”

Stachniuk provided an answer for that. In a situation where back-culture cannot totally break down the fire of culture, it starts acting like a parasite. It uses the lively energy of the process of culture to preserve itself and not let culture free itself completely. This is what happened in the case of Europe.

Kindly, sweet, and humble Christ, who ordered us not to resist evil, made some exceptions, major ones. Where the matters of faith were involved, he used “vain” and “fading” means and used them with feelings that cannot be described as “love.” When he saw tradesmen trading in the house of prayer, he burst with feelings not at all “sweet.” […] We have here a flash of a principle, which can be described like this: Everything is vanity, everything should be forsaken and disdained, except the situation in which this vanity can be used to strengthen the “truth.” Anger is evil, the sword and the whip are tools of evil, but if through anger, the sword, or the whip we clear the path for the Church, then anger, the sword, and the whip and all that is vain becomes worthy. This is the principle that we call the perverse instrumentalism of back-culture[18]

This mechanism is actually the creator of the medieval order of Europe. Rome, undermined and its true essence destroyed by Christianity, was gradually overwhelmed by lively Germanic warrior tribes, ready to fight, conquer, and plunder. Of course, the primitive Germanic tribes were impressed by the refined and sophisticated traditions of Rome. What they didn’t recognize was that this was not the true Rome but a fleeting shadow of what it once was. Nonetheless, the Germanic people were presented with an opportunity: “Do you want to take over the Roman legacy? If you so desire, just let us baptize you.”

That said, not all went as planned. The Germanic people were, in fact, conquerors. Christianity could not just do whatever it wanted with them; it had to make a compromise.

The youthful dynamism of fresh peoples was harnessed to realize the grand project of making all European peoples sick, subjecting them to the domination of the back-culture of the cross. All Europe was becoming a field to broaden “the vineyards of the Lord.” The Germanic peoples, adapting to their new role, spread the sickness of the cross on the whole continent. They were appointed to that task because, thanks to their position of conquerors, they did not submit to the appeal of Christian mysticism, while simultaneously taking the political goals of Christianity—the creation of a universal empire—as their own. […] This is how the concept of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation was born.[19]

This is how the “perverse instrumentalism of back-culture” works in practice. It harnesses the youthful energy of culture (which could be much more powerful on its own) to further spread its disease. After this single “compromise,” the next one was not necessary. Christian back-culture could now, with the might of the German sword, attempt to fully Christianize the Slavs—no punches pulled, no compromises. The cross, along with the German sword, could now completely destroy the original, Pagan, Slavic culture. Slavdom became a Christian colony in the full sense of the word. Everything that was not subject to the believers of the cross was destroyed. The original tradition was severed.

Although Stachniuk was and still is considered very much anti-clerical and anti-Christian, it would be a misinterpretation to reduce him to such. He knew full well that simple “secularization” is not the answer. The reason for this is that back-culture does not come only in the form of religion; there is also “secular back-culture”—simplistic rationalism, “free-thought,” pacifism, “human rights” ideology, or crude hedonism. Secular back-culture (also called “unhistoric rationalism”), just like Christianity, forsakes the building of culture, the great mission of empowering man, and the creative world evolution. It also fails to recognize the difference between Christian spiritualism and the creative world evolution. Anything that goes beyond pacifism, hedonism, and physiological happiness seems suspect and often outright “fascist.” But in reality, it is yet just another form of back-culture.

Conclusion

Jan Stachniuk was a man ahead of his time. His concepts were often either harshly criticized or ignored during his life. He was a man that advocated embracing dynamic progress, science, and technology, whereas mainstream “national radicals” were thrilled by Nikolai Berdyaev’s static “New Middle Ages.” You could even say that his combination of embracing advanced technology and simultaneously appealing to the values of the ancient world anticipated Guillaume Faye’s concept of “Archeofuturism.”

The author of “History of unhistory” was also instrumental in reviving the pre-Christian religion of the Slavs in Poland. He is a cult figure among many contemporary Polish Rodnovers. His memory not only lives on, but proves to be an inspiration nowadays for religious organizations, (meta-)political organizations, and music bands alike.

Jan Stachniuk is an ethical maximalist and a firm believer in human potential. It is worth to note that, unlike Nietzsche, he did not advocate attaining power for its own sake. A man of panhumanism should not see other people as tools for his own advancement. His goal should be becoming a hero to his community. Stachniuk’s ideal is not a single Übermensch, but a great and heroic community. His goal was creating a myth; a myth of the “national creative community.”

I am human; therefore I am fulfilling the goal of the world. […] It is through the human, through his cultural work, that the creative world evolution takes place. […] The human is not a boring creature looking for satisfaction, peace, lyrics of digestion, and caramel sensation of the mind on the basis of physiological happiness, like the secular unhistory or “eternal virtues” and communing with the “truth” revealed by various “redeemers.” The human is a boiling cosmic energy, looking for ever greater ways of expression in culture creations charged with tragic creativeness. […] The desire to live a valuable life today means to push forward the birth of the myth of the creative community, to boldly head into the fire of the coming change.[20]

Notes:

  1. Stachniuk, Droga rewolucji kulturowej w Polsce, Toporzeł, Wrocław 2006, 5
  2. Stachniuk, Człowieczeństwo i kultura, Toporzeł, Wrocław 1996, 18
  3. Stachniuk, Droga, op. cit., 8
  4. This term should not to be confused with Nietzsche’s “eternal recurrence of the same,” which is a different concept altogether.
  5. Stachniuk, Człowieczeństwo, op. cit., p. 10
  6. , p. 21
  7. , p. 22
  8. Ibid, p. 24
  9. Stachniuk, Chrześcijaństwo a ludzkość, Toporzeł, Wrocław 1997, 11
  10. Stachniuk, Droga, op. cit., 9
  11. Stachniuk, Człowieczeństwo, op. cit., 24
  12. Stachniuk, Droga, op. cit., 9
  13. , 23-24.
  14. Stachniuk, Chrześcijaństwo, op. cit., 15
  15. Stachniuk, Człowieczeństwo, op. cit., 117
  16. , 27
  17. , 119.
  18. Stachniuk, Chrześcijaństwo, op. cit., 137.
  19. , 179.
  20. Stachniuk, Człowieczeństwo, op. cit., 254.

 

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Bielawski, Paweł. “Jan Stachniuk and the Spirit of the World.” Radix Journal, 6 March 2015. <http://www.radixjournal.com/journal/2015/3/6/jan-stachniuk-and-the-spirit-of-the-world >.

 

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Intro to Ludwig Klages – Baer

“The Literary Criticism of Ludwig Klages and the Klages School: An Introduction to Biocentric Thought” by Lydia Baer (PDF – 4.43 MB):

The Literary Criticism of Ludwig Klages

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Baer, Lydia. “The Literary Criticism of Ludwig Klages and the Klages School: An Introduction to Biocentric Thought.” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 40, No. 1 (January, 1941), pp. 91-138.

See also: “On The Biocentric Metaphysics of Ludwig Klages” by Joe Pryce: <https://neweuropeanconservative.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/intro-to-ludwig-klages-pryce/ >.

 

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Interview with Dominique Venner – Gérard

An Interview with Dominique Venner

Translated by Giuliano Adriano Malvicini

 

Translator’s Note: The following is an interview with Dominique Venner from 2001, originally published on the occasion of the release of his book Dictionnaire amoureux de la chasse. It seems fitting, as a last farewell, to let Dominique Venner himself speak.

***

Christopher Gérard: Who are you? How do you define yourself? A werewolf, a white falcon?

Dominique Venner: I am a Frenchman of Europe, or a European whose mother tongue is French, of Celtic and Germanic ancestry. On my father’s side, I am of old Lorraine peasant stock, but they originally emigrated from the German part of Switzerland in the seventeenth century. My mother’s family, many of whom chose military careers, is originally from Provence and Vivarais. I myself was born in Paris. I am a European by ancestry, but birth isn’t enough on its own, if one doesn’t possess the consciousness of being what one is. I exist only through roots, through a tradition, a history, a territory. I will add that I was destined to dedicate myself to arms. Certainly, there is a trace of that in the steel in my pen, the instrument of my profession of writer and historian. Should I add to this brief portrait the epithet of werewolf? Why not? A terror to “right-minded” people, an initiate of the mysteries of the forest, the werewolf is a figure in which I can recognize myself.

CG: In Le Cœur rebelle (The Rebellious Heart, 1994), you sympathetically evoke the memory of “an intolerant young man who carried within himself, as it were, the scent of a coming storm”: that was you when you fought first as a soldier in Algeria and then as political activist in France. So who was that young Kshatriya, where did he come from, who were his teachers, his favourite authors?

DV: That’s what the “white falcon” in your first question alluded to, the memory of intoxicating and dangerous times, during which the young man I was thought he could invert a hostile destiny through a violence that he had accepted as necessary. It may seem extremely presumptuous, but at the time, I didn’t recognize anyone as a teacher. Certainly, I looked for stimulus and recipes for action in Lenin’s What is to be Done? and in Ernst von Salomon’s The Outlaws. I might add that the readings of my childhood had contributed to forging a certain world-view that in the end remained rather unchanged. In no particular order, I’ll mention Military Education and Discipline Among the Ancients, a small book about Sparta that belonged to my maternal grandfather, a former officer, The Legend of the Eagle by Georges d’Esparbès, La Bande des Ayaks by Jean-Louis Foncine, The Call of the Wild by Jack London, and later the admirable Martin Eden. Those were the formative books I read at the age of ten or twelve. Later, at the age of twenty or twenty-five, I had of course gone on to read other things, but the bookstores back then were poorly stocked. Those years were a time of intellectual penury that is hard to imagine today. The library of a young activist, even one who devoured books, was small. In mine, besides historical works, prominent works were Reflections on Violence by Georges Sorel, The Conquerors by Malraux, The Genealogy of Morals by Nietzsche, Service inutile by Montherlant, and Le Romantisme fasciste by Paul Sérant, which was a revelation for me in the sixties. As you can see, that didn’t go very far. But even if my intellectual horizons were limited, my instincts went deep. Very early, when I was still a soldier, I felt that the war in Algeria was something very different from what the naive defenders of “French Algeria” said or thought. I had understood that it was an identitarian struggle for Europeans, since in Algeria they were threatened in their very existence by an ethnic adversary. I also felt that what we were defending there — very poorly — were the southern frontiers of Europe. Frontiers are always defended against invasions on the other side of oceans and rivers.

CG: In this book, which is something of an autobiography, you write: “I am from the land of trees and forests, of oaks and wild boars, of vineyards and sloping roofs, of epic poems and fairy-tales, of the winter and summer solstices.” What sort of a strange fellow are you?

DV: Very briefly stated, I am too consciously European to in any way feel like a spiritual descendant of Abraham or Moses, but do I feel that I am entirely a descendant of Homer, Epictetus, and the Round Table. That means that I look for my bearings in myself, close to my roots, and not in faraway places that are entirely foreign to me. The sanctuary where I meditate is not the desert, but the deep and mysterious forest of my origins. My holy book is not the Bible, but the Iliad, [1] the founding poem of the Western psyche, which has miraculously and victoriously crossed the sea of time. A poem that draws from the same sources as the Celtic and Germanic legends, and manifests the same spirituality, if one goes to the trouble to decode it. Nevertheless, I don’t ignore the centuries of Christianity. The cathedral of Chartres is a part of my world as much as Stonehenge or the Parthenon. That’s the heritage that we have to make our own. The history of the Europeans isn’t simple. After thousands of years of indigenous religion, Christianity was imposed on us through a series of historical accidents. But Christianity was itself partially transformed, “barbarized” by our ancestors, the barbarians, Franks and others. Christianity was often thought of by them as a transposition of the old cults. Behind the saints, people continued to celebrate the old gods without asking too many questions. And in the monasteries, monks often copied ancient texts without necessarily censoring them. This continuation of pre-Christian Europe still goes on today, but it takes other forms, despite all the efforts of biblical sermonizing. It seems especially important to take into account the development of Catholic traditionalists, who are often islands of health opposing the surrounding chaos with their robust families, their numerous children and their groups of physically fit youths. Their adherence to the continuity of family and nation, to discipline in education, the importance they place on standing firm in the face of adversity are of course things that are in no way specifically Christian. They are the residue of the Roman and Stoic heritage which the church had more or less carried on until the beginning of the twentieth century. On the other hand, individualism, contemporary cosmopolitanism, and the religion of guilt are, of course, secularized forms of Christianity, as are the extreme anthropocentrism and the desacralization of nature in which I see a source of a Faustian modernity gone mad, and for which we will have to pay a heavy price.

CG: In Le Cœur rebelle, you also say that “dragons are vulnerable and mortal. Heros and gods can always return. There is no fatality outside of the minds of men.” One thinks of Jünger, whom you knew personally, and who saw titans and gods at work . . .

DV: Killing all fatalist temptations within oneself is an exercise from which one may never rest. Aside from that, let’s not deprive images of their mystery and their multiple radiations, let’s not extinguish their light with rational interpretations. The dragon will always be part of the Western imagination. It symbolizes by turns the forces of the earth and destructive forces. It is through the victorious struggle against a monster that Hercules, Siegfried, or Theseus attained the status of hero. In the absence of heroes, it isn’t hard to recognize – in our age – the presence of various monsters which I don’t think are invincible, even if they appear to be.

CG: In your Dictionnaire amoureux de la chasse (Plon, 2000), you reveal the secrets of an old passion and you describe in veiled terms the secrets of an initiation. What have those hours of tracking given you, how have they transformed, even transfigured you?

DV: In spite of its title, this Dictionnaire amoureux is not at all a dictionary. I conceived it as a pantheistic poem for which hunting is only a pretext. I owe my most beautiful childhood memories to hunting. I also owe it the fact that I have been able to morally survive the periods of ghastly despair that followed the collapse of the hopes of my youth, and reestablish a balance. With or without a weapon, in the hunt, I return to the sources that I cannot do without: the enchanted forest, silence, the mystery of wild blood, the ancient comradeship of the clan. To me, hunting is not a sport. It is a necessary ritual in which each participant, predator or prey, plays the part assigned to it by its nature. Together with childbirth, death and seeding, I believe that hunting, if it is performed in accordance with the right norms, is the last primordial rite that has partially evaded the disfigurements and the deadly manipulations of modernity.

CG: Elsewhere in this book, you evoke several ancient myths, several figures from still clandestine pantheons. I’m thinking of the myth of the Wild Hunt and the figure of Mithras. What do they mean to you?

DV: We could add to the list, most notably Diana-Artemis, the goddess of childbirth, the protector of pregnant women, of cows in calf, of vigorous children, of life in its dawn. She is both the great predator and the great protector of animality, which is what the best hunters also are. Her figure corresponds to the ancients’ idea of nature, which is the complete opposite of the saccharine notions of a Jean-Jacques Rousseau and of sunday strollers. They knew that nature was fearsome to the weak, and pitiless. It is through force that Artemis defends the inviolable realm of the wild. She ferociously kills those mortals who through their excesses put nature in danger. That’s what happened to two furious hunters, Orion and Acteon. By violating her, they had transgressed the limits beyond which the order of the world falls into chaos. That symbol hasn’t aged, on the contrary.

CG: If there is an omnipresent figure in your book, it is the forest, the refuge of outcasts and rebels . . .

DV: The whole literature of the Middle Ages – the chansons de geste or the Arthurian legends – saturated as it is with celtic spirituality, invariably embellishes on the theme of the forest, that dangerous world, that refuge of spirits and fairies, hermits and rebels, which is also a place of purification for the tormented soul of the knight, whether his name be Lancelot, Percival, or Yvain. In chasing a deer or a wild boar, the hunter penetrated its spirit. By eating the animal’s heart, he appropriated its strength. In the lay of Tyolet, by killing the roebuck, the hero gains the ability to understand the spirit of wild nature. I feel that very strongly. For me, entering the forest is much more than a physical need, it is a spiritual necessity.

CG: Could you recommend a few great novels about hunting still in print?

DV: The first that comes to mind is Les Veillées de Saint-Hubert by the Marquis de Foudras, a collection of short stories recently re-published by Pygmalion. Foudras was a marvelous story-teller, as was his countryman and successor Henri Vincenot — whose La Billebaude one of course has to read. He was to the world of castles and hunting with hounds what Vincenot is to that of thatched cottages and poaching. Among the great novels that initiate the reader into the mysteries of the hunt, one of the best is Le Guetteur d’ombres by Pierre Moinot, which transcends well-crafted literary narrative. In the abundant production of Paul Vialar, who was made famous by La grande Meute, I have soft spot for La Croule, a term that refers to the mating call of the woodcock. It’s a pretty novel, a quick read. The main character is a young woman, the kind one would like to meet once in a while, one who possesses a passion for the ancestral domain. I also suggest reading La Forêt perdue, a short and magnificent medieval poem in which Maurice Genevoix lets us re-experience the spirit of Celtic mythology through the impossible pursuit of a huge, invulnerable deer by a relentless huntsman, in whom we discover a young and daring Knight with a pure soul.

Vernal equinox MMI

Notes

[1] Dominique Venner adds that the harsh and rhythmical translation of Leconte de Lisle (from around 1850) is his favourite. This version of the Iliad and the Odyssey is available in two volumes from éditions Pocket.

 

————

Venner, Dominique. “An Interview with Dominique Venner.” Interview by Christopher Gérard. Eurocontinentalism Journal, 5 October 2013. <http://eurocontinentalism.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/an-interview-with-dominique-venner/ >.

 

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Mishima: Paleocon as Samurai – Raimondo

Yukio Mishima: Paleocon as Samurai

By Justin Raimondo

 

In Runaway Horses, Yukio Mishima’s portrait of a young right-winger and would-be assassin, the main character, Isao, is inspired by a pamphlet, The League of the Divine Wind, by Tsunanori Yamao—a work of pure imagination, albeit based on historical reality, which takes up all or most of Chapter 9. This is the story of the Shinpuren Incident of 1876, in which a band of rebellious samurai rose up against the “reforms” of the Meiji Restoration. These were radical traditionalists of a uniquely consistent sort: they disdained such Western inventions as guns and cannon, and wielded spears and swords to attack the local garrison.

It was a highly stylized gesture of defiance against the onset of modernity, just the sort of thing that would interest Mishima, whose aesthetics as well as his politics made him sympathetic to the motivations of the rebels, who chafed at the failure of the authorities to resist “foreign influence” and “expel the barbarians.” Mishima lists the outrages that inflame them, starting off with “In Meiji 3, permission was granted to an imperial prince to study in Germany.”

The traditions of the samurai class were being systematically dismantled: not only were their subsidies and subventions, which came out of the Imperial Treasury, dramatically reduced and eventually cut off, to add insult to injury they were told to cut off their top-knots and turn in their swords. It became a crime to carry a sword in public. For the followers of Oen Hayashi—who held white fans over their heads as they walked under electric wires for fear of contamination by Western emanations–that was the last straw.

Oen was a Shinto priest and scholarly defender of the old gods, whose zeal on their behalf inspires a group of young samurai. His views, propagated after his death by the League of the Divine Wind, are clearly Mishima’s, who sums up Oen’s politics thusly:

Cherishing as he did the ideal of glorifying the Imperial Tradition within the land and upholding the national honor in the face of foreign incursion, he was appalled by the vacillation of the Shogunate officials at the time of Perry’s arrival and also by the tactics of those who turned away from the policy of ‘Expel the Barbrians’ but tried to use it to overthrow the Shogunate. He became a recluse and gave himself over to the contemplation of occult wisdom.

Against the arrival of Commodore Perry and modernity, the leaders of the League approach the elder gods with a petition to act. The opening line of Tsunanori’s story sets the stage: “One day in the summer of 1873–the Sixth Year of the Meiji era–four stalwart men of high ideals gathered at the Imperial Shrine in Shingai Village.” They are there to consult the will of the gods in the ritual known as Ukei: in Mishima’s version, a fresh-cut peach branch festooned with paper pendants inscribed with questions for the gods is waved over the Sacred Mirror, and the answers drop from the branch like rain, or tears:

The first of these was in accordance with the wishes of Harukata Kaya and read as follows: ‘To bring an end to misgovernment by admonishing authority even to the forfeiture of life.’

Kaya was bent upon the use of argument, of subduing their enemy without shedding any blood but his own. He wished to insure that his admonition achieved its goal by emulating Ysautake Yokoyama, the samurai of the Satsuma Clan who, in Meiji 3, set the seal upon his heroic remonstrance by slaying himself with his sword as soon as he had delivered his petition. Kaya’s comrades, however, had misgivings about the efficacy of such a course.

The second appeal laid out before the judgement of the gods was “to cut down the unworthy ministers by striking in darkness with the sword,” i.e. a terrorist campaign targeted at the sell-outs and traitors who were delivering Old Nippon over to the foreigners. A poem written on the headband of the 16-year-old Tadao Saruwatari, sums up the feelings of the rebels:

Our land divided, sold to barbarians,
The Sacred Throne in peril.
May the gods of heaven and earth
Behold our loyal devotion.

The leaders of the League twice implored the gods, and twice the answer was the same: the time for action was not propitious. On the third try, however, the gods were apparently in a good mood–or, perhaps, a bad one–because they not only gave the go ahead, but deemed the League a divine army that was to spark a general rising. Their destiny sealed, the League set about making preparations. Nothing was done, of course, without consulting the Divine Will: the battle plan, the division of the forces and their various tasks, the timing–all were calculated according to the sanctions of tradition and the will of the war god Hachiman.

Numbering less than two hundred, they would take on the garrison of the castle of Kumamoto, defended by two thousand government troops. Perhaps some hi-tech firepower might have given them some advantage – say, a cannon or two – but, as Mishima notes, they hotly disdained using the weapons of the foreigners, and rode into battle with swords, spears, and halberds – although they also made several hundreds primitive Molotov cocktails using two bowls packed with gunpowder and gravel.

With the advantage of surprise – and surprise certainly describes the reaction of the garrison, as these oddly-garbed figures, bearing swords and spears, swarmed through the barracks – the League achieved a victory as sweet as it was short: all two thousand defenders fled “like frightened women.” Yet they soon regrouped, and, heartened by reinforcements, went on the counterattack.

The League fought valiantly, but, in the end, they were overwhelmed by superior numbers, not to mention the modern weaponry of their opponents. The defeated army of the gods, gathered together in the sanctuary of a nearby Shinto shrine, determined to fight on, and yet it soon became all too clear that resistance was futile. Government troops swarmed over the countryside like ants in search of sugar. Driven to the ground, the survivors took the only honorable course: they committed seppuku, ritual suicide, one-by-one and in groups. Young and old, priests and samurai, commoners and nobility–yes, and even one woman!–they all went into the next life without hesitation or regret, slitting their throats, falling on their swords, and disemboweling themselves in the gruesome ritual known in the West as hari-kiri.

This, for them–and for the author—was the supreme duty, the proof of their purity, and any other course would have been unthinkable, under the circumstances, and they did it as simply, as easily, as naturally as a Westerner would close his eyes and go to sleep. Their fate prefigured that of the author, and, as he wrote Runaway Horses, Mishima was no doubt already planning his dramatic denouement, an act that would shock the world–but not yet.

Mishima was a writer of extraordinary talent, and so prolific that I cannot even get a handle on how many novels he actually wrote: the number we usually encounter is 40, but that’s not counting the serialized “popular” novels, some of which were never published between book covers, and not thought of as serious by the author. In addition, he produced such a quantity of short stories, essays, plays, screenplays, poems, and polemics that it seemed as if, behind his byline, lurked a literary team rather than a single author.

In his personal life, too, the same energy was evident: at the height of his fame, Mishima was everywhere, socializing with the high and the low, appearing on television, religiously going to the gym where he devoted himself to body-building and kendo, at one point starring in a gangster movie, and traveling the world from Bangkok to Manhattan, reveling in life even as he dreamt endless dreams of death.

Born Kimitake Hiroaka, a small, spindly Mama’s boy, he grew up in wartime Japan a bookish odd-man-out, burdened with a morbid imagination and a predilection for perversions that included but were not limited to homosexuality. Much of his best known earlier work is largely an attempt to work through and come to terms with his childhood demons. Taken from his mother after a mere week or so of life, and forced to attend to his witch of a grandmother in her sickbed, he was not allowed to play with other children, especially boys, and was forced to stay inside playing with origami and reading. He soon devoured all the books in his well-read grandmother’s library: the stories of Hans Christian Anderson, as well as Oscar Wilde, and the poems of Rilke and the Decadents.

His first novel, Hanazakari no Mori (“The Forest in Full Bloom”), was steeped in the spirit and history of Ancient Japan: it consists of profiles of aristocratic figures from widely disparate historical eras. The Japan Mishima evoked was a memory of a time when the grasping egotism and “modern” crudity of contemporary Japanese militarists was unthinkable: When it was a “forest in full bloom,” Japan was a courtly society, where ancient forms were followed to the letter as a matter of course. Mishima’s language, studded with rare words like polished jewels, was elegant, archaic, and yet precise. As one of his translators put it: “He knew the exact word for everything.”

Mishima’s literary debut was overshadowed, however, by the start of the war–an event that transformed everything for the seventeen year old author. As Japan’s fortunes took a turn for the worse, Mishima and his school-fellows lived with the prospect of conscription—and certain death—hanging over them like a tsunami about to crash onto their once-peaceful beach. For the first time since a fortunate wind blew the approaching Mongol fleet off course–that, by the way, is where the League of the Divine Wind got its name–Japan faced the prospect of foreign invasion. The idea that they would die young, and gloriously, was part of the air they breathed.

Mishima became associated with a group of nationalist writers, the Bungei Bunka, for whom the war was a holy task. Known as the Roman-ha (Japanese Romanticists), their goal, in literary-emotional terms, was “purity of sentiment,” as Henry Scott-Stokes puts it in The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima, while their politics consisted of an eclectic mix of Emperor-worship and Marxism: like Mishima, they pined for the Old Japan, which they idealized. They hated the zaibatsu (huge industrial combines that dominated wartime Japan) and Westernized politicians, valorized the samurai, and reveled in the “irony” that defeat, too, could be sweet if it was experienced as the denouement of a heroic gesture.

Mishima’s father, Azusa, was a demanding, unsympathetic character who had squandered the family’s money in an unsuccessful bid to become an entrepreneur: he regularly invaded the boy’s room and tore up his manuscripts, rationalizing his brutality with the view that writing was unproductive and could only divert his young son away from the straight and narrow. In spite of the boy’s literary prowess–he was already being praised by the Bungei Bunka as a genius–Azusa finally prevailed upon him to study law at Tokyo University. That in itself was a feat of some magnitude, since Mishima had always ignored his father’s hectoring as much as possible.

The reason for this unusual concession was no doubt because Mishima found the law intellectually challenging: but there was not much studying done that year. The war was moving rapidly toward its end, and air raids were constant. Students were yanked out of the classroom and mobilized to support the war effort: Mishima and his fellow future lawyers of Japan were put to work in a factory making kamikaze planes:

This great factory worked on a mysterious system of production costs: taking no account of the dictum that capital investment should produce a return, it was dedicated to a monstrous nothingness. No wonder then that each morning the workers had to recite a mystic oath. I have never seen such a strange factory. In it all the techniques of modern science and management, together with the exact and rational thinking of many superior brains, were dedicated to a single end: Death. Producing the Zero-model combat plane used by the suicide squadrons, this great factory resembled a secret cult that operated thunderously–groaning, shrieking, roaring.

This description of the factory appeared in Confessions of a Mask–the book that catapulted him to fame. Fame, however, was in the future: for now, he was just a lonely aesthete amid the unfolding disaster of wartime Japan. As he ran to the air raid shelter, he clutched the pages of what he thought of as his “last” novel, The Middle Ages, an historical tale based on the life and death of Prince Yoshihisa, the son of a Shogun who lived in the 15th century. Yoshihisa attempted a coup, but was killed in battle: what followed was a long period of chaos and fighting, known as the era of the Onin wars, that nearly destroyed Japanese society. Kyoto, the capital, was burned to the ground–a condition that was about to be replicated in contemporary Japan. The feeling of impending disaster was everywhere, and it was just like Mishima to translate this foreboding into a tale out of the fifteenth century.

Japan was slowly but surely being defeated, and as the Americans inched closer to the Japanese homeland, Mishima received the call to report for duty: he was being drafted. As it turned out, however, he was so sickly and thin that they rejected him, much to his relief: the military doctor mistakenly diagnosed him with incipient tuberculosis. Later, in Confessions, he would remark that he had been “forsaken even by Death.” He had escaped, and yet Death still haunted him: or, rather, the desire to embrace it haunted him. He had been denied a glorious death by the army doctor, but he believed he would meet his end in a final cataclysm, as enemy bombers dropped fire from the skies and Tokyo was aflame. “It was in death,” he wrote, “that I had discovered my real ‘life’s aim.’”

As the Japanese government prepared for surrender, Mishima was immersed in his books, writing his first published stories, and making contacts with older authors who would prove instrumental to his career. Hiroshima was devastated, and then Nagasaki: the Americans dropped leaflets over Tokyo laying out the terms of surrender. The Japanese government capitulated.

Mishima was in shock: the Emperor went on the radio to declare that he wasn’t a god, after all. Of this time, he wrote:

The war ended. All I was thinking about, as I listened to the Imperial Rescript announcing the surrender, was the Golden Temple. The bond between the temple and myself had been severed. I thought, now I shall return … to a state in which I exist on one side and beauty on the other. A state which will never improve so long as the world endures.

The death of his sister, Mitsuko, underscored the end of the world he had known: she succumbed to typhoid in October, 1945. The old Japan was crashing down all around him, but to this larger catastrophe Mishima was numbed and oblivious: he simply withdrew into his own private world. He was determined to become a writer, and not only that, but a literary star: one senior literary figure, to whom he brought his work, criticized him for his extravagant Romanticism, and asked him if he wanted to be an original or a popular author: Mishima unhesitatingly chose the latter.

The “reforms” of the MacArthur Regency, the economic and social tumult that surrounded him, did not, at the time, concern him: his family home had escaped any damage, and he hid himself away in what he called his “castle.” Amidst the physical destruction of Tokyo, and the disintegration of all the old values, including the aristocratic “courtly” literary traditions he and his fellows of the Roman-ha upheld, he wasn’t merely indifferent to it all, including the momentous political developments–he was determinedly oblivious. His focus was exclusively on the development of his unique literary imagination, and his efforts to break into the Bundan, the exclusive and inbred club of the Japanese literary establishment.

If Mishima was indifferent to such worldly concerns as politics, then politics weren’t indifferent to him. Postwar Japan was dominated by the Left, and the political trials and purges carried out under the occupation, with the full and enthusiastic cooperation of the Japanese Communist Party, extended into the literary realm. In the winter of 1945, as Mishima was gathering a book of stories for publication, a committee of leftist writers and critics issued an indictment of “literary war criminals,” among whom Mishima’s former mentors and sponsors figured prominently. This was followed by an official purge executed by the American occupation authorities.

Mishima’s effort to storm the castle of the Bundan met with intractable resistance: his association with the Roman-ha as well as his extravagant subjectivism, his stylistic archaicism, and his decidedly un-“progressive” subject matter all kept him out of print, albeit only temporarily.

Mishima was inwardly beset by all sorts of demons, which he mercilessly dissected in his famous Confessions, the book that made him as a writer. Yet he had a will of steel, and this was reflected not only in his ambition, but in his highly disciplined sensibility, which approached every task with a relentless concentration. Still a law student, he studied diligently and prepared for his entrance examination to the civil service with the same fierce concentration that produced reams of stories and a first novel, The Thieves, the story of a young couple that enter into a suicide pact, albeit not out of love for each other.

His career as a civil servant—he was accepted as a minor functionary into the Ministry of Finance—didn’t last very long, and Azusa bitterly opposed his decision to leave his job and become a full-time writer. But when it became apparent that Mishima would persist, his father turned to him and said: “Well then, go ahead, but make sure you are the best writer in the land.” Father and son, so unlike each other in every other way, shared a belief in this possibility. Mishima, for his part, was certain of his destiny: indeed, this certitude seemed almost fully formed from early youth.

Not long before his spectacular death, Mishima was asked by the Tobu department store, one of the biggest such establishments in Japan, to help put together a photographic exhibition of his life and work: it was displayed from November 12 – 19, in 1970. During that time, one-hundred thousand visited the display with it’s black-draped photographs arranged around an antique samurai sword that was to be the instrument of Mishima’s death a few days later. The catalogue, bound in black, contained an introduction by Mishima, in which he said of the exhibition:

I made only one suggestion: that was to divide my forty-five years of life–a life so full of contradictions–into Four Rivers, ‘Writing,,’ ‘Theater,’ ‘Body,” and ‘Action,’ all finally flowing into The Sea of Fertility.

This last was the title of his tetralogy, consisting of Spring Snow, Runaway Horses, The Temple of Dawn, and The Decay of the Angel, which covers the period from 1912 to 1975, and can be considered his literary and philosophical testament.

The rivers of writing and action flowed together in the evolution of his political views, from the non-committal anti-political stance of his early works, which are steeped in the personal and the subjective, to his fulsome embrace of Japanese nationalism, albeit of a unique sort.

John Nathan, in his introduction to the new edition of his 1974 biography of Mishima, regrets that his analysis of the writer’s political ideology was overshadowed by Mishima’s personal pathology–the obsession with death revealed in Confessions, and in much of his fiction, rooted in sado-masochistic eroticism. In re-reading the work he hadn’t opened in many years, Nathan confides he was “troubled by the skepticism my argument required me to sustain. In declining to accept Mishima’s words or actions at face value, I failed to recognize the courage and unflinching honesty that are there to be observed.”

In a piece published on New Year’s Day, 1967, Mishima explained that his Westernized lifestyle–he lived in a Western-style house, wore Western clothes, etc.–did not really contradict his nationalist sentiments because “My true life as a writer is in the pure Japan of the Japanese language I use every night in my study. Compared to this, “he averred, “nothing else is of any importance.” Nathan writes:

In the biography, my commitment to reveal Mishima’s nationalism as specious, and as a device for achieving death, prompted me to dismiss this claim as ‘a lame and silly argument’…. Today, I am persuaded, indeed moved, by the same logic I once ridiculed.

Mishima’s fate, Nathan continues, “now appears as one of two historical moments” that seem to have underscored the predicament of modern Japan. Not that Nathan gives up entirely his tiresomely predictable way of looking at Mishima through the lens of amateur psychology: after all, Mishima’s work is the very exemplar of “psychological” fiction, in that the real action is taking place inside the characters’ skulls. So that all the physical action – and there is a lot of that, too–proceeds logically from a clear albeit unique motivation. Yet there was a growing political consciousness, a current that flowed from the merging rivers of writing and action, that represented Mishima’s mature thought.

As he outgrew his exoticism, and shed the skin of a sensitive youth, Mishima underwent a remarkable transformation. One of his critics once remarked that what scared him about Mishima is that he seemed to have sprouted up so fast as a writer that he was all flower and no leaves. And there was something distinctly unhealthy about his extreme aestheticism, with its overtones of Wilde and Raymond Radiguet.

All that began to change, however, as he approached the pinnacle of his success: his novels were being made into films, and there was talk that he was up for a Nobel. For much of his youth, he had swum exclusively in the rivers of writing and theater: as for the body, the thin and sickly Kimitake Hiroaka, with his thin shoulders and pallid complexion, was banished, finally, like a ghost that has lingered too long on this earth, replaced by the chiseled physique of a dedicated bodybuilder. This led directly to the rising of the river of theater, especially when he posed semi-naked in a notorious series of photographs, one of which has him in the classic pose of St. Sebastian, tied to a post and stuck full of arrows. It was a most un-Japanese way of calling attention to himself, and this was made worse when he ventured onto the stage as an actor, appearing in a couple of cheap gangster movies. It was an embarrassment, but Mishima was clearly enjoying himself, and, for all his avowed traditionalism, his innate exhibitionism overrode the Japanese sense of propriety.

The last of the four rivers to swell from a stream into a rushing torrent was that of action, and it propelled him toward his fate. This was really, however, the river of ideology, which for Mishima was his own unique brand of Japanese nationalism: it might be called Japan’s version of paleoconservatism. He didn’t think of himself standing athwart history yelling “Stop!” Instead, he demanded that history must reverse course, and go back to that juncture where a wrong turn was taken.

For Japan, as far as Mishima was concerned, that juncture was located precisely. On February 26, 1936, when he was 11 years old, the young army officers of the Imperial Way faction, at the head of 1,400 troops, seized the Tokyo center and assassinated a number of government officials. They were rising against the power of the “Control” faction, led by Hideki Tojo and a group of old-line bureaucrats who would later come to be charged as war criminals and executed.

At the time, there was great division in military circles and the emperor’s court as to which direction Japanese expansionism ought to take: should they go eastward, and occupy China, or go north and take on the Soviet Union? The Imperial Way faction, being staunchly anti-Communist, wanted to make war on the Kremlin and build a Nipponese empire in the north. The Control group wanted to conquer the Chinese coastline and make its way inward to the Han heartland: this meant also taking on the colonial powers of the West–including the United States—whose interests in China and Southeast Asia were at stake.

The Imperial Way group believed that the Emperor had lost control to a cabal of bureaucratic technocrats, exemplified by Tojo, who had betrayed the traditions of old Japan in their rush to modernize. The Imperial Way solution was to appeal to the Emperor Hirohito to take direct control of the government, and dispense with his scheming ministers and other Westernizers: thus their name Koda-ha, or Imperial Way. They particularly resented to power of the zaibatsu, the great industrial combines that monopolized industry and extended their talons into the government and the Imperial Court. The Emperor, they believed, had been misled: their rebellion was a direct appeal to Hirohito – who firmly rejected their entreaties. Indeed, the Emperor directed the army to put down the rebellion, even as some councilors urged him to compromise: the uprising was crushed, its leaders committed seppuku, and the February Incident went down in the history of Japan was yet another eruption of Nipponese irrationality and “extremism,” like the Shimpuren Incident.

Mishima, however, was sympathetic to the rebels, and it is easy to see why. If the Imperial Way had won, and Tojo and his group cast aside, Japan would never have gone to war with the West, and the devastation of Japan, the occupation, and the radical process of Westernization would all have been avoided. Japan would not have been relegated to the role of an international castrati, forbidden to have a real army, and locked into a mandatory pacifism in which the specter of death had been banished, and, along with it, any sense of meaning, or so Mishima came to believe. “Surely some great God died when the Ni Ni Roku Incident failed,” he wrote. It figured prominently in his later works: the short story “Patriotism,” the prose poem “Voices of the Heroic Dead,” a play, Toka no Kiku, and also in Runaway Horses, where the hero, Isao, invokes it as the inspiration for his own plans for an uprising.

In “Patriotism,” the hero, Lieutenant Takeyama, is the commander of a unit that receives the order to move against the February rebels. As a friend and sympathizer of the rebel leaders, this puts him in a predicament: he will not take up arms against his comrades, yet is unwilling to disobey the direct order of the Emperor. He is shamed that he has been left out of the rebellion: The only way out is to commit seppuku. What follows is the longest, most detailed description of ritual suicide in Japanese literature, bloody and gory and yet strangely idealized. As Lieutenant Takeyama’s intestines are spilling out onto the floor, Mishima remarks: “It would be difficult to imagine a more heroic sight than that of the lieutenant at this moment, as he mustered his strength and flung back his head.”

“Voices of the Heroic Dead” was controversial with both the Left and the Right: the former because it valorized the kamikazee fighters as well as the rebel officers of Ni Ni Roku, and the latter because it criticized Emperor Hirohito for repudiating his own godhood and failing to support the Imperial Way. Here we are taken into a séance, in which the voices of the perished kamikazee pilots and the coup leaders of the Imperial Way group reproach the Emperor Hirohito: “Why did the emperor have to become a human being?” The ghosts of these departed patriots echo this refrain throughout the text. Mishima disdains the second half of the Showa era – Hirohito’s reign – as a time of national listlessness and a “smiling full-bellied peace,” that led to boredom and nihilism. Lassitude had set in:

Strength is decried, the body disdained
Pleasure has lost its substance
Joy and grief alike vanish in an instant
Purity is marketed, dissipation enfeebled
Feeling is dulled, sharpness blunted
Virulent and manly spirits have fled the earth….

This anomie is what he had succumbed to in his youth, and now was learning to conquer. The sickly Kimitake Hiroaka, who cowered in his room and watched the destruction of Tokyo from a distance, as if it were a play, longed for action, for commitment, for belief–and this desire was manifested in his emerging nationalist politics.

The emergence of Mishima as an ideologue of the Emperor system is widely misunderstood: he was not an authoritarian, but rather a critic of Westernized Japanese democracy, which was merely the old bureaucratic zaibatsu-dominated system wearing a “democratic” mask. He saw the Emperor and the Shinto system of Emperor-worship as the essence of the Japanese spirit. The postwar order emasculated Japanese culture, which had previously been represented by both the Chrysanthemum and the Sword: after the Defeat, however, only the Chrysanthemum remained. The Sword was permanently sheathed, the American-imposed “constitution” forbade any form of military activity, and Japanese culture was represented by such pacifistic activities as ikebana (flower arranging), while the darker side was entirely missing.

This dark side, however, was about to reassert itself, Mishima was sure of it, and he did his own part to help it along with the creation of his Tatenokai group, or Shield Society, a group of young patriots he gathered around him in reaction to the tumult of the 1960s, when the Left made giant inroads in Japan (and around the world). This tumult reached a crescendo in Japan with the riots, in the spring of 1960, that greeted the ratification of the US-Japan Security Treaty, which was opposed by both the radical Left and the nationalist Right, albeit for antipathetic reasons.

The student leftists, who took to the streets and battled the police, fascinated Mishima, who admired them for their style if not the substance of their pro-Communist politics. He went out into the streets and reported on the riots for the Mainichi Shimbun. “Patriotism” was written about this time, and his political sensibility began to be more fully developed. The Tatenokai – which he called “the world’s smallest and most spiritual army”—was the culmination of this trend in his thinking: together with these hundred or so patriotic young recruits, in their spiffy designer uniforms, he jumped head-first into the river of action.

Through his connections with influential Liberal Democratic Party mandarins, Mishima managed to get permission for the Tatenokai to participate in training sessions with the Japanese Defense Force. They spend weeks in the JDF training camps, and Mishima is in his element: the world of action. Yet that is just the beginning of his journey down this particular river ….

Mishima’s death is the most well-known aspect of his life, which seems somehow appropriate, given his life-long morbid focus on the subject. It is, however, unfortunate, because the irony is that he was such a creative force: his collected works fill some thirty-plus thick volumes. In his day to day life, too, he was a veritable tornado of activity: he did everything with high energy and intensive focus, whether it was his writing, his body-building, his extensive socializing with a wide network of friends and fellow writers. In the final months and weeks of his life, the pace of his normally hectic activity picked up: he rushed to finish the final volume of “The Sea of Fertility” tetralogy, which was published as The Decay of the Angel.

He had been planning his final gesture of defiance for years, and finally the day approached: he put all his affairs in order, and proceeded with his usual thoroughness and alacrity. Mishima’s initial plan was to somehow enlist the aid of the Japanese Defense Force, which, together with the Tatenokai, would occupy Parliament and demand the revision of the constitution. This fell through, however, when Mishima’s inquiries met with a total lack of interest on the part of JDF officers. The plan was revised: they would take a senior JDF commander hostage, force the authorities to gather the soldiers in a place where Mishima would address them, and then, together, the Tatenokai and the rebel soldiers would carry out a coup, place the Emperor in command of the nation, and reassert Japan’s signal cultural, political, and military identity.

It was a ridiculous scheme, sure to fail, and Mishima–who was no fool–must have known that. Yet he went ahead with it. We can only assume that he knew how it would have to end, and that he wanted it to end precisely as it did.

On November 25, 1970, Mishima was awake and up early with the songbirds. Yoko, his wife, was out of the house, having taken the children to school. He dressed carefully, donning a fundoshi and his Tatenokai uniform. He assembled the items he was taking with him: a brown attache case, which contained a number of daggers, some papers, and a long samurai sword. He placed the final manuscript of The Decay of the Angel on a table in the hallway, in an envelope addressed to the publisher: they were scheduled to come pick it up later in the day. He then made a few phone calls to friendly reporters, hinting that something big was in the works—without saying precisely what was going to happen—and told them to show up at the Ichigaya base of the Japanese defense force in the center of Tokyo. As the morning wore on, a young man in the uniform of the Tatenokai walked through the garden to the front door: Mishima greeted him, and handed him three envelopes, with instructions that these should be taken out to the waiting car and read by the four members of the Tatenokai who had been chosen to accompany him on his final dip in the rive of action. Then he gathered up his briefcase, and left the house.

General Mashita, commander of the Eastern Army, was waiting for his visitors when they arrived at the base, and they were led into his office. After a few preliminary pleasantries, Mishima took off his sword, hanging in its scabbard on his belt, and placed it against the chair as he sat down.

“Tell me,” said General Mashita, “what is this sword you have with you? Did anyone ask you about it on the way in? I am not very clear about the rules on swords, as we don’t carry them anymore ourselves.”

Mishima assured him it was okay, and began to talk about the sword: an antique, made in the seventeenth century by the famous classical smith Seki no Magoroku. “Would you like to see it?”

Mashita indicated that he would, and as he held it, one of the Tatenokai inched forward, according to the plan. Mishima said to the young man: “A handkerchief?” This was the cue, and Mishima’s young follower moved toward the General, who, oblivious to the hidden meaning of the scene playing out before him, returned to his desk to get a tissue with which to wipe the sword. There was more small talk as Mashita examined the blade after wiping it, remarking that he had never seen such a superb weapon in private hands. Mishima looked at his flustered acolyte, who took the hint and moved toward the General, stepped behind him and reached for the General’s neck ….

Mishima and his followers moved quickly: after binding and gagging Mashita, they barricaded the door with heavy furniture. What they didn’t realize, however, was that they were being observed through a peephole in the office door, which allowed anyone outside in the anteroom to look in and see what was happening. The gig was soon up.

Twice unarmed officers tried to break into the room and free the General, and twice they were repulsed by Mishima, who slashed at them with his sword, wounding several. At this point, the Japanese officers–who were confirming by the minute Mishima’s contemptuous dismissal of contemporary Japanese men as all chrysanthemum and no sword–asked what Mishima’s demands were. He readily complied with a written statement slipped under the door: the soldiers of the garrison must assemble in front of the headquarters no later than the hour of noon. Mishima would then be allowed to address them from the balcony outside Mashita’s office window. A ninety-minute truce would be declared, during which time Mishima and his men would not face attack from the JDF. If the officers would not agree, Mishima said he would kill the General and commit suicide. After some urging from Mashita, the officers radioed their commanders, who told them to handle the situation as they saw fit. They agreed to Mishima’s demands.

The soldiers gathered in response to an announcement over the loudspeaker system–and a siren wailed, as if in terror at what was to follow. The news media–already alerted by Mishima–was there in droves, and Mishima crowed: “What a lot of people for the party!”

The four Tatenokai appeared on the balcony, bearing banners that spelled out the conditions under which Mashita’s safety was assured. Mishima’s manifesto, printed as a leaflet, was dropped, and carried by the wind to its intended recipients, who glanced at it with curiosity but hardly any understanding: in it, Mishima appealed to the armed forces to stop being a “toy,” as mandated by the pacifistic Constitution, demanded the restoration of the Emperor to his rightful place as ruler, and complained “we have waited in vain for the Jieitai [JDF] to rebel. If no action is taken, the Western powers will control Japan for the next century!”

The manifesto ended with these stirring words (yes, stirring even to a foreigner):

Let us restore Nippon to its true state and let us die. Will you value only life and let the spirit die? … We will show you a value which is greater than respect for life. Not liberty, not democracy. It is Nippon! Nippon, the land of history and tradition. The Japan we love.

The toy soldiers of the Jieitai read this with incomprehension. Their bafflement only grew as Mishima himself appeared on the balcony. By this time the noise level, already high with the helicopters whirling overhead and the soldiers shouting to each other, reached a crescendo of abuse rising up from the ranks of the men Mishima had hoped to inspire. His plan was to speak for 30 minutes: seven minutes into his speech, however, he gave up. The Jieitai were rebelling, alright–against him. There was nothing to be done but carry out the final act of the drama that had been so long in rehearsals.

Mishima had jumped atop the parapet to be seen by the troops, and now he dropped down back onto the balcony. Inside Mashita’s office, the General’s gag had been loosened, and, as it became apparent what Mishima was about to do, Mashita yelled: “Stop!”

But there was no stopping him. Mishima stripped down to his loincloth, and knelt on the floor, expelling the air from his stomach and shouting a last salute to the Emperor. Then he forced a dagger into his stomach, and cut crosswise, in the prescribed manner. Seppuku is not butchery: it requires precision. As his entrails spilled out, he bent his neck to receive the death blow from Morita, his chief acolyte, who brought down the sword with much force–but missed his mark. Twice more Morita tried, and failed, to decapitate Mishima, instead wounding him grievously. One of the others came forward, who had experience in fencing and kendo, took the sword, and divided Mishima’s head from his body with a single clean stroke.

Today Mishima is looked upon as a fanatic, a crazy person, at best a talented yet flawed writer whose personal demons devoured him in the end: his politics are considered a diversion away from what he was really about, a mere façade for the darkness in his soul. Yet his view of Japan has been vindicated by the gradual rearmament of the Japanese military, and the rise of a new nationalism in Japan, which–while it has hardly inspired a new Shimpuren Incident, or a replay of the February rising of 1936–is reasserting itself. He wanted to live in a nation that had regained a sense of its self, its true self–not the consumerist imitative ikebana-Hello Kitty caricature, but the real, historical Japan, whose origins are lost in the mist of Mount Fuji, the dwelling place of the gods.

 

————–

Raimondo, Justin. “Mishima—Paleocon as Samurai.” Taki’s Magazine, 12 May 2008. <http://takimag.com/article/mishimapaleocon_as_samurai/print#axzz3PfJypKJo >.

 

Notes: For further reading about Mishima and his works, see Riki Rei’s Review of Naoki Inose’s Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima, and also the Yukio Mishima Webpage. For an introduction to Natsume Soseki, a famous Japanese novelist who was an influence on Mishima, see Hoang Nguyen’s discussion of Soseki’s Kokoro and Japan’s modernisation.

For further reading and a list of useful resources about modern Japan and its culture, see the page of Alexander Dugin’s “In the Country of the Rising ‘Do’.”

For those interested in researching Japanese literature in general (which is also useful for the study of Japan’s culture, history, and religious attitudes), we recommend the following two anthologies which were edited by Donald Keene: Anthology of Japanese Literature from the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century (New York: Grove Press, 1955), and Modern Japanese Literature: From 1868 to the Present Day (New York: Grove Press, 1956). Concerning important modern classic Japanese authors (other than Yukio Mishima) whose works have been translated, we can note the following for readers who are interested: Natsume Soseki, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Kyoka Izumi, Osamu Dazai, Junichiro Tanizaki, Eiji Yoshikawa, Edogawa Rampo, Yasunari Kawabata, Fumiko Enchi, Yasushi Inoue, Shuhei Fujisawa, and Hisashi Inoue.

 

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Review of Inose’s Biography of Mishima – Rei

Review of Naoki Inose’s Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima

By Riki Rei

 

Naoki Inose
Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima
Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 2013

Editor’s Note: This is a review of the Japanese edition of Persona, which is available now in English translation. I have read the translation, which appears to be much longer (864 pages) than the Japanese original. It is a treasure trove of information on Mishima. As an aside, the book’s unselfconscious frankness about sex and meticulous cataloging of genealogy and rank give one a sense of the consciousness of pre-Christian European society. – Greg Johnson

***

The Japanese version of Persona was originally published in November 1995 by Bungei Shunshu (literally meaning “the Literary Spring and Autumn”), an established and prestigious publishing house in Japan. The author, Mr. Naoki Inose, is a maverick and contentious figure who served as the vice governor of Tokyo municipality for a long time while also being a highly prolific and popular writer, having penned no less than 30 books so far, mostly on political, historical, and cultural themes. He was lately in hot water, being forced to step down from his official post due to alleged involvement in a murky financial scandal. His political and administrative stance, by post-war Japanese standards, is mainstream conservatism (center-Right).

The main body of the book has about 390 pages, including a prologue, four chapters, and an epilogue. There is also a brief postscript and an extensive bibliography which together occupy another nine pages. Considering the length of the book, it is surprising that there are only four chapters. The 17-page Prologue is a novel-like start, the main character of which is a former schoolmate of Yukio Mishima, and whose father also happened to be an old acquaintance and old schoolmate of Mishima’s father Azusa Hiraoka (Hiraoka is the real family name of Mishima), both pursuing the careers of elite imperial government officials, but with quite different fates. The author’s intention in starting the book in this way was to highlight Mishima’s family background so as to shed light on the factors, both familial and historical, that shaped and molded the early development of Mishima’s quite unorthodox and eccentric personality.

Indeed, the author goes far further than most would expect, expatiating on the overall political and social picture of Japan in the late Meiji and early Taisho periods at the very beginning of the 20th century, which, in the author’s presumed reckoning, might better disclose and clarify the political, socio-cultural, and family backdrops of Mishima’s childhood, which was characterized by a mixture of docile and rebellious elements. The first chapter, called “The Mystery of the Assassination of Takashi Hara,” lasts almost 80 pages. Here the author talks about the historical background of the time in which Mishima’s grandfather Sadataro Hiraoka saw his career blossom then wither due to larger and uncontrollable political struggles.

Sadataro was a capable functionary favored and appointed by then the Internal Minister and later the Prime Minister of Japan Takashi Hara, nicknamed the “Commoner Prime Minister,” to be the governor of Karabuto (the Southern half of the Sakhalin Island, ceded to Japan by treaty after the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and forcibly annexed by Soviet Union at the end of WWII). However, due to some suspicious financial dealing and mishaps which were seized by political foes to attack him, and political sectarian conflicts during the Hara administration and after his assassination, Sadataro was relieved of his governorship, and from then on, Mishima’s family’s fortune started to take an abrupt and sharp downturn.

The second chapter, “The Insulated Childhood,” shifts attention from the rise and fall of the Hiraokas to Mishima himself. Mr. Inose spends 90 pages on Mishima’s complex and seeming contradictory childhood, using narration interspersed by flashbacks, and talks about the family life of the Hiraokas, the inter-relationship of family members, religion, Mishima’s grandparents and parents, especially his fastidious and arbitrary grandmother and his bemused father, against the background of decline of the family’s fortunes as a result of political failures of his grandfather. The author devotes large passages to explaining such matters as Mishima’s poor physical health, his tender, timid, and self-isolating personality as a child molded by the uncannily tense family ambience, and his father’s desperate last-ditch effort that brought about his narrow escape from the military draft in his late teen years near the end of the Second World War.

In this chapter, the author also starts to introduce Mishima’s passion for literature, which developed quite early, and his first attempts at writing, as well as his friendship and literary exchanges with several likeminded youths who gave him encouragement and inspiration. One point meriting emphasis is the influence of Zenmei Hasuda, a young imperial army officer, a steadfast traditionalist and nationalist, and a talented writer who killed a senior officer for cursing the Emperor and then committed suicide near the end of the war.

In the third chapter, that lasts almost 100 pages, the author continues to elaborate on the young Mishima’s literary and private life, culminating in his crowning literary achievement, the novel Kinkakuji translated as The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, which the author rightfully perceives as a landmark of the first phase of Mishima’s literary life, which is characterized by richly colored, minutely detailed, and often unsettling depictions of the inner lives of men among the ruins of post-war Japan — a formerly proud nation wallowing in nihilism.

It is noteworthy that Mishima’s works at this stage are rather different from the second stage of his literary activities, in which his works display a clearly nationalist and Rightist perspective. While Mishima’s exquisite writing reached its peak (or near peak) quite early in his life, his understanding of and awakening to the Japanese identity and nationalism centered on the monarchist tradition underwent a gradual process of maturation and was still immature and inchoate at his first literary stage, i.e. the time around his writing of Kinkakuji and other non-nationalist works, in contrast to his second literary phase of more virile, robust, and nationalistic works from Sun and Steel to The Sea of Fertility. In addition, Mishima’s dandyesque personal life of drinking, socializing, and mingling with fashion-conscious rich girls as described in this chapter was also indicative of his less than mature literature and personality at his stage of his life.

Chapter four, being the longest of the four chapters at about 110 pages, stands out as a relatively independent account of Mishima’s later years, dealing with both literature and political/ideological developments, leading to his failed coup, featuring his impassioned exhortation to the military servicemen and his ritual suicide by seppuku. This part covers the Mishima most familiar and interesting to Western readers. The chapter covers his body-building practices, his continued literary endeavors, consummated by the masterpiece The Sea of Fertility,his nominations for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and his increasingly active socio-political undertakings, including organizing his private militia troop, the Tatenokai (Shield Society), his serious and strenuous military training in Jieitai (Self-Defense Force), the post-war Japanese military — with the rather naïve aim of safeguarding the Emperor in concerted effort with the military in case of domestic unrest or even sedition at the hands of the leftist or communist radicals — and the events of this final day, November 25, 1970.

Although Persona has an overly long and detailed discussion of Mishima’s family history, the book still flows and proves an engaging read on the whole. The last chapter, though a bit overshadowed by the three preceding chapters, is definitely the most pertinent and fascinating of the whole, filled with interesting facts with insightful and trenchant observations.

Mishima’s veneration of the Emperor (Tenno) and ultimately the Imperial bloodline (Kotoh) of Japan, his candid criticism of Emperor Hirohito, and his final urge toward the coup and the subsequent suicide were already implied in his Kinkakuji, albeit symbolically as the impregnable top floor of the Kinkakuji pavilion itself. These themes became explicit in Voice of the Spirits of Martyrs published in 1966, which especially demonstrates Mishima’s mixed feelings if not overtly bitter resentment of Hirohito for his ignoble role in the failed Ni-Ni-Roku (Feb. 26) Coup of 1936[1] and his abject “I-am-a-human-not-a-god” announcement in 1945.[2] In the book, Mishima speaks through the mouth of a 23-year-old blind man, giving voice to the spirits of the Ni-Ni-Roku rebels and the Kamikaze pilots, i.e., the spirits of martyrs, speaking of the post-war economic boom coupled with the moral decay of Japanese society:

Under the benevolent imperial reign, the society brims with peace and stability. People smile albeit not without conflicts of interest and confusion of friends and foes. Foreign money drives and goads people, and pseudo-humanism becomes a necessity for making a living. The world is shrouded in hypocrisy while physical force and manual labor are despised. Youthful generations feel suffocated by torpor, sloth, drugs, and meaningless fights, yet they all move along the prearranged path of mundanity like meek sheep. People think about making money, even small amounts, for which they degrade their own value. Private cars multiply, whose stupid high speed renders people soulless. Tall buildings mushroom while the righteous cause and moral principles collapse, and the glittering glass windows of those buildings are just like fluorescent lights of implacable desires. Eagles flying high in the sky and break their wings, and the immortal glories are sneered at and derided by termites. In such a time, the Emperor has become a human.[3]

According to Mishima, the daily routines under the rapid economic growth of 1960s is but an ugly and hollow sign of happiness, all attributable to the fact that the Emperor Hirohito has proclaimed himself no longer a divine figure, a sacrosanct “Arahitogami”[4] but a mere human being devoid of sanctity. Mishima expressed this view via the collective voice of the spirits of the martyrs, that the Emperor has assumed a duality of image, one being the last sacred embodiment of the national myth, and the other being one kind smiling grandfather presiding over the economic rationalism of the current age, and it is the latter, the protector of the daily routines of the post-war Japan, that Mishima found intolerable, as the voice of the martyr spirits makes quite clear:

The reign of His Majesty has been dyed in two different colors. The period of the bloody red color ends with the last day of the war, and the period of the ash grey color begins from that day. The period of the authentic red color soaked with blood starts with the day when the utmost sincerity of the brotherly spirits was thrown away, and the period of that pallid grey color starts from the day of the ‘I-am-a-human’ announcement of His Majesty. The immortality of our deaths is thus desecrated.[5]

The “brotherly spirits” here refer to the soldiers of the failed 2.26 coup of 1936, failed by the Emperor Hirohito, by his headstrong refusal to understand and sympathize with their righteous patriotism and pure sincerity. Mishima also believed that the “I-am-a-Human” announcement of Hirohito in the wake of WWII rendered the heroic sacrifices of the lives of the Kamikaze Tokkottai (Special Attack Units) utterly futile and pointless.

According to the author, Mishima’s mother Shizue revealed a little secret about the writing of Voices of the Spirits of Martyrs on the occasion of the commemoration of the seventh anniversary of Mishima’s death, namely, the work was actually written one night. She recollected that Mishima handed the manuscript to her as he had always done and uttered “I wrote this in one stroke last night, and it’s now completed.” She read through it quickly, felt her “blood curdled,” and asked Mishima how he wrote this piece. Mishima answered: “I felt my hand moving naturally and the pen sliding on the paper freely. I simply couldn’t help it even if I wanted to stop my hand. Low voices as if murmuring could be heard across my room in the midnight. The voices seemed to be from a group of men. When I held my breath to listen carefully, I found they were the voices of the dead soldiers who had participated in the 2.26 Incident.” Shizue continued to remark that “I had known the saying about haunting spirits before but didn’t paid attention until that moment when I came to realize that Kimitake (Mishima’s real first name) was perhaps haunted by something, and I felt chills down my spine.”[6]

In the summer of the same year Voices of the Spirits of Martyrs was published, Mishima went to Kumamoto Prefecture on Kyushu Island, South Japan, and this trip would prove to have a decisively catalyzing effect on the consolidation of the nationalist and traditionalist ideology that guided his later literary and political actions, provided the urge for the writing of his final work The Sea of Fertility, and eventually paved the way for his suicide. The pivot of Mishima’s interest was the local Samurai warrior group Shinpuren (The League of Divine Wind) which was violently opposed to the various policies of westernizing reform enacted by the Meiji regime in the 1870s.

The original driving force of the Meiji Restoration was the idea of “Revering the Emperor and Repelling the Foreign Barbarians” (Sonnojoi), which stipulated that legitimacy came not from the Shogun but from the Emperor and that Western forces, epitomized by the dreaded “Black Ships,” must be decisively expelled.[7] Yet after abolishing the rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate by uniting around the rallying call of “Sonnojoi,” the newly-established Meiji regime immediately and drastically changed its course and started to purse a policy of reform: opening Japan to the outside world, imitating Western ways, and curbing or eliminating the traditional customs of Japanese society deemed by the new regime as un-Western and uncivilized. New laws were promulgated by the Meiji government: the former Shizoku (Samurai aristocrats) were prohibited from carrying swords in public places, a sacred and unalienable right in their eyes, marking their distinguished status from the masses. They were also forced to change their hairstyles (cutting off the buns at the back of their heads). These were the direct causes to the Insurrection of Shinpuren in 1876 (the ninth year of the Meiji period).

The members of Shinpuren were so thoroughly alienated and infuriated by the Meiji government that they went to comical lengths to reject modernity. For example, when banknotes replaced traditional metal coins, they refused to touch them with their hands, picking them up with chopsticks instead. They made long detours to avoid walking under electrical wires. If no detour was possible, they would cover their heads with a white paper fan and pass hurriedly under the wires. They cast salt on the ground after meeting anyone dressed in western garb. When they decided to revolt against the Meiji government, they insisted on using only traditional bladed weapons like the sword (Katana), spear (Yari), and cane knife (Naginata), instead of the “dirty weapons of the western barbarians.”

This group, consisting of about 170 men, launched a night-time attack on the Kumamoto garrison. The garrison troops were caught off guard and initially panicked. But they regrouped and started to fire volleys of bullets into the armor-wearing, sword-wielding Shinpuren warriors storming at them. The samurai fell one after another, and altogether 123 warriors died in the battle or committed seppuku after sustaining serious wounds, including a dozen 16- or 17-year-old teenagers.

It was indeed a sad and heart-wrenching story. Why were they willing to die to protect their right to carry samurai swords? It is hard to comprehend it by the commonsense of our de-spiritualized modern age. The rebellion was mocked by newspapers in Tokyo as an anachronism even at the time, let alone in post-War Japan. Nevertheless, the Shinpuren samurai believed they were serving the cause of righteousness and justice, and it was their spotless sincerity and combination of faith and action that deeply impressed Mishima. The following passage his comment on Shinpuren in a dialogue with Fusao Hayashi[8]:

Talk about the thoroughness of thinking, when thinking expresses itself in an action, there are bound to be impurities entering it, tactics entering it, and human betrayals entering it. This is the case with the concept of ideology in which ends always seem to justify means. Yet the Shinpuren was an exception to the mode of ends justifying means, for which ends equal means and means equal ends, both following the will of gods, thus being exempt from the contradiction and deviation of means and ends in all political movements. This is equivalent to the relation between content and style in arts. I believe there also lies the most essential, and in a sense the most fanatical sheer experimentation of the Japanese spirit (Yamatodamashii).[9]

As hinted previously, the trip to Kumamoto and the examination of the historical record of Shinpuren gave Mishima a model and meaning for his future suicide. In fact, three years before his suicide he published a piece in the Yomiuri Shinbun, in which he stated rather wistfully the following words: “I think forty-two is an age that is barely in time for being a hero. I went to Kumamoto recently to investigate the Shinpuren and was moved by many facts pertaining to it. Among those I discovered, one that struck me particularly was that one of the leaders of theirs named Harukata Kaya died a heroic death at the same age as I am now. It seems I am now at the ceiling age of being a hero.”[10] From such clues, which are actually numerous, the author argues that Mishima started at about forty to reflect on his own death and probably settled on terminating his own life upon the completion of his four-volume lifework The Sea of Fertility.

The heavy influence of Shinpuren is manifest in the second volume of The Sea of Fertility, namely Runaway Horses, in which the protagonist Isao Iinuma, a Right-wing youth, holds a pamphlet titled The Historical Story of Shinpuren and was depicted as possessing an burning aspiration of “raising a Shinpuren of the Showa age.” And the full content of the aforementioned book was inserted into Runaway Horses in the form of a minor drama within a major drama. The historical background of the novel was set in early 1930s. The 19-year-old Isao attempts to assassinate a man called Kurahara, known as the king fixer of backdoor financial dealing, who was in Mishima’s eyes the representation of Japanese bureaucrats who considered the “stability of currency” as the ultimate happiness of the people and preached a cool-headedly mechanical if not callous way of crafting economic policies. Kurahara was quoted saying, “Economics is not a philanthropy; you’ve got to treat 10% of the population as expendable, whereby the rest 90% will be saved, or the entire 100% will die” — the self-justifying words of a typical ultra-realist and even a nihilist — a stark contrast to the pre-War ideal of the Emperor as an absolute patriarch, a profoundly benevolent feudal ruler who guarded the identity, history, and destiny of the Japanese people — a metaphysical figure that Mishima embraced, held dear, and vowed to defend and revive regardless of cost.

In sum, Mishima’s spiritual and historical encounter with Shinpuren and his military training can be viewed as elements in the design of his own death, as steps ascending to the grand stage. Shortly after concluding his military training, Mishima wrote a short book, A Guide to Hagakure, on Jocho Yamamoto’ famous summation of Bushido doctrine, Hagakure. Mishima’s Guide also illuminates his final action:

One needs to learn the value of the martial arts to be pure and noble. If one wants to both live and die with a sense of beauty, one must first strive to fulfill necessary conditions. If one prepares longer, one will decide and act swifter. And though one can choose to perform a decisive action oneself, one cannot always choose the timing of such an action. The timing is made by external factors, is beyond a person’s powers, and falls upon him like a sudden assault. And to live is to prepare for such a fateful moment of being chosen by destiny, isn’t it?! Hagakure means to place stress on a prior awareness and a regulation of the actions for such preparations and for such moments that fate chooses you.[11]

It is exactly in such a fashion that Mishima prepared for and embraced his self-conceived and fate-ordained final moment, to serve a noble, beautiful, and righteous cause.

Notes

  1. Emperor Hirohito was angry at the assassinations of his trusted imperial ministers at the hands of the rebel soldiers. He vehemently refused to lend an ear to the sincere patriotic views of the rebels, refused to side with them, and immediately ordered the suppression of the coup and had the leaders tried and executed quickly.
  2. Emperor Hirohito made this announcement partly due to the pressure of the US occupation forces, i.e. the GHQ, and partly willingly, as a cooperative gesture if not an overtly eager attempt to ingratiate himself with the conqueror.
  3. Naoki Inose, Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima (Tokyo: Bungei Shunshu Press, 1995), p. 323.
  4. Meaning literally “a god appearing in human form,” a highly reverential reference to the Japanese Emperor until the end of WWII.
  5. Persona, pp. 323, 324.
  6. Persona, p. 324.
  7. American naval fleets commanded by Commodore Matthew Perry to force Japan to open itself to the world, which first arrived in 1853 and once again in 1854.
  8. A famous and highly accomplished literary figure of contemporary Japan who is known for being flamboyant and highly contentious writer and literary critic. As a young man, he was a Leftist, he turned toward the Right-wing nationalism in the 1930s and remained a staunch and steadfast nationalist during the war and throughout the post-war years until his death.
  9. Persona, pp. 327, 328.
  10. Persona, p. 333.
  11. Persona, p. 341.

 

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Rei, Riki. “Naoki Inose’s Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 15 September 2014. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2014/09/naoko-inoses-persona-a-biography-of-yukio-mishima/ >.

 

Notes: For further reading about Mishima and his works, see Justin Raimondo’s biographical sketch “Mishima: Paleocon as Samurai”, and also the Yukio Mishima Webpage. For an introduction to Natsume Soseki, a famous Japanese novelist who was an influence on Mishima, see Hoang Nguyen’s discussion of Soseki’s Kokoro and Japan’s modernisation.

For further reading and a list of useful resources about modern Japan and its culture, see the page of Alexander Dugin’s “In the Country of the Rising ‘Do’.”

For those interested in researching Japanese literature in general (which is also useful for the study of Japan’s culture, history, and religious attitudes), we recommend the following two anthologies which were edited by Donald Keene: Anthology of Japanese Literature from the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century (New York: Grove Press, 1955), and Modern Japanese Literature: From 1868 to the Present Day (New York: Grove Press, 1956). Concerning important modern classic Japanese authors (other than Yukio Mishima) whose works have been translated, we can note the following for readers who are interested: Natsume Soseki, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Kyoka Izumi, Osamu Dazai, Junichiro Tanizaki, Eiji Yoshikawa, Edogawa Rampo, Yasunari Kawabata, Fumiko Enchi, Yasushi Inoue, Shuhei Fujisawa, and Hisashi Inoue.

 

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Marx, Moses & the Pagans in the Secular City – Sunic

Marx, Moses, and the Pagans in the Secular City

By Tomislav Sunic

 

With the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity, the period of pagan Europe began to approach its end. During the next millennium the entire European continent came under the sway of the Gospel-sometimes by peaceful persuasion, frequently by forceful conversion. Those who were yesterday the persecuted of the ancient Rome became, in turn, the persecutors of the Christian Rome. Those who were previously bemoaning their fate at the hands of Nero, Diocletian, or Caligula did not hesitate to apply “creative” violence against infidel pagans. Although violence was nominally prohibited by the Christian texts, it was fully used against those who did not fit into the category of God’s “chosen children.” During the reign of Constantine, the persecution against the pagans took the proportions “in a fashion analogous to that whereby the old faiths had formerly persecuted the new, but in an even fiercer spirit.” By the edict of A.D. 346, followed ten years later by the edict of Milan, pagan temples and the worship of pagan deities came to be stigmatized as magnum crimen. The death penalty was inflicted upon all those found guilty of participating in ancient sacrifices or worshipping pagan idols. “With Theodosius, the administration embarked upon a systematic effort to abolish the various surviving forms of paganism through the disestablishment, disen-dowment, and proscription of surviving cults.”(1) The period of the dark ages began.

Christian and inter-Christian violence, ad majorem dei gloriam, did not let up until the beginning of the eighteenth century. Along with Gothic spires of breathtaking beauty, the Christian authorities built pyres that swallowed nameless thousands. Seen in hindsight, Christian intolerance against heretics, Jews, and pagans may be compared to the twentieth-century Bolshevik intolerance against class opponents in Russia and Eastern Europe-with one exception: it lasted longer. During the twilight of imperial Rome, Christian fanaticism prompted the pagan philosopher Celsus to write: “They [Christians] will not argue about what they believe-they always bring in their, `Do not examine, but believe’. . .” Obedience, prayer, and the avoidance of critical thinking were held by Christians as the most expedient tools to eternal bliss. Celsus described Christians as individuals prone to factionalism and a primitive way of thinking, who, in addition, demonstrate a remarkable disdain for life.(2) A similar tone against Christians was used in the nineteenth century by Friedrich Nietzsche who, in his virulent style, depicted Christians as individuals capable of displaying both self-hatred and hatred towards others, i.e., “hatred against those who think differently, and the will to persecute.”(3) Undoubtedly, early Christians must have genuinely believed that the end of history loomed large on the horizon and, with their historical optimism, as well as their violence against the “infidels,” they probably deserved the name of the Bolsheviks of antiquity.

As suggested by many authors, the break-up of the Roman Empire did not result only from the onslaught of barbarians, but because Rome was already “ruined from within by Christian sects, conscientious objectors, enemies of the official cult, the persecuted, persecutors, criminal elements of all sorts, and total chaos.” Paradoxically, even the Jewish God Yahveh was to experience a sinister fate: “he would be converted, he would become Roman, cosmopolitan, ecumenical, gentile, goyim, globalist, and finally anti-Semite. “(!)(4) It is no wonder that, in the following centuries, Christian churches in Europe had difficulties in trying to reconcile their universalist vocation with the rise of nationalist extremism.

Pagan Residues in the Secular City

Although Christianity gradually removed the last vestiges of Roman polytheism, it also substituted itself as the legitimate heir of Rome. Indeed, Christianity did not cancel out paganism in its entirety; it inherited from Rome many features that it had previously scorned as anti-Christian. The official pagan cults were dead but pagan spirit remained indomitable, and for centuries it kept resurfacing in astounding forms and in multiple fashions: during the period of Renaissance, during Romanticism, before the Second World War, and today, when Christian Churches increasingly recognize that their secular sheep are straying away from their lone shepherds. Finally, ethnic folklore seems to be a prime example of the survival of paganism, although in the secular city folklore has been largely reduced to a perishable commodity of culinary or tourist attraction. (5) Over the centuries, ethnic folklore has been subject to transformations, adaptations, and the demands and constraint of its own epoch; yet it has continued to carry its original archetype of a tribal founding myth. Just as paganism has always remained stronger in the villages, so has folklore traditionally been best protected among the peasant classes in Europe. In the early nineteenth century, folklore began to play a decisive role in shaping national consciousness of European peoples, i.e., “in a community anxious to have its own origins and based on a history that is more often reconstructed than real.”(6)

The pagan content was removed, but the pagan structure remained pretty much the same. Under the mantle and aura of Christian saints, Christianity soon created its own pantheon of deities. Moreover, even the message of Christ adopted its special meaning according to place, historical epoch, and genius loci of each European people. In Portugal, Catholicism manifests itself differently than in Mozambique; and rural Poles continue to worship many of the same ancient Slavic deities that are carefully interwoven into the Roman Catholic liturgy. All over contemporary Europe, the erasable imprint of polytheist beliefs continues to surface. The Yule celebration represents one of the most glaring examples of the tenacity of pagan residues. (7) Furthermore, many former pagan temples and sites of worship have been turned into sacred places of the Catholic Church. Lourdes in France, Medjugorje in Croatia, sacred rivers, or mountains, do they not all point to the imprint of pre-Christian pagan Europe? The cult of mother goddess, once upon a time intensely practiced by Celts, particularly near rivers, can be still observed today in France where many small chapels are built near fountains and sources of water. (8) And finally, who could dispute the fact that we are all brain children of pagan Greeks and Latins? Thinkers, such as Virgil, Tacitus, Heraclitus are as modern today as they were during the dawn of European civilization.

Modern Pagan Conservatives

There is ample evidence that pagan sensibility can flourish in the social sciences, literature, and arts, not just as a form of exotic narrative but also as a mental framework and a tool of conceptual analysis. Numerous names come to mind when we discuss the revival of Indo-European polytheism. In the first half of the twentieth century, pagan thinkers usually appeared under the mask of those who styled themselves as “revolutionary conservatives,” “aristocratic nihilist,” “elitists”- in short all those who did not wish to substitute Marx for Jesus, but who rejected both Marx and Jesus.(9) Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger in philosophy, Carl Gustav Jung in psychology, Georges Dumézil and Mircea Eliade in anthropology, Vilfredo Pareto and Oswald Spengler in political science, let alone dozens of poets such as Ezra Pound or Charles Baudelaire-these are just some of the names that can be associated with the legacy of pagan conservatism. All these individuals had in common the will to surpass the legacy of Christian Europe, and all of them yearned to include in their spiritual baggage the world of pre-Christian Celts, Slavs, and Germans.

In the age that is heavily laced with the Biblical message, many modern pagan thinkers, for their criticism of Biblical monotheism, have been attacked and stigmatized either as unrepentant atheists or as spiritual standard-bearers of fascism. Particularly Nietzsche, Heidegger, and more recently Alain de Benoist came under attack for allegedly espousing the philosophy which, for their contemporary detractors, recalled the earlier national socialist attempts to “de-christianize” and “repaganize” Germany. These appear as unwarranted attacks. Jean Markale observes that “Naziism and Stalinism were, in a sense, also religions because of the acts that they triggered. They were also religions insofar as they implied a certain Gospel, in an etymological sense of the word . . . Real paganism, by contrast, is always oriented towards the realm of sublimation. Paganism cannot be in the service of temporal power.”(11) Paganism appears more a form of sensibility than a given political credo, and with the exhaustion of Christianity, one should not rule out its renewed flourishing in Europe.

Paganism Against the Monotheist Desert

Two thousand years of Judeo-Christian monotheism has left its mark on the Western civilization. In view of this, it should not come as a surprise that glorification of paganism, as well as the criticism of the Bible and Judeo-Christian ethics-especially when they come from the right wing spectrum of society-are unlikely to gain popularity in the secular city. It suffices to look at American society where attacks against Judeo-Christian principles are frequently looked at with suspicion, and where the Bible and the Biblical myth of god’s “chosen people” still play a significant role in the American constitutional dogma. (12) Although the secular city has by now become indifferent to the Judeo-Christian theology, principles that derive from Judeo-Christian ethics, such as “peace,” “love,” and “universal brotherhood,” are still showing healthy signs of life. In the secular city many liberal and socialist thinkers, while abandoning the belief in Judeo-Christian theology, have not deemed it wise to abandon the ethics taught by the Bible.

Whatever one may think about the seemingly obsolete, dangerous, or even derogatory connotation of the term “European paganism,” it is important to note that this connotation is largely due to the historical and political influence of Christianity. Etymologically, paganism is related to the beliefs and rituals that were in usage in European villages and countryside. But paganism, in its modern version, may connote also a certain sensibility and a “way of life” that remains irreconcilable with Judeo-Christian monotheism. To some extent European peoples continue to be “pagans” because their national memory, their geographic roots, and, above all, their ethnic allegiances-which often contain allusions to ancient myths, fairy tales, and forms of folklore bear peculiar marks of pre-Christian themes. Even the modern resurgence of separatism and regionalism in Europe appears as an offshoot of pagan residues. As Markale observes, “the dictatorship of Christian ideology has not silenced those ancient customs; it has only suppressed them into the shadow of the unconscious” (13). The fact that all of Europe is today swept by growing nationalism bears witness to the permanency of the pagan sense of tribal historical memory.

In European culture, polytheistic beliefs began to dwindle with the consolidation of Christianity. In the centuries to come, the European system of explanation, whether in theology or, later on, in sociology, politics, or history gradually came under the sway of Judeo-Christian outlook of the world. David Miller observes that Judeo-Christian monotheism considerably altered the Europeans’ approach to the social sciences as well as to the overall perception of the world. In view of these changes, who can reassure us about our own objectivity, especially when we try to understand the pagan world with the goggles of the postmodern Judeo-Christian man? It is no wonder that when paganism was removed from Europe the perceptual and epistemological disruptions in sciences also followed suit. Consequently, with the consolidation of the Judeo-Christian belief, the world and the world phenomena came under the sway of the fixed concepts and categories governed by the logic of “either-or,” “true or false,” and “good or evil,” with seldom any shadings in between. The question, however, arises whether in the secular city-a city replete with intricate choices and complex social differences that stubbornly refuse all categorizations-this approach remains desirable.(13) It is doubtful that Judeo-Christian monotheism can continue to offer a valid solution for the understanding of the increasingly complex social reality that modern man faces in the secular city. Moreover, the subsequent export of Judeo-Christian values to the antipodes of the world caused similar disruptions, yielding results opposite from those originally espoused by the Westerners, and triggering virulent hatred among non-Western populations. Some authors have quite persuasively written that Christian ecumenism, often championed as the “white man’s Christian burden,” has been one of the main purveyors of imperialism, colonialism, and racism in the Third World.(14)

In the modern secular city, the century-long and pervasive influence of Christianity has significantly contributed to the view that each glorification of paganism, or, for that matter, the nostalgia of the Greco-Roman order, is outright strange or at best irreconcilable with contemporary society. Recently, however, Thomas Molnar, a Catholic philosopher who seems to be sympathetic to the cultural revival of paganism, noted that modern adherents of neo-paganism are more ambitious than their predecessors. Molnar writes that the aim of pagan revival does not have to mean the return to the worship of ancient European deities; rather, it expresses a need to forge another civilization or, better yet, a modernized version of the “scientific and cultural Hellenism” that was once a common reference for all European peoples. And with visible sympathy for the polytheistic endeavors of some modern pagan conservatives, Molnar adds: “The issue is not how to conquer the planet but rather how to promote an oikumena of the peoples and civilizations that have rediscovered their origins. The assumption goes that the domination of stateless ideologies, notably the ideology of American liberalism and Soviet socialism, would come to an end. One believes in rehabilitated paganism in order to restore to peoples their genuine identity that existed before monotheist corruption.”(15)

Such a candid view by a Catholic may also shed some light on the extent of disillusionment among Christians in their secular cities. The secularized world full of affluence and richness does not seem to have stifled the spiritual needs of man. How else to explain that throngs of European and American youngsters prefer to trek to pagan Indian ashrams rather than to their own sacred sites obscured by Judeo-Christian monotheism?

Anxious to dispel the myth of pagan “backwardness,” and in an effort to redefine European paganism in the spirit of modern times, the contemporary protagonists of paganism have gone to great lengths to present its meaning in a more attractive and scholarly fashion. One of their most outspoken figures, Alain de Benoist, summarizes the modern meaning of paganism in the following words:

Neo-paganism, if there is such a thing as neo-paganism, is not a phenomenon of a sect, as some of its adversaries, but also some of the groups and chapels, sometimes well-intentioned, sometimes awkward, frequently funny and completely marginal, imagine … What worries us today, at least according to the idea which we have about it, is less the disappearance of paganism but rather its resurgence under primitive and puerile form, affiliated to that “second religion,” which Spengler justifiably depicted as characteristic of cultures in decline, and of which Julius Evola writes that they “correspond generally to a phenomenon of evasion, alienation, confused compensation, without any serious repercussion on reality. (16)

Paganism, as a profusion of bizarre cults and sects, is not something modern pagan thinkers have in mind. A century ago, pagan philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had already observed in Der Antichrist that, when a nation becomes too degenerate or too uprooted, it must place its energy into various forms of Oriental cults, and simultaneously “it must change its own God” (979). Today, Nietzsche’s words sound more prophetic than ever. Gripped by decadence and rampant hedonism, the masses from the secular city are looking for the vicarious evasion in the presence of Indian gurus or amidst a host of Oriental prophets. But beyond this Western semblance of transcendence, and behind the Westerners’ self-hatred accompanied by puerile infatuation with Oriental mascots, there is more than just a transitory weariness with Christian monotheism. When modern cults indulge in the discovery of perverted paganism, they also may be in search of the sacred that was driven underground by the dominating Judeo-Christian discourse.

From Monotheist Desert to Communist Anthropology

Has monotheism introduced into Europe an alien “anthropology” responsible for the spread of egalitarian mass society and the rise of totalitarianism, as some pagan thinkers seem to suggest? Some authors appear to support this thesis, arguing that the roots of tyranny do not lie in Athens or Sparta, but are traceable, instead, to Jerusalem. In a dialogue with Molnar, de Benoist suggests that monotheism upholds the idea of only one absolute truth; it is a system where the notion of the enemy is associated with the evil, and where the enemy must be physically exterminated (cf. Deut. 13). In short, observes de Benoist, Judeo-Christian universalism, two thousand years ago, set the stage for the rise of modern egalitarian aberrations and their modern secular offshoots, including communism.

That there are totalitarian regimes “without God,” is quite obvious, the Soviet Union for example. These regimes, nonetheless, are the “inheritors” of the Christian thought in the sense as Carl Schmitt demonstrated that the majority of modern political principles are secularized theological principles. They bring down to earth a structure of exclusion; the police of the soul yield its place to the police of the state; the ideological wars follow up to the religious wars.(17)

Similar observations were echoed earlier by the philosopher Louis Rougier as well as by the political scientist Vilfredo Pareto, both of whom represented the “old guard” of pagan thinkers and whose philosophical researches were directed toward the rehabilitation of European political polytheism. Both Rougier and Pareto are in agreement that Judaism and its perverted form, Christianity, introduced into the European conceptual framework an alien type of reasoning that leads to wishful thinking, utopianism, and the ravings about the static future.(18) Similar to Latter-day Marxists, early Christian belief in egalitarianism must have had a tremendous impact on the deprived masses of northern Africa and Rome, insofar as it promised equality for the “wretched of the earth,” for odium generis humani, and all the proles of the world. Commenting on Christian proto-communists, Rougier recalls that Christianity came very early under the influence of both the Iranian dualism and the eschatological visions of the Jewish apocalypses. Accordingly, Jews and, later on, Christians adopted the belief that the good who presently suffer would be rewarded in the future. In the secular city, the same theme was later interwoven into modern socialist doctrines that promised secular paradise. “There are two empires juxtaposed in the space,” writes Rougier, “one governed by God and his angels, the other by Satan and Belial.” The consequences of this largely dualistic vision of the world resulted, over a period of time, in Christian-Marxist projection of their political enemies as always wrong, as opposed to Christian-Marxist attitude considered right. For Rougier, the Greco-Roman intolerance could never assume such total and absolute proportions of religious exclusion; the intolerance towards Christians, Jews, and other sects was sporadic, aiming at certain religious customs deemed contrary to Roman customary law (such as circumcision, human sacrifices, sexual and religious orgies). (19)

By cutting themselves from European polytheistic roots, and by accepting Christianity, Europeans gradually began to adhere to the vision of the world that emphasized the equality of souls, and the importance of spreading God’s gospel to all peoples, regardless of creed, race, or language (Paul, Galatians 3:28). In the centuries to come, these egalitarian cycles, in secularized forms, entered first the consciousness of Western man and, after that, entire humankind. Alain de Benoist writes:

According to the classical process of the development and degradation of cycles, the egalitarian theme has entered our culture from the stage of the myth (equality before God), to the stage of ideology (equality before people); after that, it has passed to the stage of “scientific pretension” (affirmation of the egalitarian fact). In short, from Christianity to democracy, and after that to socialism and Marxism. The most serious reproach which one can formulate against Christianity is that it has inaugurated this egalitarian cycle by introducing into European thought a revolutionary anthropology, with universalist and totalitarian character. (20)

One could probably argue that Judeo-Christian monotheism, as much as it implies universalism and egalitarianism, also suggests religious exclusiveness that directly emanates from the belief in one undisputed truth. The consequence of the Christian belief in theological oneness-e.g., that there is only one God, and therefore only one truth-has naturally led, over the centuries, to Christian temptation to obliterate or downplay all other truths and values. One can argue that when one sect proclaims its religion as the key to the riddle of the universe and if, in addition, this sect claims to have universal aspirations, the belief in equality and the suppression of all human differences will follow suit. Accordingly, Christian intolerance toward “infidels” could always be justified as a legitimate response against those who departed from the belief in Yahveh’s truth. Hence, the concept of Christian “false humility” toward other confessions, a concept that is particularly obvious in regard to Christian attitude toward Jews. Although almost identical in their worship of one god, Christians could never quite reconcile themselves to the fact that they also had to worship the deity of those whom they abhorred in the first place as a deicide people. Moreover, whereas Christianity always has been a universalist religion, accessible to everybody in all corners of the world, Judaism has remained an ethnic religion of only the Jewish people. (21) As de Benoist writes, Judaism sanctions its own nationalism, as opposed to nationalism of the Christians which is constantly belied by the Christian universalist principles. In view of this, “Christian anti-Semitism,” writes de Benoist, “can justifiably be described as a neurosis.” Might it be that the definite disappearance of anti-Semitism, as well as virulent inter-ethnic hatred, presupposes first the recantation of the Christian belief in universalism?

Pagan Notion of the Sacred

To the critics who argue that polytheism is a thing of the prehistoric and primitive mind incompatible with modern societies, one could respond that paganism is not necessarily a return to “paradise lost” or a nostalgia for the restoration of the Greco-Roman order. For pagan conservatives, to pledge allegiance to “paganism” means to rekindle Europe’s historical origins, as well as to revive some sacred aspects of life that existed in Europe prior to the rise of Christianity. One could also add that, as far as the alleged supremacy or modernity of Judeo-Christianity over the backwardness of Indo-European polytheism is concerned, Judeo-Christian religions, in terms of their modernity, are no less backward than pagan religions. To emphasize this point de Benoist writes:

Just as it was yesterday a grotesque spectacle to see the “pagan idols” denounced by Christian missionaries, who were themselves enamored of their own bric-a bracs, so it is somewhat ridiculous to see the (European) “past” denounced by those who never tire of praising Judeo-Christian continuity, and who refer us to the example of “always modern” Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, and other proto-historic Beduins. (22)

According to some pagan thinkers, Judeo-Christian rationalization of historical time has precluded the projection of one’s own national past and, in so doing, it has significantly contributed to the “desertification” of the world. In the last century, Ernest Renan observed that Judaism is oblivious of the notion of the sacred, because the “desert itself is monotheistic.”(23) In a similar tone, Alain de Benoist in L’éclipse, while quoting Harvey Cox’s The Secular City, writes that the loss of the sacred, which is causing today the “disenchantment” of the modern polity, resulted as the legitimate consequence of the Biblical renunciation of history. First, the disenchantment of nature had started with the Creation; the desacralization of politics with the Exodus; and the deconsecration of values with the Alliance of Sinai, especially after the interdiction of idols (129). Continuing with similar analyses, Mircea Eliade, an author himself influenced by pagan world, adds that Judaic resentment of pagan idolatry stems from the ultra-rational character of Mosaic laws that rationalize all aspects of life by means of a myriad of prescriptions, laws, and interdictions:

Desacralization of the Nature, devaluation of cultural activity, in short, the violent and total rejection of cosmic religion, and above all the decisive importance conferred upon spiritual regeneration by the definite return of Yahveh, was the prophets’ response to historical crises menacing the two Jewish kingdoms. (24)

Some might object that Catholicism has its own form of the sacred and that, unlike some other forms of Judeo-Christian beliefs, it displays its own spiritual transcendence. But there are reasons to believe that the Catholic concept of the sacred does not emerge sui generis, but rather as a substratum of the Christian amalgam with paganism. As de Benoist notes, Christianity owes its manifestation of the sacred (holy sites, pilgrimages, Christmas festivities, and the pantheon of saints) to the indomitable undercurrent of pagan and polytheistic sensibility. Therefore, it seems that the pagan revival today represents less a normative religion, in the Christian sense of the word, than a certain spiritual equipment that stands in contrast to the religion of Jews and Christians. Consequently, as some pagan thinkers suggest, the possible replacement of the monotheistic vision of the world by the polytheistic vision of the world could mean not just the “return of gods” but the return of the plurality of social values as well.

Courage, personal honor, and spiritual and physical self-surpassment are often cited as the most important virtues of paganism. In contrast to Christian and Marxian utopian optimism, paganism emphasizes the profound sense of the tragic, the tragi0c-as seen in Greek tragedies-that sustains man in his Promethean plight and that makes his life worth living. (25) It is the pagan sense of the tragic that can explain man’s destiny-destiny, which for old Indo-Europeans “triggered action, endeavor, and self-surpassment. (26) Hans Günther summarizes this point in the following words:

Indo-European religiosity is not rooted in any kind of fear, neither in fear of deity nor in fear of death. The words of the Latter-day Roman poet, that fear first created the Gods (Statius, Thebais, 3:661: primus in orbe fecit deos timor), cannot be applied to the true forms of Indo-European religiosity, for wherever it has unfolded freely, the “fear of the Lord” (Proverbs, Solomon 9, 10; Psalm 11, 30) has proved neither the beginning of belief nor of wisdom. (27)

Some have suggested that the greatest civilizations are those that have shown a strong sense of the tragic and that have had no fear of death.(28) In the pagan concept of the tragic, man is encouraged to take responsibility before history because man is the only one who gives history a meaning. Commenting on Nietzsche, Giorgio Locchi writes that, in pagan cosmogony, man alone is considered a forger of his own destiny (faber suae fortunea), exempt from biblical or historical determinism, “divine grace,” or economic and material constraints.(29) Paganism stresses a heroic attitude toward life as opposed to the Christian attitude of culpability and fear toward life. Sigrid Hunke writes of the essentialization of life, since both life and death have the same essence and are always contained in both. The life, which at any moment is face-to-death and with-death, renders the future permanent in each instant, and life becomes eternal by acquiring an inscrutable profundity, and by assuming the value of eternity.

For Hunke, along with other authors of pagan sensibility, in order to restore these pagan virtues in the secular city, man must first abandon the dualistic logic of religious and social exclusion, “a logic which has been responsible for extremism not only among individuals, but also among parties and peoples, and which, starting out from Europe, has disseminated into the world this dualistic split that has acquired planetary proportions.”(30) To achieve this ambitious goal, Western man must first rethink the meaning of history.

The Terror of History

Modern pagans remind us that Judeo-Christian monotheism has substantially altered man’s attitude toward history. By assigning history a specific goal, Judeo-Christianity has devalued all past events, except those that display the sign of Yahveh’s theophany. Undoubtedly, Yahveh does admit that man may have a history, but only insofar as history is bestowed with an assigned goal, a certain goal, and a specific goal. Should man, however, continue to cling to the concept of history that evokes collective memory of his tribe or people, he runs the risk of provoking Yahveh’s anger. For Jews, Christians, as well as Marxists, historicity is not the real essence of man; the real essence of man is beyond history. One could observe that the Judeo-Christian concept of the end of history correlates well with modern egalitarian and pacifist doctrines that inspire themselves, often unknowingly, with the Biblical proverb: “the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid” (Isa. 11:6). De Benoist notes in L’éclipse that, unlike the pagan concept of history that involves organic solidarity and communal ties, the monotheistic concept of history creates divisions. Accordingly, Yahveh must forbid “mixtures” between the present and the past, between people and the divine, between Israel and the goyim (31). Christians, of course, will reject Jewish exclusiveness-as their century-long religious proselytism amply demonstrates-but they will, nonetheless, retain their own brand of exclusiveness against “infidel” Moslems, pagans, and other “false believers.”

Contrary to the Judeo-Christian dogma that asserts that historical time starts from one unique father, in European paganism there are no traces of the beginning of the time; instead, historical time is seen as a perpetual recommencement, the “eternal return” emanating from multiple and different fathers. In pagan cosmogony, as de Benoist writes, time is the reflection of the non-linear or spheric conception of history, a conception in which the past, the present, and the future are not perceived as stretches of cosmic time irrevocably cut off from each other, or following each other on the single line. Instead, present, past, and future are perceived as dimensions of actuality (L’éclipse 131). In pagan cosmogony, it is incumbent to each people to assign itself a role in history, which in practice means that there cannot be self-appointed peoples occupying the central stage in history. Similarly, just as it is erroneous to speak about one truth, it is equally wrong to maintain that entire humanity must pursue the same and unique historical direction, as proposed by Judeo-Christian universalism and its secular fall-out “global democracy.”

The Judeo-Christian concept of history suggests that the flow of historical time is monolinear and, therefore, limited by its significance and meaning. Henceforth, for Jews and Christians, history can be apprehended only as a totality governed by a sense of ultimate end and historical fulfillment. History for both Jews and Christians appears at best parenthetical, at worst an ugly episode or a “vale of tears,” which one of these days must be erased from earth and transcended by paradise.

Furthermore, Judeo-Christian monotheism excludes the possibility of historical return or “recommencement”; history has to unfold in a predetermined way by making its way toward a final goal. In the modern secular city, the idea of Christian finality will be transposed into a myth of a finite “classless” society, or the apolitical and ahistorical liberal consumer society. Here is how de Benoist sees it in L’éclipse:

Legitimization by the future that replaces legitimization of the immemorial times authorizes all uprootedness, all emancipations” regarding the adherence in its original form. This utopian future that replaces a mythic past is incidentally always the generator of deceptions, because the best that it announces must constantly be put off to a later date. Temporality is no longer a founding element of the deployment of the being who tries to grasp the game of the world temporality is pursued from one goal, reached from one end; expectation and no longer communion. To submit globally the historical becoming to an obligatory meaning means in fact to shut history in the reign of objectivity, which reduces choices, orientations and projects. (155-56)

Only the future can enable Jews and Christians to “rectify” the past. Only the future assumes the value of redemption. Henceforth, historical time for Jews and Christians is no longer reversible; from now on each historical occurrence acquires the meaning of divine providence, of “God’s” finger, or theophany. In the secular city, this line of monolinear thinking will give birth to the “religion” of progress and the belief in boundless economic growth. Did not Moses receive the Laws at a certain place and during a certain time, and did not Jesus later preach, perform miracles, and was he not crucified at a specifically recorded time and place? Did not the end of history begin for Communists with the Bolshevik Revolution, and for liberals with the American century? These “divine” interventions in human history are never again to be repeated. Eliade summarizes this point in the following words:

Under the “pressure of history” and supported by the prophetic and Messianic experience, a new interpretation of historical events dawns among the children of Israel. Without finally renouncing the traditional concept of archetypes and repetitions, Israel attempts to “save” historical events by regarding them as active presences of Yahveh. . . . Messianism gives them a new value, especially by abolishing their [historical events] possibility of repetition ad infinitum. When the Messiah comes, the world will be saved once and for all and history will cease to exist.(31)

Directly commanded by the will of Yahweh, history henceforth functions as a series of events, with each event becoming irrevocable and irreversible. History is not only discarded, but also fought against. Pierre Chaunu, a contemporary French historian, observes that “the rejection of history is a temptation of those civilizations that have emerged out of Judeo-Christianity. “(32) In a similar tone, Michel Maffesoli writes that totalitarianism occurs in those countries that are hostile to history, and he adds: “We enter now into the reign of finality propitious to political eschatology whose outcome is Christianity and its profane forms, liberalism and Marxism.”(33)

The foregoing observations might need some comments. If one accepts the idea of the end of history, as proposed by monotheists, Marxists, and liberals, to what extent, then, can the entire historical suffering be explained? How is it possible, from liberal and Marxist points of view, to “redeem” past oppressions, collective sufferings, deportations, and humiliations that have filled up history? Suffice it to say that this enigma only underscores the difficulty regarding the concept of distributive justice in the egalitarian secular city. If a truly egalitarian society miraculously emerges, it will be, inevitably, a society of the elect-of those who, as Eliade noted, managed to escape the pressure of history by simply being born at a right time, at a right place, and in a right country. Paul Tillich noted, some time ago, that such equality would result in immense historical inequality, since it would exclude those who, during their life time, lived in unequal society, or-if one can borrow Arthur Koestler’s words-who perished with a “shrug of eternity.” (34) These quotes from Koestler and Eliade illustrate the difficulties of modern salutary ideologies that try to “arrest” time and create a secular paradise. Would it not be better in times of great crisis to borrow the pagan notion of cyclical history? This seems to be the case with some East European peoples who, in times of crisis or catastrophes, frequently resort to popular folklore and myths that help them, in an almost cathartic manner, better to cope with their predicament. Locchi writes:

The new beginning of history is feasible. There is no such thing as historical truth. If historical truth truly existed then there would be no history. Historical truth must time and again be obtained; it must always be translated into action. And this is exactly-for us-the meaning of history. (35)

We might conclude that for Christians it is Christ who defines the value of a human being, for a Jew it is Judaism that gauges someone’s “choseness,” and for Marx it is not the quality of man that defines the class, but rather the quality of the class that defines man. One thus becomes “elect” by virtue of his affiliation to his class or his religious belief.

Pagans or, Monotheists: Who is More Tolerant?

As observed, Yahveh, similar to his future secular successors, in the capacity of the single truth-maker, is opposed to the presence of other gods and other values. As a reductionist, whatever exists beyond his fold must be either punished or destroyed. One can observe that, throughout history, the monotheistic true believers have been encouraged, in the name of “higher” historic truths, to punish those who strayed away from Yahveh’s assigned direction. Walter Scott writes:

In many instances the Mosaic law of retaliation, an “eye for eye, tooth for tooth,” was invoked by the Israelites to justify the atrocities which they visited upon their fallen enemies … The history of the Israelite campaigns shows that the Hebrews were most often the aggressors. (36)

Thus, in the name of historical truth, the ancient Hebrews could justify the slaughtering of Canaanite pagans, and in the name of Christian revelation, Christian states legitimized wars against infidel heretics, Jews, and pagans. It would be imprecise, however, in this context to downplay the pagan violence. The Greek destruction of the city of Troy, the Roman destruction of Carthage, clearly point to the frequently total and bloody nature of wars conducted by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Yet, it is also important to stress that seldom do we find among the ancients the self-righteous attitude toward their victories that accompanied Christian and Jewish military victories. Seldom, if ever, did the Romans or the Greeks attempt, after the military destruction of their opponents, to convert them to their own deities. By contrast, both the Gospel and the Old Testament are interspersed with acts of self-congratulatory justice that will, in turn, justify “redeeming” violence against opponents. Similarly, in the modern secular city, to wage war for democracy has become a particularly nefarious means for erasing all different polities that refuse the “theology” of global progress and that shun the credo of “global democracy.” To underscore this point, Pierre Gripari writes that Judaism, Christianity, and their secular offshoots Naziism, socialism, and liberalism, are barbarian doctrines that cannot have their place in the modern world (60).

By contrast, notes de Benoist, a system that recognizes an unlimited number of gods acknowledges also the plurality of cults offered in their honor, and above all, the plurality of customs, political and social systems, and conceptions of the world of which these gods are sublime expressions.(37) It follows from this that pagans, or believers in polytheism, are considerably less inclined to intolerance. Their relative tolerance is primarily attributed to the acceptance of the notion of the “excluded third” (“der ausgeschlossene Dritte”), as well as the rejection of Judeo-Christian dualism.

To underscore pagan relative tolerance, it is worth mentioning the attitude of Indo-European pagans toward their opponents during military confrontation. Jean Haudry remarks that war for pagans was conducted according to strict regulations; war was declared according to the rituals that beseeched first the help of gods and asked for their anger against the adversary. The conduct of war was subject to well-defined rules and consequently, “the victory consisted of breaking the resistance, and not necessarily of destroying the adversary” (161). In view of the fact that Judeo-Christianity does not permit relative truths, or different and contradictory truths, it will frequently adopt the policy of total war toward its opponents. Eliade writes that the “intolerance and fanaticism characteristic of the prophets and missionaries of the three monotheistic religions, have their model and justification in the example of Yahveh.”(38)

How does the monotheist intolerance transpire in the purportedly tolerant secular city? What are the secular consequences of Judeo-Christian monotheism in our epoch? In contemporary systems, it is the opposite, the undecided – i.e., those who have not taken sides, and those who refuse modern political eschatologies – that become the targets of ostracism or persecution: those who today question the utility of the ideology of “human rights,” globalism, or equality. Those, in short, who reject the liberal and communist credo.

In conclusion, one could say that, in the very beginning of its development, Judeo-Christian monotheism set out to demystify and desacralize the pagan world by slowly supplanting ancient pagan beliefs with the reign of the Judaic Law. During this century-long process, Christianity gradually removed all pagan vestiges that co-existed with it. The ongoing process of desacralization and the “Entzauberung” of life and politics appear to have resulted not from Europeans’ chance departure from Christianity, but rather from the gradual disappearance of the pagan notion of the sacred that coexisted for a long time with Christianity. The paradox of our century is that the Western world is saturated with Judeo-Christian mentality at the moment when churches and synagogues are virtually empty.

Notes

1. Charles Norris Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture (New York: Oxford UP, 1957), 254-55, 329.
2. T. R. Glover, The Conflict of Religion in the Early Roman Empire (1909; Boston: Beacon, 1960), 242, 254, passim.
3. Friedrich Nietzsche, Der Antichrist, in Nietzsches Werke (Salzburg/Stuttgart: Verlag “Das Berlgand-Buch,” 1952), 983, para. 21.
4. Pierre Gripari, L’histoire du méchant dieu (Lausanne: L’Age d’Homme, 1987), 101-2.
5. Michel Marmin, “Les Piegès du folklore’,” in La Cause des peuples (Paris: édition Le Labyrinthe, 1982), 39-44.
6. Nicole Belmont, Paroles paiennes (Paris: édition Imago, 1986), 160-61.
7. Alain de Benoist, Noël, Les Cahiers européens (Paris: Institut de documentations et d’études européens, 1988).
8. Jean Markale, et al., “Mythes et lieux christianisés,” L’Europe paienne (Paris: Seghers, 1980), 133.

9. About European revolutionary conservatives, see the seminal work by Armin Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland, 1919-1933 (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1972). See also Tomislav Sunic, Against Democracy and Equality: The European New Right (New York: Peter Lang, 1990).
10. See notably the works by Alfred Rosenberg, Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts (München: Hoheneichen Verlag, 1933). Also worth noting is the name of Wilhelm Hauer, Deutscher Gottschau (Stuttgart: Karl Gutbrod, 1934), who significantly popularized Indo-European mythology among national socialists; on pages 240-54 Hauer discusses the difference between Judeo-Christian Semitic beliefs and European paganism.
11. Jean Markale, “Aujourd’hui, l’esprit païen?” in L’Europe paienne (Paris: Seghers, 1980), 15. The book contains pieces on Slavic, Celtic, Latin, and Greco-Roman paganism.
12. Milton Konvitz, Judaism and the American Idea (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1978), 71. Jerol S. Auerbach, “Liberalism and the Hebrew Prophets,” in Commentary 84:2 (1987):58. Compare with Ben Zion Bokser in “Democratic Aspirations in Talmudic Judaism,” in Judaism and Human Rights, ed. Milton Konvitz (New York: Norton, 1972): “The Talmud ordained with great emphasis that every person charged with the violation of some law be given a fair trial and before the law all were to be scrupulously equal, whether a king or a pauper” (146). Ernst Troeltsch, Die Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen and Gruppen (1922; Aalen: Scientia Verlag, 1965), 768; also the passage “Naturrechtlicher and liberaler Character des freikirchlichen Neucalvinismus,” (762-72). Compare with Georg Jellinek, Die Erklärung der Menschen-und Bürgerrechte (Leipzig: Duncker and Humblot, 1904): “(t)he idea to establish legally the unalienable, inherent and sacred rights of individuals, is not of political, but religious origins” (46). Also Werner Sombart, Die Juden and das Wirtschaftsleben (Leipzig: Verlag Duncker and Humblot, 1911): “Americanism is to a great extent distilled Judaism (“geronnene Judentum”)” (44).
13. David Miller, The New Polytheism (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), 7, passim.
14. Serge Latouche, L’occidentalisation du monde (Paris: La Découverte, 1988).
15. Thomas Molnar, “La tentation paienne,” Contrepoint 38 (1981):53.
16. Alain de Benoist, Comment peut-on etre païen? (Paris: Albin Michel, 1981), 25.
17. Alain de Benoist, L’éclipse du sacré (Paris: La Table ronde, 1986), 233; see also the chapter, “De la sécularisation,” 198-207. Also Carl Schmitt, Die politische Theologie (München and Leipzig: Duncker und Humblot, 1922), 35-46: “(a)ll salient concepts in modern political science are secularized theological concepts” (36).
18. Gerard Walter, Les origines du communisme (Paris: Payot, 1931): “Les sources judaiques de la doctrine communiste chrétienne” (13-65). Compare with Vilfredo Pareto, Les systèmes socialistes (Paris: Marcel Girard, 1926): “Les systèmes métaphy-siques-communistes” (2:2-45). Louis Rougier, La mystique démocratique, ses origines ses illusions (Paris: éd. Albatros, 1983), 184. See in its entirety the passage, “Le judaisme et la révolution sociale,” 184-187.
19. Louis Rougier, Celse contre les chrétiens (Paris: Copernic, 1977), 67, 89. Also, Sanford Lakoff, “Christianity and Equality,” in Equality, ed. J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapaman (New York: Atherton, 1967), 128-30.
20. Alain de Benoist, “L’Eglise, L’Europe et le Sacré,” in Pour une renaissance culturelle (Paris: Copernic, 1979), 202.
21. Louis Rougier, Celse, 88.

22. Comment peut-on être païen?, 170, 26. De Benoist has been at odds with the so-called neo-conservative “nouveaux philosophes,” who attacked his paganism on the grounds that it was a tool of intellectual anti-Semitism, racism, and totalitarianism. In his response, de Benoist levels the same criticism against the “nouveaux philo-sophes.” See “Monothéisme-polythéisme: le grand debat,” Le Figaro Magazine, 28 April 1979, 83: “Like Horkheimer, like Ernest Bloch, like Levinas, like René Girard, what B. H. Lévy desires is less `audacity,’ less ideal, less politics, less power, less of the State, less of history. What he expects is the accomplishment of history, the end of all adversity (the adversity to which corresponds the Hegelian Gegenständlichkeit), disincarnate justice, the universal peace, the disappearance of frontiers, the birth of a homogenous society . . .”
23. Ernest Renan, Histoire générale des langues sémitiques (Paris: Imprimerie Impériale, 1853), 6.
24. Mircae Eliade, Histoire des croyances et des idées religieuses (Paris: Payot, 1976), 1:369, passim.
25. Jean-Marie Domenach, Le retour du tragique (Paris: édition du Seuil, 1967), 44-45.
26. Jean Haudry, Les Indo-Européens (Paris: PUF, 1981), 68.
27. Hans. K. Günther, The Religious Attitude of Indo-Europeans, trans. Vivian Bird and Roger Pearson (London: Clair Press, 1966), 21.
28. Alain de Benoist and Pierre Vial, La Mort (Paris: ed. Le Labyrinthe, 1983), 15.
29. Giorgio Locchi, “L’histoire,” Nouvelle Ecole 27/28 (1975):183-90.
30. Sigrid Hunke, La vraie religion de l’Europe, trans. Claudine Glot and Jean-Louis Pesteil (Paris: Le Labyrinthe, 1985), 253, 274. The book was first published under the title Europas eigene Religion: Der Glaube der Ketzer (Bergisch Gladbach: Gustav Lubbe, 1980).
31. Mircae Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return or, Cosmos and History, trans. Willard R. Trask (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1965), 106-7.
32. Pierre Chaunu, Histoire et foi (Paris: Edition France-Empire, 1980), quoted by de Benoist, Comment peut-on être païen? 109.
33. Michel Maffesoli, La violence totalitaire (Paris: PUF, 1979), 228-29.
34. See Paul Tillich, The Eternal Now (New York: Scribner’s, 1963), 41, passim. “Shrug of eternity” are the last words Arthur Koestler uses in his novel Darkness at Noon (New York: Modern Library, 1941), 267.
35. Georgio Locchi, et al., “Über den Sinn der Geschichte,” Das unvergängliche Erbe (Tübingen: Grabert Verlag, 1981), 223.
36. Walter Scott, A New Look at Biblical Crime (New York: Dorset Press, 1979), 59.
37. Comment peut-on être païen? 157-58.
38. Mircea Eliade, Histoire des croyances, 1:194.

 

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Sunic, Tomislav. “Marx, Moses, and the Pagans in the Secular City.” CLIO: A Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Winter 1995). Text retrieved from: <http://home.alphalink.com.au/~radnat/tomsunic/sunic2.html >.

Note: This essay was also republished in Tomislav Sunic’s Postmortem Report: Cultural Examinations from Postmodernity – Collected Essays (Shamley Green, UK: The Paligenesis Project, 2010).

 

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On Japan – Dugin

In the Country of the Rising “Do”

By Alexander Dugin

Edited by Daniel Macek

 

Introductory Note: We have edited the following article to fix a number of significant errors and awkward translations made by the original translator (who was not specified by the original publishers). The reason we have chosen to republish this article is because the nature of Japan as it has been in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries is very significant for Europeans. It is not uncommon to find references to the practices of East Asian nations – Japan being the most prominent – among European cultural conservatives, who admire the successes of Japanese restriction of immigration (resulting in a nation that is retains its traditional ethnic types as the vast majority of the population, yet is still culturally rich) combined with its economic successes, as well as the creative combination traditional cultural and religious values with modern science and technology. We believe that this article by Alexander Dugin, despite being very limited, provides an important insight into the Japanese condition. – Daniel Macek (Editor of the “New European Conservative”)

Part 1. The Divine Wind

In this people’s language there is a special word for defining such a science as geo-politics – Chiseygaku, literally “teaching on the well-ordered land.” Such a people cannot be something ordinary.

In this people’s language there is the word Oshym (o-shima); it means “great island.” Such a people has access to the ultimately deep layers of dreams.

In this people’s language the “sovereign,” the “emperor,” is called Tenno, the “Heavenly one.” Such a people itself tastes of heavenly fish.

A gold carp had been rising along the waterfall, but because of its absent-mindedness it didn’t notice that the water had passed and it was moving to the sky. Higher, higher… The red carp is growing, wings come out of him, its scales are getting thicker… and it is now the great red dragon that is swimming in the sky.

Professor Tamotsu Murata [村田保] told that story in the ancient little restaurant in Asakusa residential area, explaining the canvas which hanged there on a wall. The slender old professor from a Samurai family was writing haiku poetry on a paper sheet, whose opposite side was dotted with mathematic formulas. He was finishing a book on the problem of continuality.

“I think we should seek the source of continuum in the mystery of a moment,” he had said not long before. “One day many years ago, when I was totally young, not such as I am now (the impenetrable visage, in which the smile is expressed by the unnoticeable movement of the hair), I was standing in a tiny yard, looking at the sky, and suddenly I understood, that I am; that there is I and only I. And not I as something which had occurred and is lasting, but as something momentary. Continuity is born from a revelatory moment.”

The Japanese read Western philosophy, but understand it in utterly their own way.

Professor Murata asked me to comment his views after his lecture about Kant. The gist of his report was reducible to the following. “Kant shouldn’t have separated the transcendent sphere of reason and empirical world of sensuality. There IS a connexion between them – language is the connexion.”

I answered: “It is an excellent idea, but then we arrive to the conclusion that language is a magical instrument, a magic hermetic means, with the help of which one can turn the rarefied to the dense and the dense to the rarefied.”

“Indeed, how exactly you understood me,” agreed old professor Tamotsu Murata. “And could you subject this approach to criticism?”

“Yes, I could,” I answered, “you have been reading Kant, who belonged to the context of modernity, as being a Japanese, who belongs to a context of non-modernity.”

All Japanese belong to the eternal present. And the fact that Japanese professors, refined and educated in an utterly European way, can treat the classics of rationalism in such a way, foretells that Japan will still shine over the world, like the bloody eye of the non-quantitative, momentarily continual goddess Amaterasu.

Que Japon vive et revive cent mille fois [That Japan lives and relives a hundred thousand times]! When I talked to Parvulesco after my return from Japan, he told the pity of my not letting him know of my trip beforehand. “Mon cher [my dear] Alexander, I would have organized your meeting with my daughter, who teaches French in Tokyo University, and she wouldn’t have had trouble with arranging for you to have audience with Tenno.”

“I will certainly go there again, Jean!”

A mask of the sacred theater “no” hanged on the canvas with the carp. Professor Tamotsu Murata suddenly leapt to his feet from the tatami – he seemed to be thrown up from below – and began to slightly stir the canvas and the mask. The mask revived, reflecting the entire range of emotions – sinister, merry, ironical, cruel ones.

“And if one looks from different perspectives, in it there will appear the entire life. One and the same, seen in different ways, it is no longer one and the same…”

And on other wall of the secret little restaurant of Asakusa there was a faded personage with small horns – the demon Anita, the keeper of hell. There are so many fish in hell…

Then a head of a fish was served to us. It was as big as a wheel of a wagon. I didn’t know that there could be such huge fish. The floor in the restaurant was black and earthen. Its roughness was a cipher key. I caught myself at the fact that I understand a lot more than I notice: All the evenness tries to get closer to death.

The Japanese are the keepers of life. That which is dense, that which can make you breathless, that which is underwater, which is aerial, made of a piece of red dingy cloth, from a dog’s side, from a porcelain cruel doll, from a house as big as a suitcase, from the tinkling of copper bells which notifies the spirits of peoples’ arrival to the jinja [sanctuary] and of their readiness to throw a coin. The jinjas were everywhere that I went along the way – to say little, I saw inside them a lot! One who wants to know what the pure substance of life is should visit Japan.

In the Japanese language, there is “no” and no word “I.” The roaring “hai” (“yes”) is said without voice inflexion, with gleaming black Japanese eyes, with unbelievable wild energy means all in aggregate. Yes – it is the great enthusiasm of sacred holography, when the Universe is focused upon the small piece of land. From the sacred geography to the sacred holography.

At the reception in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs was Professor Masaru Sato [佐藤優], who looked like a sumo wrestler. A bit fractally, aggressively, being overfilled by the energy of the mountains, he spoke about Japanese Eurasianism, about necessity of Japan’s return to its former greatness.

“We had a national thinker – Okawa. He was a consistent advocate for the continental bloc – Tokyo-Moscow-Berlin. He foresaw the pernicious consequences of the anti-Russian attitude, and was persuaded that Japan would be able to maintain its influence in the Pacific region only through strategic partnership with Russia.”

“We Japanese,” Sato-san continued, “are in some sense communists, but only with the Emperor. We are for the collectivity, but a hierarchised, sacred one…” The communists of magic.

This is important: everything modernistic in Japan is extremely perfunctory. They have managed it! Yes, they have managed it. The modern is deactivated there, deprived of its metaphysics.

Just as professor Murata in utterly natural way adds to Kant a mere trifle, language as an instrument of operative magic, and the Catholic (!) professor Yoichiro Murakami [村上 陽一郎] operates with the concepts of Buddhism to describe main trends of the history of science, and translates Jung and Pauli (this is called the West!), so the ordinary Japanese turn McDonalds into a jinja. A lantern with hieroglyphs and a swastika, bringing luck, along with several comrades from two million “deities” of Shinto, momentarily turn a hamburger temple of the “New World Order” into the traditional Japanese snackbar. And Professor Toshio Yokoyama [横山 俊夫] from Kyoto interprets “civility” as the traditional attitude of the Japanese to gods, flowers, animals, and people. The civil society in such an interpretation is the society of a sacred rite.

In such case I am a supporter of civil society. A citizen is one who follows the “do”; he who does not follow the “do” is not. “Do” in Japanese is the immanent godliness, including the transcendent aspect as its natural extension. The spirit of Japan (“do”) is unbreakable.

In Japan they have a good attitude towards Americans. The motive? Americans were once able to defeat the godlike Japanese, so therefore they are godlike too. There is no concept of evil. There is only the concept of the path, “do.” In Japan they have a bad attitude towards America. The motive? How can one have a good attitude towards it?

In Japan one could leave a wallet with money on a street and return for it in a week. It would be just there. There is a sufi parable on how a wise sheikh, who knew everything and was a sultan’s chief adviser, left his purse in the market. He remembered that in a week and went to take it back. His murids were bewildered: “either the sheikh has gone out of his mind or there is something we do not understand.” In Asia, purses disappear in the bazaar even if they are firmly gripped in hand. Japan is not Asia, it is beyond Asia. It is the country where the ethical norms of the contemplative sheikh are made a reality.

Japan is unreal. It seems to me that there cannot be such a country.

Technology here is an element of “do.” Assembling electronic devices is an equivalent of the arts of making ritual ekibanas or of the tea ceremony. It is an electronic version of Yemoto, the “do” keepers.

There are no Japanese without “do.”

“Are there avant-garde artists here? Drug addicts? Transvestites? Those who inhabit the modern West?”

“They were here at one time, but disappeared somewhere with time.”

There are drug addicts among newcomers; the Chinese, the Taiwanese, the Filipinos. The Japanese cannot be affected by anything. Their customary everyday life is a continuous luxurious hallucination. Under Kyoto bridges people, who live in containers, watch TV. Even in garbage nooks, strange living aesthetics reigns.

Watch out: schoolchildren! They walk in the streets, in the Metro, in historic parks and mountain museums by well-shaped squares. All are in uniform. One ought get in their way. The divine wind once destroyed the Mongolian fleet: Kamikaze. People and wind are relatives. The Japanese schoolchildren are the relatives of the aimed divine wind.

Kami-kaze, the “Divine Wind.” By this one can find a clue to the fascinating figure of Rimbaud: “Le vent de Dieux jettait des glacons aux marres…”

Old Believers of the Beguny (“runners” or “escapists”) persuasion in previous times had a teaching about a secret “Oponskom Tsardom” [Опоньском царстве]. I then understood what was meant by that. It was Shinkoku – the doctrine of “Sacred Japan.”

Shinto priests teach: the ancient good spirits Izanagi-no-mikotu and Izanami-no-mikotu once married with each other and gave birth to the islands Honshu and Kushu. Those main islands resulted only from their lawful wedlock. Before that there appeared spiders and ghosts, and also the small islands. Then they bore also many good spirits and the first emperor Tenno. The brother islands drew out of themselves mountains, rivers, giant red-white fish, which swim in Japan in every pool, offering themselves to skillful cooks (Polyakov and I made friends with one of such fish – this was the fish-professor from Tokyo University), forests, tea, sacred narrow-muzzled dogs, which guard sanctuaries, spirits and conifers, sunbeams and soft clouds, which can be only over the Near-Moscow-Localities. The Emperor bore the Japanese. The Japanese and Japan constitute one kindred alliance. Heaven and earth, a rice sprout, clay, a stream, a stone, a vacuum cleaner, a peasant and a policeman are one kindred organism. In the Japanese the wind, the wind of sweet clouds flows through their veins instead of blood, nourishing the eyes by the flesh of dream. And it is always so. So has it always been and so will it always be.

Shinkoku – where there is nothing to exclude and to include.

Japan is a Eurasian esotericism. It is the clue to ourselves, Oponskom Tsardom. The altar of Eurasia.

In the garden of emperor’s palace, on the remains of a tower built by a Shogun – of which there was no higher in the world, but which was standing for only several years – we spoke with Polyakov about advantage of ontological reflections for heuristic solutions in modern physics, about the equation of Navier and Stokes, about prospects of development of the unified theory of substance on the basis of phase change analysis in works of the physicist called Sinai. Masuda dozed off on a sunlit bench. Suddenly a raven appeared before us. Without speaking, we understood that it was the Shogun’s warrior. It guarded the emperor’s garden, keeping vigilant watch over who was there, where they were, what they did and what they said. The raven was in the size of around two metres. In the eyes of two big-bellied tourists, who perspiringly ascended the tower’s remains with perspiration, the pupils were rolled unseeingly – it seemed they did not see the raven with a pointed coal-black beak. It disappeared noiselessly.

All partitions in Japan are opened, they are made of paper. The membranes between the dimensions have a special structure – very well-ordered, carefully fixed. The approximateness of metamorphoses is conceptualized here, permeated with mathematics.

Japanese cars have the snout of Shinto spirits.

Tetsuya Masuda pointed at an undistinguished, imperceptible stone, which lied at the entrance to a little restaurant on a narrow Kyoto street. “This is a garden.” By the Japanese a stone, a blade of grass, a stem, a little pool, is anyway a garden. They take a fragment of what is and penetrate it with their sacred Japanese attention, and a garden is born. The garden-bringing people.

In Kyoto we were served a fish whose sides were cut off and the raw meat laid beside. From the fish was left its snout, skeleton and caudal fin. It made gasping-for-breath movements by its mouth, blew a little bubble. In the half-dark room I counted nine levels – the floor, the “bar” stand, the table, the benches and so forth – which were at the different distance from an imaginary line. It was as if all the planes must have been shifting as in a multi-mirror elevator. Masuda told the story about his French friend, who had been so horrified by discovering the fact that a fish was breathing that he started to shout at him for him to urgently bring a knife and to “save a poor animal from misery.” Masuda obediently went for a knife, but he could not get it from the owner, who sincerely did not understand what was going on. When he still returned with a knife, the Frenchman with a great effort, in hysteric anguish, had already crushed fish skull with the wooden saucer and had been gazing round perplexedly. “He made the fish suffer rather than attentively observe its death-transfer and participate in it with all his being – the mouth, tongue, stomach…” We looked at the fish, at the small black bubble near its mouth… Polyakov touched its moist nose with a chopstick…

The city’s view was psychedelic. There was not a single direct line; the entire area consisted of a huge number of squares. The area is overflowing with meaning and symbolism, like a Russian cemetery. Everything is satiated with Being. Japan has ontological architecture.

With Polyakov, we founded a new teaching: the Kyoto-Helsinki ontological teaching, the second root of Eurasia.

Eurasia is Japan-centered in our geometry; so teaches Chiseygaku.

The last evening brought us to the Tokyo’s Near-Moscow-Localities. I noticed almost at once upon my arrival to Japan that it had a Russian sky. But only on the last day before my return did it became clear that near Tokyo there were the grasses and flavours of the Near-Moscow-Localities.

Profuse, abundant, black, bloody saps of the earth, a small island of grass and of Russ plus computer lights of Shinkansen, luminous sky-scrapers, twinkling highways, and neon hieroglyphs blink around. It seems to me, that when a Russian dies, he first finds himself in here and drinks the Japanese beer Kirin, until he understands what is what.

Nikolay-do. Before Whitsunday, Matins are served by the Metropolitan of All Japan himself. The icons are all Russian. On the right from the altar there is a picture: the Russian field, the forest, a Russian beauty stands in a crown, with a halo and with a cross in hand; the saint Olga. On the icon there is a fragment of Russian Shinkoku. The icon of Russian field, the Russian forest: two holographic realities. Somewhere in mediastinum of dream they are bound, interwoven by roots. The roots of Oponskom Tsardom, the construction of the Vladivostok-Hokkaido tunnel, Shinkansen from Tokyo to Berlin.

The words inter-flow in a whole, indivisible stream. In kanji one can not only read and write, but also think – think of a whole piece of world, which is indivisible, complete, pulsating from an over-richness of inner Being.

A thought on Japan is the thought about wholeness.
The red rising heart.
The light of the Orient.
They ought rule again and again.
For all the Pacific sphere to co-succeed.

Part 2. The Geonauts

I have been honoured by the visit of the Japanese professor Shukei Yamaguchi [山口 実]. One more of them. Now they visit me every day. That is the right way; if you start to go on visits, go on. Japanese like density very much, as we Russians do, but in another way.

He asked me to explain what “being a Russian” means.

I answered…

He studied Jung’s heritage, and the director of a Jungian college in Switzerland seemed to give his blessing to him to write a research paper on the classification of basic temperaments (introverted and extraverted ones) by different countries and nations. That is a very good idea.

Yamaguchi was coming to the conclusion that Western peoples are of an extraverted type, while Eastern ones are of introverted type, and in Europe the Germans are relatively introverted (“the thinking, reflecting introverted people”). In his classification, the Russians are the “intuitive introverted people,” the Hindus (like the Germans) are the “reflecting introverted people,” and the Japanese are the “sensual introverted people.”

It is clear that the sphere of “introvertedness” is the mental continent of Eurasia.

Introvertedness gravitates towards inner experience, towards “likeness,” towards “unity,” towards “interfusion.” “The inner world is the world of life,” Yamaguchi said. Speaking with him I made out that he worships Absolute Life. That is the essence of Eurasian worship; the Absolute Life. Hence follow some very important definitions:

“Therefore an introverted person, as he is concerned more with his inner life than with the outside material world, is liable to see reality in some form of all-including unity or interfusion. He likes to feel united with Nature. He would not assert himself, because that would mean that he should be independent or separated from the world or other people. He would try to form a group with friends and tends to submerge himself in it. He does not like to be different from other people. When he has to make judgment, he tends to see reality from the point of view of similarity, not from difference. Thus he is inclined to say first ‘yes,’ but later he often says ‘no,’ much to detriment of his credibility.” (Yamaguchi)

It is a description of us, me, the Russian people, the Japanese people, and all good and interesting people in this world.

Next Yamaguchi described the Japanese psychology. For instance, the O-tsuki-mi rite. It is when the Japanese silently, for hours, look at the moon. Their Unconscious bathes then in the moonlight, is cured and cleaned, as the land washes itself in ocean waters, removing scum. The Japanese thoroughly care for their Unconscious, clean, and nurse it.

Each Japanese sees the Moon from his own angle and it changes colour. This is the practice tamamushi-iro. Things change colour based on on how one looks at them; the colour is the voice of the Psyche. True distinctions arise where through different people the common mysterious beam of light of the Absolute Life, which was married to the nation, radiates.

The Japanese hate to subdue the surrounding world, because they do not distinguish themselves from it. And again professor Yamaguchi gives a surprisingly precise sentence: “The Japanese does not like clear distinction, but tends to leave things in ambiguity.” It is as if we are during the lectures of “the New University” [“Нового Университета”]…

At the lection “The Secret Mother” I gave a definition of the human being, which set the groundwork of new Eurasian anthropology: “A man is an inaccurate movement of the Possible.” By “a human,” I had meant a Russian. As it had become clear, the Japanese meet that definition ideally.

I retold Yamaguchi the story of professor Murata and Kant. He listened to me with the great interest. When I had come to the language, which bridges the abyss between the empirical world and the reason, he suddenly interrupted me, waving his hands in the air: “They are connected through the Absolute Life, which radiates through people and things… Kant is incomprehensible without Bergson and Jung!”

Everything is clear with you, I gave up. And that Japanese, who has been living in the West for more than 20 years, has not understood anything of the world in which he has found himself in. And he will never understand. And thank God! Thank you… This imparts to me great strength for my work. To him too, evidently.

Then the professor asked me to tell him about Russia. I answered: “The most important thing in Russia is geonautics, “land-floating,” the theory of liquid land. We conceive of it as a dense tea, not as a stone. Vapours of land rise and form the land ocean. These are multi-dimensional worlds, breathing in Being. The land, the Russian land, has its own Navier-Stokes equation. The Russians walk on land by their entire body, not by their heels. Therefore the Russians are the aerially introverted people. For them the land is not something firm, but something moist and viscous. The Russians drift on land, that is why they do not understand anything. Except for the Japanese; quite to the contrary, they have an understanding of the Japanese.”

Yamaguchi’s eyes were gleaming, double-gleaming, burning. “And how do the Russians make judgments? Logically? Intuitively? Emotionally? Egoistically?”

“No, none are correct. The Russians make judgments according to principle of maximum stupidity. They choose just what is least reasonable and it will bring them a lot of inconvenience. They evade the choice, sabotage it. Choosing absurdly and not to the point, not what is needed and not when it is needed, they make it clear: your proposal, your conditions of choice are idiotic by themselves. And it is proper to answer idiotism by idiotism. It is the active abstentionism. We just do not want to live along the imposed regulations. We are swimming. The essence of Russia is ironic seriousness; the ironic stupidity. Showing ourselves as fools, we laugh at those who do not consider themselves as such. When a Russian is reading Dostoyevsky, he is dying of laughter; Dostoyevsky is an amazingly laughable author.”

“You don’t say! His works are a distressing drama for us… And what about Russian messianism?”

“It is very important. That messianism is pointed towards the West. It is a messianism of the introvertedness. We, as well as other peoples of the East, are an introverted people, although not passive and natural, but aggressive and preternatural. We march under introvertedness as under a standard, extend it over the world, weigh heavily over the membranes of the West, which we do not like, but, by the way, understand. It may be just because of that, that we dislike it so much.”

“But the Russians are very gifted at the sphere of art, beauty…”

“Yes, but not out of aestheticism. When only three hundred years ago we were imposed upon by the Western culture, which was extroverted in its essence, we chose the least rational, least reasonable in it – the sphere of art, where there is more space for the Irrational. But that was a mere substitute for the real land-floating. Quite a poor one, but we succeeded in it, that is true.”

And then the professor couldn’t stand any more. Interrupting me, he said: “I would like to express my emotions by singing.” In his profile there was a phrase “professional whistler.” When I had first seen it I thought “they call probably flautists that.” No, he was a natural, literal “professional whistler.”

Professor Shukei Yamaguchi began to whistle. It was the autumn whistling, dedicated to the thin spider lines of evening, which noiselessly fly down from the sakura branches. The autumn whistling. He whistled the classic academic whistling, helping himself with his hand. The Japanese national whistling. It stays in my ears, that strange whistle…

 

—————–

Dugin, Alexander. “In the Country of the Rising ‘Do.'” Международное Евразийское Движение, 2001. <http://evrazia.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=522 >.

Note: The original Russian version of this article (titled “В стране восходящего ‘До’”) can be found here: <http://www.evrazia.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=683 >.

Notes on Resources for further reading:

See also Dugin’s speech at Tokyo University called “New Paradigm of Science,” which deals with religious, scientific, and ontological philosophy, partly addressing Asian perspectives: <https://neweuropeanconservative.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/new-paradigm-of-science-dugin/ >.

For further research on Japanese religious beliefs, we suggest the books Shinto: Origins, Rituals, Festivals, Spirits, Sacred Places by C. Scott Littleton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) and Shinto: the Kami Way by Sokyo Ono (North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing, 1962).

For research on Japanese literature – which also gives good insight into Japan’s history, culture, and religion – we recommend the following two anthologies, edited by Donald Keene: Anthology of Japanese Literature from the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century (New York: Grove Press, 1955), and Modern Japanese Literature: From 1868 to the Present Day (New York: Grove Press, 1956).

On the Oskorei blog, Joakim Andersen had written an article titled “Lästips: Nationalism och manga” (“Suggested reading: Nationalism and Manga”, in Swedish),  which can also help understand the attraction that some Right-wingers have towards modern Japanese culture as a superior conservative Pagan culture.

On the idea of “Modernization without Westernization” in Japan and China, see the article “Modernization without westernization is the first step to reject imperialism” by Antonio Grego.

A starting point for further research on Japanese philosophies can be found on the website The Japanese Philosophy Blog.

The official website of Nichibunken (日文研), The International Research Center for Japanese Studies, can be used for research to find numerous resources in Japanese history, culture, religion, society, etc. See the publications search for resources readily available online.

 

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