Archive for September, 2013

Axial Age

Karl Jaspers’ Axial Age compressed for additional impact:

Laozi (Lao Tse, 6th-4th century BC)
Kongzi (Confucius, 551–479 BC)
Li Kui (455-395 BC)
Mozi (470–c.391 BC)
Yang Zhu (440–360 BC)
Mahavira (599–527 BC)
Gautama Buddha (c.563-483 BC)
Upanishads (from 6th century BC)
Thales (of Miletus, c.624–546 BC)
Anaximenes (of Miletus, 585-528 BC)
Pythagoras (of Samos, c.570–495 BC)
Heraclitus (of Ephesus c.535–475 BC)
Aeschylus (c.525-455 BC)
Anaxagoras (c.510–428 BC)
Parmenides (of Elea, early 5th century BC)
Socrates (c.469–399 BC)
Thucydides (c.460–395 BC)
Democritus (c.460–370 BC)

I realize that everyone knows this … but what the …?

September 23, 2013admin 33 Comments »

Out West (yet again)

Whatever the prejudices you might harbor against Urumqi Internet connections in second rate hotels, they’re probably over-generous. I’ve been effectively de-twitterized by sheer technological crappitude rather than anything more sinister, but this channel seems to be (barely) OK. (Annoyingly, they provide a computer in the room, which locks everything into chronic dysfunction.) So apologies for the deteriorated state of communications over the next few days.

The main objective of this trip is to explore Xinjiang’s Buddhist heritage, which is so vast and rich that even some superficial scratching should turn up some interesting stuff. The main current of Buddhist influence into China passed this way, hybridizing wildly with other cultures in one of the world’s great mixing zones. After arriving off the steps, the Uyghurs were Buddhist for centuries, before Islam got a grip around the turning point of the first millennium (I’ll try to fill in some dates with greater precision later on). 

Updates as events, energy, and time permit.

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September 22, 2013admin 2 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Uncategorized

Abstract Horror (Part 2)

Among literary genres, horror cannot claim an exclusive right to make contact with reality. Superficially, its case for doing so at all might seem peculiarly weak, since it rarely appeals to generally accepted criteria of ‘realism’. Insofar as reality and normality are in any way confused, horror immediately finds itself exiled to those spaces of psychological and social aberrance, where extravagant delusion finds its precarious refuge.

Yet, precisely through its freedom from plausible representation, horror hoards to itself a potential for the realization of encounters, of a kind that are exceptional to literature, and rare even as a hypothetical topic within philosophy. The intrinsic abstraction of the horrific entity carves out the path to a meeting, native to the intelligible realm, and thus unscreened by the interiority or subjectivity of fiction. What horror explores is the sort of thing that, due to its plasticity and beyondness, could make its way into your thoughts more capably that you do yourself. Whatever the secure mental ‘home’ you imagine yourself to possess, it is an indefensible playground for the things that horror invokes, or responds to.

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September 20, 2013admin 5 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Commerce , Horror


Moldbug’s latest has triggered a wave of discussion by emphatically re-stating the long-standing thesis:

America is a communist country.

The supporting argument is richly multi-threaded, and I won’t attempt to recapitulate it here. Its dominant flavor can be appreciated in these paragraphs:

When the story of the 20th century is told in its proper, reactionary light, international communism is anything but a grievance of which Americans may complain. Rather, it’s a crime for which we have yet to repent. Since America is a communist country, the original communist country, and the most powerful and important of communist countries, the crimes of communism are our crimes. You may not personally have supported these crimes. Did you oppose them in any way?

Whereas actually, codewords like “progressive,” “social justice,” “change,” etc, are shared across the Popular Front community for the entire 20th century. They are just as likely to be used by a Cheka cheerleader from the ’20s, as a Clinton voter from the ’90s.

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September 19, 2013admin 82 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction

Reaction Points (#7)

It’s been a long time since one of these. Abandoning it seemed a good idea because Foseti and NBS were providing such a rich diet of reactionary and miscellaneous links (there’s also Free Northerner, among others). Now it’s got to the point that I’m drowning in unused reaction points, so the safety valve has been forced open again, for floating odds and ends.

At Handle’s place, are Jews and antisemites caught in a “bad equilibrium”? (From Alrenous in the comments: “The British conquer the entire world, twice, and people are still scared of the Joos.”). In addition, this fished-up piece on the muscular liberal push beyond boutique multiculturalism is an impressive catch.

Jim sees “chaos coming. Power will fall into the street, hot, radioactive, dangerous, and desired, to be picked up first by one group, then another, each new pair of hands slippery with the blood of innocents, after the fashion of the Arab spring.” (Anti-entryism isn’t exit, but a different problem altogether.)

Spandrell has been going microscopic (here,and here), which got Scharlach playing with the zoom control (here, here, and here … so far).

Bryan Caplan revisits Galton’s controversial plan to liberate Africa from Africans.

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September 18, 2013admin 23 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Uncategorized

Mou Zongsan

Jason Clower has edited an indispensable volume of Mou Zongsan’s writings (Late Works of Mou Zongsan: Selected Essays in Chinese Philosophy, forthcoming). In the first words of his introduction, he says: “If twentieth-century China produced a philosopher of the first rank, it was Mou Zongsan.” This judgment strikes me as near-irresistible. A taste (from two of the first three essays):

From Objective Understanding and the Remaking of Chinese Culture

…to adapt to the times you have to understand the times. For that you need right knowledge of the present age (xiandai 現代) … Compared to political and social activities, the influence of scholarly culture is an influence on a virtual level (xuceng 虛層), but “the virtual governs the solid” (xu yi kong shi 虛以控實) and its influence is wide and far-reaching, which is why I call it a “decisive influence.” We should not take it lightly and think that it is not an urgent matter. 


… to have objective understanding. The first step is to understand ourselves; the second step is to understand the West. Then we can look for the way out for Chinese culture, and we hope that our young friends will take on this responsibility. In its simple essentials, this responsibility is to revive the ancient meaning of Greek philosophy. Its original meaning was what Kant defined as a “doctrine of practical wisdom” (shijian de zhihuixue 實踐的智慧學). And what is wisdom? Only “yearning after the highest good” is wisdom. As most people know, philosophy is the “love of wisdom,” and the “love” in question is the kind of love that is “heartfelt yearning for that highest good in human life and constantly wanting to put it into practice.” That is why Kant called “philosophy” in its ancient Greek sense a “doctrine of practical wisdom.” The term is very apt. But this ancient meaning of philosophy has already been lost in the West. Nowadays all that is left is linguistic analysis under the conditions of advanced civilization, with logic having been reduced to applied computing. This does not actually count as philosophy, only the degeneration of philosophy into a technology. To enter into the depths of philosophy, it has to be that “love of wisdom,” the “yearning after the highest good.” But though the West has forgotten it, this sense of philosophy has been preserved in the Chinese tradition, as what the Chinese ancients called “teachings” (jiao 教). Buddhism exemplifies the meaning of “teachings” most clearly, but Confucianism has it too, as the “teaching” referred to in the Doctrine of the Mean when it says, “The understanding that arises from authenticity is called our nature, and the authenticity that arises from understanding is called teaching,” and when it says, “What heaven decrees is called our nature; following our nature is called the Way; cultivating the Way is called teaching.”  The meaning of “teaching” here is not institutional education as currently practiced, which takes knowledge as its standard. Rather, it is “philosophy,” the “yearning after the highest good” of a doctrine of practical wisdom.

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September 17, 2013admin 16 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Cosmos , Neoreaction
TAGGED WITH : , , , ,

Quote notes (#32)


In other words America is gone, replaced by this tricycle of strife. And the paternal hand wheeling it down the road is Vladimir Putin’s.  Andrew Sullivan thinks this is proof, if any more were needed, of Barack Obama’s surpassing genius. He writes that America’s ejection is not a bug but a feature; that “Obama, reflecting American public opinion, is perfectly happy to have Putin assume responsibility for the Middle East. Let Russia be drained, bankrupted and exhausted by managing that fractious and decreasingly important part of the world.” In Sullivan’s view Putin is hurting his fist against Obama’s jaw.

But Sullivan doesn’t quite understand that Russia is not going to “manage” the Middle East but raise it up against America. Totalitarians don’t do management. They do conquest.  They do agitation. They do trouble. As for upkeep, Putin will be sending the bill to the White House. He will get Obama to pay for it. When Egypt starves expect the bill to come to Washington. After all, why use “food as a weapon?” Yet when the time comes to kiss the ring, Putin will receive the obeisance of the sheiks while Obama will be sent to the back of the bus, even if America is paying for the bus. That is nothing new. Perhaps Sullivan has never heard of Lenin’s bon mot “when we hang the capitalists they will sell us the rope we use.”  Putin is probably familiar with the phrase:  heck, he probably went back by Time Machine and ghostwrote the original line for Lenin.

I’m not at all sure how much of this I agree with, but it’s brilliant, and indisputably thought-provoking.

September 15, 2013admin 14 Comments »

Pacific Rim

Well-engineered, formidable, yet also lumbering constructions are directed into battle against horrific monsters, with the fate of the world at stake. Guillermo del Toro’s movie Pacific Rim is one of these entities, and the ethno-political review by ‘white advocacy’ writer Gregory Hood is another.

Within this cascade of monstrous signs, a convulsive re-ordering of the world from out of the Pacific is a constant reference. With the shocking scale of a tsunami, and the insidiousness of an obscure intelligence, it inundates the Old Order, starting from the ocean’s coastal ramparts. “When alien life entered the earth it was from deep within the Pacific Ocean. … the Breach.” City after city falls prey to the Kaiju. “This was not going to stop.”

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September 15, 2013admin 16 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction , World
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Quote notes (#31)

Moldbug on the progress we have made:

Curiously, two thousand years before anyone had even heard of a“microaggression,” a bunch of old white guys called “the Romans” considered this issue and concluded: de minimis non curat lex.  Literally: “the law does not concern itself with trifles.”  Or metaphorically: no.  No, it is not, and should not be, illegal to be an asshole.  

September 14, 2013admin 20 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction

Gnon and OOon

Twitter gets people counting characters, and thus numerizing language. In only a very few cases does this microcultural activity tilt over into the wilder extravagances of exotic qabbalism, but it nudges intelligence in that direction. Even when the only question is strictly Boolean — will this message squeeze into a tweet, or not? — words acquire a supplementary significance from their numerical properties alone. A phrase is momentarily numbered, in the crudest of ways, which the tweet box registers as a countdown towards zero, and then into the negative accumulation of over-spill. Twitter thus promotes a rigidly convention-bound semiotic practice, which it simultaneously hides, technologically instantiating a precise analog of hermetic ritual.

Qabbalism is the science of spookiness, which makes it a natural companion on any expedition into horror. There is, in addition, an intrinsic reactionary slant to its ultra-traditionalism and attachment to the principle of hierarchical revelation. Its concrete history provides an unsurpassable example of spontaneous auto-catalysis (from discrepant conventions of arithmetical notation). This post, however, is restricted to a very preliminary discussion of its most basic intellectual presupposition, as if it had been developed out of an implicit philosophy (which it was not). It will be coaxed into making sense, against the grain of its essential inclination.

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September 13, 2013admin 17 Comments »