European Vedism

Whilst dazzlingly ignorant about Julius Evola, I can at least partially understand the attraction his work generates for the ultra-traditionalist wing of the Outer Right. Thomas F. Bertonneau, whose essays are always worth digesting carefully, produces a typically masterful overview here.

Evola represents a significant thread of early 20th century reactionary thinking, rooted in the discoveries of historical linguistics, and the intellectual formation of an ‘Indo-European’ people corresponding to its deep cultural cladistics. The core phenomenon that supports the mystical-reactionary interpretation of history is the unambiguous process of crudification that afflicts the Indo-European languages, evident through the line of grammatical degeneration from Sanskrit, through Attic Greek, to Latin, and then into the vulgar — even structurally collapsed — tongues of the modern European vernacular. Reactionary, hierarchical, and racially-inflected ideas comparable to Evola’s are easily identified in the writings of Martin Heidegger, among many others. Historical linguistics appears to apprehend a large-scale ethnic totality undergoing prolonged cultural deterioration at the fundamental (grammatical) level. Once this is noted, progressivism appears as pure irony — and as a comic confirmation of decline.

Outside in, comparatively comfortable with chewed-up techno-commercial jargons and stripped-down communication protocols, is only minimally attentive to this particular ‘problem of tradition’ (which it registers from a position of detachment). Insofar as ‘tradition’ is invoked, however, it seems to be a highly significant reference — and its tendency to relapse the problem back to a Sanskritic (Vedic) origin is surely worthy of disciplined commentary. Kali Yuga makes a lot of sense.

November 2, 2013admin 19 Comments »
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19 Responses to this entry

  • pseudo-chrysostom Says:

    i should think the greatest exponent of this point of view comes by way of rene guenon, who i say with no exaggeration was one of the most significant intellects of the twentieth century.

    ‘the reign of quantity’ is his magnum opus, but really every one of his works on culture, history, and metaphysics is virtuous (i personally like ‘spiritual authority and temporal power’ and ‘metaphysical principles of calculus’ the most).

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Thanks. Is there anyone you know who is synthesizing this material well?

    [Reply]

    pseudo-chrysostom Reply:

    ahah, well frithjof schuon is perhaps his most well known evangelist, but i would not say he ultimately compares to the master. and of course most other perenialists were influenced by him, such as coomaraswamy. evola and guenon were more rivals, but they did influence each other, with evola generally better at bringing things ‘down to earth’ (but thats not necessarily guenons real value).

    past that though, being unfashionable crime think, there isint much in the way of guenonian scholarship, most unfortunate really.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 2nd, 2013 at 4:47 pm Reply | Quote
  • pseudo-chrysostom Says:

    also, speaking of bertoneau essays

    http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/5081

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Noted.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 2nd, 2013 at 5:39 pm Reply | Quote
  • Joh Says:

    Evola is terrible. He’s really not worth reading. It’s an insult to Heidegger to compare Evola to Heidegger. He was not an Indo-Europeanist and knew very little about the Indo-Euro and Eastern topics he wrote about.

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    spandrell Reply:

    I am inclined to agree. I really don’t understand why anybody would take that seriously.

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    Posted on November 3rd, 2013 at 1:49 am Reply | Quote
  • kgaard Says:

    Good essay.

    Evola goes all over the map on the question of race. On the one hand he talks of Western decay leading Europeans to seek drug-like stimulation from “negro jazz” and the “exotic southern races” which he clearly views as, if not inferior, at least not-spiritually-resonant with European soul. (That’s actually a brilliant insight: Blacks may get a lot more out of black music than whites do, for instance. For them it is grounding, for us it may be just a drug that ultimately leads to more alienation.)

    But later he will say that race is a weak sorting mechanism; That spiritual truths transcend it altogether, and that the real sorting variable is spiritual advancement.

    I guess the two theories are not really completely at odds, as you can always find extremely advanced people from every race.

    Speaking of which … on Evola’s question of how to get back to some kind of spiritually holistic reality, I feel an increasing vibe coming up from South America, particularly Peru and Ecuador, with their traditions of local self rule, shamanism and freedom of healthcare choices. Perhaps this is just one more hotspot on the hippie trail, but when you combine these attributes with Peru’s economic resurgence, you have the makings of rumblings on the map. Evola speaks very highly of the Ayuahuasca ceremony in Peru, for instance, which a friend of mine did and found useful.

    [Reply]

    Goth Eiríksson Reply:

    Evola spoke of ayahuasca? I don’t think there’s any documentation of that. I’ve never heard of it before. Also, now, I have googled his name with ayahuasca: it doesn’t seem to bring results that indicate there is documentation of that. He did use psychedelic or entheogenic substances early in his life ; I don’t think there’s any documentation of which, or if there is I’m rather sure ayahuasca isn’t on the list (but I “hope” I’m wrong). I recall him telling of his psychoactive substances use (e.g. in The Cinnabar Path), but never detailing which substances he did use.

    Incidentally, I was in Peru myself. Can confirm ayahuasca’s effectiveness. Personally, I recommend fasting as much as you can before ingesting. Probably best to practice fasting for as much time as you can, preferably intermittently over at least months, before. You wanna be able to fast a couple of days (48 hours just water) before ayahuasca, without getting too weak or even sick. You might be able to do it cold turkey no problem, but you’d wanna know beforehand.

    I had effects soon enough on the first night of ritual, while other newcomers had none. Nothing.

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    Posted on November 3rd, 2013 at 1:55 am Reply | Quote
  • kgaard Says:

    @Joh

    I say they are different. Evola is more of a polemicist. Nobody was going to out-Heidegger Heidegger anyway. Evola’s contribution is in detailing the dangers of democracy to the human spirit. I have gotten a tremendous amount out of reading Evola. His reach is broader and I think he is more concerned with real world application than is Heidegger (with the exception of Heidegger’s Question Concerning Technology, which had plenty of real-world application).

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    Posted on November 3rd, 2013 at 5:26 pm Reply | Quote
  • Joh Says:

    Yes, they’re different. There’s no comparison. Evola is terrible. Evola is like a parody of what a Dungeons & Dragons or anime geek would think is serious philosophy.

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    kgaard Reply:

    Well, technically you may be right. But there is more to philosophy than “serious” philosophy. Heidegger is the only philosopher I needed a college course to understand — and without that course I probably never would have figured him out. There are plenty of authors who are not serious philosophers who nevertheless have a lot to say that is worthwhile. Does Evola even claim to be a serious philosopher? Isn’t he really more of a Joseph Campbell sort of figure?

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    Posted on November 3rd, 2013 at 11:18 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    If language is a technology you’d be free to rework this narrative to interesting effect…

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    Posted on November 3rd, 2013 at 11:46 pm Reply | Quote
  • pseudo-chrysostom Says:

    workers like campbell (or even jung for that matter) can really be only thought of as the theme-park version of perennialism. products of the same mentality leads to such things as the ‘secular’ humanist rationals for taxing churches or the like, who can only conceive of such things as ‘places of entertainment’. limp wristed appeals to the ‘metaphorical’ nature of such things, because such denatured metaphor excuses one from coming to terms with their implications.

    ‘follow your bliss’ is a patently solipsistic proposition.

    [Reply]

    Kgaard Reply:

    “Follow your bliss is a patently solipsistic proposition.”

    That may be true … but it’s also damn good advice. In a world where the aristocratic ordering of reality has already broken down, there is no payoff for following an established program. In a democracy you’ve got to go with your best strength. Otherwise you will surely end up following somebody ELSE’s bliss — and that’s the worst scenario of all in industrial capitalism. Guys like Campbell and Pirsig (Zen and Motorcycle Maintenance) and Camus had a huge impact in shaping my life, especially in my 20s. Philosophy doesn’t have to be complicated to be useful.

    When I read your comment, the first thing I thought of was Springsteen’s line, “And for my 19th birthday, I got a union card and a wedding coat.” Many lives used to be like that. Perhaps it worked in a tradition-laden farm-based aristocracy, but in a democracy you just get despair, Schlitz, an assembly-line job and television. Campbell was a good dude.

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    pseudo-chrysostom Reply:

    i respect campbell and his work (after all, however many else were doing the same these days?), but i must also recognize what people are ultimately on about. certainly his character is genuine, certainly he loved people, the heroic, antiquity, with all its mythic lesions. but enough to contradict modernity? in the end, no, he made his lesions compatible with the gnostic sentiments of the age. like the modern masons, the symbols are all there, throughout the works you get the sense that theres *something* greater, that could be grasped if one were perhaps more elite, more transcendent. but the explicit message? what else, but more hedonism.

    which is of course the wrong message, especially in the absence of received traditions, as you yourself point out. it is up to the hero to create a new tradition for people. direct, and bliss will follow.

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    Posted on November 4th, 2013 at 2:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • kgaard Says:

    Before this thread goes completely cold I want to make one last defense of Evola, particularly in light of all the abuse he’s taking here. The only way I can really do this is to give a sort of personal testament. I figure I read 50 books a year and outline one. I then throw it on my stack of outlines, which over the past 25 years has grown to a height of about 4 inches. This year I have read two Evola books and was so taken by “Ride the Tiger” that I highlighted it, outlined it, highlighted the outline, re-outlined the highlighting and sent the refined high points out to friends. I wanted to internalize every last morsel of wisdom from this book.

    As a result I’ve made a couple of major life changes, mostly having to do with art. What I really got from the book was the absolute necessity to reject all Democratic forms of art. I played guitar almost every day for 25+ years until about 5 years ago, when one day I had the realization that guitar was a dead art form and basically dropped it cold. Evola inspired me to dust off my violin and transfer my musical interests in that direction. Since then I’ve been discovering mountains of great classical music. It’s clearly more suited to my ear at this stage of life. And guitar transfers over to violin very easily so I’m making great strides. It’s opened a whole new world.

    Anyway … one minor example. But I am a total Evola convert. Just in today’s mail arrived Evola book #3, “The Path of Cinnabar,” his intellectual biography. Granted I will read it with a more jaded eye in light of the comments here …

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but if I had a connection with Evola that was working for me, I’d be asking for something a little more substantial than the criticisms we’ve seen in this thread before turning a “jaded eye” to it.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 5th, 2013 at 11:19 pm Reply | Quote
  • Kgaard Says:

    @kgaard
    Yes … poor word choice. Better to say something like “critical eye.” I can see where he may be open to potential attack, but it’s not necessarily in the areas that interest me. For example, he makes a fairly sweeping statement that existentialism has the nature of the existential problem exactly backwards. It’s an interesting argument … I kind of dig it but am not qualified to critique it. And it doesn’t really impact the aspects of his thought that grab me …

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 6th, 2013 at 1:39 am Reply | Quote

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