The Coming Barbarian

Before the birth of a distinctly Western culture circa 500 AD in the Merovingian period, the seeds of the West were planted by Gothic tribes migrating in vast waves into the vicinity of the Roman Empire. Rome in her last days was a cosmopolitan imperium, a multiethnic and multicultural superpower comparable to the contemporary Americanised West. The holistic, nomadic and morally pure Goths were anathema to the lustful, corrupt and decadent peoples of Rome. Hostility naturally ensued. In the earliest conflicts the Goths were defeated by Roman might of arms and exploitation. The barbaric Goths bided their time, however, studying their enemies, learning their ways and adapting to adversity. Converted to Christianity, arrayed in fundamental opposition to the Classical culture of Rome, the Goths finally gained the advantage and the Western Roman Empire was destroyed. It is true that the Goths subsequently adopted much of Roman ways, but the inner imperative of Rome was killed with the death of her last emperor. Today we who dominate the West speak not a Latin tongue, but rather a Germanic one. We wear not the toga, but trousers and shirts, comparable to the leggings and tunics of our Gothic predecessors. The death of Rome was the beginning of the end of the Classical civilisation. Western Europe descended into a dark age as the barbarians dismantled the time-worn institutions of the Empire.

Later it was the marriage of Gothic youth with Gallo-Roman maturity which gave birth to the Merovingian dynasty of the Franks, the first of the Western powers. ‘Youth’ in the cultural sense means inwardness, spirituality and agriculture. Only in this young, fertile state can a culture develop meaningfully. At ‘middle-age’ a culture begins to comprehend the outside world and thinks externally. The countryside is drained as cities emerge. Commerce, diplomacy and war are established as cornerstones of society. Traditional morality is steadily degraded. Mysticism is attacked by rationalism. Cultural purity is lost as imperialism begins and foreign peoples are introduced into the civilisation’s bloodstream. This is an oft-repeated drama in history, and this is a crucial point: Our common understanding of history is faulty, indeed outright ridiculous. History as understood ever since the Enlightenment is a series of linear events since the so-called Dawn of Civilisation in Mesopotamia and Egypt. According to this view there is a long continuity of civilisation from the time of the pyramids to the time of the skyscraper. Also according to this view, human society as it exists today is the sum total of thousands of years of continuous growth, development and progress leading to some unspecified future Utopia. This is complete rubbish, a mere delusion of Enlightenment thinkers. In fact history is not contiguous, but rather segregated into clear epochs, into distinct cultures, each of which possessed its own unique character. A culture is made up of traditions, faiths, languages, ethnicities and vast population-streams. It is a self-contained organism in the sense that it has self-awareness, that it expresses its existence through the great minds and achievements of its people and its nations throughout its allotted life cycle.

Some of these bygone cultures, which matured into great civilisations and then perished, are the Babylonian, the Egyptian, the Vedic Indian, the Chinese, the Classical, the Arabian and the Amerindian. To an astute student of history the same pattern is visible time after time.

Today the only extant culture is ours, the West. Sprung from Europe, the Western influence is now worldwide, though in non-European lands the roots are shallow, as there exists no genuine ethnic or spiritual imperative outside of Europe and her primary colonies for the preservation of Western civilisation.

All signs today point to the rapid decline of the West, not economically, militarily or politically, but rather culturally. Our culture is being blooded on the altar of modernism, sacrificed to the gods of finance, progress and multiculturalism. A sign of a civilisation’s decline is that it is tolerant of other cultures in its midst, for by then it has already forsaken its own. So it is with our Western civilisation.

The time of our collapse draws near. There are those amongst us who would rush that date forward, for the sooner this decadent morass of social complexity and anonymity is brought to ruin, the sooner the barbarian will return to smash indolence, immorality and nihilism into dust. The barbarian will do the work in the West that the Goth performed in Rome, dismantling our convoluted world-state and returning the imperative to men and women of spiritual vigour and integrity. This age of corruption will pass as it has for every civilisation before us, and the barbarian will inherit the Earth.

When the Faustian spirit of the West is extinguished, a new spirituality will take root and a time of cultural prosperity will begin, somewhere in this world.

“One day the last portrait of Rembrandt and the last bar of Mozart will have ceased to be — though possibly a coloured canvas and a sheet of notes will remain — because the last eye and the last ear accessible to their message will have gone.” - Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, 1918

So be it!

- Sechrima, The Psychonaut, 01 September 2008


The Tao of the West

There exists a Western tradition of mystical and intuitive wisdom, though today it is buried underneath our rampant obsession with Reason. Here I intend to show a glimpse of the intuitive history of Classico-Western thought, from the very ancient through to the very modern.

“From out of all the many particulars comes oneness, and out of oneness come all the many particulars.” - Heraclitus, Fragment 54

“Withdraw into yourself and look. And if you do not find yourself beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue that is to be made beautiful: he cuts away here, he smoothes there, he makes this line lighter, this other purer, until a lovely face has grown upon his work. So do you also: cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is overcast, labour to make all one glow of beauty and never cease chiselling your statue, until there shall shine out on you from it the godlike splendour of virtue, until you shall see the perfect goodness surely established in the stainless shrine.” - Plotinus, Ennead I.6.9, 270 AD

“Just as a spring, which perpetually flows and waters the roots of the flowers, so that the flowers bloom and receive their colours from the water of the spring, so the Godhead imparts Itself to the capacities of the soul that it may grow in the likeness of God. The more that the soul receives of the Divine Nature, the more it grows like It, and the closer becomes its union with God. It may arrive at such an intimate union that God at last draws it to Himself altogether, so that there is no distinction left, in the soul’s consciousness, between itself and God, though God still regards it as a creature. Wherefore let yourselves not be misled by the light of nature. The higher the degree of knowledge which the soul attains to in the light of grace, the darker seems to it the light of nature. If the soul would know the real truth it must examine itself, whether it has withdrawn from all things, whether it has lost itself, whether it loves God purely with His love and nothing of its own at the same time, so that it may not be separated from Him by anything, and whether God alone dwells in it.” - Meister Eckhart, Sermons

“The criterion and rule of the true is to have made it. Accordingly, our clear and distinct idea of the mind cannot be a criterion of the mind itself, still less of other truths. For while the mind perceives itself, it does not make itself.” - Giambattista Vico, De Italorum Sapienta, 1710

“Long ago the country bore the country-town and nourished it with her best blood. Now the giant city sucks the country dry, insatiably and incessantly demanding and devouring fresh streams of men, until it wearies and dies in the midst of an almost uninhabited waste of country.” - Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, 1918

“Because machines could be made progressively more and more efficient, Western man came to believe that men and societies would automatically register a corresponding moral and spiritual improvement. Attention and allegiance came to be paid, not to Eternity, but to the Utopian future. External circumstances came to be regarded as more important than states of mind about external circumstances, and the end of human life was held to be action, with contemplation as a means to that end. These false and historically aberrant and heretical doctrines are now systematically taught in our schools and repeated, day in, day out, by those anonymous writers of advertising who, more than any other teachers, provide European and American adults with their current philosophy of life. And so effective has been the propaganda that even professing Christians accept the heresy unquestioningly and are quite unconscious of its complete incompatibility with their own or anybody else’s religion.” - Aldous Huxley, Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita, 1944

“Who knows, but that the universe is not one vast sea of compassion actually, the veritable holy honey, beneath all this show of personality and cruelty?” - Jack Kerouac, Is There A Beat Generation? forum at Hunter College, 1958

“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.” - E. O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, 1998
So, here we can see that outside of the mystical Orient, within the very den of the rationalistic lion, an intuitive reaction of the soul has been a continuous fixture of our spiritual and philosophical development. It is my hope this tradition will come to a head in the coming cataclysm our civilisation is faced with. It is time for the West to join the East in a mystical revelation which will alter the fabric of our society and realise our spiritual destiny. The seed is planted; it only remains for a determined few to water it and cultivate the sapling.

- Sechrima, The Psychonaut, 31 August 2008

The Flight of Icarus

Since Western civilisation turned from an inward-thinking organism into an outward-thinking machine, we have all been party to a degradation of our minds, bodies and souls. At the vanguard of the forces which changed the West from an agrarian and spiritual culture into a cosmopolitan and rational civilisation was Rene Descartes. His famous pronouncement, Cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am), has done more to undermine humanity than any other utterance in history. The cold seed which Descartes planted in the Christian bosom of Europe was one which led past the Renaissance and the Enlightenment to the bloody carnage of the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and the catastrophic World Wars. Worse than all these resultant conflicts, however, is the atrophy of human spirit which has swept through every nation where Descartes’s gospel of Reason prevailed. The idea that rational thought alone is sufficient to comprehend the Universe and its mysteries has perverted faiths and cultures and left our spiritual heritage barren.

Spiritual wisdom, which has been a staple of human life since our prehistoric dawn, relies on intuitive knowledge gained through meditation, prayer and worship of Godhead. Spirituality, though it may infuse and nourish our material existence, is not a force anchored to anything material. It is a transcendent, unitive force rooted in the Divine Ground from which the cosmos is sprung. Direct knowledge of this fount of divinity cannot be gained through reason or any rational process, but only through the mystical, meditative inuition which is the domain of the spiritual traditions of humanity. The rational revolution of Descartes is a direct attack against this mysticism, an attack which was mostly successful and has, as will be shown, led our species to a dismal condition.

Since the advent of Descartes, Man has been on an Icarus-like journey: He began his flight and had to be careful not to fly too close to the sun, as the wax with which his wings were made would melt, nor too close to the sea, as the wax would dampen. So he needed to strike a balance. Of course with his rising enthusiasm for Reason, Man suddenly had a hungry gleam in his eyes, a hunger to unveil a future Utopia based on rationalism, on the foundations of science and logic. Much like Icarus, overcome by the sublime feeling that flying gave him, Man soared joyfully ever higher. Everything seemed to be getting better. But as a result of our material advances there emerged a severe decline in spirituality. Rising consumerism, ecological damage, a widening gap between the rich and poor and a proliferation of bloodshed are just some of the drawbacks of Man’s ascension. As Icarus/Man flew higher towards the sun, wealth and sophistication increased, but not without a price. Disparity between nations strengthened, our sense of community either vanished or was warped into psychotic doppelgangers in the service of demagoguery. Now we have worldwide paranoia, nihilism, ignorance and usury - our wings are burning off. Suddenly the sun blinds Icarus, and equivalently, Man is blinded by the labyrinthine hyper-reality all around him, an illusion based on an excess of symbols designed to increase consumerism and to distract us from the mounting problems in which we are mired.

Man is flying at his apex now, but still he thinks his Utopia is just a little higher, just inches out of his grasp, so he pushes himself further. But he needs to be told the truth, that there is no Utopia behind Descartes’s rationalism. There is no satisfaction, let alone paradise, to be discovered in the entirety of the material Universe.

It is time for a retreat from the infertile heights of rational thought back to the fruitful valley of intuitive wisdom. What Gautama Buddha perceived beneath the Bodhi tree, we children of Western civilisation must reinvent under street lamps. It is time for a spiritual and social exodus from civilisation. Let us not feed the monster from within, but rather fall completely from its corruptive tendrils and live as our ancestors did, as tribes of freemen, subscribing to the soul and not to the flesh. We will ramble through our cities like nomads. A house is a boulder. A park is a field. Our consciousness will radiate ever deeper until we rediscover the truth which is nowhere to be found in the physical universe.

The gates of wisdom stand beyond the limits of reason.

- Sechrima, The Psychonaut, 31 August 2008