Tuesday, 19 January 2021 at 10:05
Julius Evola, Paesaggio interiore, apertura del diaframma (Inner landscape, aperture), 1921
In my last blog I made the point that Evola stood against Theosophy and its variants because they end up promoting an ideal of unity understoodas immanence of the ‘One Life’ in every being.
Evola believed that the ‘One life’ should not be the end point, but rather the starting point i.e. the ‘undifferentiated substrate’, the forest out of which the individual carves his own clearing of ‘formed individuality’; it is not – as the Theosophists misunderstood it – a final state of perfection in which distinct individuals dissolve themselves, losing their identity in a pantheistic fusion with the Whole.
This esoteric position of Evola’s crossed seamlessly into his political standpoint
I quote from Evola's Fascism Viewed from the Right.
In truth, personality and liberty can be conceived only on the basis of the individual’s freeing himself, to a certain degree, from the naturalistic, biological and primitively individualist bonds that characterise the pre-state and pre-political forms in a purely social, utilitarian and contractual sense. Then it is possible to conceive that the true state, the state characterised by the ‘transcendence’ of the political level that we have discussed, furnishes a propitious environment for the development of personality and true liberty in the sense of virtus, according to the Classical understanding. With its climate of high tension, it issues a continual appeal to the individual to carry himself beyond himself, beyond simple vegetative life.
Freedom is a kind of transcendence. The higher self should transcend the lower self and the state should encourage this impulse. This is the transcendence that results from a rising up out of the vegitative ‘One life’.
There is also a downward self-transcendence where the individual transcends himself in the direction of collectives and demagogic movements. This results in a descent into the ‘One life’ with the concomitant loss of identity - the death of the self.
To use the term totalitarianism correctly, the substantial difference could be briefly expressed by saying that totalitarianism of the Right is ‘anagogic’, while that of the Left is ‘catagogic’, and that only because both are equally opposed to the limited and hollow regime of the bourgeois individual could a myopic mindset think that they have anything in common.
Left and right are totally opposed. They transcend individual bourgeois consumer-based culture but in opposite directions.
© John Dunn.
Formless to formed
Sunday, 17 January 2021 at 21:17
Julius Evola, Tendency of Sensorial Idealism, 1916
There is more to explore e.g. Julius Evola’s case for ‘formed individuality’ and its relationship to Theosis. Also, how does Massimo Scaligero’s relationship to Anthroposophy determine, if at all, the direction of his movement to or from oneness.
An essay by Roberto Bacci* moves us forward on the path to dealing with these issues. Bacci examines the essay Maschera e volto dello spiritualismo contemporaneo (1932) (Mask and face of contemporary spiritualism) which was Julius Evola’s criticism of Theosophism and its dissident offshoot Rudolf Steiner’s Anthropositivism amongst others.
Bacci discusses how Evola advocated the idea of consciousness as ‘one’ in the sense that it is unique and specific, the result of a process of individuation; meanwhile he censured Theosophy because it promoted a model of 'oneness' in the sense of a collective entity, resulting from levelling the differences into a homogeneous totality.
According to Evola, Theosophy correctly sets as a goal for the individual the achievement of an ‘independent self-consciousness,’ but then it gets side-tracked by the anti-aristocratic notion of ‘social collective progress’ – a spiritual evolution across the ages involving all human beings indiscriminately – and ends up promoting an ideal of unity understood as immanence of the ‘One Life’ in every being.
Though Evola never said it in so many words, he must have recognised that in its obsession with oneness, theosophy served as a ‘spiritual’ arm of globalism and its two faces, financial and Marxist.
In Maschera e volto dello spiritualismo contemporaneo Evola made the case for the ‘One Life’ being the point of departure and not the arrival in the transmutation of consciousness. The ‘One Life’ is the ‘undifferentiated substrate’, the forest out of which the individual carves out its own clearing of ‘formed individuality’; it is not – as the Theosophists misunderstood it – a final state of perfectionin which distinct individuals dissolve themselves, losing their identity in a pantheistic fusion with the Whole.
The Theosophist cosmography of ultimate Oneness draws upon Platonism, Lurianic Kabbalah and Spinozism. Any sign of individual specificity is erased. In opposition to this view, Evola exalted an ascetic-alchemical teaching which aimed at refining the inner core of individuality as a grain of pure gold. Transmutation – stated Evola – must always proceed from ‘formless universality’ to ‘formed individuality’ and not the otherway around.
It is the latter offering of transmutation with which I agree in my book Child of Encounter, in which I condemn the whole of the accepted western philosophico-literary canon as being malignly influenced by Lurianic Kabbalah and Spinozism into promoting pathways to undifferentiated Oneness.
*In pulling together the above working notes, I am indebted to Roberto Bacci and his essay Transmutationand Homogenization of Consciousness in Italian Esotericism during the Fascist Period: Mario Manlio Rossi’s Spaccio dei Maghi and Julius Evola’s Maschera e Volto dello Spiritualismo Contemporaneo.
© John Dunn.
Salvage the individual
Saturday, 16 January 2021 at 10:22
The logic of Gentile’s philosophy of no presuppositions is such that ultimately the staring point, i.e. the individual thinker, must be lost, leaving a situation best described as thinking thought doing the thinking without the thinker.
In trying to salvage the individual, we might at best say that thinking thought has adopted the individual in order to think. And if actual thinking thought is truth, i.e. pure Logos, then are we not looking here at Logos incarnated with all its theological implications.
There is a proactive element to Massimo Scaligero’s adaptation of Giovanni Gentile’s philosophy, which might be expressed as the thinker adopting thinking thought to think and thereby opening a pathway to Logos, Love, God. However, Scaligero is still left with the unanswered conundrum that he inherited from Gentile, and that is - how do you account for the necessarily presupposed starting point in the act of thinking thought, i.e. the individual thinker.
Similarly, how is it possible to avoid the idolatry of establishing the Logos as apresupposition, thereby rendering God as an abstract concept?
I look forward to reading about how, if at all, Scaligero answers the call to deal with the above abstraction conundrums as they apply to man and God, when I eventually read his Logos and the New Mysteries.
© John Dunn.
Friday, 15 January 2021 at 09:43
From Massimo Scaligero’s standpoint, is not the thinking ‘I’ an act of reflected thought, i.e. thought thought and therefore an abstraction?
I ask this, because Gentile faced the same paradox. Reflected thought is presuppositional, i.e. abstract. By starting with the ‘I’ that thinks, Gentile did in fact allow a presupposition, an abstraction, there by losing the ‘I’. But if he had started with the pure act* of thinking, hewould have lost the very ‘I’ that was presupposed to have done the act of thinking in the first place. Losing the ‘I’ means that thinking takesplace without the thinker.
What is doing the thinking? Where do the thoughts come from?
If the truth lies in the thinking act, which is autonomous from the ‘I’, then the thinking act is truth, i.e. the Logos.
But are not thoughts uniquely attached to man?
Add Rudolf Steiner into the mix as Scaligero did then a new dimension to the discussion opens up, because whilst Steiner would argue that thoughts are uniquely voiced by man, they do not originate in man.
Does this mean that thinking adopts the individual in order to think? And if thinking is pure Logos, then are we not looking at the Logos incarnated?
'I think therefore I am.'
But what am I?
I am the I am.
In John 8:58,Jesus answered the religious leaders, saying, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am’. This was a clear reference to Exodus 3:14, where God revealed His name to Moses as ‘I AM’.
*Benedetto Croce objected that Gentile's "pure act" was nothing other than Schopenhauer's will.
© John Dunn.
Thought thought on thinking thought
Wednesday, 13 January 2021 at 16:26
Massimo Scaligero’s distinction between living and reflected thinking recalls the logic of thinking and logic of thought in the philosophy of Giovanni Gentile. However, Gentile was content to remain within the parameters of Hegelian philosophy, taking it to the outer extremes of idealism, rather than seek any esoteric implications from these extremes.
Scaligero took Gentile’s idea of thinking thought in contrast to thought thought, but broke through the boundaries of idealism to formulate an esoteric foundation, in which the thinking thought, which he called living, taps into an all-encompassing cosmic force that gives man access to the Logos. Similarly, the logic of Gentile ’s thought thought becomes the limit of reflected thought in Scaligero, or rather of a dialectic end in itself which is wholly earthbound.
Scaligero took Gentile’s pure act of thinking thought and turned it into an interior exercise with an initiatory value, usually translated as concentration, though it seems to me to be somewhere between concentration and meditation.
By contemplating the synthesis of perception and concept in a man-made object, the individual should arrive at the experience of thinking thought, or living experience that would allow him to transcend that dialectic of thought that limits him to the reflection of the world, or to its maya or appearance.
The question for me is - can access to the Logos beyond the limitations of thought thought be opened by personal experiences limited to the self, by acts of will? Or does there have to be an external intervention, an encounter of one sort or another?
© John Dunn.
Poetic human love
Tuesday, 12 January 2021 at 20:27
I never really understood what feeling alone meant, because always, realising inner loneliness, actually looking for it, I found myself with the inner life of others, so I felt solitude not as an isolation, but an ascetic path to communion with the actual reality of beings. Feeling alone has alwaysbeen a way to serenity for me.
However, we all know that there is a difference between solitude and a condition of loneliness. The latter is related to having no-one to love, more so than being loved. It is akin to being incapable of poetry, not as aesthetic activity, but as a breathless and free spirit. The whole inner climate of the communion with the other must be poetry or it is valueless; it must be an encounter that sinks into a healing harmony. Everyone is called to the restoration of ancient harmony, the original Eden of the human couple, the crystalline marriage. The human condition is to face a world of entangled forces and lusts, ethnic struggles, wars, classist fanaticisms, equal levelling etc. This is related to the faltering of faith and honour in the spirit fighter. A failed spiritual commitment gives calculating and materialist forces pseudo-legitimate powers over the world. Beyond all compromises, overcoming fears and obscure human limitations, we need to bring all this to its end, forcing spirit to rise above what is ordinarily feared. Until such a time loneliness will hold sway. The era is difficult, but heroic and holy. One day the door to sacred and poetic human love will be opened.
© John Dunn.
Know the reality
Monday, 11 January 2021 at 17:58
There follows a summary of how Rudolf Steiner might have described man’s position in our epoch. There is only one path open to a description of this type and this is highly metaphorical. However, the descriptive force of the message wrapped in metaphors depends on the reader first knowing the reality of the world.
Overtime it has happened that man has descended, for different degrees of consciousness, to physical thought. He had to carry out an inner activity in which the divine-spiritual beings no longer acted. In ancient times he acted with the imagination and intuition that were given to him by the invisible Masters, the Gods, but later he had to lose this help, in order to win his freedom. Having lost his true inner dimension, he is currently in such a condition that no matter how much he can grasp the whole outside world with his thought of him, he cannot grasp the depth of inner reality. The superficiality of his intellectual level does not allow him to find the Gods, but he finds a being who gives him the answers, gives him the possibility to organise the world, knowledge, the economy, the future, everything that can be understood and organised through fallen thought. The being he finds is the one that Rudolf Steiner defines as the most dazzling intelligence on Earth: Ahriman. At that same level, that of fallen thought, however, man can also encounter Christ. It can be said that at that level man encounters the presence of Christ and the presence of Ahriman on the same level. Of course not because Christ and Ahriman are on the same level, but they are for the man who thinks with the thought of him fallen. Man has the possibility, through Christ, of rediscovering the I as he was originally. However, on the level of reflected thought he finds more easily a force that gives him everything organised: knowledge, physical, mathematical, philosophical knowledge, ethics, logic, administrative capacity, and also politics, the judiciary, medicine, even art, religion, metaphysics and meditation. It is all in the kingdom of Ahriman! Man is put in a position to know this dazzling power, but he also has the ability to perform an act of freedom and reject the easy path of Ahriman, to find the more difficult one of Christ. But he can't find Christ if he first doesn't know the reality of the world.
© John Dunn.