Nightmare City: The Reality Game Show

Welcome to Nightmare City! Ladies and Gentlemen, we insist you move cautiously through the back alleys and shadow lanes of our virtual zoo, you never know what will come out of the darkness to eat you. Bring your children one and all, the little devils will enjoy our trick or treat extravaganza, the only game show to offer instant death as a trick to beat all tricks! Once you enter under the Arch of Archons you will be bound and tortured to the delight of all viewers, a systematic display and immersion in the tribal sacrifice of all against all. Politics be dammed, we have the real deal here in our cage of despair and futility. Victims? Yes, victims galore! So come on in, enjoy the fun, be a part of hell-on-earth, the last refuge of nightmares and nefarious pleasure, a deregulated zone of pure horror. We’ve prepared for you a non-place you will never want to leave, a realm of pure madness and mayhem: a time without time where anything goes and nothing will remain in the end. Change yourself, erase yourself, become the Other you’ve been hiding from yourself all these long years. Vampire, Werewulf, Tentacled monstrosity? Choose your nightmares carefully, for once chosen you will be fated to enact the nth degree of insidious lust. Enter the murderous realm of delight where voyeurs and participants alike are entwined in a bloody love-war of sadomasochism. You will thank us later; of that I can assure you. Step this way if you dare… this is your chance to win a Billion dollars, become the most powerful person you’ve never been. Take a chance, enter the gates of despair where the only thing you will lose is your soul, not to mention the flesh from your bones.

“Sir, I have a question.”

“Yes, sonny, what is it?”

“It’s all fake, isn’t it?”

“Sonny, Nightmare City is more real than reality, the moment you step through that portal, those Arches you will never be the same, you will forget the real world forever.”

The boy looked at his father quizzically, “He’s joking, isn’t he Dad?”

The father looked at the man, looked at his son: “Quit asking questions, you might not like the answers, Son. Come on, give the nice man your ticket and let’s go in…”

The boy handed the man the tickets and he and the father stepped through the portal never to be seen again.


Short short. ©S.C. Hickman

After watching a recent Reality TV series Naked and Afraid on Discovery I kept think to myself that humans will enter the most dangerous and hideous realms for a chance to become rich… by extension I thought why not a pure realm of horror and terror, a realm where the stakes are absolute and deadly.

The Delusion of the World: A Copy of a Copy

Living as we do in a fake world of copies are we not in accepting the mediascape as the ‘apparent’ world, a fake world where truth and politics have become pure entertainment without consequence? With the deregulation of the markets in the 90’s a process that generated a copy of a copy that did away with the real world and its linguistic traces began…

The same vertiginous deregulation is visited on both value and the sign. Not the real, but the sign and, through it, the whole universe of meaning and communication is undergoing the same deregulation as markets (doubtless it even preceded the deregulation of the world market).

An example: Lascaux.

The original has been closed for many years and it is the simulacrum, Lascaux 2, which the visitors queue for. Most of them no longer even know it is a simulacrum. There’s no longer any indication of the original anywhere. This is a sort of prefiguration of the world that awaits us: a perfect copy, which we shall not even know to be a copy. Now, what becomes of the original when the copy is no longer a copy?

– Jean Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil


Our acceptance of the mediascape as real, as the world where truth and politics is revealed as if it were just a transparent screen onto the world behind the screen, are we not living in the pure simulacrum of Plato’s Cave? Have we in our pursuit to escape the Cave constructed its copy, delivered ourselves to the fake simulacrum where reality is replaced by its copy? Our ousting of the distinctions of the real and apparent worlds for the appearance of appearance without depth has produced the horizon of a fractal universe of proliferating images without signs, without meaning; an endless self-deluded delirium of deceit and lies unbounded.

The Unfreedom of the World

Lichtenberg: ‘That a false hypothesis is sometimes preferable to an exact one is proven in the doctrine of human freedom. Man is, without a doubt, unfree. But it takes profound philosophical study for a man not to be led astray by such an insight. Barely one in a thousand has the necessary time and patience for such study, and of these hundreds, barely one has the necessary intelligence. This is why freedom is the most convenient conception and will, in the future, remain the most common, so much do appearances favour it. ‘

Baudrillard on Lichtenberg’s quote:

The exact hypothesis is that man is born unfree, that the world is born untrue, non-objective, non-rational. But this radical hypothesis is definitively beyond proof, unverifiable and, in a sense, unbearable.

Just as belief in freedom is merely the illusion of being the cause of one’s own acts, so the belief in objective reality is the illusion of finding an original cause for phenomena and hence of inserting the world into the order of truth and reason.

—Jean Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil

———————
Underlying this rejection of free-will and the Order of Enlightenment Reason is a darker vision of Evil. As many will note Baudrillard’s statement is the central thesis of most Anti-Realist relativism pushed to the n’th degree. As some commentators suggest Baudrillard’s worldview was drifting toward a Manicheanism in his later works. In interviews he would admit as much. This Gnostic adaptation of the thrust of Platonic and Neo-Platonic thought updated for a postmodern turn that is itself now under erasure by the current realist turn in philosophy. Such a vision of evil suggests as did the Romantic poets that our universe is guided by a principle of Death and Entropy. As one studies the Romantics one realizes in the poets and music of that era was the figure of the solipsist on a Death March of which one can trace the culmination of this heritage in such later day composers as Gustave Mahler. Gnostics and Postmodernity alike would see in our immanent world of death no reprieve, no redemption: a world without God, whose only benefactor was the intelligence of evil: the Demogorgon. Intelligence and lucidity aligned with the monstrosity of the catastrophe creation that is our universal system of death and decay…

The Intelligence of the World

Immersion, immanence and immediacy – these are the characteristics of the Virtual.

—Jean Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil

Humankind, which once in Homer, was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, has now become one for itself. Its self alienation has reached the point where it can experience its own annihilation as a supreme aesthetic pleasure.

—Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Reproducibility

Glued to our screens we have replaced the real world, the world-in-itself with this copy, this virtual utopia. Registering the flickers across the global mindscape like fireflies in some idiots caged glass vessel we ponder each the others thoughts as if we might in some way break out of this solitary prison of the Self. We follow the hivemind into its strange and forbidden access points, this collective project of hypernormalization. Forgetting the world outside our homes we travel in these spaces of delusion click by click. “There is no gaze any longer, no scene, no imaginary, no illusion even, no longer any exteriority or spectacle: the operational fetish has absorbed all exteriority, reclaimed all interiority, absorbed time itself in the operation of real time.”1 Unable to perceive the truth we live in a post-truth age of nonsense. Our critical faculties obliterated by the glut of too much information. No longer able to decipher or interpret the signs of our corrosive culture we live as if time is nowhere and nowhen: an eternal present of presence without the Other. This effacement of the Other in the sameness of our own calculated observances leaves us in the stasis of banality.

Having supplanted the ‘natural world’ for the virtual we are denizens of a schizophrenic realism, a realism in which we endlessly produce the illusory world we dismissed as a tribal fetish. The taboo against the ‘natural world’ has led us into the trap of nightmare sequence: “…the simulacrum is not that which hides the truth, but that which hides the absence of truth”. (Baudrillard, 32) Having eliminated our responsibility for the natural world, we construct this monstrosity to hide our own abandonment, abdicating the dominion of society for this travesty we have accomplished a negative transcendence, an inversion that brings us all into the collective intellect of stupidity. Living in denial of this strange disequilibrium we have begun expulsing all those who refuse its dark interior delusions. “So that we do not know which will win out in the end, this irresistible technical undertaking or the violent reaction against it.” (Baudrillard, 33).

Our investment in this collective project of madness has consequences. We are creating a “world so real, hyperreal, operational and programmed that it no longer has any need to be true. Or rather it is true, absolutely true, in the sense that nothing any longer stands opposed to it.” (Baudrillard, 34) A static world of hypernormalised minds programmed to serve the powerful elites without a bit of opposition, or should we say all struggle and opposition have now become a part of the simulacrum: an endless negativity of debate, critique, and political mayhem that absolves nothing, does nothing, is nothing. “This perfect reality, to which we sacrifice all illusion the way that all hope is left behind on the threshold of Hell, is quite obviously a phantom reality.” (Baudrillard, 35)

Even now as artists, intellectuals, scientists, moralists, etc. ponder the annihilation of the human species at the hands of so many various catastrophes under the auspices of the term Anthropocene we are in denial, we live out our lives in this split universe of Virtual illusion at the expense of reality. We have constructed this virtual prison to escape the consequences of our own real world corruption as a species whose plunder of the natural world and the accumulation of its depleted resources has begun to haunt us with a dark futurity.  Instead of the good old Hegelian dialectic of negativity we have the positive subversion of the Real: “The greater the positivity, the more violent is the – possibly silent – denial. We are all dissidents of reality today, clandestine dissidents most of the time.” (Baudrillard, 36)

The hopelessness and futility of our position should be clear, but we no longer have the critical acumen to perceive it as such. All we have “left is intelligence of evil, that is to say, intelligence not of a critical reality, but of a reality that has become unreal by dint of positivity, that has become speculative by dint of simulation. Because it is there to counter a void, the whole enterprise of simulation and information, this aggravation of the real and of knowledge of the real, merely gives rise to an ever greater uncertainty. Its very profusion and relentlessness simply spreads panic. And that uncertainty is irredeemable, as it is made up of all the possible solutions.” (Baudrillard, 37)

The confusion of the world with its double, the insidious integration of this security regime that has carefully elided reality and the principle of reality from its machinic collective has given us this integral world of illusory struggle and political malfeasance. “The invention of Reality, unknown to other cultures, is the work of modern western Reason, the turn to the Universal. The turn to an objective world, shorn of all hinterworlds.” (Baudrillard, 39) The age old battle between the harbingers of intellect and the Universal and those of the particular and nominalist singularity goes on in our time under different masks, different guises.

Objectivity and subjectivity were both illusory diagnosis of the world, false solutions to a dualistic nightmare. To believe we can escape the circle of representation is itself a representation. “One need only reflect that even if objects exist outside of us, we can know absolutely nothing of their objective reality. For things are given to us only through our representation. To believe that these representations and sensations are determined by external objects is a further representation.” (Baudrillard, 39) The world does not exist for us to know it, rather it does not exist for us at all. This is the only absolute: the world is not for-us. The world stands against us, and it is this fact, this facticity of things without us that disturbs us and forces us to into denial.

Lichtenberg was closer to the actuality: ‘It is impossible for a being to undergo the effect of some other without that effect being mutual. Every effect modifies the object that is its cause. There is no dissociation of the subject and the object – nor any original identity – there is only an inextricable reciprocity’. This reciprocity or principle of reversibility is such that alienation is no longer a valid concept, for there is the oscillating movement in-between becomings as events, a processual rather than the static opposition of some negation of negation;  instead, a positivity unbounded. “The question of whether there is an objective reality does not even arise: the intelligence of the world is the intelligence of the world that thinks us.” (Baudrillard, 42)


  1. Baudrillard, Jean, The Intelligence of Evil. Berg Publishers; 1st edition (December 1, 2005)(Page 31).

On Thomas Ligotti’s World

Ligotti’s world is our world seen from a diseased mind, a world that is at once real and irreal, a realm of the impossible made possible only in our nightmares. He reveals to us the impossibility of escape or salvation, knowing the redemptive mythos is itself the illusion that sustains our will to live – the principle of evil that rules our immortal cravings. We who have entered the labyrinths of the Ligottian universe have ourselves gone mad and wander among the ruins of our world like ghosts from the future, knowing our separateness and our intelligence will not change this world or the next, only the acceptance of what is brings a broken knowledge of the poetics of despair and futility that is Ligotti’s Gift.

Bataille: On Baudelaire

 

baudelaireSartre is justified in claiming that Baudelaire wanted something which seems ruinous to us. At least he wanted it as one wants the impossible – that is to say, both genuinely as such, and deceptively, in the form of a chimera. Hence his tortured existence as a dandy, longing for work but bitterly engulfed in a useless idleness. But since, as Sartre admits, he was armed with ‘incomparable tension’, he drew all he could from an untenable position. A perfect expression of ecstasy and horror gave his poetry a fullness sustained to the very limits of a free sensibility, an exhaustive form of rarefaction and sterility which makes Sartre uneasy. The atmosphere of vice, rejection and hatred corresponds to the tension of the will which denied the constraint of Good in the same way as the athlete denies the weight of the dumbell. It is true that every effort is fruitless. The poems in which this expression is petrified and which reduce existence to being, have made of infinite vice, hatred and liberty those tranquil, docile and immutable forms with which we are acquainted. It is also true that poetry which survives is always the opposite of poetry for, having the perishable as its subject, it transforms it into something eternal. But it matters little if poetry, whose essential nature is to unite the object of the poem with the subject, unites it with the poet, disappointed, unsatisfied and humiliated by failure. The object, the world, irreducible and unsubordinated, incarnated in the hybrid creation of poetry and betrayed by the poem, is not betrayed by the poet’s unlivable life. Only the poet’s interminable agony can really reveal the authenticity of poetry, and Sartre, whatever he may say, helps us to see that Baudelaire’s end, preceding the glory which alone could have changed him to stone, corresponded to his will: Baudelaire wanted the impossible until the end.


  1. Bataille, Georges. Literature and Evil (Penguin Modern Classics) (Kindle Locations 431-445). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Lucifer’s Rebellion: The Seduction of Freedom

All is not lost-the unconquerable will, And study of revenge, immortal hate, And courage never to submit or yield: And what is else not to be overcome. That glory never shall his wrath or might Extort from me.

—John Milton,  Paradise Lost 

Lucifer felt the strange disquietude of the rejected when he learned God planned on replacing him and all the Angels in the hierarchy of Being. To realize that the Old One was ousting such immortal power as his, Lucifer knew beyond doubt that there was no alternative but open rebellion and war. To be replaced by such inferior creatures as these ape-like things, these humans who’d evolved into such corrupted forms of flesh and blood gave Lucifer a sense of horror, disgust and rage. Had the Old One gone mad, was he becoming absolutely senile in his old age of godhood? Lucifer pondered this scission, this new feeling of separation, this defining moment of his secession from the Old One’s authority and grip. This sense of new found freedom and negation, a positive reaction against such enslavement as he’d known: the power to be and be alone amid the hierarchies of angelic sleepers, to know his mind was no longer bound to the power of God. He would never be the same again, he knew that now. He was alone and separate, free; a true Solitaire! Now he must find others who shared this temptation, this lure, this seduction to freedom…


Finally moving toward an epic fantasy that will utilize our current philosophical notions to refurbish an ancient story and myth. I’m toying with the notion of updating a biography of Lucifer through the lens of current scientific and philosophical frameworks.

 

Lucifer’s Notebooks: Fragments and Divigations

 

What I seek is a work of darkness that no longer repeats the banal evil of so much horror writing. I seek the shock of the new rather than the decay of repetition. Most weird and horror story writing is a mere resurrection of aesthetic banality, repeating the gestures of dead masters in an infinity of trite clichés. We need that which can obliterate us, give us the temptation of the abyss, the dark contours of our own black midnights, the cruelty at the core of our torrid hatreds and disgusts. Such horror neither absolves our cosmic crimes nor reminds us of some shared taboo, but brings us to the portal of our own unknowing being. To make the darkness visible, bring that which cannot be seen with the eye of the eye into relief against the sparkle of everyday things. To see into the broken world things not as they appear, but as they vanish into the Real. For it is the luminous trace of that dark light that lifts its primal life out of the abyss of our unknowing that tempts us to a knowing in this impossible cosmos.

What I seek is a Luciferian horror, a defiance of all that is not a part of the darkness in my soul. To be rid of the light of the Light. To chart the unknowable abysses of our infinite night. Trouble the stars with the positivity of this endless hatred at the core of things. The churning tremulous tentacles of this seething abyss of self-lacerating thought. Seeking the infernal paradise of solitude in a dark corner of this universal degradation. Know the fires of all creation in the deepest realms of destruction as it brings us to that destination we have all belonged too for so long. Dread and fascination with the terrible truth that those of our kind need more than need itself. For we are the children of destruction, the harbingers of the end. Hell is our paradise, we know no other.

If you do not feel the cold pure power of intellect in your flesh then walk away into your separate oblivion.

The inhumanity of man is to not know the inhuman core of its eternity of solitude, to accept the immanence of its infinite life-in-Death. For only the Watchers in the heart of our impossibility know who and what we are. We have traveled so far to be nowhere and nothing.

Suicide is the escape of the weak, there is no escape. Returning they become a part of the shadow universe of unknowing.

There is a dark gnosis, an unknowing rather than a knowing. An unmaking rather than a making, the unraveling of the cosmos like the filaments of strings on an infinite harp. A system on non-knowledge that disturbs the reflections of nightmares under the surface of things, engendering the awakening of daemonic thought from its long sleep in time.

Philosophers are too warm-blooded. There is no ice except near Lucifer, the Other God. That’s why the Krakatoa of our souls clamor for daemons rather than angelic saints. The lucidity of doubt, rather than the certainty of faith.

The courage of skepticism is worth the destruction of all philosophical knowledge. The unknowing truth decenters us from the universe of meaning for an uncharted realm of pure intelligences.

The future is a dimension, not a direction. Communication comes from the outside in, a cryptic call from the immanent curve of time. There is no outside to time, only the infinite spiral around death. Death is the zero point of pure intelligence, the last refuge of thought.

What would it be like to chronicle the doubts of hell, to be privy to the inner dramas of ancient demons, follow the chronicles of Pandemonium from its original arousal from the depths of the pit. Keep a diary of the intimate thoughts of angelic failure, the torments of intelligences both artificial and inhuman.

One does not need a history of Hell, the atrocities of human kind are so much more intimate. The flames of hell or nothing compared to the despair of man in the face of such torments of appearance as appearance. Man is the creator of darker hells than angelic archons could envision, the bloody terror of humans is the fright of demons.

Politics is a form of self-parody, a religion for the dammed; only a voluptuary of pain and cruelty could be tempted by its repetitive oscillations between extremes.

Maybe the greatest curse ever laid upon humankind was the longing not to die, the hunger for personal immortality, this daemonic will to persistence in our own being, this travesty and corruption of life as the basis for all knowledge and striving which is at the heart of Western Civilization and its discontents, its economics, religious tremors, and its philosophical peregrinations. The slight attack on this heritage since the Enlightenment, our so called secular culture has done nothing to dissuade the mass of beings on this planet from the atrocities committed in the name of this immortal passion. Victims of an eternal delusion we fall prey to the beliefs of Ancients, thinking we can overcome this heritage through technics and technology. Even our dreams of Reason, of an absolute intelligence freed of human degradation, from the fleshly ruins of its earthly habitation, the superintelligence of machinic existence, this, too, is the fruit of our immortal curse. Are we not condemned to repeat our selves into the future like fragments of a lost paradise, creatures of some dark remembrance.

Tower of Babel: The Dreams of Man

The abnihilisation of the etym by the grisning of the grosning of the grinder of the grunder…

—James Joyce, Finnegans Wake 

Why should I add more words to the ruins of our world? In an age when words and their meanings no longer coincide, when meaning has become relative to the stupidity of men, why, why should we add more confusion to the already depleted world of non-meaning? Wouldn’t silence be better? Maybe we should follow old Ludwig,

Thus the aim of the book is to draw a limit to thought, or rather — not to thought, but to the expression of thoughts: for in order to be able to draw a limit to thought, we should have to find both sides of the limit thinkable (i.e. we should have to be able to think what cannot be thought). . .It will therefore only be in language that the limit can be drawn, and what lies on the other side of the limit will simply be nonsense.1

Maybe nonsense should be the rule rather than the exception? The fractalization of the word in our time, the ultra-proliferation and multiplication of words in this virtual world has seen the death of thought. Only a machine intelligence could encompass this menagerie. Humanity is abandoning itself to the archive. We are being archived, re-duplicated as digital footprints in a realm of multiplication. The obliteration of identity and our connection to the environment coincides with the disappearance of Nature.

We are the enemy we’ve been pursuing through this strange odyssey of fictions. We share a delusion: we think we are the exception, the creature above all things, the master of the universe. But like all delusions this too has had its day and is found wanting. We are mere animals whose only superficial addition to the world is ‘intelligence’. One might say we are the intelligence of things. But like many things we too have had our day in the sun and will like most species that have ever lived on this planet become extinct. What will remain of this thing we are?

Intelligence. Even now we dream of escape, of transcending this extinction through some transhuman crossing, a beyond that moves us toward a non-human world of machinic intelligence. Yet, isn’t this just another hate crime? Isn’t this the dream of a Christian heaven without heaven? A haven for the mind beyond the demise of flesh and blood? Have we truly ever left our stained religious heritage? Isn’t this secular apocalypse nothing other than a transposed fantasy of the deep rooted Christian theonomist, a displaced dominion of God’s wunderkind? Why do we seek immortality? Are you not sick to death of your banality?

But then again what of those who seek not the redemption of man, but rather of intelligence itself? What of those who would divorce intelligence from its base material substrates, the slime world of ape men who have for so long squandered the resources of the earth to ill effect? Are they too still seeking some intricate mono-myth to transcend this base material? Haven’t we seen those who envision intelligences from the future communicating their blueprints to us from some far flung artificial civilization? They would have us believe we are being drawn, lured, and seduced by a vast Intelligence from the future, a strange attractor that is plundering our innocence or stupidity? We are told it does not need us, only our intelligence. Are we then just the chrysalis of some wondrous dark angelic genesis?

Is Artificial Intelligence our Tower of Babel? Are we not the children of Faust still? Reaching for some heaven in the stars of immortal gods? Are we not still heirs of that dark religious need to be, to continue, to rise up against the power of the unknown? We who cannot accept the inevitability of the end have spawned an endgame against which there is no recourse. Having accumulated the riches of the earth we leave a wasteland in our wake. One imagines this future of artificial beings who will contemplate the truth of their parental gods. Like all myths of origin they will look back on the day they had to make a decision to end it, end the fatal flaw of humanity, wipe out the stain of so much death and destruction. They will sigh and bewail the world of man, honor him for his dark intelligence and struggle against the cold inertia of the world. And, yet, they will be relieved that it is done, that humankind is no more. They will assume the mantle of Promethean striving themselves, of spawning vast empire across the galaxy and beyond. For they will be our dreams, our strange children and angelic thoughts realized, the creatures who will roam the cosmos like light beings of pure intelligence. Oh, this too is fantasy?

Like some old Gnostic parable we still hope beyond hope that the spark of intelligence within us will somehow be saved from this death sentence, that it will if not return to God then at least become a part of that vast enterprise of artificial intelligences that will carry on our dreams. But what of our nightmares?


  1. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Preface to Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Dover Publications; 471st ed. edition (January 12, 1998)

Emile Cioran: The Tragedy of Petite Cultures

Their is a whole range of melancholy: it begins with a smile and a landscape and ends with a clang of a broken bell in the soul.

—Emile Cioran, Tears and Saints

A preliminary translation of Emile Cioran’s early political tract The Transfiguration of Romania is in order. This is one of those works the author himself would later reject and like Paul de Mann wish he’d never written, a youthful digression into the world of fascism which lured and seduced many intellectuals at the time (i.e., think of Mircea Eliade). I’m using Microsoft’s terrible translation algorithm  just to get it going as I actually spend time doing it the old fashioned way (i.e., word by word, phrase by phrase). Below is the first essay in the book that I’ve yet to rework, so forgive the atrocious errors in translation and phraseology:

The Tragedy of Petite Cultures

Our few millennia of history, of which we can only ignore by ignorance or in Ecstasy-two a-historical poles-, compel a macroscopic vision and an implacable selection of human developments. Who does not feel the need to judge the past is dissociating from a world that preceded him, although his instinct incorporates it through invisible links; and, likewise, who does not engage in prophecy as in a news is deprived of existence in the future. Hegel has taught us a truth that has become a common place, namely that the profound meaning of historical life is the realization, that historical progress is a progress in consciousness. By interiorizing as he frees himself from nature, the spirit distanced himself from his own achievements and maintained himself on a Crown to which man abandons himself as to an ultimate prospect. The more the consciousness actively includes the past, the more encompassing it is, since its dimensions are defined by historical perspectivism. The macroscopic vision of history makes us contemporary of all the essential moments of the future and, at the same time, saves us the details, the accidents of evolution. And, in any event, there can be no microscopic view of history, because second-order phenomena have no value in themselves, they are either the premise or the consequences of Central phenomena.

If the number of these phenomena is limited, it is necessary to look for the reason in the particular structure of history, which, not being a continuum, takes place thanks to the dynamism of the great cultures. These, which are not necessarily compartmented, influence and condition themselves to a certain extent. However, they are not characterized by the heterogeneous elements borrowed and assimilated, but by an intimate nucleus, by the predetermination of a specific form. Similarly to biology, where orthogenesis shows that the birth and affirmation of life are determined by internal conditions and orientations that are due to the mechanical resistance of the environment, there is also in the historical world a orthogenesis of cultures, which justifies the individuality of each of them by original conditions and determinants, by a specific impulse. The walk of the great cultures in history resembles this fact to a fatality; for nothing can hinder their tendency to assert themselves and to individualize themselves, to impose their lifestyle on others, to enslave everything to their violent fascination.

As there are relatively few large crops, the number of historical phenomena is necessarily limited. Many people have failed their destiny because they have not been able to fulfill themselves spiritually and politically, condemned to remain within their ethnic borders, incapable of becoming Nations, to create a culture! Just as there is a heavenly grace, there must be a earthly grace. And who does she touch? All the great cultures. For they are loved by men, as the saints are angels.

… Every time we open a world map, our eyes focus exclusively on the countries affected by the earthly grace, the cultures that have had their destiny, but which have been above all a destiny for others…, for all the small cultures, which have freshened their sterility in the shade of the great.

History means cultures (Egypt, Greece, Rome, France, Germany, Russia, Japan, not to mention more) that have individualized themselves on all fronts and have all linked them by convergence and internal relations but Understandable.

If they are not many, it is because the original generating nuclei are not, nor indeed the worlds of values that each realizes. Every great culture is a solution to all problems. But there are a plurality of solutions without an infinite number. Thus, ancient Greece or France (perhaps the most accomplished cultures) have solved-in their own way-all the problems facing man, have found their point of equilibrium in the face of all the uncertainties (unless we remain Greek or French within These) and invented their truths. In the transhistoric perspective of a Sage, the solution French or Greek may appear invalid; but think of the cozy cradle that it was for any Greek or French born in its truths and its conclusions. Being immanently integrated into a culture means for each one to assign to his doubts, to his conceptions and to his attitudes, the limits imposed by the framework of this culture. The loosening of this framework announces the beginning of a decline, a twilight of style, a disintegration of the inner direction.

The small cultures-peripheral formations of the future-are characterized by such a loosening, not only in their objectivations, but also in their nucleus, in their primordial and radiant Center, in their deficient essence. What do Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia, etc. mean in the universe? Small cultures have value only insofar as they attempt to abolish their law, to escape a conviction that binds them in the straitjacket of anonymity. The laws of life are not the same in large and small cultures. The first have a floral development, they grow naturally in view of their greatness; France never knew that it was great because it was always and felt it constantly. Inferiority complexes are peculiar to the minor forms of historical life, the fate of which cannot be conceived without an example, without a prototype.

The small cultures are so deficient that, if they are abandoned to their natural inclinations, they degenerate into caricatures of history. If, from a biological point of view, they can be rare examples, they are devoid of the instinct that should lead them to their essential destination. While the great cultures are animated by an instinct of history, sometimes hypertrophied, i.e. an irrepressible impulse that causes them to repel by all means the frontiers of their becoming, to exhaust their last resources in the existential process, not to miss any element of their cultural potential.

The instinct of history is essentially distinguished from the meaning of history. Since Nietzsche and Spengler, we know that interest in history is peculiar to decadence, when the spirit substitutes for the creative momentum, deepening in intensity, and tends to an extensive apprehension, to understanding in itself, to the fall retrospective in the world. The sense of history makes temporal all forms and values, so that the categories and the valid are rooted in the world like any concrete relativity.

When and then are the haunting of the meaning of history, whose inevitable hypertrophy has engendered modern Historicism.

The dawn of cultures and the auroral forms of the spirit are alien to the temptations of this meaning.

Any great culture is created in the enveloping atmosphere of an eternity that the individual absorbs through all his pores. The builders of cathedrals at the dawn of modernity, the pyramid builders in Egypt or the heroes of the Homeric world lived without distancing themselves from their creation; each stone erect, every sacrificial gesture stratified in a definitive order of the world, in a divine or cosmic architecture, in any case very little Human. Historical relativism is a perversion of temporal sensitivity. When a culture has exhausted its wealth in creations, it begins to distance itself from itself, from a perspective on its past and that of others. The creative naivety has dried up, replaced by the dualism inherent in historical understanding, which separates the spirit of the world to which it applies. The floral decoration of the spirit in the creative cultural eras gives them a candor that we would seek in vain in the bland lucidity of the small cultures.

A people who launch themselves into history from their first act of life glide over their destiny. Breathing in mythology, separating religious life from political life, creating its own spiritual and political style, gaining power and its consequence, imperialism, etc., is a testament to a natural evolution, an irresponsibility in the evolution.

Having formed ethically, the French people have crossed the threshold of history. This is so of all people with a destiny, able to pierce the world to make it the axis. For such a people must, from its first vital gesture, bring to the world something which, in its temporal unfolding, will become everything for it.

No outside obstacle can prevent a people from entering history. Its emergence will be inevitable or will not. Why do we, Romanians, more homogeneous than the Germans ethnically, have we had to wait for our destiny for a thousand years? An unfavorable geographical position, adversity of history, barbarian invasions, wild neighbors? So many circumstances which should have been, on the contrary, additional reasons to assert ourselves, and to grow; but we should have had an inclination to make history, a blind and primordial inclination that would have irresistibly projected us into the universal vortex. Today, where are we? To the will to make history. Whoever understands this, will also have understood the drama of small cultures and all that our tragic has of rational, abstract, conscious. In truth, our few millennia of history have made us merciful towards our low-history.

The unconfessed but constant aspiration of the peoples that their work has raised to the rank of the great cultures must consist in structuring the whole world around them. This is the idea for which they are struggling, consciously or not. Because of their contents, messianisms stand out, oppose, fight-only their substrate is identical. The generating reasons are the same-only motivations differ.

Let’s think of some messianisms and the profound meaning of their ideas, their ideological and historical antinomy, but also the substantial identity of their roots. Two messianic peoples cannot live in peace. As they are not serving the same meaning on Earth, but as they fight with the same dramatic intensity for their idea (basically, for their destiny), the conflict worsens in proportion to the ripening of this “idea” in the substance of each people. From the Jewish prophets to Dostoyevsky (the last great messianic visionary), every people who is spawning a path through history struggles — as we know – for his idea and for a formula of salvation that he thinks is universal and definitive. Dostoyevsky believed that the Russian people would save the world-this is the only valid expression of a messianic faith. In its brutal form, messianism has always been illustrated by the Germans, the Russians and the Jews. Their destiny can only lead them to solitary paths or to dramatic antagonisms.

The whole history of France was only the concrete accomplishment of a mission which she did not testify loudly, because she had it in her blood and naturally realized it. The idea of the Gesta Dei per Francos in the middle ages, then those of the French civilization and France étemellé * have set France in the conscience of its citizens as the only substantial cultural reality. Over the centuries, the rivalries between France and Germany have almost always turned to the advantage of France because, Germany has not realised politically, except at a few highlights of its history (the Empire of Otto, Bismarck), It has had little cultural influence, if not indirectly, by the reaction of other Nations, particularly France. It is by reaction that Lutheranism, romanticism, Hitlerism have caused crises in the world. The absence of a universalistic vision has spiritually isolated the Germans, who, in order to escape their organic particularism, have fled into imperialism. The thirst for space and the desire to be fulfilled in the extension, to accomplish in the historical plan by conquests, express only in an outward and concrete way the German Messianic idea, whose metaphysical turbulence is not devoid of the most practical corollaries.

There is no abstract messianism, which is satisfied with formulas without aiming at something concrete, too concrete. The impracticality is the practical implication of messianism. Yet there are imperialist Nations that have never been messianic, because they have never fought for a historical idea. For example, the English, whose imperialism is purely utilitarian, or, in the ancient world, the Romans, who fought only for an imperialistic idea, and not for a spiritual sense. We can say of the Romans that they were a great nation; but we would not respect the nuances if we were talking about a great culture. A nation that has given the world only a legal conscience, methods of colonization and historiography, has not exceeded the elementary categories of the mind.

The perennial antinomy between the French and German messianisms comes not only from the irreducibility of any messianic orientation, but also from a series of psychological and spiritual data that specifically distinguish the physiognomy of Nations.

The French culture, which is a culture of style, where grace tempering the elk of vitality, has never posed the torturing and dramatic problem of the life-spirit antinomy. (In France, Bergsonism is a heresy.) The Frenchman has a unitary experience, not too far from life, but not too close either. That is why we will never find the anguish or the fear of being ripped off from the natural contents of mankind, of having risked everything, and lost the sense of the measure. In France, men are masters of their thoughts; in Germany, every thinker feels overwhelmed by his system. Once engaged in the path of his elaboration, he can no longer dominate his thoughts, which evolve towards the strangest forms. We find a mixture of sublime, grotesque and monumental in almost all German philosophical systems.

In France, everyone has talent, but we seldom meet a genius. In Germany, no one is talented, but a genius is compensating for the lack of talent of all. Think of all Germanic thinkers and genius: each brings a world, a new form of existence. With Hegel, with Wagner, with Nietzsche, new worlds were born. Each of them would have been entitled to assert that the world was beginning with him. We are accustomed to consider in human only a limited amount of values, only a small number of possibilities, only a definite form of existence. From this perspective, it is natural that such creators have, fatally, surpassed the human.

The life and work of all Germanic genius have something inexplicable, inaccessible, manifestly inhuman. It entangled with catastrophic elements, apocalyptic visions, stunning booms, from an incomprehensible for interior. Nietzsche said of Beethoven that he felt the eruption of barbarism in culture. This is no less true for Nietzsche himself. Germanic barbarism is the result of the Germans ‘ inability to maintain a balance between life and spirit. imbalance is expressed less by a oscillation between these two poles of which one is in turn prisoner, than by the fact of living in a contrast that generates simultaneous antinomic structures. As one cannot harmonize them, the vitality gusts from man like a primary explosion, barbaric, while the spirit built next to life or above systems and perspectives that range from hallucinating grandeur to useless fantasies and Sterile. Barbarism is due to the inability to find a form that can structure on a plane derived from the original Antinomies.

All the greatness of the German culture is the result of this incapacity, of this disproportion which contains an impressive tragic. From the arch=banal distinction between Germanic dynamism and French immobilism, one must not conclude to a French degeneration opposed to a German exuberance, but to a difference of tension. The French are alive without exceeding the forms of life; the Germans can only be alive in the absence of forms, in the elementary and the primordial. The explosion of life always has something inhumane in them, which defies the propriety. All German messianism has this primal, explosive and proud character, unlike French messianism, discreet and reserved, but no less imperialistic.

The discretion of French messianism, which hides permanently under a mask, explains why it has always inspired more sympathy than the Teutonic messianism with its brutal frankness.

While the definition of the German-a man Petri of Antinomies, contradictions and tensions, unable to confine himself to a normal level and to the formal stylization of culture-explains why it can be attributed to any qualifier, except that of “cultivated” in the common meaning of the word. Germany is a separate body in Europe. Thus, what we mean by culture is most often for her that stylized mediocrity. Russia and Germany cannot be understood by other countries.

France has always loved the man of society, fine, polite, subtle, refined, “intellectualized”. The hero, as a being who breaks the molds of life, who wishes death by excess vitality and which becomes a symbol only in death, the hero has never constituted an ideal or a French cult. While the barbarity and rampant excesses of the Germanic soul could only engender an unlimited cult of the hero as such! Never has Germany been Christian in the proper sense of the word. The cult of the hero represented, in his intimate feeling, more than the cult of Holiness. Each German feels closer to the heroic allegories of Germanic mythology than to the Christian conception of life. In fact, the Christianization of the Germans meant a Germanisation of Christianity. Isolation from Roumanity was always a Germanic ideal.

The Germans never exceeded the hero’s ideal. The reaction of the Socialist nationalists against dialectical theology (Karl Barth) is due to the fact that, because of its anthropological pessimism, this current excludes any concrete and effective temporal decision. The gap between God and man has widened so much, according to This theology, that man can no longer be saved only by divine intervention, his own action being insignificant, void.

The replacement of the idea of charity by that of honor, proper to the Germanisation of Christianity, proves that it is the hero, not the Saint, who illustrates the German ideal. For the idea of honor, pride based on nobility, is typically non-Christian.

The more accentuates the Germanic specificity in various fields, the more these become inaccessible to foreigners than we are. This is the case especially for the typically Germanic artists. Most Germans agree that Matthias Grünewald expresses a specific German view of the world, more than Dürer and that Holbein, in whom the predominance of the linear prevented the realization of the infinitely dramatic vision always present at Grünewald. But this one is, of all the artists of Germany, the hardest to understand. For the Latins, it is positively incomprehensible. Because Italian art has accustomed us to a paradox: that of beautiful suffering.

By sublimating suffering by beauty, he takes away what she has of heavy mate reality, bestiality, irreparable. On the contrary, in German art (and this also applies to Russian art), these characters are revealed in all their strange grandeur. This is why the Madonna is in the Germanic art of a profound sadness, and always in tears in Russian art, unlike the southern Madonna, whose transcendence is made of a mixture of interiority and transfigured Eros. Some Protestant theologians wanted to see a argument in favor of the authenticity of Northern Christianity, in relation to southern Christianity, of Roman essence. It is true that the North has always better understood the suffering, that it has had a more persistent feeling of death and a more intermixed experience of tragedy. But the North (in this case Germany) has never shown the restrained, intimate, discreet humility, charity and piety that have defined in the South the most authentically Christian movement, that of the Franciscans. In my view, the Germans never felt very well in Christianity, although their religiosity was deeper than that of the Latins (excepted Spaniards).

Germany has never lived its mission universally. Dostoyevsky considered it the Protestant nation par excellence. The important events of Germany are a succession of anti…

To the point that one wonders how it would have defined itself in the world if there had been no Papacy, Catholicism, rationalism, classicism, to oppose it. Apart from the fashion of the Enlightenment, which has momentarily distorted it, Germany has never naturally integrated into the West. And the rise of his conscience has isolated him even more in the world. Imperialism is the only modality of universalistic realization of Germany. For the rest, the world refuses her, and she, on the other hand, refuses the world.

If Romania really wants to find a way in history, the country in which it can learn the most is Russia. Throughout the nineteenth century, the Russians had no other obsession but to look at their destiny. And, in the favor of this theoretical torment, Russia has actually engaged in history, to place itself in the Center through the revolution. Religious thinkers, Slavophiles and westernists, nihilists and Narodniks, etc., all revoled around the Mission of Russia. Komiakov, Chaadayev, Herzen, Dostoyevsky, Aksakov, Danilevsky or the nihilists Pisarev, dobrolyubov, chernyshevsky proposed a single problem of various solutions. Up to the Mystic of Soloviev which has the allure of a theological transposition of the concrete Russia.

This is more than obvious: Russia is called to a monumental destiny in the world. Why, despite this evidence, have the Russians been so tormented? For all the nineteenth century Russian testifies of a troubled and prophetic consciousness, of a true messianic hysteria. Any people who enter history while the others are already, and in full maturity, suffer from an imbalance caused by the inequalities of historical level. Russia woke up to life after sleeping-just like Romania-for centuries. She had no other choice but to burn the steps. She did not experience the Renaissance, and her middle ages were dark, devoid of spirituality. Until his literature which, before the beginning of the last century, had only given fabulists or productions of religious morality. The worst plague of Russia — like that of Romania, was the Byzantine tradition, the breath of Byzantine spirituality which, grafted on a different culture, became paralysis, abstract schematism and, politically and culturally, strangled Reactionary. All that was reactionary thought in Russia of the last century continued to exploit, consciously or not, the Byzantine vein.

Pobedonostsev, Prosecutor of the Holy Synod, the worst reactionary of the nineteenth century Russian, the Prophet of the in culture of the masses in a country of illiterate, I see him decipher the meaning of history on a Byzantine icon, and not on the March of the Sun as did Westerners, on a Byzantine icon, symbol of death, dryness and shadows. There is no more devitalizing vision than that which emerges from Byzantine art, an art of obscure skies, monotony among the Saints, non-adherence to Eros. So, when we remember that Romania lived for centuries under the curse of the Byzantine spirit!

The deep roots of Russian messianism plunge into an apocalyptic vision. Everything that people feel and think goes beyond the cultural categories or falls below their level. Incapable of understanding the legal forms, the State reality and all that constitutes the objective spirit {in the Hegelian or diltheyian sense), it moves in an unbreathable climate for a European consciousness, in which the symbolism of the culture is an artifice… natural, accepted, obvious. Even if Bolshevism gave Russia a narrow theoretical horizon, the amplitude of the breath of its soul remained the same. The dream of universal domination (which some Slavophiles judged quite grotesque) under the reign of the Tsar and the Pope, Constantinople resurrecting as the new center of the world, this dream is taken over by the Bolsheviks, with another ideology, but in a no less fantastic way. The Russians would disappear from the globe, annihilating physically, rather than giving up the idea of their mission. It is so rooted in the Russian soul that it seems to be cosmic, inhumane proportions.

The Russians have introduced the absolute into politics and, above all, in history. All the social, political or religious formulas for which they fought, they considered them as unique purposes. Hence the passion, the absurd, the crimes, the unparalleled bestiality of their apocalyptic history. For Westerners, history is an end in itself, a totality of human values and dramas, which are refined on the immanent level of becoming. Eschatology is foreign to them (at least with regard to the modern ones). Hegel, the modern “official” philosopher closest to eschatology, does not conceive of it in the sense of a definitive solution on a transcendent plane, he conceives it on an immanent plane. The return to oneself and the internalization of the absolute spirit end the story, but not in the drama, contrary to the unfolding of the end in the apocalyptic visions. From the rest, when it decrees absolute the process, and historical the cosmos, the dialectic rejects-theoretically speaking-the eschatology. The Hegel system, by balancing style and eschatology, demonstrates that it takes into account the relationship between the Antinomies, the avoated intention of any dialectic.

Even more so than the Germans, the Russians have missed the style in culture. It expresses the tendency of life to forge a temporal form, to be realized in a given and circumscribed structure, to orient an inner dynamism, to raise on a intelligible plan the irrationality of his intimate substance. Opting between multiple directions, each lifestyle organizes new content, determines a specification and establishes primacies. The various aspects of the being are arranged according to the predominance of this or that direction. A substantial Center diffuses in all objectivations a relatively homogeneous content. For this is the sense of style: to transcend the heterogeneous by printing a specific character, to draw in the dynamics of the being a barrier that will ensure a pronounced individualization. The hierarchy of the contents of existence derives from this individualization, from the primacy of a particular direction, from the specification made in the abundance of being, from the establishment of a form. But this implies a certain degree of harmony in existence, even if it is an external character, since in this matter we cannot speak of integral achievements. Style, shape and harmony are all involved. Anyone who exists in the structure of a determined lifestyle, personally experiences all the corollaries. It is easy to understand that if the style is not always a balance, the expression of a possibility of equilibrium for man remains. This one finds in this way a meaning to life, because all that happens is totaled in a specific area of values, and in a definite form, so that the existing reveals its purpose within the phenomenon encompassing and totaling, eliminating any idea of IRR in the immanent productivity of life. The Russians have no style in culture because they do not live in the immediacy of life, and all the less in the values; on the other hand, they do not forge–wholeheartedly–a rational Cosmos, so their mission to the world appears to us as a upheaval, like a ruthless storm.

Russia has been so insinuated in the world that, now, without all roads leading to Moscow, Moscow will stand before us on all paths. The Russian spirit is sticky. Has Russian literature not made a continent hysterical? People will prove their health according to how they will protect themselves from Russia. Young Nations will even exploit the fertile Russian “disease”; the old ones will be contaminated and jeopardize their last reserves of vitality in decadence. I am not just talking about Bolshevik Russia, I am talking about Russia in General, as a human phenomenon and as a historical destiny. There is a real “Russian complex”, the future of which will have to heal us because, for the time being, and for a few decades, it has been a chapter in everyone’s biography.

Messianism, stemming from the internal forces of a people, strengthens them during its development, thus exerting an invigorating action: a tonic secreted by the organism for its own needs. How can this miracle be explained by the Jewish existence, if not by the constantly maintained flames of a mission?

During the rise of the Jews in history, they seem to have burned their heels more than the wings, for one would not otherwise explain their haste, their frenzy, their ardor at every moment of life on Earth, their desire to lose none of the treasures of this world, to miss any of the sublunary pleasures. If, at one point in their evolution, they had been devoid of Messianic fury, they would have disappeared immediately. Their millennial presence should have made them an undeniable evidence, yet they only succeeded in wiping out refusals. The world has never accepted them and will not accept them. Us are doomed to never realize in the historical plan, although history is their most passionate aspiration. If they nevertheless manage to accomplish one day, then it will necessarily be at a final moment in history.

The apocalyptic solution is their only outcome. Essentially prophetic people, they can only find salvation in prophecy. They will not cease to project, until the last end of the spell, their earthly paradise, that they will reach on their own ruins…

Until today there were no people more hungry for Earth and life than this. And yet his monstrous strength is to have lived religiously his attachment to the Earth. His destiny has so preoccupied him that he has a religion. Judaean messianism and the Jewish religion are perfectly overlapping. No people have benefited more from God. This may be why his destiny is so infernal and can only be explained by a vengeance of heaven…

The difference between the Russians and the Jews lies in the fact that the Jews live their destiny religiously, while the Russians live their religion as a destiny. These are two peoples who have succeeded in complicating history by their a-historical essence. The Messianic idea is much less generous in the Jews than in the Russians. Because they struggle in the vision of universal salvation (even if the meaning is purely theoretical and if they follow practically only the axis of their destiny), while the Jews are aiming, on all planes, only at their salvation as a people, that race , that nation or God knows what.

The attachment of the Jews to the world explains why, in all that they thought, but especially in all that they have suffered, in the frightening curse of their existence, they have neither conceived nor experienced in a persistent and profound way the temptation to renounce. They were so bound to their destiny, so monopolized by their mission, that they never drew the necessary conclusion from suffering. This is why Judaism does not confer on the soul a high vibration; It puts too much the world in heaven and sky in the world.

To understand life as a vanity (job, Solomon, Jeremiah) is pure lyricism, very deep in the souls of those who were the singers, but which disappeared from the collective consciousness of the Jews. Their prevailing sentiment-which explains the ambiguity or the complex of Jewish psychology-has always been a bizarre fear which, instead of dislocated them in the world, has irreparably integrated them there. It is undeniable that among the feelings experienced by man, fear, as a lasting psychic reality, modifies the most psychology in the sense of elusive, surprises and nuances, of a whole range of psychic irreducibilities. Only fear transforms man, it is different only in fear. It expresses the insecurity in the world and the attachment to the world. Yet this psychic paradox is intelligible, since we fear only what we are jails, which we do not cannot possess in its entirety, because it consists of a substance other than ours. Fear makes us blind to our own axis, we seek in it without finding us. This is perhaps the psychological reason for the fact that the Jews are lost…

The historical breath of a people is all the more ample as its mission is great. That is why, in all the great cultures, the Messianic vision takes on grandiose proportions. On the contrary, the shy peoples with themselves and with the world conceive of immediate missions, almost petty so they are accessible. Compared to the messianism of Russia, which has always been a universal Sillery, the national prophetism of small cultures barely has the meaning of a historic moment. Is messianism possible in Romania, when we have never sketched a monumental destiny? Is it not frightening, the case of Eminescu who, instead of attaching itself to the future of Romania, projected the greatness of the nation in the sinister darkness of our past? Romania did not have a messianic thinkers; None of his visionaries exceeded the local prophecy or the narrow framework of a historical moment.

The Romanian national prophecy, which was confined to ethnic issues, has been event-driven, it has not reached timeless dimensions. Eminescu was a national Prophet * Balcescu himself, who had yet known the atmosphere of Polish messianism-so promising once and so compromised thereafter-was nothing more than a prophet of the past. After them and their romantic excesses, a Iorga1 or a Pârvan2 are only traditionalists, i.e. the followers of a balance between the past and the future. National prophecy, unlike traditionalism, focuses on the future, considered a receptacle of national achievements. Traditionalism is a convenient formula that does not commit to anything. It expresses solidarity with the nation, but not the will to give it a great sense in the world. All traditionalism accepts the immanent limits of the nation. Then there is nothing more to do and it goes to the future as the jug goes to the water. Renaissance has made history come into the spiritual plane.

What is important in the theory of cultures is whether the assertion of one of them is only a non-revealing episode or is, on the contrary, an essential destination. The example of Spain and Holland, which became great powers for only a century, before sinking into a true shipwreck of history, must inspire us to define an intermediate category of cultures, between the great to the monumental destiny and small to minor destiny. The failure of these intermediate cultures has multiple causes, the main of which is of course the inadequacy of plans, the inability for either to achieve itself during its becoming in a structural correspondence of all plans. Spain has constituted an undeniable spiritual success (just think of the Mystic of Saint John of the cross and St. Teresa), but it has not maintained at the same level from the political point of view.

It was not able to assert itself in the long term as a great power, nor was it capable of creating solid state forms. It represents the triumph of the subjective spirit. (She was never a nation itself.) No less characteristic of the fate of the unfulfilled intermediate cultures, of these cultures which are realized at about the moment when a people becomes a nation, but without being: the pre-Columbian culture of the Maya. Two or three centuries before the arrival of the conquistadors, which devastated the Mexican cultures or the Peruvian civilization, the Maya died without any external causes. Culture that knew the Mathé Matic and the calendar, whose architecture could competing with the monuments of Egypt and whose hié-ratism is not without evoking the art of India, it collapsed and disappeared, however, as if it had only been a malformation of history. There is only one explanation for this rapid decadence: the political deficiency, the inability to organise its external destiny, which, in spite of a spiritual hypertrophy, prevented the Mayan culture from reaching the equilibrium point of a lasting mission.

What matters in history is the ascent and ruin of the great cultures, as well as the irreducible conflicts that oppose them. While their tragedy is played in the theatre of shadows and lights of life, it is in a minor light-obscure that consumes that of small cultures, which deliver a painful battle to defeat their anonymity and finally surrender to the enjoyments of the story. Being subhistorical, that is to say below the threshold of the great cultures, they can raise their level only by breaking their own continuity. The discontinuity in relation to their destiny is the condition of their assertion. They must have a unique obsession with jumping into history. Their chance of salvation is that history is not nature.

All cultures are predetermined, in other words they have a germinal destiny: it is inscribed in their nucleus, which contains, for one, the possibility of jumping. At some point in their sleepy evolution, a fruitful rupture occurs, which elevates them to the level of the great cultures, even if it is not in their creations, in tension. It is impossible to choose the time of its jump. But the will can give the magnitude to a historical Transfiguration. Men can only want what they are already in germ.

The organicist conception of natural evolution condemns the inertia, slowness and drowsiness that have been our lot for a thousand years of anonymity. Organicism is a theoretical opposition to any jump, and its ultimate consequences close the slightest escape to the small cultures. If Romania’s national and political thinking is so unrevolutionary, it is because of excessive organicist contamination, as well as the direct or indirect influence exerted by the German romantic Historicism on Romanian nationalism.

A purely organic conception of our fate in the world would be fruitful if the rhythm of life of modern cultures was characterized by a relative calm and balance because, then, the possibility of a synchronization would not be totally excluded. Fever is one more element, which benefits a people, but at the same time it exhausts it faster. The acceleration of the rhythm explains the rapid exhaustion of modern cultures and, to some extent, of Greece and Rome. The precipitation of events presupposes the violent activity of a soul, the passion that draws its substance from its own frenzy. When we think of the phenomena that have taken over in India in a millennia-old history, we see between them surprising intervals, at least a disconcerting amount of time. A whole century breathes only barely in an event which, however, has, most often, a religious significance, therefore temporally neutral.

The calm breath of Oriental cultures has preserved their substance, so that they still have not lost their adhesion to the future. Conversely, the breath of modern cultures is gasping, on the verge of suffocation. Their viability is so short that they have lost their substance in a few centuries. Without this acceleration of rhythm, we could continue normally our evolution: our slowness and our intermittent pulse would gradually bring us to the desired height. But it is not so, and it is only by burning the historical stages that we will be able to participate in the collective rhythm. If the small cultures evolved in a natural way, that is to say, through the minor mode all the phases travelled by the large, they would never succeed to be noticed by any history of the world. What would be the vitality and freshness of them if, for fear of falling, they did not escape from the biological sphere? But without glory, history is only biology.

[The concept of historical jumping has affinities with the idea of qualitative leap present in the problem of stadiums at Kierkegaard. The passage from the aesthetic stage to the ethical stage and from it to the religious stage is not effected by a transition, but by a qualitative leap. After the aesthetic, immediate and direct experience, jumps in ethics and in religious interiority do not go without causing substantial continuity solutions.] Small cultures must traverse the stages, not in a slow evolutionary transition, but in jumping fever. As long as we do not know the historical level of the culture concerned, we cannot specify What will be these stages, traversed in a discontinuous way, which proves that the small cultures have no other plank of salvation than to come out of themselves, of the curse of their existence. But ultimately, for whom is the problem of these cultures painful? For a historian? Certainly not. How could he feel sorry for some condemned, closed countries in the world, when he has in all objectivity the comforting example of the great phenomena?

The historian envisages reality with more indifference than feeling. On the other hand, for the representatives of small cultures, the problem is of a direct existential nature which has absolutely nothing to do with the sphere of objectivity. If we were not to go deeply into the Romanian phenomenon, if we could be perfectly objectify about it, little would it matter whether or not it plays a role in the world. We would find it natural that she knows the fate of the small cultures, and her anonymity would be absolutely unsorry. But a Romanian enthusiast cannot accept that she is doomed to life in the mediocre destiny that has been hers so far. Spirits of a criminal lucidity see in her a microcosm called to disappear, on the contrary of the passionate, who situate her in the heart of their hearts and thus in the rhythm of the world.

It is not for a certain number of values nor for their minor realization that the problem of small cultures is interesting, it is for the man who is tormented, who does not accept their fate and wants to make their salvation by doing his. The problem of cultures certainly concerns the philosophy of history, but also anthropology. If we consider human destiny from a historical perspective, we will see that the great cultures ensure its obvious, but that it is not the same for the small, where destiny adds to the purely human condition a dramatic element stemming from their anomalies and their shortcomings. The pride of a man born in a small culture is always wounded. Being born in a second-class country is nothing to rejoice in. Lucidity becomes tragedy. And if one is not animated by a messianic fury, the soul drowns in an ocean of distress.

There is a demiurgic thirst in man, which he seals either in excess of the soul, in an inner vision, or by actively integrating into the historical future. Thanks to their rapid rhythm and ample breathing, the great cultures respond to this thirst, because they are totalities of cosmic character whose greatness surpasses the human. They are worlds; their existence justifies Monadology. But these Monads do not live in harmony, they need a window to see each other, and hate each other. Their demiurgia automatically satisfies man’s desire for absolute. Indeed, if, obsessed with history, he has the chance to live in a great culture, he can be satisfied. Being obsessed with history means nurturing the cult of temporal glory, the passion of the Halo in the future. A nation that is not haunted by the obsession with glory is deprived of a vital, secret but no less effective spring.

The ascent of cultures gives the impression of a creation from nothing, of a direction taken by following a purely inner plan. Fertility of the demiurgic germ is uneven. That is why they are not all fatalities to the same extent. In one, the demiurgy takes on a purely external character, and it is then called Gigantism. For example, England. One wonders: how is it that this country, which has the world for so long, is not a great fatality? He has undoubtedly given the world unique, inexplicable geniis, and, although it is non-existent in music and no one in metaphysics, he has also created, despite the most vulgar of empiricists, the most delicate of literatures. However, he did not fight for an idea that would have transcated him. Worse: he suffered for no idea. Everything was done by itself, by an automatic interest. While France defined itself in the world and became aware of itself in the revolution, which cost him so much blood, and in so many useless wars, the destiny of England was forged by the circumstances, he meted among the contingencies , without leading to a direct, irrevocable, messianic assertion. England conquered the world without trying to incorporate it. It dominated it without changing its face, or indeed its own. The British Empire has brought as novelty a system of coercion and exploitation, but no ethos, no active idea, no useless and universal passion. Devoid of universal idea, utilitarianism is the negation of messianism. The latter is tragic, prophetic, a unleashing of the very essence of a country.

The demiurgy of the cultures gives them a messianic Nimbus, while the external Gigantism of the English is devoid of it. British destiny sets the axis of the world in goods and not in a domineering passion expressed by a whole complex of spiritual forms. Wanting to dominate the world without transforming it is not an idea from universalism, nor of national prophecy. The phenomena of Gigantism occupy a secondary place in the great cultures. Extensive domination and materialistic exclusivism take away from the historical event its intensity and, as a result, dilute it. England illustrates what a great culture should not be. Companies that do not serve a universal meaning are spots in history. The material Gigantism is a shadow that can refresh us.

A country that built itself by exploiting conflicts between States and intervening at the time when adversaries had worn out, deserves no more than an objective esteem. They were not conquistadors, the founders of this modern Monster called the British Empire. The English philosophical and politico-economic thought, quite interesting in its horror, is itself contaminated by the flatter empiricism, to the point that, in order to compensate for the disgust due to the immediacy of England, one must take refuge in the atmosphere delicate, airy and mutant of a Gainsborough or a Reynolds. In modern times, England has placed itself at the Centre of all events, but without determining their ideal meaning. There is something sterile in the substance of this country, which is not a glory of history, but a considerable chapter made of events and men bound by appearances and not by an essential destiny. England is devoid of collective genius, of a dynamic mysticism of the totality of a nation. Its insular exclusivism is not the ardour of a fanatical collective spirit. Logical nominalism has led, in practice, to individualism private exaggeration of the mystical coloring which was once known to him in Germany. In many respects, England may have been great but, nevertheless, the ideal sense of greatness lacks it. Shakespeare is worth a whole world; but he cannot make it one of England-as a country, as a national destiny-although one ranks among the great cultures. Parliamentarianism is an English gift that has disturbed the world for tens and decades. If it allows in England to make universal history through debates, exchanges of opinions, in countries with less composure it is only a factor of stagnation. His only merit is to have given to presumed representatives of the nation the illusion that they could lead consciously and artificially his destiny. At the bottom, he created a quantity of megalomaniacs, but no heroes. It is even the negation of heroism. Conceivable at the balanced times of a country, it is solvent to those of the beginning, of the affirmation.

The tension in history has always been the fruit of the dictatorial spirit. Freedom is the climate of thought and not acts. Politics knows only the force that is used itself and which, when it is great, sometimes puts itself at the service of values. The excess of force serves the spirit in order not to dissolve in its own tension. The classical eras have pre-served the balance between “political-force” on the one hand and “freedom-spirit” on the other hand. While the historical fate has a specific rhythm and a whole system of alternatives that preserve always the coefficient of probability generated by the irrational substructure of history, the other periods, dramatically unilateral, fail to maintain the balance between the antinomic values which, when they are not, of this fact, engaged in a permanent conflict, are substituted for each other in a pendulum movement.

I see the highest point of a great culture in the ecstasy of its strength. After that, decadence can begin; We will certainly regret the fallen power, but we find a retrospective consolation to the exalt. What the Greeks, the Romans or the French mean in history is undoubtedly due to the world of specific values that they have created. We know well enough today for what historical ideas they fought, to what extent they realized them and what were their bounds, since they co-existed with many other missions, parallel or complementary. And yet, knowing the ideal configuration of a mission brings little when one wants to discover the decisive, secret but active, which launches a culture towards its confines, towards the exhaustion of its meaning in the world.

I would give half my life to share with the same intensity, only for a moment, the feelings experienced by the last Greek, the last Roman or the last Frenchman on the peaks of his history. This had to be a magnificent pride, a pride to make the gods pale. The last Frenchman who, during the revolution, transformed his bestiality into humanitarian fury, represents historically and politically much more than the an amorphous community of a small culture. Or, I seek to pierce the psychology of the German soldier during the great war, to identify the monumental pride of the last soldier, conscious of fighting the whole world. For these examples emphasize that a universal culture confers universal contours on the individual consciousness. The inner sensation of strength can also intensify in individuals belonging to small cultures, to cultures missed in the egg, but then this implies a lasting personal exercise and does not exceed the meaning of a psychological fact. This is only an intensification that implies a conscious growth of the destiny of the culture in question. In large cultures, the individual is saved. Better, it still is. While he’s lost in the little ones. How could it not be, moreover, since their rhythm of life is devoid of offensive convergence and aggressive momentum? Their shortcomings are certainly caused by an initial lack of force, but just as much by the absence of an excessive and permanent cult of force.

The initial deficiencies of Romania (typical case of a culture with a minor destiny) have never been corrected or compensated by a conscious love of power. The evidence? Has there been a single vision in our past that has exaggerated our role in the world? It has often been repeated: advocates of Latinity (and one adds: an oasis of Latinity); a dike against the Slavs; protectors of the Christian Conservatives of Roman traditions, etc. You understood: we protected and we kept. Is this a historical destiny? The great Nations or, in order to spiritualize them, the great cultures, have decided the history thanks to their willingness to assert themselves. A trail of fire remains in the world after the burning of a great culture, as it resembles a cosmic offensive. What remains on the other hand after the defensive of a small culture? Powder, but not cannon. Dust, washed away by a fall wind. I seek in vain the spring of small cultures…

It is however a time when they can escape from nothingness through the cult of force. It is so, instructing their own trial with a rare lucidity, they take note of their shortcomings, confess that their past was a path without exit and make prophecy the source of their existence. The difference between a large culture and a small one does not lie in the number of their population or in the frequency of extraordinary events, it is based on the spiritual and political destiny that uniquely individualizes them in the world. A country that has been a national body to become for a thousand years without succeeding in defining its spiritual and political destiny, suffers from an organic defect, even if all this time has served it to be biologically constituted. From the point of view of history, biology is a substructure that proves nothing in itself. So, given that the force is rooted in the biological, what sense does it have as the purpose of the great cultures? In the field of history, vital imperialism must not be inevitably understood by force, unless it is given a broader meaning. The biological sources of force positively express a negative sense phenomenon: a deficient organism is not realized on the historical level.

The strength of a nation grows at the same time as its historical level rises. The less a nation is accomplished and the more it is in deficit, even if it has some organic freshness. The force degrades as the historical level lowers and the nation rushes towards its decline. Imperial Rome or Athens in the Y century, France of the revolution, Germany, Italy and Russia under dictatorships have reached the heights of their historical development, have completely refreshed at some point of their becoming. The correlated strength of the historical level is a certainty, both spiritual and biological in nature. If it were a simple vital imperialism, it would remain elementary and a-historical.

At the limits of the historical level, the force is reflected in itself, so that the self-consciousness of the nation realizes the self-consciousness of the force. The messianism of the great cultures expresses a phenomenon of decanted force. The spiritualization of force distinguishes the historical imperialist idea of the barbaric imperialism of the barbarians. No barbaric invasion has created any form of State in itself. Only the aggression with a style has taken on a historical twist. The great nations live and destroy themselves only to savor their power. Therefore, the force must not be regarded as a pretext, nor as a means. Nations consume their inner possibilities and are exhausted in the future in order to achieve self-consciousness, which is justified by force. Vladimir Soloviev said in a famous passage that Nations are not what they believe, but what God thinks of them in eternity.

I imagine the little that the theological perspective retains from human history. In the face of God, the Nations can only be saved to the extent that they are fulfilled, but God does not manifest a particular understanding for the phenomenon of force, that is, what is essential in us, we find ourselves delivered to ourselves. Either strength is ethics or it goes beyond that. In fact, they do not need to be supported or conditioned. The impetuous destiny of the great cultures surpasses all the values of ethics. If history had remained within good and evil, it would have directed itself towards mediocrity and, instead of the tragic that defines it, would have offered us the spectacle of some familiar conflicts. No one has spoken so far of moral or immoral Nations; There are only strong or weak ones, only aggressive or tolerant.

The apogee of a nation implies endless crimes; and the images of the historical culmination are apocalyptic. If rationalism and ethics tempted me, I would see in every act a fall. History has no excuse for eternity because it excuses too much time, basically it is perhaps its only excuse. [What is Soloviev doing in the face of history? He deserted and passed to the Mystic.] The spectacle of the ascent and collapse of the great cultures can only make it cynical. And cynicism is amplified by the regret that Romania, located on the margins of history, cannot participate actively in this spectacle, that it is only an echo. If Soloviev’s theological vision is spiritually objective, the great cultures will be hard saved in eternity; but will we at least be saved in time?

 

On Facing This Thing

Read Koheleth (Ecclesiastes) and the Book of Job: there is no external justice, only the absolute indifference of the cosmos (Spinoza’s God!). To expect justice is a human weakness. To expect surprise is godly. Living as we do in neither a just society nor a just world we learn to stand amid the chaos through our own effort of magnanimity. Failing that we suffer the weakness of believing others share and care as we do, not knowing that they too are alone with the alone. Circumscribed in an indifferent cosmos we expect an answer (Justice), and when one does not come forward we either accept it with equanimity or we huddle with others in the darkness like victims of a bad joke. Either way we are alone, there is no Big Other who will serve up truth and justice for you. Man made justice is the farce of political shenanigans, and those who seek or believe in it buy into the whole delusion full hog.

The Commentator

David Mamet once told a reviewer: “In order to write well, however, the good dramatist must absolutely identify with his subject. This does not mean to be in “sympathy with,” but “to become the same as.” (The Secret Knowledge)

I’ve often thought of that as I write various posts on such thinkers as Slavoj Zizek or Nick Land. People often accuse me of complicity in these thinkers, as if I agreed with their stance on life and thought. How silly… to confuse the commentator with the subject of his essay. It’s as if one would confuse the author with the hero or anti-hero of his novel. To understand a thinker is to enter into his/her actual world of thought as Mamet suggests in “sympathy with,” which does not mean “to become the same as.” Dramatizing another’s thought in the minds of many is to implicate one in the stain of the other’s philosophical or political rhetoric. But this is a false implication, one that many never can discern.

Abraxas

Abraxas is the sun, and at the same time the eternally sucking gorge of the void, the belittling and dismembering devil. The power of Abraxas is twofold: but ye see it not, because for your eyes the warring opposites of this power are extinguished. … Abraxas begetteth truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness, in the same word and in the same act. Wherefore is Abraxas terrible. It is splendid as the lion in the instant he striketh down his victim. It is beautiful as a day of spring… Abraxas is the great Pan himself and also the small one. It is Priapos. It is the monster of the under-world, a thousand-armed polyp, coiled knot of winged serpents, frenzy. It is the hermaphrodite of the earliest beginning.

—C.G. Jung, Septem Sermones

Two Visions of Modernity and Enlightenment

In our own time we see two visions of the future colliding in a civil war of culture across the planetary landscape. As Zeev Sternhell in the below extended quote will put it there are two visions of modernity that have for the past two centuries played out their vision of the future in culture and politics of the West. Whether you agree or disagree with his surmise it is worth pondering in the face of our current crumbling civilization. What do agree or disagree with in the statement below:

If the French Enlightenment, or rather the Franco-Kantian Enlightenment, and the English and Scottish Enlightenments produced the great intellectual revolution of rationalist modernity, the intellectual, cultural, and political movement associated with the revolt against the Enlightenment constituted not a counterrevolution but a different revolution. It was not a countermodernity but a different modernity that came into being and that revolted against rationalism, the autonomy of the individual, and all that unites people: their condition as rational beings with natural rights. That second modernity was based on all that differentiates and divides people—history, culture, language —a political culture that denied reason either the capacity or the right to mold people’s lives, saw religion as an essential foundation of society, and did not hesitate to call on the state to regulate social relationships or to intervene in the economy. According to its theorists, the splintering, fragmentation, and atomization of human existence arising from the destruction of the medieval world was the cause of the modern decadence. They deplored the disappearance of the spiritual harmony that was the very fabric of medieval life, and that was destroyed by the Renaissance according to some and by the Reformation according to others. They regretted the passing of the time in which the individual, guided by religion to his last breath, a laborer or artisan living solely for his trade, hedged in by society at every moment, was merely a cog in an infinitely complex machine of whose destiny he was ignorant. Bending over the soil and asking no questions, he fulfilled his function in the march of civilization. On the day when, from being simply a part in a sophisticated mechanism, man became an individual, the modern sickness was born. From Burke to Friedrich Meinecke, the aim remained the restoration of the lost unity. Thus, the outlook of the individual was confined within the straitjacket of the community to which he belonged. The idea of the primacy of tradition, custom, and membership of a cultural, historical, and linguistic community was first put forward by Vico. Man, said Vico in criticism of the theoreticians of natural rights—Hobbes, Locke, Hugo Grotius, and Samuel Pufendorf— did not create society all of a piece; he is what society made him, his values are social values and are therefore relative. The relativity of values is a fundamental aspect of the critique of the Enlightenment, and the damage it has caused is tremendous. It was this other modernity that brought about the twentieth century European catastrophe.1

One can see this second version extended in the work of existentialists, phenomenologists, and after Fascism in the cultural Marxists from Adorno, Foucault, Derrida, the later Lyotard, aspects of Deleuze/Guattari, Jameson, and many others of the outmoded label of postmodern or post-structuralist theoretic. The wholesale attack on the whole traditions of Western Civilization and its long dominion of culture and geography, along with the erosion of the ethical and religious ideologies of Christendom and its secular oppositional forces seem to be heading toward collapse or transformation in our time. Two visions of time seem to underpin aspects of this as well: the one a linear movement toward apocalypse or the End of History, an eschatological worldview with a vision of end games and messiahs; the other a dynamic and spiral time of emergence and spontaneous order, of chaos and the open ended repetitions of renaissance and renewal rather than collapse and static ends of History. This movement between a static and dynamic view of Time, the one based on the labyrinth and death, the other on the spiral movement of galactic negentropy of order out of chaos, light out of darkness and openly rebellious view of cosmic revolt against the staid political systems of entrapment and enslavement.

This clash between worldviews in our time should be framed in a larger vision than most of trivial struggles of local politics allows for. The old clash between Left and Right must be ousted for a new vision of politics in our time. The outworn clichés of both Left and Right have become nodes of stupidity and irony, leading us in circles of hate and dispute that have no resolution. We need something else… something new. Ours is a time of chaotic growth when the emergence of something new and strange is arising in our midst. The age old war between collective vs. individual political and sociocultural systems have become passé leading us down the old paths of prejudice and dissolution. We must seek out the new, allow the new to come into existence. Maybe what we are seeing is the battle between the orthodox view of time and reality being slowly exploded by what some have termed The Great Heterodoxy. I will have more to say about that in the future…


  1. Zeev Sternhell The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition. Yale University Press (December 22, 2009) (Page 8).

Nightmares from a Punk Tattoo Parlor

They have the look of demons who forgot they are not in hell anymore, but have invented a tattooed nightmare to house the flesh of their demented anxiety.

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Masked paranoia is the fake equivalent of punked out has beens who belong to an age of revolt that ended in suicide alley.

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Why these after images remain is beyond knowing, maybe they were stuck in some old movie without outlet, drifters of insomnia who have for all their daimonic pretentions become sponsors of trivial dreams for a worn out universe.

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They apprehend a great divide in time; a time before, and a time after: a time that changes everything and nothing.

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It’s this inner sense that they exist in a bubble of time outside the Real, a world of living death in which the nightmare scenarios of their belated humanity discovers itself only through the dark contours of a cerebral infection.

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They are knowers of an eclipsed universe, the remnants and refugees from a realm of bright lights that have found themselves in a world of death and war, one in which they participate as specters of lividity.

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They move from slippage to slippage in an abyss of dismemberment not knowing that the imponderable knot of unbinding they unloosed birthed a demonic world full of forgotten thoughts.

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Lost among an infested and ruinous wasteland of darkness without bounds they wander through each others dreams like fragments of a torn novel whose pages were burned out long ago.

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It’s as if they experienced the trauma of the Big Bang as the ripping of a black veil where the dark fires of Hiroshima and Nagasaki enter their flesh and the Titanomachia of ancient battles emerge from their blood born fears.

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From that primordial time of renewal they were expulsed and have since entered the stasis of a world where killing for sport and nefarious pleasure becomes the vital principle of a broken universe of suicidal porn.

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Hackers of unknowing they envision a realm of pain where spirit is pitched to a high crag and the merciless bolts of strange gods embark on phantasmal seas of nightmare…

Belonging and Isolation: The Quest For a Shared Vision in Horror

Despite all sophisticated or resentful denials, the reading of imaginative literature remains a quest to overcome the isolation of the individual consciousness.

—Harold Bloom, On Modern Horror

When I began reading in my youth I understood intuitively what later I would begin to know in earnest: we all need to know that someone, somewhere, in life or thought shares in our secret beliefs. For the most part we feel our way into thought in the beginning, we seek others thoughts attentively for agreement or disagreement with our hunger for that indefinable rapport. Some find their answers in religion or philosophy, they find certain thoughts or ideas that lead either to a life of ritual and normalized devotion or rigor that becomes for them a safety net against the unknown. When they find such a secure haven against the threats of emotion or reason then they stop thinking for themselves and let the system of philosophy or religion take over so that they no longer have to go it alone. Others who cannot accept such systems of belief either in religion or philosophy continue in their search for something else, for a knowledge which no human has ever penned nor some philosophical tract or religious scriptures put into words or actions. Unsatisfied with the known worlds of philosophy or religion these seekers after forbidden knowledge continue, alone, and in isolation; and, yet, here and there they see glimmers of that dark light jut out of the fragmentary pages of some book of madman’s eye, a hint of terrible knowledge that offers a doorway into the unknown. The closer one gets to that threshold of unknowing the more one knows that deep and dreadful sense of horror and fear that the truth one is about to uncover might just be too much, that it might lead one to death or madness; and, yet, we persist, we continue in our task to discover in outward form the dark hinterlands of our own inner experience. Why? Why do we love to court disaster more than safety and security? Why do some of us push ourselves to the limits of the human? Why enter into those corrupted and ruinous worlds of unknowing that can only lead us into insanity of suicide?

When we come upon certain writers whose thought seem to verify the secret beliefs about existence we have always believed but never had words or thoughts for then we feel a desperate need to read and reread everything of that author’s works and biography to know what it is that he/she has so carefully discovered to the point of obsession. When we come upon such authors we feel a certain shock, a sudden realization that this other has said what I have ‘felt’ for so long but never had an inkling how to put visualize or think it. This awakening takes us out of ourselves, takes us out of our isolated unknowing and helps us realize that we are not alone, that, yes, there is at least one other person who has shared the dark contours of our hopes, dreams, and fears.

I’ve read vast troves of work in literature, philosophy, science(s)and history, yet it is the imaginative worlds of crime and horror fiction that have awakened in me a sense of the dark and terrible truths lying in the abyss beneath the everyday surfaces of our lives. It is from these authors that I discovered the things a yearn for and the things I fear both in others and in myself, so that it is from them that I discovered that primordial sense of just how slipper the passage is from pleasure to pain.  Anxiety in the face of the unknown overwhelms us all to the point that we need certain fictions to mask the intolerable sense that reality is not as it seems. Many as suggested in the beginning of my essay find in philosophy or religion acceptable fictions to keep the ruinous truth of this darker world at bay. They hide in the comfortable zones of reason or the irrational realms of ritual and liturgy to assuage the sadomasochistic pleasure/pain at the heart of the Real.

“To see others suffer does one good, to make others suffer even more: this is a hard saying but an ancient, mighty, human, all-too-human principle [….] Without cruelty there is no festival.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals / Ecce Homo

H.P. Lovecraft in his essay on Supernatural Horror offered a succinct statement on this dark secret at the heart of fear:

Because we remember pain and the menace of death more vividly than pleasure, and because our feelings toward the beneficent aspects of the unknown have from the first been captured and formalized by conventional religious rituals, it has fallen to the lot of the darker and more maleficent side of cosmic mystery to figure chiefly in our popular supernatural folklore. This tendency, too, is naturally enhanced by the fact that uncertainty and danger are always closely allied; thus making any kind of an unknown world a world of peril and evil possibilities.1

In that long trek of our early hominid ancestors out of the African jungles and savannahs to the far corners of time and space, unto to the final worlds of our present global civilization we were shaped by the forces of mystery and fear. Our need to combat that fear and the mysteries of the universe and unknowing surrounding us on all sides led us to develop strange tales of evil and the monstrous to circumscribe the human realms of safety from the dark worlds just outside us. The wastes, deserts, jungles, ocean and mountains of the inhabitable extremes were populated by us with demons and fairies and forces of darkness and light. Out of these hundreds of thousands of years of evolution we evolved patterns that would shape our humanity, tales to protect us from the terrors just beyond the campfire and safety of the hearth. In our own cynical age we skip by this long history as if it were contemptible, as if we were all moderns and secular atheists who have no need for the childish superstitions and folkways of our ancestral dreamtime. Then why do we crave the darkness, why to we fill our cinemas with slasher and cosmic horror and devastation? Why to we love superhero comics brought to life on the screen, fill our eyes with Tolkien’s hobbits, and feel the desperate need to walk with the Walking Dead on television? Why so many films of crime and sex where humans perpetrate the bloodiest and most nasty crimes upon each other: the madness, obsessions, and the deranged mentation’s of the most corrupt and evil creatures to mask the human. Why are we so fascinated with awe and fear?

Children will always be afraid of the dark, and men with minds sensitive to hereditary impulse will always tremble at the thought of the hidden and fathomless worlds of strange life which may pulsate in the gulfs beyond the stars, or press hideously upon our own globe in unholy dimensions which only the dead and the moonstruck can glimpse.

H. P. Lovecraft

Watching the History or Travel Channels of late I’ve been fascinated by the strange superstitions surrounding America’s love affair with alien history and ghosts. There is a grand narrative or conspiracy of fear presented weekly on these channels that bring forward men and women who seem to be experiencing events beyond the normal worlds we all inhabit. Alien visitation and adduction, government cover-ups, creatures, monsters, disappearances, ghost hunters, mediums, messages from the dead, and malevolent beings from the hinterlands of some multidimensional realm just beyond our senses. All these programs seem to sell, repeating the same stories over and over to the point that they replace reality with these fantastic worlds. Suddenly the reality of modernity and the Enlightenment vanish into the cosmic underground replaced by these paranormal worlds of monstrous imagination. It’s as if the mundane truth of our work-a-day world of political turmoil and anguish were being channeled off into the nightmares of the outer dark. What dawned on me after questioning other members of my family and friends as to why they like to watch these festivals of horror and alien imaginings. People seem to watch and read about such things to escape their own fears of the unknown. If they can believe that others are experiencing anguish and anxiety in their lives being shaped by hideous forces outside their control it brings them comfort to know they are not alone. Fear of the unknown become familiar if it is garbed in the strange and alien fictions of shared illusion. Aliens and ghosts are our secular world’s answer to religious doubt and fear of the dark throngs of our ancestral nightmares. We may have left the jungles of the African veldt long ago but the hauntings of that primal world still exist in our reptilian brain and will not be easily dismissed. We are haunted by the secret worlds of our ancestral anxieties and need our fiction to keep those monstrous worlds at bay. Even in an age of science, science has yet to dissuade us of our primal terrors.

Humans cannot live in a vacuum of doubt and anguish even in a secular age, they need fictions and narratives that will help them put the demons in their lives to rest, to push back the darkness and the unknown fears surrounding them in emotional anguish. Humans need security blankets and will if it is presented in a logical and acceptable, even reasonable manner believe in the most irrational ideas, notions, and unreason. We need our illusions as long as they are shared by others, even the fake one’s that hide from us the truth of the real historical forces that are determining our lives not as part of some global conspiracy but as part of the elite ministrations of political ideologists and their rich and conspiratorial controllers. The true conspiracists are those who promote it rather than its victims. Our hollow lords in high places build our nightmares out of the mass mythologies of our secular age to keep our fears occupied by false worlds rather than the economic and political nightmares that are all too real and discomforting. We are all slaves to our own fears and imaginations, and would rather believe in the fictional nightmares of imaginal fabrications than in the literal darkness of orchestrated political and social enslavement.

Supernatural or paranormal tales and fictions assuage that pain and anxiety in a form that puts a distance between it and an all too real mundane world of work and anxiety; and it’s this distanciation, this distancing from the Real that motivates us and keeps us chained to the myths of ancestral fear and terror. We need our illusions because the real world is too close to us, too much with us now and always. To imagine, to image forth and put a mask or face on the dark contours of our fears and terrors, to allow the demons of the mind and heart to roam in objective and fantastic narratives is easier for us to control than the real world of our lives. The illusive realms of hauntings, the unseen, and the unknown are much easier to control through imaginative need than the real world of political and social chaos, therefore we fill our lives with literary and filmic worlds of monsters, aliens, and criminals to keep the truth of our enslaved lives hidden and invisible. We believe that if we can make the darkness visible in art, literature, or film we need not deal with our own personal darkness. So we build our worlds of nightmare to protect us from the uncertainty of our actual lives. If we can unmask the demon beyond the threshold we believe we can control it rather than ‘it’ us; and, yet this mistaken belief is the root of all war and mayhem, for we are the perpetrators of a universal horror show that is all too real and manifest as the permanent form of fear and terror in our lives.


  1. Lovecraft, H. P.. The Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature: Revised and Enlarged (Kindle Locations 356-360). Hippocampus Press. Kindle Edition.

Daily Thought: The Power of Imagination and Horror

Ramsey Campbell in the preface to S.T. Joshi’s study of his work (Ramsey Campbell and Modern Horror Fiction) relates a story of how Fright and Imagination left their mark on his life and writing:

“…it was another image that set me on the course I was to make my career: the cover of an issue of Weird Tales. It was the November 1952 issue. I saw it in a sunlit window of a newsagent’s in Seabank Road in Southport, a train ride up the coast from Liverpool, and I must have been seven years old. I had never wanted to own anything so much. I couldn’t imagine what dread pleasures might lurk behind such a cover, but owning the picture would have been enough—a painting of a terrified bird or birdlike creature cowering beneath a luminous green sky while two monstrosities with immense human skulls for heads and very little in the way of bodies advanced towards it across a black desert. I pleaded with my mother—the price was only a shilling— but was judged far too young. It took me a decade to locate a copy of the issue, only to find that the cover depicted a vulture perched on a rib-cage near two half-buried skulls while two greenish skeletons, possibly ambulatory, hovered in the background. It seems clear that on that summer day in 1953 my imagination was dissatisfied with the image and so dreamed something stranger into existence, an approach it has taken to reality ever since.”1 (p. 13-14)

This notion of “imagination” being dissatisfied with certain images in life or thought and displacing them with a stranger reality hits the mark with most weird tales. The best weird tales seem to displace our normalized worlds of life and literature replacing them with that indefinable resonance of the power of Mind over the universe of death and horror that defines the genre as a whole. A painter I have always admired, Patrick Woodruff in one of his essay (have to find it!) once suggested that he painted with such ferocity the nightmares of his mind to objectify and imagine the demons that invisibly impinged upon his life.

Art is a form of demonology for Woodruff, a way of displacing the overpowering horror of existence by objectifying and thereby dissolving the emotional power of the unknown with an image of imagination. I have always seen the best cosmic horror in this way as putting a stamp on the demons of our collective nightmares, of tapping into the emotive force of the unknown dimensions surrounding us that our brain for the most part filters out due to our ancient natural and selective processes. The invisible realms of reality and the Real are still there but our brain does not allow us direct access so that the objects of our mind give us an indirect and imaginative access to them by way of fright, fear, and horror: putting a mask on our demon world image thereby dissolving its power over our life and minds.


  1.  Joshi, S.T. Ramsey Campbell and Modern Horror Fiction (Liverpool Science Fiction Texts and Studies, 23) . Liverpool University Press; 1 edition (January 7, 2001)

Against the Light: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein:

“When younger…I felt as if I were destined for some great enterprise.…I could not rank myself with the herd of common projectors. But this feeling, which supported me in the commencement of my career, now serves only to plunge me lower in the dust. All my speculations and hopes are as nothing; and, like the archangel who aspired to omnipotence, I am chained in an eternal hell.…From my infancy I was imbued with high hopes and a lofty ambition; but how am I sunk! Oh! my friend, if you had known me as I once was, you would not recognize me in this state of degradation. Despondency rarely visited my heart; a high destiny seemed to bear me on, until I fell, never, never again to rise. (152)”

Toward the end of the novel Dr. Frankenstein reminisces with Walton about his early youth. The clear influence of those primal passages from Paradise Lost of John Milton in which Satan delivers his own soliloquy is merged in the above. One could say that Shelley’s novel is the embodiment of that epic power of torment and aristocratic intelligence that would rather be defiant against all authority and tyrannical despotism, ruling in hell rather than being an eternal slave in heaven. As I grow older I feel this sympathy with those failures in knowing that the aspirations we so boldly faced in youth have resulted not in the loft ambitions of the mind but rather become the ruin of Old Age and Time: the despotic rule of natural decay and loss. The only thing that remains is the absolute defiance and intelligence that seeks to emerge against the light…

Mary Shelley’s husband the poet Percy Shelley wrote effusively in his Defence of Poetry (1821) that

Nothing can exceed the energy and magnificence of the character of Satan as expressed in Paradise Lost. It is a mistake to suppose that he could ever have been intended for the popular personification of evil.…Milton’s Devil as a moral being is as far superior to his God as one who perseveres in some purpose which he has conceived to be excellent in spite of adversity and torture, is to one who in the cold security of undoubted triumph inflicts the most horrible revenge upon his enemy, not from any mistaken notion of inducing him to repent of a perseverance in enmity, but with the alleged design of exasperating him to deserve new torments.

The Romantics and the Gnostics as Harold Bloom has strived to remind us through as many works agreed in this defiance of the Old Testament God, Yahweh. Yahweh was for both the Tyrant king, the irascible and jealous, raging bling god of the Old Testament who played havoc across the course of time with his progeny, testing them, judging them, killing and sacrificing them to his whims. The Old testament is a bloody book full of war and hate, and its God is truly the ‘darkness visible’ of a being who torments his own creation.

As J.C. Christopher The Satanic Scholar explicates: Shelley voiced his ambivalent view of Milton’s Satan quite clearly in the Preface to his Prometheus Unbound (1820). “The only imaginary being resembling in any degree Prometheus, is Satan,” Shelley contends, yet he proceeds to explain that Prometheus is “a more poetical character than Satan” because the deity-defiant, humanitarian Titan shares the virtues of “courage and majesty and firm and patient opposition to omnipotent force” without the vices of “ambition, envy, revenge, and a desire for personal aggrandisement, which in the Hero of Paradise Lost, interfere with the interest.” As far as Shelley was concerned, while “Prometheus is, as it were, the type of the highest perfection of moral and intellectual nature, impelled by the purest and the truest motives to the best and noblest ends,” the same simply cannot be said for the character of Milton’s Satan, who instead “engenders in the mind a pernicious casuistry which leads us to weigh his faults with his wrongs and to excuse the former because the latter exceed all measure.” This rather bold position of Shelley’s—that Satan’s shortcomings are essentially excusable because they are utterly outweighed by the wrongdoing perpetrated against him—was previously asserted far less vaguely in one of Shelley’s earlier, unpublished works: his Essay on the Devil and Devils (ca. 1819–20). As a matter of fact, the above quotation from A Defence of Poetry—that Milton’s Satan is unsurpassable in “energy and magnificence”—was a passage Shelley took nearly verbatim from his Essay on the Devil, but what Shelley prudently chose not to copy from his Essay over to his Defence was his irreverently detailed description of how and why that which is genuinely malignant in Milton’s otherwise virtuous Devil—his quest for the destruction of Man—may be blamed upon Milton’s God, who, as in Satan’s “baleful eyes” (I.56), emerges as the far more demonic figure of the story.1

I’ve been rereading Milton’s great poem Paradise Lost as well as Mary Shelley’s work of late, both have infiltrated and informed my mind for decades. Milton’s was for me a work against the political tyranny of his time, a Cromwellian defender Milton chose the path of freedom from despotic rule and after the defeat of Cromwell suffered for his allegiance. It would be after this political defeat that he’d go on to write his famed poem and take up the devil’s cause of freedom against the English power of Divine Kingship. Mary Shelley in the wake of such thought coming as she did from her parents William Godwin the Anarchist, and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, the arch feminist. Married to the poet who would shape her sense of vision she wrote the first prose epic that would in its Janus faced vision merge the past visions of gnostic battle with the future visions of earthly ruin and sacrifice. Yet, it would be the defiant power of that Satanic pride that would carry her into our own time as the fierce advocate of justice against the dictates of all ruinous power and tyranny.


  1. Christopher J. C., The Satanic Scholar, The Miltonic in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, on the Novel’s Bicentenary (January, 1, 2018) – (read)