Monday, 19 March 2018

How can the people of Albion be supine in the face of the Telford (etc) mass, organised, long-term, officially-known-but-allowed; rape and violent abuse of uncounted thousands of children and the vulnerable?

The short answer is that if the people of Albion were not already and en masse supine, demoralised, hedonistic, nihilistic, cowardly and profoundly demotivated - then Telford etc. would never have happened in the first place.

That is the top and bottom of the affair.

And we know exactly why the people of Albion are such a morally-despicable disgrace.

It is perfectly simple.

As Solzhenitsyn stated: We have forgotten God.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Nothing-butness - From science to bureaucracy

More and more of our patients complain of a sense of meaninglessness in life. More and more often, the reason is the outlook of science. Or what has come through to them as the outlook of science. 

Sometimes it is called reductionism. I'd prefer to apply a phrase of Jung's and say nothing-butness

Thinking people tend to feel that science has cut Man down. It's explained away everything that matters in terms of smaller, meaner things that don't matter. 

Religion is nothing but wish-fulfilling fairy-tales. Love is nothing but body chemistry. Art is nothing but a surge of conditioned reflexes. The highest flights of the poet of philosopher are traced back to childhood trivia and rationalised compensations.

Science leaves man shut-in, futile, doomed. In Desmond Morris's words, a naked ape... 

From The Finger and the Moon by Geoffrey Ashe - a novel published in 1973.

The above passage confirms what those who lived through it remember - that the diagnosis of the modern condition of nihilism was well understood 45 years ago - but its cause was wrongly attributed; and, of course, the main and culturally-dominant ideas for how to solve the problems (free-love, rock music, supposedly-egalitarian communes, psychedelic drugs, eclectic Easter-type religiosity...) were almost-completely ineffective, or counter-productive.

Hardly anybody nowadays feels the above sense of oppression by 'science' - science has waned in the public consciousness, even as the number of people employed as 'scientists' has increased more than tenfold... partly because the number of people employed as 'scientists' has increased more than tenfold.

With the death of Stephen Hawking, famous more for being crippled and anti-religion than for the scope of his scientific achievements, and the non-personing of Jim Watson in 2007; most people could not name a single living scientist - nor could a single living scientist's name be recognised by most people.

The reason is obvious enough - real science has disappeared from the official and professional institutions and been replaced by, absorbed by, The Bureaucracy. The biggest and most heavily-funded 'scientific' projects are actually engineering (the human genome project, hadron collider, renewed interest in space travel...) and/ or a pack of lies propagated for political reasons (anthropogenic global warming, the best-selling 'new' medical drugs...).

The 'scientists' are just careerist bureaucrats, doing what they are told by their 'line managers', who are themselves keyed-into the rest of The Bureaucracy - just like everyone else.

The sixties counter-culture has been completely absorbed by the mass media amplified by personal computers and ubiquitous 'smart'-phones - and political 'dissent' and 'radicalism' is mainstream, taught in schools and by state propaganda; subsidised and promoted by The Bureaucracy.

Now science is bureaucracy; consequently The Bureaucracy is science. We believe and obey because Truth is now consensus, and consensus is manufactured by managed-committees, by procedures and by votes - and the bureaucratic consensus is validated by internal bureaucratic mechanisms that allocate funding, publication, promotions, publicity, awards and prizes.     

Meanwhile, people have gone beyond 'complaining' about a sense of meaninglessness in life - why complain about something immovable and unavoidable and all-pervading? They just live-it; and distract themselves from awareness of it (which has never been easier). Science, for all its nothing-butness, was also exciting and hopeful.

Now excitement and hope is restricted to the manipulative totalitarianism of the mass media; and the ever-expanding bureaucracy closes-off all genuine autonomy in a ever-smaller-meshed network of total surveillance and micro-control.

Sixties-seventies radicalism was always mostly a set-up and a dead-end; and things have moved-on. We can seem much more clearly now, than they did then - so clearly that we don't need to be told. Everyman can see for himself - if he wants-to. Everyman can know what needs to be done - if he wants to...

It is the wanting that is lacking - and also the courage to want.

The Mark of the Horse Lord

Since I first read William Golding's Free Fall (1959) 32 years ago, I have been convinced that it has the finest opening paragraph in English literature:

I have walked by stalls in the market-place where books, dog-eared and faded from their purple have burst with a white hosanna. I have seen people crowned with with a double crown, holding in either hand the crook and flail, the power and the glory. I have understood how the scar becomes a star. I have felt the flake of fire fall, miraculous and pentecostal. My yesterdays walk with me. They keep step, they are grey faces that peer over my shoulder. I live on Paradise Hill, ten minutes from the station, thirty seconds from the shops and the local. Yet I am a burning amateur, torn by the irrational and incoherent, violently searching and self-condemned.

This passage, and many more in Golding's oeuvre, carry linguistic and poetic echoes of Thomas Thraherne's Centuries of Meditation. In both cases the English language flows like molten lava. Free Fall is as good as it gets for me. But the second best opening paragraph, in my view, comes from a children's novel published in 1965, The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-1992):

In the long cavern of the changing-room, the light of the fat-oil lamps cast jumping shadows on the walls; skeleton shadows of the spear-stacked arms-racks, giant shadows of the men who crowded the benches or moved about still busy with their weapons and gear; here and there the stallion shadow of a plume-crested helmet. The stink of the wild beasts' dens close by seeped in to mingle with the sharper smell of men waiting for the trumpets and sweating a little as they waited. Hard to believe that overhead where the crowds had been gathering since cock-crow, the June sun was shining and a fresh wind blowing in from the moors to set the brightly-coloured pennants flying.

The English language simply isn't deployed like this in fiction any more. The obsession with toning down 'purple prose' and filtering out unnecessary words has led to a flattening and hollowing out, which renders unfashionable much of the colour and vitality Sutcliff displays here. It is difficult to imagine a contemporary adult novel, let alone a children's book, beginning with such a burst of rich, imaginatively-charged prose. 

The quality of writing stays at this level throughout the book's 21 chapters. Phaedrus, a young gladiator in second-century Roman Britain, is awarded his freedom but, as in Colin Wilson's diagnosis of modern man, doesn't know what to do with it. Thrown into prison after a drunken night's revelry, he is sprung from jail by representatives of a Gaelic tribe from the western isles of what is now Scotland. He is asked to impersonate their former king, who was disposed of by the queen of a neighbouring tribe, and become the figurehead the Gaelic leaders need if they are to regain their kingdom. Phaedrus accepts, and the story flows organically and fluently from there.

Sutcliff's descriptions of people, places, and the natural world are atmospheric and richly-textured. Her characters are rounded and believable. The story seems to spring from them fully formed - like Athene from the head of Zeus - as if the tale already exists in some archetypal world of Platonic Forms and Sutcliff has merely picked up its wavelength and written it down in one sitting. Any author who creates this impression in the reader's mind is clearly, in my view, a great artist. The reality of even gaining access to that primordial realm, then crafting and shaping a story out of what one encounters there, is always (in my experience anyway) a colossally tough affair.

From about Chapter 13 onwards, the storytelling goes up a level again, as if the authorial presence has vanished and the story has taken on a life of its own and is telling itself. It's an extraordinary achievement, and one of those books that when I finished it I struggled to get my bearings for a few days as I had become so immersed in the fierce, elemental wildness of the Celtic fringes of the Roman Empire.

The Mark of the Horse Lord is full of big ideas as well - loyalty, honour, magic, faith, fraternity, trust, the bond between men and women, and the use and abuse of power. It's a tough, realistic read, despite the glittering prose, but the adult themes are explored in a manner that in no way undermines the innocence of Sutcliff's young readers. On the contrary, it's an education in what makes people tick - what they'll fight and die for, and how far an individual is prepared to go to become something greater than he currently is.

Many of Sutcliff's novels, such as The Lantern Bearers and Outcast, feature a Phaedrus-like figure as the main protagonist - a young man with a broken family struggling to find his way in life. Though her books have been enjoyed for decades by both sexes, I would say there is something particularly valuable here for young men, particularly in an age like the present where so much confusion and disorientation reigns concerning traditional male values and the role of men in society. The Mark of the Horse Lord is the story of a warrior - a man who has to fight every inch of the way - in himself, in his own community, and in the wider world of tribal and imperial conflict. Phaedrus finds his journey from gladiator to king tough going to say the least, but he sticks to his guns, trusts his intuition, does what he feels in his gut to be right, and grows in the end into something almost Arthurian, far more royal and archetypal than the impersonator and figurehead he was originally supposed to be.

The best thing of all about this book is that it posits a world freighted with meaning and value. It stands, as such, as a terrific antidote to hopelessness and despair. The ending may not be conventionally happy, but I found it deeply fulfilling in all the ways that matter. There is a pattern and harmony behind the plot's cut and thrust which Phaedrus begins to sense as the novel approaches its conclusion. But it only reveals itself and he only enters into it when he is ready, and that is what occurs at the very end of the book. 

Sammy Mountjoy, Golding's narrator in Free Fall, sees the world shot through with the Divine after his release from solitary confinement in a German prisoner of war camp:

Beyond the trees the mountains were not only clear all through like purple glass, but living. They sang and were conjubilant. They were not all that sang. Everything is related to everything else and all relationship is either discord or harmony. The power of gravity, dimension and space, the movement of the earth and sun and unseen stars, these made what might be called music and I heard it ...

What happens to Phaedrus on the last page of Sutcliff's novel belongs, I believe, on a deeper level again. It is a coronation and a consummation, an initiation into the mythic depths of sacred kingship. You will have to read it to find out! I promise you, it will stay with you forever.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Nationalism must be Romantic to be effective

 Picture by Caspar David Friedrich

The age of Nationalism was a brief interlude, of a couple of generations, after the decline of Christian faith began during the ruling classes, during the 19th century. All the effective Nationalist movements were substantially Romantic - that is, their appeal was to a mystical ideal of Nation, and to spiritual goals such as Glory - rather than to (for example) economic self-interest or any other materialism.

Which is one why Nationalism is a dead duck in the West, now - because the mass of people are absolutely incapable of that kind of yearning Romanticism based on the nation.

And one reason they are incapable is that all the major social institutions in all the Western nations have been infiltrated, conquered and subverted by materialistic Leftist bureaucracy and a hedonistic mass media. Instead of Romanticism we have sex and statistics. And that is what people 'believe in' - insomuch as they believe-in anything...

We are not Romantic about the material actuality of our Nations - but we can be Romantic about their spiritual and mystical realities - But, only if we believe that these realities are really-real...

The spiritual revolution will come from that about-which we are really-Romantic - spontaneously, from the heart, strongly such that it occupies our daydreams and lends us courage.

The scope of the revolution will be determined by the number of people thus aligned.

The effect of the spiritual revolution is utterly unpredictable - because when our metaphysics has changed and our aspirations are transformed - everything will look different.

We will then, but not until then, know what we ought to do, and will be energised and inspired to do it.

In the mean time we should nourish our hearts, strengthen our thinking, and attend to what is Romantic to us.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Miserere Nostri

My last post spoke of the need for penitence. It's a recognition of our many sins and failings, and of our utter dependence on God. At the same time, God wants people able to stand on their own two feet and face the iniquities of the world with courage and without being downcast by them. He also wants us to recognise that we have goodness and truth within ourselves. We are not simply worthless sinners. We are sons and daughters of God, children of light who, given time, can grow into gods ourselves.

But it all must start with repentance. I find this perfectly represented in music by one of Albion's greatest composers who was working in one of the times of its greatest creativity, even though it was a hard and cruel time in many ways. Thomas Tallis lived from 1505 to 1585 through a period of religious upheaval and constant change. But in these often difficult years he produced some of the best music ever made in England. This brief piece is a seven part canon and expresses the feelings of the true penitent with deep emotion. It also seems very suitable for Lent.

Repentance is like a cleansing of the soul. Of course, this is not a one off thing. We will constantly fall back, but if we are sincere in our desire to amend our lives then every failure will spur us on to greater efforts. It's an extraordinary thing but God will always forgive us as long as we recognise our shortcomings. Whenever we turn to him for help it will be forthcoming, though not necessarily in the way we might expect since God is working in the long term not just to save us in the conventional Christian sense but to bring us to a full and complete union with him in which our heart and mind are transformed into pure love and truth, and our very being is transfigured into light.

The modern person often doesn't like the idea of repentance because it seems feeble. You are passing your burdens onto someone else and admitting your weakness. You are giving up which is unmanly. I understand this. But true repentance is simply admitting that you have taken a wrong turning at a very deep level and become 'addicted' to ego. Its consequences are very far from feeble for once you have repented of your past sins it is time to 'fight the good fight' and try to change for the better. Believe me, that is the hardest fight anyone will ever undertake. To be sure, God will help you but you have to do the work yourself. God will not do it for you even if he will support you as you do it. But if you are to change who else can do it but you yourself? If God accomplished this work for you then you would just be his slave and he doesn't want slaves. He wants free spirits, but free spirits dedicated to the good and the true and the upliftment of the world.

So forget about repentance being for the weak. It is actually for the strong, those strong enough to tackle themselves and admit they are wrong.

Monday, 5 March 2018

True Awakening Demands Deep Penitence

It seems to me that the way things currently are going any spiritual awakening is unlikely unless people are brought low by suffering. We are just too comfortable and too set in our materialistic ways to change course unless something dramatic, which forces us to change, takes place. I believe the powers that be have sought to avoid a scenario of suffering for some time but, spiritually speaking, humanity has just gone from bad to worse and is currently as far away from God as it has been for a long, long time. Our culture and our politics are all corrupt, our religion, such as it is, is ineffective and when we do turn to some idea of spirituality in the modern spiritual but not religious way, it is usually on our own terms and with no real sense of the Creator. Hence any spirituality of this sort is directed towards personal growth and does not include the metanoia that is essential for any genuine awakening.

We need to change and we need to do so at the roots of our being. Change in the spiritual sense cannot simply be an external thing. It is not just swapping one set of beliefs for another, supposedly more enlightened. Even if the new beliefs are truer, more spiritually correct, that is nowhere near good enough. Real change requires substantially more than just changing one's thoughts or even one's behaviour or way of life. It requires deep penitence, something that goes right down to the very core of what we feel ourselves to be and leaves our old self lying shattered and in pieces on the ground. Do you remember how Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader turned into a dragon? Perhaps that dragon was just the materialised form of what he really was like inside. He became in body what he already was in soul, and it was only when he experienced a radical restructuring of the soul that he was able to be liberated by Aslan from that terrible dragon exterior. What if we too appeared outwardly as we are in our souls? Is that a challenge you would wish to take up?

We have to remind ourselves that before Jesus could carry out his mission, the way had to be prepared by someone of a much rougher disposition. Someone who called out evil for what it was and who actually ended up paying with his life for this. He did not accommodate himself to the world or to the authority of the day. When he condemned sin, he did not pull his punches. He simply spoke the truth. John the Baptist had the mission of calling the people to repentance. Jesus could not have spoken to these people unless they had first been awoken to their sinful state by John. Once they had started to see themselves as they were then Jesus could direct them towards understanding how they should be. But there could be no spirituality without prior repentance. The ground of the soul had to be ploughed and tilled before the seed could be sown. A hard ground could not have taken the seed.

At the moment, the ground of the human soul is very hard. What can soften it up so that the seeds of renewal can be sown? Heavy rainfall is probably what is needed. Nobody can look forward to suffering but we have brought this upon ourselves by our arrogance and vanity, by our rebelliousness and cold-heartedness. (By the way, a sentimental age such as ours usually is cold-hearted, the sentimentality replacing true feeling.) If we will not turn to the truth of our own accord that will create a reaction in the fabric of being. We are not being punished. We will just experience the consequences of our anti-life behaviour

There is no moving forward without repentance. And this is a matter of the will for real spirituality is not so much about overcoming ignorance, as in many Eastern approaches to spiritual truth (even though that is important), as about reorientation of the will. It is in our wills that we are bent and it is that we must address if we are to awaken from our spiritual sleep. Maybe it will not require suffering, let us hope so, but realistically how long can we continue as we are now?

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

The Great Return

The Welsh writer and mystic, Arthur Machen (1863-1947), has become without doubt a highly influential figure. Artists as varied as H.P. Lovecraft, Jorge Luis Borges, Alan Moore, and the late Mark E Smith, creative mastermind behind Manchester post-punk pioneers, The Fall, have all claimed inspiration from him.

Machen is most widely seen these days as a purveyor of 'weird fiction', with stories like The Great God Pan and The White People viewed as early, and very unsettling, examples of the horror genre. He is also famous for his short story, The Bowmen (1914), which tells the tale of a phantom squadron of bowmen saving the British Army from destruction in France. Machen was a fine journalist, and he wrote the story in a journalistic style, which was taken as fact by many readers and gave rise to the legend of the Angels of Mons, who were said to have appeared to retreating British forces in September 1914.

Machen's most interesting books, in my view, are his novels, The Hill of Dreams (1903), The Secret Glory (1922), and the novella which is the subject of this post, The Great Return (1915). Machen's recognition of a deeper, richer reality behind the surface phenomena of daily life comes across particularly strongly in these stories. In this respect, as in others, Machen can be considered a precursor to Charles Williams. Like Williams, he was a High Anglican with a deeply mystical bent and a fascination with occult lore. His father was a clergyman, and the young Machen would have followed the same path but for a financial crisis which necessitated him leaving the family home and relocating to London to earn a meagre living through a variety of odd-jobs. Machen writes exceptionally well, as does Williams, about that city. This passage from The Three Imposters is especially reminiscent, I feel, of the perambulations around London Williams describes in War in Heaven and All Hallows' Eve:

Before me was the long suburban street, its dreary distance marked by rows of twinkling lamps, and the air was poisoned by the faint, sickly smell of burning bricks, deserted as that of Pompeii. I knew pretty well what direction to take, so I set out wearily, looking at the stretch of lamps vanishing in perspective: and as I walked street after street branched off to right and left, some far reaching, to distances that seemed endless, communicating with other systems of thoroughfare, and some mere protoplasmic streets, and ending suddenly in waste, and pits, and rubbish heaps, and fields whence the magic had departed. I have spoken of systems of thoroughfare,, and I assure you that walking alone through these silent places I felt fantasy growing on me, and some glamour of the infinite. 

Machen was born in Caerleon, South-East Wales. The town's Arthurian heritage and its Romano-British ruins made a strong impression on his imagination. The Great Return is also set in Wales, in a small village on the South-West coast called Arfon. The narrator, at one stage, climbs a hill and sits among the ruins of an ancient fortification called the Old Camp Head, which looks out over the sea 'towards Cornwall and to the great depths that roll beyond Cornwall to the far ends of the world; a place where fragments of dreams - they seemed such then - might, perhaps, be gathered into the clearness of a vision.'

Machen is not a great prose stylist and his stories are often constructed in quite a clunky fashion. In my view, however, it is passages like this which show why he is so compelling and influential. There is a real sense of the British Mysteries in his writing, and he has the ability (like Williams again) to bring those mysteries alive in a memorable and evocative manner.

In The Great Return, the Holy Grail appears in Arfon, bringing healing, transformation, joy and peace to all who come into its presence. That's the plot in a nutshell. The Grail comes and the lives of men and women are transformed. Spring morning consciousness, to borrow Colin Wilson's phrase, is the order of the day. That's all there is, and at this level of spiritual and imaginative encounter, that's all there needs to be.

I think this is also how it will be at the end of time. I really do. Sure, there will be wars and revolutions, earthquakes and tsunamis, totalitarian régimes, and economic and social meltdown. We will look at all these phenomena and see them as 'signs of the times' and so they are, but they are also nothing to be afraid of. Not ultimately. Not fundamentally. In his 1945 masterpiece, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, the French metaphysician, René Guénon (1886-1951) delineates with pinpoint accuracy the headlong erosion and inversion of values which mark the times in which we live, the final stages of the Dark Age, or Kali Yuga as Guénon calls it, following the Indian terminology. According to the Hindu doctrine of the Four Ages, which Guénon subscribed to, the Dark Age will cede place, as surely as night gives way to day, to a new Golden Age (Satya Yuga). 

Our difficulty, here and now, is that we do not know how much further the Dark Age has to run. We might already be close to the nadir or, conversely, our fall - like that of Milton's Satan - may still have dizzying fathoms to come. We might conceivably have to plunge all the way down - to a self-created Hell - enslavement to an Artificial Intelligence demanding worship and obedience like the bodiless 'Head' in C.S. Lewis's, That Hideous Strength. We are not in charge of the timescales. Guénon teaches us that the Dark Age has to run its course as per the parameters set down for it at the foundation of the world. The world grows increasingly materialised until it is as far from its spiritual source as mid-winter is from mid-summer. Then the switchback occurs and the spiritual becomes once again the dominant paradigm. The transhumanists view this kind of pabulum as outmoded superstition, of course, to be outgrown at the earliest opportunity, but they have tunnel vision and are merely acting out the roles pre-ordained for them as men of the Dark Age. Their fall is as inevitable as the changing of the seasons and the rising of the sun. It will be as spectacular and comprehensive as the fall of Numenor or Atlantis.

Guénon also explains how, as we get closer to the Golden Age, some of the light from this era to come will find a way of shining into the darkness of this present time. We should remember as well, as Christians, that the Golden Age for us is not just a block of time but is in fact the coming of a Person who, like the Grail in Machen's story, brings healing, transformation, joy and peace. 

The signs of His approach, as with His first advent, are likely to reveal themselves in a manner we have not anticipated and at a time and place we do not expect - a provincial backwater, not unlike Nazareth, perhaps - a place passed over and left to rot by the shifting tides of politics, finance and fashion - a run-down industrial estate, let us say, on a ring road just outside Middlesborough. People turn up for work on a Monday morning, and already by lunchtime a thousand unobtrusive miracles have taken place. Old feuds are forgotten, horizons are widened, workplace politics are recognised as irrelevant, broken families are made whole, and faces shine with light, laughter and joy. No-one knows how or why this change has happened. No-one cares either. All the workers know is that it feels good, right, natural and true. 'It's always been this way,' they say to each other. 'It could never be any other way. We just forgot it for a while.'

It wouldn't surprise me if a tremendous act of healing, bordering on resurrection, also occurred in the locality - on a nearby council estate, maybe - very similar in its details to Machen's account of the moment Olwen Phillips, a sixteen year old girl in the last stages of consumption, begins her recovery:

She said she woke up in the deep darkness, and she knew the life was fast going from her. She could not move so much as a finger, she tried to cry out, but no sound came from her lips. She felt that in another instant the whole world would fall from her—her heart was full of agony. And as the last breath was passing her lips, she heard a very faint, sweet sound, like the tinkling of a silver bell. It came from far away, from over by Ty-newydd. She forgot her agony and listened, and even then, she says, she felt the swirl of the world as it came back to her. 

And the sound of the bell swelled and grew louder, and it thrilled all through her body, and the life was in it. And as the bell rang and trembled in her ears, a faint light touched the wall of her room and reddened, till the whole room was full of rosy fire. And then she saw standing before her bed three men in blood-coloured robes with shining faces. And one man held a golden bell in his hand. And the second man held up something shaped like the top of a table. It was like a great jewel, and it was of a blue colour, and there were rivers of silver and of gold running through it and flowing as quick streams flow, and there were pools in it as if violets had been poured out into water, and then it was green as the sea near the shore, and then it was the sky at night with all the stars shining, and then the sun and the moon came down and washed in it. And the third man held up high above this a cup that was like a rose on fire; "there was a great burning in it, and a dropping of blood in it, and a red cloud above it, and I saw a great secret. And I heard a voice that sang nine times, 'Glory and praise to the Conqueror of Death, to the Fountain of Life immortal.' Then the red light went from the wall, and it was all darkness, and the bell rang faint again by Capel Teilo, and then I got up and called to you."

This is the Great Return. It is also the way the world ends, not with a whimper, nor with a bang, but with a high and holy chant, the ringing of a bell, a vision of goodness and purity, and a soft, warm light which grows and swells until the whole world, from the North Pole to the South, is suffused with its radiance. The fetters of the Iron Age snap and fall asunder. The Great Restoration is at hand. The dream, as Lewis writes in The Last Battle, is ended. This is the morning.