la crise du monde moderne 1927
This is not only Guénon’s most famous book, but also the first one that you have to read of him. It is only 116 pages, it is written (especially in the first half) very clearly without too much of his extensive sidepaths and descriptions (he does fall back on this a bit in the second half though). The book is clear of structure, gives the writer’s Traditional views quite clearly and even works towards a chapter with solutions of the “Crisis Of The Modern World”.
There are nine chapters, starting with “The Dark Age”. This does not refer to the Middle Ages, but to our own day and time, the “Kali Yuga” in which especially the Western part of mankind has drifted away from the ‘Primordial Tradition’ and fallen into an a-religious and extremely materialistic worldview. There is an obvious “Opposition Between East And West”, but I am happy for Guénon that he didn’t live to see the situation of nowadays with the ‘booming economies’ of the East. The Western man has lost its ability to understand the true mind of the East (and its own Traditional mind) and the difference between sacred and profane. This leads to “Individualism”, not in the meaning “living alone”, but especially in the meaning of seeing nothing higher than than the self. “The Social Chaos” and “Material Civilization” have their effect on the East to (“Western Encroachment”), because the West forcefully spreads its ideology (I can’t help thinking of the current situation in the near East when reading this), but also because economics have awakened the worst in some Eastern people. Guénon ends with “Some Conclusions” even with something vaguely referring to a ‘solution’. He is of the opinion that there are no links with the Primordial Tradition in the West save for the Catholic Church. The West should reinstall (with the help of the East) an “intellectual” (and this means the “higher intellect”) “elite” who will reform the Catholic Church (‘innerly’, not outerly) and bring back the Traditional spirit into the West.
I do not agree with everything that Guénon has to say, but in most cases he is very right and this little book is the perfect introduction to his thinking and the “Traditionalist School” and brings enough food for thought.
2004 sophia perennis * isbn 0900588241