Category Archives: philosophy

Aristokratia IV – K. Deva (editor) (2017)

I think I am about back up-to-date with the Manticore journal publications. Contrary to the previous two reviews of this publisher “Aristokratia IV” is indeed a journal with an editor and essays of different authors.

Being a Manticore publication there is a lot of Nietzsche of Evola. Being an “Aristokratia” this journal is of a more political / sociological nature. The texts are about a variety of subjects. The opening article is about revolutions in Russia. Then follows Gwendolyn Taunton with a text about the “more Nietzschian than Nietzsche” Italian author Gabriele D’Unnunzio; an interesting text about Nietzsche’s philosophy in practice. Other more biographical texts are about Max Stirner, Emile Zola and Neville Goddard. Further there are sociological and philosophical texts that usually have a slight Traditionalist undertone.

The book ends with a collection of quotes (or so it seems, aphorisms at least) and a couple of book reviews. read more

Operative Traditions volume 1 – Miguel Angel Fernandez (2017)

Just as with “Tantric Traditions“, the title suggests that this is another Manticore journal, especially because of the “volume 1” in the title. But just as with the other book, “Operative Traditions” is a book by one author.

Another suggestion of the title is Masonic. Before there was “speculative” Freemasonry, there was “operative” masonry. The selling line: “Where Ernst Jünger & Julius Evola meet at last” seems to suggest another direction though. In fact, both is true. The book is, to a certain extent, about “operative” traditions from before 1717, but rather than seeing it as a progression, Fernandez sees 1717 (the ‘founding’ of modern Freemasonry) as a turning point to the negative. He does not say that Freemasonry is the problem, but suggests that the same development that led Freemasonry to leave operativeness, led the West to loose its eye for the miraculous and an over-appreciation of technology and science.

The book perhaps mentions Freemasonry a few times, the subject is wholly different. Mostly based on the work of three thinkers, the author aims at presenting an idea of a contemporary operative Tradition. These authors are of course the German writer (and “war hero”) Ernst Jünger (1895-1998) who is most famous for his work Der Arbeiter (1932) which Fernandez does not translate as “the worker”, but as “the operator”. The other author is the Italian Traditionalist Julius Evola (1898-1974) who people familiar with this website and the books published by Manticore Press will be familiar. The last author is Eugen Herrigel (1884-1955) whose book Zen in der Kunst des Bogenschießens (“Zen in the Art of Archery”), in which he describes his experiences while studying under master Awa Kenzô, is referred to a lot. read more

De Pansofie Van Comenius * Henk Woldring (2016)

Early 2015 I somehow heard that professor H.E.S. Woldring would present his first book about Jan Amos Comenius with a lecture at the university where he used to lecture. That first book was a biography of Comenius. Two years later the author presents a book about Comenius’ “pansophy” as he called it himself.

The book is only 200 pages and relatively expensive, but like the first book it is a good-looking hardcover. In a large number of short chapters Woldring analyses Comenius’ philosophy and how it developed. He starts with some general remarks about the man Jan Amos Comenius and about his ‘project’. Then follow, roughly chronologically, analyses about Comenius’ philosophy and the books he wrote in different periods. Woldring also uses Comenius’ own “syncritical” method on his own ideas.

Especially towards the end Woldring compares Comenius to contemporaries. The last chapters are inquiries about Comenius’ “style of thinking” and then those of René Descartes and Baruch de Spinoza. read more

Borderline * Lennart Svensson (2015)

“A Traditionalist Outlook for Modern Man” was published just before the end of last year. This Swedish author has written several books in Swedish and recently started to publish in English. He has a BA in Indology, but this book is not an academic one. Actually, “Borderline” contains the musings of an interested layman (it is not about Indian philosophy). It is also the merit of Numen Books to publish titles such as this, because they bring another perspective than what is currently popular in academic circles.

Let me start with some criticism. “Borderline” reads like a collection of separate essays. There is a red thread, but some chapters hardly fit in with the rest. Is, for example, the Edith Södergran chapter just to bring attention to this Swedish poet? The chapter seems to be a bit out of place content-wise. There is also a three page biography of Ernst Jünger which appears to be an advertisement for the authors book about Jünger, but this chapter does not add a whole lot to the content of the present title.
Then there is the fact that Svensson uses terms such as “Perennialism” in a bit of an odd (to me at least) way. However the author knows Guénon and Evola, his “Perennialism” refers to the thought of authors such as Plato, Plotinus, Goethe, Jünger and Swedenborg (and even Jung).
Another point, the acronyms. I fail to see the use. Does the author asume that we are going to throw “RAWALTAFA” at our friends when we want to tell them: “Rather Acting Wrongly And Learning Then Abstaining From Action” or learn them about NAMO as in “Napoleonic Modus Operandi”?

Svensson describes what he sees as the philosophy and mindset for the modern man. He is clear that this is a theistic outlook. He calls his ‘system’ “Holistic” and “integral esotericism”. He does not really care what philosophy his readers adhere, but he is very clear that his own is Christian; not the typical Catholic kind of Christianity, but more of an esoteric one, an esotericism which he bases on Rudolf Steiner and, to a lesser account, on Emanuel Swedenborg. Both not really Perennialists in my definition, but I do not often find a Christian voice in the current ‘neo-Traditionalistic scene’. The anti-materialistic take does make Svensson’s book fit in the Numen Books roster and the different approach makes the book a nice addition to the publisher’s list. Also the fact that “Borderline” is relatively practical makes this a book worth reading. read more

Unum Necessarium * Jan Amos Comenius (1668/1983)

That is odd. I cannot find an English translation of this book. Unum Necessarium (‘the only thing necessary’) is the last book that Comenius (1592-1670) wrote. He dedicated it to “earl Ruprecht of the Palts on the Rhein”. The way Comenius wrote, my guess is that this Ruprecht was still alive when the book was published, but which Ruprecht we are talking about, I do not know. But, Comenius’ last book lacks translation to English? This Dutch translation is from 1929; this 1983 printing is a second and revised print. The translation was made by R.A.B. Oosterhuis.

Unum Necessarium is but a little book, 155 pages including introductions and notes. Comenius wrote a massive amount of books about a wide range of subjects. The current title is small and simple; of course, when there is just one thing you really need.

Comenius starts with referring to three Greek myths. Daedalus and his labyrinth, Sisyphus and his stone and Tantalus and his punishment. Comenius keeps talking about labyrinths, Sisyphusstones and Tantalus-disappointments throughout the book. So what is this only thing necessary. Comenius uses several discriptions, but all come to the point of “returning to Christ” (p. 125). Man does not need fancy cloths, lots of money, too much to eat, not even a library full of books (Comenius lost three of his libraries though). Set your mind to Christ and you will have all you need.
Indeed, Unum Necessarium is a very pious and Christian book. Comenius adhered a very specific (and endangered) form of Christianity, the “Unity of the Brethern” (or “Moravian Brethern”), a Moravian Protestant current inspired by the ideas of John Huss (1369-1415).

Comenius travelled around, mostly because he (and his brethern) were forced to leave. He spent many years in the Netherlands. This book was published in the city where he died: Amsterdam.

Unum Necessarium is not really a highly inspirational read (to me). Like I said, it is very piously Christian. Comenius proves himself a realistic and simple religious man who -however he acknowledges other faiths- would like to see ‘his religion’ be the Universal Religion it deserves to be.

‘The only thing necessary’ shows the religious life of a ‘minimalistic believer’.

1983 Rozekruis Pers, isbn 9070196972

Intellectual Gallery * Troy Southgate (2014)

As, for a European continental, every Black Front Press publication costs 15 UK pounds (including shipping), this massive 550+ paged book was as expensive as the tiny “Troubadours Of The Apocalypse”.

I knew that Southgate was an active writer, but almost each of the 18 chapters is actually a summery of one of his books and those are only a part of his bibliography. Many titles are available from Southgate’s own Black Front Press (you have to combine the Facebook page and Blogspot to see what is available). The catalogue goes from Southgate’s national anarchism, books about black metal and neofolk to “Helios: journal of metaphysical & occult studies”, philosophy and history. This “intellectual gallery” is almost that varried. There is not really politics in this book, but the chapters deal with varried characters such as Julius Evola, Friedrich Nietzsche, Corneliu Codreanu, Ernst Junger, Oswald Sprengler and Martin Heidegger to Maria de Naglowska, Aleister Crowley and Emanual Swedenborg.

With such a variety of subjects, it is hardly surprising that I did not find every chapter as interesting as the next. The interesting opening about Evola stands aside “an investigation of G.K. Chesterson’s The Ballad Of The White Horse“. Similarly, while the essays on Swedenborgh, Heidegger and Schopenhauer present little new, the 1920’s warning about the upcoming Islam by Hilaire Belloc is interesting to read in our own day and age.

You may think that many subjects are hardly original, but Southgate often presents just another angle such as Aleister Crowley the mountaineer, Sprengler is critiqued and of Nietzsche his reply to Paul Rhee is spoken of. Other chapters are more typical, such as Jünger’s war-diaries and Schopenhauer’s pessimism.

All in all this “intellectual gallery” makes a nice intoduction to Southgate the thinker and writer non-politically. That is to say, here and there his politics are mentioned, but not very often. Also Southgate has the name of being fairly radical and politically active and hence ‘dangerous’ (the name of his publishing house does not help there), but be sure that he is an interesting well-read intellectual with an agreeable writing style and a wide view on subjects.

2014 Black Front Press isbn 9780992745288

The Path Of Cinnabar * Julius Evola (1963/2009)

I was looking what to read and had to think of Evola. After looking around a bit, I opted for the book that the translator has subtitled “an intellectual autobiography”. What a great book! I have read several books of this controversial author and many years ago I even wrote a biography of the man, but like the man says several times in his book: this is the ultimate guide to his ouevre.
Evola lived from 1898 to 1974. He wrote Il Cammino del Cinabro when he thought it was time to look back at his life and work, especially the latter. By the time Evola started to work on this autobiography, his popularity started to rise after a couple of decades of being almost totally ignored. Therefor he thought it high time to put his works in perspective and to create some sort of guidance for his new readership. Now, over 50 years later, The Path of Cinnabar is still very much fitted for that!
The book starts as a relatively normal biography. Evola did not want to write about himself, but about his ideas, but of course he has to add some personal notes here and there. Early in the book he writes about his Catholic upbringing, his break and the way he looked towards Catholicism afterwards. This is pretty much like my own story, but Evola articulates his story a lot better than I could have. From his anarchistic and artistic period, to his encounter with Eastern thought and occultism, Evola is very open about the development of his thinking. What is more, he is also very open about what he wrote at the time and how he looks at his ideas of the time when he wrote The Path of Cinnabar. This is particularly revealing when he comes to his political ideas and how these developped. Those parts also bring perspective to the most common objections agains Evola, but will also confirm some ideas of his enemies.
Regardless Evola the politician, I find the total overview of the development of his philosophy very interesting, particularly when he comes to his agreements and disagreements with René Guénon. Quite surprisingly on a couple of occasions I tend to prefer Evola’s approach to that of Guénon (but not always). Some parts (especially his philosophical phase) are not as interesting as the rest, but the larger part is great reading.
Indeed a work that cannot be missed by Evola’s followers and his enemies and it definately fullfills the function that it was written for: explaining and framing the works of Julius Evola that he produced in more than five decades. What makes the book even better: Evola proves himself a great writer and the translator turned his book into a wonderfull text in English.
1963/2010 Arktos Media, isbn 1907166025

De Nieuwsfabriek * Rob Wijnberg (2013)

Rob Wijnberg (1982-) is a Dutch philosopher and journalist with a flying carreer. Before reaching the age of 30 he was editor in chief of a part of one of the Netherland’s major newspapers. His work as a journalist has made Wijnberg increasingly critical towards media and the news. In previous books he philosophically explained his objections, his latest book is more like a manifest for new journalism. The title of the book translates as “the news factory” which shows accurately what Wijnberg tries to tell his readers. News is selective and interpreted information. It is never about what is normal, so it does not tell the consumer about the world, but about exceptions. What is worse, news is increasingly subject to commercialisation. A newspaper is no longer to inform people about important subjects, but to sell advertisement and the advertisers have a big influence on how news is presented, because you are not going to aim for a middle class by combining the advertisement to extremely scholarly essays. When looking at television you can notice that news has become entertainment. Many items talked about in news programs and bring little to our understanding of how things are. Also the audience has such a short attention span, that news has to be short. Because is has to be short, it can only repeat what is already known, because in 30 seconds of a news program or 400 words in a newspaper one simply cannot describe and substantiate alternate views. Then there is the point that news has to be fast and easy. There is a race who brings news earliest and in this race media has to “have an opinion first, think later”.
Wijnberg’s book is not large, but gives a lot to think about. I share many of his views on news and media, so I am glad that Wijnberg ends his book with some sort of manifest for new journalism and he is going to try to execute it too. If all goes as hoped, “De Correspondent” (‘the correspondent’) is going to daily, but beyond the issues of the day and bring things in a framework and looked at from different viewpoints to make then understandable. I hope this is going to work out well, since I have stopped watching most of what is on TV a long time ago, news on commercial TV stations has been crap for a long time, but also news on our public chanels is increasingly filled with non-news.
2013 De Bezig Bij, isbn 9023477588

Aristokratia * K. Deva (editor) (2013)

You probably heard the story before, but in case you do not, once upon a time there was a magazine called Primordial Traditions. The best articles were published in a book with the same name and later Primordial Traditions became a series of journals, intially all with the word “tradition” in the title. The publisher changed names to Numen Books and now publishes both journals and ‘normal’ books. Besides Northern, occult, etc. traditions there was initially the plan to make a really Traditionalistic issue. This idea was later taken into a larger subject so now we have “Aristokratia”. Also it is presented as a journal of its own, not published by Numen books and not under the name of Gwendolyn Toynton/Taunton, however her hand in the project is clear. Aristokratia, that rings Nietzsche does it not? Indeed, the German philosopher is present in virtually every essay in this journal. Taunton opens the journal with ‘the real Nietzsche’ and his “aristocratic radicalism”. The article also clearly shows how aristocracy is looked at in this journal. There is a variety of essays to be found. Articles about philosophers such as Emil Cioran and Azsacra Zarathurstra (of the Shunya revolution), (of course) a text about Evola and some about Guénon, anti-modernists and writing not about someone, but of someone such as the amusing aphorism-style (and therefor very ‘quotable’) “Confrontation with nothingness” by Brett Stevens. Especially towards the end the texts are more Traditionalistic than philosophical or political, like my own “Traditionalism vs Traditionalism”.
All in all the journal became twice the size of earlier journal in these series and it again became a nice collection of texts, some of which are more interesting than others, but like its predecessors, “Aristokratia” is a good buy if you like not too academic, but also not too loose a book about subjects that matter to only a few of us.
2013 Manticore Press, isbn 9780987158185, Aristokratia website

Luvah Journal volume four

The first three volumes suggested that Luvah would be a journal with issues, so year 1, issue 3, etc., but then online. The previous issues where published somewhat as a journal, for example in one PDF with a cover and all. Luvah Journal volume 4 is ‘just’ a page on the website with links to the articles in PDF and html (no longer Epub unfortunately). A bit like I also said about issue 1/3, Luvah does not seem very much Traditionalistic. There is academia, philosophy and poetry. Nonethess there are, like in the previous issues, interesting articles. The article about William Blake was less interesting than it seemed initially, but the article about feminism and “queer theories” in Judaism is something you do not hear a whole lot about. Keith Doubt wonders if ‘reading e’ is the same as reading a book. His article is too psychological for me and he seems to largely miss a big development in digital reading, but he does raise a few interesting questions. For the rest you can read poetry, prose, a book review and another few texts.
Click on the cover to go to the Luvah website.