There have been a slew of articles lately that have been fumbling around trying to get a hold on this thing we call the “Alt-Right.” Good luck with that! Many of these have been reactionary pieces for mainstream ed-ops. The most notable was by the half-Jewish homosexual Milo Yiannopoulos, who has taken it upon himself to wear the mantle of Alt-Right pundit.
As something of latter day Oscar Wilde (without the scintillating literary output) Milo affects the pose of being a transgressive mischief maker. The gay thing is no biggie for me, as it is with some elements of the Alt-Right, but may be interesting as a factor suggesting a kind of social distance that opens people up to the possibility of heterodox opinions.
Milo, thinking about the BBC.
As we know, the old order is breaking down across the West, and a paradigm shift is under way. This is manifesting itself in Europe as ethnonationalism, while in America – a land deprived of ethnicity – it is taking more eccentric forms, expressing itself through the America’s “liberalism” (in the more etymologically sound sense of the word). Milo fits in well there, representing the dual “freedoms” of social pluralism and the new values of cynical trolling: a thesis + antithesis = synthesis. But the current paradigm shift is also being defined by technology. Much of the confusion and relative openness of the Alt-Right comes from the conflicted nature of its major platform – the internet – and the confusions that this creates.
The internet is defined by forces moving in opposing directions. On the one hand there is anonymity – think 4Chan, sock accounts, etc. – but mixed with this there is also a growing tendency in the opposite direction, powered by the need to create “marketable subjects” and therefore virtual “internet data serfs” that can be traded between internet companies. Web 2.0 social media spaces like Facebook are entirely committed to such traceability and transparency to further their data mining, profiling, and ability to monitor dissent.
These two tendencies are polar opposites in regards to identity on the internet and can be symbolically represented by the respective founders of 4Chan and Facebook: Christopher Poole and Mark Zuckerberg.
Poole has publically attacked the Facebook and Google+ approaches to the internet, with one ForbesMagazine article even labeling Poole as the “Anti-Mark Zuckerberg,” although both are Jewish.
Poole has been public about his ideological difference with the ‘authenticity model’:
“We all have multiple identities. That’s not abnormal. It’s part of being human. Identity is prismatic.”
Poole makes a valid point, one that anti-authoritarian theorists have been pushing for. It is not a coincidence that Anonymous the internet hacker group spawned from 4Chan.
The polymorphism of memes.
The internet, when it went public in the Web 1.0 days, came to be viewed by the likes of Poole as a space beyond the hegemony of both the social order and the symbolic order that it necessarily creates, percolates, and functions through – a space of relative autonomy through anonymity.
This was the concept of cyberspace that many signed on for. What Facebook and Google+ are trying to do is to destroy that anonymity and thus autonomy – to “rein in” the parade. Cyberspace thus becomes another realm to reinforce “that which is” – not that which could be or should be.
At best, one could reconcile these two perspectives as dialectical forces, which in their opposition create a synthesized web, in which both anonymity and authenticity are possible, an internet which, “works” and an internet which “plays,” so to speak. Milo is the public face of this “play” element and accordingly has a problem dissociating reality from ‘interreality’ – what Jean Baudrillard calls Hyperreality. In some ways, the AltRight is a product of disconnected Hyperrealism. Although its political origins – its “message” – may lie in the heady writings of Alain de Benoist’s Nouvelle Droite, it really only took flight in cyberspace.
“As a medium, the Alt-Right is an aspect of the internet and social media that makes use of a number of simple psychological tricks and which exploits a number of factors, including youth, anonymity, boredom, egoism, and shock value. This translates essentially into memes, trolling, shitposting, Tweeting, and various forms of LARPing and (usually anonymous) signalling. Its operatives are typically anonymous individuals, except in cases where they have been too stupid to ensure this.
The Alt-Right-as-Message, however, is a collection of ideas and moral positions that, like any ideology, has an inherent tonality and consistency (or not, in which case it needs to work harder at this). These ideas and insights involve anti-liberal, anti-globalist, and anti-egalitarian positions on things like gender, race, identity, materialism, and even economics.”
This is the dichotomy we need to analyse the Alt-Right. In his early book The Mechanical Bride (1951), the Canadian “philosopher of communication,” Marshall McLuhan, offered an analysis of newspaper montage that focused on its characteristics of simultaneity and intellectual decline. The internet has revived interest in McLuhan’s ideas, and this analysis applies even more aptly to the internet, where we see the intellect superseded by the “meme universe.”
The unimorphism of TV.
Why study the Federal Reserve System when you can watch a video of a man getting bit by a baby shark? Why read an article on the eugenic and demographic benefits of abortion, when you can play Gemquest? Why write an article in favor of ethno-nationalism, when you can blast 1488 “spamming every place on the web with our corrosive memes…” as one commenter to Liddell’s Counter-Currents article wrote.
In its day, the newspaper page formed connections between disparate elements, fragmenting them but opening up the potentiality of “the global village” – Chinese Revolutions and American Presidential coverage all on a single page. The anti-globalist tendency of the Alt-Right has seized upon a medium based on the opposite principle to further itself.
Although emphasizing the contrast between medium and message for clarity’s sake, Liddell’s analysis does not necessarily posit a conflict between the two – more an exchange of vivifying energies and a hierarchy of ideas and methods. Liddell sees an evolution of the cyber-spray-painting-technopunk element into a more matured, principled, and less puerile expression of the message that can effect the political situation in the real world.
Unfortunately, McLuhan’s dictum may well hold true that the medium is indeed the message – with the potentialities of the internet creating a kind of downward slope into increasing inanity and self indulgence. But the two elements can still reinforce each other, while also exploiting the “work” and “play” tendencies of the internet.
I have no problem straddling the line between anonymous “1488” troll territory and the more intellectualized wing of the Alt-Right, but there is a clear distinction as well as a relationship between the two that should be utilized to our benefit. Actual 1488 is the past. It ended in an underground section of Berlin in 1945 (with a fading echo in the skinhead scene of the 1980s). The Alt-Right may invoke its ghost, but it is the present and future.
It has only recently come to my attention that back in June, Amber Hikes, the black female Executive Director, of the Office of LGBT Affairs at City of Philadelphia, thought it appropriate to add black and brown stripes to the gay pride flag. Having myself longstanding reservations over the appropriation of the Rainbow for the purposes of promoting sodomy and the degenerate ‘lifestyle choices’ inherent to gay identity welcome Hike’s new additions as adding a touch of realism. The inclusivity of the new stripes, promoting black and brown LGBTQwhatevers, are more representative of the acts and reality of queer-as-folk ‘lifestyle choices’ – black signifying death by AIDS, and brown signifying the leaky prolapsed assholes of the gay community, generally. What’s more these additions highlight how counter-aesthetic black and brown actual are.
The sheer stupidity of the new additions are not lost on youtube commentators, who point out that the flag itself has nothing to do with race. This is of course symptomatic of how Blacks and PoC generally ruin everything.
That is because if something does not highlight them by focusing on race and their victimhood status, granting them special considerations, adulations and reparations the thing in question is deemed to be insensitive and racist and should be amended, revoked or abolished altogether. This ‘pride flag’ example highlights how Blacks hijack everything possible to put themselves at the fore, including other areas of Leftist progressive vanguardism whose ‘rainbow coalition‘ is presently or previously aligned, such as gay rights or women’s rights, and make it about ‘blacks and PoC gay rights’ or ‘blacks and PoC women’s rights,’ etc. Because through the metrics of ‘intersectionality‘ the academic code-word for ‘victimhood status points,’ blacks consider and are considered as the highest scoring representatives most deserved of special considerations, representation and privileges today. This ‘pride flag’ example highlights how what Blacks and other PoC truly want is to be foremost represented, to be sycophantically highlighted, until every last white person acknowledges what special snowflakes they are by licking their boots. The addition of the Black and Brown colours at the top of the flag rather than humbly placing them as new editions on the bottom can no doubt be read as another instance of the innate Black Supremacist tendency to privilege and place themselves as foremost deserving the spotlight and peoples consideration.
The hypocrisy and double-standard becomes apparent because they are imputing these racial signifiers into a flag that has no signifiers for Whites, which points to their future goal of either the eradication or exclusion of Whites from mention or consideration. Blacks complain that the Oscars are too white, while no one complains that the BET Awards are too black. What the politics of representation is really about is demographics and the struggle of races for survival, what Blacks and other PoC really want is to see themselves, or representations of themselves proliferate, which itself is about the proliferation of their genes and their race.
Thus when the millionaire basketball-American Lebron James holds a press conference declaring, while millions of White Americans live in near abject poverty, that race is still the real issue affecting America (notice this t-shirt he’s wearing below from the press conference – oh another representation of himself), we can all applaud him for his courageousness.
Only when we acknowledge who are enemies are and what our predicament is can we overcome and reign supreme in the real world struggle between races, only when we take our own side the same way everyone else does. Because our culture is poisoned by an alien elite we are losing the representation struggle, and if we do not fight back we will lose the demographic struggle as well.
“While some characters like Durand and Inoue employ the swamp to emphasize cultural incongruities of Christian moral teaching, Ferreira’s swamp bespeaks an intellectual dissonance between Christian and Japanese traditions of metaphysics.”[i]
”Contrary to the view, whether philosophical or religious, which ascribes to some moral rules an intrinsic autonomous value (a typical instance of this is the so-called “absolute morality” of Kant’s categorical imperative) the Buddha ascribed to the several attitudes of right conduct that he pointed out, a purely instrumental value, the value of means justified only in view of a certain aim and therefore only sub conditione. But this end, just as the higher grades of Buddhistic ascesis and contemplation, is beyond morality, nor can it be measured by the religious conception of ‘holiness.’ As Milarepa was to say: ‘In my youth I committed some black deeds, in my maturity some white ones; but now I have rejected all distinctions of black and white.’”[ii]
Your Own Personal Logos
Thus, “The idea of personality is, of course, very vague in the Orient, and especially is the oriental mind slow in thinking of the ultimate reality in terms of personality.”[iii] At once both parties (West and East) are affirming “same, same…” but in radically different ways, likewise in the metaphysics of the Logos.
“The idea of the logos as a unique incarnation in a historical personality is not altogether absent, but it differs rather sharply from the Christian conception in that the clean cut theistic background is wanting, and further in that the historical personality in which the logos is incarnate lacks the marks of reality. Hozo Biku, the incarnate logos of the Orient, has not a shred of historical reality about him. And herein lies the great superiority of Christianity over Buddhism: not simply in its system of a theistic philosophy, but in its flesh-and-blood reality of the incarnate Logos, the Jesus of the New Testament.”[iv]
This “flesh-and-blood” reality of the personal savior however effectively makes the Christian-Logos, qualitatively different from Buddhist interpretations and grants the Christ-Logos a uniquely dispositional approach towards the reconciliation of the transcendent and immanent views of God (and reality –hence broadening the Western mind to a nuanced metaphysical complexity). Christ as the vesica piscis encompasses both principles of human (material) and divine (transcendent) a perfectly balanced (venn diagram). The passion of Christ, the bloody violence of his ascension, the fanaticism of the blood of the martyrs all point towards a radical activism; with a worldly concerned liberationist core, a being-in-the-world-ness that perhaps even functions to undermine Christianity and bring about the rationalizing secularism of modernity, Buddhism at its core rejects such passions as merely self-indulgent illusionary sufferings. The Christian looks out at the world in pain seeking justice; the Buddhist looks within for peace; ultimately seeking transcendence – essentially Buddhism is world-denying and escapist ideology and Christianity though containing that element is ultimately activist and world-immersing. The prolonged existence of these core divergent logos and ontological-ideas has created different character-types. At worst the Christian pushes liberationist theology to the point of undermining Christian institutions and theology itself – leading also to the undermining of European particularity. This process was so gradual and prolonged in Europe, that the Japanese shogunate showed tremendous foresight in banishing the egalitarianizing doctrine in order to preserve their social positioning, as well as their culture. However, the prolonged rejection of the Christian Logos and the metaphysics of personal salvation and liberation by the East and its overextension in the West has indeed created character and system-types that could be labeled “Oriental despotism,” in opposition to the liberationist-individualism-Faustian-Prometheanism of the West – perhaps shortened to “Occidental humanism.” As countervailing opposites however they are unequal, the unique dynamism of the essence of the West, may well preside in the balancing of these two poles within its own structure, almost to the unnecessary existence of the East as merely a backwards recrudescence. That is to say that the West contains a layer of “Oriental despotism,” and inward contemplation, but the Orient does not contain a layer of Occidental humanism or liberationist activism. If the postmodern imposition of human rights is counted it is only a mutated post-modern form of Occidental humanism that is itself morphing into its opposite – being dragged down into the swamp. The West is large spiritually, it contains multitudes, the East is large geographically, and it contains similitudes. That is to say that even the inwardness of Christian monastic, meditative and spiritual life has a radically different and personal dimension than the Eastern variants, “that sense of ‘inwardness’ which has already been defined as an important element in individuality,”[v] such that the Christian “spirit of world-rejection coexisted with a positive affirmation of individual and humane values,”[vi] that was lacking in the East. Furthermore the gold of its perfection is qualitatively reflective of this difference, in so far as the love of Christianity is not the same as the compassion of Buddhism, Christianity’s love is Agape, through which Zizek identifies a revolutionary potentiality, “the all-encompassing compassion of Buddhism (or Hinduism, for that matter) has to be opposed by Christianity’s intolerant, violent love.”[vii]
Furthermore, the Japanese and Eastern rejection of the truth claims of Christianity entails a rejection of the notions of justice, truth, beauty and the form of the good – as transcendental “objective” principles. The dialogues between the interpreter and Ft. Rodrigues and those between the Inquisitor and Ft. Rodrigues illuminate this denial of the objective and the affirmation of the subjective, culturally specific, particularism:
THE INQUISITOR (Inoue Sama)
Father, the doctrine you bring with you may be true in Spain and Portugal. But we have studied it carefully…thought about it over much time…and find it’s of no use and no value in Japan. We have concluded that it is a danger.
But we believe we brought you the truth, and the truth is universal.
It’s common to all countries at all times, that’s why we call it the truth. If a doctrine weren’t as true in Japan as it is in Portugal, we couldn’t call it the truth.
THE INQUISITOR (Inoue Sama)
“I see you do not work with your hands, Father. But everyone knows a tree which flourishes in one kind of earth may decay and die in another. It is the same with the tree of Christianity. The leaves decay here. The buds die.”
It is not the soil that has killed the buds. There were three hundred thousand Christians in Japan before the soil was…
THE INQUISITOR (Inoue Sama)
It is clear from conversations with Fr Ferriera that the poisoning of the Christian doctrine by the authorities was not necessary since the Japanese Burakumin who were converted to the faith understood Christ to be a manifestation of the material sun rather than the mystery of incarnation. Nietzsche’s shrewd insight saw into the heart of Buddhism as “passive nihilism” – “the weary nihilism that no longer attacks… passive nihilism, weakness,”[viii] that which sustains an immoral social order. Nietzsche was beyond prescient when he ascribed to this form of nihilism that was enrapturing the European soul as a “new Buddhism,” presenting “‘the greatest danger.-How are truthfulness, love, and justice related to the actual world?’ Not at all!-”[ix] Nietzsche then saw the ushering in of the postmodern world as one imbued with Buddhist values, in which objective values no longer determine the social order, which like individual personality, is driven by sheer contingencies subservient to power relations. In this gross materialism of sameness, in which individuality is reduced to a hierarchicalization of functionary status, “Oriental despotism” assumes its place as the pragmatic component in an arbitrary social order based primarily on cohesion, violence and the senseless but ritualized routinization of the procedures of worship and administration – Western nihilism. The West had entered a stage analogous to the East philosophically and onto-theologically, but it did so through a Hellenization of Judaism. philosophically, the East never attained towards the “metaxological” balance of Aristotelian (Marxist historical-materialism) and Platonic (Hegelian-teleological) notions of what I will term ‘investigative transcentalism’ that defined Christianity – but remains as in Hegel’s reading of Oriental religions; stuck in the quagmire of the ‘emergent sphere of the spirit.’ The East, especially the far-East, also lacks ‘thumos’ or spiritedness above all, which results in an underdeveloped sense of self. As Zizek puts it:
“Love desires personality; therefore love desires division. It is the instinct of Christianity to be glad that God has broken the universe into little pieces. […] This is the intellectual abyss between Buddhism and Christianity; what for the Buddhist (or Theosophist) personality is the fall of man, for the Christian is the purpose of God, the whole point of his cosmic idea. The world-soul of the Theosophists [or Buddhist] asks man to love it only in order that man may throw himself into it. But the divine center of Christianity actually threw man out of it in order that he might love it. […] All modern philosophies are chains which connect and fetter; Christianity is a sword which separates and sets free. No other philosophy makes God actually rejoice in the separation of the universe into different living souls.”
Indeed, only Christianity ascends to the tripartite functions of interrelation and dialectic, which contains the seeds for an advanced metaphysical structure (investigative transcentalism) that encompasses all others:
Father – Grammar – Mind – Reason – objective – Logos – Nous – Yahweh
At this point a distinction between the Logos of the Greeks and the Logos of the Christians should be explored to pontificate upon their divergences and similarities. If as “In Voltaire’s theory of Western culture neither the Jews nor Biblical history nor even Christianity is ‘central.’ Rather the normative culture of the West had been disseminated by classical Greece and Rome, which are Europe’s authentic foundations, and whose Golden Age of paganism the Enlightenment would restore,” one could assume a distinct Logos of Hellenic conception as opposed to the Christian. Ezra Pound for his measure was overtly attracted to Confucianism akin to the Japanese feudalism witnessed in Silence. However, rather than Christ coming to fulfill the messianic covenant of the Torah, a position which Jews reject, Christ from a Hellenic perspective could also be said to have bastardized, rather than fulfill, the Logos of Greek metaphysics. It is a matter requiring exploration, beyond the scope of this review that I suggest that the Greeks were moving towards compatible truths with the Christian revelation, which because of it’s Oriental-Jewish elements caused a sort of disfigurement.
In each movement of Logos (both Hellenic and Christian) unanswerable questions are regulated to “Mystery” or “Myth” – designated by Plato in The Republic as “the noble lie.” If the story of Christ is compatible with such a social utility then the Myth of Er corresponds to the election of salvation and the promise of the afterlife in Christian theology as well. For the Greeks alone one could discuss the Logos of Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, Plato, Philo, Plotinus or the Stoics – the noetic or spermatic Logos, or the Logoi. The Greeks could not agree beyond a kind of metaphysics of reason at times interacting within the world through form and manifestation and at times wholly Other. Less still could one conceive of a pure Logos-Idea between civilizational forms; and one can speak of the Hebrew, the Persian, Greco-Jewish logos of Philo, the Christian, and even the Oriental conceptual theories of the Logos-Idea. Thus, “We realize of course that there is no such thing as a definite logos-doctrine, or rather that it was held under various forms.”[x] Such a nebulous idea could be molded to any platform.[xi] However, “There was perhaps no passage of Scripture which caused the translators of the Bible into Japanese so much trouble as the opening verses of the Gospel according to John. The controversy was not over the meaning of the Logos, but rather over the oriental equivalent and word to be chosen as the best translation… In the Chinese version Logos had been translated by the word T’ao…” The Japanese translate logos by the Japanese term for ‘word,’ kotoba. Within this loose schema, Reischauer wrongfully concludes “Thus the oriental mind is not at all unprepared to understand the logos-doctrine of Christianity, or any form of it,” forgetting that the Orientals lacked Hellenic roots although, Reischauer adds the caveat of the superiority of the Logos-Doctrine of Christianity to its oriental manifestations.
[i] John T. From Cultural Alterity to the Habitations of Grace: The Evolving Moral Topography of Endo’s Mudswamp Trope Netland Christianity & Literature Vol 59, Issue 1, pp. 27 – 48 First Published December 1, 2009.
[v] Morris, Colin. The discovery of the individual, 1050-1200. Toronto: University of Toronto Press in association with the Medieval Academy of America, 1987. Print. 32.
[vi] Morris, Colin. The discovery of the individual, 1050-1200. Toronto: University of Toronto Press in association with the Medieval Academy of America, 1987. Print. 29.
[vii] Žižek, Slavoj. Living in the end times. London New York: Verso, 2011. Print. 99.
[viii] Nietzsche, Friedrich W., Walter Kaufmann, and R. J. Hollingdale. The will to power. New York: Random House, 1967. Print. 18
[ix] Nietzsche, Friedrich W., Walter Kaufmann, and R. J. Hollingdale. The will to power. New York: Random House, 1967. Print.
[x] Reischauer, A. K. “Japanese Buddhism and the Doctrine of the Logos.” The Biblical World, vol. 41, no. 4, 1913, pp. 245–251.
[xi] A summary simplification of the strains of the Logos-Idea – In general… the logos doctrine stands for theory that there is a rational principle in things. 1. Regarded as ultimate and absolute principle, superior to all other principles (Greek – Stoic). 2. Regarded as one of two principles i.e., co-ordinate with another and opposing principle (Persian Dualism though early Greek philosophy has tendency and Philo himself is not free from it). 3. Regarded as subordinate principle, subject to higher and more ultimate reality. (Hebraic thought, in which logos-principle subordinated to ultimate reality, God). Reischauer, A. K. “Japanese Buddhism and the Doctrine of the Logos.” The Biblical World, vol. 41, no. 4, 1913, pp. 245–251.
“East is East, and West is West and never the twain shall meet.” – Rudyard Kipling
“One of Donald Trump’s advisers says the president-elect is no longer interested in his rallying cry ‘drain the swamp.’
‘I’m told he now just disclaims that. He now says it was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore.'”[i]
As Robert Casillo tells us, “the swamp had a profound significance for the fascist mind…”[ii] For the French Fascist Charles Maurras, “the swamp symbolizes two related evils which tend toward the slow dissolution of Western hierarchy, distinction, tradition, community, order, beauty, and Nature. One is liberalism, the ‘dominating thought pattern of the modern age.’ The other is the Jews.” That the metaphor of the swamp in Pound, Maurras and other fascists delineated primarily the Near East or what Edward Said identified as ‘the Other of Europe,’ this meaning of alterity can be extended to the Far East, perhaps more radically so, and despite the protestations of the ‘anti-Orientalists’ the metaphor contains an onto-epistemological element that delineates West from East. That is the function of the Citadel is to re-inscribe “a style of thought, based on an ontological and epistemological distinction between Orient and Occident”[iii] to save us from ‘the colonizing universalism’ of postmodernity – based as it is on the Swamp-like paradox of ‘same, same but different.’
To further illustrate this selfsame alterity of Near and Far East E Michael Jones’ review of the film describes the story as “a Japanese version of The Heart of Darkness… where the Jesuits set off to find Ferriera, who ‘went native’… the crisis is similar to the crisis that we talked about in The Heart of Darkness, you’re sailing up the Congo, you’re this white guy, there’s this jungle, is there any Logos here? Or the other side/way of looking at it; is Christ basically a European phenomenon? Is he the white man’s god? What about the black man and the yellow man, do they have the same God?”[iv]
The sub-Saharan jungle then is another variant on the metaphysics of the Swamp, but in Silence the Swamp in question is the conflation of the Japanese landscape and mind and Oriental metaphysics generally as devoid of Logos. As both Endo and then Scorsese use ‘the Swamp’ as a prime and repeating symbol it connects enigmatically as a repeating archetype in various guises outside the film itself requiring investigation into its meaning.
There may not exist direct evidence to link Charles Maurras and Endo, however the Japanese Catholic studied French literature at the University of Lyon and was a keen student of European culture and no doubt came into contact with the sorts of cultural analysis dichotomizing the West from the “swamp” in such stark terms as those of the culturally Catholic but agnostic Maurras described. Endo’s semiautobiographical 1965 novel, Nanji mo mata (And You Too), tells the story of a foreign Japanese student in France who has a traumatic breakdown of sorts, a kind of Paris syndrome[v] with theological underpinnings that required him to seek respite back in Japan – mirroring Endo’s own experience. The novel’s protagonist Mukaizaka “attributes his collapse to his attempt to come to terms with what he calls ‘the river of European culture.’ In the early days of his stay in Paris he had noted many similarities between Western and Japanese culture, such, for example, as the great resemblance in line and expression between the Buddhas of the Horyuji temple in Nara and the statues of Moissac and Chartres. This conviction of the contiguity of the two cultures had sustained him for a time, enabling him to cope with the rigors of life as a foreign student in Paris. But this comforting assurance had gradually given way to the realization that despite all the similarities there was after all an unbridgeable chasm between Horyuji and Chartres.”[vi]
One can sense this unhinging of the ‘marginal man’ through confrontation of an ethos and world not made in his image. Unable to assimilate oneself to its ethos ensues a kind of nausea and/or violent response in order to overcome the ‘unbridgeable chasm,’ as in the cases of Isis destroying cultural and religious monuments in the Middle East or Leftists removing Confederate statues in the American South, the goal is to reshape the Other in a way that accommodates one’s own particularity. Likewise Endo’s ultimate goal is to reshape European Christianity to conform to a Japanese body and sensibility. Itself symbolic of the Leftist project to change the demographics and to create a Swamp-like ‘Open Society’ of the West.
This “unbridgeable chasm” that Endo’s semi-autobiographical character discovers to his horror produces a sickness of which he cannot recover is expounded upon in essentialist terms in Mukaizaka’s gloomy conclusion “the blood that produced the two was of altogether different type… We are unable to receive a blood transfusion from a donor with a blood type different from our own.” Francis Mathy discerns that, “The theme of the distance that separates East and West is constant in his [Endo’s] work…” and that, “Endo’s insistence that East is East and West is West is that this problem is not one of mere academic interest to him, but the ground of great inner conflict and anguish.” This in contrast to those Easterners like Edward Said whose project is to proclaim that “East is not East and West is not West” Furthermore, Mathy tells us that “Endo has very clearly expressed his views on East and West in a series of essays, which were collected and published as a single volume, Shzkyo to bungaku (Religion and Literature), in 1963. It is interesting to study the ideas developed in these essays and to note how they be- come the central themes of his novels.” In this examination of difference Endo identifies three main elements that distinguish the soul of Western culture and people (I have attached to this worldview the symbol of the Citadel) from that of the Other (the symbol of the Swamp):
“In the Western aesthetic stance then are to be found these three elements: consciousness of boundaries, confrontation of the unlimited, active struggle to reach this unlimited. But the Japanese have no such consciousness of boundaries, and thus no need for confrontation or struggle. They experience instead a passive convergence or fusion. They are unable to perceive created beauty according to its limitations. The Japanese sensibility demands the breaking down of all barriers; it demands the indefinite, the vague. It is fond of the grey of a rainy day and the indefiniteness of evening twilight.”[vii]
This dichotomy of worldviews of an essentialist and/or epistemological-ontological and/or cultural-historical bent recalls Maurras’ West; “hierarchy, distinction, tradition, community, order, beauty, and Nature” to which I have attached the symbol of the Citadel (the West) vs. the Swamp (All Others). The relative big distinction between Westerners and all other people is reinforced within Western countries themselves, whereby the legal status of people is issued from the dichotomy of White vs. People of Colour. For Maurras the forces of the Swamp were embodied by liberalism and the Jews, but metaphorically one can extend the swamp metaphor into a metaphysical principle with a variety of representations and manifestations. The Jews, such as George Soros, a usurer and big promoter of progressive liberalism was a student of the Jew Karl Popper who advocates for an ‘open society’ – that this is a manifestation of the Swamp by eradicating difference though mass immigration, radical feminism and sexual politics – ‘man is woman, woman is man, east is west, west is east.’ The conflation then with what Ezra Pound once referred to as “Jew Asia,”[viii] completes this total identification of a complete dichotomy between the West and Everyone else, there is only the Swamp and the Citadel, swamp-dwellers and children of the sun. The West is the only positive metaphysical element in a Swamp of relativism and barbarism; advocates like Said and Soros seek to undermine the foundations of the Citadel like medieval sappers besieging a fortress. ‘The Jew’ then designates not merely the Jew proper, but a metaphysical principle opposed to that of the Hellenic-Christian-Western.
Endo’s attempts to make Catholicism conform or syncretize to his Japanese-ness results in a radicalization a ‘swampification’ of the essential substance, “making it a religion palatable for the Japanese soul,”[ix] perhaps symbolically likened to building a citadel on the soggy marshlands of the Swamp – it will not prevail and sink into the quagmire. Netland argues that “the swamp” is a site of human consciousness, that serves two functions, firstly, “there are the metaphorical swamps in Yellow Man, Silence, and The Golden Country, which function primarily as markers of cultural and religious alterity… Second, the swamp can also symbolize a moral ennui or what Francis Mathy has called the ‘safe, uneventful life without purpose.’”[x] Recalling Nietzsche’s notion of the Last Man and the Fukuyama’s End of History – The Swamp is teleologically and ideologically without direction – it is the Swamp of entanglement and laissez-faire (itself a principle inspired from that most Swamp-like of Eastern mysticisms; Taoism).
Because of the overt references in Silence to Japan as a swamp, Netland offers us that it was a symbol of cultural particularity for Endo. However, we have seen the repetition of the symbol as a metaphor or archetype that is universal; but there may be special considerations for the particular ‘Swamp-Scale’ of each culture. Hagiwara, for instance “consistently associates the water / swamp / womb imagery with Japanese, or at least pan-Asian, sensibilities.” This breakdown of the world into competing symbolic essences, the Spenglerian ‘Faustian’ for example, was typified in Japan as a quest for the kokutai, “the particularities that set [the Japanese] apart.” Testuro Watsuji, a theorist of ‘the Japanese spirit’ “classified human cultures into three predominant climate zones: the ‘desert’ of North Africa, the Middle East and central Asia; the ‘meadow’ of Europe and the Mediterranean basin; and the ‘monsoon’ of Asia… Watsuji occasionally associates desert and meadow cultures (most notably in the origins and influence of Christianity) but almost never the former two with the monsoon zone, thereby emphasizing an Occidental / Oriental alterity or uniqueness…”
Drawing on ‘geography as destiny’ arguments which frame types, Watsuji, like Pound, sees the temperate Mediterranean, rather than the gloom of Northern Europe as paradigmatic of the European spirit… the source of Greek humanism, with its optimistic spirit and confidence in the power of reason to control nature.” In contrast to the desert and meadow, Watsuji’s monsoon, is not in a dialectical relationship with nature as the others, “but rather within nature and subordinate to an unpredictable natural order… acknowledging the cultural capital of water.” While Watsuji connects the ‘meadow’ of Europe with the desert of North Africa, the Middle East and central Asia, notably through Christianity, there are those European thinkers, Voltaire, Nietzsche, Benoit and Pound among them, who regard Christianity as no less a bastardization of the European soul. “Pound, Rosenberg, Maurras, and other fascists looked to classical Greece and especially Rome as the recoverable origin and bulwark of Western tradition.”[xi] While Watsuji’s goal was to explore Japan’s exceptionalism, by severing the Christian link, such men with European pagan sympathies, may be more inclined to align or amalgamate the Near Eastern desert and the Far Eastern monsoon with the symbolic imagery of the swamp, each with its own particular exotic variation on the theme but swamps nonetheless – so the jungles of Sub-Saharan Africa and the vegetable growth of New World indigenous nations to the Japanese Shinto-Buddhism – all places devoid of Logos. In the Eurocentric perspective of European exceptionalism, the sultry dryness of the Near East and the humid wetness of the Far East, one is to sterile and hot, the other too cool and wet, the Western Goldilocks finds the ‘meadows’ just right. As the critique Northrop Frye once wrote, “there is no private symbolism,” and thus this motif of the non-white, non-European world as a swamp springs up independently and spontaneously from various sources. Castillo tells us that “no one has defined more thoroughly the significance of the swamp in the Western imagination as a combined symbol of matriarchal, Near Eastern, and hence ‘non-European’ culture” as the Swiss anthropologist Johann Bachofen. Bachofen presents feminist forms of societal management to which he assigns the names of Hetaerism and Demetrian matriarchy to be “symbolized by the unbidden and tangled growth of the swamp.”[xii] Most especially Hetaerism, which represented a hypothetical earlier stage of social evolution, in which, “Like the swamp it is entirely hostile to barriers and distinctions” – both represent “the promiscuous and material tyranny of Nature (the swamp).”[xiii] The matriarchal swamp was eventually overcome in Bachofen with the emergence of the patriarchal Apollonian societies of Greece and Rome. For Bachofen, it was not Christianity, but Rome’s destruction of Carthage as “the greatest turning point in the destinies of mankind.”[xiv] The Citadel-like warrior caste (Rome) destroying the Swamp-like merchant caste (Carthage). Indeed the pre-Christian Mediterranean West represented the higher principle of, what I have termed the Citadel, over the “base sensuality of Asia.” Bachofen “demonstrated a link between the matriarchical ideal such values as democracy, fraternity, communism, sexual liberation, and personal happiness”[xv] as essentially swamp-like categories. “To defeat the swamp, Fascism must overcome not only the Jews but the natural human tendency towards softness,”[xvi] which the Jews as minorities who rose to prominence with usury represented for Pound, usury then is an important element of the swamp principle as are the values of the entanglement of agora generally.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28
There is some difficulty in reviewing a film upon only one viewing; this is especially true of a film filled with textual complexity, emotional subtlety but most especially philosophical dialogue and concepts, as is the case in Martin Scorsese’s ‘passion project’ Silence (2017). The film is based on a work of a Japanese Catholic named Shusaku Endo (1923-96) adapted from his 1966 novel Chinmoku (‘Silence,’ English translation 1969).
The mediation of the film uneasily draws upon the implications of religious thought on a particular society’s values and structures – especially if that religion is a foreign one preaching universalism. The film utilizes the story of three Jesuit missionary priests who attempted to convert 17th century feudal Japanese Buddhist culture to Catholicism. The plot begins when word reaches Portugal that Ft. Ferreira (Liam Neeson) had gone missing in Japan, supposedly apostatizing under torture. His former students Ft. Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Ft. Garupe (Adam Driver) ask and gain permission to enter the hostile nation to discover the truth of the matter and perhaps carry on the proselytizing mission. The fictional protagonist of Silence the Portuguese priest Sebastian Rodrigues was modeled by Endo on the Italian missionary Giuseppe Chiara (1602–85).
“During the Tokugawa government’s suppression of Christianity beginning in 1614, and the cruel persecutions beginning in the mid-1620s, some Japanese Christians, mostly peasants, in and around Nagasaki maintained their communities of faith by going underground with the help of European priests who remained in hiding. Endo crafted the narrative of Silence against the background of the 1637–38 Shimabara-Amakusa Insurrection, a revolt of 25,000 Christian peasants long oppressed by the heavy taxation of the local lord (Gonoi 1990, 218–24). The Tokugawa government brutally crushed the revolt and then implemented an all-out seclusion policy in 1639, while maintaining trade and diplomatic relationships with China, Holland, and Korea on a limited scale. In the process, the Tokugawa government also intensified its efforts to hunt down crypto-Christians across Japan, with Grand Inquisitor Inoue 160 M. Inoue Chikugo no Kami Masashige 井上筑後守政重 (1585–1661) leading the antiChristian campaign (Elison 1973, 191–96).”[i]
The plot is almost a secondary device used to explore meaningful philosophical concepts in a sophisticated way. The story of the priest’s attempts to proselytize, put in historical context, are merely the vehicle not only of the broader story of Japanese rejection of the Christian message, as a dangerous and alien doctrine, but this context also allows us to contemplate the meaning of the message itself, especially for Christians, as well as opening up avenues to explore problems related to identity for Identitarians, but also the broader philosophical questions related to ontology and epistemology are present.
Same, Same, but Different
Part of the problem of an overemphasis on racial issues is its obscurantist tendency to highlight itself as a central pivot in circumstances wherein it is merely accidental or peripheral or perhaps one might say conditional. Walter Benn Michael’s pointed out the Left’s obsession with race, in his book Against Diversity, as distracting from its traditional critiques of increasing economic inequality via class struggle. Herein two reviews of Silence by feebleminded Leftists attack Scorsese’s film as one seemingly celebratory of white colonial domination, obscuring the deeper meanings of the film, possibly because such critiques are easy and the critics themselves possess only superficial and shallow knowledge of most things generally – race is easy and blame whitey easier.[ii]
A poor review by a hack anti-White writer named Jen Yamato, for The Daily Beast, obviously put off by the “cruel Japanese” depictions in the film and unable to attain some sense of objectivity called the film , “an ardent story about cultural imperialism and Western arrogance that doesn’t recognize its own.” Yamato’s fixation on the film’s “white savior” spreading “the germ of Christianity into a Buddhist and Shinto land,”[iii] is just rankled with her bitterness against Europeans that blinds to her some uncomfortable investigations into her own cultural history and the deeper philosophical questions it arises. Watching a film with such a pronounced religious character, whose humanistic values have profoundly affected the whole world including the modern secular one and taking from it only a spiteful ‘arrogant white people’ along with basic commentary on filmic techniques, (she of course lauds the Japanese actors, while berating Scorsese and the European actors) one must ultimately feel pity for the likes of Yamato and people of this ilk who are constantly on guard against ‘evil-yet-benevolent or benevolently-evil whitey.’
In a similar vein, I was somewhat disappointed by Trevor Lynch’s review dubbing the film, “the story of self-confident, expansionist whites battling non-white savagery.” While I can sympathize with the attraction of the Identarian readings, both ‘pro (Lynch) and anti-white (Yamato),’ both focus on periphery concerns obscuring deeper philosophical issues but yet the issue of identity was a vital component in the composition of the novel and the mental space of Endo himself, who described his experience as a Japanese Catholic as wearing “clothes that were ill-fitting,”[iv] a curious parallel to mine own examinations of post-national and secular humanistic universalist global identity which I called the “ill-fitting costume of humanity.”[v] While identity may have been a central component of Endo’s psychology and in his personal relationship with Catholicism, it is both more peripheral and more integral in Silence. The cynosure of the work is Catholicism proper, of which the questions of meaning of values that arise from the particularity of the work, that is beyond the standard fare of the tools of literary or film criticism[vi] and moves towards a hermeneutics of faith. Renderings that view the work through the prism of identity, repeat the early misappropriation of the work by left-wing college-aged Japanese Marxists in Japan who read their own persecutions into it, “Stripping the novel of any religious trappings and imposing a political reading onto it…”[vii] But then identity politics is Lynch’s shtick, and he, unlike Yamato, who is supposed to be an impartial critic not, as Lynch, an avowed Identitarian, is perceptive enough to know that he is working within a narrow paradigm and understands the film holds much deeper implications of which identity is but a part, “Silence remains an essentially Christian film dedicated, at the end, to the greater glory of God. On the other hand, all my sympathies ultimately were with the Japanese, not because white is bad and non-white is good, but because their cunning and ruthless struggle against a colonizing universalism is the struggle of all white men today.”[viii]
But in what sense are we struggling against a ‘colonizing universalism?’ Epistemologically, we are moving towards absolute relativism – what Pope Benedict XVI referred to as “the dictatorship of relativism,”[ix] is the universalization of relativism the ultimate form of colonizing universalism? Attached to this is universalism of rights stemming from a Christian interpretation of human nature (a shared common humanity – codified in human rights legislation), which has created a kind of universal underlay atop a homogenizing and standardizing globalization – the leveling penetration of the market of which Marx was most aware. This bizarre partnership between modern absolute relativism (egotism, and ‘liquid modernity’) and universal egalitarianizing (the democratization of difference) cannot readily be called a tension between a kind of ontological (‘we all shit, eat, sleep’) and legalistic (rights-based) universalism versus an epistemological relativism (‘truth is relative,’ radical individualism and subjectivity) but rather can be described ever-opaquely by a popular colloquial idiom in the form of a paradox from Thailand: “same, same, but different.” – This notion of sameness in modernity denies the existence of particular identity and often the biological basis of race – leveling humanity into a global citizenry, while simultaneously and superficially supporting cultural difference – in multiculturalist policies – ‘same, same, but different,’ might be regarded as the paradox of the modern epistemology. Of course epistemologically if everyone has their own truth, the paradox becomes that everyone is the same in their difference – unified in disunity? Atomized in the same alienation?
In Silence this notion of sameness is apparent in the universalizing attempts and truth claims of Christianity – a spiritual humanism, but adversely a form of universalism is also made by the Japanese administration’s assimilation of the priests into their society, as Lynch observes, “One small touch that reveals the alienness of the Japanese mind, which accords absolute primacy to social roles over individual identity, is that two apostate priests were simply given the identities of dead Japanese men: their houses, wives, children, even their names.” Even though each acknowledges the Other, the quality of the sameness is markedly different and can be likened to the difference Frithjof Schuon identifies between theocratic and democratic notions of equality.
“The modern leveling – which may call itself ‘democratic’ – is the very opposite of the theocratic equality of the monotheistic religions, for it is founded, not on the theomorphism of man, but on his animality and his rebellion.”[x]
The post-modern world seems to have adopted both forms of sameness, the Christian rights based and the Eastern ego-death of self as replaceable labor capital.
Is this not analogous to the Japanese affirming the “sameness” of the Europeans with themselves as mere replaceable subjects or rather objects to an arbitrary social order – a gross materialism of universal sameness – eat, sleep, shit, function – based on “animality” a kind of perverse “zoological materialism” as Trotsky had labeled Nazi ideology. This in contrast to the expression of ‘theocratic equality’ founded upon a spiritual potentiality inherently individualistic yet universal – the potential supra-animality of the soul as in the Western Christian sense. And yet it can be argued that ‘true Buddhism’ supposes the theocratic potentiality in a more direct way, while Christianity makes a soft demand for the spiritually ‘democratic.’ This insight was reflected in Julius Evola’s reading of Buddhism, “The doctrine of awakening and enlightenment, the essential core of Buddhism, has nothing ‘religious’ about it, because it is preeminently of an ‘initiatic’ or esoteric character, and as such is accessible only to a few elect… And those who like to see in the attitude of the Buddha towards the conception of caste and the exclusiveness of the Brahmanas, evidence of an equalitarian and universalistic spirit, are much mistaken… If in the case of Buddhism one can speak of universalism, this is the universalism of the summits, not the promiscuous one at the base.”[xi] However, the basic critique of Buddhism is that it lacks a revolutionary essence to fulfill its ‘peak universalism.’ That is to say one could conceptualize the Buddha as the most selfish spiritual leader imaginable, retreating into his own salvation in contrast to Christ’s blood sacrifice. The attitude herein “to render unto Caesar” is markedly different. In this context each universalism, the Japanese material-pragmatic and the Christian spiritual-democratic amounts to a leveling – the latter based on essentialism, the former on materialism. The dialogue in the film attests to these cultural differences and confusions:
“We have our own religion, Padre. Pity you did not notice it.”
“We think a different way.”
“True. You say our Buddhas are all men.”
“A Buddha dies too. Like all men. He is different from the Creator.”
“You are ignorant, Padre. Only a Christian would see Buddhas simply as men. Our Buddha is a being which man can become. Something greater than himself, if he can overcome all his illusions. But you cling to your illusions and call them faith. (Rodrigues does not reply)
Your Creator is all loving and all merciful, so you believe. Then why does he give people so much suffering on the way to heaven?”
The suffering Christ undergoes is a kind of democratized leveling of spirit to matter, God to Man, whereas the spiritual plateaus of the Buddha are elitist and therefore presuppose a more stratified theomorphic potentiality. “All that evoked pity and fear in the tragedy, human fate with its unpredictiveness and inevitable end, the initiates intensely experienced while participating in the trials of the suffering god.”[xii] Indeed, for Schelling the suffering God was an idea whose time for materialization was dying to be born, that is only to die and then be reborn again. For Schelling comparative muthos, whether half-human, half-divine – whether Heracles or Christ who is paradoxically both fully human and fully divine, those ‘demi-gods’ who share in human hardships in the twelve trials or fourteen stations,( other examples Schelling mentions Dionysius and Osiris in their various dismemberments), represented a movement in consciousness towards a reconciliation of matter and spirit that could only find adequate expression in a violence capable of rendering the sublime metaphysics symbolically sensible – that is for the infinite potentiality of spirit to be brutalized into matter via the form of the son – that is the typology violates the material in so far as the Western seeks to overcome the void through volition to change it – not become one with it. Christ then is the culmination of this symbolical representation of the play between matter and spirit; “the creature is put to death. Before that it was enclosed in its individual separateness and its existence was discontinuous… But this being is brought back by death into continuity with all being, to the absence of separate individualities. The act of violence that deprives the creature of its limited particularity and bestows on it the limitless, infinite nature of sacred things is with its profound logic an intentional one…” Christ’s union with the Father in death and in the hypostasis of the doctrine of the trinity represents the infinite-universal-transcendence, while the particularity of Jesus as an historical person reinstates a finite-particular-immanence which comes together in the dual nature and duplication to form a particular stance of Western metaphysical consciousness. The God of the Jews who was infinite-particular-transcendent became in Christ also universal-finite-immanent and brought forth into the trinity back again as a dialectic. Thus Hegel distinguished between the sublime religions and the Christian – the only true religion capable of a metaphysical harmony with matter. While still retaining an element of the sublime:
“…the wish was, to open the door to a completely unquestioning love… lost continuity found again in God demanded from the faithful boundless and uncalculated love, transcending the regulated violence of ritual frenzy… The initial movement of transgression was thus steered by Christianity towards the vision of violence transcended and transformed into its opposite. This ideal has a sublime and fascinating quality.” Nevertheless there is another side to the matter: how to adjust the sacred world of continuity to the world of discontinuity which persists. The divine world has to descend among the world of things. There is a paradox in this double intention.[xiii]
Bataille and other neopagans and initiate mystery religions then believe that Christianity morphed the inner experience of sacrifice and eroticism into a democratic expression of universal love, which closed off avenues of spiritual sophistication: “This possibility vanished with Christianity where piety eschewed the desire to use violent means to probe the secrets of existence.”[xiv]
Christ’s sacrifice then is the closing of the pagan realm of ‘inner experience’ externalized through violence to be overcome in the future in the love bestowed on the community of believers by the holy spirit, “The individual discontinuous existence of the animal was succeeded in its death by the organic continuity of life drawn into the common life of the beholders by the sacrificial feast… the sacrifice links the act of eating with the truth of life revealed in death.”[xv] Bataille in a Nietzschean critique links the primordial and pagan practices of ritual sacrifice with eroticism, that is with Eros, and makes the necessary correlation of the ‘overthrown standards’ of the nature of Christ’s sacrificial death as linked with a different form of love, namely, Agape.
Perhaps one could somewhat superficially make the statement that Western spirituality, whether pagan or Christian, is always violent, whereas the Eastern is internal and passive (but what of Islam?) – Christ or Dionysius looks out at the world from his trials in anguish, while the Buddha escapes and withdraws into the void. That Hellenic-pagan element of Christianity provided the proper harmony for the advanced metaphysics it contained, “This balance between material form and spiritual significance gave Greek myths a natural aptitude for being turned into poetry.”[xvi] Onto-Theological submersion within the flesh could properly redeem Christianity from a charge of a metaphysical ego-death, both the end goal of Buddhism and the ever-present potentiality in an apophatic reading of the godhead of Christian and pre-Christian theology.[xvii] This potentiality is present in the modern world wherein George Orwell presented in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Eastasia’s political ideology as, “called by a Chinese name usually translated as Death-worship, but perhaps better rendered as ‘Obliteration of the Self.’” This potentiality is inherent as a return to a pre-Christian, non-Hellenic metaphysics or eastern paganism. To counter or nuance this claim or interpretation one need read Evola’s understanding of the concept of sunnyata. In so far as the Eastern “ego-death” is interpreted by him as ego-strengthening. One way of conceiving of this is to mark Evola’s distinction between the “passion” of the Christian religion relying on ‘salvation’ and the essentially “noetic” foundation of the ‘doctrine of awakening’ within Buddhism.
For this we must again return to Eric Blair and to the central questions which haunted the man, namely the individual in relation to power.[xviii] The subsequent divisions of the world in Nineteen Eighty-Four into three blocks representing three types of social-structures based on differing onto-phenomenological-theoretical applications of the ‘problem of power’ that is how to deal with the inevitable conflicts that arise within a socially stratified society. According to elite theory, which Orwell describes the basic parameters of in The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, having familiarized himself with its main theorists, Michels, Burnham, and Mills, all three societies or civilizations and their ruling ideologies, Oceania (Ingsoc), Eurasia (Neo-Bolshevism) and Eastasia (“death-worship, or “Obliteration of the Self”) function in an identical manner despite the gloss of conflicting ideologies present on the surface, that is each maintains a system of “oligarchical exploitation” in Marxian terminology following Michel’s notion of the Iron Law of Oligarchy – that is each maintains the ends of a hegemony of an elite by the employment of different means. Ego Death or Corporatism the results are the same – a return to an Eastern somnambulism.
What Evola claims as the esoteric core of true Buddhism, which Zen had recovered, could be conceived as little more than a spiritual conceit masking the conscience from the brutal necessity of maintaining the hierarchy which Evola was so committed an adherent:
Now the Zen throws into clear relief the essential value of illumination, its transcendency in respect of all that which, in the several cases, may favor it, and at the same time its immanency, that is to say the fact that the state of enlightenment and nirvana does not mean a state of evanescent ecstasy, an escape, so to say, of which compassion is only a pale reflex accompanied by horror of all that is action and affirmation; it is instead a higher form of freedom, a higher dimension; for him who holds fast to it there is no action that cannot be performed, and all bonds are loosened… That should be recalled to those who accept unilaterally the theory of innocuousness, of the timorous respect of all forms of life. As a matter of fact, Zen Buddhism could be called the doctrine of the Samurai, i.e., of the Japanese nobility who are certainly not noted for their abhorrence of arms and bloodshed. The fact is that the pivot on which all this wisdom turns is one only: the severance of the bond of the ego, the destruction of ignorance, the awakening. When the bond of the ego is severed, all restrictions cease. On the human soil on which the seed of the doctrine falls depends the fruit it will bear.[xix]
In this manner, Evola extolled the virtues of Zen and the esoteric doctrine of awakening within the West, a view echoed by Dominique Veener’s use of ‘Occidental Samurai’.
[i] Masamichi Inoue, “Reclaiming the Universal: Intercultural Subjectivity in the Life and Work of Endo ̄ Shusaku,” Southeast Review of Asian Studies 34, no. Volume 3 (2012), pp. 153–70.
[xi] Perhaps the antithesis between the initiatic notion of “awakening” and the religious and more especially Christian notion of “salvation” or “redemption” has not yet been adequately stressed. The religious conception is based on the assumption that man is a being existentially detached from the sacred and the supernatural; because of his ontological status of creature, or as the result of an original sin, he belongs to the natural order; only by the intervention of a transcendent power, only on the assumption of his “conversion,” of his faith and of his renunciation of his own will, only by Divine action, can he be “saved” and attain to life in “paradise.”
The implications of the notion of “awakening” are entirely different; man is not a fallen or guilty being, nor is he a creature separated by an ontological hiatus from a Creator. He is a being who has fallen into a state of sleep, of intoxication and of “ignorance.” His natural status is that of a Buddha. It is for him to acquire consciousness of this by “awakening.” In opposition to the ideas of conversion, redemption, and action of grace, the leading motive is the destruction of “ignorance,” of avijja. Decisive here is a fact of an essentially “noetic,” viz. intellectual, and not emotional nature. This confers an indisputable aristocratic character on the doctrine of Buddhism. It ignores the “sin”-complex, self-abasement, and self-mortification. Its askesis is clear and “dry”; it is alien to the features of auto-sadism or masochism which are always present in the forms of the asceticism more known to the West, and which have often given rise as to a reaction among Westerners to anti-ascetic prejudice and a distorted exaltation of life.
[xvi] Dupré, Louis. “The Role of Mythology in Schelling’s Late Philosophy.” The Journal of Religion, vol. 87, no. 1, 2007, pp. 1–20.,
[xvii] “Classical apophaticism, that is, consistently aims at an overcoming of both ontology and theology: from Plato’s Good beyond Being to Damasicus’s One beyond negation – between which points we also find: the One beyond both Being and the Good (Speusippus and Xenocrates); ineffable Nous (Albinus); the neo-Pythagorean ‘Father’ (Numenius); the ‘Supreme Father’ ( Chaldean Oracles ); the unknowable God and non-being Being (the Gnostic Apocrypha of John and Allogenes ); and, of course, the ineffable One (Plotinus) – there is a consistent undermining of any attempt at rendering rationally transparent the Divine-Beyond. Similarly Christian apophaticism: whether we consider Clement and Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, the Pseudo-Dionysius or John Scotus Eriugena, we should treat with great scepticism any suggestion that, for the early Christians, ‘God’ is somehow contained within our thought and speech. Instead, the Deity is always deemed beyond correlational, discursive reasoning, inaccessible to any systematizing or Science. Ancient apophaticism – in and for which Being is never absolutized – is neither implicit nor explicit onto-theology; rather, as Reiner Schürmann has shown, it is more like an overcoming of metaphysics.”
[xviii] Orwell, although a spymaster and Crown informant, nevertheless professed the principle of anarchic freedom of the individual as one guiding his work, and indeed the central pivot of his work seems to be the individual in relation to supra-individual apparatuses of power.