Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Revolt Against The Modern World; Chapter 1 - The Beginning (Notes)

As I make my way through this book, you can find my previous notes here:

Notes: Chapter 1 -  The Beginning

Throughout the book, Evola will be focusing on contrasting Modern civilization and the world of Tradition (always with a capital T, it's important to understand that tradition is not being used here to mean wear dresses and bake bread).

He starts Chapter 1 off appropriately by distinguishing between the two:

"In order to understand both the spirit of Tradition and its antithesis, modern civilization, it is necessary to begin with the fundamental doctrine of the two natures. According to this doctrine there is a physical order of things and a metaphysical one; there is a mortal nature, and an immortal one; there is the superior realm of 'being' and the inferior realm of 'becoming.' Generally speaking, there is a visible and tangible dimension and, prior to and beyond it, an invisible and intangible dimension that is the support, the source, and the true life of the former."

So modern civilization is characterized by: physical, mortal, inferior becoming, visible, tangible
Whereas, Traditional civilizations are: metaphysical, immortal in nature, superior being, invisible, intangible. Evola states that the true Traditional mind saw the metaphysical realm as the source of the physical realm. Obviously this strongly contradicts the modern mind, which is prone to Materialism and judges knowledge and truth by sensory [physical] experience and measurement. 

"Anywhere in the world of Tradition, both East and West, and in one form or another, this knowledge (not just a mere 'theory') has always been present as an unshakable axis around which everything revolved."

Here Evola is emphasizing that these were key components of reality that ancient Traditional people knew, not theorized, to be true. 

"As difficult as it may be for our contemporaries to understand this, we must start from the idea that the man of Tradition was aware of the existence of a dimension of being much wider than what our contemporaries experience and call 'reality.' Nowadays, after all, reality is understood only as something strictly encompassed within the world of physical bodies located in space and time."

"Certainly, there are those who believe in something beyond the realm of phenomena. When these people admit the existence of something else, however, they are always led to this conclusion by a scientific hypothesis or law, or by a speculative idea, or by a religious dogma; they cannot escape such an intellectual limitation. Through his practical and immediate experiences, modern man, no matter how deep his 'materialistic' or 'spiritual' beliefs may be, develops an understanding of reality only in relation to the world of physical bodies and always under the influence of his direct and immediate experiences."

So, many modern people will claim to believe in something metaphysical. They attempt to break through the physical barrier, into that other superior realm. The important distinction here is that modern people try to escape this inferior physical realm through belief. They believe, but they don't know. Whereas Traditional humans knew. Modern man will attempt to believe in something non-physical and eternal, but only through religious dogma, scientific hypothesis, or their own speculation. These are all paths of the temporal, the intellect, what Evola calls the intellectual limitation of Modern men.

"The worst type of materialism, therefore, is not a matter of an opinion or of a 'theory,' but it consists in the fact that man's experience no longer extends to non-physical realities."

Evola maintains that one cannot know the metaphysical by coming from the physical, just as Traditional knowledge was that the physical sprang from the metaphysical, and not the other way around. 

Keep in mind, this Modern influence started a very long time ago (recall that Evola considers all of history to be modern).

"The experience of Traditional man used to reach well beyond these limits, as in the case of some so-called primitive people, among whom we still find today a faint echo of spiritual powers from ancient times. In Traditional societies, the 'invisible' was an element as real, if not more real, than the data provided by the physical senses. Every aspect of the individual and of the social life of the people belonging to these societies was influenced by these experiences."

So, because we are of Modern minds, very much attached to the rational, the physical, the so-called scientific... is it even possible to push out of our physical box over to a metaphysical vastness where we know, and not merely believe?

Here in Chapter 1, Evola points toward a potential path, which I'm sure will be discussed much more in-depth throughout the book, that is the path of the Ascetic

"...The experience of asceticism was regarded as the path leading to the other region, or to the world of 'being,' or to what is no longer physical but metaphysical. Asceticism traditionally consisted in values such as mastery over oneself, self-discipline, autonomy, and the leading of a unified life. By 'unified life' I mean an existence that does not need to be spent in search of other things or people in order to be complete and justified."

julius evola, revolt against the modern world, philosophy, metaphysics, transcendent, spirituality, modernity, esoteric, mythology, pre history, ancient civilizations, traditionalism, reality, asceticism, tiffany davidson, black and white photography

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Revolt Against The Modern World: Foreword (Notes)

I first jotted notes down about the book I'm currently studying in this post. Now, before continuing on into Chapter 1: The Beginning, I wanted to jot down my notes from the Foreword. I'm really trying to internalize, sort out, and understand Evola's teachings and this feels like one way to fully digest the information I'm consuming.

Notes from Revolt Against The Modern World: Foreword

> ..."there are causes that have been active for centuries that have contributed to spiritual and material degeneration. These causes have not only taken away from most people the possibility of revolt and the return to normalcy and health, but most of all, they have taken away the ability to understand what true normalcy and health really mean."

> "The only thing that matters is the silent endurance of a few, whose impassible presence as 'stone guests' helps to create new relationships, new distances, new values, and helps to construct a pole that, although it will certainly not prevent this world inhabited by the distracted and restless from being what it is, will still help to transmit to someone the sensation of the truth--a sensation that could become for them the principle of a liberating crisis."

> "...reference to the spirit of universal civilization, on the ruins of which everything that is modern has arisen..."
Here, Evola is speaking to principles that were found throughout all ancient cultures, despite the geographical location, race, or specific religion. My opinion and thought at this point is that Vedic philosophy is one such example -- the most ancient spiritual/philosphical worldview that is known of today, an oral tradition which was first written down in Sanskrit, and which is the source of all other religions worldwide. If we look back to things such as this, Evola posits that we find foundational principles and therefore truths. It's also worth mentioning that Veda was a worldwide view, there are remnants of Vedic philsophy in Ireland and Russia, though many modern people associate Vedic philosophy with Indian Hinduism alone, this is not accurate.

> "...the first forces of decadence began to be tangibly manifested between the eighth and the sixth centuries B.C., as can be concluded from the sporadic and characteristic alterations in the forms of the social and spiritual life of many peoples that occurred during this time."
Here, Evola is defining what he means by modern, essentially everything in recorded history is modern. So the distinction between Traditional and Modern is the distinction between pre-history and history, between mythological and scientific, between non-linear time and linear time, all respectively.

To study and try to understand this work, I need to radically change my method and mentality, which is heavily influenced by Modernity.

"...the whole body of traditional civilizations, is characterized by the feeling of what is beyond time, namely, by a contact with metaphysical reality that bestows upon the experience of time a very different, 'mythological' form based on rhythm and space rather than on a chronological time."

So the emphasis on the distinction between metaphysical and physical cannot be overstated when distinguishing between the relationship that Traditional civilizations had with reality, versus Modern civilizations.

>"...wherever a civilization is manifested that has at its center and substance the temporal element, there we will find a resurgence, in a more or less different form, of the same attitudes, values, and forces that have defined the modern era in the specific sense of the term; and that wherever a civilization is manifested that has as its center and substance the supernatural element, there we will find a resurgence, in more or less different forms, of the same meanings, values, and forces that have defined archaic types of civilization."
Again- Modern versus Tradition is about principles, not linear timelines. Temporal represents Modernity, Supernatural represents Archaic/Tradition.

>It needs to be made clear Evola's stance on science and epistemology (how we know what is true):
"The above remarks will suffice to show how little I value all of what in recent times has officially been regarded as 'historical science' in matters of religion, ancient institutions, and traditions, nor do I need refer to what I will say later concerning the origin, the scope, and the meaning of modern 'knowledge.' I want to make it clear that I do not want to have anything to do with this order of things, as well as with any other that originates from modern mentality; and moreover, that I consider the so-called scientific and positive perspective, with all its empty claims of competence and of monopoly, as a display of ignorance in the best of cases."

Though Evola does not deny that science and modern means of accruing information are altogether useless-
"I certainly do not deny that from the detailed studies of the 'scholars' of different disciplines what may emerge is useful (though unrefined) material that is often necessary to those that do not have other sources of information or who do not have the time or intention to dedicate themselves to gather and to examine what they need from other domains. And yet, at the same time, I am still of the opinion that wherever the 'historical' and 'scientific' methods of modern man are applied to traditional civilizations, other than in the coarser aspect of traces and witnesses, the results are almost always distortions that destroy the spirit, limit and alter the subject matter, and lead into the blind alleys of alibis created by the prejudices of the modern mentality as it defends and asserts itself in every domain."

"...from the perspective of 'science' what matters in a myth is whatever historical elements may be extracted from it. From the perspective that I adopt, what matters in history are all the mythological elements it has to offer, or all the myths that enter into its web, as integrations of the 'meaning' of history itself."
Evola goes on to provide an example to illustrate his meaning: "Not only the Rome of legends speaks clearer words than the historical Rome, but even the sagas of Charlemagne reveal more about the meaning of the king of the Franks than the positive chronicles and documents of that time, and so on."

>"Those who begin from a particular traditional civilization and are able to integrate it by freeing it from its historical and contingent aspects, and thus bring back the generative principles to the metaphysical plane where they exist in a pure state, so to speak-- they cannot help but recognize these same principles behind the different expressions of other equally traditional civilizations. It is in this way that a sense of certainty and of transcendent and universal objectivity is innerly established, that nothing could ever destroy, and that could not be reached by any other means."

I like this because Evola reiterates that we are looking to Tradition for principles, and that as we start to see the same principles span different times and cultures, we can use these universal principles to hone in on truths. This makes a lot of sense to me.

>Evola clarifies that he will pull from Eastern and Western traditions, depending on which best illustrates the point. This does not make him of that belief, but is merely being used as a tool. This deserves to be clarified as many people will quickly associate an author with a certain spiritual or religious group, and then write them off as believing in something other than they themselves do if that's the case. Again, Evola will use a myriad of spiritual and religious cultures and beliefs to illustrate fundamental principles.
"In the course of this book I will refer to various Eastern & Western traditions, choosing those that exemplify through a clearer and more complete expression the same spiritual principle or phenomenon."

>"In the first part, I will trace directly a kind of doctrine of the categories of the traditional spirit; I will indicate the main principles according to which the life of the man of Tradition was manifested."
"The forms and the meanings indicated should not be regarded as 'realities' proper... but rather as ideas that must determine and shape reality and life, their value being independent from the measure in which their realization can be ascertained, since it will never be perfect."
Here, Evola seems to be almost reassuring us that the realization of the value will never be perfect, assumingly meaning were we to endeavor for it, but the value or principle remains as the goal, the truth.

tiffany davidson, revolt against the modern world, modernity, traditionalism, pre history, myth, ythology, truth, philosophy, metaphysics, profane science

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


I completed a video today that I've been working on. It's about our --meaning modern people-- very abusive relationship with the neurotransmitter dopamine. I hope you'll enjoy it and find it useful.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Revolt against the modern world

I've just started a long-awaited book: Revolt Against The Modern World by Julius Evola. An esoteric and oft misunderstood piece of work, I am seeking to sincerely study, not just blow through, what I think is a very important text that I hope will address some things that have been on my mind for several years.

To prepare, I've been listening to a series on Youtube, which I'll link to below. Here are some initial notes.

The degeneracy of the modern world-- frenetic energy without purpose.

What is the aim of modern man? To create an exact replica of himself (AI) with no soul as his crowning achievement? This in itself is a symptom of the plague of modernity: no higher purpose, dogmatic attachment to the physical.

What is meant by modern? To Evola, we can begin seeing the forces of modern decadence around 8,000 BC, with a second phase occurring during the Roman Empire with the advent of Christianity, and a third phase during the feudalism of the Middle Ages. From there, a rapid downward trajectory began.

If modernity encapsulates all of this time, then where do we find Tradition?
Evola says we must look to pre-historic civilizations; the mythological.
According to Evola, to understand we must imagine our way out of linear time, as pre-historic civilizations would not have had the same kind of linear relationship with time that modern civilizations do, due to the daily connection they had with the metaphysical, which is on a different dimensional plane than our physical one. This linear experience of time is a key feature of modernity.

When looking for the world of Tradition, it's imperative to try to understand time through this pre-historic lens.

Disconnect from the metaphysical, from the transcendent, is a large part of the degeneracy of modernity. Epistemological Materialism is everything to modern man. Even our own Science stumbles upon the quantum world, finally!-- Materialism brushes up against the Metaphysical and yet it's called one of the most controversial "problems" in modern physics. Having many possible quantum states, as wave functions do, seems to point to a non-linear nature of time.  (To learn more about quantum physics, which might be our first true observation of metaphysics, however paradoxical that sounds in language, this is a good starting point as is the book The Quantum Enigma).

How to revolt against the modern world? Not through protest or reaction, but action from an inner dimension which testifies to a principle or center. True Tradition is not mimicking the past, but orienting toward these inner principles. Recreate the original. Make an art of living.

Evola states he will be drawing from Eastern and Western traditions to find the best examples of concepts of Tradition possible, though this Traditional method is more abstract and ephemeral than rational. 

We will transition from deductive reasoning to inductive.

My hope is that this book will become a roadmap to rediscovering the world of Tradition.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Hobby vs. Purpose

Observation: in modern times, the trend is to make a certain lifestyle our purpose, but lifestyle is an effect of purpose.

Many people report feeling unfulfilled and suicide rates and mental illness are higher than ever. Could some of this be a result of the nihilistic thinking that permeates post-modern society?

This is a difficult topic for me, and I'm nowhere close to having it sorted. I tend toward nihilism, I can find peace in the notion that there is no purpose or meaning to life, that alone can drive and inspire me. Still, I think more richness can be found in other approaches to life, specifically those oriented toward purpose and meaning. Eventually, just working toward our own goals becomes dull. More layers of depth are required, at least for me.

Distinction: hobbies are the what and how; purpose is the why.

Some examples of my own (a list which is ever-evolving):

purpose: individual freedom and autonomy; what: having a homestead with systems of self-reliance and beauty in place; how: establishing online and passive income streams that free me from the shackles of exchanging hours for dollars

purpose: transcendence; what: higher level day to day relationship with reality; how: paying close attention; knowledge accumulation- research and contemplation of traditions, philosophy, spirituality, literature, and history (both human and natural)

purpose: leaving the world a bit better; what: contribution ; how: either through raising a virtuous family, and if this is not in my cards, to contribute by helping others via charity, service, creation of content, frequent acts of kindness, taking care of my parents when they become elderly, and spending a great deal of time studying esoteric philosophies and eventually contributing to seekers in those circles.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Tree of Life

Though it isn't new, I recently watched the film "Tree of Life" for the first time.

If ever there was a movie that captured the inner workings and relationships and patterns that compose my own thinking patterns and inner world associations, it's this one.

This is an abstract topic, so I guess it's only natural to find it difficult to use language, which is logical, to describe exactly what I mean.

But bear with me while I try...

Throughout any given moment in life, we have continuous thoughts-- some are ruminations, some are mundane day to day, and some are higher level such as when we get moved to epiphanies unexpectedly, or when the day is just right and we experience a euphoric state on a regular afternoon walk.

Just now I have finished dancing in the kitchen, after feeling infused with something--- beauty? inspiration?--- from seeing the new pink blossoms on the redbud trees swaying in the wind. I'm not sure what that is. And somehow these "good" feelings don't always involve "good" thoughts. Sometimes thoughts of death, of suffering, of the terrible nature of reality, can also blend in but still produce this result of inspiration and of somehow touching divinity.

It is really hard to explain.

But, this movie, Tree of Life, some of the scenes in it reminded me of my own thoughts. Isn't that strange? I've never had this experience when watching a film. I mean, of course there are films that feel familiar, like Amelie's daily life and small amusements, but this is a different level. More subtle and ethereal.

I especially loved the timelines, how flashbacks to early pre-human earth would happen randomly, which might confuse a lot of viewers, but how it made perfect sense to me in the overall storyline.

I should take the time to expound more on this, because the experience was fascinating, but I must hop along now.

If you haven't watched this film, here is the trailer, test it, see what you think. I hope you watch it.

A good conversationalist

One thing I notice that bores me in conversation is when the other person talks too much about themselves.

I think talking about oneself or one's preferences or experiences can be done in a way that considers the other person more, though. It can be done in a way that is interesting. For example, instead of only stating my love of hummingbirds, I could go on to talk about the objective qualities of the hummingbird, what intrigues me about them. This opens up conversation, rather than just saying "Oh yes, *I* love hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are *my* favorite!" (How interesting is that?) You could instead say something like "I love hummingbirds! Did you know that the Anna's Hummingbird overwinters here in the Pacific Northwest; it doesn't migrate like all of the other hummingbirds. I wonder how they cope when the temperatures plummet?"

You're able to state your love of hummingbirds, but also add value by presenting interesting objective information, as well as engage the other person, giving them a chance to provide feedback. Hitting the ping-pong ball rather than catching it.

This creates a more inspired and energized exchange, as opposed to "Oh I love hummingbirds! Hummingbirds are MY favorite!"

To develop self-awareness about if you do this or not, or why you feel bored in conversation with certain people, it can help to examine how many statements begin with "I...." or "My..." without ever leading into something more objective or engaging.

None of this really matters unless it's someone you spend a significant amount of time with. And of course if you're specifically discussing something very you-centric, this doesn't apply either.

This is more a quibble I have about people I'm around often, and why I notice feeling bored in conversation with them.