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