Another exciting book, to be published later in the year!
(Will more content be added before publication? We’ll see!)
Embark with Baron Byron Q C Lockhart, Esq…
On the this wondrous journey to the subterranean SHADOWLANDS…
Devoted to the very, very best of Athens and Jerusalem…
And the finest things the heart of man and soul of woman have pondered.
Be with us on our tremendous journey into the undying light.
Yet he remains, as always, your Wallace Runnymede…
IN THE NAME OF THE LESSER GOOD
Of Monsters & the Moronic: Wagner, Nietzsche & Lilith
Too sweet fruits—these the warrior liketh not.
I am writing Parsifal only for my wife – if I had to depend on the German spirit, I should have nothing more to say.
Every generation credits itself with the invention of succubism.
But I don’t think anyone fully understands the profundity of the following words of Nietzsche, especially as it relates to his fratricidal strife with Wagner…
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
Wagner was an unnatural monster, who dared to decree the undeniable devil’s diktat that in bourgeois society, blaspheming against the rights of property was worse than blaspheming against God.
Nietzsche, as the prodigal son of a broken son, church and patria, preferred to blaspheme all things.
But in precisely fighting with monsters, and merely in a more consistent and indiscriminate manner than others, Nietzsche testified to his own lack of self-sufficiency and indepedence. The one who fights and who critiques with his pen, is every bit as guilty of Beholdenness as the likewise weak one who loves.
Neither love nor hate, affection nor criticism, gravitation nor repulsion, are the marks of a free spirit.
We Wise Ones, who know we are free of the mediocrity and bourgeois delusions of bourgeois romantic love, and who have violent, torn aside the veil of intoxication and steadfastly denounced the lies of market values and market passion, are not in our own way free of Beholdenness… Which is itself of the very essence of the Market.
MYSTERY, BABYLON, THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
There is an old saying that it is forbidden for a man to sleep alone, lest he be seized in the claws of Lilith. Having once been seized, he is wont to be puffed up, and to vaunt his superiority over all illusion and vice. However, another saying is tried and true:
An abortion with the likeness of a lilith, its mother is impure because of the birth, for it is a child, but it has wings.
Just as the ‘hero’ Macduff was from his mother’s womb untimely ripped, so also does the abortion-critic they call ‘the Artist’ carry within himself Zechariah’s twice-inflicted wounds: the wings of envy, of haughtiness and unbridled desire.
Thus it is that the ingenious tentmaker has said:
Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
There is some old folklore that says the final note of a Swan is the most significant.
The dying scream of Senta, as she soars to the heavens with the Flying Dutchman, is an imperishable testament to the dialectical.
For there is no redemption, in the end, but the redemption of Ahasuerus: to be in the world, and not of it!
To be going under, with the harrowing of Babylon, to reap where one never once dared to sow, under penalty of the undying light…
To be an IKON.
Hero of a Thousand Masks: The Weight of Pseudonym(ph)s & Sycophants
As this discourse shall reveal, the burden of our false name tells us much about the Ruse of Reason, and the Kingdom of God.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.
St John’s Gospel
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order. At least spare us their morality when we write.
True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.
Joy is not in things…
It is in us.
There is might and much grandeur in a Titan, but how much of that is really of value?
Is a Titan not also that which is antiquated, outcast, overcast, downcast…
A mere face of sand, that pretends to have somersaulted over Man when he is still shivering in his pitiful Alpine log chalet?
Man can be abolished, but he does not for all that cease to remain man.
The Desert Fathers of the Philokalia tell us the moon of human nature can be effaced by clouds, but cannot be abolished.
And isn’t a pseudonym exactly the same?
Surely the thorn of the apostle to the babblers, the Babelians, the Babylonians (the ethnoi, or those who are merely Particular and far from the Universal, or mere goyim and mud-men of earth and not yet of angelic firestorms of inspiration)…
Surely it was none other than the naming of the Unnameable?
The married man minds the things of his family and not the things of God, and thus cannot attain unto true Universality.
Yet through his self-renaming, and no less so, his mututal renaming both by and of another, new life is also brought into the world, which shall also carry the torch of Universality in their own unique and inscrutably INDIVIDUAL way.
The Apostle knew well enough that by disclosing to others that the unnamable spirit of prophecy (prophecy being next to poetry, as our own national poet and Particular-Amid-The-Universal has told us) was now nameable, his own name was also to change forever.
It has often been said that by learning the name of another, you have a great deal of power over them.
Scarce wonder, then, that so many choose a name that is not from their father and mother.
This is an act of spiritual high treason, despite the power and the terror of these words:
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
It is possible to long for the day when we, and others gazing at us for good and for ill, are named by our true and authentic name, and we no longer flee from it like Ganymede, who feared the justice of Zeus; or Moses and Abraham who eschewed the mercilessness of Lilith.
But is is also possible to understand that much as we rot and suppurate and burn and smoke under the agony of this iron mask, these words of Dumas still wring true:
It is necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live.
The fires of Nebuchadnezzar are stoked to seven, and at times it feels like seventy times seven; for is not gold tried in the fire?
But all prophecy, and all poetry, is forged in the Gehenna of pain, of adversity, and of opposition.
Let us then bear our masks bravely into the fire, for it is only in the power of prayer, which is as much as to say, conscious adherence and cleaving unto an Ikon of the Good, the True and the Beautiful…
That any true companionship and comfort has been vouchsafed unto us.
Thus it is that Beethoven says:
Come when thou wilt, I shall meet thee bravely. Farewell and do not wholly forget me when I am dead, I deserve this of you in having often in life thought of you how to make you happy…
These were to be among the very final words of this mighty giant.
But the Most High and his appointed handmaiden, history, had a better gift in store for his beloved wayfarer of the Seas of Spirit.
The art that he wrapped around him like a garment to shield his nakedness from the iron winds of poverty and the piercing barbs of mockery, contempt and hatred was transfigured, like the worthless rags of St Martin, into a wedding garment that drew him away from the haughtiness and resentment of the artist into true Universality.
The Greek term ‘sycophant’ means not merely a flatter, but an accuser.
All pseudonyms are flattery, and all are accusations.
But no true unity is possible, without division.
The lance of Creation pierced through the jaws of Leviathan like the spear of Longinus; and only in this way, has the New Jerusalem been adorned for us.
The tablets of stone divide and discern, but this circumcision of the spirit is by no means to no purpose.
People wonder why the novel is the most popular form of literature; people wonder why it is read more than books of science or books of metaphysics. The reason is very simple; it is merely that the novel is more true than they are.
A pseudonym may be a stone of Gethsemane, but this irreality has its own reality.
A stone of Gethsemane may just as easily be a staging post to Paradise, a joyous, disruptive, all-harmonious, eternally-creative springboard into the undying light.
It all depends on whether the pseudonym is in harmony, however tragic, however broken, however wounded, however doomed to eternal mutual misapprehension and betrayal, with the True Name by which we came into the world, and which at the appointed time shall summon us beyond the clouds of art, and her all-imperious judgment upon the weak, the wounded, and the eternally consumed with the longing of Eden’s exiles, who have lost all that is in the world, and gained an Eternity beyond all ration, rate and reckoning.
Noli me tangere, nondum enim ascendi ad Patrem meum…
Natural Law and Natural Lawbreakers: The Unholy Cloud of Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault’s famous parable of the face of sand is full of richness for the reflective mind. Foucault darkly insinuates that if God is dead, then ‘Humanity’ is no less dead than God. One cannot simply kill God, and expect the substitute idol of Humanity to take its place as the anchor of all significance, history or meaning.
This is an excellent notion, and not far from Christian orthodoxy; although it is not clear how well Foucault would take such an compliment.
However, Humanity is as Humanity does. And insofar as Foucault does insist upon challenging the sentimental Humanitarianism of loving ‘everyone and no-one,’ he is on perfectly solid ground. The conservative scholar Max Scheler, so beloved of Pope John Paul II, once wrote a book entitled ‘Ressentiment,’ where he clearly distinguished true Christian love or agape from the sentimentally effusive nonsense of an indiscriminate love of an unenlightened and uncultivated human species, rather than the image of Goodness in the individual.
Hence, the face of sand, like so many parables, truly has a double meaning.
The false idol of ‘Humanity’ was thrown into question by decolonisation and by various forms of identity-centered activism and reform. Albeit, more recently, there has also been the resurgence of a resolutely arrogant and blasphemous cult of Humanity which has brought havoc to half the world, and thrown Christians of long standing into hideous dangers that are often little short of existential. This brain death cult of Bourgeois Humanitarianism has also ruined the lives of innumerable individuals from other fragile and scandalously imperiled endangered religious minorities.
This is one side of the Janus face; Humanity as Humanitarian idealism.
This Humanity deserves to perish, as it is either explicitly or implicitly hostile to every good and precious ideal and value.
However, the other ideal at issue is the image of God.
Christian readers will immediately recognize this view; as for those who are of other faiths or who do not consider themselves religious, I am sure you can find an approximate translation for this notion. I am, however, unapologetic for this choice of words.
And I am no less unapologetic for my insistence that Foucault’s war upon the second face of ‘Humanity’ is a genuine disaster. Throughout the ages, every society has had its advocates of cultivation, and innumerably faiths and philosophies have furnished illustrious reasoners and mystics. Those who have fearlessly dared to challenge the deeply conformist and ‘small c conservative’ notion that ‘you are alright, just as you are.’
Thus it is that in every era, and in every land, there have been those with a sufficient capacity for ‘dialectical’ thinking to be able both to affirm the risk of intrusive concern and paternalism, and to evade the risk of an unphilosophical and uncultivated life.
But sad to say, Foucault, like Isaiah Berlin’s Aesopian hedgehog, was brilliant at one thing, and at one thing alone. A sympathetic reader will find much to value in Foucault’s ruthless and audacious inquiry into the subtle traps and mystifications of power. However, as is so often the case from Cain to Judas, and ever on and after, Foucault’s greatest virtue was precisely his greatest vice, and none other than this.
And what made Foucault’s wisdom angelic, but very far from heavenly, was that like the angels of a particular territory, who are always partisan and narrow, he could see one side of the dilemma, but not the other side. Foucault was so devoted to unmasking the decrepitude and hidden brutality of power, that he did not view in a sufficiently dim light the traps of the uncultivated body and soul, which itself lacks true inner freedom.
How did Foucault desecrate the right-hand face of Humanity?
By denigrating all transcendence as a mere trap, a mere myth. A true ‘post-Marxist,’ he lacked the dialectical thought which enables an accomplished theologian or metaphysician to hold contraries in tension, and to dwell in paradox. Stubborn and impatient by nature, this rather rash and impetuous figure was not content to unmask the delusions of transcendence and the delusions of an uncultivated ‘rawness’ of character.
Instead, Foucault preferred to focus purely on the misdeeds of power and of all authorities that transcended the individual. But he was far less willing to criticize, far less condemn, the opposite traps of the raw and ‘uncooked’ self, who has not yet passed through the fire of maturing trial and the watery baptism of suffering and penitence.
This being so, Foucault ended up confounding a salutary critique of the wicked and highly misanthropic and dehumanizing cult of ‘Humanity,’ with a much more toxic and debilitating defilement of the image of God in the human person. In his desperate assault upon ‘Their Common Humanity,’ the dignity of the human person was his collateral damage.
Is this not a great tragedy?
Like Solomon, Foucault’s wisdom brought him much misfortune.
Let us now turn briefly to an intriguing review by Roger Kimball, who notes that for the scholar James Miller, ‘Foucault’s penchant for sadomasochistic sex was itself an indication of admirable ethical adventurousness.’
I would suggest that the fundamental problem with such ‘transgressive perversity’ is that it takes a very individual experience and universalizes, normalizes, naturalizes it.
Just as a paedophile or a polygamist might disingenuously hold up anecdotal experiences in order to legitimise their immoral and exploitative fetishes, so also does the uncultivated ‘sacralisation’ of Foucault’s ‘perversity’ mistake the thrill and the joy of a very individual experience, infinitely limited in space and time (the being and becoming of a single body and soul), for a more generally beautiful and blissful experience elsewhere.
Thus, even if the experience of this paedophile, or this polygamist, or this pimp, or this rapist, or this radical hedonist, were something that was indeed noble, and beautiful, and glorious (and this is generally an exceedingly perilous concession), it would not follow from this that the mystical, sacred aura surrounding this experience and its idealized representations in poetry, painting and sentimental fancy, are anything other than mystifications which cannot speak to the vastly varying conditions and experiences of those who are encouraged to plunge headlong into the fool’s paradise…
Lingering there, below their feet.
Or at least, a little beyond their rib cage.
It is unfortunate that the master against mystification, Michel Foucault, was not one whit less a master for mystification.
For it can indeed be said that the legend of ‘the proletariat’ is fanciful, the myth of ‘Humanity’ delusive, the hagiography of the ‘the nation’ illusory, and the imaginary of ‘race’ downright dishonest.
But Foucault, like so many other postmodernists (cf. Terry Eagleton’s ‘The Illusions of Postmodernism), could not easily escape the traps he sought to avoid. It is easy to condemn the application of a rule, but it is more difficult to evade the rule itself.
He who proclaimed the ‘Death of Humanity’ in a certain ideological sense of the latter false god, did not follow the advice of his fellow anti-humanitarian thinker Carl Schmitt, who famously noted that the rule means very little, but the exception means a great deal.
Thus, Foucault was alive to the ideological mystifications of others, but it is not clear how far he saw his own complicity with what he condemned. In the preface to anti-Oedipus, Foucault did say that ‘fascism’ is within everyone. The real puzzle, perhaps, is whether such an insight represents the occasional flash of humility and self-awareness that even Don Giovanni and the Marquis De Sade, no doubt, inclined to undergo. Or could it be, on the contrary, that Foucault was tormented and ravaged by precisely such a self-suspicion of degeneracy and of spiritual violence, accompanying him every moment, as the evil angel on his left hand?
Certainly, Slavoj Zizek’s book ‘On Violence’ has noted that there are some ‘religious fundamentalists’ who appear extraordinarily poorly established in their faith, and who envy the wrongdoers, and are driven by a rageful awareness of their own hypocrisy. Following this thread of inquiry, it appears unclear whether Foucault was the morally reprobate Ahab who lived all his life as a bovine Nebuchadnezzar, or the half-penitent Manasseh or Solomon, whose virtue made his vice blaze all the stronger, he was captive to that which he most despised.
Or as Foucault’s guru Friedrich Nietzsche famously observed (whether with an inward, or an outward, gaze):
It is dangerous to stare into an abyss, as the abyss has eyes of its own, and the monster may one day hunt the hunter.
The foregoing observations can also lead us to a rather troubling possibility.
The notion of natural law is easily considered ‘discredited,’ insofar as one cannot directly proceed from an ‘is’ to an ‘ought.’ Thus, any ‘naturalism’ in ethics apparently founders on the fact that even if the facts are necessary for discerning and determining a moral or ethical proposition, yet one cannot merely derive the latter from the former in a direct and uncritical manner.
However, looking back over the life and labors of Foucault, and considering carefully the review essay I alluded to above, I am now asking myself a question.
I spoke above of the false universality and selectivity of the cult of hedonism surrounding Foucault. Could it be that the legitimacy of natural law lies not in ‘strong naturalism,’ or the uncritical derivation of the ‘is’ from the ‘ought,’ but from a perspective that can now be named ‘weak naturalism?’
That is to say:
Could it be that natural law, far from uncritically deriving an ‘is’ from an ‘ought,’ actually depicts a foundational ground or context, upon which all further ethical discussion of substance may finally be undertaken?
In other words, do moral ‘oughts’ and ‘ought nots’ serve as the repudiation of Foucault’s rootless idealisation and sanctification of the individual experience…
Which latter mystifying Lord of the Fireflies, the God of Experience, is somehow sacralised as being both commensurable with, and analogous, with the myriad experiences of other souls following a similar path…
Who are thereby participating in precisely the same kind of experience?
When in fact, they are doing nothing of the sort?
Perhaps what is at issue, then, is not so much a slavish obedience to a falsely-derived universal, but a stubborn resistance.
A resistance to allowing the infinitely concrete, singular, determinate experience of a single soul and body to illegitimately speak to the condition of all.
I cannot say with any certainty.
But this is a possibility that deserves serious consideration.
For in the last instance, these truths must ever guard their savor, and not be trodden underfoot:
Every path here taken forsakes, in shadows, a path from which one has turned away.
And to worship one God is, by definition, to turn away one’s face from others, and to deprive them of the sanctifying and revivifying incense of our pleasure, and of the gaiety of our longing.
Citizens of the World, Citizens of Pandaemonium
To one who loves his fatherland, for instance, our boasted indifference to the ethics of a national war is mere mysterious gibberism. It is like telling a man that a boy has committed murder, but that he need not mind because it is only his son. Here clearly the word ‘love’ is used unmeaningly. It is the essence of love to be sensitive, it is a part of its doom; and anyone who objects to the one must certainly get rid of the other. This sensitiveness, rising sometimes to an almost morbid sensitiveness, was the mark of all great lovers like Dante and all great patriots like Chatham. ‘My country, right or wrong,’ is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober.’ No doubt if a decent man’s mother took to drink he would share her troubles to the last; but to talk as if he would be in a state of gay indifference as to whether his mother took to drink or not is certainly not the language of men who know the great mystery.
What, then, have we to say?
If the Citizens of the World be against us, who then will be for us?
The accuser whispers in the ear of the unwary:
Let him, then, burn the flag. The freedom the flag represents is greater than the flag of which it is only a fleeting emblem, an indicative ikon… and nothing more than this!
Oh, really? And what curious kind of ikon is this, which points to a reality that the ikon, a bare and barren, expendable and lifeless husk, has nothing with which to do? This heretical Gnostic balderdash fails to recognise the one thing most needful: an ikon is by necessity an incarnational unity, with spirit and body neither confounded nor alienated. The flag, every bit as much as the crucifix, is a hypostatic union of two natures within which a deeper and more inscrutable unity lies: the deeper wisdom of GOD. Just as a great Apostolic Father of the first generation after the Blessed Apostles enjoined us to be united to the Ekklesia according to the flesh, and not only in spirit, or as one might also say, baptised of water and the spirit; so also is it imperishable to honour the freedom of the flag THROUGH the flag, and not as some how in competition with it. The same God that made the spirit and the soul, has made the body also. Or in the words of blest Isaiah:
Woe to them that call good evil, and evil good!
The one who demeans the flag, by thought or word or deed, demeans the God who made the flag, and all that the flag represents: it is akin to trampling the cross at Nagasaki, as the heathen sailors used to perform, in their quest for filthy lucre, which is the root of all evil.
Keep up to date by favoriting Glossy News in your browser, following us on social media, or signing up to free subscriptions on Wallace’s Patreon account, which are available to patrons and non-patrons alike.