What is the source of our inner strength? Some seem to possess it in abundance, and others not in the slightest. Is it, as modernity contends, simply a matter of being an individual rather than being one of the “sheeple”? Or is there something else? “[W]hen the individual faces torture or annihilation,” says Eric Hoffer in The True Believer, “he cannot rely on the resources of his own individuality. His only source of strength is not being himself but part of something might, glorious and indestructible.”
Similarly, Yuri Bezmenov – a defector from the USSR – told audiences in America that only belief in the non-rational — in God — could give the individual strength to endure months or years of torture, and indeed, to be able to fend off other types of attacks on the individual and the society itself. Atheists – who had often been communists, and often remained so up until the moment of execution – separated from the state they had served, did not last long once they had been accused of thought crimes by the apparatus of the USSR. But those of faith managed to survive or, at least, died with composure. Continue reading “Individuality, Archetypes, and Ancestors — Against The Atomization of Modernity”
My son recently turned eight and I decided it was time to knight him. No, seriously. So much of the studying of culture and mythology that I’ve been immersed in has brought the deep loss of rites of passage to my attention. With so much early developmental mind mapping coming from technology and television, I’m doing as much as I can to introduce ancient and classical myths orally and experientially. I would like birthdays in my family to be symbolically marked by more than a stack of material gifts. This year, largely inspired by my own personal commitment to re-education in myth and meaning, I broke tradition to initiate a new tradition.
To be clear, I myself am not a knight of any official capacity whatsoever. Not many are after all. So, what made me feel able to perform such a ceremony? Well, I’m his damn father for starters. Secondly, I realized on the day, if not me, who else? The answer was obvious. The inspiration was sudden and came on the back of a week of my own contemplation of the loss of Rite of Passage rituals in our contemporary culture. Continue reading “Rekindling an Archetype: DIY Knighting”
We should be cautious of prophecies that claim that we are on a path of infinite political “progress,” infinite “economic growth,” or, conversely, headed toward civilizational collapse. Things are more complicated, and there always remains opportunities for the creation of interesting new cultural movements and for personal ascent (though perhaps not for those who are determined to fit themselves into some outdated societal mold).
A century ago, the German intellectual Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) argued that civilizations are organic, that they take root, blossom, and then whither and die. According to Spengler, the West is now in its dying phase. His thesis, however, was rebutted by another German thinker, Jean Gebser (1905-1973), who argued that human consciousness evolved through the emergence of new stages of consciousness. The previous stages remained in the psyche but were superseded. Such stages (the archaic, magic, mythical, mental, and integral) were characterized by new developments in language, art, and even in perception — hence our ability to see the color blue (something that humans have only been able to do for a few thousand years or so), and the appearance of perspective in art (which man did not understand and possibly could not really detect at one point). Continue reading “Barbarians, Gender Ambiguity, and Possibilities For a New Culture”