Michel Houellebecq, a controversial (and plain brilliant) French author, about whom the UK’s The Guardian deemed an “aging literary enfant terrible”, wrote in his La Possibilité d’une Île
“The physical bodies of young people, the only desirable possession the world has ever produced, were reserved for the exclusive use of the young, and the fate of the old was to work and to suffer. This was the true meaning of solidarity between generations; it was a pure and simple holocaust of each generation in favor of the one that replaced it, a cruel, prolonged holocaust that brought with it no consolation, no comfort, nor any material or emotional compensation.”
Undoubtedly, it seems quite a grim outlook of adult life or just a philosophical entrenchment after Turgenev, things have indeed changed these days. Continue reading “The Warrior Versus Modernity’s Cult of Eternal Boyhood”
Some time ago, a casual acquaintance of mine complained to me that he had no real friends, no real interests outside of work, and that, although he was dating, it wasn’t going well. Wanting to help, I suggested that he join a gym or weightlifting group, and supplied him with contact information for several in his area. This would give him some kind of routine — and purpose — outside work, I thought to myself, and his body would improve (which would be better for his health, and for attracting women), and, of course, he would make friends.
When, a couple of months later, I ran into him again, nothing had changed. He hadn’t contacted any gyms or any of the groups I suggested, and he hadn’t made any other steps to improve his life, which he now described as “not worth living.”
Perhaps he really had no interest in improving himself physically (even if it would have a positive affect on his spiritual and mental well being and on his life in general). And, certainly, we all go through periods of stress, despondency, or of feeling “stuck.”
I have noticed over the last year, however, a certain attitude of pessimism or defeatism in some people who consider themselves to be very serious, hardcore, and uncompromising individuals. Continue reading “The Cowardice of Defeatism”
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 wither 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”