Posts Tagged With: books

The Orobouros and the Alt Right

I had been reading in Julius Evola’s book, the  Hermetic Tradition, about the Alchemical image of the Orobouros—the snake biting it’s own tail.  I first tried to tackle this ponderous work some 20 years ago, after I saw that Carl Jung cited it as source material for his classic book, Psychology and Alchemy.  I again returned to it recently when I’d heard that the alt right was greatly influenced by Evola’s dark, cyclical view of history, as well as his particular brand of arcane, spiritual racism.
I then saw an article by Maureen Dowd, who compared Donald Trump to the Orobouros.  I took this synchronicity as sign I should further meditate on this ancient image of western esotericism as a way to gain a more holistic view of a dangerously polarized political landscape which loomed beyond the hermetically sealed world of the dogfish Bay Marina.
Dowd writes of 45’s isolation by an inner circle who shelter him against the verities of the exterior world, parrot his mad ejaculations, and compound his delusional paranoia.  She evokes the Orobouros to point out his self -destructive qualities.
This mandala has long been contemplated by spiritual adepts who sought awakening to ultimate truth of Unity.  Evola says it represents not so much a philosophical concept as much as a state beyond the dichotomies of I and not-I, inside and outside.  According to the literature, the full realization of this state is the “first matter of the wise.”
In the tradition, this unitary awareness is the beginning of the great work.  But in Evola’s dark, elitist, and apocalyptic elaboration, this work is a cyclic process that, after ages of decline brought about by egalitarianism, multi-culturalism, and democratic “leveling,” heralds the triumphant return of the golden age.  He views history as a cycle of degeneration and regeneration which turns in a series toward its ultimate realization in the re-establishment of a hyper-masculine, solar king which dawns only after violent revolution upsets the status quo.  The losers swept up in this upheaval are expendable, and quaint notions like charity, love, and compassion are jettisoned for the profits of a corporate elite.  Evola may have attained some degree of genuine insight into the spiritual truth expressed by the Orobouros, as well as to how that essential unity is not obstructed by its infinite manifestations (dharmas) in the field of space and time.  Evola studied the Pali cannon of the Hinayana (lesser vehicle) Buddhism, which focuses on self liberation from the cycles of existence (Samsara.)  In contrast, the Mahayana (greater vehicle) stressed the cultivation of loving kindness as not only ethical, but the means by which we awaken to the ultimate truth of essential unity even while working to aleviate suffering in the relative world of Samsara.
  As long as we have not realized that the mode of being of our mind resides in the union of relative truth and absolute truth—a realization that corresponds to awakening—these two truths are seen as separate instead of being seen in their original unity.
Bokar Rimpoche
From the viewpoint of ultimate truth, the dichotomy between positive and negative lacks reality, but from the perspective of relative truth, the karmic results of negative actions are inevitable.  The cultivation of loving kindness is essential until ultimate truth is realized.
  This fundamental split between the two understandings of the unitary state—symbolized by the Orobouros– is reflected in the polarized debates surrounding health care and immigration. Republicans seem to champion only the needs of those inside the adamant circumference of racial and economic privilege.
  One of the strangest aspects of our rancorous, political debate is how these venerable teachings are spun by intellectuals of the alt right; and how Evola’s  brand of spiritual fascism provides ideological cover for the rise of global fascism.
Categories: Books I love, Musings, politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Old Han’s Indonesian Voyage–part 4. I meet the Great Marlow

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Soon, having to pump the bilges, I made my way to the back of the Stygian nightclub where I saw a distinguished, bearded gent who sat before an old Underwood typewriter. His gaunt frame mummified in musty, moth-eaten tweeds while his ponderous brows were wreathed in a smokey corona of golden light. On closer inspection, I saw he was merely one of the automated fortune-tellers found in the Batavian Capitol. His face was vaguely familiar. On the table front was displayed a sign which read:  The Great Marlowe. Your fortune 25 cents.
I dropped a coin into the slot. There was a slight sound from under the table which again halted, began again and increased in speed and volume until the music of bellows and steam pipes sounded over a cacophony of grinding gears like the high registers of Saint Mark’s Cathedral organ. The tweedy automaton typed, sputtered to a wheezing halt and ejected a sheet of paper at my feet.
It read:  You will soon meet a distinguished monkey.
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Old Hand’s Indonesian Voyage–episode 1

The bewitching breezes that had vexed our northerly course along the bleak, rocky coast gaveway to an absolute calm as we steamed into Sunda Kelepa Harbour and brought up under the ornate, lofty spires of Jakarta.  It was as though the anchorage were under the spell of somevengeful deity that held the stagnant seaport in irons– a fitful sleep of waking dream.I gazed up at Jakarta’s towers and heard, high on the ramparts, Rama’s  gong-struck plea to deliver a flute-weeping Sita from Ranga’s jangling curse.  A sword held against a blood-red sky by masked Barong tragediennes brought down the threadbare, red curtain in the ritual re- enactment of the primal leave-taking and arrival; when carved gods glared from the bowsprit, holding vigilant watch against marauders while we were moored off the savage isle of dreams.  I too, have sat hungry around those ancestral fires, a villan, hero or common swab, subject to the changeable turns of karmic law..

.“Skip lively, Mister Spencer.”

The resonant voice was hoarse, as if weathered by eternal watches on the Greenland ice, or worn ragged from hurling oaths into the teeth of a gail.  I flaked out 5 fathoms of chain from the locker with hamfisted elegance.

“Nicely done, lad. Ye’ll be a sailor before long.”

McWhirr is a pain in the ass sometimes. He’s a relic of working sail and can be as dark as Ahab in rehab on a bad hair day.  He stood stark against the red sky like a weathered piling on a  rocky cape.  Light flickered through the dark shrouds, his shadow looming on the limp stays’l behind him, as if projected on a movie screen.  The  harrowing passage through the Sunda Strait had frayed my nerves and I groped clumsily the 3/8ths chain from the locker.

“All right, Mister Spencer.”

I let go the anchor. There sounded a low rumble as I paid out 3 fathoms of chain into the muddybottom of Sunda Kelapa Harbour.

“Have you paid out enough scope, lad?”

“I cast the anchor in 6 fath…” I said.

“Avast, Ya greenhorn! You don’t “cast” anchors. This isn’t fly-fishing! My gorge rises at suchlubberly misuse of sailing language.”

His wrath, like a line-squall, subsided as rapidly as it came.

“Did you know that to raise an anchor you must first let it go?”

“That’s true, sir.”

He always makes these pithy pronouncements like they were scripture.  And, for McWhirr the act of sailing is a religious rite. He hails from Zoroastrian, Quaker stock and, for him, a ship is a vessel to carry his weary spirit ascending through the 7 concentric spheres of corporeality to the final landfall of essential being. He has seen the beatific vision reflected on the sea’s mirror and it draws him ever northward in search of the true face of divinity behind the mask of appearance.

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The Poulsbo story

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Old news from Dogfish Bay

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Breakwater crew

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Of Time and the River

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Uneventful passage

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Books I Love-Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Here’s another book I love.

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