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Ride the Tiger by Julius Evola, a Summary and Criticism Julius Evola is an increasingly popular figure in fringe political,

neo-pagan and esoteric circles, but is hardly known outside these circles. Although a sometimes insightful critic of Modernity, this is a worrying development in my view given his racist, sexist, elitist and reactionary authoritarian views, as well as his misunderstanding of some of the theories and traditions he champions and develops. I thus consider a critique of him long overdue. Evola was born into the bottom end of the Sicilian aristocracy in 1898 and began an early career as an artist after WWI, first as a Futurist and then a Dadaist. From an early age he was an opponent of conventional and bourgeois values but regarded himself as a traditional conservative and libertarian. Following what he regarded as the later commercialisation of these movements and a left wing bias among the early Surrealists he turned to Politics and Philosophy. By the end of the 1920s he was an avid student of Metaphysics, Eastern Philosophy and Yoga, and had developed a special interest in Tantra, Theosophy, Hermeticism and Neo-Paganism. Declaring his political ideal to be 'enlightened' Imperialism and aristocratic conservatism, with a strong affinity for the Hindu caste system and Plato's Republic, and his ideal culture as the libertarian 'warrior elitism' of the West, he instantiated the last glimmer of old conservative, Prussian Rosicrucianism in the 20th century, with its traditional support for the Holy Roman Empire and opposition to Enlightenment Illuminism. Though a critic of 'crude' Italian Fascism and Nazism, he was particularly impressed with the German SS (who he equated with the medieval Teutonic Knights, in legend the protectors of German mysticism) and saw fascism as the best option of his time. In 1927, along with other Italian esotericists, he founded the Ur Group. Whose aim was to provide a "soul" to the burgeoning Fascist movement of the time through the revival of an ancient Roman Paganism and 'traditional culture'. Distrusted by the fascist leadership as a maverick individualist and fantasist he failed to achieve much influence however. Following WWII he briefly attempted to champion a new conservatism for a united Europe, but soon gave this up for a lost cause, regarding the Capitalist West and Communist East as hopelessly decadent and doomed. His final philosophy called for a spiritual detachment from society and a personal commitment to traditional values and self actualisation, as well as the generation of an underground elite who would govern society following the immanent collapse of the current system. His many books became an instant success with the radical Conservatives, Traditionalists, Neo-Nazis and 'Third Positionists' of the late 20th century. He died in 1974. In this critique I shall be tackling his book 'Ride the Tiger' as an example of Evola's late work as well as an insight into his mature thought, it would be difficult for anyone to perform a coherent summary of his early works, given their fundamental irrationality and fantastical pseudo-history, with their Aryan Hyperborean supermen and degenerate Lemurians (adapted from the Root Races of Theosophy, and ultimately from the Atland lost civilisation hoax of the Oera Linda book) . While even taking them as a 'trans-rational' attempt at metaphorical poetics leads only into a mire of reactionary and racist propaganda bordering on the insane. But in his later work this trend is diluted considerably and a more thoughtful, if still often delusional, Evola appears. It is this Evola who has had more of an impact in recent years, outside of the neo-fascist ghetto, where now even right of centre liberals may quote him. The summary here will be brief but hopefully concise, and expose the core ideas of Evola's late social thought. The Traditional vs. the Modern Evola begins with an appeal to the outsider, egoistically enticing them by their contrast with the 'ordinary man'. The 'extraordinary subject' of Evola's tract is a 'particular human type', a man of exceptional character and ability, specifically he is the 'man of tradition' (the gender bias is central to Evola's thought here it should be noted, due to his devotion to the chauvinistic psychology of Otto Weininger). Tradition for Evola is the exact opposite of Modern, or more specifically it is a set of principles that transcend the human and the individual, absolute truths that can be known only

via the 'transcendental faculty' in certain individuals. The transcendental principle is key here for Evola, as his entire perspective is one of looking down, a raising up of himself to a privileged position. This is usually a typical position for the man who feels himself inferior in some way or has some deep insecurity, and so seeks compensation in the inflation of self to something greater (or projects this as some greater Other).The psychology of Fascism is very closely related to this. The impossibility of transcending his human individuality is cast aside in his dream of self glorification and a forgetfulness of his embodied being. Though for Evola the roots of Self lie in our unique transcendent Being. Beyond this transcendent personalism Evola orientates his values on a culture with a power that directs from above and requires a response from below, in this respect he is the quintessential verticalist opposed to the post modern rhizome of the horizontalist. At this stage he is not revealing whether this Above is some replacement Deity, or a throne for him and his ilk (it turns out to be both as Evola is a follower of the German mystic Meister Eckhart, first of the Medieval Christians to affirm the identity of Mankind and God, or at least its most advanced members). This culture is traditional for Evola because it is the culture of an imaginary past Golden Age in which the 'extraordinary individual' could find his natural place and live in harmony with his society, and manifest their full potential 'coherently and unambiguously' through the proper instrumentation of institutions that helped form it. For Evola the principles of this culture are not arbitrarily generated by it, they are essential principles, inherent in the transcendental realm of total consistency and permanence. The fear of change, impermanence and ambiguity is paramount in Evola's conservative mindset. But despite this bias he does capture a genuine perception of a natural society, one that is productive of functional individuals, rather than just cogs in the machine of Modernity. And for Evola today's machine culture is not just one that is defective or broken, it is shattered and desolate, and he compares it to a ruin or desert. It has been destroyed, he insists, by its own dysfunction, or at least is in the advanced stages of decay and disorder. It is interesting here however that despite this view Evola parts company with the bourgeois Conservative, as for him the bourgeois was simply the first stage of the dissolution of the Traditional, or old aristocratic world, the rise of the Middle Class that he despises being the rise of the Modern. To conserve this is to hasten the collapse. Evola is thus retreating from the dinosaur society, which even he sees now has failed, but he is retreating into the world of the invertebrate! While at the same time, for him any Modernist forward motion also magnifies the chaos, as the negation (including any Modernist anti-bourgeois action) of the negation (the bourgeois rejection of the Traditional) leads not to some revolutionary new Hegelian transformation, but to the pure negation into the void of Nihilism, which he simply equates with subversion, rebellion and chaos. Thus Modernity cannot be preserved or opposed by Conservatives. But at this point Evola has given up on his former hope of creating a new Traditional society from the fragments of its remnants, for he realises that in the contemporary world this possibility has long gone, the decay has progressed too far. Instead he proposes a complete isolation of self from society and the social realm, a personal detachment that while acknowledging the impossibility of objective detachment chooses the magical embrace of the dissolution and accepts its full manifestation as the primal chaos, from which a new order may emerge from a reconnection with the transcendental. That is, in effect he is applying an idiosyncratic form of social alchemy to society, that he hopes will reconstitute the Golden Age from an Age of Excrement. A radical proposal, with many superficial attractions, but alas as we shall see Evola has no real concept of the reality of chaos and order. But his more immediate task in this book is his advice on how the Traditional man can survive in the coming chaos, an esoteric survivalist technique he calls 'riding the tiger'. The World Ages Evola posits that the Modern world is a dark age of atomised materialism and chaos , a world doomed to dissolution and destruction. He compares this with the Iron Age of Hesiod and the Kali Yuga of the Hindus, former poetic descriptions of a world gone wrong (in the minds of the mythmakers at least) following its decline from a past Golden Age. It is here he takes a fantastical leap by placing his Traditional World in the Golden Age and seeing our present Iron Age as a point of

transition, the end of a cycle, leading to a new Golden Age. But in this he conflates Hesiod's linear tradition (which has no cycle) with the Hindu cyclic tradition of the Yugas, and then ironically uses this error to demonstrate a 'universal belief' in cyclic World Ages leading to a New Golden Age (and thus affirms it as a transcendental truth).While this may reflect an Indo-European myth of superior 'Ages' prior to our own, preserved by the Indians and the Greeks (as well as in a modified form in the Book of Daniel, and its heirs, adapting the older Indo-Iranian Persian mythos), the cyclic nature appears to be a late Indian development and his World Age model is certainly not universal to all ancient cultures (the Aztec myth of Five Suns, which Evola sometimes alludes to, has a superficial similarity but is quite different). Another irony is that Evola appears to be suggesting the 'Aryans' or Indo-Europeans are the preservers of this ancient Tradition, while in fact they are actually the founders of the Iron Age, according to Hesiodic Myth. Another oddity is that if the Kali Yuga is about to end, as he claims, given our 'period of transition', then by adopting the traditional Hindu time spans the Golden Age was the age of apes, the second the age of the missing link and the third the pre-human age! Of course Evola has not really given up his earlier fantasies of the Atlantean and Lemurian 'civilisations' in these ages, drawn from his distortion of the channelled fantasies of Theosophy and the Oera Linda hoax (the fourfold 'evolutionary' race cycle of Hyperborea, Lemuria, Atlantis and Aryan Modernity corresponds closely with his Aeonic mythos). While his 'Aryans' are defended as not just Indo-Europeans, but rather the fourth Root Race and include almost everyone today, it still excludes the Jews and Blacks, descendants of the degenerate late Atlanteans and their corrupters, the soulless and effeminate Negroid Lemurians of the feminine Lunar Age, with whom they committed the ultimate sin of 'miscegenation' (with the Indo-Europeans the most advanced Aryans, and their northern branch the purest carriers of the transcendental Hyperborean culture of course!) But if he means us to take this nonsense literally we should perhaps mercifully pass over this insanity. But neither can it be taken as 'poetic myth'. The real ages in Hesiod, developed by his followers Plato and Ovid, appear to be a Golden Age of hunter-gatherers, the Lunar Silver Age of the first farmers, and the historical Bronze and Iron ages according to Greek scholars. The notion of the end of the final Aeon being in our times is of course a Christian one, drawing on Daniel's vision description of a Solar Golden Age of Babylon, followed by the Persian Silver Age, a Greek Bronze Age and the Roman Age of Iron (which today's interpreters associate with its 'evil descendent' the Anglo-American Empire) which was inherited by our modern Christianity. It is clear that all these World Age traditions far from being remnants of a universal past are in fact all different cultural myths. Evola might counter that an original tradition has been preserved and distorted in different degrees by different cultures, or even that some transcendental memory that has been imperfectly manifest in different cultures. But then on what grounds can we pick and choose what is right or wrong about these traditions other than personal prejudice? Evola's final historical error is to suggest we are now in the Age of Aquarius, which according to almost every Astrologer, and all sympathetic Astronomers, is not even due for several centuries yet (the actual calculations are complex due to the subjectivity of the notion 'constellation', but we are probably just approaching the middle of the Piscean Age). Astrology may be better grounded than the World Age theory, which is probably partly derived from it, but it is important to get it right. Another key point in the abstract model behind Evola's World Ages is that when one cycle ends the beginning of the new cycle is an inversion of the last (Iron Bronze Silver - Golden), as if a wave had hit its nadir and now rises again to its zenith. However this is not true of the traditional Hindu cycle which is purely a spiral motion in the progress of the universe without any reversals but rather leading straight back into a new Golden Age. On the other hand, to be fair to Evola, the recently revised Yugas of Sri Yukteswar Giri actually are cyclically reversing, due to his highly ingenious recalculation of the supposed fundamental astrology (based on his idiosyncratic binary star theory of precession, and its fusion with the Yuga tradition). As this guru also firmly believed in a universal spiritual tradition, and synthesised world religion, perhaps Evola was sympathetic to his views and believed he had rediscovered the original transcendental Tradition, as opposed to a mere cultural history. However in Giri's version the Kali Yuga ended in 1699 (though its cusp may not have been

crossed till the conveniently millennial 1998) and the Silver Age is not due till 4099 with the truly long awaited Golden Age not arriving till 7699 AD. So this doesn't fit Evola's agenda at all (though interestingly it does bring Indian legend into a historically meaningful time frame of 700 BC for the Iron Age and 3000 BC for the Bronze Age, with a Golden Age that ended in 6700 BC and peaked around 12,000 BC, thus making it also comparable with the Greek epochs). In these scales the Golden Age is the Mesolithic, followed by agricultural communities, the Indus Valley civilization and finally the arrival of the Iron Age Indo-Europeans. As an aside it is worth noting that at least one Hermetic adept of my acquaintance favours the end of the Kali Yuga at 1698, one year less than the Giri date, this is because it's cusp, taken to be a Kabbalistic 72 years ( a 7x12, or the 'astrologically significant' 7% of the epoch), extends back to 1620, the Rosicrucian's New Age (a la Studion), and forward to 1776, the foundation of Illuminism (a la Weishaupt), with a margin of error of less than half of one percent (6 years = 0.5). This might be construed as playing with numbers, but the pattern is intriguing, and would imply that the cyclic change is related to Rosicrucian Illuminism (if we project this forward we get 1848, 1923 and 1998 as supposedly significant dates in the evolution of our Aeon, and these were certainly historically significant. Perhaps this is pure coincidence, though if not then they confirm some form of Aeonism, albeit one indicating the exact opposite of Evola's claims!) Evola might brush all this analysis and history aside however, and as suggested earlier fall back on myth making by suggesting his Aeonism is merely a poetic metaphor for our times, just as it was for the earlier storytellers. But if so he is disregarding real tradition and distorting his adopted metaphor considerably, by bending it too his own preconceptions, artistically sound perhaps, but it can hardly be seen as evidence for his Transcendental Tradition. As a creative fable it is so distorted as to have no relation to real history in the way its original forms may have, it is thus an empty metaphor or pure fantasy. Whatever he means by this cycle he is obviously confused and would have done better to have stuck with his Nietzschean speculation on the conservative's comfort hypothesis, the cyclic 'Law of Eternal Return'. At best sticking to some obvious alchemical symbolism. Having failed to convince his 'age of transition' is anything more than wishful thinking, he turns to his description of 'riding the tiger'. Simply put this consists of completely rejecting any hope of resisting Modernism, but instead becoming an isolated, autonomous individual above Modernity , riding its 'self destructive forces' to its ultimate doom and the spontaneous emergence of a new order to be fulfilled by those who have survived the chaos. As a metaphor he utilises the eastern symbolism of 'riding the tiger', associating it with the rites of Mithras, where a wild bull was ridden as an ordeal and test of strength till exhausted and then ritually killed. This obviously betrays the dominator mind at work in Evola (and Roman Mithrasism). Not only does it reveal his archaic notion of the mastery of nature, it also reveals his attitude to chaos. While he attempts to be at one with the chaos he ultimately seeks to suppress it and replace it with a new more ancient order. He is thus still essentially still a fascist, but one switched to a nihilistic mode. His riding of the tiger isn't really an apt metaphor, as he does not really engage the chaos, accept at a distance, instead he hopes to endure it, and perhaps even encourage it and push it forward, all the while shielding himself from its effects in an individualistic bubble. An aloof riding above the world, with a tiger harnessed to his war chariot. Here we see another attraction of the transcendental for him, as the source of his ivory tower, or rather a hot air balloon that helps raise him up above the chaotic modern world. Given that the historical Golden Age, if such a thing ever existed, was the world of the hunter gatherer, it was really an anarchic epoch full of its own natural chaos, one much closer to nature than our own (its principle virtue according to Greek scholars, contra Evola's Transcendent ideals). Therefore while the tiger may have been hunted in that particular epoch, the hunt was achieved by assimilation of the nature of the tiger. Which opens up to us to the more radical proposal of not riding the tiger but becoming the tiger. But this would be too Post-Modern for Evola who sees the tiger as an enemy to be tamed not something welcomed.

One interesting point he makes is that a new cycle should have some overlap with the old (an idea also implicit in the spiralling form of the epochs in progressive Hinduism), but Evola's inherent conservatism banishes this idea as impossible and deviant, and so he rejects everything about the Modern world. It is here he misses a crucial point however, that it is the chaos that is the seed of any future epoch, both the positive chaos and the negative chaos in its transformed mode. For the root of being is not a Transcendent order, a fantasy of conservatives, but an immanent chaos from which all order spontaneously emerges. A chaos with its own mysterious laws of equilibrium as the genuinely traditional Taoists always realised in their own way. Another insightful observation Evola makes however is on the 'Myth of the East. The radical West he observes often appeals to the East as a source of wisdom, however today the East is just as influenced by Modernity as the West, perhaps more so, with its traditional mysticism increasingly marginalised. What's more this process is not new it goes back to Colonial times. The Orientalism of the West is thus a corrupted form of the original tradition. This is very true, however Evola does not go far enough as he places his Golden Age in a classical age which is far too recent, and in it's own time just as modern in relation to the ancients. In this way no Eastern thought is completely undistorted, though ancient memories may be better preserved there. Modern Nihilism Evola's first examination of the Nihilism of the Modern Age begins and ends with Nietzsche's announcement that God is dead. Thus for the first time he identifies his Transcendental principles as something greater than 'himself' in the 'Beyond'. In this he follows a hypothetical evolution through recent human morality. It is however a very poor and often inaccurate representation of the history of moral philosophy, though I think its general trend is reasonable enough. After dismissing Evola's idiosyncratic descriptions we can identify five phases in his evolution of morality. Firstly the rejection of any higher reality as the foundation of morality (traditionally associated with 'God'), secondly the replanting of this foundation in Mankind, as an 'autonomous morality', initially as the so called 'rational ethics' of the Reformation ad Enlightenment , whether the Logical Imperatives of Kant or the Duty Stoicism of the Protestants. This form is powerless he suggests as mere human discipline alone is no match for natural impulses. The third phase is 'social ethics', where social convention and laws override individual will, all for the 'greater good', defined in terms of the sum of individual well being in Utilitarianism, and thus is devoid of any absolute good (transcendent or rational) other than what individuals feel is good. Penultimately comes the rejection of any 'greater good' or 'social rule' in the name of the heroic conscience, which reaches its peak with Max Stirner's denial of all 'greater principles' as spectres of God (much like the Post Modern rejection of metanarratives or asignifying terms) and his championing of the 'creative self' over all values. Evola regards all these last three phases as too 'idealistic', as they are still grounded in notions of 'justice', 'equality', 'humanity', 'liberty' and 'self' (though this is very doubtful in regards Stirner). For Evola the final Nietzschean phase (and for us Post Modernism) rejects these ideals because it rejects any absolute notion of Truth. All that is left as a foundation for human behaviour is 'primal instincts' and so Evola argues morality has completely vanished. This analysis may be basically true historically but is bizarre in terms of ethical philosophy. Evola has two primary assumptions which he never questions, one is natural instincts are 'bad' and must be controlled, a throwback to original sin perhaps, the other is that a transcendent power greater than the human is required to overcome them. The latter may be technically true, if the former was, but is unfounded in that Evola provides no evidence for such an unobserved hypothesis. Both of these are logically possible but in the absence of empirical evidence are mere opinions. They are certainly not self evident as the contrary to them may also be true, that is the naturalistic ethical stance that to be moral is to follow natural inclinations and not to prevent others from doing the same. Evola would regard that as leading to chaos, but in the Ancient Greek conception of a Eudaemonic

universe, such inclinations are actually embodied cosmic forces, such as Nietzsche's Will to Power, which, contra Nietzsche's scepticism, are actually part of an emerging natural harmony (and is somewhat closer to Thelemic principle of every star having its own orbit). Of course under this hypothesis we need to distinguish true inclinations and desires from artificial desires, compensatory needs and addictions, which may not be as easy as imagining some greater blueprint in the Beyond, even if less childish. I would only agree with Evola that the other option, the acceptance of all natural inclinations as constructed and therefore humanly 'engineerable' can seem hopelessly utopian and implausible as a project given our history so far. The Moderns are Revolting. Evola soon turns his attention to the various modern revolts against the system. His primary critique is of the meaninglessness of life under a modern technological consumer society, of which he thinks Western Capitalism and Soviet Communism are both variant forms. At a deeper level he foresees the crisis of nihilism inherent in Post Modernity. Most people he observes are oblivious to this because they intoxicate themselves with bourgeois 'opiates': consumer goods, entertainments and lifestyles. Their freedom happily traded in for commodities and comfort. But many others revolt, though usually in a mindless, causeless rebellion typified by the Beatniks (and their counter cultural descendants). But Evola is a little wide of the mark here, forgetting the political commitment of many of the Beats. Only the dead are disengaged, said Ferlinghetti, one of those most central to the subculture. Similarly as a former Futurist and Dadaist, he praises the later for its recognition of the irrational, meaningless of life, but accuses it of 'glorifying the irrational' and having no real direction. The Surrealists were he believes an attempt to improve things, but soon degenerated into an empty leftist literary movement, once more ignoring the obvious radical core of the project. Admitting a small left wing political movement exists (he writes off the orthodox far right with the conservatives as redundant), he divides them into two over generalised camps, the Communists and the Protest Movement. The first, whom he identifies closely with the Soviet Union, he describes as a lost cause, a bourgeoisified tool of an empire that now supports a form of State Capitalism not that different to Western Capitalism, devoid of any Revolutionary impetus. The two are in fact closely dialectically related and need each other he claims. The rest of the Marxists and Protest Movement he identifies with Marcuse, but describes them as irrational, anarchic and based on the instinctual self, devoid of any higher principles. Once more giving away his own hierarchical and life hating transcendentalist bias. Worse still they appeal to 'outsiders','dropouts' and the marginalised, rather than the common people or Evola's 'special types'. They even appeal to the 'failed' Third World, he laments, rather than his Aryan elect (presumably meaning the 'degenerate negroids' he often refers to in his earlier work and not the Indo-Iranian nations!). It is at moments like this that he becomes an extremely unattractive figure. He closes his denunciations with an attack on Psychoanalysis, with its foundation in basic drives and dismissal of higher principles, and the rootless humanism of the Existentialists. Attacks he will expand on later. One issue that he is I think party right about is his dismissal of Marxism as not understanding the social crisis. In blaming everything on material inequality, economics and class struggle, Marx misses the point that the wealthy and privileged are far from happy, and the workers of both the West and East, who are now relatively materially comfortable, with an unheard of prosperity for the average Westerner, are not satisfied or content. There is no necessary correlation between material poverty and misery, he controversially insists. The real crisis is a cultural and spiritual one he thus claims, a social condition of meaninglessness, that effects everyone in society. I think he's largely correct in this, but as usual he over plays his hand into absurdity. For he claims that poverty and hardship far from being undesirable are good for the development of character, and the addiction to well being and comfort is actually decadent and degenerative. He does not recommend any voluntary poverty however, as the aristocratic is the most individuating of all social states he insists, though of course only for 'special types'. While there might be a grain of truth in this - under certain conditions- when he claims it may be better to make our neighbours suffer, he takes things too far,

even in jest. While struggle may be 'good for the soul', most people are as reluctant as Evola to accept suffering. While even Nietzsche, who was not known for his soft heartedness, was aware that no society that contains even an impoverished minority was healthy and harmed everyone in it. More germane to Evola's own argument, he seems completely oblivious to the basic psychological reality that the individuated qualities and traits, that he regards as among his 'higher principles', can only be manifest when a level of well being and security have first been achieved. A fact not lost on the New Left who saw the Revolution as something far more than mere material emancipation, even though still rooted in this economic by natural necessity. But Evola is no fan of the truly natural. Evola on Nietzsche. Evola is at one with Nietzsche on several points and even has interesting insights into the rebel philosopher's complex position. Ultimately however like many conservatives he fails to fully understand him or to develop any reasonable solutions to Nietzschean dilemma. His essential point of contact with Nietzsche is on Active Nihilism, the creative rejection of all foundational principles, in order to create ones own. Nietzsche demands that people have the courage to reject all 'myths' and comforting delusions, and to fully accept the 'meaninglessness of life', in order to discover what remains and what cannot be rejected, the irreducible truth. He not only rejects all our traditional assumptions, but also many modern ones too, casting a sceptical look at science and even reason itself. However it is not true as Evola claims that Nietzsche rejects truth entirely or that he denies all scientific progress. Far from it Nietzsche firmly believes in an absolute truth, even if a minimal one, for to deny truth and reason completely would not be possible in itself. The truth that there is no truth would negate itself and reason become completely useless. Evola also accepts this but grasps at the illusion of Platonic Transcendent truth that guarantees a stable meaning and a natural order. Nietzsche's foundation is in contrast completely immanent, he is a Naturalist, or as he puts it is faithful to the Earth..... to this world, body and life. For him life itself is meaning, or rather generative of meaning. But he fully accepts the humanity requires its deeper meanings, its centres and focus, in order to function in the world. The 'transcendental' for him is a necessary myth, a function of life, something not rooted in the external world but simply in faith and commitment to ones own creative beliefs and ethical laws which allow one to live as a human being. When we fail to find this in ourselves we project it outside as a God, but we must now be strong and accept God is dead and look to ourselves. Nietzsche's foundation is thus Nature itself, but he rejects a fully scientifically coherent Biology, even though he accepts the basic reality of empirical study and a Darwinian process in life. For him Nature is a mysterious and paradoxical flux of life or Becoming, rather than Being,of which at the deepest level lies the Life Instinct. Taking this mystical idea from Schopenhauer, who argues that the Will to Live is the ultimate natural reality, he agrees that this drive is universal to everything that exists, even his science is based on a driving force inherent in the primitive 'desires' of atoms to maintain their existence or impermanent being and achieve their 'goals' (in the most basic unconscious sense in which even magnetic attraction becomes akin to love). But he differs from his mentor in insisting it is not survival that is import but growth and evolution, arguing that many individuals will commit suicide if they fail to expand their horizons and become stuck in a rut, just as atoms seek to become molecules and life forms continue to evolve. He calls this drive to improvement and growth the Will to Power, as he sees it as a universal desire to master life and have control over one's own well being, this is his Life Instinct. It fights a constant battle with a greater force however, the power of Entropy, or natural dissolution, that eventually wins. The new understanding of evolution that Nietzsche posits is not an idealistic one however, as he rejects any optimistic notion of progress, and regards it simply as an instinctual mechanism of increasing power over life, in which often the 'primitive' majority of a population will unite together to evolve a complex relation that suppresses a more 'advanced' minority, or given individual, in order simply to better its own condition. There is no drive to create 'better individuals' in this, even if this would be rationally desirable for society, as there is no rationality to this only instinct (though he ultimately suggests reason and instinct should work together, and not in opposition as is the case today, as instinct always wins, free will being just a conglomerate of

instincts or desires). For Nietzsche this pessimistic view of society is the reality of our current civilisation. A second foundation for Nietzsche however is the Self and Reason and it is this that can overcome this negative situation. But here things become more complex, because Nietzsche has already denounced reason as too often a comforting rationalisation of a paradoxical reality and a fictionalisation, and regards the self as a myth, a mere rationalisation of the flux of instincts, and a linguistic fiction based on the first person pronoun. But as Evola points out he also refers to that which does not say I, but is I and to that greater Reason that inheres in Self rather than in the intellect. This Self according to Nietzsche is a self creation, a Becoming that forces itself to form a Being. The key to this appears to be cycles of Becoming that generate an approximation of Being. However Nietzsche paradoxically declares this Being is who we really always were. For this reason Evola accuses Nietzsche of being inconsistent and a closet Transcendentalist, aware of a 'higher reality' and failing to explain it away with his Naturalism, which Evola regards as his error. The cycles that Nietzsche detects are according to Evola the higher spiritual principles that order reality according to a proper pattern, particularly Nietzsche's concept of 'Eternal Return' his grand cycle that ensures the stability of natural order and eternal truths (comforting his conservative side), which Evola equates with his Cycle of Epochs. Nietzsche of course would not accept any of this, and rightly so I think, instead he regarded such ideas as a childish over simplification of the great mystery of reality, and our inability to fully comprehend it other than intuitively. His ultimate solution to life is the creation of the Overman, the human who overcomes their weaknesses focuses their instincts into a unified will and masters themselves, I am that which must always conquer itself, he declares (arguably in a Zen like manner, which Nietzsche often implies, rather than a self repressive discipline that he sometimes seems to also mean). This great task he admits is almost in possible but is a goal to be strived for individually and should be the highest social purpose for any advanced civilisation. This Overman, or alternatively the Higher Man, who comes nearest, is the one who creates their own meaning and self, according to their innermost being and reason, and is the master of their own life. Nietzsche refers to the Overman as an eternal Becoming, a bridge between an ape and a god, for having 'killed God' we must now become him. In psychological terms he is describing total individuation. Those in his own time who dismissed this as bourgeois individualism were dismissed by Nietzsche as primitive 'sheep' led unconsciously by their own collective Will to Power and 'slave morality' (the work ethic, self sacrifice and collective duty mentality of their ethical conditioning) with no control over their existentially shaped desires (for Nietzsche all desires are channelable biological instincts shaped by personal experience, social reality, shared language, or simply other instincts, in a complex emergent process). Although he does also recognize something very like 'bourgeois individualism' as a false individuation based on conformity and a variant herd mentality. For Nietzsche though while still imperfect (not least for their dependency on their slaves and a falsely grounded faith in their own superiority and natural rights) the aristocracy are the model on which the higher man and Overman is to be based (a principle he also extended to the anarchist aristocrat Bakunin, whom he described to Wagner as the nearest thing to the Higher Man he had yet encountered. Even though maintaining that the Overman would be a hybrid of Christ and Julius Caesar!). This was as far as Nietzsche progressed in his epic philosophical quest before his descent into syphilis induced insanity. He never assumed he had an absolute truth however, and reviled anyone wanting to be his 'follower', merely seeing himself as an experimenter who was never entirely happy with his many hypothetical conclusions (though legend has it in his final moments of sanity he saw a new perspective that perfected his philosophy, but was unable to communicate it!). Nietzsche's philosophy certainly has problems, as he would have been the first to admit. Evola has an interesting point when he argues that if Nietzsche's creative values have no foundation other than personal commitment how can one person's values be any better than another's and how can we say one person or group is better or more advanced than another. On this basis we can also dismiss the Naturalism in Nietzsche by declaring it just another arbitrary value. Less convincingly he argues that Nietzsche's second foundation of Self and project of the Overman is totally ungrounded and

unwarranted in the face of his view of Nature. He compares the radical Overman concept with the optimistic 'fantasy' of the post Rousseauan anarchists, that our instinctual human nature can be benign or ideal, or of the poet philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau, who coined the term Anomie (a negative sense normlessness plaguing modern society) and argued for a natural virtue of unity and coherence, with whom he otherwise agrees. The Overman project itself he argues is no different to any other utopian project and equally likely to fail. Today's conservative Post Modernists would agree with much of this critique and argue for a completely relativistic Constructionism, but Evola rightly thinks this would lead to nihilism and further the collapse of society. Though of course is willing to 'ride this' to end the current epoch, allowing a Transcendental natural order to emerge in the next epoch after some Armageddon type event. This fantasy is given no convincing evidence however other than its 'necessity', which simply confirms his observation. Significantly Evola gives no hints as to what this transcendental order actually is at this point, and gives the impression it is open, but he has never recanted his earlier conservative writings, and confirms them in the closing chapters of the book. His only 'evidence' for this state is a supposed 'transcendental element' in certain people which enables them to become aware of its reality. Of course the reported absence of this sense in many people is merely proof of its rarity for Evola. This is similar to the old Intuitionist argument for mathematics once popular among the best mathematicians at the Oxbridge universities, who were convinced of their unique ability to solve complex equations intuitively (presumably by tuning in to the transcendent realm of pure maths). This illusion was only broken by a new generation of brilliant mathematicians who insisted there was nothing intuitive about their method at all shattering the elitism forever. Such great intuitive certainty strikes us today as psychotic. But Evola in his time was still convinced of his superiority in such matters. He further modifies Nietzsche's principle of self individuation in a transcendent direction arguing for the uniqueness of each differentiated being and the emergence of personal truth as the creative project of the manifesting being. For those beings rooted in the Transcendent this truth corresponds to a higher reality whose truth they are entitled to impose, where as for lesser beings it is a fiction they must adopt for themselves if they refuse to accept the truth revealed to them by their betters. In this sense Evola can be classed as a fascist Transcendentalist. Drawing on Nietzsche's observation, that only a few humans are persons, while many have several persons and most are not persons at all, he ignores the self creative aspect of the original observation and develops an abhorrent essentialist class hierarchy from this. In which there are unified beings with no roots in the chaotic external social reality but internally anchored to the order of a higher, transcendental realm, from which their being draws its unique core unity and wisdom; plus others who are divided beings only superficially connected to their transcendental source, who may only create a plurality of partly unified personas, forever fragmented from each, other without a spiritual core being to unite them, and finally the large herd of undifferentiated primitive beings driven only by their chaotic instincts, and ordered only by their roles in a functionally coherent culture. While in theory anyone can ascend to the higher state, few have the 'great character' or intelligence to do so and so the levels are essentially preordained. This recreates the ancient Gnostic hierarchy of Spiritual, Psychic and Instinctual Beings (traditionally represented in myth as the offspring of Seth, Adam and Cain). It is the former 'special type' of person that Evola's book is written for and their wisdom is the wisdom of his mythical ancients. Evola accepts the Will to Power as an element of all this, though not the totality, and regards this Will as including the tendency to dominate others, which he regards as justified in the case of his superior beings. His spirituality is a purely 'pagan' one where might is often right and compassion is seen as a weakness. Though it is a transcendental paganism, akin to Gnosticism, where the higher forces, archetypally represented by Apollo or Zeus, tame and control raw nature, represented by Dionysos. Ultimately Apollo and Dionysos being one in this synthesis. But Nietzsche saw this in the opposite terms, where his Immanent instinctual ordering principle was represented by Dionysos and Apollo was the rationalistic, lord of the dream and creative imagination which generated all

'meanings'. Nietzsche also denied that the Will to Power was necessarily a dominating power, though accepting it could legitimately become that. For him power was primarily an influence over self and destiny, and an empowerment in life, only those who could not achieve self mastery imposed their power over others. This was a legitimate way to control one's destiny according to Nietzsche, but ran the risk of evoking the Demon of Power, a lust for power in those less successful, which enslaved them to its drive. Contrary to popular belief Nietzsche did not reject compassion as such, believing that empathy was an important part of life, but only denounced pity, in the sense of looking down on someone else as lesser, and in need of support, and thus diminishing them as a potentially self empowered, autonomous being worthy of respect. His ideal was of equally self reliant beings in mutual support and respect of each other, and who belonged together, rather than members of a collective who belonged to and looked up to something greater than themselves, even if only the collective itself. Fine points of distinction often lost in translation from the German of his time. There remains a problem with Nietzsche's philosophy if we reject Evola regressive solution, but I this can be overcome without rejecting his naturalism, by accepting a form of Eudaemonia. This notion of an ideal set of relations between each of the Selves in connection and with the World itself (not by any means limited to one set) would both limit and validate the ethical creativity of the beings involved. I can find no authentic grounds for Evola's superiority, or 'special types' of person, particularly given the redundancy of his Transcendentalist approach and racist Aryanism. If anything this claim of superiority is more likely the result of a compensatory inferiority complex or insecurity on behalf of Evola and his sympathisers (something very common at the bottom end of the nobility in Evola's time). Evola's attitude is quite a petty one in relation to the usual modest confidence and noblesse oblige often associated with the higher aristocracy, even if only as an aesthetic mask, a stance more suitable for an aesthetic self creation in a Eudaemonic context. Though I would argue for a more free, egalitarian relation, an equality in difference, though a person's deepest self is probably quite universal and only differentiates through its relationships. Such an Immanentist solution would also bring pleasure back into the picture, the main guide for a right relation (excluding the artificial pleasures of consumerism). Such an optimistic view would probably equally be rejected by both Evola and Nietzsche, but like Evola I would argue for its necessity even if only as a myth. Taken as authentic it may also appeal to Traditionalist esotericists, with its roots in Ancient Greece, and certainly to radical occultists given its obvious parallels with true Thelema (where all stars shine equally bright in their own orbits, despite later heresies to the contrary). Evolan Being For Evola Self is a Transcendental Being, which has the potential to manifest as the Absolute Person. The everyday Person has one or more personas (or even none), the 'special type' has a single unified persona which can develop into the Absolute. Although they are masks created by roles in the manifest world, they carry the imprint of the actors face (the Self) and so can be transformed by proper institutions into the true Self. This Absolute Person is also a role, but a higher one, the Self must give up its old persona (their name, Julius) and take on a new name representing their new role (such as Emperor of Rome). This is a higher calling that must be of a superior nature and as such completely free of subjective egoism. Such a person in tune with their Transcendental principle will act without desire as they completely motivated by higher principles and free of any lower instincts or emotions which have been totally mastered. They are not moved by pleasure or pain, but only heroic will. They as such are truly free, Evola claims, because they are free of their instinctual nature, where as most people follow pleasures and are passive slaves to their instincts (a view he adopted from Carlo Michelstaedter). The heroic experience a higher transcendental pleasure when they conquer their subjective nature, based on a feeling of superiority over the lower nature, which can take the form of a Dionysian ecstasy (psychosis?). All humans are individuals, but the basic individual is merely an undifferentiated being, a clone without uniqueness, from whom the masses

are constituted. This condemns them to be part of the herd, but those who can develop persons are free of that and when in tune with their Transcendent element can manifest their uniqueness and become differentiated. Thus there are two parts to the Self : the socially determined individual and the Transcendent being. Once in contact with ones higher self they can become themselves. In a Traditional society the good institutions assist this, but this has gone (till it one day returns), and so in Modernity the 'special type' must completely detach themselves and be above society. Even if in the city they must become the nomads of the asphalt who break all natural and social ties. He quotes Ernst Junger, who says that in Modern society there are no more real individuals just 'types', Evola agrees but thinks this can be subverted to create a culture based on his special type. These form an underground culture of new Hyperboreans that is apolitical but will inherit the new order after the complete dissolution of this Age. He then spends a considerable and quite tedious number of paragraphs attacking Existentialism. Here he take up the truly heroic task of attempting to succinctly explain the basis of the various forms of Existentialism, which claims the Self is a product of its relations and experience, Heideggar's Being-in-the-World (or 'Dasein'). Here Will is seen as the focused part of the instincts, and constitutes our absolute freedom to act and create ourselves. But this freedom comes with a responsibility and a consequent anxiety. Evola denies all of this, but allows it may be true of the 'lower types' who lack a 'soul', or Transcendent element. He insists that Will is an ability derived from the higher self and carries with it the ecstasy of conquest, but no real responsibility to anything in the profane world. He acknowledges Existentialism's attempts to explain our free will, and the origin of our 'project of our self creation', particularly through Heideggar's positing a mysterious Other, that precedes the Self and contains its potential, and which initiates the great project of manifestation. For Jaspers this is the 'Dasein', which like, the anarchist philosopher Max Stirner, he regards as a real, non-subjective, 'creative nothing', that cannot really be regarded as us at all. Evola rejects this as unsound and harks back to Nietzsche's necessary transcendents (as believed 'fictions') and in particular Kierkegaard's idea of an 'essential being', which although a 'necessary fiction' based on faith, is still regarded as in dialectical relation with the 'real' Existential being. Evola agrees with this kind of religious Existentialism but insists it is not a just a belief but rather a concrete reality. Moreover the Dasein is not an Other for Evola, it is actually the spectre of our Transcendental Self which still haunts Existentialism and cannot be denied. It is our Existential Self that is the real Other to be denied. He further suggests there are two Wills, the lower Instinctual Will, which is merely a base echo of our true, higher Transcendental Will within our instincts. The two often being in conflict however when we are a slave to our emotions, their reunification he compares to the Arthurian motif of the 'broken sword' that must be reunited (somewhat dubiously it has to be said). Evola's understanding of Existentialism has been criticized by some as inadequate, but as far as I can ascertain seems a reasonable attempt to rationalise this arcane school, even though his conclusions are ultimately wrong. The Dissolution of Culture Evola has a distinctly unusual take on Culture in that it also includes what he thinks is an idealised picture of Nature. For Evola the Arcadian idyll, Rousseauan ideal and Ecological theory of Nature are all abstractions that falsify the Immediate domain. This Immediate Nature is held to be a chaos of undifferentiated atoms, which only achieves its nature from the Transcendental realm. In this context he can state the truism that there is no difference between the Urban and Rural. Both being equally natural, and the attempt to portray the countryside as more natural is a romantic idealisation. This is our biggest cultural error he insists. He fails to elaborate on whether a farm owned by a 'special type' would become more natural than a decadent city, though it would follow from his beliefs. But for Evola raw nature is entirely objective and impersonal, and to experience it is to be free of all subjectivity. But he claims just as that we romantically believe to be Nature, as the 'nature of things', is really the Transcendent, the direct perception of the purely Immanent world can lead to

the Transcendent due to its complete detachment from the artificial constructions built on it. An interesting inversion on the common view, but Evola gives no reasons why we should believe him, other than that he is a 'special type' who 'knows' this Platonist nonsense to be true. What he misses I think is that Nature is not some fixed thing or essential state, but rather a pattern of relations and the potentiality for that pattern. Other than this Culture for Evola is inherently decadent. This includes the Arts, Science and modern lifestyles in general. All of which are tainted by their alienation from the higher world of Objective Being and Transcendental Reality, and their immersion in the lower Subjective sensual realm of Becoming. A condition of an irrational, undifferentiated fragmentation, as opposed to the higher principle of a differentiated, rational unity, according to him, something that sounds oddly contradictory to most others. As we've already noted the lower world is seen as a kind of passive chaos, or primal material, that requires the higher forms for anything ordered to emerge. The higher realm is also the source of Selfhood, or Soul, while the lower realm is regarded as equivalent to the Unconscious domain of chaotic instinct. To emphasise the latter is become denatured, chaotic and decadent in Evola's view, while to be natural is to be in relation to the higher rational world. He often equates these two with various mythical metaphors such as Greek Apollonian and Dionysian cultures, and occasionally his absurd theory of northern Teutonic / Hyperborean and southern Negroid / Lemurian races (with his Aryans, and the Atlanteans, mobile on the equatorial cusp). They are also more specifically said to be Solar / Masculine and Lunar / Feminine realities. A very strange, chauvinistic and regressive view of reality which Evola regards as 'traditional', which as we've found means nothing more than a cherry picked and modified selection of Evola's favourite patriarchal cultures of reasonable antiquity. Principally the classical Hindu system, Mahayana Buddhism, Confucian Taoism and late Stoicism. All of which are 'modern' in relation to the oldest genuine Shamanic traditions. Evola of course denies this , regarding Shamanism as of a secondary, decadent, Silver Age, following a lost Golden Age, of which his 'Traditional' sources are derived from the Bronze Age reconstructions of (which as we found earlier is historically nonsense). Specifically, Modern Art is attacked as subjective in meaning, evocative of profane passions and representing the world of mere appearance, with the artist regarded as a celebrity or genius. In contrast Evola claims authentic Art should capture the higher reality as objectively and purely as possible, with the artist an egoless channel for truth. There is no record of Evola producing any art of note however. In a sense this is a little like Kant claiming all good art must be moral! Similar he regards Modern Science as failing to grasp the truth and the higher principles of reality, being too concerned with the world of appearance and mere physical phenomena! Worse still he claims it has no desire for truth, and, in an admittedly lucid and accurate description of scientific method, explains how science concerns itself with mere probabilities and hypotheses, which constantly change, and are concerned not with reality, but only the approximation and pragmatic predictions of phenomena, enabling the technology that affirms it's 'truth' in the minds of the ignorant masses. While admitting that some scientists see a higher spiritual reality in pure science, using Einstein as an example, he insists this is an illusion, as all their higher truths and aesthetics are based on the mathematics at the root of science, which is a mere abstraction based on quantity. Whereas Evola's higher reality is an objective, concrete truth based on quality and virtue. Phenomenology is given a little more respect, with its ideal reality beyond phenomenal events, but even this is seen as a kind of fake view based on an abstract idealisation not connected to the higher realms. He also regards all technology that emerges from Science as destructive rather than liberating, and sees it as an intoxicating tool of the lower passions and an attempt to dominate rather than perfect nature (by reconnecting it to its higher archetypes). Mass communications can generate complex global connections that disrupt local involvement he warns, perhaps insightfully predicting the internet. But here uses this as an example of how dissolutive technology can be recuperated, and a loss of local connection be used to dissolve local conventions and bourgeois culture, creating a relativistic chaos in which a contact with higher reality is required. Similarly he decries the modern use of

recreational drugs which open up the mind to the lower unconscious and the darkest of all forces (it is perhaps no surprise his view of the world gives him bad trips!). While admitting some people claim positive experiences he dismisses most of these as illusions conditioned by some cultural convention with no foundation. Again however he does admit that rare positive experiences are possible, for 'special types' connected to a higher reality, where the drugs foster a dissolution of the lower self and world of appearance, and give the 'spiritual warrior' an opportunity to overcome dark forces, and trigger a response from higher principles that then manifest in the void. Such a view seems to me reminiscent of the medieval view of St Anthony's Fire, a condition caused by ergot poisoning, but seen as a battle with demons and leading to death or cure and enlightenment by the Catholic. It also perhaps reflects the thoughts of those alchemists who realised the material base of the phenomena and utilised it in their form of the Nigredo stage of alchemy. This is a more likely source of Evola's 'traditional knowledge', rather than some fictitious Golden Age and a gross misunderstanding of reality. His lowest criticism is perhaps his view of modern music, which again in affirming its traditional form, as some kind of 'Harmony of the Spheres' reflecting a higher truth, leads him to reject modern and contemporary music as inferior and rooted in the lower passions and physicality. Predictably he accurately traces the origin of Jazz and popular dance music to Afro-Cuban origins, which he then dismisses as degenerate, and 'negroid', and drawing on the dangerous, dark forces of Voodoo! But the bottom line for Evola's critique of contemporary culture is its Atheism and refusal to accept the reality of the Transcendent. Interestingly as a radical conservative he rejects orthodox religion in this respect, and what he regards as the bourgeois theology of a personal deity in human form, who lays down moral laws, which he rightly regards as absurd. This he claims is what Nietzsche and others meant by their Atheism. But in its place he affirms a Higher Theism based on a God Principle in a more mystical sense, akin to Hindu theosophy, which he regards as compatible with a rectified Nietzscheanism! Modernity can only be saved by reaffirming such a religion he suggests, but now regards this as impossible and sees it merely as a source of personal strength and hopefully the basis of an emergent spirituality at the end of our epoch when his new cycle begins. The Dissolution of Modern Society. When Evola turns to the 'dissolution of the social realm' he occasionally picks up on real issues, such as the breakdown of both communal life and the reduction of human beings to generic types, cogs in the mechanism of industrial society. He also touches not only on the opiate of consumerism, but also on the addiction to productivity. An addiction which feeds consumerism, while at the same time is itself expanding, as a growing population of sheep are fed into the mechanism of industrial production, for no other reason than their occupation and sustainance, and so further expanding the consumer cycle. Those caught up in this cycle are reduced to automatons he suggests in a rare echo of Marx. Evola derives from this his dislike of population growth and the social imperative to have children, as well as the banality of mass society (also drawn from the works of Gustave le Bon). However such interesting observations are outweighed by his greater emphasis on the 'degeneracy' of Modern society, which once more boils down to the fact it doesn't conform to Evola's 'higher principles and natural order', or in other words to his fictional Traditional society. In fact it is in this section we discover exactly what that 'higher order' is, an organic, hierarchical society, ruled by elites, and ultimately a single 'divine right dictator', and his 'enlightened priests', in which everyone knows their proper place (with Evola and his 'special types' at the top of course). In some strange way Evola's rulers do not impose their will on society or on nature however, but are simply globally accepted for their superior intellect, spirituality and 'virtuous character'. Perhaps the only saving grace in this dystopia is that each component serves the greater good of the whole, rather than pure self interest, while at the same time a certain degree of power is devolved down to the most loyal components, whether diverse nations in the empire or individuals in the village community. Such a society Evola believes would be functional and healthier than one driven by 'irrational' customs,

morals, or any other human centred subjectivity, because it would be manifesting the super rational, natural order of the realm of perfect ideas. Until that time he recommends the withdrawal from any social activity based on the norms of modern society and the adoption of an apolitical mentality, in which elite enjoy the disintegration of the degenerate order and do nothing to oppose it. But this is not some 'drop out' counter-cultural attitude, based on visions of a utopia he insists, as even the very idea of humanist 'sociability' and 'altruism' must be abandoned, he insists in order to function as a competitive and self motivated warrior, thus further affirming his sociopathy. From here he moves on to his views on the family and sexual relations, revealing a weird mix of social radicalism and conservatism. In essence while supporting the traditional family, with all its positive roles in mutual spiritual support and self actualisation (in the proper gender roles of course) he insists it must allow the freedom and personal distance necessary for individuation and personal growth (seen as the realisation of the higher principles suitable for their absolute being). This also includes the freedom from the assumption of child rearing, and the possibility of divorce among other things. There are even hints of multiple relations if this is required by the persons actualisation and growth. Refreshingly for a conservative, he condemns the bourgeois conformity and religious hypocrisy that dominates contemporary relationship morality. The ultimate aims of relationship he believes is to help catalyse the manifestation of the absolute man and absolute woman, stereotypes of the classic, virtuous gender roles. Moving onto sexuality he portrays a similar picture of the virtuous sexual relation, one closely connected to Tantric sex and the transformation of the person, as opposed to 'profane lust'. Sexuality being seen as the polarised manifestation of higher creative forces not an instinctual reality, Sex is thus seen as a bridge to the higher reality, rather than an affirmation of lower desires and instincts, and is an intoxication we should be totally in control of, and not a slave to. While to a certain extent promoting 'free sex' it is in a very disciplined, almost repressed kind, that maintains distance and tension between the partners, rather than any 'regressive' psycho-physical merger or 'casual attitude' to sex. It may be partly polyamorous but is ideally never promiscuous, and never involves the surrender of self to another or to ones own instinctual forces. Modern free sex is then criticized as a profane 'freedom for sex' as opposed to a purer cathartic 'freedom from sex' (recalling the cathartic orgies of the early Gnostics). The only exception to these new sexual ethics are the 'riding of the tiger' practices where the willed adoption of promiscuous sexuality and fully unrestrained sexual activity is deployed as a perverse taboo breaking process, designed to shatter all conventional morality and romantic sentimentality, and open up the subject to the pure transcendental source. Though all this is at the high risk of becoming drowned in the pit of lust and given over to the instincts and the 'dark forces' that is associated with them. A task that the 'special type' can regard as a test of their character and will (but is presumably more dangerous for the 'lower types') . If all these guidelines are followed Evola claims that a spiritual form of sex can be achieved that unleashes a transcendent Dionysian ecstasy that will further motivate the person in the absence of lower instincts (but again psychotic elation might be a more accurate term for this result). It seems clear that Evola's views on sex are extremely repressive of any real sexual desire and probably highly dangerous. While a Tao-like, 'non-enslaved', detached attitude to sexual desire, while fully immersed in the act, is possibly a positive thing in general, and his more specific practise of a sexual de-conditioning may be of value, the repressive aspect and negative attitude towards the instinctual and 'profane' is entirely negative and psychologically harmful (and no doubt productive of the 'dark forces' Evola refers to). Evola on Spirituality Predictably for Evola authentic spirituality consists of any transcendental contact with a higher reality greater than Self, and in particular any higher reality that conforms with his conservative prejudices. Orthodox religion is correctly identified as largely a hollow shell devoid of any of its original spirituality, an empty residue of the old Tradition. While 'new spirituality', including everything from the New Age mysticism to to modern occultism is considered a degenerate form of the Mysteries, even more dangerous than mainstream religion, mainly due to its association with

'human values', subjectivity and the unconscious, as opposed to a higher transcendent reality. Which Evola insists opens up the subject to 'dark forces'. In this mode it is merely an empty escapism of the kind Spengler predicted as the 'second Religiosity' following a period of nihilism, while still being of it. One form he particular rejects is anything that finds inspiration in Science, as he has already rejected this as a false reality. The only currently valid form of esoteric practise he considers to be Initiation, understood in his terms of an opening up to higher forces. But the lone person can not achieve this alone, it must be performed by an initiate already opened to the forces, within the context of proper ritual, and this should be ideally carried out inside one of the orders that are adept at this kind of initiation. Though he insightfully admits there are almost no orders of this degree of authenticity left in either the West or East. He ultimately thus calls for some attempt at unmediated contact with a higher reality. Presumably referring back to his Tantric advice. Conclusions What can be immediately said about Evola is while elements of his diagnosis of Modernity may be true, his cure is pure quackery, although like many superstitious remedies may have some degree of validity to them. On the whole it is clear that Evola's conservatism is self serving, given his lost traditional privileges, and not in the interests of a functional society, that argument has been long won and needs no restatement. His reactionary stance to a changing world further distorts his ideals into a petty, pseudo-elitism, in which he boasts his insecurity and lack of confidence with delusions of grandeur and myths of his 'special type'. Evola in reality is a classic outsider fallen from grace. His ideal order, both external and internal, is given a solid authority by projecting it into an eternal, transcendental realm of pure truth, which has been revealed in the most ancient traditions which affirmed his ideals. Thus he shores up his minority position with all the power of the cosmos. This might have some validity were it true, but alas it is pure fantasy. The Tradition Evola affirms has never existed outside of the few relatively recent and very patriarchal 'ancient societies' he carefully selects in his crude rewriting of history. The authentically ancient tradition, for what its worth, is very different to his fantasy. This is emphasised by his clutching at Theosophical pseudo history and mythology to support it, and complete ignorance of any genuine history. As we have found even his use of real folk myth distorts the real meaning of the 'golden age', which is clearly a race memory of the pre-civilised state of the late Mesolithic, and perhaps even our deepest animality. His association of his arbitrary ideals and ethics with a transcendental reality is completely contrived, and even if he could prove the existence of this reality he could not prove the association. His claim to superior intuition on these matters, due to his personal 'transcendent element', is no more convincing than the common sense argument that the world is flat, or the delusions of a madman. That we can easily hypnotize ourselves to believe any convenient truths is well known in psychology. One can almost pity him for his plight if his views weren't so obnoxious. Some might be tempted to demonstrate a more accurate history, and claim a more authentic counter tradition to Evola's, complete with its own transcendental validation, and ride their own tiger, even taking the mythic stance and inverting Evola's 'Hyperboreanism' into a 'New Lemurianism', but the problem is much deeper than that. Beyond his self serving, socio-political delusions, Evola's most fundamental error is to be found in his 'Transcendentalism'. This he has basically inherited from the Platonists and dressed up with an imaginary 'ancient tradition'. But like Plato's error this can be easily dismissed. If everything that exists, including our mundane truths in the sensual world, are rooted in higher principles that really exist, then what higher principles are these based on? Off into infinity! While if we say their existences are not equivalent then we evoke two different worlds, with an unbridgeable abyss between them that can never be crossed. The proposition is simply impossible. Instead we need to look not to the vertical dimension of hierarchies, but to the horizontal one of relationships. This does not entail a banal materialism by any means, as there are horizons on the horizontal beyond which lies the unknown. If we reject Evola's fantastical Hyperborean geography, where the north is both symbolically and literally 'spiritual', and the south 'chaotic and primal', we can view the poles

as Nietzsche did, as markers on a horizon, beyond which lies the authentically Hyperborean, in the Nietzschean sense. What might this mean in clearer terms? Such an exploration is beyond the scope of this essay, but perhaps we can go a little way with it. The main issue with Transcendent illusions is their rejection of the material world for some other superior realm. This is born from an understandable escapism from a world not unknown for its suffering. This is of course closely linked to the ancient notion of the otherworld, but is certainly not necessarily identical to it. A point to be returned to in a moment. It is more closely associated with intellectual introspection, the withdrawal into mind characteristic of late Hellenic thought. This together with the rigid conceptualism of the Platonists saw the world and body dismissed as a tomb, as it was among the classical Orphic Mysteries, a place of dead and fragmented matter, only enlivened and ordered by the pure ideas of a higher, perfect world. Such thinking was usually associated with the rigid rationalisation of the hyper-logical mind, a mind that feared change, flux and disorder, as did Evola. Such thinking is common among the insecure and the mentally unstable as a form compensation for feelings of approaching dissolution. In Evola's case it certainly corresponded to his social position among a dying aristocracy, especially in its lowest ranks, but may also have reflected a mental instability (particularly given his apparent real belief in mysterious ancient civilisations and pseudo-history), whether the result of his personal life situation or the intermarriage common amongst his class. There is also the issue of anxiety due to his possible latent homosexuality and definite effeminacy, of which his extreme cult of masculinity is another obvious compensation for a man of his background. It is significant that such ideological Transcendentalism rarely seeks to impose its higher ideals on the world, 'perfecting it' (and when it does it invariably fails), thus it more often seeks a future escape into this higher reality, while maintaining a disdain for the material world, due to the fear of death that prevents its embrace of an immediate transition to this ideal higher reality (explaining the occasional desperate suicides among its proponents). It is not hard to see the consequences of such a position, in the rejection of material progress, the disdain for the ignorant masses and ultimately the alienation from the ecology of the natural world that today creates the environmental crisis. When this is combined with a strongly conservative desire to maintain their personal position and social and economic inequality, seen by them as a 'natural organic order', the resultant alienated elitism becomes very dangerous. Even though Evola may include a positive virtue ethic among his higher ideals, this is all to often a kind of distorted 'master morality', a delusional state that converts decadent aristocratic traits into ideal virtues and the consequent rejection of authentic nobility (which still lies dormant even in Evola). In short everything that is 'good' for Evola is transcendent (and 'northern') and everything that is 'bad' is immanent (and 'southern'), unless spiritually reformed, which he has rejected as unrealistic. But given the very real crisis of the modern world, both social and cultural, is there an alternative? Evola's Transcendentalism might look good in it most politically correct reformation, but at root is is still a world denying escapism. This is most dramatically demonstrated in his attitude to a culture of unrepressed, free sex, which while seeming radically libertarian and enlightened, is still rooted in a desire to escape sexuality and the sensual world through catharsis, as opposed to its more healthy embrace and integration into out nature. The Immanentist alternative to this would not be the mundane materialism that Evola fears, but rather an extended multidimensional world. The world we regard as the Physical domain is simply that part of the cosmos that interacts with our limited physical senses because it has material consequences for our physicality. There is much more to the material cosmos however and even science previously confined to three or four dimensionality is now finding new regions of the cosmos in dimensions unknown before. This would literally not only be outside the horizons of knowledge in a Nietzschean sense, but also outside the sphere of our sensibility as well. It is highly likely that one of these extra dimensions will turn out to be the realm of pure phenomenal consciousness too, if mind is at root, as it appears to be, just a subjective aspect of objective matter. This non-dualistic identity of mind and matter is known in philosophy as aspect or property dualism (i.e. two sets of properties of one 'substance'), but was formerly more accurately

referred to as neutral monism. This is also said to have been known in very ancient times as the Sky Serpent which transforms into the Earth Serpent, and back again, something usually interpreted as representing the essential identity of spirit and matter. An idea central to the metaphysics of India, and well known to many Western mystics, most famously William Blake. It was a popular idea with the founders of modern Theosophy, who used the metaphors of Victorian science to suggest the transformation was just a hierarchical matter of vibrational frequency, as was ice and steam, but this proved to be no more than a metaphor. Today the idea of dimensionality presents itself as another option, in its true sense of 'directionality' (in which up, down and any lateral path are all of equal value). Walking into a room in a higher dimension would, if possible, would just be theoretically like finding a door in a fifth wall at an impossible angle previously unknown. Literally another world that was in this sense 'next door'. Some might complain this is really just bringing back the Transcendental in a different guise, but in fact it is crucially different in that it is not a higher reality on which our inferior reality depends, but is rather simply another corner of our immediate reality and very much part of it and holistically entwined with it. In this kind of horizontal reality, forms, meanings and concepts, are not separate eternal truths but rather are generated by the complex and constantly changing interconnections and relationships of elements in all the dimensions. A truly molecular though holistic model of relational and emergent form rather than the ideal. A world of pure Becoming, free of any imaginary Being. But even the timid Eternalist need not fear here, as wherever the relational pattern exists an identical form will be generated. Another application of Nietzsche's Eternal Return, through which he speculated immortality may be possible. What is permanent, if anything, is simply the memory of the pattern, with each form unique and equal in value. Each form being determined, in part at least, by its relation to all other forms in the greater form of the cosmos, itself constantly Becoming, and generating its own cycles, which in turn ensure an ever growing number of unique, recurrent component forms (each perhaps with a holographic or fractalised aspect in relation to the whole). In such a model we can dispense with the duality of soul and body, and even higher and lower, as the soul and body would be part of a single complex that can reform in part or whole in any domain of a multiverse as long as the pattern is repeated (it could also survive in impaired form even with the loss of 'soul' or 'body', in the same way a limb is lost, and perhaps regenerate itself from memory worm-like!). But we could speculate endlessly, the real point here is that Evola's 'tradition' is extremely irrational and alternative models are far more likely and very different, lacking the problematic elements Evola generates. Evola himself might enter his convenient anti-intellectual mode here but the facts remain. In our alternative model everyone is a 'special type' if they develop their full potential because everyone has an equal role to play in the evolving cosmos, a model free of all conservative prejudices and hierarchies (each person having the duty to develop their self as an 'autonomous being' governed only by themselves). This is far more like the modern Thelemic 'every person a star in their own orbit' (minus the later heresy on degrees of brightness). While some may have developed more of their potential than others, either fixing those others on a lower rung, or offering them too much help up, will not raise them properly. And in a cosmos where the most ideal functional relations are equal and ecological, raising them up is a matter of pure self interest. Evola in this sense is his own worst enemy. So what of Evola's formula for 'riding the tiger'? This may have some value, though as a method for everyone not just 'ubermensch'. Given the genuinely negative nature of society and its increasingly chaotic turbulence, a detached tiger mounting may indeed be desirable. But not to passively await the reassertion of imaginary ideals, but to accelerate the 'end of the age' and actively create realistic alternatives for the new. Our detachment can be productive if it is a distancing from the old order, but the new order will need some engagement. The tiger needs to be properly reined. A more deeper criticism would be of the whole idea of riding the tiger till its exhaustion, as in the decadent bull rites of Mithras, but this is really indicative of another separation from the world of Becoming, a world of which we are entirely a part. We perhaps thus need not to ride the tiger but to become the tiger, or at least little tigers in communion, in a true Dionysian fashion.