Reactionary of the Soul

Last week, what struck me the most was the irony that many of the so-called reactionaries that I have met recently — those individuals that have a strong attachment to a benevolent, strong, and compelling overarching authority in political matters — are surprisingly democratic, anarchic, or blatantly communist. But let me backtrack.

Everyone is usually not themselves. Their true “self” or “I” has abdicated or vacated. Instead, there is a flurry of thoughts, emotions, and actions which pull their soul, spirit, and body willy nilly into automated and learned responses. But I shall be even more explicit and deliberate.

Ⅰ. The Democracy of Personalities

What people think is their personality — this culmination of their various likes and dislikes or preferences in how they do things — does not stem from an act of the will, but a habituation usually engendered through external circumstances in their lives. They “tend” towards something and these tendencies push them, by a critical majority or plurality of their sensations and feelings, towards a direction. This direction is often mistaken for their “will.” This confusion of “preference” for “identity” is something I hinted at though did not really cover in my article on homosexuality, but homosexuality is obviously one such example in, perhaps, an extreme case. These tiny personalities — each representing a different agenda, fetish, or impulse — have overthrown the authority of the will and mind and established a dictatorship for the members.

Despite its obvious case in homosexual behaviour, most people of a “conservative” or “moral” disposition are just as susceptible to this internal democratic process. How often, for example, do any people weigh whether or not to get up in the morning promptly as if by committee? How often do people prefer metal bands over Korean Pop because “I just like this one better.” And if you ask people why they have certain preferences — why they can’t eat seafood or they don’t like this or that — they’ll often say, “I don’t know.” Or, worse yet, “I just do/don’t.” Is there really a person in there making that decision or was it just a simple consensus of the various members of the body voting? The head was no longer involved, it was just the most energized lobby of the body that gets their way. Whether it’s the gonads threatening extreme discomfort if they are not allowed stimulation or the stomach allying itself with the lobby of the lazy limbs who are afraid of pain to convince the body to take on more cheesecake, it isn’t the “self” creating the agenda or guiding the direction, but the members.

And so the body continues without understanding who it really is. Like a de-racinated nation that simply relies on its political system to maintain its economy and stability in society, nothing special occurs in the automated man. He merely persists. It is ironic, therefore, that many reactionaries overlook this essential nation — the nation of their own members. They pine for an Emperor or at least a strong man at the helm and yet they allow their actions to be maintained by the surging, populist energy of their members. How often do individuals simply do things because they’re “in the mood?” Is not abdicating to that mode not the very essence of a populist candidate winning over the members? Indeed, many people desire a higher consciousness and a higher awareness in their body politics and yet have not made any effort to increase their own consciousness and their own awareness. When people speak of “higher states of consciousness” it is not some abstract idea, but a practical realization of where our “self” is.

Ⅱ. The Mechanization of the Self

I had written before about the necessity of a Butlerian Jihad of an internal variety — a war against the machine-self. Plenty of individuals believe themselves to be liberated from the machine-self. They say that they are “thinkers” or people who have the “proper ideology” and therefore are immune to the collectivist mode of thinking that their Leftist cousins possess. Yet inner consciousness of one’s thoughts and emotions seems to be blatantly missing despite these external advertisements.

Examples do not even have to be of an obvious morally detrimental character; in fact some things, such as habitual prayer, can become automated even if it’s a real boon. Is this not what the Teacher has advised us not to do? Did He not advise us not to engage in vain repetition? It is the abdication of the will and the mechanization of prayer — the profanation of it through unconsciousness — that is the sin associated here. It’s obvious, after all, if I teach a parrot to say the Our Father that it would not be prayer. Yet, how much of this mechanization takes over our very lives? How often do we rely on our instinctual responses, reactions, attitudes towards other people, things, or ourselves?

How often does something happen and, immediately, we feel as if we were slighted? Is not the message that comes to our mind that says, “they don’t respect me” something we have lived with for so long that it has become habitually listened to? The automated response, as a friend of mine would say, is like that of a computer — creating behavioral algorithms that follow a set programming. Hence, this is why I wrote in my previous article on the machine-self how it is not that we shall create artificial intelligence, but that human actions and thoughts will be so automatic that it will be indistinguishable from machines.

Emotions, too, become programmed into us instead of decided upon. How often, for example, when we are told a different opinion from one that we gave do we immediately feel threatened and must defend our position even if the other person might be right? In fact, how often are we so convinced that we are right? Indeed, “deciding” is made ex post facto, it is never made about whether or not the emotion we feel at all is necessary. The machine reacts for us and the throne of our self is left empty occupied instead by something inhuman; something programmed. Because only a human can react organically to a given situation, person, or ourselves. Only a human can discern what is proper for that situation and if those feelings are necessary no matter how valid they might be. Is it not in the best tales of old that we see kings who are able to discern between the various courses of actions with temperance and wisdom?

Ⅲ. The Inner Court

The abdication of the self was something I was visualizing in this past week as an interior court where the young prince who was supposed to ascend to the throne has neglected his duties. Instead, he lets his learned advisors run the realm. In any given situation that a man encounters, his immediate judgments about the person and situation are supplied to him by his learned interior advisors. “That man is suspicious,” one might say. “That woman is absolutely hot,” another might say. They compel the body-nation to take certain steps. “Say something in this situation to make us look better,” commands one advisor. “Don’t disagree with him,” says another. “We need to make ourselves look smarter than the others,” another will say. All automatic and mostly unconscious. We just say, “Well, it’s just my personality to be this gregarious,” or, “I just like to be alone.”

The young prince relies on this because they tell him, “How can you ever run this nation? You haven’t trained for this, but throughout the life of the nation, we have. You’ve done this for so long this way there’s no reason to change. We are what we do.” Indeed, our personalities and interior advisors have learned from past experiences how to deal with situations and patterns that we see. And yet, do we discern them? Do we act as a King should and listen but not immediately follow the advice of something we may or may not really be able to trust?

The Inner Court, therefore, must have the returns of its King. The true “self.” Discovering this true self is an arduous journey of maturity. It is the “self” that lies beyond the shadows of desire and looks upon the nation of his body and the community of nations around him of persons with wisdom, mercy, respect, etc.. He embodies the virtues and he decides whether or not these impulsive ideas, thoughts, or emotions should be enacted in his kingdom. Yet this technique of invoking the higher self is greatly missing especially as there is a foolish misunderstanding that the “strong” self is the real self or the “intelligent” self is the real self. These are usurpers. I have often seen very intelligent individuals who retain great impulsiveness and disquiet but believe that because they are intelligent that this makes them immune from decay.

As for myself, this past week, as part of Advent Meditations, I have continued to practice the discernment of the Kingly self. He sits on the Inner Throne and allows the various thoughts and impulses to bring their cases and petitions to him. He then decides from a place of wisdom; hearing multiple advisors to see if perhaps there are multiple ways to look at a situation or person. He feels at peace because he knows that he is not subject to the impulses and desires. He can listen to them and decide for himself what action to take.

Wisdom is necessary because many of the impulses which come with wicked thoughts are perhaps simply misguided. An erotic desire, for example, is actually a plea for power which is in turn is actually for the sake of being seen as powerful so as to seek the respect of other men and, thus, not to be left alone. The “wisdom” of the King allows him to follow these long lines of motivations to their ultimate, golden core which can be addressed in healthy and productive ways rather than in the learned ways of past actions. Thus, the King applies justice with mercy. He recognizes the gold within the shadows and draws them out. He transmutes the base to the noble. He makes noblemen out of brigands. This is the alchemical task of the King and his power and it is the primary task of every man who wishes to assume an interior Aristocracy. If any man wishes a nation to be ruled gloriously by a King or benevolent patriarch, he must start with his own person.

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James

Pretentious foreigner seeking Dante enthusiasts . Do not apply if you're stuck justifying your limp wristedness with some High-Anglican pseudo-aesthetic . I may seem like another one of those Pale persons out there , but English is my second language .

12 thoughts on “Reactionary of the Soul

  1. An interesting essay. Although all of this is far easier said than done. It reminds me of Plato’s analysis of the various personalities and their correlation with various political orders. For example, in a Tyranny, the tyrannical character is one where a man is a slave to his lower pleasures and instincts, just as the masses are slaves to the tyrant.

  2. Ha – how amusing and ironic that you deploy “machine-self!” I was just employing the phrase in an article I was writing as an idealized mode of ontological internalization. Inverting the metaphor, Butlerian Jihad to that of Butlerian Mastery. To dispense with habitual mechanization would be a dispensation of the common man!

  3. excellent work, philosophers and spiritual leaders from time immemorial have been preaching the basic message of “know thyself”. but furthermore, we have what seems to be a war with this assertion by modernity. thinkers like Foucault and Deleuze (and Gurdjieff way before the french post structuralists) theorized that the modern world is filled with methods and techniques of disciplinary action and power that run through and constitute the modern “subject”, that modern man is a political technology, perpetually in a state of “waking sleepfulness”….its funny you use the word “machine self” because we have groups of people now a days who are so spiritually dyslexic that they wish to herald in an age of “trans-humanism”, literal man-machines, and other such nonsensical reductionist fantasies that make it easier to fool themselves into thinking so-called modern “progress” is infinity expansive and deterministic. why you see the machine-self in the same repetitive talking points of your average fedora-tipper that wants to bask in this trans-human future, essentially autotheism to its sci-fi extremity.

    1. I’d even go so far to say that the corollary to this is the fact that mere consciousness of this “lack of consciousness” can be just another layer of the dream-state . Just like a man believes himself to be conscious while in a dream or has some concept of his “I” even in lucid states or believes he’s awake while dreaming , so is mere awareness of such a thing insufficient if we do not practice that awareness in our very limbs and in the very mechanisms of our emotional kinesis . How many times do moderns pat themselves on the back when they watch subversive movies about how to avoid an Orwellian future but mindlessly live in one already ? Or how many of us so called traditionalists proclaim to be aware of the follies of modernity and yet live out that modern chaos in our interior courts . Action flowing forth from consciousness defines waking up . Traditionalists tend to believe they have avoided the trap of Action without Consciousness — the sleepwalker — while they fall into the trap of consciousness without Action — the dreamer .

  4. This is interesting because I had recently come to the conclusion that the only way to really change one’s way of life is by essentially brainwashing oneself. By doing the same rituals/prayers (like the Rosary or Jesus prayer) everyday over and over, by reading the same devotionals/texts/verses over and over, and recommitting to these kinds of new habits daily you slowly change the neural pathways in your head, embedding the words and actions through repetition deep into your subconscious until it is a part of you. But it seems that you would say that such a method is only trading out being a slave to one “advisor” for another and not truly ruling as King of your self.

    1. Thank you , this is actually a wonderful thing to consider so let’s examine each piece that might require a little thought .

      First , what do we mean by ‘brainwashing’ ? I would go so far as to say that this word is a kind of ‘anachronism’ — that ‘brainwashing’ is only appicable to modern ‘systems’ of ‘taming’ the intellect. Indeed, ‘modern system’ is very indicative here since what ‘brainwashing’ attempts to achieve is a kind of artificial and systemic rather than natural and organic method of controlling one’s thoughts . It is analogous to the folly of liposuction to control one’s weight . Nothing is changed on an interior level , the psyche is merely conditioned while the upper consciousness is put into further regression . Brainwashing is mainly a term used to really designate the imposition of a machine-self .

      However , is what you are suggesting ‘brainwashing’ , then ? I would say ‘no’ .

      If we are interested in the idea of ‘change one’s way of life’ , what we are really interested in is a kind of ‘new birth’ . The ‘death of the old self’ or ‘selves’ or , in the analogy I presented , the retirement of the Steward and the Return of the King . Or , to set it up for my metaphor , the natural development of a boy changing into a man is like the regent retiring as the prince now matures into a King who can bring order to the democratic or oligarchic rabble of the regency . Thus , it requires a ‘new birth’ or ‘new life’ . A new life can be achieved through great ascetic discipline since it is a higher form of the sexual act . Depth and Repetition — something which I had mentioned in a previous article (https://canonized.wordpress.com/2016/08/08/the-lost-rites-of-friendship/) constitute two essential ingredients of biological reproduction so depth and repetition in the higher levels of our being (our emotional , psychic , or spiritual life , for example) can also take on this form of depth and repetition . If you achieve repetition with your prayers , you are beginning to understand the rhythm of begetting a new life (even the contractions and birthing pains are rhythmic) . Combine this with the depth of penetration and we can achieve a new biological organism . Analogously , have depth of spirituality and you can achieve a new spiritual life . After all , what is a universal tenet amongst all people of any spiritual understanding ?: As Above , So Below .

      So do your repetitions have merit ? Yes . What you are missing , therefore , is depth . If you achieve this , you will profit greatly in bringing about the maturity of the little prince into a King .

      Furthermore , these exercises are fundamentally different than the idea of simply changing one form of slavery for another if done with the proper intention . It is true that simple minded and ossified traditionalists can mechanically mouth their prayers , but if done with the intention of calming one’s mind and examining one’s motivations — by achieving introspection and contemplation , these exercises enable a fundamental rather than symptomatic change . That is to say that something like being compelled to engage in sexual acts is exchanged for the rigid and often hateful and automatic puritanism would be considered the violent change of democratic rule to clerical demagoguery (think Iran , for example) — both systems merely exchange one automatism for another . Whereas , through the use of repetition and meditation in order to train the body and mind to stop and assess one’s own thoughts and feelings , one can bring back monarchial rule .

      Again , self-rule RESISTS the idea of ideology because just as no ‘system’ can replace the organic justice of a ‘king’ and just as no Koran could replace the beauty of a Magisterium even if the Koran may seem like a more “conservative” way of thinking , so is the human person IRREDUCIBLE to a ‘method’ or ‘system’ . We do not manufacture man , we beget him . That is why one’s approach to internal change must be organic rather than industrial .

      1. Thanks for responding, you’ve given me a great deal to mull over.

        I guess my line of thinking was that even the “mindless” repetition of something that is pointed in the direction of God such as prayer or holy texts, even if done in the midst of doubts or mental distraction will still inevitably lead someone to a higher level of being, just because of the nature of the activity. Brainwashing has a very negative connotation, and it’s funny that the word taken at face value would seem to be a good thing, to wash away the muck and grime we accumulate throughout our lives and (hopefully) replace them with clean, Godly thoughts.

        One should obviously never pray the Rosary with the intention of zoning out and simply mouthing syllables, but if that happens it’s still better that you are praying (badly) then not seeking God at all. I think this is what Paul is talking about to the Colossians when he says “Don’t be weary in prayer; keep at it; watch for God’s answers, and remember to be thankful when they come.”
        So the repetition of a ritual prayer or spiritual reading everyday even (or especially) if you don’t feel like it and just half ass it has massive spiritual benefit, because that’s when you are really ‘brainwashing’ yourself, that’s when you’re forming a new psyche, and new consciousness and overcoming the old one.

        This is what I meant by brainwashing, that it’s the continued recommitting to a daily ritual or practice that will change one’s way of life, regardless of how well you carry out said ritual at first. I know we’re probably saying the same thing just in a different way.

        1. Yes we are definitely speaking of the same thing . I would only say that the algorithm of translation is a simple translation : I would say that any repetition when it is directed towards God ceases to be mindless . We can obviously fine tune what we mean by “directed towards God” but I think it suffices that we are both thinking in similar dimensions here .

          I would also add this glorious piece of wisdom by one of the great sages of the 20th century:

          ‘Prayer—which asks, thanks, worships and blesses —is the radiation, the breath and the warmth of the awakened heart: expressed in formulae of the articulated word, in the wordless inner sighing of the soul and, lastly, in the silence, both outward and inward, of the breathing of the soul immersed in the element of divine respiration and breathing in unison with it. Prayer has, therefore, different aspects: a “magical” aspect, i.e. prayer in formulae; a “gnostic” aspect, when it becomes inexpressible inner sighing; and, lastly, a “mystical” aspect, when it becomes the silence of union with the Divine. Thus, it is never in vain and without effect. Even a prayer-formula pronounced rapidly in a detached and impersonal manner has a magical effect, because the sum-total of ardour put into this formula in the past —by believers, saints and Angels —is evoked soley through the fact of pronouncing the prayer-formula. Every prayer-formula consecrated by use has a magical virtue, since it is collective. The voices of all those who have ever prayed it are evoked by it and join the voice of he who pronounces it with serious intention. This applies above all to all the formulae of liturgical prayer. Each phrase of the Roman Catholic Mass or Greek Orthodox Liturgy, for example, is a formula of divine sacred magic. There is nothing astonishing about this, since the Mass and the Liturgy consist only of the prayers of prophets, saints and Jesus Christ himself. But what is truly astonishing is that there are —and always have been — esotericists (such as Fabre d’Olivet, for example) who improvise cults, prayerformulae, new “mantrams”, etc., as if something is gained through novelty! Perhaps they believe that the formulae taken from Holy Scripture or given by the saints are used up through usage and have lost their virtue? This would be a radical misunderstanding. Because usage does not at all deplete a prayer-formula, but rather, on the contrary, it adds to its virtue. For this reason it is also deplorable that certain Protestant churches have the custom of the minister or preacher improvising prayers in their divine service —probably believing that it is the personal which is more effective and not the common and collective tradition.

          One should know, dear Unknown Friend, that one never prays alone, i.e. that there are always others —above, or in the past on earth—who pray with you in the same sense, in the same spirit and even in the same words. In praying, you always represent a visible or invisible community together with you. If you pray for healing, you represent all the sick and all healers, and the community of sick people and healers then prays with you. For this reason the Lord’s prayer is not addressed to “my Father in heaven”, but rather to “OUR Father in heaven”, and asks the Father to “give US this day our daily bread”, that he “forgive US our trespasses”, that he “leads US not into temptation” and that he “delivers US from evil”. Thus, whatever the panicular intention of the one who prays the Lord’s prayer may be, it is in the name of the whole of mankind that he prays.’

          In other words , that there is something objectively edifying about the repetition of the communal prayers even if we are hurried or detached . Does this contradict what I mentioned about the abdication of the King in the inner court ? No , just as even in democratic societies , the Catholic Mass and the Divine Liturgy are still practiced and are still effective and yet society does not listen to their content ; similarly , if we pray but do not use that repetition or new habit as a means for self-actualization , then we also miss out on being more of ourselves even if the magical effect of the blessings reaching down to us from these prayers continues — just as the sacraments continue to be effective regardless of how evil the properly ordained priest is .

          Certainly , there is nothing wrong with the kind of repetition that is being proposed and it is encouraged because it is in the very act of the will to BEGIN such a regimen that the formation of the King or the Queen has introduced himself or herself . Just as a King or a Queen may decree the creation of a new castle but does not actively lay brick or mortar , so can we exercise our inner court by contemplating the non-automatic need for repetitious prayer aimed towards self-discipline ahead of time even if it feels like we’ve “checked out” subsequently . Instead , we can be like the King who oversees the diligent work of the temple-builders .

  5. Indeed, you put it very well and that quote is great. Chesterton?

    If you want to see a disturbing example of a secular bastardization of these kinds of ideas/techniques search “wealth manifestor” in youtube, they’re videos that people are recommended to watch 2x a day for 21 days for a guaranteed change in mindset to grow wealthy, and I don’t doubt it would work if you watched it consistently. It also wouldn’t surprise me if their are demonic spirits recorded onto the videos to make them even more effective at corrupting people’s souls.

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