Auribus Teneo Lupum: Alterity and Ethical Diastasis in the Dyssolving of the Wolf

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Avribvs Teneo Lvpvm:

Alterity and Ethical Diastasis in the Dyssolving of the Wolf[1]

by Nameless Therein

Reposted from Lux Lycaonis

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the face

 

Any crewmen who ate the lotus, the honey-sweet fruit,
lost all desire to send a message back, much less return,
their only wish to linger there with the Lotus-eaters,
grazing on lotus, all memory of the journey home
dissolved forever. But I brought them back, back
to the hollow ships, and streaming tears – I forced them,
hauled them under the rowing benches, lashed them fast
and shouted out commands to my other, steady comrades:
‘Quick, no time to lose, embark in the racing ships!’ –
so none could eat the lotus, forget the voyage home.
They swung aboard at once, they sat to the oars in ranks
and in rhythm churned the water white with stroke on stroke.

Homer, The Odyssey 9.106–117[2]

Auribus teneo lupum: I hold a wolf by the ears. The proverbial expression comes from the Carthaginian-born Roman playwright Publius Terentius Afer, better known as Terence. As one of the originators of European comic drama, Terence’s six comedies are based on Greek models known as “fabulae palliatae,” or “plays in a Greek cloak [pallium].”[3] Among these, we find the expression “auribus teneo lupum” in his fourth comedy Phormio, which is based on the lesser-known play The Claimant by Apollodorus of Carystus.[4] At lines 506-507 in Phormio, Antipho, the son of Demipho, says to the slave-trader Dorio: “auribus teneo lupum: nam neque quo pacto a me amittam neque uti retineam scio.”[5] This can be translated as “I’ve got a wolf by the ears, as they say, can’t let go and can’t hold on.”[6] An alternative translation renders this as “I’m holding the proverbial wolf by the ears. I don’t know how to let go or how to hold on to her.”[7][8]

Indeed, much like the title of the Fenrir journal, the “proverbial wolf” points to a duality present at various levels of complexity, one that deepens its meaning as it returns to a dynamic point of self-reference. Commonly understood, the duality of holding a wolf by the ears is illustrated by a twofold risk: in either case, letting the wolf go or continuing to hold it by its ears will prove fatal. One is thus paralyzed by inaction and yet must act, torn between two polarities that will ensure harm regardless of one’s action.

We can trace this cursory understanding of the aforesaid duality of the wolf to deeper levels of complexity. At one level, we find a similar dynamic paralleled in many of Terence’s plays. As John Barsby notes with respect to Phormio, “As with most of Terence’s plays, the plot is double, involving two fathers and two sons; the two halves are united by the close associations of all of the characters.”[9] Beyond the text, we find this theme paralleled in relation to the Fenrir journal through its allusion to the climate of opposition, emergent potential, and creative momentum that prompted the journal’s revival. At another level, we can trace it to the broader historical horizon of Fenrir as a whole, from past to present. In some sense, this duality has functioned as a healthy catalyst for the journal’s survival, directing it into a domain of opposition that has motivated its reception. At another level, it has served that role with respect to the Order of Nine Angles itself, pointing to the latter’s Labyrinthos Mythologicus. This is not, however, a childish sense of the reactionary. Rather, as a twofold risk resting on primal adversity, we find that the wolf is as beholden to us as we are to it.

More than beholden, the possibility of death from holding the ears of the wolf points to a shift from duality to relationality. We find this shift centered in a long-standing dialogue within twentieth-century Continental thought, most notably in the fields of phenomenology, relational ontology, existentialism, deconstruction, and theology. In the phenomenological and ontological vein, we find figures like Alfred Schutz, Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Jean-Luc Nancy; in the existentialist vein, Martin Buber has made notable contributions; in the deconstructionist camp, Jacques Derrida explores this issue in terms of the [O]ther or alterity; and in the theological vein, Jean-Luc Marion draws this out in his own way. In an effort to recontextualize this dialogue within the tradition of the Order of Nine Angles, the purpose of this article will be to examine the shift to relationality in the work of Emmanuel Levinas, specifically with respect to his analysis of our relation to the [O]ther[10] as a response to Heidegger’s ontology. Here, as in the work of Levinas, our relation to the [O]ther concerns what is referred to as alterity, which has to do with otherness and the [O]ther in general as something that is in some sense “more” or “other” than the self. For Levinas and in response to Heidegger, this relation constitutes the most fundamental level of human experience, constitution, and identity, one that precedes ontology.

What follows is an examination of some of the dynamics and tensions Levinas brings to light concerning this relation, especially in works like Totality and Infinity. I attempt to illustrate how these dynamics and tensions are operative at the heart of the Order of Nine Angles in a hidden and more or less unexamined way. In hermeneutic fashion and in a spirit appropriate for Fenrir, I center this under a hermeneutic theme I refer to as the dyssolving of the duality of the wolf. That theme involves an interplay between Terence’s “auribus teneo lupum” and the notion of lupus non mordet lupum – how a wolf does not bite another wolf. I attempt to demonstrate how the two can be paired through Levinas’ analysis of relationality and alterity, thereby dyssolving the duality highlighted by Terence and revealing it to be an artificial construction or illusion to begin with. I then center this within the Order of Nine Angles to make visible certain features of a deeper lens of reality at its core, features which remain invisible, hidden, opaque, and unseen.

In drawing out these dynamics and tensions, I would like to note that my approach – in terms of writing, language, and analysis – is consistent with a style of French Continental and hermeneutic thought that was resistant to what is sometimes referred to as parisianism. Parisianism is related to a style of philosophy that emerged from the Annales school of thought in early twentieth-century France. It is characterized by treating argument as a series of assertions and counter-assertions, paired with hyperbolic, fact-based claims pushed to great extremes. By contrast, my approach resists a structured, fact-based argument in favor of hermeneutic analysis, which is meant to illuminate certain truths that are not directly expressible in propositional terms. This hermeneutic approach operates by forming a healthy rather than vicious circle – much like the primordial ouroboros – through a movement beyond strictly logical or rational thought. By drawing out hidden paradoxes and aporias and then using their tension to reveal a hidden resolution, I attempt to disclose the relation to alterity that Levinas brings to light. In this lighting up of world, this savage visibility, I aim to help others make the invisible visible within themselves, within the world, and within the ONA.

Levinas, Ethics, and the Face of the Other

Whether considered in the phenomenological, ontological, existentialist, deconstructionist, or theological schools of twentieth-century Continental thought, the issue of the [O]ther is perhaps most pronounced in the work of Emmanuel Levinas. Levinas was one of the most important French thinkers of the twentieth century and was deeply indebted to the work of Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, and Martin Heidegger, who worked as Husserl’s assistant for a time. He played a major role in the transition of phenomenology from Germany to France. Having taken courses with Husserl and Heidegger, his first published textbooks were devoted to the work of both these thinkers. With respect to Heidegger, Levinas described Being and Time as “one of the greatest books in the history of philosophy.”[11] With respect to Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, Levinas “[described] himself as a phenomenologist and as being faithful to the spirit of Husserl.”[12][13] Although in early writings like Totality and Infinity Levinas incorporates the ontological language of Heidegger’s Being and Time in order to exceed those ontological categories and overturn ontology,[14] he nevertheless argues in favor of something that is more fundamental than ontology, something which he calls “ethics” – ethics as first philosophy.

Levinas’ use of the term “ethics” differs from its traditional moral sense.[15] Here, ethics “is neither a code of rules nor the study of reasoning about how we ought to act.”[16] Rather, it concerns a fundamental relationship with alterity, a relation to the [O]ther that is more fundamental than ontology, understood as “a relation of infinite responsibility to the other person.”[17] Although ethics for Levinas is not “a theory of justice or an account of general rules, principles and procedures that would allow us to assess the acceptability of specific maxims or judgements relating to social action, civic duty or whatever,” he may have been trying “to give an account of a basic existential demand, a lived fundamental obligation that should be at the basis of all moral theory and moral action.”[18] The point here is that while Levinas’ use of “ethics” does not concern morality or a moral sense, our relation to the [O]ther is so fundamental that it can be thought to serve as a condition for the possibility of all moral theory and moral action. “Ethics” in terms of morality, right and wrong, or normative action – what we should or should not do – is essentially an epistemological domain, which concerns knowledge and the conditions for knowledge. Ontology on Heidegger’s account, which concerns [B]eing, precedes epistemology. It is more fundamental and serves as a condition for the possibility of knowledge.[19] Heidegger’s overturning of the historical priority given to epistemology over ontology is one thing that makes his seminal work Being and Time so important and revolutionary. It is also why Levinas calls it “one of the greatest books in the history of philosophy.”[20] However, Levinas’ thought was just as revolutionary. He demonstrates how “ethics” as a fundamental relation to the [O]ther precedes even ontology. It precedes epistemology and ontology. Thus, if there is any moral sense to Levinas’ use of “ethics,” it is only in terms of our fundamental relation to the [O]ther serving as the potential basis for the formation of any moral theory or moral action as the deepest level of human constitution. My usage of “ethics” regarding the ONA is consistent with this non-moral and constitutive sense. Levinas describes his usage in the following way, which concerns the relation between what he calls the Same[21] or the self and the [O]ther:

A calling into question [mise en question] of the same [or self] – which cannot occur [se faire] within the egoistic spontaneity of the same – is brought about [se fait] by the other [l’Autre]. We name this calling into question of my spontaneity by the presence of the Other [Autrui] ethics. The strangeness of the Other, his irreducibility to the I [Moi], to my thoughts and my possessions, is precisely accomplished [s’accomplit] as a calling into question of my spontaneity, as ethics. Metaphysics, transcendence, the welcoming of the other by the same, of the Other by me, is concretely produced [se produit] as the calling into question of the same by the other, that is, as the ethics that accomplishes [accomplit] the critical essence of knowledge.[22]

Here, ethics as the “calling into question of my spontaneity by the presence of the Other” is tightly linked to what Levinas calls “metaphysics,” which he also uses in an unconventional way. Whereas ethics is the “calling into question,” metaphysics is the “welcoming of the other by the same” or the self. Just as Heidegger overturned a traditional and positivistic model that prioritized epistemology over ontology, so too did Levinas overturn ontology with ethics and metaphysics, defined in relation to the [O]ther so described. Once again, whereas Heidegger shows how ontology precedes epistemology, Levinas shows that ethics and metaphysics precede ontology. As Levinas says, “And as critique precedes dogmatism, metaphysics precedes ontology.”[23] Our relation to the [O]ther, both with respect to the “calling into question of … [our] own spontaneity by the presence of the Other” in the case of ethics and with respect to the “welcoming of the other by the same” in the case of metaphysics, constitutes one of the deepest domains of human identity and reality.

For Levinas, the ethical subject is “an embodied being of flesh and blood.”[24] Ethics as a relation to the [O]ther is thus not an abstraction but “lived in the sensibility of an embodied exposure to the other,” whereby the “deep structure of subjective experience … is structured in a relation of responsibility or … responsivity to the other … [which calls] me to respond.”[25] Levinas’ main idea is that our relation to the [O]ther cannot be reduced to comprehension or understanding. The strangeness of the [O]ther must be preserved in its strangeness without being reduced to the “I” (the self) or what Levinas calls the “Same.” As an ethical relation, it structures the experience of our sense of self or subject.[26] For Levinas, an ethical relation “is one where I face the other person.”[27] In turn, his task to describe a relation to the [O]ther that “cannot be reduced to comprehension” is found in what he calls a “face-to-face” relation. On this point, Levinas says that “[t]he way in which the other presents himself, exceeding the idea of the other in me, we here name face.”[28]

Speaking, Seeing, Silence

For Levinas, this “face-to-face” relation with the [O]ther “is not a relation of perception or vision, but is always linguistic.” That is, “The face is not something I see, but something I speak to.”[29] It is an irreducible relation that “makes possible the pluralism of society.”[30] Levinas thus emphasizes sound over light and sight in this relation. On this point, Derrida notes that “Levinas places sound above light” specifically in the sense in which Levinas views thought as language, one that “is thought in an element analogous to sound and not to light.”[31] Elaborating on the relation between the eye and sight in juxtaposition to Levinas, Derrida quotes an incisive passage from Hegel:

If we ask ourselves now in which particular organ the soul appears as such in its entirety we shall at once point to the eye. For in the eye the soul concentrates itself; it not merely uses the eye as its instrument, but is itself therein manifest. We have, however, already stated, when referring to the external covering of the human body, that in contrast with the bodies of animals, the heart of life pulses through and throughout it. And in much the same sense it can be asserted of art that it has to invent every point of the external appearance into the direct testimony of the human eye, which is the source of soul-life, and reveals spirit.[32]

In contrast to Hegel, Levinas’ emphasis on speaking rather than seeing the [O]ther reveals a potential connection to Martin Buber’s description of “a silence which is communication.”[33] Buber notes that silence can take the form of speaking, where a conversation can be had without a sound or gesture: “[s]peech can renounce all the media of sense, and [yet] it is still speech.”[34] This, he says, is not the “lover’s tender silence” or a mystical silence whereby we “[take our] stand in the reflection of the divine Face”;[35] rather, this silence takes shape as a silence that one “bears … to his neighbour”:[36]

Unreservedly communication streams from him, and the silence bears it to his neighbour. Indeed it was intended for him, and he receives it unreservedly as he receives all genuine destiny that meets him. He will be able to tell no one, not even himself, what he has experienced. What does he now “know” of the other? No more knowing is needed. For where unreserve has ruled, even wordlessly, between men, the word of dialogue has happened sacramentally.[37]

We thus find that the face of the [O]ther is spoken to, not seen; and in speaking, one engages in a relation to the [O]ther that is not a stance “in the reflection of the divine Face”[38] – Levinas is not claiming that the [O]ther is God, but in fact substitutes the [O]ther for God[39] – but a concrete act or practice, where one does not contemplate but converses, focusing on “the particular individual in front of me.”[40] Buber’s account demonstrates how this conversation can occur silently, where silence becomes our way of speaking. In conversing with our neighbor through silence, one comes to “speak” without speaking. Likewise in Levinas, in speaking to the face rather than seeing it, one comes to “see” without seeing. Where no more knowing is needed, as a dialogue happening sacramentally – as “‘expression’, ‘invocation’, and ‘prayer’”[41] – and in the call of the [O]ther to respond, we reach acknowledgement.[42] It is in this seeing without seeing, this speaking without speaking, that we come to speak not just face-to-face but see eye-to-eye. This acknowledgement unfolds primally into empathy, and there the duality of the wolf dyssolves. It dyssolves into a relation. And in the reception of all genuine destiny that meets us, this relation always already was and always already is: Wyrd. No longer do I hold a wolf by the ears. Now lupus non mordet lupum: a wolf does not bite a wolf. We become more than a neighbor to the [O]ther; we become a brother and sister, a father and mother, a son and daughter, extending our dynamic point of self-reference to a relation of infinite responsibility.

Alterity, Diastasis, and Dyssolving in the Order of Nine Angles

In some respects, the Order of Nine Angles has lost touch with this conversation, this sacramental dialogue, impaled on the horns of a dilemma: on the one hand, the irreducible and incomprehensible transformations that Hebdomadry and the Seven-Fold Way are capable of catalyzing connect us through living action to the “speaking or calling or listening to the other” Levinas describes.[43] Even as a solitary path, our “[O]ther” finds its voice in physis, where nature’s solemn triumph becomes the banner upon which that calling occurs – and not as mere reflection or mere abstraction, but as an active and existential engagement in a “non-subsumptive relation.”[44] On the other hand, as a solitary path this engagement resembles the silence Buber describes – a silent communication where the voice of the [O]ther in physis takes on the voice of destiny through Wyrd, and where the silence of our conversation reaches a depth where it cannot help but be spoken and yet cannot be fully heard: Wyrd rather than word describes it, and its utterance is ineffable.[45]

The Wolf, Physis, and Wyrd in the Empire of the Same

The aforesaid dilemma thus rests on a kind of diastasis or separation. Transformation involves a relation between this seeing eye-to-eye without “speaking” (where silence becomes our way of speaking) and speaking face-to-face without seeing (where sound is emphasized over light and sight). However, the two are inadvertently pulled apart with respect to how the ONA engages in conversation. Much like the duality of the wolf described above, where in holding a wolf by the ears we attempt to reduce the wolf to the self (attempting to understand, evaluate, and comprehend what the wolf may or may not do from the vantage point of the self), so too does the ONA create an artificial duality in separating the solitary act of transformation from the ethical act of conversation. In both cases, we attempt to preserve the [O]ther as [O]ther – as an object of knowledge or experience – where that knowledge “is always my knowledge” and where experience is “always my experience.” That object, whether as wolf or physis or Wyrd, “is encountered only in so far as it exists for me,” which immediately diminishes its alterity.[46] In the ONA, there may be conversing but seldom conversation. This is a problem, because conversation as a relationship with alterity, an opening to the enigmatic world, and an acknowledgement of the strangeness of the [O]ther is the condition for all transformation. It is the basis for the self to encounter something other than itself. Along these lines and in contradistinction to the typical usage of terminology within the ONA, we might thus say that the terror of the alienness and strangeness and alterity of the [O]ther – the acknowledgement when face-to-face and eye-to-eye with the wolf that neither she nor the danger she poses can be comprehended or reduced to the self – may be properly called the “sinister” in the ONA; while the sense of “something-outside-everything” as transcendence, exteriority, or what Levinas calls infinity in relation to the [O]ther may be properly called the “numinous.”

Contrary to what is commonly thought in many esoteric traditions, this “pulling apart” or diastasis does not result in dyssolving. It results in an artificial duality. Regardless of whether we attempt to substitute the wolf, physis, or Wyrd for the [O]ther, insofar as they are always an object of my knowledge and my experience, encountered only insofar as they exist for me,[47] we are reducing the [O]ther to the Same (or self). Here, the [O]ther appears as “a temporary interruption to be eliminated as it is incorporated into or reduced to sameness.” [48] The Same essentially attempts to “incorporate … that which lies outside it.”[49] Whereas Husserlian phenomenology “establishes the Ego as the source of all meaning and knowledge,” and whereas in Heidegger the relation of “beings to Being entails the exclusion of anything that might lie outside that relation,” Levinas was working against the idea of philosophy as an “egology,”[50] one that acknowledges the [O]ther only in order to suppress or possess it, “asserting the primacy of the self, the Same, the subject or Being.”[51] Though the ONA also works against this sense of “egology”, so long as the [O]ther is still operating “within the empire of sameness,” there remains a sense in which “the Other is only other in a restricted sense,”[52] as in the case of the wolf, physis, and Wyrd.

Contra Egology: Empathy and Pathei-Mathos as Ethical Relation to the [O]ther

Although the ONA falls victim to the reduction of the [O]ther to the Same in certain respects, at its heart it does attempt to resist this reduction. In its transformative underbelly, its receptivity to nature, its overarching openness, its dynamic malleability, and its emphasis on empathy it attempts to restore that sense of thinking the [O]ther as [O]ther, reaching an acknowledgement and recognizing its strangeness without reducing it to comprehension. Though it does place emphasis on the individual in several respects – individual experience, individual transformation, individual authority, and pathei-mathos as a learning from personal experience – it does so with respect to the cultivation of empathy as a relation to the [O]ther. Empathy is the primary way one relates to the [O]ther in the ONA, and pathei-mathos plays a role in informing how one directs oneself with respect to that relation. This relation is so fundamental that without it there would be no possibility of transformation or even the possibility of a relation to the self.[53] The ONA’s emphasis on empathy aims at “discovering the irreducibility of the alterity of the Other” as the only means through which I can come to understand that “I am neither solipsistically alone in the world nor part of a totality to which all others also belong.” Nothing can precede or take priority over the ethical relation to the [O]ther because it “characterizes human relations at their most basic level.”[54] That the ONA is aware of this, and that empathy steered by pathei-mathos is a crucible upon which so much hangs, points to its underlying core as deeply ethical in nature. It is unfortunate that so many individuals associating with the ONA have misunderstood this point at the most basic level.

Enantiodromia, Dyssolving, Revealing

Here again we find a parallel to the hermeneutic theme of the dyssolving of the duality of the wolf, one that references and deepens itself across a recurrent matrix of meaning. On the one hand, the ONA emphasizes pathei-mathos with respect to the individual and personal experience. But it does so in conjunction with empathy, where pathei-mathos is a form of empathic living.[55] Pathei-mathos thus targets our “separation-of-otherness” or our separation from the [O]ther, and along with empathy attempts to restore our relation to other human beings.[56] David Myatt describes the process of enantiodromia as a revealing of the separation-of-otherness returning to the wholeness or unity it came from.[57] Anton Long describes this as “a type of confrontational context whereby what has been separated becomes bound together again [united] enabling the genesis of a new type of being.”[58] The ONA’s emphasis on the individual and solitary practice thus does not point to a clear division between the self (or Same) and the [O]ther – not a duality – but rather a way of preserving their independence while still maintaining an irreducible and fundamental relation to one another.[59]

Here, we find a deeper esoteric sense of the dyssolving of the duality of the wolf: what “dissolves” is neither the self nor the [O]ther, as the two are not simply annihilated, abolished, or reduced to one another in order to eliminate their duality. Rather, the mystery lies in their coming together as a relation through the dissolution of their exclusive separation. The [O]ther is revealed but not reduced, acknowledged as “the other within the same, in spite of me, calling me to respond.”[60] We find this mystery paralleled in the philosophy of pathei-mathos, where what is revealed by enantiodromia[61] can be connected to the Levinasian acknowledgement of the ethical relation to the [O]ther. The irreducible strangeness of the [O]ther, for example, may be revealed in that acknowledgement rather than comprehended or understood. This connects to Buber’s silent communication, where what is communicated silently may require a revealing rather than understanding or comprehension, involving as it does something that “escapes the cognitive power of the subject.”[62] This connection to Levinasian acknowledgement and Buber’s silent communication points to the depth of the mystery of dyssolving – which, like the dyssolving of the duality of the wolf developed in this article, can neither be understood nor comprehended. It requires a different approach, one which the Order of Nine Angles attempts to explore through a spiritual cartography designed to navigate the unseen, unknown, and unexplored.

Conclusion: The ONA and the Preservation of the Other

Whereas the Western tradition has been characterized by the reduction of the [O]ther to the Same, the ONA is a living example of a tradition that attempts to preserve the enigma of the [O]ther. We can observe many examples of this, both directly and indirectly. One indirect example can be found in the etymological relation between “weird” and “Wyrd,”[63] which hints at a being who is not self-contained but “understood as inseparable from temporality and historicity.”[64] Here, Wyrd marks an encounter with something other than the self (as a “pull” or “push” of fate or destiny “outside” the self), where self-presence is broken out of its imprisonment toward an enigmatic world in all of its strangeness and “weirdness.” In this directedness and “breaking-out-of” toward that which lies outside us, we no longer try to grasp, represent, understand, or comprehend in an effort to return that strangeness to “the hegemony of the Same”; rather, in preserving that sense of “outside ourselves” as “an exit from oneself,” we attempt to acknowledge our relationship with alterity.[65][66]

Much like Levinas’ goal then, the ONA’s rests on the establishment of a relationship between the Same (or self) and [O]ther, one “which does not entail the dissolution of either.”[67] In calling the Same into question and acknowledging the [O]ther in all of its strangeness, we do not simply push for a dislodgment of the primacy of the Same by the [O]ther, where, in Levinasian terms, “infinity abolishes totality.”[68] The difficulty rests on producing a sense in which both self and [O]ther are “preserved as independent and self-sufficient, but in some sense in relation with one another.”[69] Colin Davis notes that “[t]he ontological imperialism of Western thought manifests itself in different forms, but the hidden purpose is always to find a means of offsetting the shock of alterity.”[70] I have attempted to illustrate how the Order of Nine Angles does not want to offset the shock of alterity but acknowledge it. In fact, I claim that it wants to recall it. As Odysseus indicates when he and his men reach the land of the Lotus-eaters described in the opening quote of this article, we must not just speak but shout to the [O]ther – to our other comrades, the rest of the enigmatic world, and our opponents – “so none … [can] eat the lotus, forget the voyage home.”[71] From our forgetting – from a conversation that has by and large been forgotten, reduced to the Same, lost, and distorted – we must recall. That recalling is not the anamnesis of Plato, which “asserts that I already know what I seek to know, all knowledge is already contained within myself.”[72] Our recalling rests on the fundamental relation to the [O]ther, juxtaposed from a self “‘tethered to itself [rive à soimême]’ … trapped and longing for escape.”[73] In conversing and recalling as we make the voyage home, the following questions thus splinter with urgency from their need for resolution: with whom are we conversing? With whom are we having a conversation?

The task now is to break open the ONA’s emphasis on solitary practice and experience toward an openness and relationality that goes deeper than ontology. Although the ONA does reduce the [O]ther to the Same in several respects, these points of tension can reach a productive resolution if re-worked into a relational framework along these lines. I believe Anton Long would be the first to acknowledge some of these limitations, in addition to recognizing the need for ethical conversation so described. What I have written in this article is meant to illuminate some of those tensions with an eye toward their resolution. It is my hope that addressing this in terms of our ethical relation to the [O]ther will offer something of value to the reader in assessing how they approach the ONA, other associates, other people, and the rest of the world.

Levinas endeavored to “protect the Other from the aggressions of the Same, to analyse the possibilities and conditions of its appearance in our lives, and to formulate the ethical significance of the encounter with it.”[74] I believe the Order of Nine Angles and its preservation as a living tradition involves much the same goal, whether we are talking in terms of concrete objects, domains of reality, other life forms, or other people. But preserving this tradition requires more than conversing; it requires conversation. It requires ethical relation. Time will tell whether the ONA’s interior soliloquy has the resolve to evolve into a call – one which, as a living tradition, is “lived in the sensibility of an embodied exposure to the other,” and where the “deep structure of subjective experience … is structured in a relation of responsibility or … responsivity to the other … [which calls] me to respond.”[75] Whether associates will take this to heart or merely keep it in mind remains to be seen. I, however, remain optimistic.

[H]ere we landed, and surely a god steered us in
through the pitch-black night.
Not that he ever showed himself, with thick fog
swirling around the ships, the moon wrapped in clouds
and not a glimmer stealing through that gloom.
Not one of us glimpsed the island – scanning hard –
or the long combers rolling us slowly toward the coast,
not till our ships had run their keels ashore.
Beaching our vessels smoothly, striking sail,
the crews swung out on the low shelving sand
and there we fell asleep, awaiting Dawn’s first light.

Homer, The Odyssey 9.157–167[76]

Nameless Therein
November 23, 2022
2775 ab urbe condita

In loving memory of Allan Holdsworth.

Notes

[1] The term “diastasis” comes from Emmanuel Levinas’ Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence. His use of this word is complex, sometimes used in relation to identity or the “diastasis of the identical,” elsewhere in relation to “temporal diastasis.” The way I use it in this article is meant to suggest a general sense of separation. The title of this article,“Avribvs Teneo Lvpvm: Alterity and Ethical Diastasis in the Dyssolving of the Wolf” refers to diastasis as a separation or breakdown in our relation to the [O]ther. As I note throughout the article, Levinas uses the term “ethical” to describe that relation. His use of the term does not refer to its traditional “moral” or normative sense. That is, it concerns our relation to [O]ther, not what we ought to do or what is considered right or wrong.  For Levinas, ethics refers to a “calling into question of my spontaneity by the presence of the Other [Autrui],” which I describe later in this article. Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, trans. Alphonso Lingis (1969; repr., Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2007), 43. In turn, alterity refers to this sense of otherness and concerns the [O]ther. If you put these together, you get something like: otherness and the separation, breakdown, or “coming apart” of our relation to the [O]ther, which is indicated and reiterated throughout this article in the form of a paradox or aporia I call “the duality of the wolf.” I see that duality as artificial – something that does not exist, something erected and created in an artificial manner. “Dyssolving” is meant to indicate how that aporia is resolved in the context of the Order of Nine Angles. I develop these themes hermeneutically, which concerns a healthy circle of descriptive and recurrent meaning rather than a fact-based argument involving assertion and counter-assertion.

For more on Levinas’ use of “diastasis,” see Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence, trans. Alphonso Lingis (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1974; Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991). The term appears in the Kluwer Academic edition on, e.g., pages 29, 30, 34, 36, 42, and 115. For an overview of hermeneutics and my approach to it, see Nameless Therein, “The Star Game, Chess, and the Nine Angles: An Introduction to Chess Hermeneutics,” Lux Lycaonis, Fenrir: Journal of Satanism and the Sinister, April 13, 2022, https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/04/14/chess-hermeneutics/.

[2] Homer, The Odyssey, trans. Robert Fagles (1996; repr., New York: Penguin Books, 1997).

[3] Terence, Terence: The Comedies, trans. Peter Brown (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), xii.

[4] Terence, xii. See also Terence, Terence in Two Volumes, trans. John Sargeaunt, vol. 2 (1912; repr., London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1959), 2-3.

[5] Terence, Terence in Two Volumes, 58.

[6] Terence, 59.

[7] Terence, Phormio, The Mother-in-Law, The Brothers, trans. and ed. John Barsby, vol. 2, Loeb Classical Library 23 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 69.

[8]Traduire, c’est trahir,” as Levinas was fond of pointing out. To translate is to betray. See Simon Critchley, “Introduction,” chap. 1 in The Cambridge Companion to Levinas, ed. Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 18.

[9] Terence, Phormio, Mother, Brothers, 4.

[10] Regarding my usage of [O]ther throughout this article, Levinas makes a distinction between the personal Other (“autrui”), which is capitalized and which refers to “the you” or another person, and the lowercased other (“autre”), which refers to the other generally and not necessarily to another person. It could, for example, refer to an object such as “the other bookshelf” or “the other glass of water.” The capitalized Other, however, refers to a person. My use of [O]ther throughout this article merges the two; because within the context of the ONA, [O]ther refers to the other person as much as it does to other life forms and objects. I leave it as [O]ther to keep this adaptive and open-ended, taking whichever reference necessary for the context it is found in. See Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 24. The footnote at the bottom of that page explains this distinction.

[11] Emmanuel Levinas, Entre nous: Essais sur le penser-à-l’autre (Paris: Grasset and Fasquelle, 1991), 255, quoted in Colin Davis, Levinas: An Introduction (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1996), 9.

[12] Critchley, “Introduction,” 6.

[13] In contrast to Heidegger and Husserl, Levinas thought the relation to the other person was not phenomenological – “not a phenomenon but an enigma,” and thus “not a matter for [intentional] thought or reflection,” where “intention” in this phenomenological sense refers to an object of consciousness rather than something like a motivation or volitional act. Critchley, “Introduction,” 8. Additionally, though Levinas was familiar with Heidegger’s later work, he was indebted to the early Heidegger – the Heidegger of Being and Time. Critchley, 10.

[14] See Davis, Levinas, 38: “Levinas acknowledges that Totality and Infinity continues to use the language of ontology … even though the arguments advanced in that book aspire to overturn ontology.” Derrida critiqued this in his work, “Violence and Metaphysics.” See “Violence and Metaphysics: An Essay on the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas,” chap. 4 in Writing and Difference, trans. Alan Bass (1978; repr., London: Routledge, 2001). On this point, Critchley notes that “[Derrida] argued that the attempt to leave the climate of Heidegger’s thinking was doomed from the start because Levinas still employs Heideggerian categories in the attempt to exceed those categories. Derrida extended the same argument to Levinas’s critique of Hegel and Husserl.” Critchley, “Introduction,” 17. Critchley additionally points out that Levinas was tormented by the questions Derrida raised in “Violence and Metaphysics.” In response, Levinas acknowledged that he was trying to move away from that ontological terminology in his later work.

[15] I want to emphasize again that the way I am applying “ethics” to the ONA in this article does not involve a traditional moral sense. It has to do with our relation to the [O]ther, with alterity. It is not normative or proscriptive, does not concern questions of right or wrong, and has little to do with the traditional philosophical field of ethics in any straightforward sense.

[16] Davis, Levinas, 35.

[17] Critchley, “Introduction,” 6.

[18] Critchley, “Introduction,” 27-28.

[19] In Heidegger’s language, the mode of being-in-the-world called knowing is anterior to ontological being-in-the-world.

[20] Levinas, Entre nous, 255, quoted in Davis, Levinas, 9.

[21] Though Levinas makes a distinction between the personal Other (“autrui”), which is capitalized in English, and the other generally (“autre”), which is lowercased (see note 10 above), my capitalization of the word “Same” here (used to refer to the self) is a matter of personal taste. Davis, Critchley, and translators of Levinas have their own conventions regarding the capitalization of this term. I have opted for capitalization only as a matter of consistency throughout this article.

[22] Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 43, quoted in Davis, Levinas, 36. Davis’ quote of this passage uses slightly different capitalization for certain words. I have retained the capitalization of the edition of Totality and Infinity listed in the bibliography for this article.

[23] Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 43.

[24] Critchley, 21.

[25] Critchley, 21. Note that Levinas’ departure from Heidegger’s analysis can be illustrated in the following way: “Levinas claims that Dasein’s understanding of Being presupposes an ethical relation with the other human being, that being to whom I speak and to whom I am obliged before being comprehended. Fundamental ontology is fundamentally ethical.” Critchley, 10.

[26] Critchley, 25.

[27] Critchley, 26.

[28] Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 50, quoted in Critchley, “Introduction,” 15.

[29] Critchley, “Introduction,” 12.

[30] Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 291.

[31] Derrida, “Violence and Metaphysics,” 124.

[32] G. W. F. Hegel, The Philosophy of Fine Art, trans. F. P. B. Osmaston (London: C. Bell and Sons, 1920), 1:206-7, quoted in Derrida, “Violence and Metaphysics,” 122-123.

[33] Martin Buber, Between Man and Man, trans. Ronald Gregor-Smith (New York: Routledge, 2002), 3. It should be noted that Levinas had problems with some of the work of Martin Buber and mysticism generally. One must be careful in drawing a connection between their thought, in addition to exploring Levinas’ thought in the context of this article, whose frame of reference he almost certainly would have opposed. His ideas nevertheless cast important implications over a shadow of discourse surrounding the ONA, which could benefit from this line of development.

[34] Buber, Between Man and Man, 3.

[35] Buber, 4.

[36] Buber, 4.

[37] Buber, 4-5.

[38] Levinas is not claiming that the [O]ther is God. Critchley emphasizes this point: “[Nor] is … [Levinas] claiming that the other is God, as some readers mistakenly continue to believe.” Critchley, “Introduction,” 14.

[39] See Davis, Levinas, 40: “So Levinas transforms Descartes’s infinite God into his own Other.” See also Critchley, “Introduction,” 14 and Hilary Putnam, “Levinas and Judaism,” chap. 2 in The Cambridge Companion to Levinas, ed. Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 42. With respect to the relation between Descartes’ res cogitans and God, Putnam says: “It isn’t that Levinas accepts Descartes’s argument, so interpreted. The significance is rather that Levinas transforms the argument by substituting the other for God.”

[40] Critchley, “Introduction,” 12.

[41] Critchley, 12.

[42] Regarding acknowledgement, Critchley says the following: “That is to say, there is something about the other person, a dimension of separateness, interiority, secrecy or what Levinas calls ‘alterity’ that escapes my comprehension. That which exceeds the bounds of my knowledge demands acknowledgement.” Critchley, “Introduction,” 26.

[43] Critchley, 12.

[44] Critchley, 12.

[45] And yet we hear it and are called to respond. However, we may have trouble “listening” to that call, because although we sense it intimately its utterance is so ungraspable and incomprehensible that we only “see” its contours – and blindly, at that. We must make out its shape in an impenetrable darkness, one without light or sight. So there is a kind of “hearing” without hearing to go with our seeing without seeing and speaking without speaking. The point is that this relation cannot be reduced to comprehension. It cannot be reduced to the self, to the “I,” to the Same. This is what Levinas means by “a relation that is not a relation,” from which the phrases I am employing here – “seeing without seeing,” “speaking without speaking,” and “hearing without hearing” – are derived.

[46] Davis, Levinas, 41.

[47] Davis, 41.

[48] Davis, 3. The full quote on the same page elaborates on this point: “In Levinas’s reading of the history of Western thought, the Other has generally been regarded as something provisionally separate from the Same (or the self), but ultimately reconcilable with it; otherness, or alterity, appears as a temporary interruption to be eliminated as it is incorporated into or reduced to sameness. For Levinas, on the contrary, the Other lies absolutely beyond my comprehension and should be preserved in all its irreducible strangeness; it may be revealed by other people in so far as they are not merely mirror images of myself, or … by religious experience or certain privileged texts. Levinas’s endeavour is to protect the Other from the aggressions of the Same, to analyse the possibilities and conditions of its appearance in our lives, and to formulate the ethical significance of the encounter with it.”

[49] Davis, 40. On the same page, Davis notes: “The ontological imperialism of Western thought manifests itself in different forms, but the hidden purpose is always to find a means of offsetting the shock of alterity.” See also Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 43: “Western philosophy has most often been an ontology: a reduction of the other to the same by interposition of a middle and neutral term that ensures the comprehension of being.”

[50] A simple way to think of this: my egology is your ontology.

[51] Davis, Levinas, 40.

[52] Davis, 40.

[53] See, for example, Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 40: “Alterity is possible only starting from me.”

[54] Davis, Levinas, 48.

[55] On this point, Myatt says that “[t]he Way of Pathei-Mathos is an ethical, an interior, a personal, a non-political, a non-interfering, a non-religious but spiritual, way of individual reflexion, individual change, and empathic living, where there is an awareness of the importance of virtues such as compassion, humility, tolerance, gentleness, and love.” David Myatt, “I. Morality, Virtues, and Way of Life,” in The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos, 5th ed. (CreateSpace, 2018), https://www.davidmyatt.info/numinous-way-pathei-mathos.pdf.

[56] David Myatt, “III. Enantiodromia and the Separation-of-Otherness,” in The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos, 5th ed. (CreateSpace, 2018), https://www.davidmyatt.info/numinous-way-pathei-mathos.pdf.

[57] Myatt, “Enantiodromia.”

[58] Anton Long, “Enantiodromia: The Sinister Abyssal Nexion,” Lapis Philosophicus (blog), https://lapisphilosophicus.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/enantiodromia-the-sinister-abyssal-nexion.pdf. In the first endnote of the article entitled “The Abyss” in this collection of articles and notes, Long directs us to David Myatt’s essay, “The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic,” which details the origin of the term “enantiodromia.” See David Myatt, “The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic,” The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos (blog), https://perceiverations.wordpress.com/change-opposites-and-dialectic/. Long notes how, according to Myatt, the word is “a transliteration of the compound Greek word ἐναντιοδρομίας and which word first occurs in Lives of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius.” According to Myatt, Diogenes is thought to have paraphrased Heraclitus in saying: “πάντα δὲ γίνεσθαι καθ᾽ εἱμαρμένην καὶ διὰ τῆς ἐναντιοδρομίας ἡρμόσθαι τὰ ὄντα,” which Myatt translates as: “All by genesis is appropriately apportioned [separated into portions] with beings bound together again by enantiodromia.” This idea of apportioning or separating into portions “with beings bound together again by enantiodromia” bears some resemblance to the idea of ethical diastasis described throughout this article – the idea of a separation or breakdown in our relation to the [O]ther, then dyssloved through the elimination of an artificial duality (here, the duality of the wolf). Though there are differences between this sense of enantiodromia and Levinas’ ethical relation to the [O]ther, this is a line of inquiry worth exploring.

[59] For Levinas, this refers to the sense in which our ethical relation to the [O]ther plays a defining role in the identity and constitution of the human being. In the ONA, this marks the genesis of a new being. Insofar as the ONA and Levinas find a point of overlap here, it may be that this is not the genesis of a new being but an ancient one. Furthermore, this being may be an ethical synonym for the human being (ethical in Levinas’ sense of a relation to the [O]ther). It would appear then that the adept and human being are not so different after all. Here again we find the theme of the dyssolving of the duality of the wolf. Here again we find the need to engage in ethical conversation. Combined, one begins to see the contours of a different sense of “mundane” when considering that the adept and human being are not so distinct. At their heart, both are striving to speak to the [O]ther, to listen, to hear the call. Here they find an important point of commonality, one that constitutes the core of their identity and reality, even if those differ radically.

[60] Critchley, “Introduction,” 21.

[61] Cf. Myatt, “Enantiodromia.”

[62] Critchley, “Introduction,” 15.

[63] For more on the etymological connection between “weird” and Wyrd,” see Nameless Therein, “‘Where’s Your Will to Be Wyrd’: An Examination of Wyrd in the Anglo-Saxon Religious Imagination,” Lux Lycaonis, Fenrir: Journal of Satanism and the Sinister, March 28, 2022, https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/03/29/will-wyrd/. Also see F. Anne Payne, “Three Aspects of Wyrd in Beowulf,” in Old English Studies in Honour of John C. Pope, eds. Robert B. Burlin and Edward B. Irving (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974), 15. There, Payne says the following about this connection: “The adjective ‘weird’ and the noun slang term ‘weirdo’ describe an event or person whose attributes are suddenly discovered to be outside the bounds of normal expectation and arouse an experience that an observer contemplates with uncomprehending but compelling uneasiness. This combination of attraction and awe in the face of an event in a space whose dimensions are undefined and uncontrollable hovers about the meaning of Old English Wyrd.”

[64] Davis, Levinas, 16.

[65] Davis, 21. On this notion of “an exit from oneself” and “the relationship with alterity,” see Emmanuel Levinas, En decouvrant I’ existence avec Husserl et Heidegger (1949; repr., Paris: Vrin, 1974), 139 and 145.

[66] Indeed, this points to the deeper levels of the mystery of dyssolving in the ONA, in addition to the dyssolving of the duality of the wolf described in this article. Both concern a sense in which dyssolving does not involve the abolishment of self or an annihilation of the aforesaid duality. The key and mystery lie in the opening as an exit from oneself through the acknowledgement of our relationship with alterity. The relationship involved in this sense of dyssolving, or at least what it “opens” us to, can be characterized by a relation between the face-to-face (speaking without seeing) and the eye-to-eye (seeing without “speaking”) described above. Both additionally concern what I have described elsewhere as “making the invisible visible.” See Ariadne and Nameless Therein, “Arcadian Truth & the Instar Emergence: The Task of Outer Representative,” Lux Lycaonis, Fenrir: Journal of Satanism and the Sinister, November 5, 2022, https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/11/05/alea-iacta-est/. Nexion of Ur also develops this point in “Burial Night,” Nocturnal Reflexions, November 11, 2022, https://nocturnalreflexions.wordpress.com/2022/11/11/burial-night/.

[67] Davis, Levinas, 20.

[68] Davis, 41.

[69] Davis, 41.

[70] Davis, 40.

[71] Homer, The Odyssey 9.106–117.

[72] Davis, Levinas, 40.

[73] Davis, 18. The phrase “rive à soimême” is from Levinas, De l’évasion (1935; repr., Montpellier: Fata Morgana, 1982), 87.

[74] Davis, 3.

[75] Critchley, “Introduction,” 21.

[76] Homer, The Odyssey 9.157–167.

Bibliography

Buber, Martin. Between Man and Man. Translated by Ronald Gregor-Smith. 1947. Reprint, New York: Routledge, 2002.

Critchley, Simon. “Introduction.” Chap. 1 in The Cambridge Companion to Levinas, edited by Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Davis, Colin. Levinas: An Introduction. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1996. First published 1996 by Polity Press (Cambridge).

Derrida, Jacques. “Violence and Metaphysics: An Essay on the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas.” Chap. 4 in Writing and Difference, translated by Alan Bass. 1978. Reprint, London: Routledge, 2001. First published 1967 by Éditions du Seuil (Paris).

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. The Philosophy of Fine Art. Translated by F. P. B. Osmaston. London: C. Bell and Sons, 1920.

Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fagles. With introduction and notes by Bernard Knox. New York: Penguin Books, 1997. First published 1996 by Viking Penguin.

Levinas, Emmanuel. De l’évasion. Montpellier: Fata Morgana, 1982. First published 1935 as an article.

———. En découvrant I’ existence avec Husserl et Heidegger. Paris: Vrin, 1974. First edition 1949 with additions in 1967.

———. Entre nous: Essais sur le penser-à-l’autre. Paris: Grasset and Fasquelle, 1991.

———. Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence. Translated by Alphonso Lingis. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1974. Reprint, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991.

———. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. Translated by Alphonso Lingis. 1969. Reprint, Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2007. First published in French as Totalité et infini: Essai sur l’extériorité. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1961.

Long, Anton. “Enantiodromia: The Sinister Abyssal Nexion.” Lapis Philosophicus (blog). https://lapisphilosophicus.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/enantiodromia-the-sinister-abyssal-nexion.pdf.

Myatt, David. “The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic.” The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos (blog). https://perceiverations.wordpress.com/change-opposites-and-dialectic/.

———. The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos. 5th ed. CreateSpace, 2018.

Putnam, Hilary. “Levinas and Judaism.” Chap. 2 in The Cambridge Companion to Levinas, edited by Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Terence. Phormio, The Mother-in-Law, The Brothers. Vol. 2, Loeb Classical Library 23, translated and edited by John Barsby. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

———. Terence in Two Volumes. Translated by John Sargeaunt. Vol. 2. 1912. Reprint, London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1959.

———. Terence: The Comedies. Translated by Peter Brown. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.


Modern Man Believes in Nothing: Modernity in Contemporary Satanism and the Order of Nine Angles

Posted: May 4th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Church of Satan, Culture, Fenrir, Inner ONA, Michael Aquino, Nihilism, O9A, Occultism, Order of Nine Angles, Temple of Set, The Sinister Tradition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Modern Man Believes in Nothing: Modernity in Contemporary Satanism and the Order of Nine Angles

Cole_Dream_med

– Thomas Cole, The Architect’s Dream, 1840[1]

Reposted from Lux Lycaonis:

https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/05/04/modern-man-believes-in-nothing/

Modern Man Believes in Nothing:

Modernity in Contemporary Satanism and the Order of Nine Angles[2]

by Nameless Therein

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of studying with a former and well-respected Harvard professor, a man who later became a mentor to me and shaped my spiritual and intellectual worldview. Armed with Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, Richard Tarnas’ The Passion of the Western Mind, and some of the most important texts in the Western tradition, we critically examined the relationship between faith and reason in Western thought over the last two thousand years of intellectual and religious history. In clarifying the context of our modern perspective through the clash between faith and reason, we came to a deeper understanding of how that relationship shaped our entire worldview. Contrary to my own view at the time, I learned that faith was not a belief in something without good reasons, nor was it a euphemism for “religion” or the opposite of reason. Rather, as Wilfred Cantwell Smith notes, faith is not belief but the essential human quality, one “constitutive of man as human,” where “that personality is constituted by our universal ability, or invitation, to live in terms of a transcendent dimension, and in response to it.”[3] Van Austin Harvey elaborates on this distinction as follows:

In the history of Christian thought, two general tendencies concerning the concept of [faith] may be observed: (1) [faith] is regarded more nearly as belief or as mental assent (assensus) to some truth, whether about the nature of God (supernatural truth) or about the past (historical truth). (2) [Faith] is understood to be the basic orientation of the total person that may include belief but is best described as trust (fiducia), confidence, or loyalty.[4]

Faith in this sense is not a fideistic blind belief, but a dynamic mode of knowledge as a descriptive relation of being. It is what bridges the gap between the known and unknown, the rational and the empirical, the idealistic and the materialistic. In one sense, it involves a form of mental assent; but it also involves the total orientation of a person toward the transcendent.

Contrary to the modern tendency to reduce faith to a religious worldview, modernity itself embodies a powerful kind of faith in its belief in nothing. Our post-Enlightenment faith in reason as a talisman for “real” knowledge, in the relativity of meaning, in empirical science as a dogmatic means to objective truth, and in the conviction that religion is an anachronistic and outdated mode of thinking all point to our uncritical confidence in a myth that has now become modern canon. David B. Hart describes this in the following way:

As modern men and women – to the degree that we are modern – we believe in nothing. This is not to say, I hasted to add, that we do not believe in anything; I mean, rather, that we hold an unshakable, if often unconscious, faith in the nothing, or in nothingness as such. It is this in which we place our trust, upon which we venture our souls, and onto which we project the values by which we measure the meaningfulness of our lives. Or, to phrase the matter more simply and starkly, our religion is one of very comfortable nihilism.[5]

As modern individuals, many of us are unaware what this “nihilism” actually entails, given our lack of understanding regarding the historical, cultural, and intellectual roots that comprise our modern perspective. This lack of awareness is reflected in the superficiality of nearly every so-called contemporary “Satanic” or left-hand path tradition, and is additionally operative in the Order of Nine Angles. David Hart elaborates on what this entails in a powerful way:

We live in an age whose chief moral value has been determined, by overwhelming consensus, to be the absolute liberty of personal volition, the power of each of us to choose what he or she believes, wants, needs, or must possess; our culturally most persuasive models of human freedom are unambiguously voluntarist and, in a rather debased and degraded way Promethean; the will, we believe, is sovereign because unpromised, free because spontaneous, and this is the highest good. And a society that believes this must, at least implicitly, embrace and subtly advocate a particular moral metaphysics: the unreality of any ‘value’ higher than choice, or of any transcendent Good ordering desire towards a higher end. Desire is free to propose, seize, accept or reject, want or not want – but not to obey. Society must thus be secured against the intrusions of the Good, or of God, so that its citizens may determine their own lives by the choices they make from a universe of morally indifferent but variably desirable ends, unencumbered by any prior grammar of obligation or value … Hence the liberties that permit one to purchase lavender bed clothes, to gaze fervently at pornography, to become a Unitarian, to market popular celebrations of brutal violence, or to destroy one’s unborn child are all equally intrinsically “good” because all are expressions of an inalienable freedom of choice. But, of course, if the will determines itself only in and through such choices, free from any prevenient natural order, then it too is in itself nothing. And so, at the end of modernity, each of us who is true to the times stands facing not God, or the gods, or the Good beyond beings, but an abyss, over which presides the empty, inviolable authority of the individual will, whose impulses and decisions are their own moral index.[6]

In its emphasis on its own moral index, its advocacy of precisely this kind of “inviolable authority of the individual will,”[7] its emphasis on extremism as a substitution for meaninglessness or “nothingness,” its dogmatic weariness of all things “abstract” at the expense of long-term practical strategy, and in the erroneous substitution of brutal violence for its muliebral virtues of compassion and empathy due to an avalanche of misinterpretation on the part of its associates, the Order of Nine Angles has not just become mundane; it has become distinctively modern.

This is nothing new. In fact, this lack of awareness regarding the roots and pitfalls of our modern perspective is operative in nearly every contemporary “Satanic” and left-hand path tradition, rendering the majority of them inoperative. We saw this years ago in the Church of Satan, as the death throes of LaVey’s naturalistic animism substituted the mystery of Satan for hedonistic atheism in the form of a voluntarist symbol. We saw this again in the Temple of Set, who, in positing Set as an “isolate intelligence,” failed at the outset to understand or account for the significance of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological dissolving of the traditional distinction between subject and object, both as a response to the long-standing problem of the self-contained Cartesian subject and as an important part of his theory of intersubjectivity and temporality.[8] (Far from a trivial theoretical issue, this point calls into question the entire epistemological framework of the Temple of Set.) And we see this currently in contemporary groups like the Dragon Rouge, who, despite their motivations to establish a trail along the narrative of truth, nevertheless fall victim to a hidden reductionism in their attempt to reconcile their magickal system with a modern perspective.

That so many groups, traditions, and initiatory orders get this wrong at even the most basic level points to the urgency with which we need to correct this tendency within the Order of Nine Angles. In the last decade, we have seen a shift from that tendency toward one of misunderstanding, misinterpretation, bigotry, infighting, extremism, racism, prejudice, and violence. Less and less, we see a grappling with the ideas that have shaped the modern world, let alone a critical examination of the ideas that now threaten the extermination of the ONA as a tradition that barely managed to live out the twentieth century. Nothing new or worthwhile can be offered by a tradition that is not aware of its own perspective, nor can it rightly be called a “tradition.” The Order of Nine Angles is sadly no exception.

Despite these bleak prospects, there is hope. But before we can correct the mistakes of the past, it will be necessary to first critically examine the perspective that comprises the modern world. Only then will it be possible to collectively renegotiate the direction and context of the ONA as a tradition located squarely within modernity, despite its ancient influences and claims to the contrary.

With this, I return to my discussion of the aforesaid seminar with my former Harvard professor. The lens of interpretation we used to examine modernity’s place in the context of the Western tradition involved many important texts and thinkers. The one that left the deepest impression on me, however, was Richard Tarnas’ seminal work, The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View. This text eloquently surveys the ideas that shaped the Western tradition, beginning with the ancient Greeks and moving through post-modernity. On the cover of the 1991 Ballantine Books edition, Joseph Campbell describes the text as, “The most lucid and concise presentation I have read, of the grand lines of what every student should know about the history of Western thought. The writing is elegant and carries the reader with the momentum of a novel … It is really a noble performance.”[9]

Whether in The Passion of the Western Mind, his later work Cosmos and Psyche, or in his November 2007 lecture on The Art of Writing at the Pacifica Graduate Institute,[10] Tarnas has had a powerful influence on my own thinking and writing. Like my former professor, Tarnas was a Harvard graduate in addition to being the previous director of programs at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. His understanding of the Western intellectual tradition is comprehensive, deep, and unrivaled in most academic circles.

Though Tarnas has nothing to do with the Order of Nine Angles (and in fact would be appalled at being mentioned in the context of the ONA), his work provides a foundation for coming to terms with modernity as a necessary lens through which to view the ONA. With that in mind, the following lectures provide an introductory overview to some of the ideas covered in his texts.

1. “The Evolution of Consciousness from the Primal to the Postmodern”

This brief lecture provides a concise overview of Tarnas’ distinction between what he terms the primal worldview and the modern worldview in Cosmos and Psyche.[11] An article that I have been recently developing concerns the way the Order of Nine Angles attempts to restore the primal worldview against modernity; though whether it can and will be successful in this largely depends on whether it can come to terms with its place within the modern perspective.

2. “A Brief History of Western Thought, part 4 of 5”

This lecture addresses the post-modern, picking up where the previous lecture leaves off. Both lectures segue into the important post-secular examination of disenchantment, which connects to my above discussion about the role of faith and reason in modernity.

On a personal level, I will say that a post-secular lens of faith illuminated more depth and meaning with respect to what Satanism really is than did my two decades of committed Satanic practice through contemporary left-hand path groups claiming that title. In my experience, the ONA touches on that deeper post-secular sense of the Satanic in its broader and beautiful spectrum of the sinister and sinister-numinous. However, much work needs to be done before the ONA will be equipped to address this. Part of that work will involve an understanding of the post-secular context of disenchantment, which is what the next lecture addresses.

3. “Disenchantment, Misenchantment, and Re-Enchantment”

Tarnas’ overview of the post-secular topic of disenchantment in the introduction of this lecture is an excellent introduction to the topic. This examination helps deepen the context of modernity in terms of the relation between the primal and modern worldviews – a relation that the ONA attempts to address.

4. “The Great Initiation”

This final lecture provides an additional overview of some of the aforesaid modern phenomena within an initiatory context. In addition to other relevant points, Tarnas’ account of the relation between the masculine and the feminine in terms of the astrological context of the sun and moon can deepen the ONA’s explication of the masculous and the muliebral at the core of its philosophy.

In closing, two points are worth emphasizing with respect to the final lecture listed above on “The Great Initiation.” The first concerns the way in which Tarnas’ characterization of modernity equally applies to the current climate of the Order of Nine Angles; and this is no coincidence, given what I have said above. Here, Tarnas quotes Woody Allen, whose comments highlight a tension that the ONA has been facing for over a decade (and now more than ever). Tarnas says the following:

The New York Jewish philosopher Woody Allen put his finger on this with his customary Schopenhauer-like clarity … in a speech he gave to the graduates some time ago: “More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other [path], to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly. I speak, by the way, not with any sense of futility, but with a panicky conviction of the absolute meaninglessness of existence which could easily be misinterpreted as pessimism. It is not. It is merely a healthy concern for the predicament of modern man.”[12]

The second point worth emphasizing is a quote Tarnas cites from Jung’s The Undiscovered Self. In addition to characterizing modernity, the following comments by Jung find a powerful voice in the current struggle of the ONA. As a meditation on what I have written in this article, I will end with this quote:

[A] mood of universal destruction and renewal … has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially, and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the καιρός – the right moment – for a “metamorphosis of the gods,” of the fundamental principles and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious man within us who is changing. Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science.[13]

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
May 4, 2022

NOTES

[1] For more information on the significance of this painting and why Richard Tarnas chose it for the cover of The Passion of the Western Mind, see 4:21 of the following lecture: https://youtu.be/2B3zm8R0dEo?t=261

[2] The phrase “modern man believes in nothing” was inspired by David B. Hart, “On Being Modern,” First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life (October 2003).

[3] Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Faith and Belief: The Difference between Them (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 1998), 129.

[4] Van Austin Harvey, “Faith,” in A Handbook of Theological Terms (New York: Macmillan, 1964).

[5] Hart, “On Being Modern,” 47.

[6] Ibid.

[7] In fact, the over-emphasis on the authority of individual judgment without any critical examination of the historical and intellectual context of modernity has given rise to a democratizing of individual opinion, thereby mistaking it for knowledge. In some respects, the need to critically examine the ideas that have shaped our modern perspective are condemned as an “abstraction” rather than being recognized as an attempt to reconcile our daily mode of operation at the most practical level. This has done great harm in the ONA as the need for this critical examination has shifted to ruthless and vacant extremism in light of the substitution of opinion for knowledge, resting on a gross misunderstanding of what the ONA actually is.

[8] Interestingly, I recall Michael Aquino himself acknowledging his lack of understanding regarding Husserl’s philosophy on a 600 Club forum post many years ago. I have not since been able to locate that post since the site closed down, but it appeared to be authored by him. Nevertheless, I sensed this fatal flaw at a young age, given that much of the Temple of Set’s philosophy rests on a metaphysical distinction between subject and object – a distinction phenomenology largely did away with in the early twentieth century. In some respects, the ONA’s distinction between “acausal” and “causal” risks a similar danger; and though I will not elaborate further here, it is a topic that I may investigate in the future. Regardless, it is something to be aware of, particularly in the dogmatic and often uncritical repetition of such terms on the part of the ONA’s associates.

[9] Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped Our World View (New York: Ballantine Books, 1991).

[10] This all-day workshop was recorded and previously available on DVD by Depth Video. See Richard Tarans, “The Art of Writing: An All-Day Workshop Presented Nov. 17, 2007 at the Pacifica Graduate Institute” (Santa Barbara, CA: Depth Video, 2007). The description on the rear of the DVD summarizes the workshop as follows:

This landmark workshop, the fruit of 30 years of writing and teaching, was given before a sold-out audience at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in November 2007. In these lectures, Richard Tarnas provides an in-depth look at writing not just as an intellectual or artistic discipline, but as a spiritual path. Because we live in a time of extraordinary urgency, when we must contemplate the future of the Earth community, it is essential that those with relevant information speak and be heard, received, and understood. Writing in the service of such a goal involves the development of certain skills, disciplines, and knowledge, as well as other less tangible but perhaps even more important capacities. These lectures illuminate the writer’s path with both practical tips and a larger vision of the writer’s noble calling.

[11] See, for example, Richard Tarnas, “Forging the Self, Disenchanting the World,” in Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View (New York: Viking, 2006).

[12] Tarnas appears to be referencing Woody Allen, “My Speech to the Graduates,” New York Times, August 10, 1979, https://www.nytimes.com/1979/08/10/archives/my-speech-to-the-graduates.html

[13] Carl Jung, The Undiscovered Self, trans. R.F.C. Hull, rev. ed. (1990; repr., Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), 60.