Thinking Chaos and the “Other Beginning” of Philosophy

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Yulian Orlov

From Platonizm.ru 

Chaos was not part of the context of Greek philosophy. Greek philosophy was built exclusively as a philosophy of the Logos, and to us such a state of affairs is so normal, that we (probably correctly from a historical point of view) identify philosophy with the Logos. We do not know any other philosophy, and, in principle, if we are to believe Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger along with contemporary postmodernist philosophy, we will have to acknowledge that the very philosophy which was discovered by the Greeks and built up around the Logos has today fully exhausted its contents. It incarnated itself in techne, in the subject-object topography that turned out to be evidentiary for only two or three centuries until the final, sunset note of West-European philosophy. As a matter of fact, today we are standing on the line or endpoint of this philosophy of the Logos.

Today, we can glimpse the entire process of the evolution of logocentric philosophy that began with Heraclitus and the Pre-Socratics, reached its apogee in Platonism and Socrates, was developed fairly violently in Greco-Latin patristics and later in Scholasticism and the Neoplatonic Renaissance and, in the New Era, turned together with Descartes through the subject-object topography onto its last- self-reflective stage that, in turn, ended with Nietzsche.  According to Heidegger, it was precisely Nietzsche who ended West-European philosophy. Thus, we have before us a finished story with a beginning, climax, and end, all about logocentric culture. The Logos, from cradle to grave. But then we have to ask ourselves: who was Heidegger?

On the one hand, Heidegger definitely ends this process of Western philosophy and puts down the final seal, but on the other hand he (potentially) lays the foundations of something new. The end of philosophy is absolutely clear, but the question about the “other Beginning” (der andere Anfang) remains open.

It is totally clear that West-European philosophy, being logocentric, has exhausted its potential. However, we have to ask ourselves the question: what role did chaos play in this logocentric philosophy? It was rejected from the very beginning, left out of account, crossed out, because the Logos is based on the exclusion of chaos, on the affirmation of there being a hard alternative to it. What is the fundamental difference between logos and chaos? The Logos is exclusivity, the Logos is separation, the Logos is a clear idea about the one and the other; it is not by random chance that the Logos received its formalised form in the logic of Aristotle, in its fundamental laws: the law of identity, the law of negation and the law of the excluded third. It is necessary to emphasise that modern and post-modern studies entirely correctly show, that the logocentric understanding of the world is masculinoid, i.e. exclusively male, exclusivist [1]. It is this way, in an explosive manner, that men think of the world and order. The Logos is a male, hierarchised beginning that was simplified in West-European philosophy, reached its high point, and… collapsed, was cast down, dissipated. Today, the “great man”, the “cosmic man” has been shattered into fragments. He collapsed, and together with him his philosophy crumbled, as the Logos and the male beginning are, as a matter of fact, the very same thing. This is where the rightness of the postmodernist, critical term “phallo-logocentrism” comes from. The entire West-European philosophy was built on the male principle from beginning to end. This end is here. We are living through it. This means that the Logos is exhausted. Therefore, we must either meekly slip into the night, or search for new paths.

If we review this process of the appearance, establishment, and downfall of Western European philosophy and the appearance of the Logos in a pure form, consequently, as demasculinisation continues (according to Plato, only the philosopher is a true man; in other words, a man is he who philosophises; therefore, today we can speak of a sweeping degeneration and spiritual castration of men, as they are no longer capable of engaging in philosophy) and the Logos falls, we see before us an image of mixing: dissipated fragments of male logical thought are turbulently mixing amongst each other, thereby forming a post-masculinist amalgamate. It is precisely to this mixing, this phenomenon of the turbulence of parts that are no longer part of something whole that is indicated by those who use the concept of “chaos” in modern science.

Here, we must immediately say that the chaos with which modern science, modern physics, and chaos theory operate is actually a set of structures of order that is more complex. This is nothing else than complex systems that are not at all alternatives to order as such, but are just an extravagant, baroque (here, too, the ideas of postmodernist G. Deleuze from his essay “The Fold: Leibnitz and the Baroque” are valuable) version of a complexified, twisted and significantly perverted order. That was is today called “chaos” by representatives of the scientific and, in part, the cultural establishment is the condition of the post-logical world, a world that is still located, however, within the Logos, inside its orbit, albeit at the most distant periphery, at its last border. A very precise name for such a state of affairs has been given by René Guénon, who called this situation “la confusion” (Fr. “mixing”, “tangle”, “everything getting caught in everything else”.

The concept of “chaos” that is dominant in modern science does not correspond at all to the Greek chaos as something primordial, organic, and spontaneous, but as the product of the collapse of logocentric philosophy and the logocentric culture that was based on it. The fact that we are today dealing with an alleged “chaos” actually refers to the product of the Logos’s collapse and separation into different fragments. It is precisely for this reason that scholars of “chaos” find within it residual or extravagant, eccentric structures of the Logos. These can be studied and quantified only in more complex procedures and with the help of a special device that has been adapted for the quantifying and description of bifurcational processes, non-integrated equations (I. Prigozhin), and fractals (B. Mandelbrot). The theory of “chaos” studies process that are exceptionally dependent on initial conditions. The definition of “chaos” in modern science is today taken to be the following: a dynamic system with the following traits: sensitivity to initial conditions, topological mixing, and the density of periodical orbits. Mathematicians further specify, that a “chaotic system should have non-linear characteristics and be globally stable, but also have at least one unstable point of equilibrium of oscillating type; in addition, the dimensions of the system should be no less than 1,5 (i.e. the order of a differential equation should be no less than 3)” [3].

Actually, it is not the Greek chaos at all that is hinted at in this concept of “chaos”, but a product of the dispersion and disintegration of the Logos. This is so because we have not yet left the bounds of the Logos: the chaos that modern science deals with is integrated into the Logos, it splashes around within its inner space (albeit at the most extreme orbit), as far away as possible from the logocentric axis, in the furthest borderland of the conceptual Platonic cosmos, in the world of the Titans [4]. Therefore, we must, strictly speaking, call this reality a “very remote copy” that has nearly lost its link to the original; we must not in any case, however, call it “chaos”. Here, either the term “mixing” (Guénon’s “la confusion”) is most appropriate or the postmodern concept of the “simulacrum”, which J. Baudrillard interprets as a “copy without an original”. This is an intralogical zone (albeit at a maximum distance from the centre) that has nothing in common with the initial image of Greek chaos, which, according to myth, precedes the Logos, precedes order, i.e. the cosmos. True chaos is pre-cosmic, pre-ontological. The “mixing” or “chaos” of modern science is post-cosmic, and although almost nothing of being remains within it, it still is, which means that it is in some sense ontological. Here, Zeno’s aporia on the quick Achilles and the turtle is entirely relevant. No matter how much the “mixing” might try to run from ontology, it is analytically incapable of doing so; as René Guénon shows, a line x moving towards 0 will never be equal to 0, but will only continually approach 0 while always remaining at an ever diminishing but still infinitely great (although it is infinitely small) distance from it. 

While researching “chaos” (the philosophical Gilles Deleuze describes this as a way of coexistence for incompatible monads [6]; Deleuze himself calls such “monads” “nomads”), modern science is researching the intra-logos, post-logos, dissipative order, instead of an alternative to order, as the nihilistically minded postmodernists had hoped. 

Here, it is important to pay attention to the concept of “nothing”. The Logos draws everything into itself and accords to everything the quality of self-identification with itself, i.e. with the Logos. The Logos is everything and draws everything into itself, with the exception of that which it is not; but that which it is not is nothing, the Logos excludes everything that it does not include, and, as it includes everything, only nothing remains outside of it. However, it interacts harshly with this nothing: according to Parmenides, there is no non-being. Nothing surrounds order and serves as a boundary. As we are looking at nothing through the eyes of the Logos, however, it becomes clear that we cannot reach that boundary. However hard we might strive to words nothing, whatever nihilism we might cultivate, we keep remaining in the limits of something and not nothing, inside of order, under the hegemony of the Logos. And even though this hegemony weakens at its extreme limit, it never entirely disappears. Therefore, on the road towards liberation from the power and domination, the modernists (and the postmodernists after them) find the figure of the “despot” in God and traditional society, in society as such, later in reason, even later in man himself, structures, language, context (poststructuralism) etc. The condition that there is no non-being makes being unbearable for those who consider its weight to be a hindrance. All evocations of “chaos” or calls to “nomadic”, incompatible monads that are incapable of providing the desired result, i.e. the final and irreversible uprooting of the “will to power”, which is the main aim of the liberating program of the Enlightenment cannot and will not succeed by its very definition.

Those who understand the situation of the deep crisis of Modernity (in particular Martin Heidegger) turn to the roots of the West, to the Greek matrix that birthed philosophy. Heidegger meticulously studies the birth of the Logos and tracks its faith, all the way up to the rule of technics, Machenschaft. In order to describe it, he introduces the concept of “Gestell”, in which the referential theory of truth itself is summed up, from Plato (and even from Heraclitus) up to the mechanical mercantile-materialistic civilisation of modern, utmost planetary (but continuously Western-centric) decadence. Having examined the history of philosophy (which also is history as such) from beginning to end, Heidegger finds that it ended so wrongly precisely because it begun so incorrectly. As an alternative, he proposes the project of the “other Beginning” [7].

Having described the first Beginning of philosophy, which led to the logos and, finally, to that dissipative postlogos (and post-masculine) ontological regime that we find ourselves in, Heidegger identifies it as the consequence of a fundamental error that was made in the first, even preparatory stages of the development of West-European philosophy. According to his views, the history of Western European philosophy, culture, and religion is the result of a small, primordial fault in our metaphysical contemplation. According to Heidegger, two-and-a-half thousand years of human history were in vain, seeing as at the very beginning, somewhere in the area of the first formulations of the Logos’ status, a certain error was accidentally allowed to sneak in, an error that, as Heidegger puts it, must first be acknowledged and then be overcome. Thus develops his idea of the two Beginnings of philosophy: the first Beginning, which began, formed, developed, flourished, and eventually degraded and has now become nothing (let us at least remember the modern nihilism that was discovered by F. Nietzsche and magnificently examined by Heidegger), and the other Beginning, which could be found as far back as the roots of philosophy (but this did not happen, and we can see the result: the Logos and its defeat), but, in any case, it should be delineated and initiated now, while everything is clear. But this beginning will begin only when everything truly becomes clear. Everything became clear to Heidegger. The rest is experiencing a “delay”, everything is “still not clear”, noch nicht[8], the eternal “still not”. The other Beginning — der andere Anfang.

If we examine in detail what Heidegger means by the “other Beginning” (the alternative, potential Beginning that has not yet formed or come to pass), and if we trace the line of the grandiose deconstruction of the Logos that he has undertaken, we will be able to view the entirety of West-European philosophy, culture, and history, including religious history; after all, religion is nothing other than the development of constructions of the Logos (which is why Heidegger speaks of “theologica”: the Christian faith, as well as the Muslim kalam and theological Judaism are founded upon the Logos, and, in principle, we know of no other monotheistic religions but for those religions of the Logos). The logocentrism of religions is a very important thing to understand: it shows, that it is futile to turn to religion when searching for an alternative or protection from the downfall of the Logos. The crisis of modern religions is the crisis of the Logos; when the Logos collapses, its entire vertical structure and all its variations (including theological ones) fall with it. This is interrelated: monotheism loses its fascinativeness as the attraction of the Logos weakens, and vice versa. Religions without the Logos cease to be themselves. But even in the case where the Logos is present within them, it will be as a phantom pain, a “confusion”, as the vanity of desemantisised structures (which is what we are seeing today in the form of the dubious phenomenon of a “religious renaissance”, which unambiguously smacks of a simulacrum and a parody).

For this reason, Heidegger proposed to look for an exit in a completely different way: in the sources of Greek philosophy, in the very Beginning (even in the vestibule of this Beginning) on the one hand, and beyond the boundaries of our world on the other, thereby uniting the problem of the moment of philosophy’s birth, its existence in an embryonic, intrauterine state with the problem of the moment of final agony and death. Before Heraclitus, philosophy was located in the uterus, the Logos “swam” in amniotic fluid, in a matrix: today, the Logos is buried in its grave. The grave and the womb have, on the one hand, the meaning of an antithesis: the first signifies death, the second birth; however, at the same time we know, that in the collective unconscious they are synonyms, mutual systems. One can figuratively say, that in both cases it is a night, darkness, existence without distinction, erasure of borders, nocturne [9], all the more so because many intiatic rituals are linked to a descent into the grave as well as the beginning of resurrection, i.e. another, second birth. This is also the rite of Orthodox baptism: water symbolises the earth, the grave, death. The total, three-time immersion of the baptised into the baptistery is a symbol of the three days Christ spent in the grave. It is a descent into the earth, into the grave: the “burial of Christ” is a prerequisite for a new birth.

Thus, if the Logos was born in the first Beginning of Greek philosophy through the rejection of Chaos as an exclusive, central principle of division, hierarchy, exception, and order; that is to say, the male beginning was essentially raised to the level of the absolute; and if all of this began the way it did, and if everything ended with what we have in the modern world, then, accordingly, we must follow Heidegger in finding what was lost, what the mistake of that first impetus, which started the development of a logocentric civilisation, was. Heidegger develops his vision in recapitulative and exceptionally complex book “Beitrage zur Philosophie” [10], which I recommend all readers to familiarise themselves with (the work has not been translated, and I would say that this is excellent; it cannot be translated, and there are things that are not just difficult to translate, but which are criminal to translate, things that require the original language to be learned to be understood). The book directly deals with the “other Beginning”; contrariwise, we find a short and relatively “light” treatment of these ideas in the “Geschichte des Seyns” [11].

Heidegger proposes us to think in a radically different way from the one that is usual in philosophical or philosophical-religious thought. But how is it possible to philosophise differently, how can there be a “different Beginning” of philosophy? If we take a close, detailed look at the moment of the birth of Greek philosophy, we will find a single, essential element: philosophy is born alongside exclusion; what is more, it is Chaos that is the first victim of exclusion. Chaos is not a philosophical concept and never was one, but it enters philosophy exclusively through its intermediary, through its substitute in the person of the choir (cora), Platonic “space” in the “Timaeus”, or later in the person of Aristotle’s “matter” (ulh). However, the view of the choir in the “Timaeus” and the view of Aristotle’s matter is the view of the Logos [12], and all the Logos says it that it has already excluded Chaos during the process of its ascension in a similar fashion to “political propaganda” or a “press release”. What the Logos tells us about matter is an exclusively constructivist Wille zur Macht, the “will to power”, a development of an impassioned and aggressive strategy of male domination, the establishment of hierarchic hegemony, the projection of wishful thinking and self-fulfilling prophecy. From the very beginning of philosophy, the “dog was wagged”. Philosophy tries to force unto us that, which is favourable to itself. This is the hiding place of male cunning, the male drive to the absolutisation of the self, and, accordingly, the exclusion of the female beginning, the “other” beginning. And, if we examine this, we can recognise the total incomprehension of the woman. This is the source of woman being accorded qualities that, in reality, she does not have at all. Thus, the male forms between itself that which is excluded by the male from the intellective process. The Logos rejects the choir because of its (un)intelligibility. However, it does not understand it purely because it does not want to understand and prefers to deal with a representation instead of the female itself. The man thinks, that the only way of knowing the woman is to hide her in inner rooms, separate her from the public, social dimension. Later, he thinks a suitable solution is to chase the female away entirely, etching way her traces through the suffering of lonely male asceticism. Therefore, the opinion of the Logos about chaos is a notorious lie, violence, hegemony, the exclusion of chaos as the other. As the Logos is everything, chaos becomes nothing [13].

If we want to comprehend the very possibility of an “other Beginning” of philosophy, on the one hand, we must come to the moment of the birth of the Logos and fix this transition of the boundary, discern the details and semantics of this rite du passage. How could it have come to pass that the Logos managed to break loose, unbind itself, and who allowed it to issue its own, exclusive decrees concerning chaos? Now we come to the most interesting: if we feel discontent with the dissipative logical and postlogical structures, we must acknowledge, that we must turn to the Logos again, seeing as it was the Logos that created all the prerequisites of its dissipation through its exclusivity. We cannot simply up and return to Platonism: there is no way back. The Logos moves only in one direction: it divides and divides (and divides and divides… and so on into the distance [14]). Gilbert Durand [15] call this logic the regime of the “diurn”: until everything is reduced to a chit and stops. This schizomorphosis [16] directly leads to G. Deleuze and F. Guattari’s concept of “schizomass” [17]. This has been beautifully illustrated in the films of Takeshi Miike, for example, in “Killer Ichi” or “Izo”. In the latter film, an insane samurai, having begun his battle with the world, does not stop until he has cut everyone he encounters into pieces. Izo is the Logos.

The Logos will not help us. If we do not like how the modern, postlogical world is organised, we are forced (if we like it or not) to turn to chaos. We have no other alternative: we must fundamentally step backward towards the first Beginning of Greek culture, in order to make even the smallest step forward, truly forward, and not following the endless arc of the eternally ending world, that is still not capable of finally ending (“still not”). If we do not do this, we will reach the eternal deadlock of the infinite return of dissipative structures and confusions. This is the choice we must make: either we choose the modern, postlogical chaos of confusions, or we break through its boundaries; but the way to break through its boundaries can be found only in chaos, which itself precedes the Logos and is located radically beyond its borders, behind the line of its peripheral agony. 

Chaos can and should be seen as an inclusive order, as an order founded upon a principle that is opposite to the Logos; that is to say, the principle of inclusivity, inclusiveness. Therefore, it is very important to understand what inclusiveness means. Once we have comprehended this term, we will know if it is at all possible to build a philosophy of chaos, that is, a philosophy of the “other Beginning”.

If we see chaos the way it is seen by logocentric models, we will get nowhere. There is nothing logical (exclusive, masculine, no Wille zur Macht) in chaos, and this means, that it becomes ouk on (Greek: “pure non-being”), French “rien”, Spanish “nada” to the Logos and Onto-Logos. – ouk on and not mhon, as the Greeks called the non-being that is capable of producing something from itself, “pregnant non-being”). As the Logos will not see anything except itself, according to the principle of Aristotelian logic, we cannot juxtapose anything to it: either A is equal to A (and, in this case, we find ourselves within logical boundaries) or A is not equal to A; now we are outside of those borders, in nothing. According to Aristotle, the latter situation means that A simply does not exist; the A that was not equal to A does not exist. This is in contrast to, for example, the view of the Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida, who has, in contrast to Aristotle, developed a separate logic of spaces, “basho”, founded upon Zen Buddhist models of thought.

However, outside of the Logos and its hypnotic suggestion, it is entirely possible to conceptualise chaos as a principle of absolute inclusion or an inclusive philosophy. Why is this possible? Because, if we extract ourselves from the political propaganda of the Logos (under the conditions of which we have been living for two and a half thousand years), we will be able to see chaos as it presents itself, and not the way the Logos presents it. Chaos reveals itself as the inclusive, it carries within itself all possibilities, including the possibility of exclusion, right up to the exclusion of the self. Naturally, chaos contains the Logos as it thinks itself, like a seed in a woman’s uterus: it is and it is being born, it will most definitely be born, tear away, mature, and leave: however, something more important is left out of the picture: that which allows it to live, that which produces, nurtures, and feeds it.

The Logos can be seen as a fish swimming in the waters of chaos. Without this water, thrown onto the surface, the fish chokes, and this is, actually, how the structures of the Logos “croaked”. We are dealing with nothing but its dissipative remains. These are the bones of the fish that has hurled itself onto the shore. It is not by chance, that many speak of the symbolism of Aquarius as the new water, without which the old fish could not live.

The philosophy of chaos is possible because chaos, being all-inclusive, all-encompassing, and the antecedent of any exclusion, contains this very exclusion within itself, but carries a different relation to it and itself, as well as differing from the way exclusion itself (i.e. the Logos) relates to chaos and itself. We know only one view of chaos: the philosophical view from the position of the Logos, and if we want to look at the Logos from the point of view of chaos, we are told that this is impossible, seeing as we are used to examining chaos only from the point of view of the Logos. It is thought, that only the Logos is capable of seeing, and that chaos is blind. No, this is not true, chaos has a thousand eyes, it is “panoptic”. Chaos sees itself as that which contains the Logos, which means that the Logos is located within chaos and can always be within it. However, while containing the Logos within itself, chaos contains it in a totally different way the Logos contains itself, which it does by rejecting the fact that it is contained by anything (whatever that container may be) except itself, and, accordingly, placing chaos out of its view, equating it to nothing, rejecting it. Thus, the fish, recognising itself as something different from the water surrounding it, can come to the conclusion that it no longer needs the water and jumps onto the shore. However one might try to throw the stupid fish back, it will try to jump time and time again. They called this insane fish “Aristotle”.

But water is the beginning of everything. It contains the root of other elements and other creatures. It contains that which it is and that which it is not. It includes that which acknowledges the abovementioned fact, but also that which does not.

We can draw the following conclusion: first, a philosophy of Chaos is possible, and second, salvation through the Logos is impossible: the salvation of the Logos is only possible through a correct turn towards chaos.

Chaos is not just “old”, it is always “new”, because eternity is always new: the eternity (l’éternité) that Rimbaud found again (a retrouvé) – c’est la mer allée avec le soleil. Pay attention: la mer. Chaos is the newest, the freshest, the most fashionable, the latest from the current season’s collection (Il faut être absolument moderne. Point de cantiques : tenir le pas gagné) (1). Precisely for the reason that it is absolutely eternal: time ages extremely quickly, yesterday appears archaic (there is nothing more ancient than the “news” of a month old newspaper), only eternity is always absolutely new. Therefore, the discovery of chaos does not equate to an excavation of history or of the structures that are presented to us as conquered by historical time; no, it is an encounter with the eternally young. Chaos was not sometime earlier or before. Chaos is here and now. Chaos is not that what was, as the Logos propagandises. Chaos is that what is, and that what will be.

In conclusion, we return once more to Heidegger. To reach the truth of being (Wahrheit des Seyns) is possible only in two moments of history: in the Beginning, when philosophy is about to be born, and in the End, when the disappearance, the liquidation of philosophy takes place. Of course, individual personalities could reach the truth in different stages as well; however, they could do this, but they could also be satisfied with something else: they lived in the magic of the Logos, warming themselves in the rays of the solar seed.

Today, this is the only thing we have left, all the rest has been bled dry, and to satisfy ourselves with dissolution in an endlessly ending but incapable of truly ending world, in the “not yet” is the fate of nonentities. Apart from this, doing this in our time is easier than it ever was before. You and I, dear reader, are living in extraordinary times, in which we are presented with an entirely unexpected opportunity to directly encounter chaos. This is not an experience for the weak minded. After all, our task is the construction of a philosophy of chaos.

Footnotes: 

[1] See the problem of the “diurn” in the topography of G. Durand’s imaginative structures. Dugin A. G. Sociology of the Imagination. Moscow:Akademichesky Proekt, 2010.

[2] Deleuze, G. The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque. Moscow: Izdatelstvo Logos, 1997.

[3] Gutzwiller Martin. Chaos in Classical and Quantum Mechanics. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1990.

[4] See Proclus. Commentaire sur le Timee. Par A.J.Festugiere. t. I. P.:Vrin, 1966.

[5] Guenon René. Les principes du calcul infinitésimal. Paris, Gallimard, 1946.

[6] Deleuze, G. The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque.

[7] Dugin A. Martin Heidegger. The Philosophy of Another Beginning. Moscow: Akademichesky Proekt, 2010.

[8] Heidegger M. Sein und Zeit. Erstes Kapitel §§ 46–53. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1952.

[9] Dugin A. G. Sociology of the Imagination.

[10] Heidegger M. Beiträge zur Philosophie. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2003.

[11] Heidegger M. Geschichte des Seyns. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1998

[12] Dugin A. Martin Heidegger. The Possibility of Russian Philosophy. Moscow: Akademichesky Proekt, 2011.

[13] Ibidem.

[14] On “diarhysis” and the structure of the “diurn”, which are distinct features of the Logos’ work, see Dugin A. Sociology of the Imagination..

[15] Durand G. Les Structures anthropologiques de l’imaginaire, Paris: P.U.F., 1960.

[16]  Ibidem.

[17] Deleuze, G., Guattari F. Anti-Oedipus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Yekaterinburg: U-Faktoriya, 2007.

Translator’s note:

(1): One must be absolutely modern. Never mind hymns of thanksgiving: hold on to a step once taken.

Introduction: The Aims and Tasks of Noomakhia

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

Introduction to Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – Wars of the Mind – The Three Logoi: Apollo, Dionysus, and Cybele (Moscow: Academic Project, 2014). 

***

The Open Triadic Method

The Noomakhia series consists of five books written methodically and following an initial plan. This first book, The Three Logoi: Apollo, Dionysus, and Cybele, represents the philosophical part which establishes and describes the methodology that lies at the heart of all of Noomakhia. A number of preliminary remarks should be expressed regarding this first book.

First of all, we consider Noomakhia, especially this first book, The Three Logoi: Apollo, Dionysus, and Cybele, to be the continuation of another book: In Search of the Dark Logos [1]. We believe that this search was initiated, but has been left unfinished, and, who knows, perhaps it can never be finished. But it is important that we recognize the persistent need to continue it. As follows, the topics, plots, and trajectories designated in In Search of the Dark Logos will be further developed here in different directions, and perhaps with unexpected consequences. We propose to let the fundamental intuition which lies at the heart of this book unfold of its own will and freely, and we take upon ourselves the conscious risk of such leading to horizons and topoi which justifiably evoke fear and even horror. In this sense is this exposition conceived as open, as reflecting the landscapes grasped by the intellect over the course of active and free contemplation. We are moving forward in the “search for the dark logos.” And this is the goal. 

Secondly, we are presented with the vitally important question of retrieving Plato, Platonism, and Neoplatonism. We see in Plato not only a philosopher or founder of an individual school, i.e., a phenomenon to be considered alongside other philosophers and other schools, but rather we are convinced that Plato represents the focus of philosophy as such. He yields the very paradigm of philosophy which all other philosophers are left with comprehending or interpreting. But in order to fully recognize this approach, it is necessary to consciously embrace the standpoint of Platonism or some other philosophico-religious doctrine based on the ontology of eternity. The philosophy of New Time (Modernity) dismantled eternity as a “dubious hypothesis”, as a “myth”, as a remnant of the “not-yet-scientific”, as an “archaic” style of thinking. It was replaced with the ontology of time – history, process, development, evolution, etc. In this case, Plato and Platonism came to be associated with a temporal point or moment, and all of Platonism’s theses were interpreted on the basis of the knowledge attained later over the course of the further shaping of philosophy. Therein, with the onset of New Time, Plato came to be treated like the discourse of children or teenagers – albeit genius, limited. But everything is completely different if we treat Plato like his contemporaries or he himself did. If he spoke of eternity, god, and ideas, then we should live through and experience these ourselves – as eternity, gods, and ideas – without the smallest tint of conditionality or comedy. Is this possible? We will learn if this is possible only once we try to perceive Plato and Platonism directly, and if we become Platonists in the fullest sense of the word. Whether we will succeed in importing the dimension of eternity into the epochs of Modernity and Post-Modernity, which are explicitly and implicitly founded on the rejection of such, is an open question. In order to undertake such an attempt, it is necessary to accomplish a fundamental revolution in consciousness – a Platonist revolution. We can only approach Platonism, even purely theoretically, if we perceive such as absolute truth demanding our adaptation to it, and not its adaptation to our understanding. This is what we began in In Search of the Dark Logos, in the section “Open Platonism”, and we will continue this in the present work.

Thirdly, studying Platonism (by means of deep philosophical empathy, immersion into Platonism itself, and the assimilation of its elements) implores us to describe the structures of the light logos, the intellectual worlds of Apollo. This is necessary in order to more clearly understand the structures of the “dark logos” and their differences with those of the light logos. Along with this, as shown in our book In Search of the Dark Logos, we will encounter a number of philosophical plots, topics, and methods which allow us to advance the hypothesis that there exists an even more hidden “black logos”, the Logos of the Great Mother (Cybele), or “black philosophy.” The dark logos of Dionysus thus contrasts not only with the light logos of Apollo, but also with the black logos of Cybele. Thus, our goal is to further study this black logos, this “third logos” which least of all resembles the Logos itself, but rather “matter”, “space”, “autonomous corporeality”, the “insurgent void”, or even “madness.” Here we arrive at a very disturbing zone of ontology and gnosiology which, nonetheless, is up for decisive mastery and conceptualization within the framework of our overall philosophical program. This is the question of Dionysus and Cybele, their correspondences, differences, contrasts, and relations.

In the following four books of Noomakhia (The Logos of Europe: Mediterranean Civilization in Time and SpaceBorder CivilizationsBeyond the West: Part I – The Indo-European Civilizations of Iran and India, and Beyond the West: Part II – China, Japan, Africa, and Oceania) we will shift the focus of our study to transition to the subject of the horizontal multiplicity of Logoi (whereas in this first part we focus on studying their vertical multiplicity). Over the course of our study, the following tasks will be accomplished. We must decipher the correlation between the existential category of Dasein (a la Heidegger) and the multiplicity of cultures and their Logoi. This requires constructing an existential structure for each concrete Dasein, clarifying the identity of each society we examine and the correspondences between this deep identity and the layers presented by each civilization’s Logos – their ontological, or even better (if there is such), “fundamental-ontological” levels [2].

We will illustrate several examples of how existential structures are shaped into the cultural complexes of philosophy, myths, metaphysics, rites, etc., whether in the context of large spaces with developed or, conversely, implicit self-reflection (on the basis of the large-scale reconstructions of ancient cultures accomplished in the works of Leo Frobenius, Oswald Spengler, George Dumézil, Mircea Eliade, Károly Kerényi, René Guénon, Julius Evola, and other theoreticians of the civilizational approach who offer broad, generalizing models), or in the context of more narrow (spatial and historical) borders [3]. The aim is to demonstrate how the concrete historical Logoi of this or that culture are built on the foundations of different existential structures and reflect distinct, original combinations of the elements of the three vertical Logoi. At the same time, we will not restrict our aims to necessarily reducing the Logoi of different civilizations to our hitherto proposed triadic system of Apollo, Dionysus, and Cybele. We are ready to, upon meeting different cultures, religions, and peoples, encounter the most unexpected combinations and variations which might confirm or deny our initial model of three Logoi, correct it, or even, perhaps, refute it. We least of all wish to project a dry, deductive model onto the living and dynamic wealth of diverse cultures. We are ready to reconsider our method if it turns out inapplicable in one or another situation. And in such a case, we shall agree to restricting our reconstruction of this or that society, ethnos, or community’s civilizational (horizontal) Logos, and present it such as is (tel quel) without distorting our starting points. In this consists the openness of Noomakhia as a project. Setting off with our triadic approach, based in Platonism (albeit freely interpreted and substantially re-conceptualized, especially with regards the problem of χώρα, “matter” and the feminine element in metaphysics, ontology and cosmology), we will attempt to construct a noological model for all the civilizations we examine. If this is successful, we will consolidate our original position; if this method requires revision and refinement, then we are ready to carry out such; if it turns out to be altogether inapplicable, then we are even ready to desist and proceed to search for a new one on the basis of contemplating the nature and structure of the difficulties and obstacles which we might encounter.

On the “Father of All”

The title of Noomakhia, which literally means “War of the Mind” or “War of the Intellect” (“Noomachy”, “War of the Nous) [4] – and which can also be conceived as “war within the mind”, “war of the minds”, or even “war against the mind” – is intended to emphasize the conflictual nature of Logological structures as well as the multiplicity of noetic fields, in each of which surprises, conflicts, aporias, struggles, contradictions, and oppositions lie in wait for us. The field of thinking is a field of warfare [5]: thoughts wage ceaseless wars not only against phenomenality, matter, and their own reorganization into elements (whether existing or not is an open question), natural law, dispersion, non-structurality escaping the “control” of multiplicity, etc., but also against other types of thoughts, other thoughts, and the complex diversity of vertical and horizontal, noetic and noeric chains which permeate the reality of the world on different planes and along different geometries. Wars between people, including even the most cruel and bloody, are but pale comparisons to the wars of the gods, the titans, giants, elements, demons, and angels. And these, in turn, are but figures illustrating even more formidable and profound wars unfolding in the Mind, in the sphere of the Nous and its limits in which the Mind itself borders the zone of Madness. Thus, everything is Noomakhia, even that which is greater and came first of all – ϋπερπαντα. War, according to Heraclitus, is the father of all (πολεμος πατηρ παντων). Indeed, it is about this, the “father of all”, that Noomakhia is written.

***

Footnotes:

[1] A.G. Dugin, In Search of the Dark Logos: Philosophico-Theological Outlines (Academic Project/Department of the Sociology of International Relations, Faculty of Sociology, Moscow State University: 2013).

[2] The meaning of the Heideggerian term “fundamental-ontology” and its differences with the classical ontologies of Western European philosophy are described in our first book on Heidegger. See Dugin, Martin Heidegger: Filosofia Drugovo Nachala (Moscow: Akademicheskii Proekt, 2010), translated into English as Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning (Arlington: Radix/Washington Summit, 2014).

[3] Particularly applied to Russian culture, we already began such work in our second book on Heidegger, Martin Heidegger: Vozmozhnost’ russkoi filosofii (Moscow: Akademicheskii Proekt, 2011). This will be continued here in the third book, Border Civilizations, which is partly devoted to the Russian logos and particularly the sophiology and culture of the Silver Age.

[4] From the Greek words νοῦς (mind, spirit, intellect, cognition, thinking) and μαχία (war, battle, fight, struggle).

[5] The French poet Arthur Rimbaud justifiably wrote about this in his work Une Saison en Enfer  (“A Season in Hell”): Le combat spirituel est aussi brutal que la bataille d’hommes [“Spiritual combat is just as brutal as the battle of men”].

 

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NOOMAKHIA: Wars of the Mind

The Logos of Europe: Catastrophe and the Horizons of Another Beginning

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

From the journal Katehon, no. 2 (2016), pp. 13-27. 

 

Europe à la Dumézil

Modern European civilization is the historical continuation of Mediterranean civilization. The Indo-European element is predominant in this continuity, as the Indo-European tradition makes up Europe’s main linguistic and cultural matrix. If we recall Dumézil’s reconstruction of the trifunctional system here, then we immediately obtain a sociological map of Europe, the social structure of which is dominated by a constantly reproduced principle of three prevailing castes: priests, warriors, and producers. Indeed, we encounter none other than this stratification of European societies at the most different historical stages and under different names and titles.

The classic expression of this order was the ancient epoch of Mediterranean societies beginning with the Achaean conquests and Homeric Greece. Such a system was characteristic of Ancient Greece and Rome with the exception of periods of decline distinguished by a strengthening of the political positions of “urban dwellers”, who represented a mixture of higher castes with uprooted peasants that gave birth to a new type of merchant hitherto alien to classical Indo-European societies. This type of merchant could have taken shape through the degradation and materialization of the warrior caste (which Plato describes in his Republic as the phenomenon of timocracy), or from below through a specific deviation from social type on the part of former peasants or urban artisans. It cannot be ruled out that this was the result of influences that were altogether foreign to the Indo-European cultural circle, such as Phoenician or, more broadly, Semitic cultures, for whom trade was a widespread social occupation. In the city-states of Greece, “urban dwellers” and “citizens”, i.e., “townspeople”, formed a specific social milieu in which the three classical functions of Indo-European society found parodical manifestation. In the very least, this is what Aristotle presented in his Politics. The authority of king-priests (the sacred monarchy) transformed into tyranny. The domination of the warrior aristocracy gave way to domination by a financial oligarchy. The organic self-government of ethnically homogeneous and solidary communities (polity) became “democracy”, or the power of the sporadic and disparate crowd unified only by territory of urban residence.

Over the course of its rise, Rome restored the proportions of the Indo-European trifunctional hierarchy. However, periods of decline in the Roman Empire were characterized by similar phenomena of the rise of an undifferentiated urban majority. The spread of Christianity, which in and of itself is not a typically Indo-European cultural phenomenon, but rather bears essential features of the Semitic tradition, nevertheless spurred the rebirth of the Indo-European societies of the Greco-Roman world, the culmination of which became the European Middle Ages.

By the end of the Middle Ages, “civil society” once again raised its head, the role of the “trading caste” grew, and in the end the bourgeois Europe of England, Holland, and France finally set the normative democratic and social model. It is important that the main figure of this Europe of modernity is the bourgeois (the trader, entrepreneur, or businessman), who in classical Indo-European societies was either on the periphery or altogether absent. Detailed sociological analyses of the role and function of the bourgeois have been presented in the programmatic works of the famous European sociologists Max Weber [1] (in an apologetic spirit), and Werner Sombart [2] (from a critical standpoint).

Thus, according to Dumézil, modern Western-European civilization is Indo-European in its nature and initial structure, which means that it harbors at its core the trifunctional model. But modernity introduced into this structure and gradually established at its heart an element that is altogether genetically alien to Indo-European civilization and which conceptually conflicts with its classical matrix.

The decline of Europe à la Spengler, Danilevsky, and Sorokin

If Dumézil’s trifunctional analysis shows the divergence of the Europe of modernity from its Indo-European paradigm, then other authors practicing a civilizational approach – Spengler, Danilevsky, and Sorokin, etc. – are of the opinion that the cycle of European civilization has entered its stage of decline. The Romano-Germanic world, according to Danilevsky, is experiencing its old age, losing its vitality and energy, and is disintegrating into materiality and sensuality. Spengler, meanwhile, constructed his whole theory in order to substantiate the notion that the West’s Faustian spirit has led it to spiritual catastrophe, with the life of its culture fading away and being replaced by a purely technological and alienated civilization. Pitirim Sorokin, for his part, argued that Europe in modernity has reached the end of its sensual stage in the development of its sociocultural system and is on the edge of the abyss.

All of these testimonies suggest that the contemporary moment of European civilization (whatever the scope of such might be for different authors) is its terminal phase, an era of decrepitude, decline, degradation, and agony. This means that the European Logos is in the final third of its cyclical manifestation, on the opposite end from Europe’s childhood in Greco-Roman Antiquity and maturation in the European Middle Ages.

The desacralization of Europe (à la Guénon and Evola)

An even more brutal diagnosis of Europe of modernity was offered by the Traditionalists. According to Guénon, European Modernity has become an anti-civilization, an embodiment of all that is contrary to the spirit, Tradition, and sacrality. Secularization, humanism, naturalism, mechanism, and rationalism, in Guénon’s view, are the essential manifestations of the spirit of perversion which affects all societies, but which only in modern Europe acquired such absolute and complete embodiment and was elevated to the level of a norm and principle. Traditional societies also knew periods of degradation, but modern Europe has built an anti-society in the fullest sense of the word, in which all normal proportions are inverted: the divine, transcendental dimension has been rejected; religion has been pushed to the social periphery, and matter, quantity, ephemerality, sensuality, individualism, and egoism have been elevated as the highest values.

Guénon argues that everything still related to Tradition in Europe is not actually European, and can in more pure and full form be found among the peoples of the East. What is genuinely European is the fragmentation of Tradition, its distortion and perversion, and its reduction to a lower, human, and rational level. Guénon treats the West literally, as the land where the sun of spirituality disappears and where onsets the “night of the gods.” Nearly the same assessment of modern Europe is present in Evola, who nonetheless believed that the European tradition that existed in Antiquity and the Middle Ages with its roots in the heroic era can still be restored, and that the West can be saved from the abyss into which it has been plunged by modernity.

The restoration of this heroic spirit of the West was Evola’s lifelong pursuit. But with regards to the Europe of modernity, Evola professed the most brutal and negative interpretations, believing that in this period we are dealing with an Anti-Europe with its ultimate degeneration and self-parody. Evola considered the bourgeoisie to be a decadent class, and democracy, rationalism, scientism, and humanism to be forms of a spiritual and socio-political disease.

Guénon and Evola both saw a completely and deeply desacralized Europe, but Evola hoped for the opportunity of resacralization, whereas Guénon thought such unlikely, thus predicting for Europe an imminent and inevitable death.

The gender index of modern Europe

Different authors diverge profoundly when it comes to determining the “gender index” of modern European civilization. On the one hand, according to Bachofen and Wirth’s logic, Europe is founded on patriarchy and patriarchal tendencies (Appolonianism, the domination of masculine rationality) which only increase in relation to gravitating away from ancient matriarchy. Modernity, in the form of rationalistic philosophy and science, at first glance confirms this assessment. Indeed, many philosophers of life have proceeded from this analysis (from Friedrich Nietzsche to Henri Bergson, Ludwig Klages, Max Scheler, Georg Simmel, Theobald Ziegler, Hermann Keyserlingi, etc.), thus calling for liberation from “paternal domination” in European culture. On the other hand, Julius Evola and some other thinkers, such as Otto Weininger, have pointed out that modernity elevated to the position of priority precisely such materialistic, sensual, and empirical values which are rather typical of the feminine cosmos. Evola therefore insisted on his thesis that we live in the age of the Kali-Yuga, in which the principles of “black womanhood”, chaos, confusion, and death, which correspond to the most negative aspects of the feminine element, are celebrated.

In this sense, Europe is the focal point of “black gynecocracy”, the kingdom of the goddess Kali where there is no place for the truly masculine and heroic element. If the origins of the European tradition lay, according to Evola, in the heroic masculine type, then European modernity is the direct antipode of this type. On this matter, however, theorists of civilization have expressed the most contradictory opinions.

Euro-optimism

All of these points of view are typical of those authors who tend to consider European civilization as one among multiple civilizations. Even those who define themselves as supporters of modern Europe (such as Toynbee or Huntington) posited that modernity is not simply the antithesis of the classical foundations of European culture, but one of the scenarios of its development. Therefore, they proposed to strengthen and defend Europe and its values in the spirit of moderate Western conservatism.

The vast majority of Europeans understand modernity completely differently, convinced as they are that Europe was the first to go the furthest along the only possible universal path of historical development, that European values are the best and universal, and therefore obligatory, that there is only one civilization – European – and that all the rest are the essence of half-baked-civilization, i.e., veiled barbarism or savagery, and that modernity promises a level of culture, philosophy, knowledge, technology, morality, law, economics, and socio-political development which fundamentally surpasses not only all the historical stages of non-European societies, but also everything that Europe was before. They treat the origins of European civilization itself positively only insofar as they have led to “blessed modernity”, whereas otherwise such are, compared to modernity, something imperfect, naive, or useless long since overcome by modernity, which features all the best and has rejected and overcome all the worse.

For this official worldview of the modern West, appealing to European antiquity or non-European societies makes no sense, insofar as the truth is contained in the present moment of Western (American-European) history that has developed in the vanguard of all of humanity. This truth must necessarily tomorrow become more perfect and complete than it is today. This theory of progress – even though it has been discarded to a considerable extent by the intellectual, philosophical, and humanitarian elite of the West over the past century – remains the dominant myth of Western politics, Western mass culture, Western economics, Western education, and the ordinary worldview of Western man.

The initial structure of the Mediterranean Logos: The radical victory of Apollo

Now let us relate these models of evaluating modern Western-European civilization to the structure of the three Logoi of Noomachy. But first we should consider one important fact. Mediterranean civilization, which modern Western civilization is and believes itself to be the continuation of, had not only a Greco-Roman and not only an Indo-European (if we consider the barbaric tribes of medieval Western Europe) character. Even the Greek Logos initially comprised Semitic-Phoenician influences, and the ethnocultural origin of the Middle Eastern cults of the Great Mother remains an open question. We have seen that Herman Wirth traced matriarchy back to proto-Indo-European roots with their center in the North Atlantic. According to Frobenius, this (thalasso-oceanic) cultural circle, with an emphasis on the number four, the symbolism of space, and matriarchy, represents the antithesis of the Indo-European civilizational style which considers the sun feminine and the month masculine. Spengler (and Frobenius) traced the Indo-European cultural code back to patriarchic Turan, while Evola saw patriarchal heroism as at the origin of European classics. In any case, Semitic influence and matriarchal motives can (contrary to Herman Wirth’s view) be considered a factor foreign to the normative European cultural code. This is indirectly confirmed by the teachings of the Gnostics who identified the “evil demiurge” as the Jewish God of the Old Testament. The followers of the Gnostic Basilides, who called for overcoming the demiurgical prison, said of themselves: “We are not Jews anymore, bot not yet Hellenes.”[3]

The spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire, with the incorporation of the Old Testament as the most important theological component of the new religion, undoubtedly increased the impact of Semitic culture on the European context, although the scope and depth of this Semitic element’s influence can be evaluated variously. In the very least, at an early stage in the Christianization of the Roman Empire and in the Middle Ages, this element did not manifest itself so actively and vividly, as the foundation of Christian society came to be formed by Hellenic philosophy and Roman legal culture, which continued the main line of Indo-European civilization.

Overall, we can envision the cycle of the Western Logos as running from the beginning of the second millennium B.C. (the Achaean invasion of the Mediterranean) to the 2000’s A.D., i.e., to our time, which makes up approximately 4,000 years. It is only natural that over this enormous historical period, the Logos of Mediterranean civilization, even in its Indo-European dimension, changed many times. Nonetheless, some parameters have been preserved unchanged, or transformed along the trajectories peculiar to this civilization – Indo-European and Mediterranean on one end, and modern Western (Western-European) on the other.

We can say that here we are dealing with two polar sections of Noomachy: beginning and end. The same can be said about other civilizations, with which we will deal one by one. Here we are interested in Europe from its origins to the present moment.

There is no doubt that the harbingers of the primordial (Achaean) culture and their related Indo-European tribes in the West (Italy) and East (Anatolia) of the Mediterranean were vivid representatives of the trifunctional ideology, the civilization of the heroic type and masculine, patriarchal, sacred, and warrior-like society. It can be said that their Logos was primarily the light Logos, and Apollo (or his prototypes) and Zeus acted as its main personification in myth. This was heavenly Uranic philosophy dominated by the vertical, a series of male symbols, and diaeretic diurnal regime (according to Gilbert Durand). Therefore, we should presume an Apollonian element to be in the foundations and starting accord of Mediterranean civilization. This was not a result of evolution or the product of external influence. The ancestors of the Ancient Greeks who arrived in this area were (according to Guénon and Evola) bearers of the solar Hyperborean cultural circle. At the very least, this solar Logos was the axis of the political and caste elite of Mediterranean civilization, i.e., its two higher castes – priests and warriors. The domination of the light Logos also affected those of the third function who, with Hellenization, absorbed the structures of Olympic-Uranic ideology.

But the Achaeans did not arrive in an empty place. This zone was once inhabited by peoples with a different culture and ideology (the Pelasgians, Minoans, etc.). This culture was most likely arranged in accordance with a matriarchal cultural code, the manifestations of which we meet in the Logos of Cybele and later epochs.

Bachofen, Wirth, and Frobenius’ studies clearly showed that the very same Mediterranean area was once a cultural field dominated by the structures of the Great Mother. Therefore, the Indo-European, Achaean, Apollonian, and patriarchal Logos asserted its dominance in a space with a hitherto matriarchal-structured culture. The resulting collision between these two Logoi – the Logos of the Apollonian newcomers and the Logos of the matriarchal indigenous ones – i.e., this specific episode of Noomachy, concluded with the full and unreserved triumph of the Logos of Apollo. Mediterranean culture, as a matrix of European culture, was first and foremost, in an external sense, originally and fundamentally a culture of the light Logos. It can be said that Pythagoreanism and Platonism were moments of a conservative revolution, when the intellectual elite of the Hellenic world realized the need to systematize, classify, and “encyclopedicize” its fundamental code. But this Apollonian/Platonic cultural code was dominant and prevalent long before Pythagoras and Plato, being as it was the fundamental constant of this whole civilization as such, from the beginning to the end (that is, to its present state).

Mediterranean civilization was thus founded as the institution of the irreversible Olympic victory of the gods over the titans, of Apollo and Zeus over the creatures of the Great Mother, the light Logos over the black Logos, the world of ideas over a tract of space (χώρα).

In this situation, it is crucial to locate the intermediate Logos – the dark Logos of Dionysus. In the radical victory of Apollo over Rhea-Cybele, Apollo over Python, Olympus over Ortiz, and the gods over the titans, Dionysus was comprehended as a figure who stood on the side of the gods. Through him is channeled the communication between the ontological, teleological, cosmological, and gnoseological top and the ontological, teleological, cosmological, and gnoseological bottom – but on the conditions of the top. Apollo’s domination in Mediterranean civilization determined the fate of Dionysus as well. He was conceptualized as a ray of heaven pointing towards earth and hell, as the beloved son of Olympian Zeus, as the sun descending into night. Hence the very choice of this god’s gender. While androgynous by virtue of his intermediate position, he is thought of as a male god, as a Groom and Savior. His trajectory is from there to here; he is the witness of the gods and a god among gods.

The Logos of Dionysus is the matrix of warriors and peasants. Hence his Indian campaign and accompanying vegetable cults. But his war and his agrarian cults are connected not to material efforts and workdays, but with game and holiday. He is the god of the mysteries which serve to raise the earthly, bring it up to the heavenly, and open up for the mortal the path to eternity. Apollo embodies the divine order that does not know chaos. He is the god of kings and priests, a god who does not tolerate impurity or compromise. He is the god of the upper horizon. He does not bring things to order, he is order.

Dionysus descends to chaos, ready to deal with what is imperfect, but he translates chaos into order, perfects the imperfect. His role in the Mediterranean civilization of the light Logos is also bright, although qualitatively darker than Apollo.

Dionysus acts as the guide for the second and even more so for the third caste of Indo-European society, as well as women who find themselves on the periphery of the patriarchal system, but who through the cult of Dionysus are integrated into the entire civilizational fabric.

Such is the initial and fundamental structure of Noomachy for the Mediterranean region (in its Hellenistic, and then Greco-Roman and Western European version). Such is the primary component of the Logos of Mediterranean civilization – it is dominated by Apollo; Cybele is completely subordinate to and suppressed by it; and Dionysus, fulfilling communication between the top and bottom of the noetic and cosmological topography, transmits mostly eidetic rays from heaven to the masses of the earth and the creatures inhabiting it.

Three views on the fate of the West

The starting accord of Mediterranean civilization predetermined the basic proportions of its historical being up to the present time. Therefore, when we speak of the “decline of Europe”, or the crisis of Western civilization, we consciously or unconsciously have in mind the crisis of the light Logos, the tragedy of Apollo. This is altogether explicitly discussed by Julius Evola, but something analogous was undoubtedly had in mind by all those other authors who have given Western civilization such a fatal diagnosis. Whether freely or instinctively, in speaking about the crisis of the West we mean the crisis of the Apollonian West, the West which we know from Antiquity and the Middle Ages. This is Apollo being mourned by those recording the catastrophe of modern Western culture.

If this is so, then the final episode of the historical cycle of Mediterranean civilization should be considered the “departure of Apollo”, his “withdrawal”, “disappearance”, or “flight.” In this case, the starting point of Mediterranean civilization is the radical moment of Apollo’s victory over Cybele, and the final point is the one in which we find ourselves now with the weakening of Apollo, the fall of Apollo, the end of his reign. The enigmatic myths about the impending end of Zeus’ reign, which are related in particular to the tales of his swallowing of the female titan Metis and the birth of Athena, might be directly related to this. The end of Western civilization is the end of the rule of the light Logos of Apollo.

Thus, from the standpoint of the Logos of Apollo itself, this history is one of downward movement with higher and lower points. The high point is the beginning of Mediterranean culture, and the lowest is the current state of Western civilization. If we imagine this scheme more naturalistically, then in the first phase (the second millennium B.C.) we have an earlier stage, that of the childhood of Apollo, from the middle of the first millennium B.C. to the Middle Ages of Europe, where we have the maturity of Apollo (coinciding with the peak of Platonism), and the enfeeblement and degeneration of the light Logos in the rationalism of modernity up to the irrational agony of Postmodernity.

But if we now follow the same trajectory from the standpoint of the black Logos of Cybele, the picture turns out to be entirely different. The starting point is the subordination of the feminine to the masculine, so for the Logos of Cybele this Apollonian start is not really its own. The Logos of Cybele dates back to the distant pre-Indo-European past or to non-Indo-European, adjacent fields, such as the Egyptian or Semitic ones (if we restrict ourselves to the Mediterranean). Therefore, Cybele sees Apollo’s invasion as an episode that is quite recent in comparison to the deep, underground time of the Great Mother. She admits defeat in Titanomachy and Gigantomachy and mourns her children who fell at the hands of the Olympians. As Apollo’s power weakens, she is gradually liberated, the titans’ wounds are healed, and they slowly begin to make their way up to the Earth’s surface.

The first of the titans to rise to Olympus is Prometheus. This titan seeks to imitate the gods, to share his chthonic wisdom with them, and borrow their sacred skills of rule. For the Great Mother, time is progress, and this is wholly justified insofar as the titans’ strength grows in relation to the weakening of the gods. Modernity (“New Time”) is their time. By “progress” can be understood only the progress of chthonic and hypochthonic forces, the liberation of the ancient powers imprisoned in Tartarus. This is the revanche on Mount Othrys, the counterattack of the giants on the Phlegraean fields. This is the humanism of Modernity. The end of Western civilization, and the drift towards this end is, for chthonic forces, true development, becoming, progress, and the nearing of long-awaited triumph.

On the other hand, the finale of such progress might be the “kingdom of the woman.”[4] This coincides with the Hindu tradition’s definition of the present time as the Kali-Yuga, the kingdom of the black goddess Kali. The Sibylline Books [5] contain a prophecy which specifically relates to Western civilization:

And thereupon [6] 

Shall the whole world be governed by the hands

Of a woman

and obedient everywhere.

Then when a widow shall o’er all the world

Gain the rule, and cast in the mighty sea

Both gold and silver, also brass and iron [7]

Of short lived men into the deep shall cast,

Then all the elements shall be bereft

Of order, when the God who dwells on high

Shall roll the heaven, even as a scroll is rolled;

100 And to the mighty earth and sea shall fall

The entire multiform sky; and there shall flow

A tireless cataract of raging fire,

And it shall burn the land, and burn the sea,

And heavenly sky, and night, and day, and melt

Creation itself together and pick out

What is pure. No more laughing spheres of light,

Nor night, nor dawn, nor many days of care,

Nor spring, nor winter, nor the summer-time,

Nor autumn. And then of the mighty God

The judgment midway in a mighty age

Shall come, when all these things shall come to pass. [8] 

Those for whom Western civilization is not in crisis simply do not belong to it by and large. They are not the voice of Western civilization, but the voice of the black Logos. Today only a non-European can be a Euro-optimist.

Now as for Dionysus. How does he see the fate of the West today? Everything is more complicated here. The zone of Dionysus, his kingdom, is located between the light Logos of Dionysus [sic – Apollo? – J.A.] and the black Logos of Cybele. He is identical to himself both in heaven and on earth – he is close to both natures: divine and human. Dionysus understands the logic of both patriarchy and matriarchy. But in Mediterranean culture, as we have seen, Dionysus turns out to be integrated into the model of Apollonian order and is the distributor of this order to the chthonic levels of being. Dionysus is the Savior, the Initiator. His place is in the army of gods. He has his own scores to settle with the titans, who tear him apart. The fate of Dionysus in the West is inseparable from that of Apollo. Therefore, in following this line, he also perceives modernity as “dark times”, and shares the fate of all the other Olympian gods. In this sense, we can speak of a “flight of Dionysus” (this god’s escape appears repeatedly in, for example, the story of Lycurgus, when he plunges into the sea).

However, Dionysus is not so rigidly bound to Apollo. In the Apollonian kingdom, he acts as the Son of the Father, but if we look at him from the other position, then he can be seen as the Son of the Mother. His link to Cybele, who is recovering from madness, opens from the other side. Here we are approaching a very complex and obviously even dangerous topic that can be formulated as “Dionysus and his double.” [9] The dark Logos which brings light to all those areas of the world which Apollo’s sun does not penetrate, can at “twilight” acquire disturbing traits. In these “twilights” (Wagner’s “twilight of the gods”, Nietzsche’s “twilight of the idols”, or Evola’s “twilight of the heroes”), he can be perceived as a “titan.” After all, Heraclitus said in fragment 15: “Hades is the same as Dionysus.”[10] The meaning of the Logos of Dionysus is that it is “not the same.” But the similarity remains…This is related to the “shadows of Dionysus” [11] and the ambiguity of certain decadent “Dionysian” themes which Gilbert Durand distinguishes in Postmodernity as characteristic attributes [12]. Hence Julius Evola’s apprehension regarding the figure of Dionysus and his endowment of Dionysian civilization with decadent traits that lead to the iron age (the Kali-Yuga). Here we can also recall Guénon’s idea of the “great parody” and “opening of the egg of the world from below”, as well as his warnings against the particular danger posed by certain sacred traditions which emphasize the intermediate cosmic level and are capable of discovering their destructive potential in the critical era of the end of the cycle.[13] 

In this sense is important what we have said concerning the field of Dionysus in Mediterranean civilization and his fate. In the Great Mother’s view, this field is up for questioning, as in the case of the “male” half of the female androgynous Agdistis. Or it can change altogether, and instead of Dionysus the Savior can arise the image of the “Savioress” [14]. This is “another Dionysus”, a non-European one, not the one whom we know from the classical era of history. This is an “other Dionysus”, “proto-Dionysus”, or “post-Dionysus.”

If for solar Dionysus the decline of Europe is this civilization’s midnight followed by a new dawn – the “return of Dionysus” – then for his chthonic double it is the attainment of a secret goal, the center of hell, and the aim is to fix time in its infernal climax, thus making hell eternal and everlasting.

In this case, unlike the straightforward and catastrophic view of the light Logos and the progressive titanism of the black Logos, the relationship of the dark Logos of Dionysus to modern Western (Western-European) culture becomes highly ambiguous, as it is based on the complex operation of the “differentiation of Dionysii.”

 

Footnotes:

[1] Weber, M. Protestanskaiia etika i dukh kapitalizma. Izbrannye proizvedeniia. Moscow: Progress, 1991. 

[2] Sombart, W. Burzhua. Moscow: Nauka, 1994. 

[3] Dugin, A. V poiskakh temnogo Logosa. Moscow: Akademicheskii Proekt, 2013. 

[4] The Christian apocalypse describes this with the symbol of the Babylonian harlot, the  “purple woman.”

[5] Knigi Sivill (Sobranie pesen-prorochestv, napisannykh neizvestnymi avtorami II v. do n.e.-IV v.n.e. Moscow: Engima, 1996.

[6] After the coming of the titan Beliar. 

[7] This is a clear allusion to the four ages of gold, silver, bronze, and iron, which end with the “kingdom of the woman.”

[8] Dugin produces his own translation and reproduces (in this footnote) for comparison the translation by M. Vitkovskaya and V. Vitkovsky found in Knigi Sivill, op. cit., pp. 50.  The English translation provided here is from “The Sybilline Oracles” translated by Milton S. Terry in 1899 and published by sacred-texts.com in December 2001, lines 90-111. 

[9] Dugin, A. Radikalnyi subekt i ego dubl. Moscow: Evraziiskoe Dvizhenie, 2009. 

[10] English Heraclitus translation from heraclitusfragments.com 

[11] Maffessoli, M. L’Ombre de Dionysos, contribution à une sociologie de l’orgie. Paris: Méridiens-Klincksieck, 1985. 

[12] Durand, G., Figures mythiques et visages de l’œuvre . De la mythocritique à la mythanalyse. Paris: Berg International, 1979. 

[13] It is in this sense that Guénon describes the degradation of the Egyptian tradition, some of the currents of which he calls “perverted Hermetism.”

[14] The theory of a “female messiah” can be found in the Jewish sect of Jacob Frank, who influenced a whole number of mystical organizations in Europe in the 18-20th centuries. See Novak, Ch. Jacob Frank: Le faux Messie. Paris: l’Harmattan, 2012. 

 

© Jafe Arnold – All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without expressed permission.