This reading continues on from here.
The 27th essay in Ride the Tiger is called ‘Relations Between the Sexes’ and seeks to cover a different range to the essay about marriage. When the order of the world is dissolving, men and women are naturally separated. Our sexual prejudices have contaminated our ethics. Nowhere is this more evident that in the idea of sexual revolution.
Processes have worked towards a freeing of sex, but not a freeing from sex. The sexual revolution has not liberated us from the suffering caused by sexual desire; to the contrary, we are now intoxicated by it. This is contributing to the collapse of society, but we can use the space afforded by the chaos to assert higher values. Bourgeoisie values, being materialistic, cannot conceive of woman in anything more than her anatomical capacity as instrument of reproduction – in reality, she has a spiritual value.
Sexual liberty therefore leads to materialism, and thereby away from spirituality. Incredibly for the 1960s, Evola is already able to anticipate how widespread pornography has affected the “polarity” between men and women. Nowadays a naked woman doesn’t stir much more interest than the sight of a cat. This is a tragedy because the sexual union is capable of acting as a bridge to higher consciousness via “an existential rupture of planes”. Making love can be Dionysian.
Part Eight of Ride the Tiger is where Evola finally gets to the spiritual side of things. This final section is titled ‘The Spiritual Problem’, and consists of two essays. The first of these is called ‘The “Second Religiosity”‘.
In this essay Evola decries what he calls “neospiritualism”, which he describes as an attempt to lead people beyond the material without giving any credence to the old, dogmatic religious movements. He has no time for the “movements, cults, sects, lodges, and conventicles” of the modern day, and considers them also a phenomenon of dissolution. In fact, things have gone so far that we are now in the rigor mortis stage, and all that awaits is the decomposition of the corpse.
When man closed himself off to the higher, transcendent world in the 19th century, this did not liberate him from superstition but merely opened him up to the lower, primitive emotional world in the 20th. We are now in the “soulless, collectivistic and materialistic phase corresponding to the closing of a cycle of civilisation”. All of these neospiritual movements thus represent an excess of the feminine. Evola is highly cynical and dismissive of these movements.
It’s difficult to correctly discriminate between all the garbage thrown up by neospirituality and the wisdom of genuine value. The emphasis ought to go on the deconditioning of the spirit. Here, Evola is at pains to emphasise that a person cannot achieve initiation by themselves, in contrast to the belief espoused by many. One is either born initiated, or one achieves initiation by way of spiritual emergency or ordeal, or one is initiated deliberately by someone who is part of a tradition and who knows what they’re doing. This is hard to achieve because the organisations that do so hardly exist any more.
The 30th and final essay is titled ‘Death – The Right Over Life’. Evola begins here by talking about the common belief, held by Heidegger (as well as by Socrates) that life is in some way a preparation for death. Death appears to be the end of the “person”, and atheism and materialism have made this simpler to deal with. Contemplation of death is a noble endeavour, as it can lead to a heightened state of appreciation of one’s life.
The traditional doctrines had the correct approach to death. The truly differentiated man cannot believe that his being began with the beginning of his physical body. He must solve the problem of nihilism by “displacing the I towards the centre of ‘being'”. Here Evola is talking about consciousness: “the human condition οf earthly existence is only a restricted section in a continuum, in a current that traverses many other states.” This eternal truth is not easy to grasp in an age of dissolution like ours, but it is much better than the lies of theistic creation myths.
A truly differentiated man, much like the Stoics and the Pythagoreans, could never take his own life, no matter how poor his conditions. This is because to do so would acknowledge that he was not strong enough to overcome the irrational part of his being. However, one always has the moral right to exit the world, should one decide that remaining ordeals are not meaningful. The differentiated man would be extremely disinclined to take this option in any case, right or otherwise. This is because of the possibility that one has chosen and said yes to – whether before or beyond this life – all of the ordeals in it.
In the final analysis, one can say that, no matter how degenerate and dissolute the world, it can still have value. It might be that, in order to achieve the highest state of being, consciousness must challenge itself as intensely as possible. To that end, there’s little more challenging than existing in a world where everything is contrary to one’s nature.
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