August 4, 1769 in Moscow, Russia.
A fascinating article which, more than just an exploration of contrasting color theory between the ancients and the moderns, further confirms the analogical nature of the classical imagination:
“So Goethe was right. In trying to see the world through Greek eyes, the Newtonian view is only somewhat useful. We need to supplement it with the Greeks’ own colour theories, and to examine the way in which they actually tried to describe their world. Without this, the crucial role of light and brightness in their chromatic vision would be lost, as would any chance to make sense of the mobility and fluidity of their chromatic vocabulary. If we rely only on the mathematical abstractions of Newton’s optics, it will be impossible to imagine what the Greeks saw when they stood on their shores, gazing out upon the porphureos sea stretching into the distant horizon.”
August 1, 1866 in Oberlin, Ohio.
In The Twilight of the Idols (1888), Friedrich Nietzsche expressed his wish to philosophize with a hammer, that is, to make smithereens of the false images that leeringly prevent a candid vision of life, the world, and history. Nietzsche wrote that “there are more idols than realities in the world.” He wished, with his instrument, preliminarily, to “test” the idols – expecting to detect “as a reply that famous hollow sound which speaks of bloated entrails.” If that were the sign, the hammer might come fully into play. Like the supreme iconoclast of the German language, Dario Fernández-Morera, a Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Literature at Northwestern University, has decided to test a certain gallery of idols, the much-revered ones connected with a persistent, but, in light of accessible knowledge, dubious legend. The old legend of Islamic Spain (for that is the story in question), of its tolerance and enlightenment, and of its convivencia of all peoples, has gained new currency with the rise of the anti-Western, anti-Christian ideology known as multiculturalism. The university departments of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, having transformed themselves into publicity businesses for the new militant phase of Islam, their acolytes, politically correct to the core, have propagandized the utopian narrative of the Umayyads, Almoravids, and Almohads in Spain. Those same acolytes have either ignored the achievements of Visigothic Spain and its successor polities in the northern part of Hispania or have denigrated them by invidious, non-factual comparisons. Honoring the facts, which he has patiently gleaned in a decade of impressively disciplined study, Fernández-Morera has written The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise (ISI, 2016), which, with its handsome dust jacket, is nevertheless a warrior’s cudgel. The myth of that supposed paradise will not withstand its prodigious action…
…Continue reading at:
The Diadochic Kingdoms
No area of Western history is quite as recondite as that of the Diadochic empires, the successor-kingdoms that sprang up in the wake of Alexander the Great’s meteoric campaigns (334 – 323 BC) to subdue Asia under militaristic Hellenism. Educated people know that the unity of Alexander’s Imperium, ever tenuous and improvisatory, broke down immediately on his death, when his “companions” fell to bellicose squabbling over bleeding chunks of the whole. Of Ptolemy’s Macedonian Egypt, most educated people also probably know something – largely because the realm’s newly built Greek metropolis, Alexandria, became culturally the most important polis of the Mediterranean world, and it retained its status even after Octavian conquered Cleopatra and brought her Macedonian rump-state into Rome’s emergent world-federation. To make the transition from the historically known to the historically unknown requires, however, only that one switch focus from the Ptolemaic kingdom in the Nile Delta to its next-door neighbor, the Seleucid kingdom or state. The equivocation is deliberate. The prize that Seleucus grabbed in the wars of succession stretched in geographic space from Syria and Cilicia, and associated insular territories, eastward through portions of Mesopotamia and Asia Minor into the hinterlands of Parthia and Bactria. Nominally a kingdom, the borders of the Seleucid realm, as distinct from those of the more stable Ptolemaic kingdom in Egypt, were, like the Heraclitean river, in perpetual flux. Over the centuries, moreover, the Seleucid kingdom steadily withdrew in the direction of the sunrise, sacrificing its vulnerable western regions for the defensibility of its eastern keeps, until in its last act, as the remnant Greco-Bactrian principality, it attempted to perpetuate itself against political mortality by an exodus-through-conquest from Central Asia across the Hindu Kush into Northern India…
Continue reading at: René Guénon and Eric Voegelin on the Degeneration of Right Order [Part I]
I. Guénon, Voegelin, and the Modern Crisis.
The concupiscent subject’s response to the Siren Song of the ecumene, to conquer and possess it, qualifies as Voegelin’s privative exodus in at least two senses. Pragmatically, the conqueror in going forth leaves home; he generally leaves it, moreover, with the cream of the young men and a significant portion of the collective wealth in the forms of his provisions and armaments. Very likely he leaves behind him a vacuum of confusion, and a fat opportunity for mischief. Philosophically or metaphysically, the conqueror in going forth demonstratively exempts himself from the wisdom that, like his homeland, he leaves behind; under the pomp and color of his banners he declares himself the heroic prime mover of reality, a gesture of hubris in the highest degree. For in declaring himself such, he declares nothing less than the abolition of reality, as though it were his prerogative to guarantee what is possible and what is not and so to make patent his success before it occurs. Homer knew this at the beginning of the polis civilization. Agamemnon goes forth to conquer but brings about only the reduction to rubble of the heroic world, including his own murdered corpse; Odysseus, involuntarily alienated from home, struggles back to his native ground to purge his household of uninvited mischief-makers. One sign of the rebellion against reality by the conquistadors of the Ecumenic Age, which entails the abolition of actually existing “concrete societies,” is their insistence on auto-apotheosis, as when Seleucus or Demetrius or Menander identifies himself on his coinage with Helios Aniketos, “The Unvanquished Sun,” or the equivalent. To paraphrase Voegelin: The ecumene is not only a graveyard of societies, but it is also a graveyard of the Helioi Aniketoi; and thus, amid the debris left by their late passage, of the innumerable victims of those self-appointed saviors…
Continue reading at: