Regarding the Platonic Soul and ‘Tolkien’s Dialectic’:

A recent discussion with Carl Lingard on the nature of Tolkien’s “secret grammar” led to the question of whether Plato’s teaching on the soul might be mapped onto what Lingard calls ‘Tolkien’s Dialectic’.1 In Plato’s understanding, the soul is made up of three “parts”; reason, will, and appetite. These correspond respectively to the head, the [...]

René Guénon and the Vedanta

Now known as the founder of the traditionalist school, René Guénon would probably have objected to this title, insofar as any “ism” implies a historically contingent, ideological movement. A certain resistance to the particulars of history is characteristic of his thought, given its firm basis in a metaphysics that infinitely transcends all contingency. That said, [...]

From Bruno to Descartes – The Problem of “Infinite Space”

In his five dialogues on Cause, Principle and Unity, the Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno cites the famous idea that a circle of infinite size is a straight line. He uses this aphorism, attributed to Nicolas of Cusa, as a justification of his own theories of the universe consisting of infinite space. At first hearing, this [...]

From the Madeleine to the Mandala

Sacred Geography and Buddhist Enlightenment in Marcel Proust’s 'In Search of Lost Time' The idea that Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time represents, in one sense, a journey of disillusionment is no new thesis.1 It is the very surface level of the narrative, which nevertheless concludes not in despair, but in several moments of [...]

Owen Barfield’s ‘The Rose on the Ash-Heap’ and the Eternal Feminine

Owen Barfield was a member of the Oxford Inklings, alongside J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, a writer, poet, and devotee of Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy. He is seldom talked about except by academics, yet he had a great impact on the writing of his friends, and his own considerable creative efforts merit attention. His one unpublished [...]

Symbolism Refutes Perennialism

What is the place of symbolism in Orthodoxy? How do we make good use of this “traditional science”, as thinkers like Guénon describe it? In this brief article, I mean to touch on some of the key distinctions between a Christian and a perennialist understanding of symbolism. Joseph P. Farrell, in his magnum opus God, [...]

The Will to Power

Nietzsche's Metaphysical Awakening What is the will to power? It is rather poorly understood in the popular imagination, if indeed it is understood at all, this idea so central to Nietzsche’s thought in the last phase of his life. The fact remains that, being at once so simple and so far-reaching that it could unify [...]

The End of the World? René Guénon’s ‘Reign of Quantity’

I have alluded to the rise of materialism and its repercussions in previous articles, and have found a sympathetic point of view in the work of René Guénon. Labelled as a 'traditionalist' by some, for citing the wisdom and spiritual insights of ancient traditions, Guénon attempted to establish a continuity with the past wholly lacking [...]

A Discussion on German Romanticism, the Psyche and the Nous, with Fr Alexander Tefft.

In reading about psychology and mental illness (specifically, in a book on the late romantic composer Gustav Mahler), some phenomena strike me as having a spiritual dimension to them: dissociation, for example. What is more, the focus of ‘object relations’ theory seems to me to relate as much to human relationships as to one’s relationship [...]

Kafka’s Faith

Franz Kafka is one of the key figures in modern fiction – a status he earned through just a handful of unfinished novels and a series of enigmatic short stories. His influence can be found in all sorts of places in the work of contemporary writers, wherever they venture to grapple with themes of dystopian [...]