Against Perennialism

In my last post on René Guénon and the Vedanta, I touched upon his problematic approach to human nature and his attitude towards all conditions and limitations upon being. While I stressed that one of the greatest strengths of Guénon's oeuvre is its critique of materialism, I also gave some guarded praise for his exposition [...]

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 [...]

Syberberg’s Parsifal: Wagner and Esotericism

Following on from my article on Barfield’s use of the Eternal Feminine, I want to examine Hans-Jürgen Syberbeg’s adaption of Richard Wagner’s opera Parsifal. This film is a masterful achievement on several fronts. Syberberg manages to draw out many elements implicit in the story, as well as reading into it some esoteric themes of his [...]

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 [...]

Gustav Mahler – Against Nihilism

Listening to Gustav Mahler’s ninth symphony recently, having heard a number of contemporary pieces utilising orchestral ‘sample libraries’, I was struck by just how clear and precise Mahler’s orchestration is, in a way I’d not fully appreciated before. It brought to mind the fact that, with all our technology and means of reproducing sounds in [...]