Reading RIDE THE TIGER: A SURVIVAL MANUAL FOR THE ARISTOCRATS OF THE SOUL by Julius Evola. This is the second book I’ve read by the Italian writer Evola (REVOLT AGAINST THE MODERN WORLD was the other – Not as complex or laid out as fully as TIGER) whom I was originally turned onto by comparisons I’ve read between he and Oswald Spengler who is to me a prophet and perhaps my favorite historian and philosopher as his work has a foot in both camps. Evola is more on the philosophical side. Whereas Spengler’s work is broader talking about a non-linear approach to history and comparing the cycles of a civilization to the four seasons or the life cycles of a human being, Evola’s focus is a lot more narrow. Like Spengler, he theorizes Western civilization is in its winter, its death throes (still true today, it’s not necessarily a quick process, Rome as an example). However, he has his own peculiar way of describing this. Evola refers to this period as “Kali Yuga” which in old Hindu writing was considered the final of four stages of the world wherein vice and vicissitude and corruption rules the day and leads to the downfall of man. Unlike Spengler who is years ahead of his time talking about military overexpansion and income inequality as well as a vulgar culture as indicators of culture’s downfall, Evola prioritizes the culture issue.
What I dislike about that approach is it leads to a sense of triviality. I do agree about the role of culture but not as a priority. The other factors Spengler brings up are much more important. Culture is a result as much as an indicator. Also Evola is an occultist with a lot of silly beliefs. He was highly critical of Alistair Crowley in their time but they share similar thought processes. He seems to dislike atheists very much (He spends a lot of time critiquing Neitzsche’s “God Is dead” which he interprets as religion is dead). He subscribes to the theory that you can’t have morality without faith in a higher power which is rubbish. He also disliked immigration (which is why many fascists and white supremacists unfortunately like his writing) and viewed it as a negative. I have the opposite view on this as I think controlled immigration, nothing wrong with countries selecting who they want to let in, adds new blood to a society especially one that is made up of immigrants like the US and Australia. He also misses the link Spengler made between increased immigration and imperialism/conquest – the latter increases the former especially from the nations one’s country has conquered. He also has a strange hang-up with bisexuals whom he views as far worse than monosexuals because they are attracted to more than one sex. He basically views them as dangerous culture destroyers.
On the flip side, I like the way he writes. He’s pretty clear and doesn’t’ weigh down the arguments he is making with too many digressions or grandiose language. Like Spengler, there is sort of a pre-beat poetry to his language, short sentences and direct. Bad, unclear, florid writing has ruined many a philosopher for me. I do agree than men are under fire in Western culture in a lot of ways (not patriarchy but what maleness is and how it presents itself) and that’s not a good thing. I also agree that garbage culture produces garbage art although Spengler makes this argument better in DECLINE OF THE WEST because he ties it to a lot of other causes in the proper order.
I also agree with the idea that the breakdown of the family in a society that does not replace it with something to fill the void like service to the state is a society where people will lose all connection with life, each other etc. It truly is the end of the civilization. Evola did not foresee smartphones and the internet but it could easily fit into what he is saying. One ceases to “belong” to the world as he describes it.
I personally agree with both Spengler and Evola that we are in the process of witnessing the death throes of Western Civilization and within the next 100 years the West will topple - materialism, imperialism, immorality, dumbing down/ lack of intellect, overreliance on technology will all be contributing factors. The title of the book references Evola’s solution for this problem which is to ride out the chaos like holding onto a tiger’s back while it is running so it can’t turn around and maul you. At the end, this turns into a self-help book although Evola takes him time getting there. He also doesn’t give much advice how to do this despite the book’s title other than to embrace spirituality and remain distant from the material world. The latter I agree with very much.