The Philosophy of Collin Cleary
The following essay is my Editor’s Introduction to Collin Cleary’s new anthology What is a Rune? and Other Essays, forthcoming from Counter-Currents.
This volume is Collin Cleary’s eagerly-anticipated follow up to Summoning the Gods, his first collection of essays, published in 2011. As one might expect, the present collection develops the ideas encountered in Summoning the Gods, but these new essays (all of which have been written in just the last three years) give evidence of genuine intellectual growth. In my opinion, and that of the author, they are more philosophically sophisticated than Cleary’s earlier work. And they form more of a unity than the essays of the previous collection. Indeed, in this new volume we see the outlines of a coherent philosophy—something approaching what used to be called, in bygone days, a “philosophical system.” Whereas there were only hints of this in Summoning the Gods. This introduction attempts to provide readers with a brief guide to this “system,” weaving together the different strands that one finds in these nine unique essays.
As in Summoning the Gods, the principal philosophical influences on Cleary are G. W. F. Hegel and Martin Heidegger, especially the latter. There is scarcely a page in the present volume that is not marked by Heidegger’s influence. Indeed, one of the essays included here is an introduction to his thought. And it has the distinction of being quite possibly the best, brief, English-language introduction to the ideas of this notoriously difficult philosopher.
In Summoning the Gods, Cleary insisted that what was needed was “openness to the gods,” which, he argued (again drawing upon Heidegger) was founded upon “openness to Being.” In the essay from which the volume took its title (the most significant of Cleary’s early writings) he argued that it is in wonder in the face of Being that the gods are intuited. This idea is also central to the essays in the present volume.
While Cleary’s exploration of what it would mean to know the gods or return to belief in them is of interest to neo-heathens of all sorts, his own allegiance is to the Germanic tradition of his ancestors. However, there was relatively little actual discussion of the Germanic sources in Summoning the Gods. The present volume delves much more deeply into the Eddas, with essays covering the Germanic cosmology and anthropogeny. In truth, every essay in the present volume deals with the Germanic tradition, broadly construed: not just the Runes and the Poetic and Prose Eddas, but also with Hegel and Heidegger, as well as Oswald Spengler, Henrik Ibsen, and others. This volume also contains Cleary’s essay “Ásatrú and the Political,” in which he argues that devotion to the Germanic tradition entails what is now called “white nationalism.” This essay proved so controversial that “anti-racist” heathens, words evidently failing them, embarked on an 18-month campaign of harassment and intimidation, including throwing a brick and a paint bomb through the window of my downstairs neighbors.
Another concern the present volume shares with the preceding one is the concept of “mytho-poetic thought.” In fact, this idea will provide a kind of thread that can help guide us through these essays and allow us to see their unity. Mytho-poetic thought is the central concern of the essay with which the volume begins, and from which it takes its title, “What is a Rune?” This piece was originally an address given at the Rune-Gild moot in the fall of 2011, where Cleary and several others were made Masters in the Gild. In this essay, Cleary understands the runes as examples of what the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico (1668–1744) referred to as “imaginative universals”: concrete symbols denoting a whole class of phenomena (as opposed to “intelligible universals,” which employ abstract concepts rather than symbols). Clearly writes that our ancestors “literally saw cattle [Fehu]” as more than cattle; as a manifestation of a fundamental principle or force at work in the universe. In the case of each rune, our ancestors took some feature of their “lifeworld” (a term Cleary borrows from Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology) and understood it to “stand for” or to express something more general or fundamental.
The trouble, however, is that that lifeworld has been lost to us—and our Runemasters of old left us no clear accounts of the meanings of the runes. Cleary’s recognition of this represents, for all intents and purposes, a rejection of the approach he took in earlier essays like “Philosophical Notes on the Runes,” which were heavily dependent upon Edred Thorsson’s brilliant but sometimes highly speculative interpretations of the runes. The conclusion to this essay is somewhat bleak. If, in losing the lifeworld of our ancestors, the runes no longer speak to us directly, if they require a “philosophical” interpretation which is largely groping in the dark, then it seems that we can never truly recover their meaning.
The specific problem of reappropriating the meaning of the runes is not solved in these pages. And it leads Cleary back to the problem he has been dealing with from the beginning: the question of whether we might be able—somehow—to recover the mentality of our ancestors; to begin to see the world as they did. If this were possible, then perhaps the runes—and the myths, and the gods—might speak to us again. But is it possible to somehow enter back into their lifeworld—or, perhaps, to live and think as ifthat lifeworld were our own? In the present volume, Cleary makes considerable progress in dealing with this more fundamental problem. He begins by recognizing that if we are to find our way back into the world of our ancestors, we cannot assume we know what a “world” is.
Thus, his essay “The Fourfold” begins with Cleary’s attempt to recover what Heidegger would call the originary sense of “world.” The term itself is Germanic, and comes from Old English weorold: wer, which means “man” + eald, meaning “age.” So that “world” literally means “age of man” or “man age.” (Here and throughout the volume, Cleary follows Heidegger in using etymology as a philosophical tool.) Our world is not nature or the planet: it is all of this as cognized and interpreted by us. Our ancestors lived in a world—a “man age”—that was a response of the spirit of our people to their circumstances and surroundings. This response was in the form of “mytho-poetic thought,” but Cleary recognizes that this term is actually a misnomer; that what we are actually talking about is not so much a form of “thinking,” but a way of being in the world. As a first step toward understanding our ancestors’ way of being in the world, Cleary explores Heidegger’s phenomenology of “dwelling” (Wohnen), which the German philosopher argues is the Being of human beings.
Heidegger understands dwelling in terms of four moments or aspects: earth, sky, gods, and mortals. Cleary warns his readers that he is freely adapting (though, it must be added, not distorting) Heidegger’s account. In Cleary’s version of the Heideggerean fourfold, the earth shelters but it also conceals. We live upon it, but we look to the sky as an emblem of our aspirations. The earth and sky are ultimate horizons in which everything appears for us. This idea is already present in “What is a Rune?” where Cleary argues that the Ingwaz and Tiwaz runes represent earth and sky, respectively. And within the horizons of earth and sky all the other runic symbols appear (Cattle, Ox, Wagon, Torch, Hail, Harvest, Elk, Sun, Horse, Day, etc.). The exception is Ansuz, the god rune, the rune of Odin. It is a third “horizon,” that of the uncanny.
We bring things (and, indeed, ourselves) out of the earth, out of concealment and into the light of the sky. In the sunlit revealing that cancels concealment, we strive heavenward (a universal symbol) towards the truth and the achievement of the ideal. The ideal—or ideals—are the gods; the eternal verities that give meaning to life. As Cleary states in the early essay “Summoning the Gods,” we are struck with wonder at these constants, precisely because unlike them we are mortals. The recognition that my existence is fleeting and precarious is itself an occasion for wonder—and dread. And it opens me to wonder in the face of the Being of all else.
Cleary points out that this fourfold of earth, sky, divinities, and mortals founds a number of symbol and idea complexes. Ingwaz, Tiwaz, and Ansuz have already been mentioned. Onto the dyad of earth and sky we can also, of course, map the chthonic and uranic. And matter and spirit; matter and form; feminine and masculine. It is universally the case that the sky and its sun are truth, openness, goodness, freedom, the ideal. And that the divinities have some relationship to the sky, dwelling either close to it (on a mountaintop or in high fortress) or beyond it (as in the case of the Judeo-Christian “heaven”). The earth is darkness, sleep, death, imperfection, natural necessity, the unconscious. (And interestingly, there is a tie between most of these “earth aspects” and what the moon has always symbolized—the moon which reigns over us only when, of course, the sun has hidden itself and the sky is dark.)
Human dwelling, for Heidegger is to be in this intersection between earth, sky, divinities, and mortals. This dwelling is a dynamic mode of being, in which mortals “receive the sky” and “save the earth.” But Cleary quotes Heidegger as saying that this “saving” really means “to set something free into its own presencing.” Mortals draw things out of concealment and into presence in myriad ways—through science, philosophy, art, religion, poetry, and also just plain and simple poking about. Mortals are drawn forward by their orientation toward the ideal, and by wonder in the face of what is.
This wonder is what truly makes us human, and in the present volume he dubs itekstasis and identifies it with the phenomenon of óðr, of which Odin is the personification. Cleary explains why he chooses to “speak Greek” in lieu of using the original Old Norse term in “The Gifts of Odin and His Brothers.” This terminological choice is, however, a source of potential confusion for readers. Given the Heideggerean influence on Cleary, some well-informed readers may assume that he is employing Heidegger’s concept of Ekstase. However, Cleary is using “ekstasis” in a sense different from Heidegger’s usage, though one that is still in the spirit of Heideggerean philosophy. He means by it our capacity to “stand outside ourselves (ek-stasis)” and to be seized and fascinated by the Being of things.
As Cleary discusses in more than one of these essays, poetry is the primary expression of ekstasis. “Poetry” derives from Greek poesis, which simply means “making.” Poetry is the primary form of human making—the most human of human activities. For it is through poetry that we give voice to Being. And this activity is precisely what our own Being consists in. As we shall see in a moment, Cleary holds that our human “saying of Being” plays a crucial role in the Being of the cosmos itself. (This is the point at which, one might say, Cleary fuses Heidegger with Hegel.)
Poetry is language, and Cleary follows Vico in thinking that the primal form of language was poetic. And he follows Heidegger in holding that the registration of Being is the primary function of language, not interpersonal communication. As we have seen, Cleary believes that there is a basic tie between the poetic and the mythic. On the most fundamental level, both emerge from ekstasis. And so religion and mysticism emerge from ekstasis also—an issue Cleary deals with here in “The Stones Cry Out: Cave Art and the Origin of the Human Spirit.” In the same essay, Cleary also argues that ekstasis is at the root of philosophy and science. Through our registration of Being in these different forms or modalities—but principally through poetry and myth—our ancestors created their lifeworld. That is to say, they created a framework in which they interpreted their surroundings and circumstances.
This framework was not a theory or idea, but rather something within which our ancestors dwelled. (As Heidegger famously said, “Language is the house of being.”) It is important to understand that this lifeworld both is and is not a conscious construction. Certainly, men consciously engaged in poetry, and consciously added to the store of myths. But the impulse to do so and what emerged when men felt that impulse are both a product, as Cleary points out in “Ásatrú and the Political,” of the unique, genetic nature of a people, in its encounter with its particular geographical and historical situation.
In “The Ninefold,” Cleary expands upon the Heideggerean account of dwelling given in “The Fourfold,” to offer an account of the fundamental features of the lifeworld of the ancient Germanic peoples. Just as Heidegger argues that dwelling means to be in the fourfold intersection of earth, sky, divinities and mortals, Cleary argues (in essence) that to be German is to be in Midgard, at the point where eight other worlds intersect.
Drawing freely upon the Eddas, and the ideas of Edred Thorsson, Cleary treats these eight worlds as four fundamental pairs of opposites that govern or inform our own world. The opposition of Asgard and Hel is the opposition between total light and total darkness, total truth (or revelation) and total concealment. (Here Cleary essentially superimposes Asgard-Hel onto Heidegger’s sky-earth.) Alfheim-Svartalfheim is the opposition between free, creative human Spirit (Hegel’s Geist) and dark, natural necessity. These all lie along the vertical, Irminsul axis (or World Axis), and all have to do with Spirit understanding itself in opposition to “the unconscious, the hidden, the ungraspable.”
The horizontal plane, which also contains four worlds, is concerned with fundamental dualities in nature. Muspelheim-Niflheim is the opposition of solve to coagula (or Strife and Love). Finally, Vanaheim and Jotunheim are opposing types of change: regular, orderly change (as in the cycles of nature, the growth pattern of the organism, etc.) versus its almost inexpressible other: a force that blocks or opposes order. There are many parallels between Cleary’s four opposites and dualities found in the philosophical, mystical, and esoteric traditions. Here I will just note that his understanding of the Vanaheim-Jotunheim opposition is not unlike Plato’s “unwritten doctrine” of the One and “Indefinite Dyad.”
In Midgard these opposites all meet and blend. I might add to Cleary’s interpretation by making the Hegelian point (with which he would surely agree) that this makes Midgard aconcrete whole in a way that the other worlds are not. Since one member of a pair of opposites has its identity only through the other, in a sense its identity lies outside itself. In other words, Muspelheim is only an “abstraction” considered apart from Niflheim. It is only when fire and ice meet that something concrete comes into being—quite literally, in this case (if one accepts the Germanic cosmology). In Midgard all these opposites are dialectically reconciled. Midgard is, in truth, the whole. The other eight worlds are symbolic expressions of fundamental truths about Midgard.
Now, this might immediately elicit the objection that Cleary has in fact returned to the approach of earlier essays like “Philosophical Notes on the Runes,” in which he tried to “philosophize” (or perhaps “rationalize”) things. But this is not the case. In “What is a Rune?” Cleary makes the argument that mytho-poetic thought is not simply philosophy dressed up in images. And, as noted earlier, he recognizes that mytho-poetic “thought” is primarily a way of being in the world, rather than a way of “thinking.”
But what exactly does this mean? Near the end of “The Ninefold,” Cleary tells us that for our ancestors Muspelheim and the other worlds were both actual places and symbols. Although Cleary does not put it precisely this way, the reason for this is that all places and all things were taken by them as symbols—both real ones, and those projected by the imagination. Cleary offers a “back door” into the world of our ancestors through the philosophical interpretation of symbols. But he recognizes that this is not enough. He writes, “I have no solution to the problem of how to recover the mytho-poetic mind. Perhaps the right approach is to try, deliberately, to read the world as an emblem book: to see things as symbols, to deliberately try to see the world as a poet would.”
In “The Gifts of Odin and his Brothers” Cleary applies the same approach to understanding the Germanic anthropogeny (the account of human origins) found in the Eddas. According to the myth, two trees (Ask and Embla) were made into human beings when a trio of gods conferred certain properties upon them. Cleary argues that the key to understanding the Germanic view of human nature lies in the gods who figure in this myth, rather than in the properties they confer. And he focusses upon the names of the gods given in the Prose Edda: Odin, Vili, and Vé. These three (who may be, as Edred Thorsson argues, three aspects of one divinity) represent a triad of organically related qualities of human nature—indeed, its fundamental qualities. They are, in Cleary’s terminology: ekstasis (Odin), will (Vili), and hallowing (Vé).
We have already touched on what ekstasis is (though it is in this essay and in “The Stones Cry Out” that Cleary gives his fullest account of it). Will is simply our capacity to alter the given according to our conception of what might be or ought to be. It is also obvious how will is uniquely human. Animals do alter their environments (e.g., beavers build dams) but not as a result of imaginatively conceiving counterfactual possibilities.
However, will depends upon ekstasis, and indeed will is one of the forms through which ekstasis comes to expression (thus, they are interdependent). Cleary writes, “‘will’ depends upon our capacity to stand outside of ourselves . . . and outside of the immediate moment and receive or register both the Being of things, and be seized by a glimpse of their possible Being, what ‘ought’ to be.” “Hallowing” is the human act of separating (in thought or in deed) something from its context and investing it with “sacredness,” or special significance (e.g., a holy relic, a flag, a certain space). Again, this is something only human beings are capable of. Unlike will, it does not involve a literal change to the object. But in order to hallow an object we must first be open to the Being of that thing—and then, in a sense, we confer a new Being upon it (e.g., this grove is not merely a grove, it is a space in which the divine appears). Both will and hallowing thus depend upon ekstasis—but ekstasis comes to expression through will and hallowing. This interdependent triad names the three fundamental things that separate us from the beasts.
If will is described simply as our capacity to alter the given according to our plans or ideals, it is morally neutral. However, those who have read Cleary’s early essay “Knowing the Gods” will recall his account of will as “an impulse to ‘close off’ to the not-self [or to ‘the higher’]. It is a shutting-off that is at the same time an elevation and exalting of the self to absolute status.” Cleary refers to the modern age as the “Age of Will,” in which everything is regarded as raw material to be made over according to human plans, fitting human desires. (Here he also draws on Heidegger, specifically “The Question Concerning Technology.”) In the present volume, Cleary discusses will as having both positive and negative aspects, while only the negative aspect was covered in “Knowing the Gods.”
In truth, both will and ekstasis itself are ambivalent—capable of leading us to the good (to greatness, even), or of tricking us and leading us astray. These same oppositions are present in the god of ekstasis/óðr, Odin. And they are present in us, in human beings—but chiefly in Northern European man, in what Cleary calls (following Oswald Spengler) “Faustian man.” This is an important concept for Cleary, and it is discussed in several essays in this volume (most fully in “Ásatrú and the Political”). As Cleary states explicitly in his contribution to TYR Volume 4 (“What is Odinism?”), the Faustian is equivalent to the Odinic.
And Cleary links the Faustian-Odinic to Hegel’s account of the nature of the “Germanic peoples,” which (quoting Hegel) exhibits “an infinite thirst for knowledge which is alien to other races”; which “opposes the world [i.e., nature] to itself, makes itself free of it, but in turn annuls this opposition . . . [taking] an interest in everything in order to become present to itself therein.” The Germanic (Faustian-Odinic) spirit “subdues the outer world to its ends with an energy which has ensured for it the mastery of the world.”
In what is by far the longest piece in this volume, “The Stones Cry Out,” Cleary advances the truly revolutionary thesis that it is the emergence of ekstasis that explains the sudden appearance of representational art in Europe roughly 40,000 years ago. What is fascinating is that representational art does not appear anywhere else in the world until about 30,000 years later. As Cleary discusses, this presents quite a problem for politically correct archaeologists and paleontologists desperate to avoid admitting that there might be anything special about Europe. But, if Cleary’s thesis is correct, it is reasonable to conclude that ekstasis appears first in Europe. And if he is right to link ekstasis not just to representational art, but to philosophy, science, religion, and poetry, it is no surprise that the earliest unequivocal evidence for the emergence of all of these comes from Europe.
It is at this point that we move into what many will regard as the most strange and fantastic aspects of Cleary’s philosophy. He argues that the universe exists in order that it might know itself; that this is a process that involves the universe giving rise to (or “evolving”) ever more conscious or self-reflective beings; that this process culminates in the emergence of human beings capable of ekstasis; and that the primary carriers of ekstasis among human beings are the European peoples. In short, it is through our people’s Faustian-Odinic quest for knowledge of the universe that the universe confronts itself, and is completed. (This thesis is, in fact, an implication of Hegel’s philosophy, though Hegel never expressed it explicitly. It also parallels William Pierce’s “Cosmotheism,” although it was not influenced by it.)
In “The Stones Cry Out,” Cleary puts these ideas forward partly in order to explain whyekstasis arose in Europe in the Upper Paleolithic. (As he discusses, most scientists are aware that some major shift in human consciousness occurred in Europe in this period, but have no way to explain it.) He recognizes that what is needed is a new understanding of evolution—not just because of the difficulty of explaining the origin of ekstasis, but also because of serious philosophical difficulties with Darwinism. What Cleary provides, however, is not just a new way of looking at evolution, but a new scientific paradigm: a grand, all-encompassing “theory of everything.”
Cleary argues that ekstasis is inexplicable in Darwinian terms, principally because in ekstasis we are released from a natural, utilitarian focus (on survival, reproduction, etc.) and seized by pure wonder in the face of Being. This makes men an oddity in nature. We are creatures of nature, we are animals, yet we are in a sense removed from nature, through our ability to prescind from all animal concerns and register the simple fact that what is, is. How and why could this capacity have arisen in us? Our duality—that we are of the world yet “above” it, registering its Being—is a clue to our purpose: it is in us and through us that existence comes face to face with itself. We are the culmination of the universe’s long struggle to come to awareness of itself. Every man or woman who experiences ekstasis, who registers Being, just is the universe saying, in effect, “I am.”
Cleary draws upon Hegelian philosophy and modern physics (which fit hand in glove, incidentally), arguing that the universe is constituted in such a way as to give rise to beings that know the universe. Those beings are us, of course, but we have arisen as a result of an extremely long process of evolution. This process cannot, however, be understood purely in terms of accident and natural selection, as Darwinism insists. Instead, there is a kind of teleology involved which drives the production of new forms, some of which may appear quite suddenly and without apparent precedent: the self-development of the whole.
Cleary’s “theory of everything” has multiple implications. For one thing, we must note that it constitutes a myth, in the original Greek sense of muthos, a story that explains or makes sense out of things (as opposed to myth as “falsehood”). Cleary’s “myth” has explanatory power, is supported by empirical data, and is simple and elegant. Further, it does not just satisfy the mind but the heart and spirit as well—the heart and spirit, that is, of Faustian-Odinic man. It explains why we are here, indeed it allots to us a role of quite literally cosmic proportions. It explains why we are the way we are, and why are both blessed and cursed with this daimonic nature.
Further, Cleary’s “myth” also has the virtue of showing why it is so imperative that we preserve and protect our people. To act for our people’s interests, to take up the cause of White Nationalism, is to protect those who practice, to use Heidegger’s words, “the saying of the unconcealedness of what is”; who “save the earth” and “receive the sky.” For those who need a philosophical justification for saving the white race, look no further. For those who need none, it is enough to want to save our people simply because they are our people. But those latter individuals, those thumotic types, don’t need a book like this one. It is a peculiarity of European people that they need a reasonfor being; and a reason to see themselves as worth saving.
Cleary avoided dealing with “politics” for a long time, but in “Ásatrú and the Political” he takes the bold step not just of linking Ásatrú with White Nationalism but of, in a sense,identifying the two. Cleary’s argument is simple.Ásatrú is an ethnic religion, a religion of a specific people (like Judaism or Hinduism), not a creedal or universalistic religion (like Christianity or Islam). Ásatrú is the expression of the spirit of a people, of our ancestors. Cleary makes the Hegelian point that in a folk or ethnic religion, a people is in a sense worshipping itself. For the religion is a way in which the people confronts and celebrates its spirit. (Hence, as discussed earlier, Odin is the embodiment of both the good and bad in the Northern European soul.) To practice Ásatrú is thus to keep faith with one’s own people. For the two are inseparable. As Cleary puts it, “The heroic commitment to our people and to its spirit just is Ásatrú. Compared to this all else—the runes, Old Norse, drinking horns, mead, skaldic verse, and so on—is external and inessential.”
The problem with our people, however, is that it is possessed by this wily, changeful god. Sometimes he helps us to “save the earth” and “receive the sky.” But sometimes, in the ecstatic transport he makes possible, we shut one eye, just like our half-blind god, and are deluded by impossible visions of “might be.” Impossible visions of infinite possibilities. And so we fall into the modern nihilism that parades itself as idealism—the promise that we can be anything we want to be (which is really the desire to be nothing at all). The belief that our nature is to have no nature is a peculiarly Western affliction. But we imagine that others yearn for the same “ideal”; that inside every Hottentot is a Westerner aching to live in an inclusive, “multicultural,” democratic society dotted with gas stations and shopping malls as far as the eye can see. We don’t recognize that we have projected our own denatured nature onto others; we don’t recognize the modern ideals of inclusiveness and multiculturalism as new forms of Western ethnocentrism. Why? Because, again, we imagine ourselves to have no nature and no real ethnos at all.
Cleary makes most of these points in his extensive review essay on Ricardo Duchesne’s The Uniqueness of Western Civilization (which appears online at Counter-Currents/North American New Right and will be reprinted in North American New Rightvolume 2). In the present volume, in his essay “Are We Free?,” he skewers the false conception of freedom to which we Westerners seem particularly prone. Cleary writes, memorably:
To be means to be something—something definite. The will to be nothing definite is simply the will not to be. This is the awful telos of modern, Western civilization. Our quest for a false freedom is at root a will to erase ourselves from the world; a death wish. Life is identity, definiteness, form, order, hierarchy, and limits. Those who would affirm life must affirm all of these things. We must say a great YES to all that which says a still greater NO to our hubris, a voice to which we moderns have become practically deaf.
We Westerners most definitely have a nature, by which we are “determined.” And, to borrow an image from Hegel, we can no more escape that nature than a man can leap over the statue of Rhodes. Cleary argues, following Hegel, that true freedom means willing, or accepting, our determination. And celebrating it. For given the glories of our history and the nobility of our souls, why would we Westerners wish to be anything other than what we are?
In his essay on Duchesne, Cleary argues that our present state of apparent decline is a stage in a historical dialectic, in which our people is coming to consciousness of itself. (And placed in the larger context of Cleary’s cosmology, this is part of the process of the universe coming to consciousness of itself.) In the next historical phase, we will—just possibly—recognize the folly of denying our nature, and the unchosen biological and cultural conditions that make it possible. We will instead choose to affirm these conditions, to will our determination. This will be the Western spirit come to complete and perfect consciousness of itself—and complete possession of itself. At that point, free of all that has hitherto bound us, we will truly “become who we are,” as Cleary puts it. First camel, then lion, then child.
The above merely scratches the surface of these wonderful essays. And I have said nothing about one of the volume’s real treats, Cleary’s essay “‘All or Nothing’: The Prisoner and Ibsen’s Brand.” This is a sequel to the essay on Patrick McGoohan’s television series The Prisoner published in Summoning the Gods. Readers who care nothing about this series will still find Cleary’s account of Brand to be extremely compelling.
Those who are awake know that today’s mainstream culture, dominated by the sensibilities of the Left, is utterly bankrupt. There is virtually nothing of merit in “serious” art, literature, or philosophy—nothing that is not somehow compromised by shallowness, cowardice, ressentiment, and lies. Artists and thinkers of the caliber of Wagner, Nietzsche, Yeats, D. H. Lawrence, Pound, Eliot, D’Annunzio, Marinetti, and Heidegger—to say nothing of Plato and Aristotle—could never get started today. To find real food for the soul, we must look to the fringes, to the vibrant counter-currents of the “New Right,” from which new and promising figures are emerging each year. We have our artists, novelists, poets, essayists, and so forth. And with Collin Cleary we have a philosopher whose works will surely survive and be celebrated when the present system is but a bad memory.