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Appreciating Classical Literature

Having read and once been in possession of a few of the printed published volumes of Thesaurus Linguae Latinae [1] I seem to at last understand how that continuing scholarly endeavour, begun decades before the First World War, is emblematic of the importance of academic scholarship, and emblematic of the temporal nature of wars and especially of such national and regional conflicts as we have endured, and continue to be involved in, during the past one hundred and fifty years.

Wars, and conflicts, with their human suffering and their often civilian deaths which an appreciation of classical (Ancient Greek and Latin) literature can place into a necessary supra-personal and supra-national perspective.

For the pathei-mathos which such literature – and often the associated mythoi – can impart is of our hubris and our need for the wisdom enshrined in the phrase καλὸς κἀγαθός. That is, in the melding of τὸ καλόν (the beautiful) and τὸ ἀγαθὸν (the honourable) as in tractate XI:3 of the Corpus Hermeticum:

Ἡ δὲ τοῦ θεοῦ σοφία τί ἔστι;
Τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ τὸ καλὸν καὶ εὐδαιμονία καὶ ἡ πᾶσα ἀρετὴ καὶ ὁ αἰών.

But the Sophia of the theos is what?
The noble, the beautiful, good fortune, arête, and Aion. [2]

Where, however, τὸ καλὸν refers, in terms of individuals, to not only physical beauty – the beautiful – but also to a particular demeanour indicative of a well-balanced, noble, personal character, as for example mentioned by Xenophon in Hellenica, Book V, 3.9,

πολλοὶ δὲ αὐτῷ καὶ τῶν περιοίκων ἐθελονταὶ καλοὶ κἀγαθοὶ
ἠκολούθουν, καὶ ξένοι τῶν τροφίμων καλουμένων, καὶ νόθοι τῶν
Σπαρτιατῶν, μάλα εὐειδεῖς τε καὶ τῶν ἐν τῇ πόλει καλῶν οὐκ ἄπειροι

A personal character which Marcus Tullius Cicero also explained, in his De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum,

Honestum igitur id intellegimus, quod tale est, ut detracta omni utilitate sine ullis praemiis fructibusve per se ipsum possit iure laudari. quod quale sit, non tam definitione, qua sum usus, intellegi potest, quamquam aliquantum potest, quam communi omnium iudicio et optimi cuiusque studiis atque factis, qui permulta ob eam unam causam faciunt, quia decet, quia rectum, quia honestum est, etsi nullum consecuturum emolumentum vident. (II, 45f)

I am inclined to believe that it is unfortunate that the societies of the modern West no longer consider “a classical education” – the learning of Ancient Greek and Latin, and a study of Ancient Greek and Latin texts such as those of Cicero, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Aristotle – a necessity, as a way to wisdom, as a means to understanding our human physis.

That some individuals, such as the scholars engaged in endeavouring to complete Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, do still appreciate Ancient Greek and Latin texts provides this old man, in the twilight of his life, some comfort, some hope for our human future.

ἀθάνατοι θνητοί, θνητοὶ ἀθάνατοι, ζῶντες τὸν ἐκεί­νων θάνατον, τὸν δὲ ἐκείνων βίον τεθνεῶτες

The deathless are deathful, the deathful deathless, with one living the other’s dying with the other dying in that other’s life. [3]

David Myatt
December 2019

Extract from a letter to an Oxfordian friend, with footnotes post scriptum

[1] https://www.thesaurus.badw.de/en/tll-digital/tll-open-access.html
[2] As I have mentioned in several essays, and in my Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates: Translation and Commentary, the theos – ὁ θεὸς – is the chief classical deity (such as Zeus in Ancient Greek mythoi) and should not be understood as equivalent to the monotheistic creator God of Christianity and of the ancient Hebrews. For ὁ θεὸς is not omnipotent, and can be overthrown, as Zeus overthrew Kronos and as Kronos himself overthrew his own father.
[3] Heraclitus, Fragment 62, Diels-Krantz.

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All translations by DWM


madina5

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Concerning Humility, Tolerance, Islam, and Prejudice

The two texts below were both written in 2012 and both concern Islam and ethics. The first text is “from a reply sent, in November of 2012, to a personal correspondent living in America who enquired about my peregrinations among various religions [and] about why – as mentioned in previous correspondence – I still respected the Muslim way of life.”

The items in the second text “developed from – and in a many places summarize and/or quote from – replies I sent to various correspondents between February and November of 2012 and which correspondence concerned topics such as prejudice, my views concerning Islam and anti-Muslim groups, [and] the use of the terms culture and civilization.”

As I noted in the second text, both texts “present only my personal, fallible, opinion about such matters, and which opinion reflects the weltanschauung and the morality of my philosophy of pathei-mathos.”

I republish the texts since the problems and the attitudes described in them six years ago are still relevant – if not more relevant – now.

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I. Humility and The Need for Tolerance
With Reference to Islam

Contents

° Prefatory Note
° Of Learning Humility and Tolerance
° Of Respect for Islam
° Terror and Al-Quran
° Of Islam and Violence
° Conclusion

Humility and The Need for Tolerance
(pdf)

Extract from the chapter entitled ‘Of Learning Humility and Tolerance’

“As someone who has lived an unusual and somewhat itinerant (but far from unique) life, I have a certain practical experience, over nearly fifty years, of various living religions and spiritual Ways of Life. An experience from which I have acquired the habit of respecting all those living religions and spiritual Ways: Christianity (especially Catholicism and monasticism); Buddhism; Islam; Taoism; Hinduism; Judaism; and the paganism manifest in an empathic appreciation of and a regard for Nature.

Due to this respect, there is a sadness within me because of the ignorance, intolerance, prejudice – and often the hatred – of the apparently increasing number of people, in modern Western societies, who disparage Islam, Muslims, and the Muslim way of life, and who thus seem to me to reflect and to display that hubris, that certitude-of-knowing, that lack of appreciation of the numinous, that at least in my fallible opinion and from my experience militates against the learning, the culture, the civility, that make us more than, or can make us more than, talking beings in thrall to their instincts who happen to walk upright.

My personal practical experience of, for example, Christianity, is of being raised a Catholic, and being a Catholic monk. Of Buddhism, of spending several years meditating and striving to follow the Noble Eightfold Path, including in a Buddhist monastery and with groups of Buddhists. Of Islam, of a decade living as a Muslim, performing daily Namaz (including attending Jummah Namaz in a Mosque), fasting in Ramadan, and travelling in Muslim lands. Of Taoism, of experience – in the Far East – a Taoist Martial Art and learning from a Taoist priest. Of Hinduism, of learning – in the Far East – from a Hindu lady and of over a year on my return to England continuing my learning and undertaking daily practice of Hatha Yoga according to the Haṭha Yoga Pradipika. Of paganism, of developing an empathic reverence and respect for Nature by time spent as a rural ‘gentleman of the road’, as a gardener, and by years doing outdoor manual labour on farms…..

Following a personal tragedy which suffused me with sadness and remorse and which – via pathei-mathos – ended my life-long desire for and enjoyment of practical Faustian peregrinations, there arose a years-long period of intense interior reflexion, and which reflexion included not only discovering and knowing the moral error of my immoral extremist pasts but also questions concerning the nature of faith, of God, and our desire, in times of personal grief and tragedy and remorse, and otherwise, to seek and often to need the guidance, the catharsis, of a religion or a spiritual Way.”

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II. Concerning Islam, The West, Prejudice, and Islamophobia

Contents

° Prefatory Note
° Prejudice, Extremism, Islamophobia, and Culture
° Toward A Balanced View Of Islam and The West
° Concerning Islamophobia

Islam, The West, Prejudice, and Islamophobia
(pdf)

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Sappho Poetic Fragment

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Analysing National Socialism
(pdf)

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As described in the Preface,

Republished here are two essays – both written in January 2012 and respectively titled Some Philosophical and Moral Problems of National-Socialism and Hitler, National-Socialism, and Politics: A Personal Reappraisal – whose genesis was the development and the refinement of my earlier ‘numinous way’ into the philosophy of pathei-mathos.

The essays, although now somewhat dated, are republished because they may have some relevance for those interested in my rejection of extremism, and because the writing of the two essays enabled me to express the thoughts and feelings about the particular extremism named National Socialism engendered by the insights of that ‘numinous way’.

As I noted in Some Questions For DWM 2014,

“My writings, post-2011, were and are really dialogues: interiorly with myself and externally with a few friends or the occasional person who has contacted me and expressed an interest.”

In addition, as I wrote in Letter To My Undiscovered Self, published in 2012,

“That it took me four decades, and the tragic death of two loved ones, to discover [such] simple truths surely reveals something about the person I was and about the extremisms I championed and fought for. Now, I – with Sappho – not only say that,

“I love delicate softness:
For me, love has brought the brightness
And the beauty of the Sun”

but also that a personal, mutual, love between two human beings is the most beautiful, the most sacred, the most important, the most human, thing in the world; and that the peace that most of us hope for, desire in our hearts, only requires us to be, to become, loving, kind, fair, empathic, compassionate, human beings.

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Image credit:
Sappho Poetic Fragment
P. Oxyrhynchus. XV (1922) number 1787, fr. 1 and 2
“I love delicate softness:
For me, love has brought the brightness
And the beauty of the Sun”


John the Evangelist: Folio 209v of the Lindisfarne Gospels

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Contents

° From Mythoi To Empathy
° On Minutiae And The Art Of Revision
° An Indebtedness To Ancient Greek And Greco-Roman Culture
° The Way Of Jesus of Nazareth
° Physis And Being: Introduction To The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos
° A Note Concerning θειότης
° Time And The Separation Of Otherness
° That Heavy Dust
° Telesmata In The Picatrix
° Towards Understanding Ancestral Culture
° A Pre-Socratic Fragment: Empedocles
° The Beatitudes: A Translation
° A Note On The Term Jews In The Gospel of John
° The Joy Of Words
° Two Metaphysical Contradictions Of The Modern West
° In Defence Of The Roman Catholic Church: Part One
° In Defence Of The Roman Catholic Church: Part Two

Some Selected Essays And Effusions
(pdf)

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Collected here are some of my more recent essays and effusions together with those which were not included in printed compilations such as Sarigthersa (2015), One Vagabond (2014) and Such Respectful Wordful Offerings As This {2017).

For this second edition I have included three essays which concern a matter relating to the Roman Catholic Church.


Image credit:
John the Evangelist. Folio 209v of the Lindisfarne Gospels
British Library Cotton MS Nero D.IV

Orestes and the Ἐρινύες

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Contents

° Preface
° A Premature Grieving
° Concerning The Abstractions of Extremism and Race
° Some Notes on The Politics and Ideology of Hate
        Part One: According to the Philosophy of The Numinous Way
        Part Two: A Personal Perspective – My Uncertitude of Knowing
° Some Philosophical and Moral Problems of National-Socialism
° Suffering And The Human Culture Of Pathei-Mathos
° Persecution And War
° The Matter With Death
° Appendix I: Physis And Being
° Appendix II: Pathei-Mathos: Genesis of My Unknowing
° Appendix III: A Matter Of Honour

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Extremism And Reformation
(pdf, Third Edition)

Extract from the Preface:

The genesis of this 78-page compilation of essays was, as mentioned in the included essay A Premature Grieving, the publication in 2019, by a political advocacy group, of various unsubstantiated allegations and disinformation about me and the subsequent repetition of such allegations and disinformation by some mainstream newspapers and media outlets.

The unsubstantiated allegations and the disinformation concerned my supposed continuing involvement with extremism, specifically neo-nazism; it being apparent that neither the political advocacy group nor the newspapers and media which repeated the allegations and the disinformation had bothered to read my extensive post-2011 writings about rejecting extremism and about seeking expiation for my decades-long extremist past.

This compilation of essays is my reply to those unsubstantiated allegations and disinformation.

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Image credit:
Orestes and the Ἐρινύες. Red figure vase, c. 380 BCE


David Myatt

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While the following two part essay, written in 2012, has been superseded by my 2013 book Understanding And Rejecting Extremism (ISBN 978-1484854266) and by subsequent writings concerning the ‘philosophy of pathei-mathos’ it nevertheless in my fallible view may have some relevance for those interested both in my rejection of extremism and how and why I developed my ‘numinous way’ into the ‘philosophy of pathei-mathos’.

The writing of this essay – with its many suppositions and many generalizations and some rhetoric – helped me organize and then refine my thoughts about extremism in general and my own extremist past in particular. It also made me moderate my thoughts and how I came to express those thoughts in writing; a moderation expressed by my Understanding And Rejecting Extremism. [1]

David Myatt
May 2019

[1] A gratis open access (pdf) version of the book is available at https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/dwm-rejecting-extremism-v3.pdf

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Politics and Ideology of Hate
(pdf)


Orestes and the Ἐρινύες

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An Indebtedness To Ancient Greek And Greco-Roman Culture

One of my fond memories of English schooldays was as a Sixth Form boarder in the late 1960’s when I had a room to myself and an allowance from my father who had returned to live and work in Africa.

As recounted elsewhere [1] the allowance allowed me to travel and buy books, often from bookshops in London, Oxford, and Cambridge, and one such purchase was of the complete, multi-volume, Oxford English Dictionary, and almost every evening I loved

“to dip into it for an hour or so, discovering new words, their etymology, and a quotation or two to betake me, in the days following, to some library or some bookshop to find and to read the work or works in question. I enjoyed the richness, the diversity, the flexibility, of the English language; its assimilation of so many words from other languages, and that ambiguity of sound which sometimes led to or could lead to such variations in spelling as sometimes seemed to annoy those who desired to reform that language and which reform would see its versatility, quirkiness, and heritage, lost in order to fit some boring manufactured schemata.” [2]

Such schoolboy habits would prove useful when I began to develope my philosophy of pathei-mathos and saught to express my intuitions about Being and about our mortal being through the medium of English words.

Such an expression led me to use some non-English terms mostly from Ancient Greek but occasionally from Latin in the hope that such terms would not only be able to convey my meaning better than some easily mis-understood English term but also might be assimilated into the English language as philosophical terms either in their transliterated English form or in their Greek and Latin form.

Such terms might also reveal my indebtedness to Ancient Greek and Greco-Roman culture and how and why the philosophy of pathei-mathos is both a “transition from mythoi and anthropomorphic deities (theos and theoi) to an appreciation of the numinous sans denotatum and sans religion” [3] and thus a return to individual insight and understanding over impersonal abstractions/ideations, over denotatum, and over religious and political dogma, with the Latin denotatum – used as an Anglicized term and which thus can be used to describe both singular and plural instances of denoting and naming – a useful example of my somewhat idiosyncratic methodology.

Thus and for example I used and use σοφόν instead of σοφός when the sense implied is not the usual “skilled”, or “learned” or “wise” but rather what lies beyond and what was/is the genesis of what is presenced in a person as skill, or learning, or wisdom.

I used and use σωφρονεῖν in preference to σωφροσύνη (sophrosyne) to suggest a fair and balanced personal judgement rather than the fairly modern English interpretation of sophrosyne as “soundness of mind, moderation”.

I used and use Δίκα instead of δίκη when the sense implied is “what lies beyond and what was the genesis of δίκη personified as [a] goddess”, which is the natural instinct in those of noble physis (φύσις) for honour, fairness, and beauty – καλὸς κἀγαθός [4] – and thus the natural balance rather than “the correct/customary/ancestral way” or an abstract, impersonal, modern-type of “justice”.

In most such cases the Greek words are used, as I wrote in A Note On Greek Terms In The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos, in an Anglicized way – as transliterated terms such as pathei-mathos and enantiodromia are – with there being no need to employ Greek inflective forms.

In the cases where the Greek words are not transliterated – σωφρονεῖν as sophronein for example – the intent was to not only provide a direct link to Ancient Greek and Greco-Roman culture but also to signify that the word represents an important or interesting metaphysical principle in the philosophy of pathei-mathos.

Hence σοφόν – sophon – is how and why empathy and pathei-mathos can reveal and can presence our physis, the nature of our being, the nature of Being itself, and reveal that Time is not only causal but acausal. It also suggests, as do Δίκα and σωφρονεῖν, the primacy and the importance of individual insight and understanding.

In a world where propaganda and disinformation still proliferate, based as they are on denotatum and often on political dogma and impersonal abstractions/ideations, and in a world where mythoi and anthropomorphic deities (theos and theoi) and thus organized religion still seem to dominate, the philosophy of pathei-mathos provides an alternative: the individual way of pathei-mathos and of empathy, based as it is on four axioms:

(i) that it is empathy and pathei-mathos which can wordlessly reveal the ontological reality both of our own physis and of how we, as sentient beings, relate to other living beings and to Being itself; (ii) that it is denotatum – and thus the abstractions deriving therefrom – which, in respect of human beings, can and often do obscure our physis and our relation to other living beings and to Being; (iii) that denotatum and abstractions imply a dialectic of contradictory opposites and thus for we human beings a separation-of-otherness; and (iv) that this dialectic of opposites is, has been, and can be a cause of suffering for both ourselves, as sentient beings, and – as a causal human presenced effect – for the other life with which we share the planet named in English as Earth. [5]

Does my idiosyncratic use of Ancient Greek and Latin terms make this philosophy confusing, difficult to understand and difficult to appreciate? Perhaps. But since philosophia – ϕιλοσοϕία – is, at least according to my fallible understanding, becoming a friend of σοφόν, [6] and since such a personal friendship involves seeking to understand Being, beings, and Time, and since part of the ethos of the culture of the West – heir to Ancient Greek and Greco-Roman culture – is or at least was a personal and rational quest for understanding and knowledge, then perhaps some effort, as befits those of noble physis who appreciate and who may seek to presence καλὸς κἀγαθός, is only to be expected.

David Myatt
April 2019

[1] Early Years, in Myngath: Some Recollections of a Wyrdful and Extremist Life. 2013. ISBN 978-1484110744.

[2] The Joy Of Words, 2013.

[3] From Mythoi To Empathy: Toward A New Appreciation Of The Numinous. 2018.

[4] I have described καλὸς κἀγαθός in my two recent books Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos, and Tu Es Diaboli Ianua.

[5] Physis And Being: An Introduction To The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos. 2019.

[6] The Way of Pathei-Mathos: A Philosophical Compendiary, in The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos, fifth edition, 2018. ISBN 978-1484096642.

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Image credit:
Orestes and the Ἐρινύες. Red figure vase, c. 380 BCE