If you’re a philosophy noob, prepare yourself for a mob-grade beating should you attempt Julius Evola’s “survival manual.” Ironic indeed. But as the old Nietzsche refrain goes, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” (Or, plebeian translation, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”)
In an age where Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is being simplified for a “young adult” audience, we could use your effort on this one. Reading this book felt like I was trying to empty the Atlantic Ocean with a toy beach shovel. It didn’t help that the Kindle version didn’t transfer over properly and a quarter of the words were hieroglyphs. Some sentences, nay, chapters, came and went like icebergs passing on a moonless night.
Evola’s basic argument is that civilizations pass through phases of traditionalism and phases of dissolution, as if riding on a sine wave; we are merely along for this ride, in whichever epoch we happen to exist.
Our current epoch is clearly one of decay, as evidenced by everything from the rise of philosophies like nihilism and existentialism; to the Marxist mood that defines human beings in purely economic terms; to the obsession with the pursuit of material ends; to the individualist nature of modern art and architecture, which fail to reflect a coherent, organic traditional culture, as did the proud art of past ages that emerged from “civilization[s] of anonymous heroes”; to the modern obsession with science as the end of all knowledge, even as it grasps not to understand the world but merely for better ways to control it in service of our preconceived conclusions (I fucking love science!); to man’s attempt to subjugate nature to his individualist and materialist attitudes, rather than simply viewing and accepting nature (where nature here means rocks and grass and meadows) as the stolid reality that it is.
Ultimately, the traditional soul, the man out of time, the “differentiated man” who simply is not modern in his core, can survive in this degraded world by assuming a sense of detachment from it. He must let it pass through him so it does not destroy him: or, “ride the tiger,” as the title suggests. Evola refers to ancient wisdom, mostly Eastern philosophies like Zen Buddhism and Hindu for guidance, but even salvages worthy ideas from the modern philosophies, to guide such a man in his arriving at a mindset of “pure action” and a cool calm that transcends the fearful floundering of modern men.