Centralised / Dispersed





Centralised                            -                      Dispersed
                   



Many sincere men feel that liberty, even though it may contribute most to internal welfare, cannot stand up against despotism in the external struggle. Liberty, they argue, means too much dissipation of energy, too much delay, too much division. These feelings make it easier for them to accept the loss of liberty as an inevitable destiny.

Then, in the economic structure, the economic arrangements which during the past several centuries aided political liberty, are being rapidly swept away. Private-capitalist ownership of the economy meant a dispersion of economic power and a partial separation between economic and other social forces in a manner that prevented the concentration of an overwhelming single social force.

Today the advance of the managerial revolution is everywhere concentrating economic power in the state apparatus, where it tends to unite with control over the other great social forces--the army, education, labor, law, the political bureaucracy, art, and science even. 

This development, too, tends to destroy the basis for those social oppositions that keep freedom alive.

[James Burnham]
The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, p.227

 


[…] any organisation has to strive continuously for the orderliness of order and the disorderliness of creative freedom. And the specific danger inherent in large-scale organisation is that its natural bias and tendency favour order, at the expense of creative freedom.

We can associate many further pairs of opposites with this basic pair of order and freedom. Centralisation is mainly an idea of order; decentralisation, one of freedom. The man of order is typically the accountant and, generally, the administrator; while the man of creative freedom is the entrepreneur. Order requires intelligence and is conducive to efficiency; while freedom calls for, and opens the door to, intuition and leads to innovation.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p. 203



Related posts:

Force of Will




Numerous and varied are the personal qualities thanks to which certain individuals succeed in ruling the masses.

These qualities, which may be considered as specific qualities of leadership, are not necessarily all assembled in every leader. Among them, the chief is the force of will which reduces to obedience less powerful wills.

Next in importance come the following: a wider extent of knowledge which impresses the members of the leaders' environment; a catonian strength of conviction, a force of ideas often verging on fanaticism, and which arouses the respect of the masses by its very intensity; self-sufficiency, even if accompanied by arrogant pride, so long as the leader knows how to make the crowd share his own pride in himself; in exceptional cases, finally, goodness of heart and disinterestedness, qualities which recall in the minds of the crowd the figure of Christ, and reawaken religious sentiments which are decayed but not extinct.

[Robert Michels]
Political Parties, p. 72



Related posts:

The De-Souling of Culture




Civilisation                            -                      Culture
Atheistic                                -                      Theistic 
Intelligence                            -                      Wisdom 
Profane                                   -                      Sacred 
Machine                                 -                      Organism 
                   



Atheism, rightly understood, is the necessary expression of a spirituality that has accomplished itself and exhausted its religious possibilities, and is declining into the inorganic.

Atheism comes not with the evening of the Culture but with the dawn of the Civilization. It belongs to the great city, to the "educated man" of the great city who acquires mechanistically what his fore fathers the creators of the Culture had lived organically.

Men continue to experience the outer world that extends around them as a cosmos of well-ordered bodies or a world-cavern or efficient space, as the case may be, but they no longer livingly experience the sacred causality in it. They only learn to know it in a profane causality that is, or is desired to be, inclusively mechanical.

There are atheisms of Classical, Arabian and Western kinds and these differ from one another in meaning and in matter. Nietzsche formulated the dynamic atheism on the basis that "God is dead," and a Classical philosopher would have expressed the static and Euclidean by saying that the "gods who dwell in the holy places are "dead," the one indicating that boundless space has, the other that countless bodies have, become godless.

But dead space and dead things are the "facts" of physics. The atheist is unable to experience any difference between the Nature-picture of physics and that of religion.

Language, with a fine feeling, distinguishes wisdom and intelligence - the early and the late, the rural and the megalopolitan conditions of the soul. Intelligence even sounds atheistic. No one would describe Heraclitus or Meister Eckart as an intelligence, but Socrates and Rousseau were intelligent and not “wise" men. There is something root-less in the word. 

It is only from the standpoint of the Stoic and of the Socialist, of the typical irreligious man, that want of intelligence is a matter for contempt.

The spiritual in every living Culture is religious, has religion, whether it be conscious of it or not. That it exists, becomes, develops, fulfils itself, is its religion. It is not open to a spirituality to be irreligious; at most it can play with the idea of irreligion as Medicean Florentines did.

But the megalopolitan is irreligious; this is part of his being, a mark of his historical position. Bitterly as he may feel the inner emptiness and poverty, earnestly as he may long to be religious, it is out of his power to be so.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 408-9



Related posts:

From Static to Dynamic




“The will of God" for us is a pleonasm — God (or “Nature," as some say) is nothing but will.

After the Renaissance the notion of God sheds the old sensuous and personal traits [...] becomes little by little identical with the notion of infinite space and in becoming so becomes transcendent world-will.

And therefore it is that about 1700 painting has to yield to instrumental music — the only art that in the end is capable of clearly expressing what we feel about God.

Consider, in contrast with this, the gods of Homer. Zeus emphatically does not possess full powers over the world, but is simply "primus inter pares," a body amongst bodies, as the Apollinian world-feeling requires. Blind necessity, the Ananke immanent in the cosmos of Classical consciousness, is in no sense dependent upon him; on the contrary, the Gods are subordinate to It.

The Classical soul, therefore, with its parts and its properties, imagines itself as an Olympus of little gods, and to keep these at peace and in harmony with one another is the ideal of the Greek life-ethic of Temperance and Ataraxia.

More than one of the philosophers betrays the connexion by calling nous, the highest part of the soul, Zeus. Aristotle assigns to his deity the single function of […] contemplation, and this is Diogenes's ideal also — a completely-matured static of life in contrast to the equally ripe dynamic of our 18th-Century ideal.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 312-3



Related posts:

Deep Code




There are as many morales as there are Cultures, no more and no fewer.

Just as every painter every musician has something in him which, by force of inward necessity never emerges into consciousness but dominates a priori the form-language of his work and differentiates that work from the work of every other Culture, so every conception of Life held by a Culture-man possesses a priori (in the very strictest Kantian sense of the phrase) a constitution that is deeper than all momentary judgments and strivings and impresses the style of these with the hall-mark of the particular Culture.

The individual may act morally or immorally, may do "good" or "evil" with respect to the primary feeling of his Culture, but the theory of his actions is not a result but a datum. Each Culture possesses its own standards, the validity of which begins and ends with it.

There is no general morale of humanity […]

Just as we are incapable of altering our world-feeling - so incapable that even in trying to alter it we have to follow the old lines and confirm instead of overthrowing it - so also we are powerless to alter the ethical basis of our waking being […]

We may talk to-day of transvaluing all our values; we may, as Megalopolitans, “go back to” Buddhism or Paganism or a romantic Catholicism; we may champion as Anarchists an individualist or as Socialists a collectivist ethic - but in spite of all we do, will and feel the same.

A conversion to Theosophy or Freethinking or one of the present-day transitions from a supposed Christianity to a supposed Atheism (or vice versa) is an alteration of words and notions, of the religious or intellectual surface, no more. None of our "movements" have changed man.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 345-6




The text of a conviction is never a test of its reality, for man is rarely conscious of his own beliefs.

Catchwords and doctrines are always more or less popular and external as compared with deep spiritual actualities. Our theoretical reverence for the propositions of the New Testament is in fact of the same order as the theoretical reverence of the Renaissance and of Classicism for antique art; the one has no more transformed the spirit of men than the other has transformed the spirit of works.

The oft noted cases of the Mendicant Orders, the Moravians and the Salvation Army prove by their very rarity, and even more by the slightness of the effects that they have been able to produce, that they are exceptions in a quite different generality - namely, the Faustian-Christian morale.

That morale will not indeed be found formulated, either by Luther or by the Council of Trent, but all Christians of the great style - Innocent III and Calvin, Loyola and Savonarola, Pascal and St. Theresa - have had it in them, even in unconscious contradiction to their own formal teachings.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 348




[…] the word “God” in antithesis to “world” has always - however interpreted in this or that case - implied exactly what is implied in the word “will” with respect to soul, viz., the power that moves all that is within its domain.

Thought no sooner leaves Religion for Science than we get the double myth of concepts, in physics and psychology. The concepts “force,” “mass,” “will,” “passion” rest not on objective experience but on a life-feeling. Darwinism is nothing but a specially shallow formulation of this feeling […]

When a Materialist or Darwinian speaks of a "Nature" that orders everything, that effects selections, that produces and destroys anything, he differs only to the extent of one word from the 18th-Century Deist.

The world-feeling has undergone no change.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 312



Related posts:

The Duty to Work




It is not attitude and mien, but activity that is to be given form.

As in China and in Egypt, life only counts in so far as it is deed. And it is the mechanicalizing of the organic concept of Deed that leads to the concept of work as commonly understood, the civilized form of Faustian effecting.

This morale, the insistent tendency to give to Life the most active forms imaginable, is stronger than reason, whose moral programs — be they never so reverenced, inwardly believed or ardently championed — are only effective in so far as they either lie, or are mistakenly supposed to lie, in the direction of this force. Otherwise they remain mere words.

We have to distinguish, in all modernism, between the popular side with its dolce far niente, its solicitude for health, happiness, freedom from care, and universal peace — in a word, its supposedly Christian ideals — and the higher Ethos which values deeds only, which (like everything else that is Faustian) is neither understood nor desired by the masses, which grandly idealizes the Aim and therefore Work.

If we would set against the Roman "panem et circenses" […] some corresponding symbol of the North […] it would be the "Right to Work." This was the basis of Fichte's thoroughly Prussian (and now European) conception of State-Socialism, and in the last terrible stages of evolution it will culminate in the Duty to Work.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 362



Related posts:

The Lie of Life




Something has come to an end.

The Northern soul has exhausted its inner possibilities, and of the dynamic force and insistence that had expressed itself in world-historical visions of the future - visions of millennial scope - nothing remains but the mere pressure, the passion yearning to create, the form without the content.

This soul was Will and nothing but Will. It needed an aim for its Columbus-longing; it had to give its inherent activity at least the illusion of a meaning and an object.

And so the keener critic will find a trace of Hjalmar Ekdal in all modernity, even its highest phenomena. Ibsen called it the lie of life. There is something of this lie in the entire intellect of the Western Civilization, so far as this applies itself to the future of religion, of art or of philosophy, to a social-ethical aim, a Third Kingdom.

For deep down beneath it all is the gloomy feeling, not to be repressed, that all this hectic zeal is the effort of a soul that may not and cannot rest to deceive itself.

This is the tragic situation — the inversion of the Hamlet motive — that produced Nietzsche's strained conception of a "return," which nobody really believed but he himself clutched fast lest the feeling of a mission should slip out of him. This Life's lie is the foundation of Bayreuth – which would be something whereas Pergamum was something - and a thread through the entire fabric of Socialism, political, economic and ethical, which forces itself to ignore the annihilating seriousness of its own final implications, so as to keep alive the illusion of the historical necessity of its own existence.

[Oswald Spengler] 
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 364



Related posts:

The Coming of Nihilism




Civilisation                            -                      Culture
Mechanism                            -                      Organism 
Barren                                    -                      Fertile  
                   



Each of the three [Buddhism, Stoicism, Socialism] buried a millennium of spiritual depth [...] In each case, the ideals of yesterday, the religious and artistic and political forms that have grown up through the centuries, are undone.

Each proclaimed his gospel to mankind, but it was to the mankind of the city intelligentsia, which was tired of the town and the Late Culture, and whose "pure" (i.e., soulless) reason longed to be free from them and their authoritative form and their hardness, from the symbolism with which it was no longer in living communion and which therefore it detested.

The Culture was annihilated by discussion.

If we pass in review the great 19th-Century names with which we associate the march of this great drama - Schopenhauer, Hebbel, Wagner, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Strindberg - we comprehend in a glance that which Nietzsche, in a fragmentary preface to his incomplete master-work, deliberately and correctly called the Coming of Nihilism.

Every one of the great Cultures knows it, for it is of deep necessity inherent in the finale of these mighty organisms. Socrates was a nihilist, and Buddha. There is an Egyptian or an Arabian or a Chinese de-souling of the human being, just as there is a Western.

This is a matter not of mere political and economic, nor even of religious and artistic, transformations, nor of any tangible or factual change whatsoever, but of the condition of a soul after it has actualized its possibilities in full.

Not external life and conduct, not institutions and customs, but deepest and last things are question here - the inward finishedness (Fertigsein) of megalopolitan man, and of the provincial as well. For the Classical world this condition sets in with the Roman age; for us it will set in from about the year 2000.

For Western existence the distinction lies at about the year 1800 - on the one side of that frontier life in fullness and sureness of itself, formed by growth from within, in one great uninterrupted evolution from Gothic childhood to Goethe and Napoleon, and on the other the autumnal, artificial, rootless life of our great cities, under forms fashioned by the intellect.

Culture and Civilization - the living body of a soul and the mummy of it […] Culture and Civilization - the organism born of Mother Earth, and the mechanism proceeding from hardened fabric. Culture-man lives inwards, Civilization-man outwards in space and amongst bodies and “facts."

That which the one feels as Destiny the other understands as a linkage of causes and effects, and thenceforward he is a materialist - in the sense of the word valid for, and only valid for, Civilization – whether he wills it or no, and whether Buddhist, Stoic or Socialist doctrines wear the garb of religion or not.

The feeling of strangeness in these forms, the idea that they are a burden from which creative freedom requires to be relieved, the impulse to overhaul the stock in order by the light of reason to turn it to better account, the fatal imposition of thought upon the inscrutable quality of creativeness, are all symptoms of a soul that is beginning to tire.

Only the sick man feels his limbs.

Life is no longer to be lived as something self-evident - hardly a matter of consciousness, let alone choice - or to be accepted as God-willed destiny, but is to be treated as a problem, presented as the intellect sees it, judged by “utilitarian” or “rational” criteria.

The brain rules because the soul abdicates. Culture-men live unconsciously, civilisation-men consciously. The megalopolis - sceptical, practical, artificial - alone represents Civilisation to-day. The soil-peasantry before its gates does not count. The "People" means the city-people, an inorganic mass, something fluctuating. The peasant is not democratic - this again being a notion belonging to mechanical and urban existence - and he is therefore overlooked, despised, detested. With the vanishing of the old "estates" - gentry and priesthood - he is the only organic man, the sole relic of the Early Culture.

[Faust] is Civilization in the place of Culture, external mechanism in place of internal organism, intellect as the petrifact of extinct soul.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p.352-4, 357



Related posts:

Interpretations of History




The Classical spirit, with its oracles and its omens, wants only to know the future, but the Westerner would shape it […] The Socialist - the dying Faust of Part II - is the man of historical care, who feels the Future as his task and aim, and accounts the happiness of the moment as worthless in comparison.

It is well, at this point, to recall once more that each of the different great Cultures has pictured world-history in its own special way. Classical man only saw himself and his fortunes as statically present with himself, and did not ask "whence" or "whither." Universal history was for him an impossible notion. This is the static way of looking at history.

Magian man sees it as the great cosmic drama of creation and foundering, the struggle between Soul and Spirit, Good and Evil, God and Devil - a strictly-defined happening with, as its culmination, one single Peripeteia - the appearance of the Saviour.

Faustian man sees in history a tense unfolding towards an aim; its "ancient-mediæval-modern" sequence is a dynamic image. He cannot picture history to himself in any other way. This scheme of three parts is not indeed world-history as such general world-history. 

But it is the image of world-history as it is conceived in the Faustian style.

It begins to be true and consistent with the beginning of the Western Culture and ceases with its ceasing; and Socialism in the highest sense is logically the crown of it, the form of its conclusive state that has been implicit in it from Gothic onwards.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p.363



Related posts:

Explain Away




Is it, then, possible to imagine a new Natural Philosophy, continually conscious that the ‘natural object’ produced by analysis and abstraction is not reality but only a view, and always correcting the abstraction? […]

The regenerate science which I have in mind would not do even to minerals and vegetables what modern science threatens to do to man himself. When it explained it would not explain away. When it spoke of the parts it would remember the whole. While studying the It it would not lose what Martin Buber calls the Thou-situation […]

Its followers would not be free with the words only and merely. In a word, it would conquer Nature without being at the same time conquered by her and buy knowledge at a lower cost than that of life.

Perhaps I am asking impossibilities. Perhaps, in the nature of things, analytical understanding must always be a basilisk which kills what it sees and only sees by killing. But if the scientists themselves cannot arrest this process before it reaches the common Reason and kills that too, then someone else must arrest it.

What I most fear is the reply that I am 'only one more' obscurantist, that this barrier, like all previous barriers set up against the advance of science, can be safely passed. Such a reply springs from the fatal serialism of the modern imagination - the image of infinite unilinear progression which so haunts our minds.

Because we have to use numbers so much we tend to think of every process as if it must be like the numeral series, where every step, to all eternity, is the same kind of step as the one before.

There are progressions in which the last step is sui generis - incommensurable with the others - and in which to go the whole way is to undo all the labour of your previous journey. To reduce the Tao to a mere natural product is a step of that kind. Up to that point, the kind of explanation which explains things away may give us something, though at a heavy cost.

But you cannot go on ‘explaining away' for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on 'seeing through' things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it.

It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to ‘see through' first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ‘see through' all things is the same as not to see.

[C.S. Lewis]
‘The Abolition of Man’, Selected Books, p.428-9




Experience means to us an activity of the intellect, which does not resignedly confine itself to receiving, acknowledging and arranging momentary and purely present impressions, but seeks them out and calls them up in order to overcome them in their sensuous presence and to bring them into an unbounded unity in which their sensuous discreteness is dissolved.

Experience in our sense possesses the tendency from particular to infinite. And for that very reason it is in contradiction with the feeling of Classical science.

What for us is the way to acquire experience is for the Greek the way to lose it. And therefore he kept away from the drastic method of experiment; therefore his physics, instead of being a mighty system of worked-out laws and formula that strong-handedly override the sense present ("only knowledge is power"), is an aggregate of impressions - well ordered, intensified by sensuous imagery, clean-edged - which leaves Nature intact in its self-completeness.

It would never have occurred to a Classical physicist to investigate things while at the same time denying or annihilating their perceivable form. And for that very reason there was no Classical chemistry, any more than there was any theorizing on the substance as against the manifestations of Apollo.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol.1, p. 383, 394



Related posts:

Spirit / Soul




Spirit                                    -                      Soul
Reason                                 -                      Instinct
Cerebral                               -                      Visceral
Outside                                 -                      Inside





Where the old [education] initiated, the new merely ‘conditions'. The old dealt with its pupils as grown birds deal with young birds when they teach them to fly; the new deals with them more as the poultry-keeper deals with young birds - making them thus or thus for purposes of which the birds know nothing.

In a word, the old was a kind of propagation - men transmitting manhood to men; the new is merely propaganda.

[…] They probably have some vague notion […] that valour and good faith and justice could be sufficiently commended to the pupil on what they would call 'rational' or 'biological’ or ‘modern' grounds, if it should ever become necessary […] Let us suppose for a moment that the harder virtues could really be theoretically justifed with no appeal to objective value. It still remains true that no justification of virtue will enable a man to be virtuous.

Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism. 

I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite sceptical about ethics, but bred to believe that ‘a gentleman does not cheat', than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharpers. In battle it is not syllogisms that will keep the reluctant nerves and muscles to their post in the third hour of the bombardment. The crudest sentimentalism […] about a flag or a country or a regiment will be of more use.

We were told it all long ago by Plato. As the king governs by his executive, so Reason in man must rule the mere appetites by means of the ‘spirited element’. The head rules the belly through the chest - the seat, as Alanus tells us, of Magnanimity, of emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments.

The Chest - Magnanimity - Sentiment - these are the indispensable liaison officers between cerebral man and visceral man. It may even be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal.

[C.S. Lewis]
‘The Abolition of Man’, Selected Books, p. 407



Related posts:

Stages of the same deviation




[…] when a few people have become conscious of the disorder of these days [...] and when these people try to 'react’ in one way or another, the best means for making their desire for ‘reaction' ineffective is surely to direct it toward one of the earlier and less 'advanced’ stages of the same deviation, some stage in which disorder had not yet become so apparent, and was as it here presented under an outward aspect more acceptable to anyone not yet completely blinded by certain suggestions.

Anyone who considers himself a 'traditionalist' must normally declare himself ‘anti-modern', but he may not be any the less affected, though he be unaware of the fact, by modern ideas in a more or less attenuated form; they are then less easily detected, but they always correspond in fact to one or another of the stages passed through by these same ideas in the course of their development; no concession, even unconscious or involuntary, is admissible on this point, for from the very beginning up to the present day, and beyond that too, everything holds together and is inexorably interlinked.

In that connection, this much more must be said: the work that has as its object to prevent all ‘reaction' from aiming at anything further back than a return to a lesser disorder, while at the same time concealing the character of the lesser disorder so that it may pass as ‘order', fits in very exactly with the other work carried out with a view to securing the penetration of the modern spirit into the interior of whatever is left of traditional organizations of any kind in the West; the same ‘neutralizing’ effect on forces of which the opposition might become formidable is obtained in both cases.

Moreover, something more than mere ‘neutralization' is involved, for a struggle must necessarily take place between the elements thus brought together as it were on the same level and on the same ground, and their reciprocal enmity is therefore no more than an enmity between the various and apparently opposed productions of one and the same modern deviation; thus the final result can only be a fresh increase in disorder and confusion, which simply amounts to one more step toward final dissolution.

As between all the more or less incoherent things that are today in constant agitation and mutual collision, as between all external ‘movements’ of whatever kind they may be, there is no occasion to ‘take sides’, to use the common expression, whether from a traditional or from a merely 'traditionalist’ point of view, for to do so is to become a dupe. Since the same influences are really operating behind all these things, it is really playing their game to join in the struggles promoted and directed by them; therefore the mere fact of ‘taking sides’ under such conditions is necessarily to adopt, however unwittingly, a truly anti-traditional attitude.

[René Guénon]
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p.212-4



Related posts:

Standardised




Standardised                     -                      Bespoke
Machine                            -                      Human
Unit                                   -                      Individual
Large scale                        -                      Small scale
Efficient                            -                      Inefficient




[…] quantity will predominate over quality in individuals to the extent that they approach a condition in which they are, so to speak, mere individuals and nothing more, and to the extent that they are thereby more separate one from another […]

This separation turns individuals into so many 'units’, and turns their collectivity into quantitative multiplicity; at the limit, these individuals would be no more than something comparable to the imagined ‘atoms’ of the physicists, deprived of every qualitative determination; and although this limit can never in fact be reached, it lies in the direction which the world of today is following.

A mere glance at things as they are is enough to make it clear that the aim is everywhere to reduce everything to uniformity, whether it be human beings themselves or the things among which they live, and it is obvious that such a result can only be obtained by suppressing as far as possible every qualitative distinction; but it is particularly to be noted that some people, through a strange delusion, are all too willing to mistake this ‘uniformization’ for a ‘unification', whereas it is really exactly the opposite, as must appear evident in the light of the ever more marked accentuation of 'separativity’ implied.

It must be insisted that quantity can only separate and cannot unite; everything that proceeds from ‘matter’ produces nothing but antagonism, in many diverse forms, between fragmentary ʻunits' that are at a point directly opposite to true unity, or at least are pressing toward that point with all the weight of a quantity no longer balanced by quality […]

[René Guénon] 
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p. 47-8

 


[…] according to the traditional conception, it is the essential qualities of beings that determine their activity; according to the profane conception on the other hand, these qualities are no longer taken into account, and individuals are regarded as no more than interchangeable and purely numerical ‘units'. 

The latter conception can only logically lead to the exercise of a wholly ‘mechanical’ activity, in which there remains nothing truly human, and that is exactly what we can see happening today. 

It need hardly be said that the ‘mechanical’ activities of the moderns, which constitute industry properly so called and are only a product of the profane deviation, can afford no possibility of an initiatic kind, and further, that they cannot be anything but obstacles to the development of all spirituality; indeed they cannot properly be regarded as authentic crafts, if that word is to retain the force of its traditional meaning.

There is thus no difficulty in seeing how far removed true craft is from modern industry, so much so that the two are as it were opposites, and how far it is unhappily true that in the reign of quantity the craft is, as the partisans of 'progress' so readily declare, a ‘thing of the past'.

The workman in industry cannot put into his work anything of himself, and a lot of trouble would even be taken to prevent him if he had the least inclination to try to do so; but he cannot even try, because all his activity consists solely in making a machine go, and because in addition he is rendered quite incapable of initiative by the professional 'formation' - or rather deformation - he has received, which is practically the antithesis of the ancient apprenticeship, and has for its sole object to teach him to execute certain movements ‘mechanically’ and always in the same way, without having at all to understand the reason for them or to trouble himself about the result, for it is not he, but the machine, that will really fabricate the object.

Servant of the machine, the man must become a machine himself, and thenceforth his work has nothing really human in it, for it no longer implies the putting to work of any of the qualities that really constitute human nature.

The end of all this is what is called in present-day jargon ‘mass-production’, the purpose of which is only to produce the greatest possible quantity of objects, and of objects as exactly alike as possible, intended for the use of men who are supposed to be no less alike; that is indeed the triumph of quantity, as was pointed out earlier, and it is by the same token the triumph of uniformity.

[René Guénon] 
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p. 58, 60-1




The conclusion that emerges clearly from all this is that uniformity, in order that it may be possible, presupposes beings deprived of all qualities and reduced to nothing more than simple numerical ‘units'; also that no such uniformity is ever in fact realizable, while the result of all the efforts made to realize it, notably in the human domain, can only be to rob beings more or less completely of their proper qualities, thus turning them into something as nearly as possible like mere machines; and machines, the typical product of the modern world, are the very things that represent, in the highest degree attained up till now, the predominance of quantity over quality. 

From a social viewpoint, ‘democratic' and 'egalitarian' conceptions tend toward exactly the same end, for according to them all individuals are equivalent one to another. 

This idea carries with it the absurd supposition that everyone is equally well fitted for anything whatsoever, though nature provides no example of any such 'equality’, for the reasons already given, since it would imply nothing but a complete similitude between individuals; but it is obvious that, in the name of this assumed 'equality’, which is one of the topsy-turvy 'ideals' most dear to the modern world, individuals are in fact directed toward becoming as nearly alike one to another as nature allows - and this in the first place by the attempt to impose a uniform education on everyone. 

It is no less obvious that differences of aptitude cannot in spite of everything be entirely suppressed, so that a uniform education will not give exactly the same results for all; but it is all too true that, although it cannot confer on anyone qualities that he does not possess, it is on the contrary very well to suppress in everyone all possibilities above the common level; this ‘levelling’ always works downward: indeed, it could not work in any other way, being itself only an expression of the tendency toward the lowest, that is, toward pure quantity […]

[René Guénon]
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p. 51-2



Related posts:

The Common Man




It is this profound scepticism about the common man that is the common point in the contradictory elements of modern thought.
 
That is why Mr. Bernard Shaw wants to evolve a new animal that shall live longer and grow wiser than man. That is why Mr. Sidney Webb wants to herd the men that exist like sheep, or animals much more foolish than man.
 
They are not rebelling against an abnormal tyranny; they are rebelling against what they think is a normal tyranny - the tyranny of the normal. They are not in revolt against the King. They are in revolt against the Citizen.
 
The old revolutionist, when he stood on the roof and looked over the city, used to say to himself, “Think how the princes and nobles revel in their palaces; think how the captains and cohorts ride the streets and trample on the people." But the new revolutionist is not brooding on that. He is saying, "Think of all those stupid men in vulgar villas or ignorant slums. Think how badly they teach their children; think how they do the wrong things to the dog and offend the feelings of the parrot."
 
In short, these sages, rightly or wrongly, cannot trust the normal man to rule in the home, and most certainly do not want him to rule in the State. They do not really want to give him any political power. They are willing to give him a vote, because they have long discovered that it need not give him any power. They are not willing to give him a house, or a wife, or child, or a dog, or a cow, or a piece of land, because these things really do give him power.
 
[G. K. Chesterton] 
The Outline of Sanity, p. 181-2




The 'Gammon' is pilloried for his refusal to move with the times. At a deep level this is an attack on working class values - which run counter to the prevailing global agenda - although it daren't be openly characterised as such, at least not yet. 



Objective / Subjective




Subjective                           -                      Objective
Personal                              -                      Universal
Individual                           -                      Collective




There is something for Peirce that transcends the individual interpretation of the interpreter, and it is the transcendental idea of a community, a community as a transcendental principle. 

This principle is not transcendental in the Kantian sense, because it does not come before but after the semiosic process; it is not the structure of the human mind that produces the interpretation but the reality that the semiosis builds up. 

Anyway, from the moment in which the community is pulled to agree with a given interpretation, there is, if not an objective, at least an intersubjective meaning which acquires a privilege over any other possible interpretation spelled out without the agreement of the community. 

The thought or opinion that defines reality must therefore belong to a community of knowers, and this community must be structured and disciplined in accordance with supra-individual principles. 

The real is “the idea in which the community ultimately settles down”. “The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real”.

“The real, then, is what, sooner or later, information and reasoning would finally result in, and which is therefore independent of the vagaries of me and you ... The very origin of the conception of reality shows that this conception essentially involves the notion of a community”.

There is community because there is no intuition in the Cartesian sense. The transcendental meaning is not there and cannot be grasped by an eidetic intuition: Derrida was correct in saying that the phenomenology of Peirce does not - like Husserl's - reveal a presence. But if the sign does not reveal the thing itself, the process of semiosis produces in the long run a socially shared notion of the thing that the community is engaged to take as if it were in itself true. The transcendental meaning is not at the origins of the process but must be postulated as a possible and transitory end of every process.

In the Peircean line of thought it can be asserted that any community of interpreters, in the course of their common inquiry about what kind of object the text they are reading is, can frequently reach (even though nondefinitively and in a fallible way) an agreement about it. 

[…] to reach an agreement about the nature of a given text does not mean either (a) that the interpreters must trace back to the original intention of its author or (b) that such a text must have a unique and final meaning. There are “open” texts that support multiple interpretations, and any common agreement about them ought to concern just their open nature and the textual strategies that make them work that way.

But, even though the interpreters cannot decide which interpretation is the privileged one, they can agree on the fact that certain interpretations are not contextually legitimated. Thus, even though using a text as a playground for implementing unlimited semiosis, they can agree that at certain moments the “play of amusement” can transitorily stop by producing a consensual judgement. 

[Umberto Eco]
The Limits of Interpretation, p. 40-42



Related posts:

Attractive Assemblages




What we see in human decision makers is a whole body of anecdotes. I tell a story, you tell a story, I like your story so I tell similar stories. On the internet that happens much faster. 

Then those stories form a trope, and it reaches a critical mass and goes through a phase shift and then the trope/assemblage/strange attractor exists independently of the story-teller. People effectively get sucked into it, they can’t escape from it. 

Then they start to filter things, because the assemblage is a cognitive activation pattern. 

[Dave Snowden]
'Naturalising Sense-making w/ Dave Snowden. September 3rd, 2020'




The influence on people's actions and on the course of events that derivations—theories, doctrines, reasoning—seem at times to have is always deceiving the surface observer. At most the derivations strengthen already existing residues—a truth well realized by skilled propagandists; for the rest, they operate only indirectly.

The seeming influence of the derivation is in reality the influence of the residue which it expresses. It is for this reason that the “logical” refutation of theories used in politics never accomplishes anything so long as the residues remain intact.

Scientists proved with the greatest ease that the Nazi racial theories were altogether false, but that had no effect at all in getting Nazis to abandon those theories, and even if they had abandoned them, they would merely have substituted some new derivation to express the same residues.

[James Burnham]
The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, p.176

Clarity




Those who know that they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound to the crowd strive for obscurity. 

For the crowd believes that if it cannot see to the bottom of something it must be profound. It is so timid and dislikes going into the water. 

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
The Gay Science, 173



Fact / Fiction



Fact                     -                    Fiction
Theory                 -                    Story
Literal                 -                    Figurative




One ought not to make ‘cause' and 'effect' into material things, as natural scientists do (and those who, like them, naturalize in their thinking - ), in accordance with the prevailing mechanistic stupidity which has the cause press and push until it ‘produces an effect'; one ought to employ 'cause' and 'effect' only as pure concepts, that is to say as conventional fictions for the purpose of designation, mutual understanding, not explanation. 

In the ‘in itself' there is nothing of 'causal connection', of 'necessity', of 'psychological unfreedom'; there ‘the effect’ does not ‘follow the cause', there no 'law' rules. It is we alone who have fabricated causes, succession, reciprocity, relativity, compulsion, number, law, freedom, motive, purpose; and when we falsely introduce this world of symbols into things and mingle it with them as though this symbol-world were an 'in itself', we once more behave as we have always behaved, namely mythologically

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
Beyond Good and Evil, 21




The normal person, says Adler, takes guiding principles and goals, metaphorically, with the sense of 'as if.'"To him they are a figure of speech," heuristic, practical constructs.

"The neurotic, however, catches at the straw of fiction, hypostasizes it, ascribes to it a real value." Finally, "in the psychoses, it is elevated to a dogma."  

What makes madness is literalism.

To be sane we must recognize our beliefs as fictions, and see through our hypotheses as fantasies.

[James Hillman]
Healing Fiction, p.111



Related posts:

Unintended consequences




The one thing I can guarantee about any complex adaptive system is that whatever you do there will be unintended consequences, and you are ethically responsible for them. 

The larger your intervention, the larger the unintended consequences. 

[Dave Snowden]
'AgileByExample 2017: prof. Dave Snowden - Cynefin in practice'




I’m out working with Tommy Quinn […] He’s lived here in Knockmoyle for all of his life, so his opinions [...] hold weight with me. He asks me what technology I think had the most dramatic impact on life here when he was growing up. I state what I feel are obvious: the television, the motor car and computers. Or electricity in general. Tommy smiles. The flask, he says.

I ask him to explain. When he was growing up in the 1960s, he and his family would go to the bog, along with most of the other families of the parish, to cut turf for fuel for the following winter. They would all help each other out in any way they could, even if they didn’t always fully get on. Cutting turf in the old ways, using a slean, is hard but convivial work, so each day one family would make a campfire to boil the kettle on.

But the campfire had a more significant role than just hydrating the workers. As well as keeping the midges away, it was focal point that brought folk together during important seasonal events. During the day people would have the craic around it as the tea brewed, and in the evenings food would be cooked on it. By nightfall, with the day’s work behind them, the campfire became the place where music, song and dance would spontaneously happen. Before the night was out, one of the old boys would hide one of the young lads’ wheelbarrows, providing no end of banter than following morning.

The one day, out of nowhere, the now commonplace Thermos flask arrived in Knockmoyle. Very handy, Tommy says, and everyone wanted one. Within a short space of time families began boiling up their hot water on the range in their homes, before taking it with them to the bog. After millennia of honest service, the campfire was now obsolete.

[Mark Boyle]
The Way Home, p. 84


Related posts:

Instrumentalism




[Ariel] Rubenstein refuses to claim that his knowledge of theoretical matters can be translated - by him - into anything directly practical. 

To him, economics is like a fable - a fable writer is there to stimulate ideas, indirectly inspire practice perhaps, but certainly not to direct or determine practice.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
Antifragile, p. 211




All things organic are dying in the grip of organisation. An artificial world is permeating and poisoning the natural. Civilisation has itself become a machine that does, or tries to do, everything in mechanical fashion. 

We think only in horsepower now; we cannot look at a waterfall without mentally turning it into electric power; we cannot survey a countryside full of pasturing cattle without thinking of its exploitation as a source of meat supply; we cannot look at the beautiful old handwork of a lively and primitive people without wishing to replace it by modern technical process.

[Oswald Spengler]
Man and Technics, p. 72




With the decline of metaphysics, ethics has outgrown its status as a subordinate element in abstract theory. Henceforth it is philosophy, the other divisions being absorbed into it and practical living becoming the centre of consideration. 

The passion of pure thought sinks down. Metaphysics, mistress yesterday, is handmaid now; all it is required to do is to provide a foundation for practical views. And the foundation becomes more and more superfluous. 

It becomes the custom to despise and mock at the metaphysical, the unpractical, the philosophy of “stone for bread." 

There is exactly the same difference in Classical philosophy before and after Aristotle - on the one hand, a grandly conceived Cosmos to which a formal ethic adds almost nothing, and, on the other, ethics as such, as programme, as necessity with a desultory ad hoc metaphysic for basis. 

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p.366



Related posts:

Tradition



In primitive societies life is a succession of stages. The needs and purposes of one stage having been fulfilled, there is no particular reluctance about passing on to the next stage.

A young man goes through the power process by becoming a hunter, hunting not for sport or for fulfillment but to get meat that is necessary for food […] This phase having been successfully passed through, the young man has no reluctance about settling down to the responsibilities of raising a family.

(In contrast, some modern people indefinitely postpone having children because they are too busy seeking some kind of “fulfillment.” We suggest that the fulfillment they need is adequate experience of the power process — with real goals instead of the artificial goals of surrogate activities.)

Again, having successfully raised his children, going through the power process by providing them with the physical necessities, the primitive man feels that his work is done and he is prepared to accept old age (if he survives that long) and death.

Many modern people, on the other hand, are disturbed by the prospect of physical deterioration and death, as is shown by the amount of effort they expend trying to maintain their physical condition, appearance and health. We argue that this is due to unfulfillment resulting from the fact that they have never put their physical powers to any practical use, have never gone through the power process using their bodies in a serious way.

It is not the primitive man, who has used his body daily for practical purposes, who fears the deterioration of age, but the modern man, who has never had a practical use for his body beyond walking from his car to his house. It is the man whose need for the power process has been satisfied during his life who is best prepared to accept the end of that life.

[Ted Kaczynski]
Industrial Society and its Future, 75




Sins of the Fathers




The ideas of the fathers in the nineteenth century have been visited on the third and fourth generations living in the second half of the twentieth century. 

The men who conceived the idea that ‘morality is bunk’ did so with a mind well-stocked with moral ideas. But the minds of the third and fourth generations are no longer well-stocked with such ideas: they are well-stocked with ideas conceived in the nineteenth century, namely, that ‘morality is bunk’, that everything that appear to be ‘higher’ is really nothing but something quite mean and vulgar. 

To their originators, these ideas were simply the result of their intellectual processes. In the third and fourth generations, they have become the very tools and instruments through which the world is being experienced and interpreted. 

Those that bring forth new ideas are seldom ruled by them. But their ideas obtain power over men’s lives in the third and fourth generations when they have become a part of that great mass of ideas, including language, which seeps into a person’s mind during his ‘Dark Ages’. 

[E.F. Schumacher] 
Small is Beautiful, p. 73, 82




Related posts:

Nested in Tradition




In the market place, for practical reasons, innumerable qualitative distinctions which are of vital importance for man and society are suppressed; they are not allowed to surface. 

Thus the reign of quantity celebrates its greatest triumphs in 'The Market’. Everything is equated with everything else. To equate things means to give them a price and thus to make them exchangeable. 

To the extent that economic thinking is based on the market, it takes the sacredness out of life, because there can be nothing sacred in something that has a price. Not surprisingly, therefore, if economic thinking pervades the whole of society, even simple non-economic values like beauty, health, or cleanliness can survive only if they prove to be ‘economic'.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p. 37




We know too much about ecology today to have any excuse for the many abuses that are currently going on in the management of the land, in the management of animals, in food storage, food processing, and in heedless urbanisation. 

If we permit them, this is not due to poverty, as if we could not afford to stop them; it is due to the fact that, as a society, we have no firm basis of belief in any meta-economic values, and when there is no such belief the economic calculus takes over. 

This is quite inevitable. How could it be otherwise? Nature, it has been said, abhors a vacuum, and when the available ‘spiritual space' is not filled by some higher motivation, then it will necessarily be filled by something lower - by the small, mean, calculating attitude to life which is rationalised in the economic calculus. 

I have no doubt that a callous attitude to the land and to the animals thereon is connected with, and symptomatic of, a great many other attitudes, such as those producing a fanaticism of rapid change and a fascination with novelties - technical, organisational, chemical, biological, and so forth - which insists on their application long before their long-term consequences are even remotely understood. 

In the simple question of how we treat the land, next to people our most precious resource, our entire way of life is involved, and before our policies with regard to the land will really be changed, there will have to be a great deal of philosophical, not to say religious, change. 

It is not a question of what we can afford but of what we choose to spend our money on. If we could return to a generous recognition of meta-economic values, our landscapes would become healthy and beautiful again and our people would regain the dignity of man, who knows himself as higher than the animal but never forgets that noblesse oblige

[E.F. Schumacher] 
Small is Beautiful, p. 96




In every traditional civilisation, as there has often been occasion to point out, every human activity of whatever kind is always regarded as derived essentially from principles. This is conspicuously true for the sciences, and it is no less true for the arts and the crafts, and there is in addition a close connection between them all […]

By this attachment to principles human activity could be said to be as it were 'transformed', and instead of being limited to what it is in itself, namely, a mere external manifestation (and the profane point of view consists in this and nothing else), it is integrated with the tradition, and constitutes for those who carry it out an effective means of participation in the tradition, and this is as much as to say that it takes on a truly ‘sacred' and 'ritual’ character. 

[René Guénon]
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p. 56




Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike. A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.

Traditional values are to be 'debunked' and mankind to be cut out into some fresh shape at the will (which must, by hypothesis, be an arbitrary will) of some few lucky people in one lucky generation which has learned how to do it. 

[C.S. Lewis]
‘The Abolition of Man’, Selected Books, p.426




Almost all commentators on Machiavelli say that his principal innovation, and the essence of his method, was to “divorce politics from ethics.”

Thereby he broke sharply with the Aristotelian tradition which had dominated medieval political thought. His method, they grant, freed politics to become more scientific and objective in its study of human behavior; but it was most dangerous because, through it, politics was released from “control” by ethical conceptions of what is right and good.

Machiavelli divorced politics from ethics only in the same sense that every science must divorce itself from ethics. Scientific descriptions and theories must be based upon the facts, the evidence, not upon the supposed demands of some ethical system […]

Machiavelli divorced politics from a certain kind of ethics - namely, from a transcendental, otherworldly, and, it may be added, very rotten ethics. But he did so in order to bring politics and ethics more closely into line, and to locate both of them firmly in the real world of space and time and history, which is the only world about which we can know anything.

Machiavelli is as ethical a political writer as Dante. The difference is that Machiavelli's ethics are much better.

[James Burnham]
The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, p. 35



Related posts:

Ideal / Real




Ideal                  -                    Real
Abstract             -                   Concrete
Principles          -                    Care
Separation         -                    Connection
Masculine          -                    Feminine  
   




The blind willingness to sacrifice people to truth, however, has always been the danger of an ethics abstracted from life. This willingness links Gandhi to the biblical Abraham, who prepared to sacrifice the life of his son in order to demonstrate the integrity and supremacy of his faith.

Both men, in the limitations of their fatherhood, stand in implicit contrast to the woman who comes before Solomon and verifies her motherhood by relinquishing truth in order to save the life of her child. 

It is the ethics of an adulthood that has become principled at the expense of care that Erikson comes to criticize in his assessment of Gandhi's life.

[Carol Gilligan]
‘In a Different Voice', Harvard Educational Review, Vol. 47, No. 4, p.515




Once they slaughtered and persecuted over the interpretation of a dogma, or of a passage in the Bible. 

Then they slaughtered and persecuted in order to inaugurate the kingdom of liberty, equality and fraternity. Today they are slaughtering and persecuting and fiendishly torturing each other in the name of other creeds. 

Perhaps tomorrow they will slaughter and torment each other in an effort to banish the last trace of violence and injustice from the earth!

[Gaetano Mosca]
The Ruling Class, p. 198



Related posts:-
The Principle of Polarity 
Life and Death (and everything in-between)
Masculine / Feminine

Work without pleasure




Looking for work in order to be paid: in civilized countries today almost all men are at one in doing that. For all of them work is a means and not an end in itself. Hence they are not very refined in their choice of work, if only it pays well.

But there are, if only rarely, men who would rather perish than work without any pleasure in their work. 

They are choosy, hard to satisfy, and do not care for ample rewards, if the work itself is not the reward of rewards. Artists and contemplative men of all kinds belong to this rare breed, but so do even those men of leisure who spend their lives hunting, traveling, or in love affairs and adventures.

All of these desire work and misery if only it is associated with pleasure, and the hardest, most difficult work if necessary. Otherwise, their idleness is resolute, even if it spells impoverishment, dishonor, and danger to life and limb.

They do not fear boredom as much as work without pleasure; they actually require a lot of boredom if their work is to succeed. For thinkers and all sensitive spirits, boredom is that disagreeable "windless calm" of the soul that precedes a happy voyage and cheerful winds. They have to bear it and must wait for its effect on them.

Precisely this is what lesser natures cannot achieve by any means. To ward off boredom at any cost is vulgar, no less than work without pleasure.

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
The Gay Science, 42



Related posts:

Sensitivity




Insensitive                        -                      Sensitive
Stoicism                           -                      Epicureanism




The Epicurean selects the situation, the persons, and even the events that suit his extremely irritable, intellectual constitution; he gives up all others, which means almost everything, because they would be too strong and heavy for him to digest.

The Stoic, on the other hand, trains himself to swallow stones and worms, slivers of glass and scorpions without nausea; he wants his stomach to become ultimately indifferent to whatever the accidents of existence might pour into it: he reminds one of that Arabian sect of the Assaua whom one encounters in Algiers: like these insensitive people, he, too, enjoys having an audience when he shows off his insensitivity, while the Epicurean would rather dispense with that, having his "garden"!

For those with whom fate attempts improvisations - those who live in violent ages and depend on sudden and mercurial people - Stoicism may indeed be advisable. But anyone who foresees more or less that fate permits him to spin a long thread does well to make Epicurean arrangements.

That is what all those have always done whose work is of the spirit. For this type it would be the loss of losses to be deprived of their subtle irritability and be awarded in its place a hard Stoic hedgehog skin.

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
The Gay Science, 306



Related posts:

The Front Door



Knock knock! Is anybody there?

Ah, its you. I've been expecting you. Please come in. Put your feet up for a few minutes. The internet can be an exhausting place, and you must be tired.

I am actually, its just one thing after another out there. Now then, what exactly is this place?

Good question. Foreverbecoming is a storehouse for the various bits of information that I come across on my travels; those that I find interesting enough to want to save.

I do my best to link all of the separate posts up to one another, creating threads - or constellations - that make (to my mind) greater sense out of the various bits of information.

By linking things up - gathering separate elements together to make larger wholes - a higher, more abstract layer is created on top of that which already exists.

Essentially, I am using specifics to get at generalities. And sometimes generalities to get at even greater generalities.

I see it as akin to building a pyramid, where every subsequent layer of blocks gets larger and fewer in number. It culminates in a single block at the top - the capstone - which could be seen as a universal binding truth (such as the golden rule, "harm no one, help others as much as you can"). A true capstone is something that can in some way encapsulate everything beneath it, albeit in a very general way. It contains no details.

I'm not sure what the capstone of foreverbecoming is, although I suspect it may be something like "L O V E."

That sounds rather wishy-washy. Who the devil are you?

I am an enthusiastic amateur. I have the kind of mind that needs to make sense of things. My default mode is to be a step back from the world, looking, listening, and taking notes. Hence the site you see before you. It is, basically, a way in which I make sense of the world.

Sounds dubious. So where do we go from here?

Below are the central themes of the site. They are much like the main branches of a tree; each one leading to smaller branches, with those branches leading to still smaller branches, and then on to its many leaves.

Most posts can be found through these starting points. Alternately, there is a temperamental search bar up to the right there - if you have a subject of interest then just type it in and see what comes up.

Many posts will also have labels attached to them. These can be found at the bottom of the post. Clicking on one will bring up all other posts associated with that label.

To the right there's also an index of all authors featured on the site. If there's someone in particular you're interested in then click their name and all posts featuring them will be shown.

I hope you enjoy exploring this place. It has some interesting nooks and crannies. But don't get lost! That can happen all too easily around here ...