Self-Dramatization And Sentimentalist?

David Myatt

Self-Dramatization, Sentimentalist, Or Chronicler Of Pathei Mathos?

Overview: Personal Effusions

Many of David Myatt’s post-2006 writings are intensely personal. In particular, the letters – or extracts from private letters – which he has published are full of personal feelings, such as in the following examples; the first from his The Joy-bringing Sky-blue, written in 2006, and the second from his One Error-Prone Self written in 2012, with both included in his 2013 book Understanding and Rejecting Extremism.

« So I am haunted, here and again, where again the Swallows gather as they gather at this time of year: chirping to each other and preparing in some weeks to leave. Thus do they skim the fields, catching, eating, their food as the cycle of natural life upwardly repeats and a cooling breeze dims a little of the humid heat of the day, here in a greening part of a still-living England. Haunted, here and again – amid such joyful growing warmth – with, by, because of, her death; with by, because of, the multiplicity of my multitudes of suffering-causing and so stupid mistakes. »

« There is a certain inner emptiness, and often, and bearing grief and sadness, when alone indoors. Inner vacant sometimes colding spaces which perhaps a belief in God – or the gods – might fill, and which certainly a partner or prayer or both would warm and dissipate. Yet this certain inner emptiness, such sadness, I sense is perhaps is as it should be for me, as part expiation for the varied harm my varied pasts – in this one life – have caused […..] But I have no chanted, sung, or contemplative Opus Dei to try, in monastic peace and with hope and faith, to balance – Soli Deo Honor et Gloria – the unwise deeds of so many; nor any longer a desire or need to interfere in the lives of others. So there is for me only the living of each moment as it passes: no aim, no goal. »

The overall impression is of reading someone’s private diary, with there being so many published emotive and personal effusions over so many years naturally leading us to ask pertinent questions about Myatt himself. Why publish what many people will undoubtedly dismiss – or already have dismissed – as either mawkish or as self-dramatization or as both, and do such published personal effusions detract from both his translations and his philosophy of pathei mathos? There is also, of course, given his extremist past and given particular allegations about him and the Occult, the obvious question of whether the feelings expressed in these outpourings are genuine particularly as Myatt appears to have ready-made answers to such questions. Such as this, from his Some Questions For DWM 2017,

« My only – quite feeble – excuse for the plenitude of such post-2011 writings is that they, through the act of writing and corresponding with others, were partly expiative but mostly aided (or seemed to me to aid) my understanding of myself particularly in relation to my extremist past and the religions I had personal and practical experience of. »

Or this, from his earlier 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. They are just my attempts to answer particular philosophical and metaphysical questions which interest or perplex me; attempts to understand myself and my extremist past (and thus understand extremism itself), and attempts to express what I believe I have, via pathei-mathos, come to understand and appreciate. Thus, I make no claims regarding the worth or the importance of these personal and philosophical musings, with such dialogues, musings, and correspondence published mostly because expiatory but also because (being honest) of vanity in the hope that some of them may possibly, just possibly, be of some interest to a few individuals interested in such philosophical and metaphysical questions or interested in understanding extremism and its causes. But if no one takes them seriously, it does not matter, for they have assisted me in understanding myself, in recognizing and acknowledging my past mistakes and the suffering I have caused, and aided my move from extremism toward developing a mystical and personal weltanschauung imbued with a muliebral ethos. »

An Assessment

The sheer quantity of material – amounting to hundreds of published letters and essays dating from 2006 to 2017 – is a good starting point. Arranging them into date order, beginning with his The Scent of Meadow Grass {1} written in 2006 “four days on from Fran’s death” and ending with his Some Questions For DWM 2017, they tell a particular personal story. A story which includes works such as Religion, Empathy, and Pathei-Mathos: Essays and Letters Regarding Spirituality, Humility, and A Learning From Grief {2} and, of course, his ‘autobiography’ – his apologia – titled Myngath {3}.

The personal story that is told by this material is that of an arrogant, violent, fanatic who spent thirty years as a neo-nazi activist, ideologue, and propagandist, followed by ten years as a radical Muslim preaching Jihad and who publicly supported al-Qaida, Hamas, and ‘suicide attacks’. Which – with his various terms of imprisonment for violence, his leadership of a gang of thieves, his terrorist manual which inspired the London nail- bomber, followed by his conversion to Islam – is itself an interesting if strange story had it ended with him, for example, in prison as a Muslim for such offences as ‘inviting support for a proscribed organisation’, or ‘possessing a document containing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’ or ‘inciting terrorism overseas’.

But the story did not end with his Muslim years. He suffered a personal tragedy, the unexpected suicide in 2006 of his fiancée and which tragedy maybe for the first time in his life grounded him in the realities of human suffering and grief. According to his post-2006 personal writings {4} it was this singular event which caused him to reflect upon his extremist past and upon him own character.

In a long letter dated March 2010 and to which letter he gave the title One More Foolish Failure Myatt wrote

« I am such a fool; such a failure, in evolutionary terms, in the perspective of the Cosmos. Here I am, entering the sixth decade of my life, having spent the last forty years seeking experience and wisdom and having, in that time, made so many errors, mistakes, and been the cause of much suffering, personal and otherwise. How then can I be deemed wise? How – when I have leant, from sorrowful experience, from my own pathei-mathos, from the personal tragedy of the dying and the death of two loved ones, and yet have always always, until now, returned to pursuing suffering-causing abstractions and unethical goals?

There is no excuse for this failure of mine, year following year – although of course I have always made excuses for myself, as failures often do. Wordy, moral-sounding, inexcusable excuses almost always of the unethical “the end justifies the means” kind.

No excuses – because from sorrow, from personal tragedy, I felt, dis-covered, the unethical nature of all abstractions, be they deemed political, religious, or social. And yet I always seemed, until a month ago, to gravitate back toward them, as if there was some basic flaw in my personal nature, my character, that allowed or even caused such a return, such a stupid forgetting of lessons learnt […..]

Thus is there the same old haunting question – of how long will it be before I in my addiction forget The Numen, yet again, and so return to the suffering-causing habits of so many previous years? For now, I can only hope against hope that I have strength enough, memories enough, humility enough, to keep me where I know I should belong: infused, suffused, with the world of the numinous, enabling thus such an empathic living as can make us and keep us as ethical, compassionate, human beings; one sign toward the higher human type we surely have the potential to become. » {5}

It seems from subsequent writings that it was such feelings, such personal reflections, which spurred him to refine his then still incomplete ‘numinous way’ into what became his ‘philosophy of pathei-mathos’ {6} and in which philosophy personal humility plays a central role {7}. Which is probably why he wrote that

« any Way or religion which manifests, which expresses, which guides individuals toward, the numinous humility we human beings need is good, and should not be stridently condemned. For such personal humility – that which prevents us from committing hubris, whatever the raison d’être, the theology, the philosophy – is a presencing of the numinous. Indeed, one might write and say that it is a personal humility – whatever the source – that expresses our true developed (that is, rational and empathic) human nature. » {8}

Myatt’s story thus ends with this philosophy; with him – post-2012 – emphasizing again and again the virtues of humility, personal love, compassion, tolerance, and personal honour, and being emphatic that his philosophy involves a personal, a mystical, approach to life and therefore is neither political nor involves any religious dogmatism and presents only his answers to particular questions, writing in 2012 that

« All I have are some personal and fallible answers to certain philosophical, personal, ethical, and theological, questions. No certainty about anything except about my own uncertainty of knowing and about the mistakes, the errors, of my past. » {9}

Two years later he wrote that

« In a very personal sense, my philosophy of pathei-mathos is expiative. » {10}

Which theme of a personal expiation runs through all his post-2010 writings.

A Personal Conclusion

My assessment, based on the personal material Myatt has published since 2006, is that there is a definite narrative and that this narrative is emotionally, personally, and philosophically consistent. That these writings are not mawkish and certainly not the self-dramatization of someone seeking to draw attention to themselves. That they are in fact documenting the interior, the personal, struggles of someone trying to reform – to radically change – themselves following a personal tragedy; someone using such writings, and in particular their publication, as acts of both self-learning and expiation, with it being plausible that he used such publication as a reminder to both others and himself so that he could never again return to the selfishness and extremism of his past.

For documenting such a struggle – from neo-nazi to modern mystic – Myatt should be commended with his post-2006 personal writings and his philosophy of pathei mathos a contribution to what Myatt has termed our ‘human culture of pathei-mathos’ which he defined in his 2014 essay Education And The Culture Of Pathei-Mathos {11} as

« the accumulated pathei-mathos of individuals, world-wide, over thousands of years, as (i) described in memoirs, aural stories, and historical accounts; as (ii) have inspired particular works of literature or poetry or drama; as (iii) expressed via non-verbal mediums such as music and Art, and as (iv) manifest in more recent times by art-forms such as films and documentaries. »

Yet, and to paraphrase Myatt, it is not important if his post-2010 personal writings are not taken seriously by others since they enabled him to understand himself, acknowledge his mistakes, and reform himself.

J.B.
2017

{1} Included in the book Understanding and Rejecting Extremism: A Very Strange Peregrination. 2013. ISBN 978-1484854266
{2} Published in 2013. ISBN 978-1484097984. When publishing his letters or extracts therefrom Myatt often provides a title for individual letters.
{3} Published in 2013. ISBN 978-1484110744
{4} For example see the section titled A Personal Tragedy in Myngath, and also his collection of essays titled Meditations on Extremism, Remorse, and The Numinosity of Love published in 2016.
{5} The letter, too long to quote in full here, is worth reading in its entirely. It is included in Meditations on Extremism, Remorse, and The Numinosity of Love, and can be read on-line at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/one-more-foolish-failure/ [Accessed October 2017]
{6} See his 2012 essay The Development of the Numinous Way, included as an appendix in both Myngath and Meditations on Extremism, Remorse, and The Numinosity of Love.
{7} The role of humility in Myatt’s philosophy is mentioned in Part Two of An Overview of David Myatt’s Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos by R. Parker included in the book The Mystic Philosophy Of David Myatt published in 2015, ISBN 978-1523930135.
{8} Soli Deo Gloria, written in 2011. Can be read on-line at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/soli-deo-gloria/ [Accessed October 2017]
{9} From the 2012 letter – titled Politics, Pathei-Mathos, and My Extremist Past – included in Part Three of Understanding and Rejecting Extremism.
{10} Some Questions For DWM 2014.
{11} The essay is included in his book One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings, published in 2014. ISBN 978-1502396105