Being British

David Myatt

David Myatt

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In the course of my somewhat idiosyncratic life I have several times been asked that particular question: what I consider being British means. As a child of the British Empire – who grew up, as a Catholic, in places as diverse as East Africa and the Far East – I can only now, in the twilight years of my life, honestly answer the question because my previous answers over decades were – or now seem to me to be – based on some believed in ideology or on some religious faith.

Which recent answer of mine, however unpopular it might currently be, is to refer the questioner to two things.

First, I refer you and them to what a member of the ‘British Establishment’ recently said at a traditional ceremony in Sandhurst:

“In the face of such challenges, Britain’s traditional qualities – fair play, civility, a sense of humour in adversity – remain as precious as they’ve always been.”

Second, I refer you and them to the book Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder by Evelyn Waugh. Or, perhaps more pertinently, to the 1981 television series of the same name starring Jeremy Irons which series for me at least so captures the ethos of that novel and of what being British means and implies.

For there is in those Sandhurst remarks everything quintessentially British – fair play, civility, a sense of humour in adversity – just as in the aforementioned television series there is everything that made the British Empire what it was, despite mistakes and despite the past machinations of selfish, money-obsessed, people; despite the various past ideologies of various politicians, and despite how that Empire history has now apparently been re-interpreted for various political and/or ideological reasons.

For that Britishness – at home, overseas – was, in essence, an embodiment of manners, of a gentlemanly and lady-like way of behaving: a certain standard, and a desire to introduce others to certain cultural values and that standard of personal behaviour. As well as representing our British understated elegance of culture; our tolerant acceptance of diversity and difference; our dislike of displaying emotions in public and often in private; and a certain personal modesty. And of course not only a particular personal equation of dichotomy of belief and way of life sometimes (but not always) solved by the notion of communal duty, but also that interior doubt about (and sometimes a guilt regarding) one’s self born of a feeling that ultimately we are accountable and have obligations to our family, our culture, our faith.

Above all there is – in those Sandhurst remarks, in that novel, and that television series – a presencing of a particular wordless attitude to life such as a reading of Cicero – and an appreciation of the life and loves of Alexander the Great, of the poetry of Sappho, of the New Testament – might, in our reading of their texts in their original language, have disposed us toward. An attitude that even today is sadly not embraced – because perhaps not understood, not empathically felt – by the majority, despite a century and more of State education. Deo Gratias that such an appreciation is still taught in such schools, such places, as still revere what once was termed a ‘classical education’: a learning of Latin and Ancient Greek and hence a reading of texts and authors in their original language.

For one finds in so many classical texts excellent similes of what being ‘British’ (cultured, modest, and possessing the virtue of εὐταξία) means and implies, as in this particular example:

ἐκεῖνός γε μὴν ὑμνῶν οὔποτ ̓ ἔληγεν ὡς τοὺς θεοὺς οἴοιτο οὐδὲν ἧττον ὁσίοις ἔργοις ἢ ἁγνοῖς ἱεροῖς ἥδεσθαι ἀλλὰ μὴν καὶ ὁπότε εὐτυχοίη οὐκ ἀνθρώπων ὑπερεφρόνει ἀλλὰ θεοῖς χάριν ᾔδει καὶ θαρρῶν πλείονα ἔθυεν ἢ ὀκνῶν ηὔχετο εἴθιστο δὲ φοβούμενος μὲν ἱλαρὸς φαίνεσθαι εὐτυχῶν δὲ πρᾷος εἶναι [1]

The denotatum – British, Athenian, Ciceronian (to name but three) [2] – may over millennia change but the ethos seems to remain if only (apparently) now remembered and embodied by so few.

David Myatt
2015

Extract from a letter to a friend

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[1] Xenophon, Agesilaus, 11.2

“…this person, whom I praise, never ceased to believe that the gods delight in respectful deeds just as much as in consecrated temples, and, when blessed with success, he was never prideful but rather gave thanks to the gods. He also made more offerings to them when he was confident than supplications when he felt hesitant, and, in appearance, it was his habit to be cheerful when doubtful and mild-mannered when successful.”

[2] Editorial Note, 2018 ev: As Myatt wrote in a footnote in his book Tu Es Diaboli Ianua, he uses “the term denotatum – from the Latin, denotare – in accord with its general meaning which is to denote or to describe by an expression or a word; to name some-thing; to refer that which is so named or so denoted. Thus understood, and used as an Anglicized term, denotatum is applicable to both singular and plural instances and thus obviates the need to employ the Latin plural denotata.”

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Source:
https://web.archive.org/web/20160701124040/http://www.davidmyatt.ws/being-british.html
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Myatt: Breaking My Silence

David Myatt

David Myatt

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Editorial Note: We republish here an item by Myatt written in 2016 and which is “an extract from a letter to a friend” in which he discusses the murder of a Catholic priest in France by supporters of Daesh, aka ‘Islamic State’. The letter is interesting both for its autobiographical content, which includes discussions with Special Branch police officers, and for Myatt’s post-2010 view of Western culture and societies.

The translation of the quotation from Homer’s Odyssey is by Myatt from his translation of Books 1-3, which is available here: Myatt: Odyssey, Books 1-3.

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Breaking My Silence

As someone brought up as a Catholic, who in his early years was educated at a Catholic Preparatory School, who entered the noviciate of a Catholic monastery, and who – perhaps unusually – also some years later converted to Islam, lived for a decade as a Muslim, travelled in Muslim lands, and studied the Quran and Sunnah in Arabic, I am dismayed, unsettled, at the killing of an elderly Priest in a Church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in France by two persons who (according to information received so far) were radical Muslims and probably inspired by the Middle-Eastern group ad-Dawlah al-Islamiyah fil ‘Iraq wa ash-Sham, named in the lands of the West as Daesh, Isis, and ‘Islamic State’.

So dismayed, unsettled, that I have the temerity to break my self-imposed, years-long, silence regarding ‘current affairs’ and ‘current events’. For such a killing of such an elderly religious figure – taken hostage with (according to current and informed reports) two nuns during Mass – is just so dishonourable, so cowardly, that it yet again places (for me at least) into perspective “what is at stake”, remembering as I do that quotational phrase because it was said to me in 2001 by a Special Branch (SO12) British police officer shortly after the 9/11 attacks in New York.

What is at stake – as that Special Branch officer, and so many of his colleagues, intuitively knew – is the culture of the West itself, manifest as that culture is in such modern societies as those in Britain, France, and the United States, and created as such a culture has been by hundreds of years of communal and individual hardship and pathei-mathos. For the lands of such a culture are – despite their many imperfections, and in comparison to so many other non-Western lands – places of relative safety and peace and opportunity for the majority of their citizens. Places of law, and order, where so many know – and try to do – what is right, what is just, what is honourable. And places where so many other people, world-wide, hope and seek to reach and live.

Of course, such truths are not what I, personally, believed for many decades, seeking as I so often did to undermine such Western societies by political, by revolutionary, and even by terrorist, means. But as I mentioned in a fairly recent essay:

“The reality of The United States of America – in its vastness and its diversity (social, religious, racial) – is, as so discovered via my own recent pathei-mathos, so very different from the answers propagated by those who, lacking such a personal pathei-mathos extending over years of such a diverse America, personally or ideologically fixate on ‘this’ or ‘that’ perceived or even real causal personal problems as exist in a land such as America. Yet the reality of America is of many people – both in government and otherwise – who, from the best of intentions, seek and have saught to make their family, their local area, their State, their nation, a better place.” [1]

What therefore can be done, and is there as some have assumed a clash of ‘civilizations’ with “us” contrasted with “them”?

As to what can be done, my own fallible answer born as it is from some four decades of experience of extremism and pathei-mathos, is that it seems incumbent upon us to know, to remember, how and why our Western societies came into being, how and why they have been progressively reformed over a century and more, and why it is incumbent on each one of us to be prepared to do what is honourable in the immediacy of the living moment.

In this I recall what another member of SO12 said to me following my arrest in 1998 following allegations of ‘conspiracy/incitement to murder’ and ‘incitement to racial hatred’. Which was that he was simply doing his duty, in an honourable way, according to what was laid down: according to the oath of his office and thus according to the accumulated law of the land, and that it was not for him or his colleagues to judge since such judgement was the prerogative of an established Court of Law so constituted in its longevity that a fair trial was possible. He had guidelines, a supra-personal and well-established duty, while I realized I had none, having been guided for so long only by hubris.

As to whether there is a ‘clash of civilizations’, my own fallible answer is that there is not; that here, now – as so often in our human past – there is only a clash between the honourable and the dishonourable, and that while such modern societies as those in Britain, France, and the United States, are far from perfect they do often manifest for perhaps a majority what is decent, honourable, especially when compared to the majority of past societies, so that when dishonour occurs in such societies – when some dishonourable deed is done – there are usually individuals, be they Police officers, or soldiers, or journalists, or some citizen, who will seek to redress that dishonour.

For honour is only and ever honour, always the same, while the dishonourable, the cowardly, can hide behind, and have for millennia hidden behind, some cause or ideology or religion or some personal excuse that they or others have manufactured and denoted by some name. For the fault is not that of some religion named Islam; nor of some extremist version of that religion. The fault is ourselves, our human nature; our propensity – and seemingly, sometimes, our need – to be violent, to find in some cause or some ideology or some religion, an excuse for our desire, our need, to be selfish, dishonourable, violent, or establish a ‘name’ for ourselves.

What we – in societies such as those in Britain, France, and the United States – have evolved, so slowly, so painfully over a century and more are some reasonable guidelines, a sense of duty, regarding what is honourable and what is dishonourable.

As Homer declaimed well over two thousand years ago:

τὸν δ᾽ ἐπαλαστήσασα προσηύδα Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη:
‘ὢ πόποι, ἦ δὴ πολλὸν ἀποιχομένου Ὀδυσῆος
δεύῃ, ὅ κε μνηστῆρσιν ἀναιδέσι χεῖρας ἐφείη.
εἰ γὰρ νῦν ἐλθὼν δόμου ἐν πρώτῃσι θύρῃσι
σταίη, ἔχων πήληκα καὶ ἀσπίδα καὶ δύο δοῦρε [2]

David Myatt
July 26th 2016

Extract From A Letter To A Friend

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[1] In Praise Of America And Britain, 2015.

[2]

“Then Pallas Athena – angry at this – said to him:
Before the gods! How great is the need here for the absent Odysseus –
For him to set about these disrespectful ones with his fists!
Would that he would arrive at the outer gate of this dwelling
With his helmet on and holding his shield and two spears”.

Odyssey, Book I, 252-256 [Translated by DW Myatt].

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Article source:
https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/breaking-my-silence/


One Exquisite Silence

David Myatt

One Exquisite Silence
(pdf)

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This particular collection of autobiographical poems by David Myatt – first privately circulated under the name DW Myatt in 2010 and with a revised edition printed and published in 2012 under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License – was mentioned by former White House speech-writer Ben Coes in his best-selling novel Power Down. Ben Coes worked in the White House for both President Reagan and President George Bush.

The poems express a little known side of Myatt’s character, the pagan itinerant mystic whose poetry like that of many poets often expresses intensely personal feelings.

This collection of Myatt’s poetry is also available in print: DW Myatt, One Exquisite Silence, ISBN 978-1484179932.

RDM Crew
October 2018


Only Time Has Stopped

David Myatt

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The following poem by David Myatt – aka DW Myatt – is taken from his autobiographical collection titled One Exquisite Silence, available at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2018/10/09/one-exquisite-silence/

This particular collection of poems by DW Myatt was mentioned by former White House speech-writer Ben Coes in the best-selling novel Power Down. Ben Coes worked in the White House for both President Reagan and President George Bush.

There may arrive a time, if our Western civilization survives – may our folk and our gods ensure it – when Myatt may well be remembered for his poetry rather than for his extremist pasts or because of allegations regarding Occult involvement.

RDM Crew
October 2018

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Only Time Has Stopped

Here I have stopped
Because only Time goes on within my dream:
Yesterday I was awoken, again,
And she held me down
With her body warmth
Until, satisfied, I went alone
Walking
And trying to remember:

A sun in a white clouded sky
Morning dawn yellow
Sways the breath that, hot, I exhale tasting of her lips.
The water has cut, deep, into
The estuary bank
And the mallard swims against the flow –
No movement, only effort.
Nearby – the foreign ship which brought me
Is held by rusty chains
Which, one day and soon
And peeling them like its paint,
Must leave.

Here I shall begin again
Because Time, at last, has stopped
Since I have remembered the dark ecstasy
Which brought that war-seeking Dream

David Myatt
1978


Myatt: Expiation And Penance

David Myatt

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In Defence Of The Catholic Church
Part Two: Expiation And Penance

Two of the guiding practical principles of living as a Roman Catholic seem to me, on the basis of personal experience and fallible understanding, to be expiation and penance, related as they are to what was termed the Sacrament of Confession – now re-named the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation – and thence related to one of the founding principles of the Roman Catholic Church: that an ordained Priest has the religious authority [1] to give absolution for the “sins” [2] a person has committed, and the authority to specify what penance is required for expiation, but which absolution is dependant on the person making a full and truthful confession and being repentant.

Such personal confession, penance, and expiation, are evidential of how a practising Catholic interacts with the Divine and is thus personally reminded of what is spiritual, eternal, numinous, and beyond the causal everyday world. As I wrote in my essay Numinous Expiation,

“One of the many problems regarding both The Numinous Way and my own past which troubles me – and has troubled me for a while – is how can a person make reparation for suffering caused, inflicted, and/or dishonourable deeds done […]

One of the many benefits of an organized theistic religion, such as Christianity or Islam or Judaism, is that mechanisms of personal expiation exist whereby such feelings can be placed in context and expiated by appeals to the supreme deity. In Judaism, there is Teshuvah culminating in Yom Kippur, the day of expiation/reconciliation. In Catholicism, there is the sacrament of confession and penance. In Islam, there is personal dua to, and reliance on, Allah Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem, As-Salaam.

Even pagan religions and ways had mechanisms of personal expiation for wrong deeds done, often in the form of propitiation; the offering of a sacrifice, perhaps, or compensation by the giving or the leaving of a valuable gift or votive offering at some numinous – some sacred and venerated – place or site.” [3]

This personal – and via the Confessional, this priestly – connexion to the Divine, with the attendant penitence, penance, personal expiation, seems to me to have been somewhat neglected when non-Catholics, and even some Catholics criticize the Roman Catholic Church for their past response to those accused of placing their personal (often sexual) desires before compassion, empathy, and humility.

That is, such criticism is secular; based on what is temporal, causal, such as some secular law or some personal emotive reaction, with the spiritual – the eternal – dimension to mortal life unconsidered. Which spiritual dimension is for Catholics based on allowing for personal expiation by spiritual means such as confession, penitence, and penance.

This allowance for such personal expiation by such spiritual means is what, according to my fallible understanding, informed the treatment by the Catholic hierarchy of many of those accused of placing their personal desires before obedience to their God.

For judgement according to such a spiritual dimension was, rightly or wrongly, often considered more important than secular recompense and secular punishment. Understood thus, there were no – to use a vernacular term – “cover-ups”, just the application of certain spiritual considerations, considerations which are the foundations of the Catholic faith based as such considerations are on the belief in the Eternal Life – in Heaven or in Hell – which awaits all mortals, one portal to such an Eternal Life in Heaven being, according to Catholic faith, the sacrament of confession.

Another aspect of this Catholic priority of the spiritual over the secular is the sanctity (the seal) of the confessional and which sanctity is adjudged to be more important than secular laws relating, for example, to disclosure of or information regarding actions deemed to be criminal.

            As for my personal opinions on the matter, I have none, for who am I – with my decades of hubris, my knowledge of my plenitude of mistakes – to judge others, to judge anyone? I have tried to rationally understand both the secular and the spiritual dimensions involved, having personal experience of both, and as so often these days remain somewhat perplexed by our human nature and by the need so many humans, myself included, still have for a belief in a spiritual dimension whereby we can connect ourselves to the numinous, to the Divine – however the Divine is presenced to and in us – enabling us to perhaps find some peace, some happiness, some solace, some answers, among the turmoil, the suffering, the changement, of the secular world.

My portal to the spiritual remains ‘the way of pathei-mathos’, the way of striving to cultivate, striving to live by, the virtues of humility, empathy, compassion, honour, non-interference, and self-restraint. A very individual way devoid of mythoi and anthropomorphic deities.

Perhaps it would be easier to believe in God, to accept again the Catholic expiation of the sacraments of Confession and the Mass. It would perhaps be even easier to accept some tangible votive wordless means in the form of offering some paganus propitiation, some libation, some talismata left, at some numinous paganus site.

But as Aeschylus so well-expressed it,

ἔστι δ᾽ ὅπη νῦν
ἔστι: τελεῖται δ᾽ ἐς τὸ πεπρωμένον:
οὔθ᾽ ὑποκαίων οὔθ᾽ ὑπολείβων
οὔτε δακρύων ἀπύρων ἱερῶν
ὀργὰς ἀτενεῖς παραθέλξει [4]

What is now, came to be
As it came to be. And its ending has been ordained.
No concealed laments, no concealed libations,
No unburnt offering
Can charm away that firm resolve.

Which type of sentiment I feel philosophers such as Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius also saught to express.

David Myatt
4.x.18

In Defence Of The Roman Catholic Church, Part One

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[1] Qv. John 20:22-23,

λάβετε πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἄν τινων ἀφῆτε τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἀφέωνται αὐτοῖς ἄν τινων κρατῆτε κεκράτηνται

Receive Halig Spiritus: if you release anyone from their errors, they are released; if you hold onto them, they are held onto.

In regard to the term Spiritus in my commentary on John 1:31, I wrote:

τὸ πνεῦμα. Almost without exception, since Wycliffe’s Bible the Greek here has been translated as “the spirit”, although the ASV [the Anglo-Saxon Version] has gast (gast of heofenum), whence the later English word ‘ghost’. However, given what the terms ‘spirit’ and ‘ghost’ – both in common usage, and as a result of over a thousand years of Christian exegesis – now impute, it is apposite to offer an alternative and one which is germane to the milieu of the Gospels or which at least suggests something of the numinosity presenced, in this instance, via the Gospel of John. Given that the transliteration pnuema – with its modern association with terms such as pneumatic – does not unequivocally suggest the numinous, I have chosen spiritus, as referenced in respect of gast in Wright’s Anglo-Saxon And Old English Vocabularies.

In regard to the translation Halig Spiritus in my commentary on John 5:33, I wrote:

I have here used the Old English word Halig – as for example found in the version of John 17.11 in the Lindisfarne Gospel, ‘Du halig fæder’ – to translate ἅγιος rather than the later word ‘holy’ derived as that is from halig and used as it was by Wycliffe in his 1389 translation of this phrase, “in the Hooly Gost”, which itself echoes the ASV, “on Halgum Gaste.”

The unique phrase in Halig Spiritus – in place of the conventional ‘with the Holy Spirit’ – may thus express something of the numinosity, and the newness, of the original Gospel, especially as the word ‘holy’ has been much overused, imputes particular meanings from over a thousand years of exegesis, and, latterly in common parlance, has become somewhat trivialized.

[2] As I have noted in several essays, and in my translation of the Gospel of John, I prefer to translate the Greek term ἁμαρτία not by the conventional ‘sin’ but rather by ‘error’ or ‘mistake’. As I wrote in the essay Exegesis and Translation,

One of the prevalent English words used in translations of the New Testament, and one of the words now commonly associated with revealed religions such as Christianity and Islam, is sin. A word which now imputes and for centuries has imputed a particular and at times somewhat strident if not harsh moral attitude, with sinners starkly contrasted with the righteous, the saved, and with sin, what is evil, what is perverse, to be shunned and shudderingly avoided.

One of the oldest usages of the word sin – so far discovered – is in the c. 880 CE translation of the c. 525 CE text Consolatio Philosophiae, a translation attributed to King Ælfred. Here, the Old English spelling of syn is used:

Þæt is swiðe dyslic & swiðe micel syn þæt mon þæs wenan scyle be Gode

The context of the original Latin of Boethius is cogitare, in relation to a dialogue about goodness and God, so that the sense of the Latin is that it is incorrect – an error, wrong – to postulate/claim/believe certain things about God. There is thus here, in Boethius, as in early English texts such as Beowulf, the sense of doing what was wrong, of committing an error, of making a mistake, of being at fault; at most of overstepping the bounds, of transgressing limits imposed by others, and thus being ‘guilty’ of such an infraction, a sense which the suggested etymology of the word syn implies: from the Latin sons, sontis.

Thus, this early usage of the English word syn seems to impart a sense somewhat different from what we now associate with the word sin, which is why in my translation of John, 8.7, I eschewed that much overused and pejorative word in order to try and convey something of the numinous original:

So, as they continued to ask [for an answer] he straightened himself, saying to them: “Let he who has never made a mistake [ Αναμαρτητος ] throw the first stone at her.”

ὡς δὲ ἐπέμενον ἐρωτῶντες αὐτόν, ἀνέκυψεν καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ὁ ἀναμάρτητος ὑμῶν πρῶτος ἐπ’ αὐτὴν βαλέτω λίθον.

Jesus here is not, in my view, sermonizing about sin, as a puritan preacher might, and as if he is morally superior to and has judged the sinners. Instead, he is rather gently and as a human pointing out an obvious truth about our human nature; explaining, in v.11, that he has not judged her conduct:

ἡ δὲ εἶπεν· οὐδείς, κύριε. εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· οὐδὲ ἐγώ σε κατακρίνω· πορεύου, ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν μηκέτι ἁμάρτανε

[And] she answered, No one, my Lord. Whereupon Jesus replied “Neither do I judge [κατακρίνω] you, therefore go, and avoid errors such as those.”

The essay is available at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/exegesis-and-translation/ and was included as an Appendix to my Mercvrii Trismegisti Pymander (ISBN 978-1495470684)

[3] The essay is available at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/numinous-expiation/

[4] Agamemnon, 67-71

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All translations by DWM


Source: https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2018/10/04/expiation-and-penance/


In Defence Of The Catholic Church

numinous-religion

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In Defence Of The Roman Catholic Church
Part One

Listening to Messe De La Nativité: Gaudeamus Hodie; Puer Natus Est Nobis performed by Ensemble Gilles Binchois – I am so reminded how the Roman Catholic Church inspired such numinosity, such beauty, century following century. For it is as if such music presenced the Divine to thus remind us, we fallible error-prone mortals, of another realm beyond the material and beyond our own mortal desires.

Such presencing of the Divine – such a numinous reminder of our fallibility, century following century, as for example in Kyrie Orbis Factor as performed by Ensemble Organum – seems to have become somewhat lost in all the recent Media propaganda about how some Catholic priests and monks have allowed their personal desires to overwhelm such a presencing of the numinous and which presencing of the divine is and was manifest in compassion, empathy, and a personal humility.

Lost, in all the Media propaganda, because I from personal experience know that such incidents are perpetrated by a minority of individuals and that the vast majority of Catholic priests and monks are good individuals who strive, who often struggle, each in their own way and according to their physis, to manifest the virtues of compassion, empathy, and humility. That so many writers and readers of such Media propaganda in this our modern world seem to commit the fallacy of a dicto secumdum quid ad dictum simpliciter no longer, unfortunately, surprises me.

In respect of personal experience I have to admit that I was somewhat dismayed by a recent report issued by a government sponsored Inquiry Panel. For I personally had known two of the individuals mentioned in that report, knowing from personal experience in a certain monastery that they, and the few others like them over the years, were the exception out of dozens and dozens of the other monks and priests there. I was also somewhat dismayed by what I felt was the personal opinion of the authors of that report – stated in their “Conclusions” – that those involved in placing their personal desires before compassion, empathy, and humility, are “likely to be considerably greater than numbers cited in the convictions” since no evidence was presented to substantiate such an opinion. Another example of individuals committing the fallacy of a dicto secumdum quid ad dictum simpliciter? Probably.

            But why does someone who has developed a somewhat paganus weltanschauung – the mystical individualistic numinous way of pathei-mathos – now defend a supra-personal organization such as the Roman Catholic Church? Because I from personal experience appreciate that for all its many faults – recent and otherwise – and despite my disagreement regarding some of its teachings it still on balance does, at least in my fallible opinion, presence – as it has for centuries presenced – aspects of the numinous and which presencing has over centuries, again in my fallible opinion, had a beneficial affect on many human beings.

As I wrote some years ago in respect of visiting my father’s grave in Africa:

“Once I happened to be travelling to an area which colonial and imperialist Europeans formerly described as part of ‘darkest Africa’. Part of this travel involved a really long journey on unpaved roads by bus from an urban area. You know the type of thing – an unreliable weekly or sporadic service in some old vehicle used by villagers to take themselves (and often their produce and sometimes their livestock) to and from an urban market and urban-dwelling relatives. On this service, to a remote area, it [seemed to be] the custom – before the journey could begin – for someone to stand at the front and say a Christian prayer with every passenger willingly joining in.

It was quite touching. As was the fact that, at the village where I stayed (with a local family) near that grave, everyone went to Church on a Sunday, wearing the best clothes they could, and there was a real sense (at least to me) of how their faith helped them and gave them some guidance for the better, for it was as if they, poor as they were, were in some way living, or were perhaps partly an embodiment of, the ethos expressed by the Sermon of the Mount, and although I no longer shared their Christian faith, I admired them and respected their belief and understood what that faith seemed to have given them.

Who was – who am – I to try and preach to them, to judge them and that faith? I was – I am – just one fallible human being who believes he may have some personal and fallible answers to certain questions; just one person among billions aware of his past arrogance and his suffering-causing mistakes.” [1]

Is to not judge others without a personal knowing of them, to not commit fallacies such as a dicto secumdum quid ad dictum simpliciter, to allow for personal expiation, perhaps to presence the numinous in at least one small and quite individual way? Personally, I am inclined to believe it is.

Pietatis fons immense, ἐλέησον
Noxas omnes nostras pelle, ἐλέησον [2]

David Myatt
2.x.18

In Defence Of The Roman Catholic Church, Part Two

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[1] https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/just-my-fallible-views-again/

[2] “Immeasurable origin of piety, have mercy. Banish all our faults, have mercy.” Kyrie Orbis Factor.

Although the Greek phrase Κύριε ἐλέησον is considered to be a Christian doxology, deriving from the Old Testament, it is possible that it was a common phrase in Greco-Roman culture, with origins dating back to the classical period, for it occurs in the Discourses of Epictetus – Book II, vii, 13 – in relation to a discussion about divination,

καὶ τὸν θεὸν ἐπικαλούμενοι δεόμεθα αὐτοῦ κύριε ἐλέησον

and in our invocations to the theos our bidding is: Master, have mercy.

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Article source: https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2018/10/02/in-defence-of-the-catholic-church/


The Numinous Foundations of Human Culture

David Myatt

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Editorial Note: Although we’re not certain if this 2010 item by David Myatt is one of the many items about his ‘numinous way’ that he subsequently, post-2011, rejected, we reproduce it here since in our view it expresses not only certain mystical truths but also much about Mr Myatt himself.

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The Numinous Foundations of Human Culture

In your recently published autobiography, Myngath, you wrote that, and I quote – “a shared, a loyal, love between two people is the most beautiful, the most numinous, the most valuable thing of all.” Is that how you now feel about life?

Certainly. I have now reached the age when there seems to be a natural tendency to reflect on the past – to recall to one’s consciousness happy, treasured, moments from decades past, bringing as such recollections seem to do some understanding of what is important, precious, about life, about our mortal human existence.

One remembers – for instance – those tender moments of one’s child growing in the first years of their life – the moment of first walking, the first words, the time they feel asleep in your arms on that day when warm Sun and their joyful discovery of sand and sea finally wore them out… Or the tender moments of a love, shared, with another human being; perhaps evoked again by some scent (of a flower, perhaps) or by those not quite dreaming-moments before one falls asleep at night, or, as sometimes occurs with people of my age, in the afternoon after lunch or following that extra glass of wine to which we treat ourselves.

It is as if – and if we allow ourselves – we become almost as children again, but with the memories, the ability, to appreciate the time, the effort, the love, the tenderness, and often the sacrifice, that our own parents showed and gave to us but which we never really appreciated then in those moments of their giving. As if we wish we could be back there, then, with this our ageful understanding – back there, full of youth and unhampered by the ageing body which now seems to so constrain us. Thus, are we as if that, this, is all we are or have to give: this, our understanding, our now poignant understanding; this – perhaps a smile, a gesture, a look, a word, or those tears we might cry, silently, softy, when we are alone, remembering. Tears of both sadness and of joy; of memories and of hopes. Hopes that someone, somewhere, at some time, might by our remembering be infused, if only a little, with that purity of life which such ageing recollections seem to so exquisitely capture.

That purity which becomes so expressed, so manifest, if one watches – for example – a young loving mother cradling her baby. Look at her eyes, her face, the way she holds her hands. There is such a gentle love there; such a gentle love that artists should really try and capture again and again in music, in painting, in moving images, in words, in sculpture. And capture again and again so that their Art reminds us of that so very human quality, that so very fragile quality, which enables us – each, another separate human being – to be so gently aware of another person, and thus able for ourselves, if only for an instant, to feel that gentleness, that tenderness, in another. This tenderness, this love, should be captured and expressed again and again because such love is one of the foundations of human culture, and something we so often, especially we men, are so prone to forget when we allow ourselves to become subsumed with some abstraction, some idealistic notion of duty, or some personal often selfish emotion.

Thus are we reminded of the value, the importance, of human love, and the need for us to be empathic beings – to have and to develope our empathy so that we can shed our selfish self and the illusion of our separateness.

That sounds very much like some old hippy talking – preaching love and gentleness. But don’t you still uphold honour and surely that itself might sometimes require the use of force, of violence? Surely there is a contradiction, here – between such tenderness, such love, and such force?

Personally, I think there is no contradiction, only a natural human balance. One prefers love, gentleness, empathy, but one is prepared, if necessary, to defend one’s self and one’s loved ones from those who might act in a selfish, dishonourable, harmful, violent, way toward us in some personal situation.

This nature balance – an innate nobility – is possessed by many human beings, and has been, for millennia; which is why some people just naturally have a sense of fair-play and would instinctively “do the right thing” in some situations, for example if they saw two men (or even one man) battering a women in a public place or if they came across a group of yobs taunting an elderly disabled man. And it is this natural balance, this notion of fairness, which is another of the numinous foundations of human culture.

Thus, it is that, according to my understanding, it is personal love – with all its tenderness – combined with fairness, a sense of personal honour, and with the ability to empathize with other human beings, that are not only numinous, but which also express our culture, our social nature, and are the things we should value, treasure, and seek to develope within ourselves.

It is unfortunate, therefore, that our predilection for manufacturing and believing in abstractions has, over millennia, and especially in the past hundred or more years, detracted from these three noble virtues of personal love, personal honour, and empathy, and instead led to the manufacture of new types of living where some abstraction or other is the goal, rather than such virtues.

My own life – until quite recently – is an example of how a person can foolishly and unethically place abstractions before such virtues and thus cause suffering in others, and for themselves.

One reviewer of your autobiography wrote of it as a modern allegory; a story of personal redemption, but without God. Would you agree?

With my four-decade long love of abstractions I certainly seem to have been a good example of human stupidity and arrogance; of someone obsessed with ideas, and ideals, for whom love and personal happiness came second, at best. Someone who arrogantly, sometimes even fanatically, believed they were “doing the right thing” and who found or who made excuses for the suffering, both personal and impersonal, that he caused.

Even worse, perhaps, was that there were many times in my life when I understood this, instinctively, emotionally, and consciously, but I always ended up ignoring such understanding – at least until recently. So, in effect, that makes me a worse offender than many others.

So, yes – perhaps my life is one such allegory; one story of how a human being can return to the foundations of human culture, and thus embrace the numinous virtue of compassion, of ceasing to intentionally cause suffering, of considering that a shared and loyal love between two human beings is the most beautiful, the most precious, the most numinous, thing of all.

But without a religious dimension? That, surely, is the key here, and what makes your story so very interesting?

Certainly, a kind of redemption without a belief in conventional religion. But that is only my own personal conclusion, my own personal Way, which therefore does not necessarily mean it is correct. It is only my own Numinous Way, deriving from my own pathei-mathos, founded on empathy, compassion, honour, and where there is no need for some supreme deity, or some theology, or even for some belief in something supra-personal. Instead, I feel there is a human dimension here – a natural return to valuing human beings, born of empathy. That is, that what is important is a close, a personal and empathic, interaction between human beings, and a living in a compassionate and honourable way – rather than a religious approach, with prayer, with rituals, with notions of sin, of redemption by some some supra-personal deity, or some belief in some after-life and which after-life is ours if we behave in the particular ways that some religion or some Sage or teacher or prophet prescribes or describes.

Without, in particular, any texts or impersonal guidance or revelation – since we have all the guidance we need, or can have all the guidance we need, because of and with and through empathy; by means of developing empathy, and so feeling as others feel. Thus, we lose that egocentric – that selfish, self-contained – view of ourselves, and instead view, and importantly feel, ourselves as connected to, part of, other human life, other beings; we know, we feel, we understand, that they are us and that we are them, and that it is only the illusion of the self, the abstraction of the self, that keeps us from this knowing, this feeling, this understanding of ourselves as a nexion to all other Life.

Thus, there is – or seems to me to be – a natural simplicity here in this Way of Empathy, Compassion, and Honour: a child learning and maturing, to perchance develope into another type of human being who might perchance with others develope new, more loving, more empathic, more balanced, ways of social living, and thus a new type or species of human culture where abstractions no longer hold people in thrall.

Is this – in enabling this new culture – where you think artists have an important rôle to play?

Yes, artists and artisans as pioneers of a new type of human culture – artists and artisans of the Numinous who can presence, and thus express, in their works those things which can inspire us to be human, to be more human, and to value the numinous virtues of empathy, compassion, personal love, and personal honour.

David Myatt
JD 2455419.173


Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20111010085733/http://davidmyatt.wordpress.com:80/numinous-foundations-of-human-culture/