David Myatt

David Myatt

David Myatt’s translation of and commentary on tractate VIII of the ancient, Hellenic, Corpus Hermeticum is available here:

Corpus Hermeticum – Tractate VIII
(pdf)

This complements his translation of and commentary on tractates I, III, IV, and XI.


Source: https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/corpus-hermeticum-viii/


David Myatt

David Myatt

The Mystic Philosophy of David Myatt
(pdf)

Contents:

I. A Modern Mystic: David Myatt And The Way of Pathei-Mathos
II. A Modern Pagan Philosophy
III. Honour In The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos
IV. An Overview of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos
Appendix. A Note On Greek Terms In The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos


David Myatt

David Myatt

The pdf file below contains Myatt’s fourteen page essay Exegesis and Translation, first published in 2013. In the essay Myatt asks pertinent questions about revealed religions and the reliance the majority of believers of such revelations have on translations of their ‘sacred texts’ and the exegesis of others, writing in one memorable passage how

“there seems to be, in revealed religions and most conventional spiritual ways, a rejection of pathei-mathos in favour of the wisdom said to be contained in the texts and thus in the teachings of the founder(s) of the religion/spiritual way, and – in the case of revealed religions – in the writings/edicts of those who have been vested with or who have acquired a certain religious authority, and – also in the case of revealed religions – how such pathei-mathos, to be accepted at all, has to be judged by criteria developed from such texts and/or developed from interpretations of such texts.”

This essay therefore has relevance to Myatt’s philosophy of pathei mathos. It reveals also Myatt’s erudition, with quotations in their original language from the New Testament, the Koran, and Boethius – together with Myatt’s translations – as well as quotations from Beowulf, John Gower, and Morte Arthure.

While Myatt incorporated parts of the essay into some of his book-length works – for instance part of the Translation and Al-Quran section of the essay was added to the appendix of his Poemandres translation {1} – it is informative to read the complete essay, with his comments under the Ontology, Exegesis, and Pathei-Mathos heading in Part One of particular interest.

Exegesis And Translation
(pdf)

 

°°°

{1} David Myatt. Poemandres, A Translation and Commentary. Third Edition, 2014. ISBN 978-1495470684.


 

David Myatt

David Myatt

Reading Myngath
The Apologia of David Myatt

If the reader of Myngath expects a conventional autobiography then they will be either disappointed or consider the work somewhat bizarre.

Many – perhaps most – autobiographies appear to be consciously crafted in order to project, through the medium of words, a particular image of the author and an image which appears to be consistent because past events in the life of the author are often made to appear as if they were the genesis of, or support, what the authors wants the reader to believe about who the author is and why the author has done what they have and/or now has the beliefs or the opinions that they do.

The lives, however, of most notable individuals are not so simple as many of them would like us – via such self-penned deliberate, cause-and-effect, narratives – to believe.

In the case of Myatt what we get is – as the sub-title of Myngath and the introductory brief Apologia inform us – “some recollections of a wyrdful and extremist life” which were a “concise aural recollection to a friend, recorded and then transcribed” and which conciseness was because, according to Myatt “it is the essence of this particular life, recalled, that in my fallible view is or rather may be instructive, and I have tried to present this essence in a truthful way and thus be honest about my failings, my mistakes, my past activities, and my feelings at the time.”

The important phrases here are “aural recollection”, “some recollections”, and “honest about my feelings at the time.” For Myngath is a brief explanation, hastily given to someone, of how Myatt himself felt at certain times of his life, how he believes he finally came to reject the extremism that dominated his adult life and develop his philosophy of pathei-mathos, and which explanation is also an apology for both his extremist deeds and the selfishness so evident in his recollections of his private life. Which may explain why he chose a brief Apologia in preference to a lengthy Introduction, why he inserts some of his poems into the text, and why he added three appendices, with the poems for example expressing his feelings in a way that a wordy explanation would not.

What all this amounts to is that Myngath is not an ordinary autobiography but rather a series of impressions of Myatt at various times in his life. The enthusiastic unconventional schoolboy; a rather naive teenager getting involved in right-wing politics; the violent fanatic setting up a criminal gang to fund a political cause; the rather amoral convict running rackets from his prison cell; the selfish lover; the romantic dreamer and poet; the rather boyish somewhat mischievous Catholic monk; and the extremist turned humanist philosopher for whom “a shared, a loyal, love between two people is the most beautiful, the most numinous, the most valuable thing of all.”

What emerges was succinctly expressed a few years ago by an academic: an impression of an “extremely violent, intelligent, dark, and complex individual.” {1}

Understood as a series of impressions of the life of an individual with rather interesting and diverse experiences – from childhood on – Myngath is a worthwhile read, if only because it places the opinions of so many others about Myatt, from anti-fascists to journalists to various academics, into perspective: as being very simplistic. For such a complex man with such a diversity of experiences cannot be so easily pigeon-holed and as two-dimensional as they have made him out to be.

Myngath was, for me, also somewhat annoying, in that beneficial way that annoyance can sometimes be, since it intrigued me sufficiently to read more of David Myatt’s later (post-2011) writings and left me wanting to find a well-researched, objective, and detailed biography of him. The writings were easy to find, but such a biography has yet to be written.

J.B.
July 2016

Myngath is available (i) as a pdf document from Myatt’s weblog: https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/myngath-2/
and (ii) as a printed book published in 2013, ISBN 978-1484110744

 


{1} Raine, Susan. The Devil’s Party (Book review). Religion, Volume 44, Issue 3, July 2014.


David Myatt 

The Life Of David Myatt

The poetry of David Myatt is the creative work of a person with an interesting and controversial history. His life, according to one source, is akin to a modern  spiritual “odyssey”, a Siddhartha-like search for truth [1]. According to another source, Myatt is “a British iconoclast who has lived a somewhat itinerant life and has undertaken an equally desultory intellectual quest” [2]; while yet other sources described him as an “extremely violent, intelligent, dark, and complex individual,” [3] and as “arguably England’s principal […] theoretician of revolution.” [4]

My personal view – perhaps a somewhat unpopular one these days – is that one of the aims of Art is to elevate us and raise us up and away from the mundane world, and that all artistic creations should be judged on their merits, so that while the life and former beliefs, political or otherwise, of the artist may be of interest, they should not cloud one’s artistic judgment. In the majority of instances, while the artistic creations are remembered after the death of the artist, their personal beliefs and political opinions are long forgotten.

Outwardly, Myatt’s quest is now reasonably well known [5] – involving as it did, among other things, a study, in the Far East, of Martial Arts; the violence of ultra-nationalist politics; periods as a vagabond; two terms of imprisonment for violence; personal involvement with Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Christianity, Paganism, the Occult; and membership of a once secret military organization, set up by British government during the Cold War, to conduct sabotage and assassinations. In complete contrast, his interior personal life is much less well-known.

It may have been that his first period as a vagabond, in the 1970’s, was prompted, in part, by a series of ultimately unhappy romantic liaisons, one of which led to the young women in question moving abroad where she gave birth to Myatt’s daughter. This series of events does seem to have inspired some of his early poetry, as did his first marriage, which failed when his wife ran off with a younger woman (who, incidentally, was the dedicatee of Myatt’s translation of Sappho’s poetry). His second marriage ended with the death, at the age of 39, of his wife from cancer. The failure of his third marriage led him to spend another period as a homeless vagabond, in the hills and Fells of Cumbria, a period which inspired him to produce more poetry before he returned to writing about that second love of his life, women. For if there are two themes which consistently run through his poetry, they are Nature, and women. Indeed, he once remarked that “I often feel that some women embody the beauty, the numinosity, the joy, the sensuality, of Nature.” [6]

Despite his forays into extremists politics (1968-1998) Myatt’s poetry is decidedly non-political. Similarly, despite his upbringing as a Catholic, his time as a Catholic monk in the 1970’s and his years as a professed Muslim (1998-2009), his poetry is not conventionally religious. If his poetry can be categorized, it is ‘pagan’, Nature-loving, rather mystical, and autobiographical, and seems to me to express “the real Myatt” behind the façade of his various political, religious and other peregrinations over the past four decades.

Hence in order to understand Myatt himself, we might look beyond the many clichés – journalistic and otherwise – that have written about him and turn instead to his poetry. Or rather to the poetry in his published slim collection – taken from the title of the first poem – One Exquisite Silence [7], the poetry he included in his autobiography Myngath, and a few of the poems he himself has rejected [8], writing as he did at the beginning of that One Exquisite Silence collection that

“my poetry was composed between the years 1971-2012, and is of varying quality. Having undertaken the onerous task of re-reading those poems that I still have copies of, there are in my fallible view only around a dozen that I consider may possibly be good enough to be read by others.”


Myatt’s Poetry

What we find expressed in much of this poetry is an introspective yearning for a more natural and a more human way of life; a love of Nature; at times a certain melancholy, and someone who seems to enjoy the company of women far more than the company of men.

For example, regarding women, his poem One Exquisite Silence – written in 2003 – begins:

These are the moments of an exquisite silence
As we lie together on your sofa, holding, pressing
Our bodies together
As I, gently, stroke your face and hair
And you kiss each finger of my hand.
There is a fire of logs to warm us,
As night descends:
There are no words to confuse,
No time, as we flow, together,
As clouds on a warm Summer’s day
Beneath a dome of blue.

While in his Only Time Has Stopped (c.1978) he writes:

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.

Regarding a certain melancholy, in his 1975 poem Travelling – presumably written during his time as an itinerant – he writes:

Even my water is warm
And suspicious faces watch me
As their owners in gardens surround themselves
With sound:
There seems a rushing in the seeping loud
Music, a barrier
To keep my slow moving solitary travelling world
Away –
I smile, but my beard, my worn clothes –
Perhaps my eyes – mark me.

A few hours
And it is good to be alone again
Among the peace of hills
Where my walking slowness seems to frame
Each slowly passing world:

Above – clouds
To herald some future rain.

In an untitled undated poem – probably dating from the 1980s – and included in his autobiography Myngath he writes:

Like memories, snow falls
With no sound
While I stand as Winter frosts
My feet
And a cold hand holds itself ready
Near a pen:

The birds, though starving, still sing
Here where trees and snow seat themselves
On hill
And the slight breeze beings to break
My piece of silence
Down.

Her love seemed only real
With its loss.

Above the trees, crows cawing
As they swirl
Within the cold

In respect of Nature, in his Apple Blossom in May, composed sometime between the late 1970s and the early 1980s, he writes:

There is a reality about Spring
When grass grows green with the sun:
Days lengthen bringing the warmth
That reassures and one is pleased
To run a hand where wind moves
And blossoms have been blown:

Every hour is unique
When rain stops.
In the town – three hills
And a valley to the left –
Music slithers from a shop
While people rush,
Gathering.
A drill strikes stone
Where youths gather
Sneering at people who pass.

There is a pleasure about Spring
When free grass grows in the sun,
A slowness when wind rushes tree:
Nearby
The curlew and lark
Where sun glints
Upon rain sodden earth:

How are you today, Mr Hughes?
Oh not so bad, you know –
Better for the sun.
Aye, will dry the ground
So we can seed.

Over the fields –
White clouds making faces
In the sun

While in his City Autumn, included in his Gentleman of The Roads, and composed in the 1970s, there is a melancholic mediation on Nature and modern life:

Dawn’s magickal moment when dim light
That strains the eye
Bursts upon a horizon still
Clutching the mist of night:
I was awake, experiencing,
Trying to hold through sleepy eyes
The silence that gave me for a moment
God;
Then the birds, thrusting their song
In the wind
Which snatched trees
Breaking the colours down
Because rain has long rejoiced to seed
This Earth.
I, on a bench

Until the traffic came:
Hard noise that crushed my spell –
Clouds, that promised tomorrow

°°°

What such poems seem to reveal is a quite different person from “the extremely violent, dark,” extremist – a “man of extreme and calculated hatred” [9] – that he has often been portrayed as, especially as the poems range in date from the 1970s to 2009 and thus encompass his decades of political activism and his time as a radical Muslim.

His autobiography Myngath, and recent essays such as his The Development Of The Numinous Way, provide some clues as to this apparent disparity between ‘the man of violence’ – the extremist – and the poet. Of his move toward becoming a Catholic monk in the 1970s he writes in Myngath that

“for a long time I had, in pursuit of some ideology – what I would later describe as a causal abstraction – controlled an aspect of my character: my almost naive sensitivity, my empathy, my rather boyish enthusiasm. But now this aspect came again to live, on a daily basis, so that I, perhaps rather foolishly, took to walking the streets of Leeds barefoot, and smiling like some village idiot; so pleased, so very pleased, to be alive; so happy with the blueness of the sky, the warmth of the Sun, the ineffable beauty of life itself.”

In his 6th July 2006 essay Existence Without End – written just over a month after the suicide of his partner in May of that year – he, then still living on an English farm, wrote that

“it is so beautifully warm, this Sun, taking away for a while the sadness of the sleepless night when dreams and memories of Fran kept me, often weeping and often silently hunched by the window, listening to the rain. No music of mine, then, as I yearned to capture, to express, the almost despairing sadness of it all. There were only words; only words such as these, and not for the first time I gently envied those gifted with the talent of musical composition. But no words can express what the sounds of numinous music can and sometimes have expressed, and I was left to sigh and close my eyes to try and dream such memories of happier days as have kept me alive as the days since her death turned first to a week and then to a month, no God to bring forth the comfort and the love so desired, so needed in the bleakness of that, of this, long night.

But this Sun brings something, while it lasts – something strange: a quite quiet remembrance of the joys and beauty of life when personal love lived to suffuse us with both happiness and dreams – no death to tear us apart. Yet how many times, how often and how stupidly, did I turn away from the sharing of such love – from its value, its humanity, its goodness known only, valued only, felt only, with its loss, with such a loss as this? Turned away from – for what? Some hard, unforgiving, inhuman ideal. Turned away from – too many times these past thirty years so that a storm now wells up inside me as the clouds of the night grew, waiting to break in a tempest of tears. So stupid, the man that I was, and maybe still am.”

Bereavement

Some years after the suicide of his fiancée in 2006, Myatt composed the two poems which are possibly his most poignant and beautiful, both of which I reproduce in full. The first is Dark Clouds Of Thunder, written in 2010,

The moment of sublime knowing
As clouds part above the Bay
And the heat of Summer dries the spots of rain
Still falling:
I am, here, now, where dark clouds of thunder
Have given way to blue
Such that the tide, turning,
Begins to break my vow of distance
Down.

A women, there, whose dog, disobeying,
Splashes sea with sand until new interest
Takes him where
This bearded man of greying hair
No longer reeks
With sadness.

Instead:
The smile of joy when Sun of Summer
Presents again this Paradise of Earth
For I am only tears, falling

The second – and his last poem – is The Sun, The City, composed in New York city in 2012:

°°°

The Sun, the city, to wear such sadness down
For I am only one among the many
Where a night-of-dreams becomes unreal
With all that is human living, dwelling,
Faster slower slowing grateful hateful hoping loving
Here:
No Time to relay the inner rush of sorrow
That breaks, broken, by some scheming need to-be
Since the 1-train, conveying, is here to grace me
In perspective.

But there are moments, to still,
When – tasks, duty – done
That inner quietness betrays
So that I sit where

The Sun of English Summer
Would could bring me down
There where the meadow grass had grown
Green greener drier keener
And farm’s field by hedge with scent
Would keep me still but sweating –
No cider to induce
Then that needed paradisal-sleep.

And now: now I only this all this,
One being cavorting where one past melds
To keep me silent, still, so that the sidewalk
Is only that sidewalk, there
Where hope, clustering, fastly moves us
On.
Good, bad, indifferent – it makes no difference:
I am no one to judge so many, any,
So that there is – becomes – only the walk faster slower slowing here
And we free in Sun to trust to sleep to-be to seep a dream
Bought at some cost, to many:

Fidelis ad Mortem

And yet there is the Sun, the city, to witness how we can should must
Break
Such sadness down.

°°°

In this latter poem, with its subtle invocation of the debt owed to the NYPD, its phrase that he is “no one to judge so many, any”, and its remembrance of the fields of an English farm while on the subway train that travels between Riverdale and Manhattan, Myatt encapsulates everything that he has learned about himself and the modern world since the death of his partner. Which is the tolerant acceptance, the personality humility, and the desire not to impersonally interfere, that form the foundation of his philosophy of pathei-mathos, a philosophy developed by him from the personal suffering and grief the death of his partner caused him.

Reading these two poems leads me to understand why Myatt felt he had to stop writing poetry and reject nearly all of his previous poems:

“Of all my profuse poetic scribblings, I can find only half a dozen or so that I can bear to re-read and which are, in my opinion, good. Some others may just be passable, but there are many – the majority, again in my opinion – which are lacking in either style or profoundity, or both, and which perhaps should be forgotten…” [10]


Conclusion

If David Myatt is to be remembered, it should ideally be for his poetry – and his translation of and commentary on the Pymander and Ιερός Λόγος tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum, and his philosophy of pathei-mathos – rather than for his political or religious writings, his past political associations, or his quest among the religions of the world. For in my view the poems in his own One Exquisite Silence collection, included in Myngath, and those few others in collections such as DW Myatt: Some Rejected Poems, are the very personal and revealing words of man who for decades veered between two types of living – the life of a poet, philosopher, mystic, and the life of a committed, sometimes violent, ideologue and activist – but who in the end seems to have been redeemed, because as he put it [11] of pathei-mathos; by having finally and irretrievably been compelled to choose the former type of living, with his poem The Sun, The City, a fitting epitaph to his strange peregrinations.


J. R. Wright
(Second, Revised, Edition 2016)

[1] Kaplan, Jeffrey (2000). Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook on the Radical Racist Right. Rowman & Littlefield, p. 216ff; p.512f

[2] Jon B. Perdue: The War of All the People: The Nexus of Latin American Radicalism and Middle Eastern Terrorism. Potomac Books, 2012. p.70-71.

[3] Raine, Susan. The Devil’s Party (Book review). Religion, Volume 44, Issue 3, July 2014, pp. 529-533.

[4] Michael, George. The New Media and the Rise of Exhortatory Terrorism. Strategic Studies Quarterly (USAF), Volume 7 Issue 1, Spring 2013.

[5] Myatt provides an overview of his life in his autobiography, Myngath: Some Recollections of a Wyrdful and Extremist Life, published in 2013. ISBN 9781484110744

[6] The Greatest Joy, The Greatest Sadness. Letter by Myatt to JRW, 2002. Included in JR Wright: Selected Letters of David Myatt, 2002-2008, e-text (pdf), 2009.

[7] One Exquisite Silence (ISBN 978-1484179932), later republished by him for some reason under the title Relict (ISBN 978-1495448386)

[8] My selection of his rejected poems includes Apple Blossom in May and Hermit Tent (from his 1980s ‘Gentleman Of The Road’ collection and both written in the 1970s), Was There Ever Such A Bliss As This (written in 2009), One Moment, Moving (written in 2010), A Warm Day One Spring (written in 1984), Travelling (written in 1975) and The Returning (written in 1984).

This selection is available as an e-text (pdf) under the title DW Myatt: Some Rejected Poems.

 

[9] Searchlight, July 2000. That issue of the long-standing anti-fascist magazine was devoted to Copeland and the London nail-bombings, with the article about Myatt appearing under the headline David Myatt: Theoretician of Terror.

In his 2012 essay Pathei-Mathos: Genesis of My Unknowing Myatt wrote

There are no excuses for my extremist past, for the suffering I caused to loved ones, to family, to friends, to those many more, those far more, ‘unknown others’ who were or who became the ‘enemies’ posited by some extremist ideology. No excuses because the extremism, the intolerance, the hatred, the violence, the inhumanity, the prejudice were mine; my responsibility, born from and expressive of my character; and because the discovery of, the learning of, the need to live, to regain, my humanity arose because of and from others and not because of me […]

I feel I now quite understand why, in the past, certain individuals disliked – even hated – me, given my decades of extremism: my advocacy of racism, fascism, holocaust denial, and National-Socialism.”

[10] Private hand-written letter by Myatt, addressed to JR Wright, dated 25.vii.08.

[11] “The discovery of, the learning of, the need to live, to regain, my humanity arose because of and from others and not because of me.” Pathei-Mathos: Genesis of My Unknowing (2012).



 

David Myatt

David Myatt

The Mystic Philosophy of David Myatt
(pdf)

Contents:

I. A Modern Mystic: David Myatt And The Way of Pathei-Mathos
II. A Modern Pagan Philosophy
III. Honour In The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos
IV. An Overview of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos
Appendix. A Note On Greek Terms In The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos


Myatt’s Sarigthersa, Some Recent Essays is now available as printed 50 page booklet – ISBN 978-1512137149 – from Amazon dot com and other book retailers. It compliments his other published works about his philosophy of pathei-mathos.

Contents:

° Preface
° I. Toward Understanding Physis
° II. Some Conjectures Concerning Our Nexible Physis
° III. Just Passing By
° IV. Personal Reflexions On Some Metaphysical Questions
° V. Some Notes on Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1015α
° VI. Some Notes on Aristotle, Metaphysics, 987β
° VII. Concerning Tractate IV, Corpus Hermeticum
° VIII. Extremism, Terrorism, Culture, And Physis: A Question Of Being
° IX. The Manner of My Dying
° X. Memories of Manual Labour
° XI. A Perplexing Failure To Understand
° XII. Finis: In Loving Memory of Susan and Frances
° Appendix – Reputation and Rumours

In line with Myatt’s life-long support of copyleft, the work is also available as a free pdf from his blog and website, and also in an alternative (dual-page) pdf format here – https://regardingdavidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/dwm-sarigthersa.pdf


David Myatt

David Myatt

DW Myatt: Some Rejected Poems
(pdf)

From the intro by JRW:

{quote} In [his] Introduction to his published slim volume of poetry – One Exquisite Silence (ISBN 978-1484179932), later republished under the title Relict (ISBN 978-1495448386) – David Myatt wrote that:

“My poetry was composed between the years 1971-2012, and is of varying quality. Having undertaken the onerous task of re-reading those poems that I still have copies of, there are in my fallible view only around a dozen that I consider may possibly be good enough to be read by others. This collection contains these few poems, and most are autobiographical in nature.”

I include here those of his rejected poems which in my view are indeed “good enough to be read by others”. {/quote}


Sue, On Wenlock Edge

Sue, On Wenlock Edge

 

 A Perplexing Failure To Understand
Being a slightly revised extract from a letter to friend,
with some footnotes added post scriptum

 

One of the multitude of things that I have, for years, failed to understand – sans any belief in an all-powerful supra-personal deity – is why I am still alive while people like Sue and Fran – and the millions of others like them – died or were killed, too early. For they neither caused any deaths nor inflicted any suffering on another living being, human and otherwise, while I – and the millions like me, worldwide – continued to live despite having so caused, directly and/or indirectly, deaths and suffering. And in my case, directly and indirectly as my documented so lamentable extremist amoral decades – of violence, hatred, incitement, of being a “theoretician of revolution/terror” – so clearly reveal.

Yet – over twenty years after the death of Sue, and almost ten years since the death of Fran – here I am, still breathing, still pontificating. And all I have – despite years of interior reflexion – is a feeling, an intuition: of the how and why our thousand of years old human culture of pathei-mathos is important because – or so it seems to me – it might bring (at least to some others) a wordless intimation of one possible answer to such a perplexing question.

For it is a culture that includes, for example, such diverse artisements as the Oresteia of Aeschylus, the Lamentations of Jeremiah by Thomas Tallis, and the life – and death – of people such as Jesse James, Mohandas K Gandhi, and Edith Cavell; and which culture, enshrined as it is in Studia Humanitatis, can perchance teach some of each new generation that valuable lesson about our human physis, jumelle as our physis is [1] and thus paradoxical as we honourable/dishonourable (often hubriatic) mortals are:

ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ
πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν:
πολλῶν δ᾽ ἀνθρώπων ἴδεν ἄστεα καὶ νόον ἔγνω,
πολλὰ δ᾽ ὅ γ᾽ ἐν πόντῳ πάθεν ἄλγεα ὃν κατὰ θυμόν,
ἀρνύμενος ἥν τε ψυχὴν καὶ νόστον ἑταίρων.
ἀλλ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ὣς ἑτάρους ἐρρύσατο, ἱέμενός περ:
αὐτῶν γὰρ σφετέρῃσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὄλοντο,
νήπιοι, οἳ κατὰ βοῦς Ὑπερίονος Ἠελίοιο
ἤσθιον: αὐτὰρ ὁ τοῖσιν ἀφείλετο νόστιμον ἦμαρ

The Muse shall tell of the many adventures of that man of the many stratagems
Who, after the pillage of that hallowed citadel at Troy,
Saw the towns of many a people and experienced their ways:
He whose vigour, at sea, was weakened by many afflictions
As he strove to win life for himself and return his comrades to their homes.
But not even he, for all this yearning, could save those comrades
For they were destroyed by their own immature foolishness
Having devoured the cattle of Helios, that son of Hyperion,
Who plucked from them the day of their returning
[2]

A lesson about ourselves which so many others have attempted to communicate to us, as recounted in a certain tragedy:

οὕτω δ᾽ Ἀτρέως παῖδας ὁ κρείσσων
ἐπ᾽ Ἀλεξάνδρῳ πέμπει ξένιος
Ζεὺς πολυάνορος ἀμφὶ γυναικὸς
πολλὰ παλαίσματα καὶ γυιοβαρῆ
γόνατος κονίαισιν ἐρειδομένου
διακναιομένης τ᾽ ἐν προτελείοις
κάμακος θήσων Δαναοῖσι
Τρωσί θ᾽ ὁμοίως. ἔστι δ᾽ ὅπη νῦν
ἔστι: τελεῖται δ᾽ ἐς τὸ πεπρωμένον

Thus were those sons of Atreus sent forth
By mighty Zeus, guardian of hospitality, against Alexander
On account of that woman who has had many men.
And many would be the limb-wearying combats
With knees pushed into the dirt
And spears worn-out in the initial sacrifice
Of Trojans and Danaans alike.
What is now, came to be
As it came to be. And its ending has been ordained [3]

and as described – millennia ago – by a certain poetess:

φαίνεταί μοι κῆνος ἴσος θέοισιν
ἔμμεν᾽ ὤνηρ, ὄττις ἐνάντιός τοι
ἰσδάνει καὶ πλάσιον ἆδυ φωνεί-
σας ὐπακούει
καὶ γελαίσας ἰμέροεν, τό μ᾽ ἦ μὰν
καρδίαν ἐν στήθεσιν ἐπτόαισεν
ὠς γὰρ ἔς σ᾽ ἴδω βρόχε᾽, ὤς με φώναι-
σ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ἒν ἔτ᾽ εἴκει,
ἀλλ᾽ ἄκαν μὲν γλῶσσα <ἔαγε>, λέπτον
δ᾽ αὔτικα χρῶι πῦρ ὐπαδεδρόμηκεν,
ὀππάτεσσι δ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ἒν ὄρημμ᾽, ἐπιρρόμ-
βεισι δ᾽ ἄκουαι,
<έκαδε μ᾽ ἴδρως ψῦχρος κακχέεται / κὰδ’ δέ ἴδρως κακχέεται> τρόμος δὲ
παῖσαν ἄγρει, χλωροτέρα δὲ ποίας
ἔμμι, τεθνάκην δ᾽ ὀλίγω ᾽πιδεύης
φαίνομ᾽ ἔμ᾽ αὔται

I see he who sits near you as an equal of the gods
For he can closely listen to your delightful voice
And that seductive laugh
That makes the heart behind my breasts to tremble.
Even when I glimpse you for a moment
My tongue is stilled as speech deserts me
While a delicate fire is beneath my skin –
My eyes cannot see, then,
When I hear only a whirling sound
As I shivering, sweat
Because all of me trembles;
I become paler than drought-grass
And nearer to death
[4]

and as, for example, described by the scribe of an ancient Hermetic MS:

Solum enim animal homo duplex est; et eius una pars simplex, quae, ut Graeci aiunt οὐσιώδης, quam vocamus divinae similitudinis formam; est autem quadruplex quod ὑλικὸν Graeci, nos mundanum dicimus, e quo factum est corpus, quo circumtegitur illud quod in homine divinum esse iam diximus, in quo mentis divinitas tecta sola cum cognatis suis, id est mentis purae sensibus, secum ipsa conquiescat tamquam muro corporis saepta.

Humans are the only species that is jumelle, with one aspect that foundation which the Greeks termed οὐσιώδης and we describe as being akin in appearance to divinity, and yet also being quadruplex, termed by the Greeks ὑλικός and which we describe as worldly; whereby from such is the corporeal [body] that, as mentioned, is of – in humans – the divinity, and in which is that divine disposition, to which it is solely related, that is in character a singular perceiveration and untoiling since enclosed within the corporeal. [5]

But will we – can we – mortals, en masse, read, listen, reflect, experience, and so learn? Or will we, as our tragic history of the past three millennia so seems to indicate, continue to be divided – individually, and en masse – between the masculous and the muliebral; between honour and dishonour; between war and peace; between empathy and ipseity?

I do so wish I knew. But all I have to offer, now in the fading twilight of my own mortal life, is an appreciation (perhaps contrary, these days, to οἱ πλέονες) of what some schools, independent (‘private’) or otherwise, still fortunately do understand is the importance of a ‘classical education’, and what may possibly be apprehended by such poor words of mine as this:

Here, sea, Skylark and such a breeze as rushes reeds
Where sandy beach meets
To meld with sky
And a tumbling cumuli of cloud
Briefly cool our Sun.

I am no one, while ageing memory flows:

For was there ever such a bliss as this
While the short night lasted
And we touched kissed meshed ourselves together
To sweat, sweating, humid,
Fearing so many times to fully open our eyes
Lest it all really was
A dream

But Dawn arrived as it then arrived bringing with its light
Loose limbs and such a reminder
As would could should did
Make us late that day for work.

So, here: a tiredness of age
Brightened by such a June as this
When sandy beach meets
To meld with sky
And that tumbling cumuli of cloud
Briefly cools a Sun

For there are so many recollections of centuries of a so human love, so many memories of years – centuries – of hubris and dishonour, that I can now only live each slowly passing daylight hour modus vivendi:

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel [6]


David Myatt
January 2015

[1] Pœmandres (Corpus Hermeticum), 15:

καὶ διὰ τοῦτο παρὰ πάντα τὰ ἐπὶ γῆς ζῷα διπλοῦς ἐστιν ὁ ἄνθρωπος, θνητὸς μὲν διὰ τὸ σῶμα, ἀθάνατος δὲ διὰ τὸν οὐσιώδη ἄνθρωπον. ἀθάνατος γὰρ ὢν καὶ πάντων τὴν ἐξουσίαν ἔχων τὰ θνητὰ πάσχει ὑποκείμενος τῇ εἱμαρμένῃ

Which is why, distinct among all other beings on Earth, mortals are jumelle; deathful of body yet deathless the inner mortal. Yet, although deathless and possessing full authority, the human is still subject to wyrd

 See also Sophocles, Antigone, v. 334 & vv. 365-36:

πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κοὐδὲν ἀνθρώπου δεινότερον πέλει…
σοφόν τι τὸ μηχανόεν τέχνας ὑπὲρ ἐλπίδ᾽ ἔχων
τοτὲ μὲν κακόν, ἄλλοτ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἐσθλὸν ἕρπει

There exists much that is strange, yet nothing
Has more strangeness than a human being…
Beyond his own hopes, his cunning
In inventive arts – he who arrives
Now with dishonour, then with chivalry

[2] Homer, Odyssey, Book 1, v. 1-9

[3] Aeschylus, Agamemnon, v. 60-68

[4] Sappho, Fragment 31

[5] Asclepius, VII, 13-20

[6] TS Eliot, Ash Wednesday


Source: https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/failure-to-understand/

 

Towards Understanding Physis
(pdf)

Myatt writes:
[quote] Since the concept of physis – φύσις – is central to my philosophy of pathei-mathos, it seems apposite to offer a more detailed explanation of the concept, and my usage of it, than I have hitherto given, deriving as the term does from Ancient Greece and used as it is by Heraclitus, Aristotle, and others, and occurring as it does in texts such as the Pœmandres and Ιερός Λόγος tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum.[/quote]


Article source: https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2015/07/05/towards-understanding-physis/