David Myatt

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A welcome addition to the published works by Myatt is his Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates which brings together in one volume his eight translations and commentaries of hermetic texts, chapters 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 12 and 13 of the Corpus Hermeticum.

The compilation is available as a pdf document {1} and as a 190 page printed book {2} and contains a Preface which outlines his translation methodology, and from which this is an extract:

{Begin quote}

This work collects together my translations of and commentaries on the eight tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum which were published separately between 2013 and 2017. From the fourteen Greek tractates that have been traditionally referred to as the Corpus Hermeticum, I chose the eight (the ogdoad) whose texts I considered were the most metaphysical and mystical and thus which can provide an understanding of what came to be termed hermeticism […]

The methodology of using some transliterations, some relatively obscure English words, and some new term or expression (such as noetic sapientia) results in a certain technical – an ‘esoteric’ – vocabulary which requires or may require contextual, usually metaphysical, interpretation. Often, the interpretation is provided by reference to the matters discussed in the particular tractate; sometimes by reference to other tractates; and sometimes by considering Ancient Greek, and Greco-Roman, philosophy and mysticism. Occasionally, however, the interpretation is to leave some transliteration – such as physis, φύσις – as a basic term of the particular hermetic weltanschauung described in a particular tractate and, as such, as a term which has no satisfactory English equivalent, metaphysical or otherwise, and therefore to assimilate it into the English language. All of which make these translations rather different from other English versions, past and present, with these translations hopefully enabling the reader to approach and to appreciate the hermetic texts sans preconceptions, modern and otherwise, and thus provide an intimation of how such texts might have been understood by those who read them, or heard them read, in the milieu of their composition.

One of the intentions of these translations of mine of various tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum is provide an alternative approach to such ancient texts and hopefully enable the reader without a knowledge of Greek (and of the minutiae of over a century of scholarly analysis of the Greek text) to appreciate the texts anew and understand why they have – in the original Greek – been regarded as important documents in respect of particular, ancient, weltanschauungen that have, over the centuries, proved most influential and which can still be of interest to those interested in certain metaphysical speculations and certain esoteric matters.

{end quote}

The publication of this work also marks a milestone, since Greek translations now account for well over half of Myatt’s published – printed – output. His printed works alone currently amount to almost 1,000 pages, and given that most of these books are large print format (11 inches x 8.5 inches) then were they published in the standard paperback format (6 inches by 9 inches) the total would in the region of 1,200 pages.

The RDM Crew
September 2017 ev

{1} Available here: https://regardingdavidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/myatt-eight-tractates-print.pdf

The pdf document is published under the Creative Commons (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0) License, which allows for non-commercial copying and redistribution provided no alterations are made to the text and the document is attributed solely to the original author.

{2} David Myatt, Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates, 2017, ISBN 978-1976452369, BISAC: Philosophy / Metaphysics. The 190 page book is priced US$10, and is available direct from a well-known ‘internet publisher’ and from other book outlets such as Barnes & Noble. Like most of Myatt’s printed works it is idiosyncratic given its large size (8.5 x 11 inches). If printed in the standard paperback size (9 x 5 inches) it would amount to around 220 pages but, given the amount of Greek text, would probably be less readable.


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David Myatt

David Myatt has now made available (in pdf format) his completed translation of and commentary on tract XIII of the ancient Corpus Hermeticum. A printed version is scheduled for publication in October 2017.

This complements his previously published translations of and commentaries on tracts I, III, IV, VI, VIII, XI, and XII, totalling some 220 pages.

°°°°°

Tractate XIII: Translation and Commentary
(pdf)


Source: https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/corpus-hermeticum-xiii


numinous-religion

Another Iconoclastic Translation

Although David Myatt’s translation of the gospel of John from the Christian New Testament is a work-in-progress, sufficient has been released for a preliminary review. Thus far he has published the completed translation of the whole of chapters 1,2 and 3, which partial and regularly updated translation is available, as a pdf file, from The Gospel According To John.

To describe the translation as iconoclastic is something of an understatement. Perhaps more aptly it is heretical in the sense that Wycliffe’s 14th century and Luther’s 16th century translations were at the time considered by some to be heretical. To understand why it might be considered heretical, by mainstream Christians at least, we need to examine Myatt’s methodology.

Methodology

Myatt’s methodology is the same as that used in his translations of chapters from the Corpus Hermeticum which was written in the same Hellenistic Greek as the New Testament. His methodology is to use some transliterations – theos instead of god/God; phaos instead of light; and so on – and to find unusual English words for Greek terms which he considers are important to preserve the meaning current at the time the writings were composed. His reasoning is that particular English words – and angel, Word, spirit, prison, heaven, hour, and Jews, come to mind vis-a-vis the gospels – have acquired or now convey meanings which are not appropriate to the time of the gospels and which thus distort the text.

One very striking example is his translation of verse 24 of chapter 3. The King James Bible has “For John was not yet cast into prison.” All other English translations are similar. Myatt, however, has “And John had yet to be hurled into a guarded cage.”

In his commentary on this verse he writes,

βεβλημένος εἰς τὴν φυλακὴν. A phrase deserving some consideration, for φυλακή is not ‘prison’ as prisons are understood today and in the past few centuries but rather ‘a guarded cage’, with βεβλημένος εἰς implying a forceful ‘throwing’ or a hurling into such a cage.

A quick check of a dictionary of ancient Greek reveals that φυλάσσω – the origin of the term φυλακή – does mean “to keep guard” and figuratively, in the likes of Herodotus, implies a ‘cage’.

But possibly most controversial of all is his rejection of English terms such as Jews, angel and heaven. In place of Jews he has Judaeans, writing in a comment on chapter 1 verse 19,

After much consideration I have translated ἰουδαία not by the conventional term ‘Jews’ but rather by Judaeans, given (i) that the English terms Jews and Jewish (deriving from the 13th/14th century words gyv/gyw and Iewe) have acquired connotations (modern and medieval) which are not relevant to the period under consideration; and (ii) that the Greek term derives from a place name, Judaea (as does the Latin iudaeus); and (iii) that the Anglo-Saxon version (ASV) retains the sense of the Greek: here (iudeas) as elsewhere, as for example at 2.6, æfter iudea geclensunge, “according to Judaean cleansing.”

In a long and bound to be controversial comment on the term ‘heaven’ he writes,

Conventionally, οὐρανός here is always translated as ‘heaven’ although the term ‘heaven’ – used in the context of the Gospels – now has rather different connotations than the Greek οὐρανός, with the word ‘heaven’ now often implying something explained by almost two thousand years of exegesis and as depicted, for example, in medieval and Renaissance Christian art. However, those hearing or reading this particular Greek gospel for the first time in the formative years of Christianity would most probably have assumed the usual Greek usage of “the heavens” in the sense of the “the star-filled firmament above” or in the sense of “the sky” or as the abode of theos and/or of the gods (ἐν οὐρανῷ θεοί), an assumption consistent with the fact that the Evangelist explains and interprets certain non-Greek words (qv. the comment on 1.42) and considering also his use of a colloquial Greek expression (qv. the comment on 1.51).

It therefore seems apposite to suggest a more neutral word than ‘heaven’ as a translation of οὐρανός and one which might not only be understood in various ‘classical’ ways by an audience of Greek speakers (such as the ways described above) but also be open to a new, and Christian, interpretation consistent with the milieu that existed when the Gospel of John was written and first heard. That is, before the exegesis of later centuries and long before post-Roman Christian iconography. Hence my suggestion of the post-classical Latin term Empyrean, which can bear the interpretation of the abode of theos and/or of the gods, of “the sky”, of the “the star-filled firmament above; and a Christian one suggested by Genesis 2.8 – παράδεισον ἐν Εδεμ (the Paradise of Eden) – and also by shamayim, שָׁמַיִם

Which is why the standard translation of a verse such as chapter 1,19 – “And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you?” – is interpreted by Myatt as

For such was the evidence John gave when the Judaeans dispatched priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him: “Who are you?”

Heresy

His heretical interpretation is evident in so many passages it is difficult to pick out just one or two. But the following is a typical example, from chapter 3, verses 19-21, with Myatt pointing out in his commentary that in the gospel of John the phaos is identified as Jesus himself and thus is in the gospel of John a synonym for Jesus.

And this is the condemnation: That the Phaos arrived in the world but mortals loved the darkness more than the Phaos, for their deeds were harmful. For anyone who does what is mean dislikes the Phaos and does not come near the Phaos lest their deeds be exposed. But whomsoever practices disclosure goes to the Phaos so that their deeds might be manifest as having been done through Theos.

This is conventionally translated as “And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”

The effect of Myatt’s interpretation of the gospel is that it not only humanizes Jesus but also Christianity so that the message we apparently get is not of “fire and brimstone” – not of evil verses good, not of sin and the need to believe – but of what the likes of Julian of Norwich, George Fox and William Penn wrote and spoke of, and it is perhaps no coincidence that Myatt mentions those persons in the Preface to his translation.

Conclusion

As to whether Myatt’s translation, when completed, will find a niche is an interesting question given not just his iconoclastic methodology but also the esteem in which the gospels are held by Christians the vast majority of whom, were they to read his translation, would probably be offended by his interpretation.

As to when the translation will be completed, if the rate of updates is any guide it will be in about a year from now.

KS
June 2017


David Myatt

In his most recent article, published on his blog on the 24th of March 2017 and dealing as it does with the ancient texts of the Corpus Hermeticum {1}, David Myatt expounds on his decision to translate the ancient Greek term ἀγαθός not by the conventional English term ‘good’ but by – according to context – honourable, noble, nobility. In support of his translation of ἀγαθός he quotes Seneca: “summum bonum est quod honestum est. Et quod magis admireris: unum bonum est, quod honestum est, cetera falsa et adulterina bona sunt.” {2}

This choice – and his unconventional translations of other particular ancient Greek words such as νοῦς – really does give, as he notes in his article, an “impression about ancient Hermeticism which is rather different from that conveyed by other translations.”

The difference, as other commentators on Myatt’s Hermetica translations have noted {3} and as Myatt shows in his article, is between taking those texts as expressing a Christian ethos and taking them as expressing a pagan – a classical, Greco-Roman – ethos.

For those interested in Western esotericism in general and Hermeticism in particular this is a profound and important difference. It restores these texts to the Western pagan tradition and makes them relevant to our times when Western culture and our classical, Greco-Roman, and pagan heritage is increasingly subsumed in schools and elsewhere by other, non-Western, cultures and religions, with it now being ‘politically incorrect’ to point out that Western culture with its Greco-Roman pagan heritage has profoundly changed the world for the better and is arguably superior to all other cultures past and present.

Although Myatt in his article provides three illuminating examples of the difference between his ‘pagan’ (authentic) versions and the ‘Christian’ interpolations of other translators, I will provide two other examples.

The first is from tract XI which Myatt entitles From Perceiverance To Hermes.

“Indulging the body and rotten, you are unable to apprehend the beautiful, the noble. To be completely rotten is to be unaware of the numinous, while having the ability to discover, to have volition, to have expectations, is the direct, the better – its own – way to nobility.”

Copenhaver, hitherto extolled as providing the ‘definitive translation’, has:

“While you are evil and a lover of the body, you can understand none of the things that are beautiful and good. To be ignorant of the divine is the ultimate vice, but to be able to know, to will and to hope is the straight and easy way leading to the good.” {4}

The second example is from tract IV, which Myatt entitles Chaldron Or Monas.

Since that Being is honourable, the desire was to entrust solely to that Being such a cosmic order on Earth […] What is apparent can please us while what is concealed can cause doubt with what is bad often overt while the honourable is often concealed having as it has neither pattern nor guise.

Copenhaver translates as:

“Because he is good it was not for himself alone that he wished to make this offering and adorn this earth […] Visible things delight us but the invisible causes mistrust. Bad things are more open to sight but the good is invisible to what can be seen. For the good has neither shape nor outline.”

It is easy to see which translation echoes a pagan ethos – as the likes of Seneca and Cicero understood classical paganism – and which is redolent of a Christian or a pseudo-Christian ethos.

In summary, Myatt in his translations of five of the texts of the Corpus Hermeticum provides the ordinary reader with an insight into a neglected Western mystic tradition. A neglected tradition because all the other translations available impart – in Myatt’s words – “the sense of reading somewhat declamatory sermons about god/God and ‘the good’ familiar from over a thousand years of persons preaching about Christianity.”

Richard Stirling
Shropshire
2017

{1} https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/concerning-ἀγαθός-and-νοῦς-in-the-corpus-hermeticum/
{2} Ad Lucilium Epistulae Morales, LXXI, 4.
{3} https://regardingdavidmyatt.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/a-review-of-myatts-monas/
{4} B. Copenhaver. Hermetica. Cambridge University Press. 1992


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)

 

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{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