David Myatt: Forty Years Of Learning

David Myatt

David Myatt

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Q. How would you summarize what you have learnt from your forty years as an activist?

One of the conclusions of such retrospection as I have undertaken in the past few years is of understanding the deeds and the intolerant striving of my extremist decades as reprehensible. Another conclusion concerns my own reprehensible character. Yet another concerns my hubris, or perhaps more correctly my stupidity born of arrogance and fanaticism resulting in a failure, a refusal, to learn from our thousands of years old human culture of pathei-mathos. For such a learning would have placed me and my extremism – me as a masculous talking-mammal – in a supra-personal context, providing a knowledge of those deeds and that striving as having the opposite effect of what I intended or arrogantly believed they would achieve, and of only inflicting, causing, more and more unnecessary suffering.

This supra-personal context is the Cosmic Perspective: of the reality of our individual selves as but one fragile mortal short-lived biological life-form on one planet orbiting one star in one galaxy in a Cosmos of billions of galaxies; of our nations, our national cultures – and everything we manufacture or bring-into-being or presence, from ideas to ideologies to religions to cities to industries to products to archetypes – being not only by their φύσις subject to change and transmutation but also having a certain limited life span, be such in terms of years, decades, centuries, or millennia; of how our pride in our achievements or in our presencings, individual or collective – and such achievements/presencings themselves – should be considered in the context of the possibility of sentient life, some probably more advanced than us, on other planets in our own galaxy and in the billions of galaxies in the Cosmos; of how all life on our own planet, just like ourselves, is fragile, changing, and subject to extinction; and of how what we, as individuals, do or do not do affects or can affect other living beings.

For the Cosmic Perspective is an empathic awareness of not only our place in the Cosmos but also of the affective and acausal connexions that bind all life, on this planet and elsewhere in the Cosmos, and be such life sentient or otherwise. And it is this empathic awareness which, according to my mutable understanding, can provide us with a personal appreciation of the numinous sans the abstractions, the theology, the cosmogony, the dogma, and sans the God/gods, of an organized religion.

My hubriatic error in those extremist decades was essentially two-fold: (i) to aspire to bring-into-being some-thing that would not and could not, in centennial terms (let alone in millennial or cosmic terms) endure; and (ii) to use violence and incite hatred, intolerance, and killing, in order to try and presence that causal some-thing. My perspective, for example, during my neo-nazi decades was very limited, sometimes egoistical. Egoistical in that I enjoyed the striving, the conflict, the incitement, the excitement, and even the violence. Limited, in that my foreseeing was of the next meeting, the next fight, the next demonstration, the next piece of propaganda to produce, my next speech, and of the victory I and others dreamed of or believed in; a victory that would be at most a decade or two ahead.

Of course, I believed that what we or others after us might bring-into-being would endure, most probably at the cost of further conflict; and endure for decades, possibly a century or more. But the reality always was of me and my kind striving to stop or somehow try to control, to shape, the natural flux of change; to preserve, whatever the cost, what we or others after us might bring-into-being.

For we believed we would or could do what no one in human history had been able to do: make our presencings immortal, or at least immune to the natural cycle of birth-life-decay-death. A natural cycle so evident in the rise, the flourishing, the decline, the decay, the death, of empire after empire; national culture after national culture; city after city; language after language; and of a people of a particular size and in a particular area naturally changing, moving, emigrating, immigrating, and thus naturally melding with others. In brief, we (with our simple causal-only perception) hubristically believed or felt that we could, and would, not only master and control Nature and the very forces of the Cosmos but also that our interventions would endure far beyond our own lives. In retrospection, this was fantasy, with the rise and fall and destruction of The Third Reich being just one of the many examples from reality that should have informed us about that fantasy.

           In contrast, my understanding now is that the Cosmic Perspective reveals a particular truth not only about the Anthropocene (and thus about our φύσις as human beings) but also about how sustainable millennial change has occurred and can occur. Which change is via the progression, the evolution – the development of the faculties and the consciousness – of individuals individually. This is the interior, the a-causal, change of individuals wrought by a scholarly learning of and from our thousands of years old human culture of pathei-mathos, by our own pathei-mathos, and by that personal appreciation of the numinous that both the Cosmic Perspective and the muliebral virtues incline us toward.

This aeonic change voids what we now describe by the terms politics and religion and direct social activism of the violent type. There is thus a shift from identifying with the communal, the collective – from identifying with a particular contemporary or a past society or some particular national culture or some particular causal form such as a State or nation or empire or some -ism or some -ology – toward that-which has endured over centuries and millennia: our human culture of pathei-mathos.

For the human culture of pathei-mathos records and transmits, in various ways, the pathei-mathos of individuals over thousands of years, manifest as this sustainable millennial culture is in literature, poetry, memoirs, aural stories, in non-verbal mediums such as music and Art, and in the experiences – written, recorded, and aural – of those who over the centuries have appreciated the numinous, and those who endured suffering, conflict, disaster, tragedy, and war, and who were fundamentally, interiorly, changed by their experiences. And it is this shared human culture of pathei-mathos that extremists of what[ever] kind, and those who advocate -isms and -ologies, scorn and so often try to suppress when, for however short a time, they have political or social or religious power and control over the lives of others.

It is this human culture of pathei-mathos which – at least according to my experience, my musings, and my retrospection – reveals to us the genesis of wisdom: which is that it is the muliebral virtues which evolve us as conscious beings, which presence sustainable millennial change. Virtues such as empathy, compassion, humility, and that loyal shared personal love which humanizes those masculous talking-mammals of the Anthropocene, and which masculous talking-mammals have – thousand year following thousand year – caused so much suffering to, and killed, so many other living beings, human and otherwise.

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Source:
Some Questions For DWM, 2014 (pdf)


Dream Of A Stranger?

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 it compliments his Some Problems With Modern Democracy written around the same time.

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Dream Of A Stranger?

In the perspective of our thousands of years of human learning from the thousands of years of suffering we humans have inflicted on our own kind, it is just so discouraging that humans individually and when as for example in the role of government officials continue to deny responsibility, continue to try to cover up their suffering-causing deeds, or the suffering-causing deeds of their governments [1], by deceptive propaganda, by excuses, and by lies.

In addition, the hypocrisy of governments, of government officials, and of politicians democratically elected or otherwise, seems to increase with every passing decade. Thus and for example the majority of governments in the West – if not all of them when they consider their perceived interests are involved – declare they are the side of “justice” and “truth” and “freedom” and “peace” and yet continually interfere in the affairs of other lands in a detrimental way, causing harm and suffering to civilians, by supporting or implementing economic sanctions, by supporting or being part of military invasions or interventions, by supporting or undertaking covert government-sponsored extra-judicial killings of individuals considered a threat to the security or the strategic interests of some government or governments.

This government hypocrisy – this false manifestation of being good or virtuous – was much in evidence in the military invasion and occupation, by Western forces, of Iraq and Afghanistan, during which invasion and the years-long occupation hundreds of thousands of civilians were injured and killed; hundreds of thousands of civilians suffered economic hardship and trauma, and an unknown number of individuals were summarily executed, often by means of covert government-directed operations, without due legal process. All this suffering, all the killing, all the deaths, all the trauma endured by civilians, were often justified by the governments who caused such things by propagandistic means as in the case of Iraq where one of the main excuses used by politicians was the deception that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction,” with the British Prime Minister stating that “regime change in Iraq would be a wonderful thing.” [2]

In effect, the propaganda was that the West, and Western military forces, were on the side of “justice” and “truth” and “freedom” and “peace” while the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan were “evil regimes” that had to be opposed and deposed. That is, in basic terms that the governments of the West were moral [3], and morally superior to those “immoral regimes.” Hence why a former US President used the term “axis of evil” in reference to those declared to be enemies of “the good”.

This was hypocrisy – a false manifestation of being good or virtuous – by the governments of the West because their actions, their invasion and occupation caused far more suffering, far more deaths, far more trauma than the governments they deposed, with the legacy of those invasions and occupations no doubt being felt – in terms of people suffering – long after the governments of the West decide to end their occupation of those foreign lands. For how can it be ethical – good, or in the words of a former British Prime Minister, a wonderful thing – to cause so much suffering, so many deaths, so much trauma?

Personally, I do not believe that it is ethical to cause such things since I have, after many years, arrived at the conclusion that what is good is what our faculty of empathy reveals does not cause suffering to other living beings, with “the good” thus manifest externally in a practical way in we humans by what is fair, what is compassionate, what is honourable, what is honest, what is reasoned and balanced.

For this understanding of what is ethical is what I personally believe our thousands of years of human learning, from the thousands of years of suffering we humans have inflicted on our own kind, has taught us; forming as such an understanding did the basis of the teachings of Lao Tzu, Siddhartha Gautama, Jesus of Nazareth, and forming as it does the essence of the Oresteia by Aeschylus, the essence of the Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone of Sophocles, the essence of the philosophy of people such as Epictetus, and the raison d’etre of groups such as the Religious Society Of Friends.

At least the Ancient Greeks and Romans were not hypocrites, like so many people now seem to be and as almost all our governments are today. For the Ancient Greeks and Romans fought, invaded, conquered, because for the most part their men enjoyed it, because it usually offered them material rewards such as booty or prisoners who could be enslaved, and also because their chieftains, their leaders, their representatives openly and unashamedly placed the interests of their people before the interests of others.

What I find so discouraging is this lack of modern-day honesty – especially by governments – combined with what seems to me to be a lack of progress by individuals en masse toward living by ethical virtues such as fairness, compassion, honour, honesty, and reason.

We human beings just seem to continue to make the error of hubris – manifest by the likes of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Orestes, and Oedipus – decade after decade, century after century, and millennia after millennia. In other words, although our thousands of years of human learning – our religions, our philosophies, our stories of tragedies – has and have changed some humans and re-made them as ethical beings, they have not so far changed sufficient to prevent such large-scale suffering as was caused by the First World War, the Second World War, and by recent conflicts such as the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq.

For we humans do seem to need, to still be in thrall to, abstractions: especially dogmatic, supra-personal, unempathic, notions of “good” and “evil”.

The personal cultivation of empathy by individuals seems to me to be a practical way to remove ourselves from the cycle of human-caused suffering. That at least is my – perhaps naive – hope; the only means I have, so far, found to banish the Spectre of Discouragement.

Or is all this just a dream of someone who is now a stranger in the modern world?

David Myatt
2010

[1] By the term ‘government’ is meant a specific entity responsible for governing or ruling a specific area, which area is usually a nation or geographic region, and which entity functions, exists, by means of individuals – elected and/or unelected – who occupy positions of authority and/or of influence in a specific government and who because of such authority/influence can be or should be held accountable for the actions and the policies of that government.

[2] https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo020924/debtext/20924-05.htm

[3] That is, virtuous, ethical, and thus that “they” represent “the good” as opposed to what is “evil”.


Article source:
https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/dream-of-a-stranger/


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/


Reading Myngath

David Myatt

David Myatt

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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 want the reader to believe about who they are and why they have done what they have and/or now have 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 (and probably edited by Myatt before publication), 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.

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 might 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.”

The impression that 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 and make 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
(Revised 2017)

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

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


Self-Dramatization And Sentimentalist?

David Myatt

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

Overview: Personal Effusions

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

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

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

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

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

Or this, from his earlier Some Questions For DWM 2014,

« My writings, post-2011, were and are really dialogues: interiorly with myself and externally with a few friends or the occasional person who has contacted me and expressed an interest. They are just my attempts to answer particular philosophical and metaphysical questions which interest or perplex me; attempts to understand myself and my extremist past (and thus understand extremism itself), and attempts to express what I believe I have, via pathei-mathos, come to understand and appreciate. Thus, I make no claims regarding the worth or the importance of these personal and philosophical musings, with such dialogues, musings, and correspondence published mostly because expiatory but also because (being honest) of vanity in the hope that some of them may possibly, just possibly, be of some interest to a few individuals interested in such philosophical and metaphysical questions or interested in understanding extremism and its causes. But if no one takes them seriously, it does not matter, for they have assisted me in understanding myself, in recognizing and acknowledging my past mistakes and the suffering I have caused, and aided my move from extremism toward developing a mystical and personal weltanschauung imbued with a muliebral ethos. »

An Assessment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two years later he wrote that

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

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

A Personal Conclusion

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

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

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

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

J.B.
2017

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


Myatt, Anti-Racism, Extremism, Honour, and Culture

A pdf file of parts 1 and 2 of this article is available here – overview-myatt-philosophy.pdf


David Myatt

David Myatt

 

An Overview of David Myatt’s Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos
Part One: Anti-Racism, Extremism, Honour, and Culture

It is now generally acknowledged that David Myatt – once renowned as an ideologue {1} and as a ‘theoretician of terror’ {2} – has rejected the extremism that dominated his life for some forty years, thirty of which years were spent as a neo-nazi activist and ten as a “fierce Jihadist” {3} and apologist for Al-Qaeda {4}.

According to his own account {5} this rejection was a consequence of pathei mathos – primarily, the suicide of his partner in 2006 – and which learning from grief resulted in him developing what he termed a philosophy of pathei-mathos centred around personal virtues such as humility, compassion, empathy and personal honour {6}{7}. In addition he has written several interesting, if rather neglected, essays in which he discourses about culture and – politically relevant today – about topics such as extremism. In these discourses, which apply his philosophy to the topics discussed, he is at pains to point out that he presents only his “personal, fallible, opinion about such matters” and that these opinions derive from his decades of “experience of extremists and my decade of study and personal experience of, and involvement with, Islam.” {8}

Culture, Civilization, and Politics

Given Myatt’s predilection during his extremist decades, and especially as a neo-nazi ideologue, for pontificating about both ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’, his mature view of such things, resulting from his recent seven or so years of interior reflection following his learning from grief {9}, are of especial interest.

For he writes that:

“The very usage of the term civilization, for instance, implies a bias; a qualitative often pejorative, prejudiced, assessment and thence a division between something judged ‘better than’ – or ‘superior to’ or ‘more advanced than’ – something else, so that ‘to civilize’ denotes “the action or process of being made civilized” by something or someone believed or considered to be more distinguished, or better than, or superior to, or more advanced.

In common with some other writers, my view is that a clear distinction should be made between the terms culture, society, and civilization, for the terms culture and society – when, for example, applied to describe and distinguish between the customs and way of life of a group or people, and the codes of behaviour and the administrative organization and governance of those residing in a particular geographical area – are quantitative and descriptive rather than qualitative and judgemental. It is therefore in my view inappropriate to write and talk about a European or a Western ‘civilization’ […]

[T]he essence, the nature, of all cultures is the same: to refine, and develope, the individual; to provide a moral guidance; to cultivate such skills as that of reasoning and learning and civility; to be a repository of the recorded/aural pathei-mathos, experiences, and empathic understanding of others (such as our ancestors) over decades, centuries, millennia, as manifest for example in literature, music, memoirs, poetry, history, Art, and often in the past in myths and legends and religious allegories. A recorded/aural pathei-mathos and empathic understanding – a human learning – which teach the same lessons, whatever the culture, whatever the people, whatever the time and whatever the place. The lesson of the importance of a loyal love between two people; the lesson of the importance of virtues such as εὐταξία and honour; the lesson of the need to avoid committing the error of hubris. The lesson of hope, redemption, and change. And the lesson concerning our own nature […]

Ultimately, the assumed or the perceived, the outer, differences do not matter, since what matters for us as human beings capable of reason and civility is our shared humanity and the wisdom that all cultures guide us toward: which wisdom is that it is what is moral – it is what keeps us as mortals balanced, aware of and respective of the numinous – that should guide us, determine our choices and be the basis of our deeds, for our interaction with other human beings, with society, and with the life with which we share this planet.

As outlined in my philosophy of pathei-mathos, my personal view is that the criteria of assessment and judgement are the individual ones of empathy, reason, and the presumption of innocence; which means that abstractions, ideations, theories, and categories, of whatever kind – and whether deemed to be political, religious, or social – are considered an unimportant. That what matters, what is moral, is a very personal knowing in the immediacy-of-the- moment so that what is beyond the purveu of our empathy, of our personal knowing, knowledge, and experience, is something we rationally accept we do not know and so cannot judge or form a reasonable, a fair, a balanced, opinion about. Hence, and for example, individuals and people we do not know, of whatever faith, of whatever perceived ethnicity, sexual orientation, or perceived or assumed or proclaimed culture – whom we have no personal experience of and have had no interaction with over a period of causal time – are unjudged by us and thus given the benefit of the doubt; that is, regarded as innocent, assumed to be good, unless or until direct personal experience, and individual and empathic knowing of them, as individuals, proves otherwise […]

What matters are our own moral character, our interior life, our appreciation of the numinous, and the individual human beings we interact with on the personal level; so that our horizon is to refine ourselves into cultured beings who are civil, reasoned, empathic, non-judgemental, unbiased, and who will, in the words of one guide to what is moral, Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ.”  {8}

Myatt’s emphasis is thus on the individual; on their interior life, and their personal interaction with others in what he terms, in his philosophy of pathei-mathos, the immediacy of the personal moment:

“Since the range of our faculty of empathy is limited to the immediacy-of-the-moment and to personal interactions, and since the learning wrought by pathei-mathos and pathei-mathos itself is and are direct and personal, then the knowledge, the understanding, that empathy and pathei-mathos reveal and provide is of the empathic scale of things and of our limitations of personal knowing and personal understanding. That is, what is so revealed is not some grand or grandiose theory or praxis or philosophy which is considered applicable to others, or which it is believed can or should be developed to be applicable to others or developed to offer guidance beyond the individual in political and/or social and/or religious and/or ideological terms; but rather a very personal, individual, spiritual and thus interior, way. A way of tolerance and humility, where there is an acceptance of the unwisdom, the hubris, the unbalance, of arrogantly, pejoratively, making assumptions about who and what are beyond the range of our empathy and outside of our personal experience.” {10}

There is, therefore, a rejection of involvement with politics:

“Given that the concern of the philosophy of pathei-mathos is the individual and their interior, their spiritual, life, and given that (due to the nature of empathy and pathei-mathos) there is respect for individual judgement, the philosophy of pathei-mathos is apolitical, and thus not concerned with such matters as the theory and practice of governance, nor with changing or reforming society by political means.” {11}

In line with the virtues of his philosophy, Myatt is scathing regarding extremism in general:

“One of the worst consequences of the extremism of extremists – of modern hubris in general – is, or seems to me to be, the loss of what is personal, and thus what is human; the loss of the empathic, the human, scale of things; with what is personal, human, empathic, being or becoming displaced, scorned, forgotten, obscured, or a target for destruction and (often violent) replacement by something supra-personal such as some abstract political/religious notion or concept, or some ideal, or by some prejudice and some often violent intolerance regarding human beings we do not personally know because beyond the range of our empathy.

That is, the human, the personal, the empathic, the natural, the immediate, scale of things – a tolerant and a fair acceptance of what-is – is lost and replaced by an artificial scale posited by some ideology or manufactured by some τύραννος; a scale in which the suffering of individuals, and strife, are regarded as inevitable, even necessary, in order for ‘victory to be achieved’ or for some ideal or plan or agenda or manifesto to be implemented. Thus the good, the stability, that exists within society is ignored, with the problems of society – real, imagined, or manufactured by propaganda – trumpeted. There is then incitement to disaffection, with harshness and violent change of and within society regarded as desirable or necessary in order to achieve preset, predetermined, and always ‘urgent’ goals and aims, since slow personal reform and change in society – that which appreciates and accepts the good in an existing society and in people over and above the problems and the bad – is anathema to extremists, anathema to their harsh intolerant empathy-lacking nature and to their hubriatic striving.” {12}

All this amounts to viewing matters – events in the external world, and our relation to other humans – in terms of two principles rather than in terms of politics, ideology, dogma, or revolutionary social change. The first principle is personal honour; the second what Myatt terms ‘the cosmic perspective’, of which perspective Myatt writes:

“The Cosmic Perspective reveals a particular truth not only about the Anthropocene (and thus about our φύσις as human beings) but also about how sustainable millennial change has occurred and can occur. Which change is via the progression, the evolution – the development of the faculties and the consciousness – of individuals individually. This is the interior, the a-causal, change of individuals wrought by a scholarly learning of and from our thousands of years old human culture of pathei-mathos, by our own pathei-mathos, and by that personal appreciation of the numinous that both the Cosmic Perspective and the muliebral virtues incline us toward. This aeonic change voids what we now describe by the terms politics and religion and direct social activism of the violent type. There is thus a shift from identifying with the communal, the collective – from identifying with a particular contemporary or a past society or some particular national culture or some particular causal form such as a State or nation or empire or some -ism or some -ology – toward that-which has endured over centuries and millennia: our human culture of pathei-mathos. For the human culture of pathei-mathos records and transmits, in various ways, the pathei-mathos of individuals over thousands of years, manifest as this sustainable millennial culture is in literature, poetry, memoirs, aural stories, in non-verbal mediums such as music and Art, and in the experiences – written, recorded, and aural – of those who over the centuries have appreciated the numinous, and those who endured suffering, conflict, disaster, tragedy, and war, and who were fundamentally, interiorly, changed by their experiences.” {13}

Given this perspective, and given that personal honour “cannot be extracted out from the living moment and our participation in the moment” {7} and is a necessary virtue, then Myatt’s philosophy, while somewhat redolent of Buddhism, Taoism, and the Catholic contemplative tradition, is rather unique in that the personal use of force (including lethal force) in the immediacy of the moment is justified in personal defence of one’s self or of others, since

“the personal virtue of honour, and the cultivation of wu-wei, are – together – a practical, a living, manifestation of our understanding and appreciation of the numinous; of how to live, to behave, as empathy intimates we can or should in order to avoid committing the folly, the error, of ὕβρις, in order not to cause suffering, and in order to re-present, to acquire, ἁρμονίη. For personal honour is essentially a presencing, a grounding, of ψυχή – of Life, of our φύσις – occurring when the insight (the knowing) of a developed empathy inclines us toward a compassion that is, of necessity, balanced by σωφρονεῖν and in accord with δίκη.” {14}

Given the mention of wu-wei in many of Myatt’s recent writings, it is no surprise that Myatt admits (or, rather, overstates) his debt to Taoism:

“According to my limited understanding and knowledge, I am not expressing anything new here. Indeed, I feel (and I use the word ‘feel’ intentionally) that I am only re-expressing what I intuitively (and possibly incorrectly) understood nearly half a century ago about Taoism when I lived in the Far East and was taught that ancient philosophy by someone who was also trying to instruct me in a particular Martial Art.” {13}

It is therefore possible to speculate that the archetypal follower of Myatt’s philosophy of pathei-mathos – if there were or could be such followers of such a personal philosophy of life – might be akin to one of the following: (i) a reclusive or wandering, or communal living, mystic, concerned only with their interior life and/or with scholarly study, yet prepared – in the immediacy of the moment and when confronted by someone or some group being dishonourable – to do what is honourable in defence of themselves or others even if that meant their own death; (ii) someone outwardly ordinary who was in, or who was seeking, a loving relationship, and who – compassionate and sensitive and cultured – was unconcerned with politics or conventional religion, and yet prepared – in the immediacy of the moment and when confronted by someone or some group being dishonourable – to do what is honourable in defence of themselves or others even if that meant their own death; (iii) someone with an interior sense of what is honourable whose occupation or career or way of life enables them, in a personal manner and within their milieu, to individually do what is honourable, fair, and just; and (iv) someone who – compassionate and empathic by nature – whose occupation or career or way of life enables them, in a personal manner and within their milieu, to individually do what is compassionate and who would – in the immediacy of the moment and when confronted by someone or some group being dishonourable – do what is honourable in defence of themselves or others even if that meant their own death.

In Myatt’s view, such individuals would be acting in a wise way – in accord with the aforementioned cosmic perspective – since:

“The only effective, long-lasting, change and reform that does not cause suffering – that is not redolent of ὕβρις – is the one that changes human beings in an individual way by personal example and/or because of πάθει μάθος, and thus interiorly changes what, in them, predisposes them, or inclines them toward, doing or what urges them to do, what is dishonourable, undignified, unfair, and uncompassionate. That is what, individually, changes or rebalances bad φύσις and thus brings-into-being, or restores, good φύσις.” {15}

For:

“It is inner, personal, change – in individuals, of their nature, their character – that is is the ethical, the numinous, way to solve such personal and social problems as exist and arise. That such inner change of necessity comes before any striving for outer change by whatever means, whether such means be termed or classified as political, social, economic, religious. That the only effective, long-lasting, change and reform is understood as the one that evolves human beings and thus changes what, in them, predisposes them, or inclines them toward, doing or what urges them to do, what is dishonourable, undignified, unfair, and uncompassionate.” {11}

Extremism, Racism, And Prejudice

In Myatt’s philosophy, the personal knowing of others provided by empathy and the self-knowing that pathei-mathos reveals replace the categorizations by which we have assumed we can know and understand others and ourselves:

“Hitherto, the φύσις of beings and Being has most usually been apprehended, and understood, in one of three ways or by varied combinations of those three ways. The first such perceiveration is that deriving from our known physical senses – by Phainómenon – and by what has been posited on the basis of Phainómenon, which has often meant the manufacture, by we human beings, of categories and abstract forms which beings (including living beings) are assigned to on the basis of some feature that has been outwardly observed or which has been assumed to be possessed by some beings or collocation of beings.
The second such perceiveration derives from positing a ‘primal cause’ – often denoted by God, or a god or the gods, but sometimes denoted by some mechanism, or some apparently inscrutable means, such as ‘karma’ or ‘fate’ – and then understanding beings (especially living beings) in terms of that cause: for example as subject to, and/or as determined or influenced by or dependant on, that primal cause.

The third such perceiveration derives from positing a human faculty of reason and certain rules of reasoning whereby it is possible to dispassionately examine collocations of words and symbols which relate, or which are said to relate, to what is correct (valid, true) or incorrect (invalid, false) and which collocations are considered to be – or which are regarded by their proponents as representative of – either knowledge or as a type of, a guide to, knowing.

All three of these perceiverations, in essence, involve denotatum, with our being, for example, understood in relation to some-thing we or others have posited and then named and, importantly, consider or believe applies or can apply (i) to those who, by virtue of the assumption of ipseity, are not-us, and (ii) beyond the finite, the living, personal moment of the perceiveration.

Thus, in the case of Phainómenon we have, in assessing and trying to understand our own φύσις as a human being, assumed ipseity – a separation from others – as well as having assigned ourselves (or been assigned by others) to some supra-personal category on the basis of such things as place of birth, skin colour, occupation (or lack of one), familial origin or status (or wealth or religion), some-thing termed ‘intelligence’, physical ability (or the lack thereof), our natural attraction to those of a different, or the same, gender; and so on.” {16}

In Myatt’s view, extremism – whether political or religious – makes some category an ideal to be strived for or returned to, since:

“All extremists accept – and all extremisms are founded on – the instinctive belief or the axiom that their cherished ideation(s) or abstraction(s) is or are more important, more valuable, than the individual and the feelings, desires, hopes, and happiness, of the individual. The extremist thus views and understands the world in terms of abstractions; in terms of a manufactured generalization, a hypothesis, a posited thing, an assumption or assumptions about, an extrapolation of or from some-thing, or some assumed or extrapolated ideal ‘form’ of some-thing. Sometimes, abstractions are generalization based on some sample(s), or on some median (average) value or sets of values, observed, sampled, or assumed. Abstractions can be of some-thing past, in the present, or described as a goal or an ideal which it is assumed could be attained or achieved in the future.

The abstractions of extremism are manifest in the ideology, which posits or which attempts to explain (however irrationally and intolerantly) some ideated form, some assumed or believed in perfect (ideal) form or category of some-thing, and which ideated form is or can be or should be (according to the ideology) contrasted with what is considered or assumed to be its opposite.” {17}

Thus in racism individuals are assigned to, associated with, some ‘race’ with the various ‘races’ assigned a qualitative value – describing their ‘worth’ – based on what some ideology or some ideologue state or believe is their contribution to ‘civilization’ and on how useful or harmful they might be to those deeming themselves ‘superior’.

This is immoral, according to Myatt, not only because it is dishonourable but because of the primacy of empathic, of personal, knowing:

“Everything others associate with an individual, or ascribe to an individual, or use to describe or to denote an individual, or even how an individual denotes or describes themselves, are not relevant, and have no bearing on our understanding, our knowledge, of that individual and thus – morally – should be ignored, for it is our personal knowing of them which is necessary, important, valid, fair.  For assessment of another – by the nature of assessment and the nature of empathy – can only be personal, direct, individual. Anything else is biased prejudgement or prejudice or unproven assumption.

This means that we approach them – we view them –  without any prejudice, without any expectations, and without having made any assumptions concerning them, and as a unique, still unknown, still undiscovered, individual person: as ‘innocent’ until proven, until revealed by their actions and behaviour to be, otherwise. Furthermore, empathy – the acausal perception/knowing and revealing of physis – knows nothing of temporal things and human manufactured abstractions/categories such as assumed or assigned ethnicity; nothing of gender; nothing of what is now often termed ‘sexual preference/orientation’. Nothing of politics, or religion. Nothing of some disability someone may suffer from; nothing of social status or wealth; nothing regarding occupation (or lack of one). Nothing regarding the views, the opinions, of others concerning someone.  For empathy is just empathy, a perception different from our other senses such as sight and hearing, and a perception which provides us, or which can provide us, with a unique perspective, a unique type of knowing, a unique (acausal) connexion to the external world and especially to other human beings.

Empathy – and the knowing that derives from it – thus transcends ‘race’, politics, religion, gender, sexual orientation, occupation, wealth (or lack of it), ‘status’, and all the other things and concepts often used to describe, to denote, to prejudge, to classify, a person; so that to judge someone – for example – by and because of their political views (real or assumed) or by their religion or by their sexual orientation is an act of hubris.

In practice, therefore, in the revealing of the physis of a person, the political views, the religion, the gender, the perceived ethnicity, of someone are irrelevant. It is a personal knowing of them, the perception of their physis by empathy, and an acceptance of them as – and getting to know them as – a unique individual which are important and considered moral; for they are one emanation of the Life of which we ourselves are but one other finite and fallible part.” {12}

However, Myatt’s analysis of extremism goes much further. Based on his forty years of personal experience he considers that the extremist is a particular type of person “by nature or becomes so through association with or because of the influence of others, or because of ideological indoctrination” and that

“it is in the nature of extremists that they disdain, and often despise, the muliebral virtues of empathy, sensitivity, humility, gentleness, forgiveness, compassion, and the desire to love and be loved over and above the desire for conflict, territorial identity, and for war. Thus we find in extremism a glorification of the masculous at the expense of the muliebral; a definite personal certitude of knowing; a glorification of toughness and aggression
and war; an aggressive territorial pride; a tendency to believe, or the forthright assertion, that ‘might is right’ and kampf is necessary; the desire to organize/control; a prominent desire for adventure and/or for conflict/war and/or violence and competition.” {17}

Thus, in Myatt’s philosophy, the extremist is hubriatic: unbalanced because lacking in – or having rejected or suppressed – the muliebral virtues which are or which should be an essential part of our human nature and the genesis of all culture; with the need for such muliebral virtues, for such a balance, and the necessity of culture, among the important things that ‘our culture of pathei-mathos’ informs us about {18}. Little wonder, then, that

“it is [our] shared human culture of pathei-mathos that extremists of whatever kind, and those who advocate -isms and -ologies, scorn and so often try to suppress when, for however short a time, they have political or social or religious power and control over the lives of others. It is this human culture of pathei-mathos which – at least according to my experience, my musings, and my retrospection – reveals to us the genesis of wisdom: which is that it is the muliebral virtues which evolve us as conscious beings, which presence sustainable millennial change. Virtues such as empathy, compassion, humility, and that loyal shared personal love which humanizes those masculous talking-mammals of the Anthropocene, and which masculous talking-mammals have – thousand year following thousand year – caused so much suffering to, and killed, so many other living beings, human and otherwise.” {13}

Furthermore, according to Myatt:

“Given the masculous nature and the masculous ethos of extremism, it is no surprise that the majority of extremists are men; and given that, in my own opinion, the predominant ethos of the last three millennia – especially within the societies of the West – has been a masculous, patriarchal, one it is no surprise that women were expected to be, and often had no option but to be, subservient, and no surprise therefore that a modern movement has arisen to try and correct the imbalance between the masculous and the muliebral […]

[Yet] it is only by using and developing our faculty of empathy, on an individual basis, that we can apprehend and thence understand the muliebral; [for] the muliebral can only be manifested, presenced, individually in our own lives according to that personal, individual, apprehension. Presenced, for example, in our compassion, in our honour, by a personal loyal love, and in that appreciation of innocence and of the numinous that inclines us, as individuals, to reject all prejudice and to distance ourselves from that pride, that certainty-of-knowing about ourselves and those presumptions we make about others, which are so redolent of, and which so presence and have so presenced, the patriarchal ethos.” {13}

Extremism and racism, therefore, are understood in Myatt’s philosophy in relation to hubris and enantiodromia:

“Enantiodromia is the term used, in the philosophy of pathei-mathos, to describe the revealing, the process, of perceiving, feeling, knowing, beyond causal appearance and the separation-of-otherness and thus when what has become separated – or has been incorrectly perceived as separated – returns to the wholeness, the unity, from whence it came forth. When, that is, beings are understood in their correct relation to Being, beyond the causal abstraction of different/conflicting ideated opposites, and when as a result, a reformation of the individual, occurs. A relation, an appreciation of the numinous, that empathy and pathei-mathos provide, and which relation and which appreciation the accumulated pathei-mathos of individuals over millennia have made us aware of or tried to inform us or teach us about.” {14}

“For what the culture of pathei-mathos reveals is that we human beings, are – personally – both the cause and the cure of suffering; and that our choice is whether or not we live, or try to live, in a manner which does not intentionally contribute to or which is not the genesis of new suffering. The choice, in effect, to choose the way of harmony – the natural balance – in preference to hubris.” {19}

 

Conclusion

In his seminal and scholarly essay Questions of Good, Evil, Honour, and God {19}, Myatt places the ethics of his philosophy in the context of the theories of ethics postulated by Christianity, by Islam, and by the proponents of the modern State. He concludes, in respect of his philosophy and its ethics, that:

“The alternative ontology, derived from the culture of pathei-mathos, suggests that the answer to the question regarding the meaning of our existence is simply to be that which we are. To be in balance, in harmony, with Life; the balance that is love, compassion, humility, empathy, honour, tolerance, kindness, and wu-wei. This, by its nature, is a personal answer and a personal choice; an alternative way that compliments and is respectful of other answers, other choices, and of other ways of dealing with issues such as the suffering that afflicts others, the harm that humans do so often inflict and have for so long inflicted upon others. The personal non-judgemental way, of presumption of innocence and of wu-wei, balanced by, if required, a personal valourous, an honourable, intervention in a personal situation in the immediacy of the moment.”

However, this answer is contingent on understanding, via empathy and pathei-mathos, not only ‘the illusion of ipseity’ {16} – the ‘separation-of-otherness’ – but also the cosmic perspective and thus the temporary nature of all our human manufactured forms, categories, and abstractions, for according to Myatt:

“There has been, as there still is, at least in my view, a failure to appreciate two things. Firstly, the causal (the mortal) nature of all forms: from institutions, governments, laws, States, nations, movements, societies, organizations, empires, to leaders and those embodying in some manner the authority, the volksgeist, the ideations, the principles, the aspirations, of their time. Secondly, and possibly most important of all, that what is muliebral cannot be embodied in some organization or movement, or in some -ism, or in any causal form – and certainly cannot be expressed via the medium of words, whether spoken or written – without changing it, distorting it, from what it is into some-thing else. For the muliebral by its very φύσις is personal, individual, in nature and only presenced in the immediacy-of-the-moment, and thus cannot be the object of a supra-personal aspiration and thus should not be ‘idealized’ or even be the subject of an endeavour to express it in some principles or principles (political or otherwise), or by some axiom or axioms, or by some dogma. For all such things – forms and words included – are manifestations, a presencing, of what is, in φύσις, masculous and temporal. Or, expressed more simply, the muliebral presences and manifests what is a-causal – what, in the past, has often inclined us to appreciate the numinous – while the masculous presences and manifests what is causal, temporal, and what in the past has often inclined us toward hubris and being egoistic.” {13}

Myatt’s comprehensive philosophy – propounded in various writings between 2012 and 2014 and which he recently described as being just his personal weltanschauung rather than a philosophy {20} – thus provides an interesting, intriguing, and insightful if iconoclastic, analysis of extremism and contemporary society as well as offering an understandable ethics centred on personal honour, a rather mystical ontology, and a somewhat mystical answer to the question of existence; and although his philosophy certainly deserves to be more widely studied and more widely appreciated, it will doubtless – given Myatt’s outré and controversial life – continue to be neglected for many, many, decades to come.

R. Parker
2014

Notes

{1} (a) Barnett, Antony. Right here, right now, The Observer, February 9, 2003.  (b) Michael, George. The Enemy of My Enemy: The Alarming Convergence of Militant Islam and the Extreme Right. University Press of Kansas, 2006, p. 142ff.
{2} Searchlight, July 2000.
{3} Amis, Martin. The Second Plane. Jonathan Cape, 2008, p.157
{4} (a) Simon Wiesenthal Center: Response, Summer 2003, Vol 24, #2. (b) Wistrich, Robert S. A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad, Random House, 2010.
{5} (a) Myatt, David. Myngath – Some Recollections of a Wyrdful and Extremist Life. 2013. ISBN 978-1484110744. (b) Myatt, David. Understanding And Rejecting Extremism. 2013. ISBN 978-1484854266
{6} Myatt’s philosophy of pathei-mathos is described in the following three published collections of his essays: (a) The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos. 2013. ISBN 978-1484096642. (b) One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings. 2014. ISBN 978-1502396105. (c) Religion, Empathy, and Pathei-Mathos. 2013. ISBN 978-1484097984
The three collections of essays are also available, as of October 2014 and as pdf files, from his weblog at http://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/
{7} Of the virtue of personal honour, Myatt writes that it

“presences the virtues of fairness, tolerance, compassion, humility, and εὐταξία – as (i) a natural intuitive (wordless) expression of the numinous (‘the good’, δίκη, συμπάθεια) and (ii) of both what the culture of pathei-mathos and the acausal-knowing of empathy reveal we should do (or incline us toward doing) in the immediacy of the personal moment when personally confronted by what is unfair, unjust, and extreme […]

[For] such honour – by its and our φύσις – is and can only ever be personal, and thus cannot be extracted out from the  ‘living moment’ and our participation in the moment; for it only through such things as a personal study of the culture of pathei-mathos and the development of the faculty of empathy that a person who does not naturally possess the instinct for δίκη can develope what is essentially ‘the human faculty of honour’, and which faculty is often appreciated and/or discovered via our own personal pathei-mathos.” The Way Of Pathei-Mathos – A Précis, in One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings.

{8} Myatt, David. Let Us Then Try What Love Can Do. 2012. e-text.
{9} The Development of the Numinous Way. The essay is included, as an appendix, in the printed version of his autobiography Myngath, ISBN 978-1484110744
{10} Conspectus of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos. 2012. The essay is included in Myatt’s book The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos, ISBN 978-1484096642
{11} Society, Politics, Social Reform, and Pathei-Mathos. 2012. The essay is included in The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos, ISBN 978-1484096642
{12} Some Personal Musings On Empathy In Relation to the Philosophy of πάθει μάθος. 2012. The essay is included in The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos, ISBN 978-1484096642
{13} Some Questions For DWM. 2014. The essay is included in One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings, 2014, ISBN 978-1502396105
{14} The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos. 2013. ISBN 978-1484096642
{15}  The Way of Pathei-Mathos – A Philosophical Compendium. 2012. The essay is included in The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos, ISBN 978-1484096642
{16} See: (a) Toward Understand The Acausal, and (b) The Way Of Pathei-Mathos – A Précis. Both essays are included in One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings, 2014, ISBN 978-1502396105
{17} Myatt, David. Understanding And Rejecting Extremism. 2013. ISBN 978-1484854266
{18} Regarding ‘the culture of pathei-mathos’ – a key part of his philosophy – see Myatt’s 2014 essay Education And The Culture Of Pathei-Mathos, which is included in One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings, ISBN 978-1502396105
{19} Questions of Good, Evil, Honour, and God. 2013. The essay is included in Religion, Empathy, and Pathei-Mathos, ISBN 978-1484097984


cc  R. Parker 2014
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Comment on Myngath

David Myatt

The following comment on David Myatt’s autobiography Myngath recently appeared on Google books –

“Myngath is an interesting and at times a fascinating read of one man’s rather extraordinary journey, over decades, from right-wing, neo-nazi, extremism to self understanding via two personal tragedies. A journey which included not only political extremism, small-time racketeering, and jail time for violence, but also periods as a vagabond, a Catholic monk, a conversion to Islam and time spent as a Muslim, and – finally – the development of a new philosophy which Myatt calls ‘the numinous way of pathei-mathos’.

The book reads well with a fast paced narrative that owes much to the fact that it is “an aural recollection to a friend, recorded and then transcribed,” and – one presumes – subsequently corrected and revised given that this is marked as the ‘May 2013 Edition’.

Given that Myatt is honest about his mistakes, his shortcomings, his violent extremist past, his feelings and motivations while an extremist, and his selfishness, and – finally – about his remorse and regrets, Myngath is a valuable addition to the literature about extremism, and it would not be out of place on a pre-college reading list for those about to study the humanities.

Myngath is available as a free pdf download here – david-myatt-myngath.pdf – and as printed book, ISBN 978-1484110744, from Amazon dot com.

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