Against the Modern World



Mark Sedgwick. Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century. Oxford University Press, 2004.

This book surveys the influence of Rene Guenon a French philosopher of the first half the twentieth century who, disenchanted by the modern, world sought to construct a the primordial religion of the world from Hindu sources, before turning to Islam (at least of a kind). The strange collection of characters here who followed on in his path include an Anglo-Sri Lanka art historian, an Austrian post-Muslim cult leader, Iranian intellectuals, and very strange people on the fringes (or at least one hopes fringes) of Russian politics, and people rather too close to Prince Charles for comfort.

Despite the subtitle few of these names are likely to be encountered by most Magonia readers. The exceptions are the quasi-fascist philosopher Julius Evola who turns up rather disturbingly in the New Age sections of high street book shops etc., and the historian of religions Mircea Eliade.

The one figure who does crop up in ufology is Eugene (later Seraphim) Rose, an American who became a conservative Eastern Orthodox reader. Rose wrote books claiming UFOs were demons, though one suspects he got that idea from John Keel.

A figure not mentioned in this book, who seems to have been very much in the traditionalist mode was Gordon Creighton, the former editor of Flying Saucer Review. Creighton’s eclectic mix of Buddhist and Islamic sources would have been very much in Guenon’s tradition, though it does not seem as though, unlike many of the central figures in Traditionalism, that Creighton ever converted to Islam.

Ideas similar to Traditionalism, such as the degeneracy of the modern post enlightenment west, the idea of ancient wisdom, and of an immemorial tradition occur throughout the Fortean field, not least in earth mysteries (e.g. John Michel) and ufology.  -- Peter Rogerson.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If a week is a long time in politics, a decade is a lifetime. One of the characters in this book, Alexander Dugin, is now at the heart of the Putinist Russian state. The Wikipedia entry gives you some idea of his baleful influence, as the most extreme member of Putin's circle. Be afraid, be very afraid

Peter Rogerson