Will Europe Follow Atlantis?

Two of three parts of my essay on “Lewis Spence, True Myth, and Modernity” have appeared at Angel Millar’s People of Shambhala website. Part I is “The Atlantis Myth – Its Pedigree.” Part II is “Will Europe Follow Atlantis?” Part III, “The Table Round of Atlantean Eccentrics,” will appear next Saturday.  The essay explores Scotsman Lewis Spence’s lifelong meditation on the meaning and probability of Plato’s Atlantis Myth.

Part I is here: http://peopleofshambhala.com/will-europe-follow-atlantis-part-i-true-myth/

Part II is here: http://peopleofshambhala.com/will-europe-follow-atlantis-part-ii-lewis-spence-and-the-occult-war/

Part III is here: http://peopleofshambhala.com/will-europe-follow-atlantis-part-iii-the-modern-west/

I offer an extract:

Spence resembles William Blake, William Butler Yeats, perhaps even Arnold Toynbee, a bit staid in style but hardly so in content, in his visionary proclivity to see local events in the largest possible context, as participating in the cycles of a Platonic Great Year, or something like it; and as boasting always and everywhere a metaphysical-eternal as well as a physical-temporal meaning. So too Spence resembles Joseph de Maistre on the French Revolution, who grasped the Jacobin uprising as an ultimately self-punishing recrudescence of idolatry and human sacrifice, as both insufferable profanation and sanguine atonement all at once. Spence, who referred to himself as a ‘British traditionalist,’ prefigures later Traditionalist figures like John Michell (1933 – 2009) and Geoffrey Ashe (born 1923), whose thought goes perpendicular to anything established. Michell’s View over Atlantis (1969) and Ashe’s Camelot and the Vision of Albion (1975) follow in the eccentric path first trail-blazed by Spence. Their eccentricity – and Spence’s – likens itself to the fortuitous topography of the Nile Delta according to the Egyptian priests in Plato’s Timaeus, sheltering the adytum of insight-in-eccentricity from the deluge of opinion in conformity. The discussion must return to this topic of eccentricity, closely related as it is to the opposition of myth and poetry to economics, and to the much-underrated value of eccentric people and their views under a conformist regime; but for the time being let Spence’s marvelous tome be to the fore.

PS. I would like to thank the thoughtful and charitable party who sent me the set of beer-mug coasters.  Any other gift that I might receive during the Christmas Season will pale, I fear, next to them.

Evola Brand

22 thoughts on “Will Europe Follow Atlantis?

  1. Pingback: Will Europe Follow Atlantis? | Neoreactive

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  3. @Tom – I have recently carefully read John Michell’s View over Atlantis, which seems to have been the seminal New Age text for Britain – the place where the main elements of Ley Lines and a sacred ‘power landscape’, Dowsing, Glastonbury, Numerology, Atlantis (as an explanation for the presence of High Tech in pre-history) etc. came-together for the first time (together with an underlying Jungian-derived explanatory framework).

    One major later element was added: UFOs and extra-terrestials as ‘evidenced’ first by sightings and ‘channeled’ communications, later by crop circles – and later still there was the growth into mainstream of neo-paganism (and neo-shamanism) – Wiccans, Druids etc.

    So, Michell was probably the major ‘architect’ of the current New Age in Britain. But, as such, I would regard him as an both personally (with his pop culture connections and lifestyle), and in his effect, an eccentric Leftist – working at the level of subjectivity and personal growth; rather than a realist, religious Traditionalist.

    As as ex-New Age type myself; I would say that approximately-zero modern New Agers are traditionalist, religious reactionaries.

    • I would call Michell a belated Romantic. Perhaps he was, as you write, “an eccentric leftist,” but the dozens of essays that he published in The Oldster in his last decade are definitely “Trad.”

      PS. The title that Michell gave to the collection of his Oldster essays was The Confessions of a Radical Traditionalist.

      • Josh – whereas I know more about Lewis Spence than anyone should know, I must confess total ignorance of Joseph P. Farrell. If I were a Liberal, I wouldn’t let that stop me from having an opinion. But this is The Orthosphere, after all.

        PS: I did a quick Google-search. Farrelliana appears to belong to a baroque tradition of pyramidology with a leavening of “secret space program” lore. My conviction is that eccentricity can be meaningful and that, in a truth-suppressing polity, wild speculation sometimes functions as the “carrier-wave” of actual discussion in quest of the truth. In the second-to-the-last week of my just-concluded science fiction course, I asked the students to read John Keel’s Mothman Prophecies, a crazy UFO-book from the early 1980s, whose argument is that whatever the UFOs are, they’re not “flying saucers from another planet.” No – they’re much weirder than that! I find writers like Michell, Spence, and Keel valuable because they attack the nice little notion, so typical of the modern mentality, that everything has been neatly explained and there is nothing left to unsettle anyone’s serene contemplation of the safely, spiritually evacuated universe.

        Then I showed them Christopher Mihm’s Cave Women on Mars (2008) and Larry Blamire’s Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2002). In the latter, the nefarious Dr. Fleming asks Ranger Brad whether he can point him to Cadavra Cave. Ranger Brad complies, adding after a pregnant pause, “Say, Dr. Fleming, you don’t believe those old stories about Cadavra Cave, do you?” Dr. Fleming says, with a completely straight face: “I’m a scientist, Ranger Brad – I don’t believe in anything.” Cave Women on Mars is the best satire of feminism in film.

  4. I am genuinely fascinated by this stuff. Evola had referred to the Atlantis myth many times in his discussion of the Arctic Seat of the Hyperborean North, a common spiritual epicenter from which roots can be found linking the Occidental spiritual character with the Ancient Hindu civilization, (and in my own speculation, the Chinese as well, if you look at the mysterious monotheism of its very distant legendary period). This may represent some closer links between ourselves and the aforementioned peoples than we share with those most different and alien to us (Negroid and Mesoamerican civilization).

    • Mark: Your note represents compelling instance of synchronicity. Occasionally I receive what you might call fan-letters from people who read my work and have something generous to say about it. Today, in the mail, I received what I take to be a fan-gift. It consists, believe it or not, in four finely crafted and colorful beer-mug coasters bearing the Coat-of-Arms, so to speak, of the Evola Brewery. That producer of fine beers and ales is located, supposing my memory serves me, in or near Arkham, Massachusetts. I once read that the brewery endows a seat at Arkham College in the Department of Comparative Unspeakable Religions. But I’m not kidding about my lovely gift!

      PS. You might find some small interest in a previous item of mine that went up at The People of Shambhala – a little essay entitled “How Old is History.”

      • I had read something there just recently on Baron Sternberg. Must visit more often than I do. do you have a link to the old essay you posted?

        I can imagine the Evola brewery pours a delicious pint.

        [See below. (TFB)]

  5. @Tom – I have become increasingly sympathetic to the idea that the long Neolithic era in Britain was a far more complex society than I used to think – not so much technologically, but socially including religiously; and that there was afterwards a considerable decline in sophistication for more than a thousand years until the Roman era.

    http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=neolithic

    I would not be surprised if it were discovered that Neolithic Southern England was literate, and perhaps indeed ‘monotheistic’ (henotheistic) – that’s what it looks-like to me.

    At any rate I agree with your main point that the current confidence that ‘the professionals’ now ‘know’ the final answers to such questions is just absurd.

    • Your document summarizes the archaeological facts nicely. I recommend to Orthosphere readers to follow your link. I am reminded of a passage from Guenon, which I quote in the final section of the essay on Spence, that modern anthropologists incongruously retroject the character of contemporary primitive people into the past; and that the people of the actual past were likely much more sophisticated than contemporary primitives, who might well be the end-result of long-term cultural degeneration.

      In a book with no currency in the Anglophone world because it was written in Danish, Martin A. Hansen’s Orm og Tyr, Hansen argues for Neolithic Denmark what your sources – and you – argue for Neolithic Britain.

      Spence intuited the British Neolithic high civilization and devoted several books to it, including The Mysteries of Celtic Britain. The British theme figures prominently in Will Europe Follow Atlantis.

      Incidentally – or wildly – or something – the premise of Cave Women on Mars is that Mars suffered a social catastrophe that left its men wimpy and generally useless and made way for the Amazonocracy. But the Amazons don’t really like their Amazonocracy – and when the advent of a virile man from Earth offers them a chance to restore an older order, they take it.

      • This is why I mentioned Farrell earlier. He wrote an introduction to an interesting (and only a little bit crazy) book called Anatomizing Divinity by James L. Kelley. Honestly, I have only read about 100 pages of a Google preview of one of Farrell’s books, but I remember it arguing for complex pre-Summerian civilizations. He would come to crazy conclusions about interplanetary wars and the Great Pyramid at Giza being used as a super-weapon; but in the course of arguing, he would cite some really weird archaeological evidence that would make me say, “that can’t be real.” Sure enough, when I would looked, it up and it was all legit. I read this in one day around five years ago, so examples completely escape me. In any case, a defense of intellectual quack literature is long overdue.

        Less wonderfully cosmic, but also great in its own way is The Politician by Robert Welch.

  6. Josh: I like Spence because, as outrageous as he is, he manages to stay within limits of plausibility. For Spence, Atlantis was an advanced Neolithic civilization. Its intellectuals had a cosmology and a philosophy and the religion was monotheistic, but they did not flit around in spaceships or build giant beam-weapons shaped like pyramids.

  7. I’m an historian by temperament and trade, but I’ve worked with archaeology for years, and many of the assertions of archaeologists are based on very little evidence. This is mostly because of the “publish or perish” mantra that the humanities have subjected themselves to since World War II. The goal is usually to write something “controversial” like “the discovery of this pot means that Livy was wrong about the founding of Rome.”

    Dating is always problematic, under the best conditions. We’re not even really sure when exactly the earliest written works of the Greeks, Hesiod and Homer, appeared (Herodotus suggested about 850 or so, and until about 50 years ago scholars liked to think it was about 1000, but nowadays there’s a trend to push it way later; I’m content to trust Herodotus and argue about more important things like what the Greeks actually have to teach us), so when you see a timeline for events further back than 500 BC or so, be skeptical.

    Thus far, archaeology hasn’t given us even the beginning of the possibility of a fragment of what is often credited to it. Archaeologist work within what is, I think, often a very wrongheaded paradigm.

  8. “I find writers like Michell, Spence, and Keel valuable because they attack the nice little notion, so typical of the modern mentality, that everything has been neatly explained and there is nothing left to unsettle anyone’s serene contemplation of the safely, spiritually evacuated universe.”

    I take it that much of what’s going on in this discussion thread is in the nature of intellectual jeu d’esprit that includes cheerful defiance of entrenched liberal assumptions. So carry on, folks. But let’s be sure that droppers-in will understand what’s going on, and also (this is especially important) that inquirers — which could include seasoned readers — are directed to scholarship that excels as scholarship but also challenges liberal assumptions.

    For example, would it be good if the Orthosphere were a place in which people could find out about a book such as Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, which does challenge liberal assumptions with good scholarship?

  9. Wurmbrand: I hope that my essay, which I hope you will read in full at The People of Shambhala, as all three parts are now up, complements in spirit the spirit that motivates Chesterton in his essays “In Defense” of this and that, including nonsense. I believe that there are plenty of essays and articles appearing under my name that suggest my seriousness (take, for example, the four essays on Gnosticism that I have posted here at The Orthosphere), but I would not wish to be identified as a relentlessly serious person. Seriousness is like every other virtue, in that it has to be balanced with all the other virtues or it becomes a dysfunctional and tyrannical parody of itself. This is what has happened with the virtue of righteousness among liberals and those on the left. I like to relax, as a matter of principle, for the sake of sanity, if for no other reason.

    I plan to follow up the essay on Lewis Spence (“Will Europe Follow Atlantis”), which I thought about writing for ten years or so before a stitch of leisure opened up that permitted me to write it, with a sequel to be called “Will California Follow Atlantis?” My thesis will be that if it doesn’t, it should, and the sooner the better. (Heads up to Kristor and Alan Roebuck – Keep your Mae Wests handy!)

  10. As I said, “Carry on, folks.” But let’s be sure that inquirers can find their way easily to serious Orthospherean discussions of history too. Picture someone coming by the Orthosphere who’s watched PBS documentaries about American and European history, maybe had an undergrad course in which the main text was Zinn’s People’s History, etc. This visitor senses there may be a lot to learn. How does he find it, and for that matter, what does he find, and what does he need to find?

    • I take your meaning, Wurmbrand. Even so, it’s difficult to judge these things. I suspect that my early initiation into Atlantis, Edgar Rice Burroughs, the UFO-rumor, and suchlike topics, actually helped me in resisting the appeal of the various alluring nihilisms that sing their siren-song to not-yet-educated young people. Eccentric discourses engaged the imagination. ideological discourse reduced everything to a dried-out schema. And I could tell the difference. My immersion in those odd phenomena never impeded my curiosity about classier types of literature or history or philosophy. Indeed, insofar as I’m a fair amateur Platonist, having read most of the dialogues and some of them many times, you could say that Lewis Spence and Ignatius Donnelly, because they were my gateway to Timaeus and Critias, were also my gateway to philosophy.

      An ocular limitation of website design is that it features the latest posting, which stays atop the page until newer postings shove it down. My links to my article at The People of Shambhala have already been pushed down the page – and you may be sure that they will soon be pushed entirely off the page.

      Sic transit gloria mundi! But then that is the moral of the Atlantis Story!

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