Monthly Post

The End of the Dream

There are times when the winds that shape the future blow strong enough to be heard over the jabber of everyday life, and this is one of those times. For a while now I’ve been mulling over a handful of often-repeated comments on this blog, and I find that if I look through them, into the landscape of ideas that structure them, it’s possible to glimpse some of the driving forces behind the history of our era.

The comment that set off this most recent period of reflection came a couple of weeks ago. The person who wrote it complained that he’d tried to follow the advice I’ve offered for some time now—“collapse now and avoid the rush”—by trying to organize an intentional community up in the Italian mountains.  His project fell flat when unobody else wanted to join.  Having related this story, he proposed that other readers of this blog join with him to create “a meaningful, synergistic community.”

I’m embarrassed to say that I lost my temper and yelled at him. In my defense, I’d note that all through my blogging career I’ve been pointing out that the notion of heading off to the countryside to found an intentional community is not a viable response to the crisis of our age.  I proposed “collapse now and avoid the rush” as an alternative to that fantasy, not an excuse for it.  Thus it was annoying to see my suggestion plopped onto the Procrustean bed of collective chatter and turned into yet another excuse to chase the same overfamiliar mirage.  It was particularly annoying because that sort of reflexive flight from unfamiliar ideas happens astonishingly often these days.

One of the weirdest features of public life in the industrial world today, in fact, is the way that so many people edit the ideas they encounter to make those ideas conform to preconceived narratives. I first ran into that habit early in my blogging career, when I discovered just how many people literally weren’t able to process the idea that the future might be something other than perpetual progress or overnight apocalypse.  I’d say, “Progress is ending,” and they’d respond, “Oh, you mean we’re all going to die sometime soon.” I’d say, “No, we’re not facing sudden mass dieoff,” and they’d respond “Oh, you mean we’re going to have business as usual forever.”  It was frankly creepy to watch.

Another theme I’ve discussed many times, the economic dimension of decline, ran up against the same weird automatism.  I’d point out that the survival of a technology depended on whether it was economically viable, not on whether it was technically feasible, and people would look blank and talk about technical feasibility as if that was the only thing that mattered.  I lost my temper and yelled a few times then, too, and when that happened I’d get blank looks and mumbling in response.  Their reaction wasn’t a reasoned response.   The idea that if a technology wasn’t affordable, it didn’t matter whether it was possible, was a thought they were quite literally unable to think.

The fantasy of founding an intentional community is one of these strange attractors of the modern mind. I’ve discussed elsewhere why intentional communities aren’t a workable response to the crisis of our age, and I won’t rehash that here. The point that matters is that there’s a long history of intentional communities at this point, and it’s a history of nearly unrelieved failure. The average lifespan of an intentional community is around two years.  Yes, that means that half of them don’t last even that long.

It occurs to me, in fact, that intentional communities are the precise countercultural equivalent of another strange attractor of the modern mind, the flying car.  Both go back much further than most people realize:  the first great wave of communes in the Western world started two hundred years ago in the 1820s, in response to the crackpot inspirations of Charles Fourier, just as the first flying car to lurch temporarily into the sky was built back in 1917.  Both can be made to work after a fashion, for a little while—there have been plenty of communes down through the years, of course, just as there have been plenty of flying cars built and (occasionally) flown.

Both, in turn, suffer from predictable and inescapable dysfunctions that make them balky, ineffective fringe projects with a sky-high failure rate, rather than the wave of the future their proponents so often expect them to become. And of course that sky-high failure rate never seems to have an impact on the dream, as generation after generation, starry-eyed visionaries convince themselves that these tired old fantasies are the latest cutting-edge hopes for a brighter future, and go charging ahead to make all the same mistakes as their predecessors and fail yet again in the same way.

Our civilization—Faustian civilization, as Oswald Spengler called it, the great culture born around the year 1000 in the valleys of the Thames, the Seine, and the Rhine, which overran most of the planet in the centuries that followed 1492 and is now more than a century down the well-greased slope of its decline and fall—is unusually prone to such vagaries.  No other civilization in recorded history has so overwhelming an obsession with infinite expansion.  To the Faustian imagination there can be no lasting limits; every barrier is made to be broken, every record must be surpassed. It’s only in Faustian culture that the transhumanist Alan Harrington could publicly proclaim that death is “an unacceptable imposition on the human race” without being taken away to a nice padded cell.

The dream of the perfect intentional community is a product of the same giddy logic. Your community isn’t to your taste?  Invent a better one, and show everyone how wrong they are!  That communities are organic growths rather than manufactured products, that human beings can’t be made to behave according to a prearranged script no matter how allegedly perfect that script might be—these unwelcome but necessary realizations are anathema to the Faustian mind. They contradict the will to power that is the rarely acknowledged mainspring behind the entire Western project.

You can see that will to power clearly in the Faustian monomyth, a story we might as well call “The One who Finds the Truth.”  You’ve heard that story so many times, dear reader, you could repeat it in your sleep.  Once upon a time, the story goes, people trudged through lives of misery, burdened by ignorance and error. Then somebody discovered the truth.  Of course most people rejected the truth at first, because they were stuck in ignorance and error, but in due time the discoverer is hailed as a hero, all but a few benighted souls embrace his discovery, and the truth triumphed, or is triumphing, or will triumph—the time factor is one of the few variations that the monomyth permits.

Read any popular history of science and you’ll get this story with the manic repetitiveness of a broken record, but it’s not unique to science. Until Christianity imploded as a social force in the Western world after the First World War, histories of religion were written in the same terms.  Political extremists of all stripes, from the bomb-throwing Left to the goosestepping Right, use the same rhetoric to proclaim the imminent or eventual triumph of their ideologies, and the list goes on.  Until relatively recently, in turn, founders of intentional communities very often claimed to be the One who Finds the Truth—the truth in question being, of course, the right way to live with others.

As it happens, that’s one of the central reasons why intentional communities fail so reliably.  The great problem with The One who Finds the Truth is that, compared to most other mythic narratives, it has very few roles available to those who try to act it out. There’s one starring role, the visionary who finds the truth.  The rest of the cast consists of loyal followers who recognize the truth and follow the visionary without ever having a single original thought of their own, and opponents of the visionary who mutter dolefully about the horrible things that will happen if ignorance and error are overthrown.

That being the case, anybody with the least trace of ambition wants to be the One who Finds the Truth.  How do you fulfill that role?  By insisting that the ways your community does things are ignorance and error, and proclaiming your own unique truth as the path for everyone else to follow. So in any situation where people are trying to act out the story of the One who Finds the Truth, you very quickly end up with a bunch of would-be visionary leaders, each setting themselves in opposition to the community and finding fault with everything everyone else is doing. It doesn’t take much of this before people start walking away and your “meaningful, synergistic community” crashes down in ruin.

That’s become tiresome enough that certain changes are being rung on the overfamiliar melodrama of the One who Finds the Truth.  The one I find most interesting these days moves the visionary into the other camp; we can call it the Dances With Wolves gimmick after its most famous media manifestation. Here the One who Finds the Truth doesn’t find it by being original and cutting-edge, he finds it among the people who are usually assigned the role of doleful mutterers, the defenders of tradition and the past.  Of course this means that the visionary ends up on the losing side; even among those who can’t believe in the immaculate goodness of progress, it’s rare for anyone to go so far as to question its omnipotence, so the cast strikes a pose of tragic heroism at the finale while the audience sniffles.

This has been a standard pose of religious conservatives for some time now. Many seem to relish their role as defenders of a beleaguered truth, doomed to fail—but oh, how nobly!  There’s a wry amusement to be had by mentioning to them Oswald Spengler’s concept of the Second Religiosity.  Spengler argued that each great culture’s age of reason ends in intellectual and moral bankruptcy, as ours is doing now, and what follows is a revival of traditional religious forms—the Second Religiosity—as a bulwark against inner and outer chaos. You’d think that religious conservatives would be delighted by this, wouldn’t you?  Some do.  Others get sulky and insist it can’t happen.

One of the occultists I find most thought-provoking, the French Decadent magus Josephin Péladan, was very fond of that pose, though he didn’t sulk. His 1891 essay Manifesto de la Rose+Croix is typical:  “We do not believe in progress or in salvation. For the Latin race, which goes to its death, we prepare a final splendor, to dazzle and mellow the barbarians who are to come.” The Traditionalist movement which blossomed not long after Péladan’s death in 1918, and has become a favorite bogeyperson of today’s Left, strikes the same pose with equal verve. The story of the One who Finds the Truth is central to Traditionalism; the Truth in question is the One True Tradition handed down since time immemorial, at least in theory, but one of the things that renders the whole movement so delightful is that no two Traditionalists seem to be able to agree on just what that truth is.

Of late, though, it’s been interesting to watch a different current begin to stir in Traditionalist circles and elsewhere.  Steve Bannon—an American Traditionalist who played an influential role in Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign—made waves in Traditionalist circles by suggesting that ordinary working class Americans in the flyover states counted as bearers of Tradition. To some extent that’s the standard inversion of the Faustian monomyth, and the movie version would doubtless be titled Dances With Rednecks, but Bannon isn’t striking a pose of heroic failure, and he isn’t presenting himself (or Trump) as the One who Finds the Truth.  He’s tapping into a different theme.

I’ve talked about that theme in posts here and in my book The King in Orange.  Its theme is summed up neatly in the Russian word sobornost, a term that has no good equivalent in English.  Sobornost is the sense that the summit of individual identity is an expression of the shared consciousness of the community, not (as in the Faustian monomyth) the rejection of the community and its consciousness.  From the point of view of sobornost, the Faustian individual kicking his way out of traditional forms and lifeways is as foolish as he is self-defeating, because human fulfillment can only be found by returning to the community and integrating oneself with its enduring consciousness and ways of life.

It’s a theme that has deep echoes all through eastern European and Russian cultures, and it expresses itself in key cultural figures. Leo Tolstoy is an example.  A child of the Russian aristocracy with a Western education, Tolstoy ended up rejecting Western culture and his own social class, and in his later years embraced the simple faith and rural lifestyle of the Russian peasantry. His writings and example had an outsized impact on twentieth century history—Gandhi was among the many figures he influenced—but he rejected the logic of the Faustian monomyth and never claimed to be the One who Found the Truth.  Rather, in the true style of sobornost, the truth found him.

For quite some years now occultists and others—Oswald Spengler among them—have sensed the rise of a new great culture in Russia, and it’s been suggested on solid grounds that sobornost will be its keynote, in the same way that the One who Finds the Truth is the keynote of the Faustian culture.  I find this increasingly easy to believe, since the same theme surfaces in comments on my blog, mostly by European commenters. The praise of community that’s been a standard element of social criticism from the Right since the rise of Traditionalism has taken on a new note:  the communities in question are shaking off their Faustian role of doleful muttering, and they’re not taking on the neo-Faustian role of wolves for the One who Finds the Truth to dance with.  They’re sources of meaning and value from which some individuals have unwisely strayed and to which they must return.

I respect that vision, but it’s not one that I can follow. As I see it, Spengler was right to point out that each great culture is based firmly in a particular region of the Earth; its influence can spread from that region, but it never puts down deep roots outside it.  Faustian culture is ultimately rooted in western Europe, and its global reach has simply laid down a temporary Faustian veneer over regions where very different visions of destiny hold sway.  In the same sense, the future great culture of Russia—due to begin its emergence, according to predictions, later in this century—has its roots in the great sweep of the eastern European plain from the Carpathians to the Urals.  When it reaches its height a millennium from now it will doubtless have spread far from that base, but its roots elsewhere will never go deep.

Here in North America, the land has different energies and calls up different responses from the people who live on it. Five centuries after the culture of sobornost has emerged, if the prophecies of occultists and visionaries are anything to go by, the heartland of North America—the Great Lakes region and the Ohio River basin—will become the seedbed of a different great culture, one that differs from the Faustian and Russian cultures as much as they differ from each other.  I’ve suggested that its theme might be called tamanous, borrowing a word from the Chinook trade jargon of the old Northwest.

Tamanous is the Chinook term for the guardian spirit of the individual.  Where the Faustian vision sees truth as the exclusive possession of a unique visionary who uses it as a club to beat up the past, and sobornost sees truth as an enduring reality rooted in communal tradition, the way of tamanous sees truth as a discovery unique to each person.  It can’t be turned into a banner around which adoring followers flock in the Faustian style; it can’t even be shared. The most you can do is explain to other people how you found your truth, and encourage them to make the same journey themselves. Like the nascent culture of sobornost, the embryonic culture of tamanous also has its historical exemplars; John Chapman, the “Johnny Appleseed” of American folk legend, is one I’ve discussed here, and his utterly individual life is as typical of the tamanous vision as Leo Tolstoy’s life is typical of  sobornost.

The image of community called into being by the vision of tamanous differs just as sharply from those of the other two patterns we’ve discussed.  If you’ve spent time “on the res” with Native Americans you’ll have noticed what, to the Faustian mind, is a weird formlessness in social events. People drift in and out, there’s no schedule and no agenda, things happen when they happen, but somehow everything gets done.  It’s endlessly frustrating to the Faustian mentality, and I suspect it’s just as baffling from within the world of sobornost, because there’s no collective structure of consciousness guiding things. Everybody’s following their own inspiration, and community is born organically out of the dance of individuals, rather than being the deep source from which individuals emerge.

Making sense of the ideas of one great culture from within another great culture is notoriously hard. (It’s an interesting detail of history, for example, that the first two European scholars to study the I Ching both went incurably insane.)  Thus I don’t claim to be able to sound the depths of either of the two future cultures I’ve sketched out here; I was raised in a culture weighed down by the Faustian veneer, and I live in a region that mediates between western Europe and the North American heartland. (The ground under my feet is part of the same long-vanished continent as the western half of Britain.) Being who, when, and where I am, I’m poised unsteadily between two great cultures, the fading Faustian culture and the future American culture.  That’s part of the hand I was dealt when I was born.

That awkward position, between the dissolving forms of the Faustian vision and the first stirrings of tamanous culture, seems to be becoming common among my American and Canadian readers, for what it’s worth.  (I haven’t yet seen it among my European readers, which comes as no surprise—again, each great culture is rooted in its own land.)  Here in North America, the Faustian veneer seems to be cracking very rapidly just now, outside those classes that have adopted Faustian thoughtways as the basis for their identity and their power. The widening gap between the Faustian managerial caste and the post-Faustian masses is among the major facts in American public life today, and it accounts for a great deal of the total incomprehension with which each side regards the other.

One of the chief questions in my mind right now is how that gap will evolve in the years ahead. Most great cultures, once they leave their ages of reason, wind up their creative eras, and settle into stasis, can expect a long slow decline—in cases such as ancient Egypt and traditional China, this lasted for many centuries.  The surge toward infinity is so central to the Faustian ethos, however, that the total failure of the will to power that drives it may send the nations of the West down another, harsher route. We’ll talk about that in two weeks.


Two notes before we proceed.

First, I’m delighted to report that my roleplaying game Weird of Hali: Roleplaying the Other Side of the Cthulhu Mythos is finally in print and available for sale. It’s been a long strange journey since I first started work on turning my tentacle fiction into RPG fodder almost three years ago, with a pandemic followed by supply chain shortages among them entertainments along the way, but it’s finally here, and can be purchased from Aeon Games at this link. (The PDF is available right now; the print edition will be in warehouse shortly.) The publisher is offering a 20% discount to anyone who knows the secret discount-code password, which in this case is WOH20.  If you like RPGs, definitely check it out.

Second, one of my best books from the peak oil era is finally back in print. The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered is now available in an updated print edition from Founders House Publishing. (If you’ve preordered, copies are being shipped right now.) Check it out here.


  1. I think this piece over at Charles Hugh Smith is appropriate. He tells us that the internet, far from being automated, is actually managed by tens of thousands of low-paid people in places like India. I’m stunned that they’ve managed to keep a lot of this hidden, but as the problems begin to exponentially multiply, it will become pretty obvious that the Tech Emperors have no clothes.

  2. I’ve already pre-ordered the Weird of Hali hardback – when will the PDFs be sent out? I haven’t got one yet.

    Also on books, one I’ve been waiting for a long time is out. Revolutionary Rehearsals in the Neoliberal Age is all things revolution from 1989 to 2019. It’s the sequel to Revolutionary Rehearsals, a book whose final chapter conveyed the multi-layered and overlapping multi-stage complexity of revolutions better than anything else I’ve ever read. The sequel keeps up the tradition.

  3. I’m really enjoying your latest series of posts on our current predicament. Thanks!

    Current events the past year and a half have sped up so much it is a bit disorienting. When I first learned about peak oil etc., I expected a fairly fast collapse, then that didn’t happen and I found your long descent model the most convincing out there. Still do, but in the years say 2015-2019 there was precious little in the way of obvious collapse in progress to point to. Lots happening under the surface, but often slowly, and hard to get people to pay attention to. So I got very quiet, and mentally pushed back when I expected assorted things to get serious.

    Then in 2020 and 2021, things suddenly started happening much faster, and the underlying dysfunction became increasingly hard to miss. Things I’d known would happen ‘at some point in the next couple of decades’ were happening right now, and events have just kept coming. These stair steps down can be a pretty wild ride. And yes, I know intellectually they can be a lot worse than the past couple of years. I’m not sure how I’ll handle something like, oh really bad ADE if that happens.

  4. Interesting thoughts on this “tamanous.” Wondering if it would equate to the genio or personal genius of the ancient Mediterranean world. Could be a comparable current…


  5. Mars/Space colonies…
    the ultimate gizmocentric intentional utopian community …
    The technogodzilionares…the Ones who HAVE the ultimate Truth…ONLY they know the ONE path to our salvation
    of course they are charlatans…but nothing good could come out of their plans for us, mere mortals…

  6. After spending a few years trying to work with the permaculture community, I can confirm your assessment of 2 years for an intentional community. I haven’t seen one go over three years with the same leadership and focus. We had one meetup that went several years but it turned into more a place to push woke politics than practice permaculture methods outside in the ground. “Everyone has apartments, what are they supposed to do?” was the response when I asked what projects we could work on.

    There is still this thinking (known on social media as “BoomerCon”) that regular citizens will unite, re-write the constitution, and re-found the republic. We will elect the correct people to follow the constitution as written, the swamp will be drained, and freedom will be ours again.

    Hopefully Covid killed this thinking for good. It’s what the kids call “cope.” Curtis Yarvin referred to Americans as ironic children in an interview the other week, and I don’t disagree. We are very childish and naive as to what real work is, sacrifice, loss, and evil. Can we find capable leaders for what is coming is the question I roll around in my head. It feels like religions have a huge roll to play very soon.

  7. Mirages are so enticing because they seem to offer what you want most. Out in the desert dying of thirst, you see that tantalizing glimpse of what has to be water. You’re not going to listen to anyone who say it’s just a mirage because you want water so bad. The idea of being in total control is a similar mirage. Your commenter immediately misunderstood what you were trying to say and rushed off to create an ‘intentional’ community with perhaps himself being the controller behind creating that community, not realizing the control he’s trying to maintain was only an illusion.

    And of course flying cars have to work, because … well because we want them so bad and having them means we are still in control. The idea of somebody somewhere (preferably yourself) has to be controlling events is what makes the tamanous community so confusing to the Faustians. Who’s in control? How can anything get done if nobody is managing? Yet obviously it does.

    Letting go of the idea that you or somebody has got to be in control is going to be a toughie. It’s visible in the dialog of the woke folks and just about anyone else in the privileged community. Watching the live feed of the erupting La Palma volcano on YouTube, there’s a live chat box off to one side where I’ve seen repeated attempts to steer the conversation in a certain direction (a phenomenon I’m sure you’re familiar with) trying convince people the volcano is going to go off like Krakatoa, pyroclastic flows are sure to follow, etc. It does no good for saner voices to point out it’s not that type of volcano. It doesn’t help of course that the volcano (with four vents now) has gotten quite active over the past 24 hours. It sounds like Vulcan’s really pounding away at His forge. The Faustians are sure it’s going to blow big and how could it do otherwise? How dare it not do what they say?

    Up here in northern New Hampshire I’m pondering what direction we might go in. I’m trying to locate that little map of the former USA you posted a while back showing the regions we’re most likely to break up into. Either we’ll be part of whatever Quebec becomes or part of the Old New England states? It’s probably too soon to tell what our own tamanous will be and I will probably have to wait until my next incarnation to see what it finally does become.

  8. Tolstoy was an anarchist: Discuss.
    Tamanous sees truth as a discovery unique to each person – building the Tower of Babel without engineers.

  9. JMG,

    There are a few concepts you discuss that I’ve been having a hard time with.

    Tamanous culture includes the drive to an individual truth and it’s expected to increase in influence in the future, but it’s localized regionally.

    The Aquarian Age includes the drive to an individual truth that’s expected to increase in influence in the future, but it’s not localized and will affect the whole planet.

    The Western Occult concepts of the Ipsissimus, Awen, and the Gnostic Word of the Aeon (specifically the interpretation you’ve discussed as a counterpoint to Crowley’s interpretation) all seem to imply a drive to an individual truth, and those are not limited by geography or time.

    Do these really overlap as much as I’m thinking, or have I just gotten it all muddled up? How do these interact with each other? What might a Golden Dawn practitioner in the Sobernost Urals during the Aquarian Age think about individual truth?

  10. Dear JMG, Thanks for this! Last night I finished reading Denis Covington’s _Salvation on Sand Mountain_ in which he describes snake-handling churches: their music that’s half Salvation Army and half acid rock; the deep eroticism; the strange formlessness of worship; the smell of the Holy Spirit which he likens to somewhere between warm bread and apples; the ceremonial drinking of strychnine and of course the handling of poisonous snakes.

    Reading this account, I certainly got a sense of the ongoing mystery cults forming in the key of Tamanous. In a real sense reading accounts of practitioners of the African Traditional Religions and many Devotional Polytheists, it seems to me that this sort of Tamanous style of religion emerges, which is very distinct. There’s a sense of a patron deity immediately in the life of the practitioner, and the life suffuse with a divine logic. Reading _Black Elk Speaks_ I got a sense of this dynamic in a more formal context, but with the same basic principles. I’ve also spent time in immediate proximity to the Navajo Nation, and so have some experience of First Nations communities up close, and I can recognize the emerging style of social intercourse Covington describes in the snake handling communities as very much in the same key to my own experiences.

    I agree with you that this is a massive political fact, especially since to my heart the initiatory and personally idiosyncratic Tamanous culture makes intuitive sense whereas as the Faustian culture makes far less, much as I may love so many aspects of it. The idea of the spirit taking a person; the idea of medicine powers as a fact of life; the idea of a particular sort of normative hieros gamos all seems to me not only right on, but also ideal, at least given the pervasive spiritual logic of the land of at least Anglo North America.

  11. “…the way of tamanous sees truth as a discovery unique to each person.”

    I’m currently doing Ogham pathworking, and I am finding it very difficult to stop saying to myself ‘go figure out what someone else said these symbols mean’ and say instead ‘what do these symbols mean to me’?

    There are these competing tendencies within me, the first of which wants to take part in some sort of shared symbolic vocabulary, some Truth that I can count on, and the second tendency (which is harder to describe) which sees the utility of, and resonance in, a given symbol to my past dreams, ideas, and life experiences. It is still really hard to ‘count on’ the second tendency.

  12. Hi JMG and all – I think that one of the downfalls of communes was that communes seem to attract “free riders”. In other words, people who want to be directed, and taken care of.

  13. And in case it wasn’t clear, I’m not complaining about the difficulty. I’m glad that I am aware of these tendencies.

  14. Ooh, this should be fun to read…

    Running away from Rome and setting up their own city seemed to work for the Venetians 🙂 Took a few centuries before they really came into their own though. It’s not a sprint, it’s an ultramarathon. You reach the 26 mile point to congratulations about making it 1/8th of the way through.

    Intentional communities usually fail, yes. But some persist for a very long time. What marks the Amish, Hutterites, Kibbutzim as different from the rest? Why are there centuries old towns still around? *Not* having a visionary leader, perhaps – they have to function as normal human communities?

  15. Here in Brazil I’d say that we have a myth, different from the faustian myth too, the myth of the exile, the “Saudade”, a brazillian word to the feeling of missing someone or something. Very few people came to Brazil willingly.
    The portuguese came here because Portugal was a hellhole, they wanted to get rich and return to Portugal as rich men but they never got rich, and even if they prospered and got rich, the portuguese would despise them as pirates, slavers or just badly educated colonials, as perfectly shown in the first part of the novel Os Maias, by Eçá de Queiroz, in the way the portuguese elite treats the slaver family that got rich and came back to Portugal. The forcibly converted jew or muslim didn’t want to come here, much less to be forced converted to catholicism and, like the portuguese, they had things to miss. The portuguese missed Portugal, the jew (cristão-novo) missed his Torah and the observance of the Laws, taken from him by the inquisition. The blacks missed Africa and the freedom they had there, and a lot of the symbols in modern afro-braziillian religion revolves around trying to create a small piece of Africa in Brazil using african foods, african chants, african clothes. Just like the portuguese and the cristão-novo, the black will never go back home, and even if he does go back, no one will like him there, there is nothing for him there, there is no home to go back to. The same for the natives, that misses their holy lands, rivers, mountains, the abundant hunt, the recent imigrants like the arabs and italians… The myth of Brazil is the myth of the exiled, the lost, having to create a new home in a strange land,

    The problem is that this myth interacts badly with the faustian will to power because limits, restraints, are unacceptable to faustians, and they spend an inordinate amout of effort trying to leave the land they were exiled to instead of making the land their home. This is, in my opinion, the root of brazillian mind-boggling corruption. You have to steal and pilage, sell your country and countrymen to the foreign enemies, like the anglos and the chinese, to get dollars and flee the country. But like the Monforte family in Os Maias, you will always be just a dirty, currupt, thief, a negreiro (slaver), that sold people to get rich and flee the land of the exiles. It was true in old Lisbon and is true in today’s Miami or Hamamatsu.

    That problem is amplified by cheap, fast, easy, international travel. It is trivial today to just leave the country and return the land one’s ancestores were exiled from long ago, like Europe, or to go better lands, like the US. All rich brazillians have homes in Miami, the really rich have homes in Paris or London, nice and civilized lands, unlike the penal colony that is Brazil, at least that’s how the story goes.

    As the western civilization goes down and takes the faustian idea with it, as cheap, fast, easy, international travels winds down and the fastest way to Europe is once again 2 months in a galleon i wonder how the faustians will deal with the fact the the land that they miss no longer exists, there is really nowhere to go back to. That is the story of the future of the brazillian culture, probably.

  16. I think what makes the “great cultures” so difficult to break out of is that they are in fact archetypes disguised as cultures. This is why the flying car fallacy gets endlessly repeated – it represents a battle between the Faustian archetype and reality, in which reality can only win temporary victories. The flying car represents universal freedom from the bonds of the earth, and so is archetypally perfect from the Faustian viewpoint.

    This is also why attempting to explain facts or concepts that function outside the Faustian archetype can only generate blank looks or denial. It is not so much that cherished myths are being challenged, it is simply that for those within the archetype, the parameters of reality are bounded by the archetype itself. This might also go some way to explaining why all cultures are doomed over the long term – they are all ultimately engaged in a battle between what is archetypally real and what is really real, from which there can only be one winner.

  17. Your thoughts on the Faustian fantasy of intentional communities put me in my mind of something that happened recently in my small corner of Reddit. As poster, following some deep gasp of desperation from within their souls, seized on an idyllic image from pop-culture and started to fantasize about how great it would be to live in a “New Hobbiton”, and it struck a cord with a lot of others (including myself). What is amazing in retrospect was that it wasn’t a fantasy of coming together to achieve a perfect way of living, nor a survivalist fantast about becoming kings of the post-apocalypse, it was just a fantasy of living in a small town, being a useful and needed part of the community and being surrounded by family and friends in a world that was much smaller, but also a good deal kinder than the one we live in now.

    It was a fantasy of respite. A fantasy of peace. A fantasy for people who’ve been force fed progress from the day they were born and have felt it curdle in their stomachs. And it seemed to appeal to both professionals paid to produce nothing but slides for other professionals to look at and to those working 90 hour weeks in the dirtiest and most demeaning jobs we have.

    This particular fantasy wasn’t without it’s foolishness, of course, It was a fantasy, not an application for a zoning permit. But I think it’s an indicator of the kind of thinking and fantasizing we are going to see a lot more of as our society continues to spin out, and none of the ‘official’ plans for the future on offer appeal. Especially as they all seem to involve unrelenting cruelty to one degree or another.

  18. Riveting stuff. I feel as if this tension between the Faustian and Tamanous is so apt to my situation. After getting a good ambient Faustian brainwash in my upbringing, I am just now consciously discovering the ill-suitedness of the mental/emotional habits I did not necessarily choose for my self. I discover more and more each day my more Tamanous nature despite my outmoded Faustian conceptions of grandeur (the more “rugged” style of individualism, we might say). I am half Chinese too so I hazard to hypothesize that that fact also plays into this tension somehow … I often feel without roots as my mother embraced American (or maybe more specifically United States) culture for good and ill. I figure at least It’s a good challenge for this incarnation to try and decode these things and find meaning/truth in the work so I may more consciously live in my predicament. Countless others must be dealing with the same thing in the USA.

    You briefly mentioned the I Ching which I have been working with occasionally over the years: what do you suppose the core mythic narrative of the Chinese – and thereabouts – may be?

    Also (sidenote) I’m curious about the status of your systems theory translation of the Tao Te Ching !!

  19. Fascinating! Thanks for this.

    I know some folks who tried to apply sobernost in an Intentional Community model. Was not completely disastrous, but was… less than utopian.

    Would appreciate any references to that dreamed-of Heartland. I was born into the very center of the Great Lakes – Ohio Valley region, and I feel it in my bones.


  20. JMG, Thank you for this essay, which is, for me, one of your best in quite some time.

    I can second your sense that the energies of the land on the Northeast, upstate NY for me, are not the same as those in the American West and Far West. I hold that you cannot hope to understand the American West if you don’t understand it’s geography, a huge area drained by 5 or maybe 6 large rivers, depending on how you count. The smaller France is also drained by a similar number of rivers of comparable size. And, I would add, to understand the geography, you must study its’ geology, which is extraordinarily complex.

    One intentional community which has thrived is the Mormons, perhaps our most successful minority group. Also, smaller religious communities including RC monasteries and convents do seem to be surviving under the radar, albeit none are very large.

    For almost a century now, mass culture, movies in particular, have been promoting what I think of as a doctrine of primacy of emotion. Now, emotion is important, and people out of touch with their own feelings, as I was for many years, need to do something about that aberration, but it does not and cannot replace either reason or intuition. Or faith, but that is another discussion. Emotion might tell you that engineering is a better career for you than medicine, but to build that career you have to use your reason and intuition, and no doubt other faculties as well. Many Americans, aided and abetted by mass culture and the abandonment of their responsibilities by our soi-dissant intellectual classes, have come to believe that whatever they feel is what is right, good and true. The fallacy is clear to see; emotion can be a powerful spur to action but that action must still be planned and well thought out. So, many think that if something makes them feel bad, that something must be untrue or at least not any thing they need to think about, much less act on. Whereas, often, whatever makes you feel bad might very well need to be your top priority that day.

  21. So, you’re saying Bannon is tapping into a redneck sobornost? I can see that in a very general sense, due to the extreme divide existing between urban and rural in this country. There is also the huge difference between living where everyone knows each others business (rural) and you don’t even know the names of your immediate neighbors (suburbia). I can’t see urban and suburban supporting sobornost at this juncture, so perhaps I am just dense or not following you regarding what Bannon is tapping into?

    That explorer or conqueror archetype America was built on is long in the tooth, and does not fit well when “Limits to Growth” is reality. Tamanous seems to me to be an independent enough concept to accommodate the yearning engendered by the older archetypes.

    In addition, Christianity has splintered into a thousand shards of glass at this point. Catholicism is doing the same dance due to corruption and materialism as the Protestants have nearly completed. Thus in the USA, the dominant religion is fractious and highly variable.

    On the ‘rez’, people simply pitch in when needed, often via hearing things ‘on the grapevine’ or seeing a thing that has to be done. I lived right next door to one for a year, and it was interesting that schedules and timetables were sort of missing in action for most people. Yet the same thing is true of small towns – where the actual starting of a city council meeting is held up until everybody actually gets there or the hardware store stays open to let Roger Redneck run home and get a part he needs replaced to get his water back on. This NEVER happens in venues with larger populations…

    So, are you saying the religion of progress nurtured by the PMC and elites is meeting the same wall that we plebes hit long ago? Is this not the turning inward required when turning outward provides nothing of value to the human condition?

    For myself, while I do read the news and events, the politics of it all are no different than they ever were; those of us living rural actually know how short the reach of government is. We are decades past the advent of cell phones, and I still have zero service at my farm – because the economics do not support it. The Feds are learning this lesson as we speak, but it will take them many more failures until they realize that edicts from the King in Orange carry no weight outside of the area the knights patrol.

    Anyway, elaboration is wanted here friend JMG…

  22. Fascinating post JMG, Thanks!

    One of my fantasies is to return to my country, Canada, in 300 or so years to see what has happened.

    The decline of Western Civilization is beginning now and in 300 years we should see how it plays out. The effects of the volkerwanderung we are now seeing, as desperate people from poor countries migrate to (temporarily) richer or at least more stable countries, is well evident in the multiethnic make up of most Western cities. It would be amazing to see how well that plays out. Especially interesting will be the new religions that grow up among the ordinary people. My bet is on the Pentacostal movement, especially the snake handlers.

    I am optimistic for my own country, I think that our fundamental decency will be passed on to future generations.

    Thanks again John

  23. If this is true, I wonder what it means for us over here, in Friuli, North Eastern Italy. This is the only place where the great cultures of Europe – Latin, Germanic, and Slavic – not only meet but overlap, linguistically, historically and genetically. I wonder, given our geography, whether this could ever change. There is a culture here that is very strong and rooted in the land and community, and yet maintains an open-ended quality, and a centerless-ness… maybe we’ll always have a culture of the periphery and the crossroads.

  24. JMG:

    I was sad to see “The Weird of Hali” Kickstarter did not succeed, but delighted that I was able to purchase a copy from Aeon anyway (although the PDF is not yet available for download). Thanks for putting the game together!

    As for today’s post, I can almost conceive sobernost taking shallow root here, and its emphasis on communal thinking being what awakens tamanous. That is, a communal way of life that proves too stifling to the people of the American heartland, blossoms into future residents beginning to seek their own ways and truths in order to abide within their communities.

    I also admit to occasionally indulging in fantasies about building an intentional community, but I always know in the back of my mind that it would not work. On the other hand, I have been inspired to start a magical lodge after reading your book on the same. A lodge seems achievable.

  25. “The surge toward infinity is so central to the Faustian ethos, however, that the total failure of the will to power that drives it may send the nations of the West down another, harsher route. We’ll talk about that in two weeks.”

    One issue I see, and that has bothered me since I first started thinking about Faustian Civilization in these terms, is that the drive to infinity seems to be paralleled by another, closely related drive: the drive to be important, to be the crucial people, time, or place. A lot of people don’t seem to care one way or the other if the future we get is uniquely catastrophic or uniquely glorious, just as long as our civilization, indeed our time, is unique, one utterly unlike any other: one which will be remembered for all of history. This seems to be hardwired into Faustian Civilization, since it appears in a good many places, and it is the dream of the infinite: the moment that is infinitely beautiful, or infinitely dreadful, can be the only one which matters. Today only matters if it will be remembered for the rest of time.

    This has an implication I find truly creepy, which is that whether consciously or not, those who have this need for the present to be utterly distinct, could easily react to the dawning realization of the coming decline and fall of our civilization by seeking to make it as dramatic and destructive as possible. Since this includes most of the people making major decisions for our society, this is a fairly major risk, especially if it also pairs with the generational egomania of the Baby Boomers, and thus there is a major time pressure to it as well: it must come in before they die or lose control over the levers of power….

  26. To some degree, the themes of this essay have been at the heart of my internal struggles and reorientation these last several years. The Quest for Truth was a component of my life for a long time and manifested itself in a corresponding quest for knowledge (because Knowledge=Truth=God, of course, and aspiration to godhead is a key Faustian characteristic, though I didn’t recognize it a such at the time). I had the hardest time with the notion that Truth didn’t exist in the form I sought: if truth is individual and not universal, then chaos reigns and the universe has no meaning, for everything is subjective and without foundation. To be honest, I *still* have bouts with these sentiments, even after all these years (6+ now) of reassessment.

    I’m sure this has something to do with my attraction to mathematics, in which abstraction and idealization are standard operating procedure. As I sat contemplating my initial reaction to this week’s essay, the example of a tree crossed my mind. On the one hand you have all the multitudinous variety of trees on the planet and on the other hand you have the ideal concept of Tree (cue Plato’s World of Forms). The old me would have seen any individual tree as a flawed and imperfect projection of the Pure Form, corrupted by limits of matter and physical reality, because the abstract is superior to the manifest as a matter of course. The current me understands this reasoning to be flawed, but struggles with the vehemence of memory of the old belief and the emotions associated with said belief. (Those individual trees, meanwhile, like communities, grow organically and are not mapped out by some Master Plan.)

    There’s also a false dichotomy at play in the old argument between Order and Chaos. What is projected in one particular sense of order, offered up as Truth. And anything not in line with that particular order is lumped together and labelled Chaos. (“But *somebody* has to be right,” the old voice proclaims.)

    I can see all this more clearly now, though I still struggle with integrating it completely.

  27. The idea that if a technology wasn’t affordable, it didn’t matter whether it was possible, was a thought they were quite literally unable to think.

    The lack of critical thinking these days is a pandemic all by itself.

  28. First I apologize for my bad English…
    JMG again, thank you for your work!!
    You often mention the Utopia/Apocalypse dichotomy, and how widespread and wrong is to think this way.
    I totally agree. Things in reality are always in the middle, grey areas…
    But, this way of black and white, all good/all bad thinking is narcissistic splitting, and like it or not, narcissism is part our beautiful nature
    BW thinking is so widespread that it is not even funny…
    To be part of the PMC class you mention often, or in general to be successful in life, you MUST have dark triad ”qualities” – of which narcissism is part of. Not necessary to apply them, but most importantly to recognize the non stop political games that we are part of everyday life.
    BUT…being dark triad and autisticly unaware…has its negative side. You always see this when a technogodzillionare makes a TED speech…how delusional, far from reality they can get…
    I think, i am sure, you will like this papers

  29. And of course the universe starting out infinitely small and dense and then growing into infinite nothingness over literally infinite time would be a core Faustian creation myth….

  30. Dear Archdruid:

    The two posts from you about this topic , wich I have read, induce me to think about the existence of a link between the faustian man and the collective archetype Wotan.

    In the case of my country , Spain, we have lost the remember of the gods object of cult before the Roman conquest. But the catolicism allow to adore various numinous entitities, wich are images of God. So the preferences in adoration can be related to collective archetypes rooted in Spain, of wich I propose two candidates:

    1) The Mother of God , who before the Romans corresponded to Astarte, a phoenicician godess. And ,before of the arrival of the metalúrgic invaders (Iberians, Celts,…) , as black virgins.

    2) The apostle St. James, or St. George:
    A figure similar to Gandalf in “The Lord of the Rings” who , in at least three battles is said that he aided the christians to fight against the moors, saving them of one defeat.

    I wonder if the existence of these cults could soften the disorientation wich will bring the bankruptcy of the myth of the progress

  31. Unfreezing the ice age: the truth about humanity’s deep past
    – a fascinating synopsis of a recently published book: The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow

    Gobecki Tepi, Stonehenge, mammoth houses, the direct transformation from hunter gatherer tribes to farm communities, kings and power structures are all discussed and more in this article. It’s well worth the reading time to begin to comprehend how prehistoric humanity may have actually lived in the great long ago, before the Egyptian, Chinese, or even Indian civilizations arose. Who knows what the future will bring? We still don’t know what happened then but we can be grateful to people like Claude Levi-Strauss and the authors of this book who help light the darkness.

    That goes for you too. Thanks as always for sharing your knowledge and perspective, JMG.

  32. Its Wednesday and we have active and interesting posts on the Green Wizard website:

    First, we have a guest blog post up on the main page by Bethany Ellen Martha Bellew-Smith, who tells us about a recent experience with some seriously neglected chick coops. She rescued some birds as well. Lots of photos.
    “Rescuing A Chicken Coop”

    Next, we have three posts on the Green Wizard forums which have people talking.
    1) “An Economy of Degrowth

    2) “Encouraging Climate Migration Now”

    3) “Very good yield from unknown sweet potato variety”

    And one more big announcement, we now have a Facebook group for Green Wizards. Check it out here:
    “Green Wizardry on Facebook”

  33. Do the veneer outlands take it to extremes? Because America strikes me as more Faustian than Europe. I grew up in an American suburb, and the mental model of land management was definitely that of infinite expansion. There would always be more prairie to pave over, always room for more suburbs.

    Now I’m in a small European country where the constraints of space are very real. The only option is to live at a much higher density, and the idea that some people live in houses that have a thousand square feet per adult is simply absurd.

    I was video calling my friend in the US from her back patio, and I could see the fenced yards and 2000 sq ft houses of her neighbors in the background. It reminded me of a quote I read (I think on ecosophia) that modern (“PMC”) Americans live richer than medieval kings.

    What do you think will become of non-Eastern Europe, or will they/we also be subsumed by the sobornost?

  34. The new tamanous society will regard the Faustian elite as another “person” searching for their own truth. In this way tamanous and Faustian are rather compatible. The flash points will be where the Faustian forces the hand of tamanous society. When this happens, society splits into concurring and opposing factions, as we are seeing today. In true tamanous spirit, these are two sides seeking their own truth. The Faustian elite will only be able to oppress the opposing side for a time before the opposing side comes under new government favorable to their truth. The first few rounds of this splitting – a split society resulting in fracturing of government and breakdown of large states, will be brutal and difficult.
    Past a certain point the biophysical resources available to govern a given region limit the number of political subdivisions so I expect the existing and upcoming shortage of energy and resources forces everyone to pull back from their will to power, at least in part, resulting in America breaking into a handful of states where government, under the guise of libertarianism and in the spirit of tamanous and under the duress of resource scarcity, take a light touch to governance, maybe too light of a touch, leading to corruption being one of the main ways to get ahead.
    It is easy to lose yourself in the big picture if you do not find yourself in community with others. Just because tamanous does not find truth in community does not mean that community is not important in a tamanous civilization. This would be a Faustian conceit. Perhaps JMG could speak to role of community in tamanous civilization. Certainly Native Americans, for example, have placed and continue to place great importance on their tribal affiliations.

  35. I think I see some stirrings of Tamanous culture in spiritual circles along the mountain midwest. People here refer to their “guidance,” as a source of wisdom, and this has become a catch-all term that can include everything from religion to spirit guides (ghosts, angels, individual trees, what have you) to their own inexplicable intuition—and the term treats it all as equally valid.

    In practice, of course, people tend to be more egocentric than their use of the term implies, but I’m excited to see how the language works on people over the coming years—naturally, it has a spirit of its own.

  36. Hi JMG,

    It’s interesting to see you weave these themes together more – the King in Orange, Tamanous/Sobornost, Johny Appleseed, and a new Spenglerian twist on your critique of Traditionalism…?

    Also “Dances with Rednecks” made me laugh A LOT by the way.

    A question arose in my mind as I read. This may shade more into Magic Monday territory, to which I’m happy to remove it if you prefer:

    1. I’ve begun to meditate on the Three Circles of Manifestation material in your Druid Magic Handbook. I know it is meant to be primarily lore for meditation and is not presented as “the literal Druid afterlife”.

    At the same time in A World Full of Gods you discuss the idea of multiple really existing afterlives as a straightforward solution to the differing visions/experiences of the afterlife that humans report. In this view, the Abred/Gwynvid/Ceugant “model” can presumably be one of these.

    But from a Spenglerian POV, you’ve also made clear (Revival) Druidry’s rootedness in Faustian culture, notwithstanding whatever evolution it could continue to go through in North America and elsewhere. Now Spengler’s vision and concepts are compelling, but if I’ve understood them are explicit in defying any idea of Objective Truth, certainly of universally applicable “meaning”, “meaning” also being something rooted in a Culture’s narrative (I’m thinking of his gut-punch description of the apparent horrid meaninglessness, like a ridiculous accident, of the violence that ended the Central American great cultures – “destroyed like a sunflower whose head is struck off by one passing”.)

    As far as I remember Spengler himself doesn’t go near this kind of metaphysical question, but I thought if he’s right about how Great Cultures work, if they constitute our sense of meaning and truth in some nearly impossible-to-escape manner, it could still be argued that afterlife concepts point to something real and transcendent, yet inevitably filtered through those Faustian-conditioned concepts of meaning and truth? Sort of like your astrological traditions from different Cultures nonetheless coming to similar predictions, as I’ve heard some say?

    This started as a question to you which I think I’ve ended up answering for myself, but I thought I’d see what you thought anyway!

    2. I think I’ve noticed more attention on and awareness of Easten Orthodox Christianity in the West over the years. Could it be a nascent “Sobornostian”-influenced Second Religiosity option, if Faustian Christianity has become too hollowed out?

    Many thanks,

    Jack (aka Morfran)

  37. My sense is that a lot of right wing thought is becoming disillusioned with the Faustian vision and is turning towards traditionalism. It’s getting pretty hard to find defenders of neoconservatism outside of the mainstream.

    I thought you might find it interesting that today has been declared Julius Evola Day in the traditionalist Youtube scene with a variety of creators making videos about Evola’s work in a film festival kind of way. Strange days indeed.

  38. Dear JMG,

    Thank you for another excellent post!

    Your explanation of Tamanous culture this time around makes more sense to me than it did in the previous discussion you posted on it. At the time, I remember being mostly disappointed that the prophesied great future clash of cultures was a Russian community-culture contrasted with an American individualist culture, which seemed to me at the time to be a re-hash of the cold war (but in the future!) like in the paperback 70’s/80’s sci-fi in my parents’ attic. Now I see that it is not really that after all. Thanks for readdressing it, it makes more sense now.

    The dance aspect seems to especially apply to the way my spiritual-community life goes. I’m friends with a number of people that are essentially modern day hermits and I tend to only meet them in unexpected places and at unexpected times, and never on purpose. Strangely, I always seem to have been thinking about them only a few hours before… and their first sentence after greeting is often, “I was just praying about you!”

    The second religiosity business always makes this traditionalist conservative a bit sulky. Not that I disagree with the truth you’ve found, but it somehow seems intolerable to me to be part of a general predictable movement. That’s probably just my pride talking, though.

    Very Respectfully,
    John B

  39. Am always reminded of the military saying “Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics”. It is a good summary of our predicaments. All talk and no action. When the is action, it is usually horribly misguided.

    I also understand why you would be getting upset at the suggestions being made. When you have been saying the same message for 15+ years and is still being misinterpreted… well… I would barely last a few weeks in that position.

    When it comes to making communes, I always have the same advise to folks. Look at which ones worked and which ones failed and why. The ones gave up thier vision of perfection in favor of a – muddling along – unisolated existence generally went a lot further.

  40. “tamanous sees truth as a discovery unique to each person”

    I’m thinking that Henry David Thoreau was talking about this kind of truth. Some quotes:

    “They who know of no purer sources of truth, who have traced up its stream no higher, stand, and wisely stand, by the Bible and the Constitution, and drink at it there with reverence and humility; but they who behold where it comes trickling into this lake or that pool, gird up their loins once more, and continue their pilgrimage toward its fountain-head.”

    “I am sorry to think that you do not get a man’s most effective criticism until you provoke him. Severe truth is expressed with some bitterness.”

    I think this quote is exactly how you responded in this post at least initially….

    “Between whom there is hearty truth, there is love; and in proportion to our truthfulness and confidence in one another, our lives are divine and miraculous, and answer to our ideal. . . . Friends do not live in harmony merely, as some say, but in melody.”

    Intentional communities are missing the melody.

    “The whole body of what is now called moral or ethical truth existed in the golden age as abstract science. Or, if we prefer, we may say that the laws of Nature are the purest morality.”

    Fits with what you say about science and the occult living together in the past.

    “Men are probably nearer the essential truth in their superstitions than in their science.”

    This could be a main theme of your entire work maybe?

    “A true account of the actual is the rarest poetry, for common sense always takes a hasty and superficial view.”

    Fits with your views on everything…

    One last quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

    “most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief, and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars. Their every truth is not quite true. Their two is not the real two, their four not the real four; so that every word they say chagrins us, and we know not where to begin to set them right.”

    This is a testament to your entire work I would say. Although I think you have done a lot to “set people right”!

    Thanks for being who you are and bringing your truth to all of us. It has helped me to find my truth.

    Along these lines I have started writing a book. As a former Appalachian trail thruhiker I want to share some of what I have learned both practically and in all other ways(philosophically, socially, about building community, etc.) To help people as we advanceI into the “long emergency” and slow collapse that is upon us. I figure that thruhiking is, in many ways, a good lesson on how to collapse now and avoid the rush. (Can I use that in my book? It is kind of a central theme!)

    I want to say that you have inspired this in me! A couple posts ago in the comments someone was asking about how to write a book and you answered “write! Write! Write!”. So that what I’ve been doing!

    Thanks again

    Eric in Maryland

  41. >I’d point out that the survival of a technology depended on whether it was economically viable, not on whether it was technically feasible

    I’d say it depends on enough people being interested in it and being interested in keeping it alive as well as propagating it. Like a meme, except if you forget it, you can’t do stuff you used to. Granted, being interested in its propagation has a lot to do with economic incentives, but there are people out there that do tech stuff just for its own sake and not because they hope to make a profit.

    That’s why I keep saying a tech is fragile if you can’t replicate it in your backyard, it implies there aren’t that many people around who can keep it alive when bad things happen. That’s why writing went away during the Bronze Age collapse – it was that era’s fragile tech. Not enough people could do it or cared about it.

    And on communities or movements – if they gain any serious traction, they start attracting parasites of various sorts . Lot more work to get one going than it is to feed off of someone else’s. I guess this is where you’d mention Entryism.

    I have no idea what N America will look like 3 centuries from now, and I doubt you do either. But it is fun to speculate and leave whatever descendants are around in 2320 something to laugh about on a Sunday afternoon.

  42. andrew001 (post #17). Re: New Hobbiton
    The have a subdivision in Bend, Oregon called “The Shire.” I think it was another failed attempt at an intentional community, but does have some cool looking houses. I drove by it, but they don’t let you just go walking around. The first comment on the youtube video is pretty spot on. “…a surprisingly small square of land in the middle of a neighborhood loaded with mobile homes and light industrial facilities; basically, it is on the outskirts of Mordor.” There is also an Atlantic article chronicling its fall.

  43. Jon, thanks for this! I’d suspected that a vast amount of unacknowledged human labor was going into the software empires, and it’s good to have a source to cite.

    Yorkshire, I’d been told the PDF was available. I’ve just emailed the publisher. As for Revolutionary Rehearsals and its sequel, glad to hear it!

    Pygmycory, you’re most welcome. Yes, it’s been something of a jolt, but that’s typical in decline — you get periods of relative stability while the rot spreads through the timbers, and then sudden downward lurches when something gives way.

    Fra’ Lupo, it’s comparable, but the thing that sets Tamanous culture apart from the religious vision of the Apollonian culture is that that’s all there is — there isn’t an overarching pantheon of greater beings, just a lot of individual genii, each being invoked by individual humans.

    Paleobear, that’s a great example!

    Denis, no surprises there. As for your question, I think we have to get a lot of childishness knocked out of us the hard way before that happens, because the leaders of a nation will never be better than the people of that nation.

    Jeanne, that’s an excellent point, because the Faustian vision is all about control. Its religious forms assume that there’s one and only one god in total control of everything; once its age of reason hit, that morphed into the fantasy that the human ego could step into the same role. As for the future of your part of the world, in Retrotopia you’re living in the Republic of New England and the Maritimes, and in Star’s Reach you’re in Nuwinga, which extends west to the Hudson valley.

    Pady, when somebody says “discuss” like that, I assume they’re too lazy to think for themselves. Maybe you can discuss it sometime. As for your second bit of snark, no, quite the contrary: the tower of Babel was only thinkable because the people in that legend united around a common if false image of the truth. In the tamanous vision, everybody goes their own way and builds a home and an altar to their own specifications.

    Yucca, what a marvelous theme for meditation! The straightforward answer is “I don’t know” — these are all themes that interpenetrate, but working out their exact relationship to one another is a challenge that will doubtless take many minds and much work.

    Violet, hmm! I’ll probably have to read that book at some point. That definitely sounds like tamanous in the budding stage.

    Jbucks, it’s a huge challenge, precisely because we’ve all been taught to accept what the Person who Finds the Truth says is the truth. That’s one of the reasons that pathworking and discursive meditation are so important just now.

    Danaone, and that’s also an important point. The Shakers had a problem that that — “bread and butter Shakers,” they called them. So it seems to be an enduring issue.

    Malice, it would be very interesting to do a detailed study of those communities that work, and figure out what they do right. I haven’t done that, other than taking a good hard look at monasteries and Shaker villages.

    Luciano, that’s fascinating. I agree, it would be fascinating to watch that play out.

    Phil K, okay, I know what my next set of meditation topics will be. That’s an intriguing insight and could, I think, be developed in many directions.

    Andrew001, that’s the vision of sobornost. As the Faustian vision implodes — which it’s doing in a big way right now — I wouldn’t be surprised to see a certain amount of movement in that direction here in the US; it’s just possible that that’s where our second pseudomorphosis will come from.

    Parquinoa, I think a lot of people are feeling that tension just now. As for Chinese culture, I don’t claim to know it well enough to grasp its core narratives — I’d have to study it much more closely than I’ve done. Certainly the Mandate of Heaven is tied into it. The systems theory translation of the Tao Te Ching has been on the shelf for a while now, due to other projects demanding my time; I’ll see if I can get it back in process sometime soon.

  44. Wonderful! We just talked about a lot of this last week when you were on the podcast, the conversation is now live at:

    I, and my partner, have both dreamed that dream in the past, but the problems with organizing an intentional community are very apparent very quickly. I’ve found that the simple family farm is a decent way to do a land project. It’s based on organic relationships, and of course I’ve seen family farms with a lot of non-family members joining in certain ways. But the core is blood relations and committed romantic/domestic partnerships. This is the way my granddad was raised in West Virginia, and as with much else, the past is the future.

    Of course, there’s no way to know for sure what this land, and the cultures that occupy this land, will look like in 500 years. And it doesn’t matter! Just getting by during the collapse of this culture takes up enough time and effort. The future will inevitably result from how we adjust and respond to the circumstances that present themselves, both crises and opportunities, and I’m sure it’s good to keep in mind the long view, but it seems to me there’s no point in trying to live 500 years in the future anyway. I do though hope that the influence of the land here is enough to avert the worst of the potential problems with the faustian view. It appears to me that in North America, the faustian pseudomorphosis is only skin deep, and something deeper is definitely already stirring.

  45. I’ve been thinking about the decent lately. I think it’s going to be a slow process like China and Egypt, though it seems that modern day China and Russia are tampering. Their own demise can be seen when one is considering that they’ve embraced the same exact self destructive western ideals. But for them, for forgetting their pasts and their individual culture, their fate would be more explosive like Rome and there’s little to nothing stopping them from tearing as many people down with them as possible, Europe and the US in particular. A logical choice but again they throw history out the window with pride thinking that since they did it before with sucess, they’ll be able to do it again elsewhere.

    There’s a deep restlessness. People are waking up, uniting on lines that were never thought of and actually listening and realizing hard truths about themselves and the world. In a way it’s a kind of hope.

    Personally I hate comercialization, I’ve stopped buying a lot of things, spending less and less, throwing more things away, trying to buy used things rather than new, separating myself from news as much as possible, etc. I want out of this concrete jungle and I want to get away from all these people. I’d like to live in a smaller community, live by the Native American concept of time, care for my own food, learn to preserve my own food, educate my children on my own, become a sort of Spiritual doctor, but honestly it’s become too expensive and the most I can do for now is dicipline myself in my studies and hang on.

    Though this reminds me of two things. The other night when pulling into the road my work is at I saw a lone fox dart out from nowhere and ran across the road. Mind you this is the warehouse district of SLC, and a lot of lots have been torn up and made into warehouses. But never have I seen a fox in the area or known of any living in the steppe climate of the salt lake valley. Ever. I’ve seen deer , raccoons, and skunks, but foxes? No.

    The other was a dream I had. Aside from a Philippino military girl punching my arm for good luck, someone or something trying to takeover my mind, climbing through a tv screen to get away, and into a scene of a crumbling cottage and a massive oak tree, the most memorable moment in that dream was the man with long wavy hair standing between the two, dressed in a white robe showing me a long line of women and saying “unlike the others” and something about me, my mom and failure. I can’t remember what exactly he said, certainly spoke in English with a sort of British accent. I knew immediately that dude was not to be messed with despite being a rather warm and somewhat mischeavious personality. Not catching a name, I just call him the white magician.

    Two sources kind of saying that despite things looking grim there will always be hope and to persevere, learn as much about the world as possible, and resolve some stuff.

  46. Thank you Mr. Greer for another fascinating post.

    I have to say that I have noticed exactly what you are talking about in church architecture. If you walk into an old denomination’s church, whether that be Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, or what have you, you will most likely enter a rectangular building where the priest operates at the front of the room and everyone else is expected to let him lead them through the weekly rituals. This, however, does not happen in an Evangelical church. When the Puritans came to America they either invented or at least popularized several new theological practices. First there was Sunday school, which was there to give the individual more knowledge totally apart from the sacraments, and thus could be thought by any learned person and not just a priest. Second, there was the public proclamation of one’s faith (often given at baptism). Here a person went to the front of the congregation and shared how Jesus spoke to them and brought them into the faith. Third, there was the daily quiet time of prayerful reflection. Yes, people had been reading the Bible for centuries, but once churches came here all of a sudden every Christian was supposed to not only read the Bible for him/herself but also wait and hear what the Lord was saying to that particular individual. There was a whole new emphasis on experiential faith which previously did not exist. Not surprisingly, Evangelical churches are now often either mega churches with many small classrooms and several different kinds of services that appeal to different peoples’ needs and tastes, or full blown house churches that are super intimate affairs. You can find cozy living room spaces and/or coffee shops in these churches that are designed to facilitate comfort, not submission, which perfectly reflects the difference between American Evangelical and European traditional theology.

    I know this is so speculative right now, but given all this, should we expect a sharp turn towards individualism and libertarianism in America while there is disintegration in Europe? If I understand you correctly, North America still has tamanus to fall back on, whereas western Europe is more of a Faustian or bust situation? Or will Western Europe just get brought into the emerging Russian culture alongside of Eastern Europe?

    The reason why I ask is most of the scholars I had read were much more pessimistic about America’s place during the long descent than Europe’s. We, after all, have no preindustrial infrastructure outside of what little was laid down along the East Coast. Europe has about 800 years worth of said infrastructure even if you ignore ancient Rome. But what you are saying makes me think that Europe might be heading for a 2 by 4 to the face, whereas America might just keep on doing the “make America great again” thing and thus have some social cohesion on the way down.

  47. @Susan C #33 – you beat me to it! My daughter gave me a subscription to The Atlantic for either Christmas or my birthday, and their Books column has a review of that very book. The review is headed “It Didn’t Have to Be This Way.” The reviewer is wowed by the possibility that “the conventional account of human history” a.k.a. “Ape to Englishman” could be wrong. Not angry or disbelieving – wowed. I was going to post this here as “Straws in the wind.” But that’s not a straw, it’s the entire straw hat. Or the Faustian scarecrow disintegrating into straws in the wind.

    This is the November 2021 issue.

  48. Hey JMG

    I’m aware that you may not be able to answer this question, but I must ask.

    In the brief time you studied australian politics for mundane astrology, did you notice any “theme” equivalent to sobornost and tamanous in australian culture?

  49. “Andrew001, that’s the vision of sobornost. As the Faustian vision implodes — which it’s doing in a big way right now — I wouldn’t be surprised to see a certain amount of movement in that direction here in the US; it’s just possible that that’s where our second pseudomorphosis will come from.”

    Well, the elite classes are already obsessed with Russia, it seems quite plausible….

  50. Hi John Michael,

    Intentional communities, can’t live with them… pass the beer nuts (a rework of an old joke from the show Cheers, which you may not have seen).

    We’ve spoken of community before plenty of times, and I recall you mentioning something along the lines that it involves having to learn how to live with the fracker who lives down the road and drives you bonkers. 🙂 I know a bit about that story. The flip side though is that in this small community I’m kind of known and judged based on my acts and deportment. And that has real world implications as to whether people will assist me or hinder me, or whatever. It’s only in the city a person can be anonymous.

    The fragile land down here suggests stewardship and mutual assistance will have a great deal to do with the future culture. It’s an anathema to our current power and control culture, but you know what can’t be sustained, generally isn’t sustained. You can see the utter failure of the current culture in the huge bushfires which happen every decade or so. You’d think that after almost 190 years of failure, our culture would learn, but no it continues with the same failed policies, but keeps chucking more technology and energy at the situation. That’s what failure looks like to me.



  51. Looking back, I am following the way of “collapse now and avoid the rush” since long before I found the old ADR-blog. Although I see it more in a way of unplugging and disentangling than collapsing. While there’s still much more way before than behind us on this quest, the last two years have showed that we have at least achieved moderate success, so far. But does this involve community? Unfortunately not. Until now, it has become more and more lonely around us – which is not to say that we don’t have any friends but there seem to be fewer and fewer people who share our goals and who reach into our lives in any meaningful way.

    My feeling is, that it has to be this way, since the major forces that currently govern our society are dissipative although most of the preexisting bonds haven’t been broken yet. So while there’s a strong momentum pushing and pulling everything apart, there are very few free elements around yet. A liquid below its boiling temperature might be a good analogy. The vapor above the liquid is still thin and the average distance between the molecules is large – so what’s there for us to grab and condensate around? As the temperature rises and more and more molecules pass into the gas phase and become available – maybe we’re lucky and what we’ve started serves as a nucleus for condensation or maybe we will condensate around some other nucleus. Or maybe at least one or two other molecules might drop by? Or maybe we just fail, who knows?

    This possibility is quite scary – but the thing is, that it’s always there, even if you don’t dare to follow your own path. Society will reach its boiling point anyway and then you go with what you have. But the possibility of failure is something that the western culture wants to look away from at all costs. Everything is set up so that failure is not an option and thus nobody is prepared for what to do when it happens anyway (Which I believe is why the west should avoid any war at all costs, btw. A war against a reasonable opponent is unwinnable with such a mindset).

    So I’m reading all this about tanamous and sobornost and the great cultures in the distant future and I get a glimpse of something that is still missing and something that will possibly be missing for a long while to come and I admit that I am frightened. It’s the same weird mixture of awe, curiosity and sheer terror that I can feel when I look into the night sky or at the crawling chaos…


  52. It strikes me that the myth of the One who Finds the Truth explains quite a lot about conspiracy-theory culture as well, which is, after all, essentially just a Faustian heresy. They cast themselves as heroes who have found The Real Truth, fighting against the omnipotent omnimalevolent government that fulfills the role of the opponents in their version. And you see it a lot in fiction, especially fiction of the airport thriller variety: protagonist uncovers a Truth of some kind, protagonist must fight to get said Truth revealed before antagonist (almost invariably a government entity or large corporation) can destroy it, and the way said Truth is revealed is almost always through some kind of independent journalist, which indirectly hints back to the news industry as our soothsayers.

    And, of course, if the Truth in question is some sort of impending apocalypse, the apocalypse in question always happens to kill the antagonist and spare the protagonist…

  53. Dances with Rednecks – Love it! The phrase really speaks to me as the 30 year resident of a remote west coast mountain community. Hippies first settled here in 1970 and had to interact with local rednecks while they founded their intentional communities. Fast forward to today, and here are the results I see:

    The more “intentional” the community, the less successful. Some of the communities are still here, but whittled down to 2 or 3 households. All the kids moved away and they have a terrible time recruiting new members because of very rigid requirements that no one can meet. The looser communities, that are more like a HOA where you just pay annual dues to maintain common property and have no ideological requirements, are doing better, but they are hardly models of sustainability. More just like a hippie suburb.

    But the spirit of “intentional community” has had an impact on the whole valley here that is really very positive. I think that if you take “intentional community” as a verb rather than a noun, as a spirit of cooperation, you can grow something worthwhile in a place.

    The hippies learned a lot from the old miners and loggers and their families who knew how to work with wood, put up food, and all of the other rural skills. Hippies and rednecks still have conflicts, but a lot of cross pollination has taken place. The rootedness of place unifies us all to a certain degree and events like catastrophic wildfires help us appreciate all of our neighbors without regard to silly things like ideologies. When the same bulldozer that took out a patch of woods you loved is used to carve a fire line across the hill side that saves your house, it changes your attitude.

    In recent times, the battle lines are being drawn quite differently around issues like vaccinations and such. Today, the biggest conflicts I feel are between the local reps of the PMC (many of whom are old hippies) and the “conspiracy theorists” who are usually either old rednecks or young pot growers. Of course a lot of rednecks are also pot growers, and some old hippies like me are “conspiracy theorists”.

    BTW – here is a lovely example of how to build community in an existing neighborhood. BUG Farms in Salt Lake City is a CSA providing vegetables to 90 shareholders. But they don’t own any land. Instead, they farm 8 large backyards in the neighborhood. This is brilliant because people want to grow gardens but don’t have the time or the knowledge. By lending their plot for farming, they get to have a garden and a share of the produce, without the work, and a young farming couple gets to have a livelihood.

  54. Given the term “Faustian” Civilization, a really creepy question just hit me: is it possible for a civilization to sell its “soul” to a demon, and if so, could we know if ours has done so? If this had happened, then presumably all of us caught up in it would now be vulnerable to demonic influence, and it seems like it could explain what happened in the late 1970s/early 1980s……

  55. Dear Archdruid,

    Building on your theme of civilizations springing out of the geography of an area, would you agree that another element that leads to the makeup of their visionary core is the placement of the civilization against the general patterns of rise and fall. What I mean by that is that its formation is patterned not just by geography, but by the way its predecessor civilization fell and how enabling its surroundings are for a rise.

    It occurs to me that in the case of the west (i.e. Faustian civilization), it was influenced by the rather sharp fall of its predecessor during the fall of the Western Roman Empire, as well as the fact that where there was room for growth once the next civilization got on its feet (untapped tribal areas of Europe etc.). Hence the pattern could be that the sharp fall of the Western Roman Empire left the nascent culture hungry for a return to glory, with the surrounding area enabling this inner urge due to parts of it being untapped by previous civilizations (or only by Rome itself, in the case of formerly western Roman territories)

    As a contrast to this, I would bring up the comparatively more stable series of civilizations in the older civilized areas (i.e. Middle East, India and China), where any drive towards the rising of civilization would be limited by the fact that the area’s resources had already been tapped by other civilizations in ancient times ¹. It’s possible that the longer experience of civilization also prevented a fall as sharp as that of Western Rome.

    Would such a model be plausible? If so, I wonder whether it will lead to future civilizations (on all continents) being more stability oriented, what with the world being resource-stripped after having experienced Faustian civilization.

    ¹ Just to add to this statement, I am not saying these civilizations were all fully stable or static in their mentality – just more stability-oriented than the hyper-mercurial Faustian civilization.

  56. Talking about setting up an intentional community, I wrote something about doing it in the city and not the country over on Green Wizards a few weeks back. It follows up on the comments a couple of month or more back about repurposing empty big box stores. I just didn’t get it finished in time for the last open post.

    “An Alternative To Collective Rural Living”

    My thought is to start smaller, with one of the many local grocery stores that stand empty now, and make a kind of urban collective with classes, workshops and a community garden, while having a few families live on site, and a group of volunteers to help.

    Buying the store might be a bit expensive but no more than what most groups would need when looking for 40 -60 acres in the country now. And being in town, you could always get the city to just “condemn” the place and buy it cheap with emanate domain. They’ve used it enough to benefit rich people, maybe its time it benefits the less rich.

  57. This may or may not be on topic for the week; I’ll let JMG decide whether to put this through.

    We’re living through an incredible breakdown of our supply chain since Covid such that it almost seems to have been planned – or was it always so fragile and we just didn’t notice?

    For those keeping tabs on the newest shortage, I came across the link to this article on Jalopnik, a website I’d otherwise never read as I have no interest in the inner workings of automobiles. Nonetheless, the possibility that a worldwide shortage of magnesium “could result in a near-total shutdown of the auto industry — one that experts say could come by the end of this year” sounds quite serious. Most of the world’s supply is produced in China – no surprise there – and they’ve been forced to curtail the industry in response to their ongoing energy problems. Without the magnesium, needed in aluminum production, many auto parts are simply impossible to produce at any cost:

  58. Dion Fortune’s universe is deeply tamanous, and I wonder if her writings were based in part on that coming realisation – although these can just be interpretations for a coming age. No doubt in a few thousand years there will be another completely different interpretation.

  59. JMG,

    The misunderstanding of language you reference happens all the time. A well known example from Australia was a book written in the 1960s called The Lucky Country by David Horne. The book was a sharp critique of Australia’s success as having far more to do with good luck than good management but the phrase subsequently became part of the culture here and Australians still refer to it as the lucky country meaning, how lucky we are to live here. It was exactly this lackadaisical attitude that Horne was critiquing. Horne went to his grave having to listen to the misuse of the phrase.

    In serious thinking, science and philosophy a lot of time is spent to fix the meanings of words. But in everyday society, I think words are fairly unimportant. They’re just sign language for myths. We’re seeing that in real time at the moment where people will twist the meaning of words 180 degrees and speak patent nonsense in order to preserve the underlying myth.

  60. Zach, the idea that the future American great culture will emerge in the Great Lakes-Ohio valley region is mine. A lot of the discussion of a future American culture in the old occult literature fixated on California, because — well, you know how Californians are. (I expect a very interesting culture to arise there from mixed Asian and Hispanic roots, but it’ll be part of a larger cultural sphere with its heartland in what’s now Mexico.) I plan on writing more about this as we proceed.

    Mary, with regard to the West, I know — I was born and raised in Seattle, and first went east of the Mississippi on the brink of middle age. It’s a completely different world. As for emotion, well, of course — the opposite of one bad idea is another bad idea, and the opposite of repressed and silenced emotions, well, it isn’t very pretty, is it?

    Derek, oog. It was one of the basic rules of thumb in the Seattle occult scene when I was there that when you encountered someone who used the name “Lucifer” or “Lilith,” back away as fast as possible.

    Oilman2, I think Bannon is looking for something that isn’t there. He’s grasped the principle of sobornost and, like a lot of American intellectuals, projects the antithesis of his own intellectual rootlessness onto the working class communities of the flyover states. The fact that he’s seeking Tradition where he is — that’s the thing I find interesting. As for the rest, exactly. What’s happening is that the spectral bubble in which the Faustian vision seems to work is gradually deflating and more and more people are finding themselves outside it. A lot of them are scrambling to get back inside; others are trying to process the change; still others are grinning and heading for new possibilities. It’s a complicated time.

    Raymond, nah, the decline of Western civilization began in 1914. What we’re seeing now is the next downward lurch. I think the territory that’s now Canada has a big future ahead of it — or rather several futures; I don’t see any way, in a postindustrial age, that it can remain a single country, but the successor states that will fill that territory have a lot of potential.

    Gaia, en enormous amount depends on how the Faustian culture and its present expression, the EU, unravel. Given your geography — I’ve read Carlo Ginzburg’s fine book on the benandanti, so have a few scraps of knowledge — I’d expect Friuli to be roughly what it’s been all along, a borderland and a crossroads far from any particular center. The question is what cultures will settle around you after the next round of mass migrations are over.

    Chris, I have an email in the publisher’s inbox to find out what’s wrong with the PDF — that was supposed to be ready to go. It should be in your hands shortly. I’m delighted to hear that you’re interested in a magical lodge! Lodges generally have a lot to recommend them.

    DenG, I think there’s an element of sobornost in every community, but other societies don’t place it at the center — in Jewish culture, if I understand correctly, the center is religious tradition.

    Anonymous, good. Yes, the Faustian vision of infinite expansion, once it lost its religious center, turned into the infinite expansion of the ego, individual or collective. As for your worries, yes, that’s a major issue, though I think it’s expressing itself in a very distinctive way.

    David BTL, it’s an immense shift to go from the Faustian vision of one imperial capital-T Truth ruling uber alles to truth as the best approximation to experience from one person’s perspective, at one time. Our society will take centuries to make that transformation — so I think you’re doing pretty well. 😉

    TJ, I’d be satisfied with ordinary uncritical thinking. A great many people these days don’t seem to be able to think at all — it’s just regurgitation of sound bites.

    Paleobear, your English is better than that of many of my American readers, so don’t worry about it. Thank you for the article!

    Anonymous, yep. The Big Bang theory is the Book of Genesis with the serial numbers filed off, after all: “And Sagan said, ‘Let there be light!'”

    Anselmo, you’re right about Wotan. At some point when I decide I want to chase off all but my most enthusiastic readers, I plan on doing a lengthy discussion of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, in which Wotan is the most important and most revealing figure; it’ll involve a pretty thorough dissection of the Faustian mind. As for the worship of Astarte and Helios Apollo, yes, that might help!

    Susan, interesting. Thanks for this.

    David, delighted to hear it.

    CS2, one of the things that has made the historical arc of Faustian culture so fascinating is that the people from that culture who were most attuned to its inspiration generally jumped on a boat and sailed for the far corners of the world, leaving those less inspired by the Faustian drive at home. There’s been a hollowing-out effect of remarkable intensity. As for what’s going to happen — well, I’ll get to that in an upcoming post.

    Team10tim, a couple of Jesuits. It’s been long enough since I read about them that I don’t recall their names.

    DT, that’s quite plausible. I’ll consider a post on community from the viewpoint of the tamanous vision in the future.

    Thuley, interesting! That does sound like a movement in the direction of tamanous.

    Morfran, 1) exactly. You could translate the same insight into a Magian or Apollonian pattern just as easily — doubtless once the great cultures of the future emerge, their visionaries and scholars can do the same thing. 2) Yes, that seems very likely.

    D Holm, I’m not a bit surprised. There was never anything conservative about “neoconservatism” — it was an attempt by faux-conservatives to show that they could ape Franklin Roosevelt’s warrior liberalism even more mindlessly than the Democrats did — and Fukuyama put the icing on the cake by smearing a thick layer of Hegelian babble over the top of it all. Traditionalism has its downsides but at least it makes sense. Btw, why is today Evola Day? It wasn’t his birthday, as far as I know…

    John, oh, I quite understand the annoyance of being part of a historically inevitable movement. I’m in the same situation. Spengler didn’t coin a nice resonant name for it, but every culture as it declines into civilization spawns a Gnostic fringe of disaffected intellectuals who withdraw from the mainstream and turn to some form of intensive, idiosyncratic spiritual practice as a viable alternative to ordinary life in a dysfunctional and declining society. I’m very much part of that process. I’m delighted to hear of your friends the hermits, btw — the more people withdraw to lives of intensive prayer, the better off everyone will be, because they radiate a positive influence to counter the immense negativity of the era. (Dion Fortune wrote about that, for what it’s worth.)

    Michael, I think I’m working off many lifetimes of bad karma by dealing with the endless torrent of people who pretend to listen and then reduce what I’m saying to the standard set of clichés. 😉

    Eric, excellent! First, excellent that you see this in Thoreau and Emerson — the Transcendentalists and their heirs (e.g., William James) are to my mind the prophets of America’s far future. Second, excellent that you’re at work on a book, and on a subject worth reading. Yes, you can use “collapse now and avoid the rush,” as long as you footnote it; you can always cite this source.

    Owen, interest is necessary but it’s not sufficient. Lots of people are interested in colonies on Mars!

  61. Have you heard of Joseph Lofthouse? He’s a modern day Johnny Appleseed-type character. He lives in Utah under a vow of poverty and has dedicated his life to breeding plants in an unconventional manner. His writings share a lot of similarities to what you describe as the tamanous culture, more so than any other significant figure in permaculture circles that I know of. It’s possible this marks a shift to a more homegrown American version of permaculture, which has traditionally had more overseas influences. The majority of permaculture writings seem to me to be a mix of faustian and sobornost. In America, permaculture has tended to be more prevalent toward the coasts like a lot of things imported from overseas, but Lofthouse has struck me as different since I first became aware of him, and reading this post makes me think it’s because he has more of the tamanous ideals.

  62. Hey JMG,

    In your point of view, at one point can we say something is an objective truth? For instance I we have reality itself, or the “territory”. And then we have the words, or “maps”, we use to describe that will have different effects on consciousness depending on the subject. For instance, I know, as I’m sure you do, that there is a phenomenological truth behind the “astral light”; a territory to be experienced. But to others this is silly talk because they have never experienced it. In theory, everyone can, in practice many simply just won’t. So if something exists as a phenomenological reality for some and not for others, but remains as a potential for the non-experiencers to experience, is it an objective truth, or a subjective truth? I suppose the answer probably depends on the philosophical model and individual philosopher in question, but how would you answer this question? I know you talk about this is a bit in the Well of Galabes but I didn’t get a perception if you distinguished this exact point.

  63. Isaac, we did indeed; I was brooding over these ideas at that point, and things followed accordingly. As for the future 500 years from now, you’re right that it’s crucial to deal with the mess we’re in right now! I’d like to encourage people to think about what they might do to make sure the far future has as many useful options as possible, however, and preserve ideas and techniques — that seems worth doing to me.

    Copper, it is indeed a kind of hope. The current crisis is the anvil on which something new is being forged — which is admittedly small consolation when the hammer slams down over and over again.

    Stephen, that’s fascinating, about church architecture, and makes a great deal of sense. In terms of America, the crucial factor to making sense of the American future is that America covers a very large range of environments. There are areas on the east coast where there’s a lot of preindustrial infrastructure — after all, it didn’t have the bejesus blasted out of it by two world wars! — and an almost European ambience with 400 years of history in place. Head from there to the midwest and the South and you’re in very different conditions; head further, and you’re in vast empty spaces. So I’d expect those regions to evolve in different ways over time. Europe — well, again, I’ll get to that in an upcoming post. I don’t think that they’re going to manage to be Byzantium to our Rome, for what it’s worth.

    J.L.Mc12, nope. I suspect that if Australia’s going to give rise to a great culture it’s a long way off.

    Anonymous, that makes sense! I wonder if their obsession about Russia is basically the equivalent of a twelve-year-old’s crush…

    John, yes! If you look at the first post of each month, you’ll find that there.

    Chris, I wonder what they’ll do when they no longer have the resources to keep failing…

    Nachtgurke, thanks for this. A fine meditation.

    Brendhelm, exactly. Conspiracy culture is pure Faustianism — look at the way every conspiracy has to be in total control of everything.

    Seaweedy, fascinating. Thanks for the bushel basket of data points!

    Anonymous, I tend to think of it as a metaphor. Still, if that’s the case, it should be easy to figure out once Mephistopheles drags it away to Hell…

    Sam, that’s an interesting possibility and, I think, one worth exploring. If you want to develop it further, you could compare each great culture with the societies that preceded it on the same territory, and see what common patters emerge.

    David T., it’s an interesting prospect, and I could see it working if you got the right people and established a means of government that worked. A workers cooperative might be worth exploring.

    Beekeeper, the question in my mind is whether there are commercially viable magnesium deposits anywhere else, and how quickly they can be brought online. Everybody who reads that same article now knows that if you’ve got access to magnesium ore you can make boatloads of money.

    Peter, one of the odd things about British culture is that its eccentrics — Fortune among them — seem to stray spiritually across the Atlantic now and then. And yet her magical order was a strict hierarchy, with her on top!

    Simon, an excellent example! No question, as you move further down the planes, words become noises.

    Kashtan, I hadn’t, but he sounds like a myth in the making. Thanks for this.

    Youngelephant, I believe that objective truth exists but that human beings are incapable of knowing it. Thus the best you can do is interpersonal truth — something that a lot of people all recognize as true.

  64. I agree that ‘The One Who Finds the Truth’ is a helpful handle for another cultural myth so deeply embedded it’s hard to see. Along with ‘The Chosen One’ and its offshoots in contemporary fiction, which you’ve written about in detail before.

    The archetype at the root of these myths isn’t hard to find. Just like in Sunday School when I was growing up, the right answer is…. Jesus! The Gospel narratives are full of episodes in which Christ outsmarts and outshines the doleful defenders of Jewish tradition. (‘You have heard it said… But I say unto you…’) This was in the highly sophisticated world of the ancient Mediterranean, where being in possession of secret truths mattered.

    As Christianity spread northward and was indigenized into the infant Faustian culture, it seems to me there was a quiet shift of emphasis from Christ as innovator and teacher to Christ as long-awaited hero and saviour, more of a ‘Chosen One’ kind of figure with the power to battle monsters and reign over the world to come. (‘Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders’).

    Both myths operate on the assumption that there can only be One who finds the truth or saves the world, which is why you see so, so many Faustian attempts to find one-size-fits-all solutions to complex problems. Including, of course, our present pandemic predicament.

    All that said, there are more than just one or two names for the Son of Man, and more than just one or two ways that He can be known and loved and served in this complex world. I love and treasure Faustian Christianity, but it is not the sum total of Christianity, nor is Christianity the sum total of Christ himself. Nor, I think, is Christ the sole bringer of truth to this world. Amen!

  65. Hey John- Contact me if you want to get your game showcased/ sold at NecronomiCon 2022. Also, the Lovecraft Arts And Sciences store in the Arcade (downtown Providence) might be interested in carrying it as well. Once you have physical versions of it, I will definitely grab one for myself.

  66. Thought provoking! I am looking forward to two weeks from now too.

    Japan took up Faustian culture with such alacrity, not looking back, that I wonder if it is more suited to their land than the sobornost’ (“conciliarity” says Yandex. No, I never heard of it either. It seems to mean “turning to church councils for advice on stuff”) that preceded it. Or they may at heart have something completely different again. Their culture is marked by a love of renewal and novelty, and they practically worship the young. Their manga culture is representative, I think.
    In any case, they seem to be the world’s most enthusiastic proponents of technological progress, casting all caution to the wind and blithely ignoring the red-flashing warning signs. There are very few people following traditional ways, and while there is lip service to them, they are dying out rapidly. I guess when the limits of technological progress become too obvious and that trend becomes passe, Japan will move on to something else.

  67. J.L.Mc12 wrote, “In the brief time you studied australian politics for mundane astrology, did you notice any “theme” equivalent to sobornost and tamanous in australian culture?”

    You asked John Michael specifically, but if I may contribute, I would look to uncover what that local theme might be in the Aboriginal songlines in all of their various complexities — the aural lineages, the geographic mappings, the dreamtime journeys, the visual motifs and paintings, the myths, and of course the songs. As tamanous preexisted the European diaspora, so Australia’s underlying theme would already have been ancient and compelling before Europeans even knew that continent existed.

    Going walkabout is deeply tied into that theme and is only possible through long training in and familiarity with the songlines. Your Faustian government’s rather draconian reaction to every single positive PCR test makes me think your bureaucrats know full well just how short their rule over the spirits of your land will be. No other country (even in the Faustian heartland) issued such severe mandates outlawing everyone from potentially going walkabout out their frontdoors. What exactly are they afraid of? Why is no other ruling caste quite as terrified by the glamour and allure of going walkabout somehow freeing their subjects from their enforced dependency? OK, to be honest, New Zealand’s government could probably give yours a run for its money, but both of their obsessive worries are being compelled by very similar chthonic spirits.

  68. Your description of social life on the rez sounds weirdly like… my family. My yankee husband is still absolutely confounded by it, even after living in my hometown for years: “don’t they ever make plans? Call ahead?” Well, no. They come from a “drop in and visit” culture. They come over whenever they get the notion, sit and chat until whenever, and then head home. I got very good at having leftovers in the freezer that I could throw in the oven to heat, when (surprise!) my parents or siblings dropped by at mealtimes. Even my out-of-state sibling was liable to call us up on less than 24 hours’ notice, let us know he’d be there the next day, and would drop his kids off for a week and trade cars with us so we could fit everybody in one vehicle. And this was fine. It’s the way things work. When Dad would drop by, he’d like as not install a new mailbox while he was there, or bring by something for the kids. My brother– while I was watching his kids and he had my car– would replace my tires, change the oil, put on new windshield wipers, and fix whatever that rattle was under the hood. No money changed hands. Everybody’s got an idiosyncratic work schedule. Everybody’s doing what they can. Somehow it works out.

  69. JMG comment #64, in response to John:

    “…the more people withdraw to lives of intensive prayer, the better off everyone will be, because they radiate a positive influence to counter the immense negativity of the era. (Dion Fortune wrote about that, for what it’s worth.)”

    How can I learn more about this??? I find this suggestion highly intriguing. What Dion Fortune source are you thinking of here?

    I seem to remember you saying more than once that the one kind of intentional community proven to work over long periods of time is the monastic kind…

  70. I’d love to see a Polynesian great culture emerge, which would naturally be a maritime culture, and not as dependent on great land masses. That’s the only option for great cultures open to Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand I think. A lot will depend on what Australia chooses to do, right now it’s doubling down on the Faustian way. NZ remains aloof, muddling along and not picking one way or the other.

  71. John,

    But this is the third post of the month. And at the top of this one I see:

    Not The Monthly Post

    The End of the Dream


  72. When the urge to infinity combines combines with compound interest, you get The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and periodic economic devastation when the amount owed dwarfs GDP. The voracious demands of compound interest beat up on workers and the environment. Michael Hudson says something to the effect that a debt that can’t be paid won’t, it’s just a matter of how. The ancients knew this fact well. For at least a thousand years before the Greeks and Romans, it was customary in the second year of a new ruler’s reign to forgive most debts and release bond servants. The Jubilee year was ancient by the time it got written into the Torah.

  73. Hi JMG

    This post, oddly, inspires hope in me. I’m not sure where my stretch of Canada (parkland in Alberta) will end up in terms of some future cultural genesis. Clearly, or it seems clear enough to me, that we’ve reached that part of the movie where none of us wants to look in the rearview mirror cuz the TRex is chasing us down and she’s ‘closer than she appears’. We’re just waiting it out. Where will the wreckage land?

    Having listened multiple times to Decline and Fall and The King in Orange, I can’t help but wonder if we are approaching the awful event where Imperium Americanum receives its terminal shock. There seems almost to be a rabid desire on the part of some members of the policy-making establishments in high places to bring this to pass. It looks like madness… Yet I suppose the quality of the intellects involved may indeed have degraded to such an extent that they are incapable of thinking clearly.

    A good time for identifying one’s Deity and spiffing oneself up and offering Her some flowers, indeed. This very personal relationship you speak of, with one’s own Daimon, seems exactly right for this time and place, given when and where we are, and given my own experiences.

    I guess it’s fair to say that developing said personal relationship with one’s Daimon is part of becoming an Intentional Individual, which seems altogether more Do-able than founding or finding the blissful escape of Utopium in a commune…

    I look forward to seeing where your future posts go.


  74. @ JMG re comment to Team10tim re Jesuits

    This prompted me to jump down yet another rabbit hole. I couldn’t find anything about Jesuits
    going crazy but did come across a document which might give some insight into why that might have happened. The section in question begins on page 13 of the document.

    Reading it makes me think of your admonitions over on MM regarding attempts at mixing totally
    different occult traditions and developing serious problems as a result. Jesuits trying to arm-wrestle the
    I-Ching into a form compatible with Christian doctrine for conversion purposes clearly shows
    the Faustian assumption that it should be possible to do that because … well, because it’s
    our great shiny destiny to Christianize the whole world. Why the heck wouldn’t it work?

  75. I do strongly believe that different regions have their own influences, and that those who move into a region will eventually change to something compatible – though that may take many generations. It’s not so much the melting pot as it is the eventual re-orientation to the prevailing prevailing presence of that land – sort of like a concurrent evolution of the culture.

    Although I have a great interest in my Swiss, German and Irish ancestors, I also feel some sort of connection to those that lived in this small region of PA long before my immediate family got here over 200 years ago. It seems somehow obvious to me that the place ultimately changes the people.

  76. I know you said all you can say in the past about peak oil, and I’ve been following you for 10+ years while you did so, however could you possibly find time for a summary recap of the major points of peak oil? Now at the inflection point just before the price of oil (again) goes parabolic.

    I’ve really been dreading the next oil shock, but it is here and starting now.

  77. Eric in Maryland contact me, we can talk a bit about maybe you writing a guest post over on Green Wizards.

    green wizard dtrammel at that g email thingie, lol

  78. “Anonymous, I tend to think of it as a metaphor. Still, if that’s the case, it should be easy to figure out once Mephistopheles drags it away to Hell…”

    Another point, which suggests this could be quite close: in some of the material I’ve read, there’s a claim that the divine will arrange for anyone foolish enough to sell their soul to have three chances to walk away. The first will be shortly after the deal and will usually be unpleasant but not catastrophic, while taking the third chance is usually truly awful: becoming homeless or being forced to leave everyone you know. After the third, the divine will walk away, so to speak, and allow you to suffer whatever fate the demons decide.

    Well, we’ve had three periods during which the first steps we’d need to take became clear, and yet next to no one acted on them for long enough to matter. The first was the turn of the twentieth century, when coal prices started to rise high enough to cause problems. Faustian society went all in on petroleum instead, and we got a lot of benefits from it, but also massive social problems.

    The second one was the 1970s, and when we turned our back on it, we got the 1980s. I think the 1980s marked a major change, but not a move towards something: rather it was the 1970s which were the change, while the 1980s merely saw society move faster in the direction it had been going in for decades.

    The third was in the 2000s, and this one was quite interesting, since next to no one was willing to even consider the one possibility which mattered: start conservation, start the push to sustainability, and try to weather the inevitable storms as best as possible. Instead we got Bush and Obama; a vacuous environmental movement, and a peak oil movement that was fairly quickly coopted for other purposes.

    In which case we may already be seeing Mephistopheles getting ready to drag Faustian Civilization to hell…

  79. JM, I’m done with blogs, except this one. The Ring won’t do it either, sorry. I have a deep and intimate relationship with the land of SoCal and Mexico through the Guatemalan highlands. I’m coming full circle on it and will only be following my own path – that’s not really new. I’m looking forward to learning more about your thoughts for this region. I’ve been trolling Colonel Lang (Turcopolier) with my ideas about Aztlan brigades, although my focus is to build an obsidian pyramid on Mesa Redonda, just east of Rosarito Beach in Baja. To that end I’m preparing for my next project, to build the model. The interesting thing is that I have brought my study of the Tree of Life into my art of many years. As I move from initial conception of the pyramid to realizing the actual construction of the model, I am clearly understanding the way that it is manifesting down through the tree. Whoa (not my first TSW)! My realization began in Netzach with a beautiful connection into the whole planet. As I work through it I come to focus on the actual reach of this pyramid. It will ground like an eagle’s talon into the telluric streams beneath it and sync astronomically with this time coming. Like most things, that’s as far as I’ll say. (sorry I dropped the astrology – currently unemployed and very near to retiring)

  80. @JMG said, “The dream of the perfect intentional community is a product of the same giddy logic. Your community isn’t to your taste? Invent a better one, and show everyone how wrong they are! That communities are organic growths rather than manufactured products, that human beings can’t be made to behave according to a prearranged script no matter how allegedly perfect that script might be—these unwelcome but necessary realizations are anathema to the Faustian mind. They contradict the will to power that is the rarely acknowledged mainspring behind the entire Western project.”

    I struggle to see how this is unique to the culture “born around the year 1000 in the valleys of the Thames, the Seine, and the Rhine.” It sounds to me like Plato was doing the same thing in the fourth century BC, when he lobbed criticisms at the Athens he had grown up in and then sketched out his vision of how a society should really work in The Republic And then similar ideas of a perfect community just kept on percolating down the centuries (faring better when mixed with the Christian religion, as in the Jesuit reductions or Shaker villages) until they got to the present day.

  81. This might be a little off topic but… I think the concept of Faustian culture also does a lot to explain the reaction to Covid 19. It is not enough to have a solution that works with nature but acknowledges nature still has some sovereignty. Vitamin D and exercise are not legitimate responses because they are not “conquering nature”. While we are on the subject, even ivermectin is not good enough, because that is a previous victory (its been a whole six years since it won the Nobel prize). No, the only response that is acceptable when nature reminds us that she is still here is to totally dominate her, hence why we need a cutting edge solution that must be universally applied.

  82. Dear JMG,
    It seems what can keep an intentional community together is religion. There’s successful Amish and Mormon communities that stay together over hundred’s of years bcz of their religious faith. I follow a person in the dissident fringe, and he’s trying to figure-out how to start a small community, and the only way he sees it working, is to make it based on Christianity (he’s Christian). Otherwise, you’re just starting a cult with a charismatic leader, and once the leader is gone, the community likely dissolves. Many in the dissident fringe are looking / thinking of options, especially if the vax / digital IDs / social credit IDs become a reality.

  83. This post and thread has prompted me to reflect on my own spiritual journey through life. I am a mid-cohort Boomer (b. 1955), and the family I grew up in was not particularly religious or spiritual in any way. We occasionally went to church, because “that is what respectable people did,” but that was all.

    I have spoken in previous threads about my Platonic affair with an older married woman when I was in university. As I mentioned, it was not until I read Dante (Vita Nuova and Divine Comedy) and read Dante’s account of his experience with his Beatrice, that my experience of her made any sense to me at all. It was definitely not just a “boy meets girl” situation – it was much more than that. Dante’s Beatrice was a Sophia-type figure for him, just as this older woman was for me.

    Years went by, and I went on an extended spiritual Odyssey which took me many strange places, until, at great length, I found my spiritual home in Eastern Orthodoxy at the age of 45 (where I have remained ever since). I worship and serve as an ordained Reader at a Serbian parish. The strong community there (sobornost?) has supplied me with spiritual “vitamins” I had not even known I was lacking.

    Also, as you have mentioned, femininity is not excluded from the Godhead in Orthodoxy as rigorously as it is in Western Christianity, Judaism and Islam (not counting Sufism). Aside from the prominent veneration of the Virgin Mary, you have the Hagia Sophia (Church of Holy Wisdom) in Constantinople, as well as icons like this one:

    So, I don’t feel that the “feminine” side of my spirituality is squelched in any way.

    Give that I was born and raised in the U.S., would you interpret this whole business as a tamanous-type “vision quest?” I don’t, because my original “Beatrice/Sophia” experience is not something I sought out. Rather, it grabbed me by the throat and knocked me over the head, so to speak. My subsequent “vision quest” was simply an attempt to integrate it and make some sort of sense out of it.


  84. Discussion of Der Ring des Nibelungen – fire away! And on Woden’s Day, of course. Well, it takes more than Wagner’s Teutonic bombast (hey – I’ve been rereading Spengler, speaking of which) to drive me off. Though there have been two really great parodies of it: Anna Russell’s and, of course, Bugs Bunny’s. Anything that easily parodied…..heh-heh-heh.

    Isn’t Spengler the most Faustian of the Faustian fans thereof? And, oh, yes, it’s the German spirit at work, etc, etc…. faulting Apollonian Culture for being accessible….claiming Faustian Civilization will crash & burn ~ 21 years ago. HO-kay!

  85. Geographically speaking of course there isn’t any kind of fixed border between Eastern Europe and Western Europe, it’s a fairly flat land all the way from the Urals to the Cambrian Mountains around say 52°N.

  86. JMG, I am glad that, in a comment, you mentioned that you have been studying the culture and practices of monasteries. To me, monastic institutions of both the East and the West are the great exception to the rule that most intentional communities don’t last. Having lived in a Buddhist intentional community for more than ten years, I can say that I wouldn’t have lasted a day if I didn’t have a structure and a tradition that, for all its challenging and frankly annoying rules and practices, worked to keep my mind elevated above petty human constructs and towards a more ultimate goal.

    The big problem I see with intentional communities that are formed from nonsectarian and mostly political principles is that they have no relation with a meaningful tradition from the past. They seek to purify the world not by connecting with their ancestors, whether land-based or genetic–a process which involves rigorous self-examination–and replace it with purging every element of the present civilization they regard as oppressive. They succeed mainly in throwing out many beautiful babies along with the bathwater. They also waste a huge amount of time, in a Faustian quest for the “new” (read: invented by me, or by my leader), reinventing wheels that have already served people for millennia.

    The number one reason I have seen people fall away from intentional communities is that they no longer can stand the endless meetings where every bit of their infrastructure is discussed in exhaustive detail; in addition to being allergic to tradition, many are also allergic to hierarchy. To give one example, I know a Boomer hippie who describes how her community relentlessly hammered out new procedures for running a meeting, only to discover, after a long process, that they had pretty much replicated Robert’s Rules of Order. There is no time to raise a family (another development that often breaks up ICs) or perform the often backbreaking work of living on a piece of land when a new culture must be invented from the ground up.

    I would posit that the cultures developed in monasteries and other intentional religious communities are a kind of cultural evolution, providing a shorthand by which people can learn to live together. That doesn’t mean that everything they do is healthy or desirable or even replicable in other situations, just that there is an enormous repertoire of information and experience there that is relatively untapped, and often ignored by Faustian-inspired founders of ICs who want to brand and reinvent everything they do as being their own.

  87. @Jon Goddard and JMG,

    I work in the tech industry, in one of those countries where tech outsourcing is a major contributor to the national economy. I am not a AI and automation expert, but my field is adjacent to it and I work with such experts closely on a regular basis.

    I once talked (informally) with an American AI developer who worked for Amazon. He told me of one of his projects where they spent $5 million _just in electricity_ to train the AI model, and remarked that it would have been more economical to hire a couple of $15/hr employees in India instead.

    Given the vast amounts of energy involved in AI, most of what it is nowadays are just brute force methods involving some fancy schmancy maths. How much is $5M in electricity, if a couple of guys in India can do it (all while burning a couple of lightbulb’s worth of energy…)? And don’t get me started with “self-driving” vehicles, they’ve been moving the goalposts on that constantly. A literal lizard brain that just hatched out of its shell can find its way around the environment without needing a GPS signal and an internet connection.

    I’m surprised the massive manpower involved around the software industry is not more well known. It’s not as if the tech industry keeps it a secret; Amazon even named its task-outsourcing service “Mechanical Turk”, after a famous automaton hoax! I guess that’s the power of their massive propaganda empire.

  88. Re: California’s future mixed Asian/Hispanic/ culture in an expanded Mexico – check out Diana Paxson’s Westria series of post-toastie (revolt of the natural world) novels. But hers threw in a heavy African influence and was quite Islamicized. It is not the primary culture in her novel: that’s Westria, a.k.a. “Ecotopia – the only region that has a clue.” (SIgh.)

    My own vision (not California) includes the world’s leading university in dryland ecology and agriculture: La Universidad del Estado de Nuevo Mexico en la cuidad de Las Cruces. Go, Aggies!

  89. Faustian culture has always sat uneasily on the Australian continent. I suspect this is one of the main driving forces behind the near pathological effort to extinguish the pre-existing Aboriginal cultures that it found incomprehensible. Those efforts failed of course and it seems likely that Aboriginal culture will still be here long after Faustian civilization has decayed away.

  90. Hi JMG,

    Excellent! Will update periodically about my book project.

    Interested now in more from you on the Transcendentalists. I think they were one of the most important things to happen in our country… But I want more about them from you! Please! Also, do you know Theodore Parker?

    Thanks again.

    Eric in Maryland

  91. Archdruid,

    A coin just dropped about the current “dating crisis.” Our whole dating scene was built by the management class, for the management class. A class that is at the very centre of the Faustian culture, and every app. or standard applied to mainstream dating represents the sickness of Faustian traditions. The dating game, and it is a game with points and penalties, forces participants to will themselves to power – wealth and status are the most desirable traits.

    However, more and more of our culture isn’t about wealth and status, but individual expression. You can’t express yourself as an individual on any dating app., there is an algorithm that clearly favours specific representations that hew closest to the Faustian centre. About 20% of men and women fall into that category, with all of the rest of us basically rejected for any minor violations including failure to adhere to a specific body type.

    Not everyone has wised up to the game, I have friends who altered their whole personalities to compete in the “dating market.” Including setting up Instagram accounts to display their vacations, hobbies, and interests. According to the internet these actions up your score in the dating market and make you more desirable, but they also drive you further from your Tamanous. Not all the people driven away from their Tamanous will end up miserable, because there are some people whose Dharma it is to Will to Power, but most of us in the US are part of the birthing of the Tamanous.

    Even our relationships our expressions of this new culture. Every happy couple I know are a team whose partners enjoy broadly different self-expressions, almost to the point of being single people. However we aren’t single, we’re simply couples that are expressing our spiritual truth, and together we express a different dance than all other couples.

    Hmm, there’s a lot to consider here.



  92. I’ve noticed a flurry of interest (not always positive) in “Traditionalism” from various quarters…

    …and have never really understood why anyone would find it significant, let alone attractive. Its most prominent contemporary representatives seem to be Dugin and Bannon, who have a certain amount of influence, but not enough to overcome the impression of marginality. I suppose people are conflating the particular set of esoteric authors who are called “Traditionalists,” with the more general notion of returning to mainstream religiosity from out of the New Age counterculture. But “Traditionalism” is more like the latter than the former. Its followers tend to be loonies.

    Intentional communities can work. They are most likely to do so if everyone involved is a member of a traditional religious culture like the Amish or Mennonites, and least viable if they have lots of communists, anarchists, or other political activist types (although the founders of the kibbutz movement are counterexamples). The more members share with one another, the less successful they are likely to be–so groups that pool their income (or worse yet, their sex partners) are probably doomed, but cooking / eating together or sharing childcare is reasonable. The history of these movements is a wonderful laboratory in economics!

    Malice (no. 14): Yes, the Amish are quite successful–they’ve doubled their population in the past 20 years! Kibbutzim, however, have seen better days.

    John B. (no 41) This makes me think of the time traveler John Titor, who predicted a second US civil war in which Russia would intervene–with nukes!–on the side of the rednecks. (In 2015, I think.)

    Stephen DeRose (no. 49): The idea that just going to church is not enough–one also has to engage in private prayer and Bible study–comes from Pietism. The emphasis on conversion and evangelism comes from the several waves of revivals that periodically swept the American frontier. Contemporary megachurches are the products of market forces (competition between religious groups) and developments in mass media.

    JMG (no. 64): Didn’t Mme Blavatsky place the emergence of the sixth Root Race in California?

  93. “We’re living through an incredible breakdown of our supply chain since Covid such that it almost seems to have been planned – or was it always so fragile and we just didn’t notice?”

    It has been very fragile for quite awhile. The parts get ever more specialized, so the number needed of the perfect part for the job gets smaller, so the part ends up being made by one company. And they use even more specialized parts. My former employer had meetings with suppliers all the time to negotiate adjusting their specifications to meet our needs. Even for supposedly simple things like metallurgical silicon.

    And one of our hydrogen compressors was built to order (actually, there were three of them, but all to the same design.) we specified the input and output pressures, and the flow rate. If any of those very unique compressors throw a fit, replacement parts are a long lead time. As in three years.

    The alternative was a very long row of four stage reciprocating compressors. Once again, supreme efficiency comes at the cost of resilience.

    For a current example, Apple just released the details of their new M1x cpu.
    57 billion transistors.

    Compare that with the cpu in the Apple II back in 1977.
    3500 transistors.

    Lots of companies could build a 6502. Precisely one can build a M1x. They are in Taiwan, the island the Chinese claim is a renegade province that they promise to retake, by force if necessary. Feeling resilient yet?

    P.S. Intel’s CEO has promised to catch up to where the Taiwanese are now in five years.

  94. JMG, if your idea of tamanous culture takes root I wonder about the civilization that takes shape around it. Maybe not one that we would recognize, maybe not one we would even call by that name.

    Can you picture family groups or clans living in close proximity coming together as matters of common interest rear up, maybe issues that require a collective effort. And with the problem fixed, the various groups withdrawing to their own geographic/cultural enclaves.

    Picture loose societal groupings without hierarchy or institutions as we understand them, with a ‘chieftainship’ only as circumstances warrant. Could there be towns and cities with a tamanous mind-set?

    Maybe you could get some public works or a spate of monument building as we saw in ancient times, for some reason mounds and pyramidal structures cropping up both in the Old World and the New as if there was some common psychological template that necessitated their construction. And once the object is finished, maybe something that has astronomic or religious purposes, the workers scattering and leaving one another to their own devices until maybe rebuilding or maintenance is needed.

    I’m sort of like that fish that doesn’t even know it’s wet never having gotten out of the Faustian fishbowl. Nonetheless I think I can see outside the glass and visualize sobornost. Would I would chafe in such a society? I think so. I don’t think I would take well to its strictures. Strange coming from someone having lived under the authoritarian boot of the corporate world. But even in those days, in that regime, in my time off my life was my own. At home and at night I could breathe. As I can now, now that I’m retired. But in a sobornost world do you ever have time off?

    Tamanous is something else. Even as I would appreciate the freedom to think as I pleased in a tamanous culture, it’s still hard to fathom.

  95. regarding magnesium:
    it isn’t just autos that will be affected if lack of magnesium results in severe aluminum shortages. The aircraft industry relies heavily on aluminum… and even my kickscooter is made primarily of aluminum. I bet a substantial number of bicycles are too.

  96. Regarding “collapse now and avoid the rush”, as I was going through last week’s blog comments (and having seen the exact one referred to in this week’s post) I also happened to be viewing a bunch of videos on appliance repair by some guy on Youtube who has a used appliances repair business. Apparently, he used to be working in the tech industry as a data analyst, but then noticed that he had to drive 30 miles or so to buy and/or repair his appliances, with the last appliance seller in his small town closed 2-3 years prior.

    He then opened a used appliance repair and reselling business. He knew nothing about appliances, but he did know it was a critical service that he had no competition in. Now that business is bringing in $7-13 grand a month.

    This person (and those like him) are the real heroes saving the world at the moment, IMO. 😉

  97. Tangentially related:

    It occurred to me just yesterday that there’s an unspoken assumption about selling your soul: that the demon has to take any deal you offer. This is, I believe, a symptom of the strange tic of the Faustian mind that places You, the Individual, at the center of the Universe: Your soul is so important that a demon would do literally anything to get it.

    Of course, if the demon can refuse a deal, then — since they’re smart and ruthless — it’s only going to accept deals slanted in its favor. The moral of the story is that you should never make a deal a demon is willing to accept.

  98. I’ve just finished the abridged Spengler (what a mind!) and am currently reading Sorokin’s ‘Social and Cultural Dynamics’ – great read as it covers many of the cyclical historians – Danilevsky (~1860)is one I’d never have found. As with Toynbee IIRC and Quigley they view Russia not as part of Europe but as a separate civ. Having read enough Russian blogs and met and worked with a few in RL have to say I agree.

  99. Tamanous sounds like a perfect culture for cats. If you read the Book of Practical Cats I’m sure you would agree.

  100. Oh dear gods: the penny has dropped. The Faustian mind’s obsession with infinity, and tendency to take everything as far as it can go, explains the deliberate policies which created our catastrophic collapse in public intelligence over the last 70 years. Once the goal of a major faction became to make people less intelligent (and some admen of the 50s were smart enough to grasp that was what their job was; although few who spoke about remained in the industry for very long), it had to be taken as far as possible; thus why the decades since the 1950s have seen continuous policy changes which have the net effect of making more and more of the populace ever less intelligent.

    This also explains why people who drop out of the system seem to have far better minds on average: it’s not just that intelligence leads to questioning the absurdities of current society, but also that if the efforts to make people as stupid as possible are to be effective, they’ll ensure people who are part of the system are less intelligent than people left to their own devices.

  101. I could not believe my eyes, JMG, when I was part-way through your essay and I saw you refer to Leo Tolstoy and of Mahatma Gandhi being inspired by him. Just those thoughts were going through my mind at about 4 pm (Eastern) today. Mind you, one or the other of these figures pop into my mind quite regularly, but when I read your reference to them a mere one hour later… well, that’s pretty darn spooky. However, I’m rather used to this stuff (it happens to me with music at least once a week, for example).

    I am so glad that you have gone back to the concepts of sobornost and tanamous: they’ve become good friends of mine! For the past couple of years, I have been pondering the process and timing of the ‘tanamous takeover’ of the collective psyche in North America and am always looking for signs. Certainly, the over-the-top displays of Faustian control-freakishness and desire to conquer and homogenize the entire population with rushed medical interventions speaks of desperation on the part of the ruling elite. But of course, the elite are ‘yesterday’s Man’ reacting to an invisible, unconscious stirring among the masses that is incomprehensible to those who are too busy lording over the land to actually listen to the soft but persistent voice of Turtle Island. I, for one, yearn for a blossoming of the tanamous, yet fully realize that by doing so it will radically transform the society that we live in. It would certainly be a refreshing change for those of us who dance to the beat of a different drummer and wish that everyone discovers their own personal internal ‘drummer’ to dance to. The strangle-hold that Faustian culture had over most of American and Canadian culture loosened considerably during the course of the 20th century; perhaps in the 21st we can finally shed it and compost it.

    Looking forward to the next installment!

  102. the thing that sets Tamanous culture apart from the religious vision of the Apollonian culture is that that’s all there is — there isn’t an overarching pantheon of greater beings, just a lot of individual genii, each being invoked by individual humans

    I don’t particularly like the sound of that, but it gets me thinking, can Tamanous culture be reconciled with the idea of a resurgence of Mesoamerican spiritual contacts?

    It strikes me that Dion Fortune was embedded in Faustian culture, and so had a Faustian-influenced vision of religion, and there’s likely no reason that Tamanous culture would subscribe to her notions.

    But there does seem to be a thread that runs through a great deal of the Western mystery tradition, and moreover that tradition seems to have contradicted mainstream culture in various ways, all throughout history. So perhaps in a Tamanous culture, the mystery tradition would argue that there are, in fact, overarching pantheons, and greater beings than those that closely partner with humans.

    Obviously, only time will tell. I’m mostly just trying to take two different ideas of the future and see if they match up at all.

  103. “To the Faustian imagination there can be no lasting limits; every barrier is made to be broken, every record must be surpassed. It’s only in Faustian culture that the transhumanist Alan Harrington could publicly proclaim that death is “an unacceptable imposition on the human race” without being taken away to a nice padded cell.

    That immediately made me think of “Do Not Go Gentle”, which is probably the most Faustian poem ever written. The first stanza goes

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Interestingly enough, the poem forms an important plot element in Interstellar, which is, again, probably the most Faustian movie ever made.

  104. Also JMG, if the “sobernost” vision is ultimately foreign to America, and doomed never to take root here, why do you think so many Americans right now seem to be drawn to it? I’m not just talking about Bannon here, but Rod Dreher and the way his book “The Benedict Option” has become so popular among a certain subset of American religious conservatives. (The title, as even Dreher himself has admitted, is a bit misleading. The book isn’t about running into the hills and forming a monestary, but its about connecting with your neighbors and forming a strong, resilient local community-in other words, its a pean to sobernost.) And there’s my own experience-I have, as far as I know, no Eastern European ancestry and no particular connection to Eastern Europe, aside from my few years as an Orthodox parishoner after I converted in graduate school. And yet, I find the idea of sobernost-finding fullfillment in a loving community that one can look to for guidance, inspiration, comfort-to be the best anchor in our rootless, atomized society. The “tamanous” vision-an anarchic world where there’s no truth, no guidance, no direction, and where everyone is left to stumble rootlessly in the dark-strikes me as baffling and weird, and certainly no basis for a strong, rooted society. It may be America’s future-but if it is, I hope my children’s children have found their way to Russia by then.

  105. Dylan, that’s an excellent point. I think those American sects that see salvation as a matter of accepting Jesus as your personal savior are on to something — the idea that salvation happens one soul at a time as a result of a personal relationship strikes me as a potent foreshadowing of the Tamanous culture.

    Badger, thanks for this. I’ll be in touch.

    Patricia O, Japan has a long history of taking up foreign cultures with enthusiasm — think of the way that imitating Chinese culture was so important an elite habit in the Heian period! We’re simply the latest, er, beneficiaries of that habit. I suspect they’ll ditch Western culture like a hot rock when some other nation rises to world power; can you imagine, for example, a Japanese version of Hindu culture?

    Methylethyl, so noted! You may be closer to the future than the rest of us. 😉

    Dylan, it’s in one of her books of essays, but I flipped through them just now and wasn’t able to find it. (It’s been too long since I’ve read her essays systematically; I should fix that soon.) The basic idea is that monks, nuns, and hermits benefit the whole world by their work; through their austerities and mortifications, they work off humanity’s collective karma, and through their prayers, they raise the collective consciousness of humanity and make it easier for everyone else to reach the divine.

    Peter, eventually there may be one. Sundaland — the drowned landmass off southeast Asia that seems to have been the Lemuria of occult legend — seems to have had a great culture, and I believe there’s some evidence that the Polynesians are ultimately descended from that culture.

    John, fair enough! I’ve been brooding too much over the first November post and lost track of the date. Too many brain farts…

    Bradley, that’s an excellent point; in ancient Greece, canceling debts was one of the standard demands of populist rebels in the civil wars of the early classical era.

    Casey, I think you’re quite correct about the dominant classes of the Faustian world. Remember that the Faustian mindset can’t tolerate decline, or even slowing down; if they can’t expand to infinity they can die trying, and go out with a bang. I think that’s part of what’s happening now. But we’ll see.

    Jeanne, fascinating! I’ve seen equally giddy manhandlings of the Tao Te Ching, for what it’s worth.

    Twilight, Carl Jung agreed with you, so I think you’re on the right track!

    Workdover, I’ll consider it. I’ve been saying for a while now, you know, that the next oil shock was probably going to hit in the early 2020s…

    Anonymous, I ain’t arguing.

    Coboarts, if that’s the work that calls to you, do it.

    Athelstan, of course ideas of the perfect community show up in the societies ancestral to Faustian culture; every idea has its genealogy. How many communes did Platonists found?

    Stephen, exactly. And the solution must be omnipotent and universally beneficial, especially if it’s not.

    Karl, that’s quite correct — of all the options, religious communities work most reliably, so long as everyone involved accepts the necessity of hard work.

    Michael, I don’t see it as a quest for your tamanous, but very likely a process set in motion by karma from previous lives. But then that’s how occultists see things.

    Patricia M, “Kill de waaaaa-bit! Kill de waaaa-bit!” 😉

    Mawkernewek, true, but the cultural transition is significant.

    Roberta, these are basically the conclusions I came to, so thank you for this. Are you at all familiar with the Shakers? They independently reinvented the monastic tradition, from scratch — and it worked.

    Carlos, many thanks for the data points!

    Patricia M, I really ought to read the Westria novels someday, but I’m allergic to California culture.

    Monty, that seems very likely to me.

    Eric, I’ll consider a post on them. As for Parker, I’ve heard of him but never really studied his work.

    Varun, fascinating. I was out of the dating market long before the invention of dating apps, but what I’ve heard from others seems to confirm this.

    Bei Dawei, Traditionalism is very much a fringe movement, but so is every important intellectual and spiritual phenomenon in its early days. (Those that start in the mainstream are stillborn.) It’s starting to attract hostile attention, which is all the better — persecution is an essential part of the growth curve of any new path. As for California, was it Blavatsky who said that? I thought it was some of the American Theosophists, motivated by the mighty collective egomania that is California.

    Roger, that’s more or less how I conceive it — and yes, there can be towns and cities, but (like the towns and cities of ancient America) they would be much more diffuse and open than the crowded cities of other cultures.

    Carlos, you won’t hear any argument from me. I hope other people catch on — appliance repair is a growth market and next to nobody’s doing it.

    Slithy Toves, exactly. It’s the demon who decides, not you.

    Dermot, I really do need to read Sorokin one of these days, so thanks for this.

    Ecosophian, it has an honored place on my bookshelf, and yes. It’s not accidental that Pound came from Idaho…

    William, a case can be made!

    Ron, synchronicity strikes again! (Or tentacles…)

    Cliff, the Mexican great culture is a different thing, rooted in a different land: Anahuac, “the land between the waters” that we now call southern and central Mexico. I think Fortune was wrong to think that the Mayan contacts are the key to all New World occultism, though I think she was probably right that they’ll be the key to occultism from the Panama isthmus north to the deserts of the (temporarily) US southwest. Further north and east, it’s a different spiritual landscape.

    Tolkienguy, excellent! I think a lot of people are being drawn to sobornost for two reasons. The first is that it’s a rising current and, like most rising currents, balances the more extreme imbalances of the culture against which it is rising. The second is that Faustian culture is imploding, leaving a spiritual void, and those sectors of American society that are closest to the Faustian influence will be feeling that very acutely just now. Sobornost is a way out of that — and for many of them, it’s less unnerving than the plunge into the creative chaos that will give rise to the culture of tamanous in due time.

  106. @Sam #59,

    I like were you are going with previous influences from earlier civilizations, but I think that you are somewhat mistaken about resources. Before the modern era most of the resources that mattered were renewable unless a civilization fracked them up. It is not a given that the presence of a previous civilization means that the resources have been tapped and depleted.

    The older, longer lived, more stable civilizations were all situated in flood plains. Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and China all have rivers that flood thier banks annually which puts a lower bound on how badly a civilization can damage its own food supply through poor agricultural practices. An agricultural collapse like the Mayans had simply wasn’t a possiblity in Egypt.

    China is an interesting case because it has three more advantages in the long term stability department, geography, bamboo, and rice. Unlike all other cereals rice cultivation increases soil fertility. The more intensively the soil is worked the more fertile it becomes. Bamboo grows quickly and can be used for tools, construction, and fuel which puts a limit on a civilization’s tendency to deforestation. Even if there is deforestation (likely happened along the Yellow river) the bamboo forest will be back in a few years. Lastly, geography, China’s flood plain is mostly protected by favorable geography which hinders invasions, but Tomas Pueyo explains it better than I can, so:
    (China’s history through the lens of geography. Well done, worth reading, explains the current situation with Taiwan nicely)

    Of course, in the modern world nonrenewable resources and the consequences of their use matter a great deal. China doesn’t have any advantages there and it is an open question if their civilization will survive the coming round of collapse. Among other things, sea level rise will swallow thier costal fllod plain in a couple of centuries.

    But, after us it will be back to renewables. One has to wonder what future cultures are going to make from the legacy of our civilization’s ideas AND the vast damage that we did with them.

  107. @Jon Goddard, @JMG

    The general unreliability of ‘big software’ is a fairly open secret; certainly many such systems that I’ve been involved with have two groups of people – the individuals doing the human stuff that software can’t yet reliably cope with such as moderation. These are the ones mentioned in the cited articles/books. The attempt to replace the costs of these kind of jobs is one of the drivers behind many efforts in machine learning. Big tech is doing its very best to eliminate this kind of job completely.

    The other group spends quite a lot of time dealing with the totally unexpected events that happen every day. Vital pieces break, unexpected interactions between subsystems, parts of the infrastructure become unplugged (occasionally literally). This group is highly payed and unlikely to go away until big software itself goes away because the kind of problems described are terribly hard to eliminate. One of the reasons it is not widely appreciated that this sort of thing is going is that such digital systems are now so complicated that they react more like biological systems coping with an injury than the kind of software that most of us are are used to. Things slow down rather than stopping completely, or perhaps a few % of users have to start again. That sort of thing.

    Just recently I’ve seen evidence of the anticipated (here) walking away from work in the US in particular where people are sharing their anti work stories on social media. Reddit has a wholly fascinating and eye opening group /r/antiwork . This seems to have arisen spontaneously and although I’d hesitate to suggest more tech as a help for individuals in the moderation group I mentioned, it does look like social media is allowing poorly paid service workers in the US to push back against awful work conditions.

    @Phil Knight

    I think you have hit the nail on the head. It’s the dream of flight that’s so attractive. I’ve recently be drawn to videos of people paramotoring, powered parachutes essentially. I’ve promised my family never to do anything like that again but I find that in 35 years I haven’t been able to stop wishing.

  108. Two weeks! Such a tease.

    Really enjoying these posts.

    Wish we had a JMG down under. Your wisdom is unparalleled.


  109. “Sobornost is the sense that the summit of individual identity is an expression of the shared consciousness of the community, not (as in the Faustian monomyth) the rejection of the community and its consciousness. From the point of view of sobornost, the Faustian individual kicking his way out of traditional forms and lifeways is as foolish as he is self-defeating, because human fulfillment can only be found by returning to the community and integrating oneself with its enduring consciousness and ways of life.”

    The seemingly paradoxical opposition between Individualism and Collectivism may be false after all.

    Collectivism doesn’t have to result in losing individual expression, identity and creativity.

    A Collectivism that isn’t ruled by Envy that is where the “nail that sticks out get nailed down”

    And Individualism is most complete in Sobornost as it gives context to said individual.

    Communities are to be both unities and multiplicities. As the manifold stars in a galaxies in their uniqueness each are united in a galaxy.

  110. Hmm I’ve been thinking about this in the context of what might revive here in NZ once the Faustian Pseudomophisis fades away.

    I can summarize so far of a uniquely NZ cultural soul… Its partly tied up with the myths of the wider pacific. In many Pacific island cultures (including the NZ Maori) there is a demigod figure called Maui, who functions as the hero/changer figure (the story varies depending on which part of the Pacific ocean you go to)

    To summaries the Maori version very briefly, Maui emerges from the sea, He fishes up NZ with his grandmothers jawbone, he forces the sun the stay in the sky by catching it with a net, he obtains fires from his other grandmother, (there are other bits to story I can’t remember off the top of my head) and finally he attempts to conquer death by crawling up the vagina of the Maori goddess of Death, but she awakens while he’s climbing in and he is crushed by her obsidian teeth.

    so the life of Maui, is a constant set of episodes/ flashpoints, where things happen. This kind of describes NZ history too. A long calm or build up, then a big flashpoint.

  111. Thank you! Spengler’s model of history is one of the main influences on my thinking, and some of my favourote posts of your are the ones projecting it out into the future.

    This might be down to a languge or cultural barrier, but I’m curious as to what “intentional community” means, exactly.

    This is admittedly of personal interest — me and my wife and daughter made the decision to rent a big house and move in with 1-2 housemates a few years ago. Although there has been challenges, at this point it feels like a no-brainer from a collapse-now perspective. A big house in the city and a yard full of fruit trees we could not otherwise afford? Sure!

    Me and my wife are also pretty introverted and had a hard time meeting people even pre-pandemic, and having someone around to socialize with (and help out with house-/yardwork) feels great.

    Is this an intentional community? I guess not, since there’s no shared ideological or religious principle, although there obviously need to be aome overlapping of values and lifestyles. There’s also no expectation that housemates will live with us for any set length of time, although for various reasons turnover has been greater than we’d like — looking for a new inhabitant for the fifth time now… And we don’t feel like we’re saving the world, this is just fun and practical.

    Monasteries and lifeboat ecovillages seem obvious, but where’s the line between an intentional community and some other form of living together?

    Cheers from out here on the edge between Faustian and Samonost culture!

  112. So Robert E Howard’s Conan The Barbarian stories were actually about an idealized American touring Faustian Europe and the Middle East?

  113. Lermontov wrote a story titled “A hero of our time” (Герой нашето времени ). Paul Simon expressed a similar thought 150 years later with “Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts”.

    I find it a useful barometer to the air pressure of our cultural atmosphere if I try to determine who is the hero of our time.

    That central figure is important to our collective myth-making. It is more often an archetype rather than one single person. You can only reliably this when you are seeped in the culture. (Living in the US, I would not even try to figure out who plays this role in China).

    According to my mental gymnastics, the hero of our time is the tech entrepreneur. Like most cultural phenomena, this one is also cyclical and his reign at the top of the zeitgeist is getting to be long in the tooth. I think we hit peak entrepreneur with the passing (and subsequent canonization) of Steve Jobs.

    It would be interesting to see what replaces the tech entrepreneur in the years to come.

    I am sure many would disagree with my assessment, but I would like to invoke the spirit of “sobornost” here 🙂

  114. The interesting thing about the current mass psychosis about the corona viruss, which is the consequence of responding to the pandemic in a Faustian way, is, that the reactions of contries on the periphery of Western culture, for example, Australia, New Zealand and part of the United States, is more Faustian than that of large part of Europe, the heartland of Faustian culture.

    Varun, your observation about dating apps is very interesting, because in the short stints of usind dating apps, which were quite a while ago, I increasingly had the impression that women designed their profiles to be as mainstreamy as possible, so that it became increasingly dificult to get a feeling of what kind of person she actually is. Partcularly, the section about hobbies and sports were often filled to the brim with the usual, anodyne mainstream extrovert activities.

  115. The willingness and ability to think about the unthinkable. That’s your superpower, John. 🙂

    And ‘Dances with Rednecks’—let’s just say my keyboard is happy I wasn’t drinking coffee at the moment I read that.

  116. Hi JMG,

    Bravo! You pieced together a question that has often perplexed me (and angered many on the dissident American Right): why do Republicans like to lose? Why do they prefer to whine about what the Left does when it is power, and do absolutely nothing to oppose it and–worse–do nothing to advance their own agenda when they are in power? You maybe have answered the question here. Many conservatives, especially among the highly-educated and well-to-do, see themselves in the Dances With Wolves role, preferring the feeling of moral superiority in pointing out the disastrous policies and actions of the Left, while assuming that the Progressive march of history cannot be stopped. What marvelous and righteous martyrs they imagine themselves becoming in the Gulags, as the likes of AOC and Pelosi rule the land with a Stalinist iron fist! Meanwhile, patience in flyover land grows increasingly thin…

    It also seems to me that the spirit of sobornost is growing stronger in the Heartland as well. If you listen to country music over recent years, the lyrics are rarely framing the singer as an individualistic rebel, like Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson. Rather, the singers emphasize their rooted-ness in the small towns and flyover states where they grew up. They frame themselves as manifestations of the traditions and folkways of their families and ancestors.

  117. Hi John Michael,

    Candidly it will be something of a relief for them to fail. Seriously, they’re absolutely bonkers in their deeply held beliefs in the face of multiple failures. Anyway, then maybe the locals will see how the wind is blowing, and then can get on with the job of doing that needs to be done. Far out. The problem is though, the locals might not have the know-how, resources or energy to do that job. Oh well, interesting times and all that. I’m working towards that future.

    Although I feel I must inform you that I noted an all time local record for the price of fuel this morning. $1.799 per litre (3.8 litres to the gallon). I have a small and very economical to run vehicle, there is a reason for that choice.

    And it looks as though Evergrande might just go: ‘pop goes the weasel’! It’s getting closer. I reckon it will happen, but am only guessing and might be surprised even yet.



  118. Wanted to throw this into the conversation – Americans are terrible at listening to leaders and doing what they are told. As someone who has had the unfortunate experience twice of leading non-profit organizations, finding people who will simply do what is asked exactly as instructed and on time, is next to finding the holy grail. Almost universally Americans are obstinate, passive aggressive, and disrespectful. They see their boss as someone ignore, deceive, and work around. The idea of actually following directions is seen as some sort of blow to self-esteem.

    My dad who managed a factory floor used to sum it up as “I’m going to do it the way I want and [undruidly word].” Corporate workers do the same thing now just using slick woke speak.

    This is the source of disfunction in intentional communities. Someone has to lead and many have to follow and people just can’t do it.

    We also can’t see nature as dominating us either. Easily seen in the virus response, how we eat, how we treat our bodies, and how we treat the world around us. It’s really such a pervasive thing.

    Your essays on this really nail it. And yes, we’ll need this childishness beaten out of us.

  119. Was I the only one struck by the year the first flying car was launched (1917) and its failure, and the failure of something else that was launched in October of 1917?

    All the so called communists I know are either on welfare or trust fund kids. I wouldn’t trust living in a commune with them, because I think they also all smoke too much pot to get any work done. Still, they think it is cool if someone else pays there way. They have all talked up what they wanted to do and how they were going to do it (itself part of the problem, not knowing the fourth power of the sphinx) & yet, a guy like me whose dad was a welder, and whose mom was a highschool dropout who got her GED and became a nurse, a guy like me who works full time, is married, and had kids in the house, etc., always found more time to do the things these so called commies said they were going to do: work on art, make music, radio, write, garden. Maybe I have a chip on my shoulder about these trust fund welfare communists, and I’ll try to let that go, as they too are children of the divine, but now when I hear this kind of stuff I just roll my eyes.

    One thing I might have in common with the commies: a distaste for managers. Snitch culture and the PMC seem to go hand in hand. And yet, somehow I get the feeling that the latent commies who haven’t read history, are the ones who like to go snitch to a manager at work, instead of going to the person with their problem working it out as “equals”. (Yes, something like this happened to me recently. It might have even been karma or something from a eightfold course of study.) All this snitch stuff reminds me of the stasi.

    Anyway, my wife’s best friend growing up was the daughter of an immigrant from Hungary. Her friend has since sadly passed away, but she was very close to their family growing up and we have remained close with them too, especially the father. The communists took everything from his family when they came into Hungary. That’s how they ended up here. Besides some other tragedies in his life, he had a good life here. In his eighties now, he is shocked to see the desire for socialism and communism among the young. Sometimes it seems like a media generated fog of amnesia has clouded people from remembering many of the costs of these experiments.

    Well, one other issue with the communards is all the endless discussion. Meetings and committees are a bane of existence. Managers love meetings! Let’s talk about things and brainstorm and get someone else to do the work! Even clubs and stuff get bogged down by too many fracking meetings. Endless discussion. I think this was one of the downfalls of the Occupy movement. Reaching consensus, when disensus might have been better. (Not that I was a part of Occupy, as I was didn’t have the trust fund to fall back on if I missed too much work.)

    …clearly I have some journaling I need to do about managers, trust fund kids, and the like!…

  120. Go ahead and write that post. In my experience, every time you do one of those types of posts your audience gets bigger. The readers who don’t understand just say ‘Oh, he”s off on a tangent again, he’ll be back on track next week.’ *my experience coming from reading everything since that first ‘I am a druid’ post.*

  121. Hah, you have touched on many things I’ve been mulling over recently. I’m wondering how to classify the cultures of (Central) Eastern Europe, between Germany and the Rus’, especially the non-Eastern Slavs.

    On one hand, for example, the christianization, and therefore symbolic ‘civilizing’, of Poland (966) and the Rus’ (988) occurred concurrently, and the two emerging states developped in parallel, rivaling each other well into the 19th century. But of course the great difference is that Poles are Catholic, and the Latinate, Roman culture had a profound influence on the Polish one (but it’s of course different from W. Europe, which had been latinized and christianized already in late Antiquity), while Russians are Orthodox. We participated in Faustian culture much more than Russia. I’d say Poles are too Eastern to be Western and too Western to be Eastern. There’s a never-ending inferiority complex towards the West, compensated by nationalistic fantasies of cultural superiority towards the East.

    I’d say we’re quite different from Russians, but at the same time the Faustian myth also never really took off here – Romanticism was waay bigger here than the Enlightenment – our myths are mostly centered on the community: either on the nation (perceived as a kind of spiritual unity), or, more recently, on the family (finding oneself through a connection to the land where one’s ancestors lived, and processing their experience; also, Polsih culture is quite family-centric).
    It’s especially interesting now, when after, let me call them,”the long 19th and 20th centuries” Central Eastern Europe is trying to find and create a new cultural and political identity, now that we’re free again, and W. Europe’s catabolized itself.
    Pardon the lack of brevity, as you (all) can imagine, the topic is vast.

  122. Amish, Mennonites, gypsies, initial settler colonist, initial islander settlers of new Zealand would be examples of small groups of people able to establish settlements. Interesting why back to the land is so massively unable.

    As an organic farmer I suspect the inability to do the hard grind is part of it. I worked a corporate job back in the day but was extremely fit, however the first couple of years was very hard physically and financially. I think religion, or something like that is key. A shared narrative. Again back to the land could be that, but in practice, not so much, almost the mirror opposite.

    We would constantly get the floaty hippy types coming though wanting to work and they couldn’t take it physically. That’s younger people generally imho, not all, we have a young lass who is home-schooled, finishes her school work in winter and works summer, but generally it’s very interesting to see.

  123. “Spengler didn’t coin a nice resonant name for it, but every culture as it declines into civilization spawns a Gnostic fringe of disaffected intellectuals who withdraw from the mainstream and turn to some form of intensive, idiosyncratic spiritual practice as a viable alternative to ordinary life in a dysfunctional and declining society.”

    Ha, ha… that was just like catching sight of myself in a random mirror… 😉

  124. @JMG My family is but two generations removed from hardscrabble poverty– my granny grew up during the Great Depression, subsistence farming, fishing, and hunting ducks and possum to keep food on the table (and if you asked her or any of her siblings about the Depression, they’d tell you “What Depression? We didn’t notice it: it’s not like we could get any poorer!”). The culture that goes with that– don’t waste anything (Granny was a recycler before recycling was cool), help out your family and neighbors, constant hospitality, and a low-cash high-gift economy– takes a few generations to recede. We’re closer to the future because we’re closer to the past, perhaps.

  125. Dear John Michael Greer,

    Thank you for another one of your always thought-provoking essays.

    I am astounded at your ability to come up with such a cogent essay while managing the comments section both here and on your other blog. Now I cannot but conclude that you have cast one of your magic spells on Time itself, and I can only conclude TSW! 😉

    PS I for one would be very interested to read what you have to say about Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.

    Kind regards

  126. @ JMG – Good post. Lots to think about. Couple of thoughts:

    1 – If the breakdown of Faustian Culture in North America is under way, I assume you think that this breakdown ties into the open you wrote about a few weeks ago, in which you suggested that we may be getting another crack at opening up the ways Americans (in particular) can think about the future. Is that a fair conclusion?

    2 – If this is the case, and we really are in the opening stages of a true, re-evaluation of what living on this continent means to the people of the USA (Canadians, Mexicans, and others, I’m not ignoring you, I just happen to live in the USA, so that’s whom I’m writing about)? What forms do you think that will take over the next decade or so? Will a Second Religiosity lead to more Christians going back and reading the Bible for themselves, rather than relying on mega-church pastors to tell them what it says? Might it lead to environmentalists reducing and reusing, in addition to just recycling? Might it lead to a true backlash against BOTH big business and big government?
    ( for instance, ranchers fighting the monopoly of ‘Big Beef’ )

    3 – In the long term (I’m thinking in a millennia or so), will the emergent Tamanous Culture and a resurgent great culture arising from central Mexico, call it a Neo-Nahuatl Culture, compete over the lands between them (I’m thinking of the southern Great Plains and Southeast US)? Any guess which way the people of those future lands might look?
    My guess is from the people living along the Arkansas River and the (Southeast US) Gulf Coast will look favorably on the creative minority of the Tamanous Culture The lands now known as Texas and New Mexico, (to the extent they are habitable) along with the islands (above much higher water) in the Gulf/Caribbean will look to the Neo-Nahuatl for inspiration. Does that sound reasonable, as much as speculation about the far-future can?

  127. Hi all,

    I first encountered you John when you appeared in an excellent BBC documentary about Pepe the Frog two years ago, and although it was only a brief cameo, a hook snagged somewhere deep in my imagination. Maybe it was my version of when David Bowie made his famous appearance on Tops of the Pops in 1972 and ‘blew the minds’ of a generation. Since then I have bought several of your books and have become a frequent reader of your blog.

    During that time a strange synchronicity involving your work, Carl Jung and the English Philosopher John Gray was taking up much of my free reading time then, as it is now. Although it has broadened over time, the core idea’s of progress as a failing religion, the folly of experts and mans inability to handle too-much reality has taken deep root in my way of thinking. I know your well documented interest in Jung, have you read any of Gray’s work, especially Black Mass, Heresies and Straw Dogs.

    I am also situated on the borderlands of the Faustian culture here in Ireland. I often walk by the many local churches,all solid limestone buildings that have stood for hundreds of years and will last many more. I can easily imagine a second religiosity that would bring the Irish church back to its Celtic and pagan roots and away from the obsession on sexuality rooted in Jansenism that was brought over by French priests fleeing the French revolution.

  128. The Spenglerian approach here is interesting. America is a meeting place of worlds in a very real sense. And the American character has been shaped by these dueling archetypes in a very odd way. Both the Faustian/Western civilization and the American proto-culture are individualistic, but in very different expressions: the Western is dynastic and expansive, the American is mystic and self-contained. I think it’s this interaction that has produced such an oddly contradictory character in the modern American type. American character since independence has in one sense been the distillation of the Faustian ideal, imperial to a fault. But there’s no uniformity to the types that emerge as Spengler said there was in, say, England, whose success in politics he said was due to the most ingenious system of training that produced individuals geared to the Faustian kind of rule (his predictions of Germany triumphing over the English didn’t pan out btw, and this may be why — Germany did not have the systems to produce consistently accomplished statesmen as he himself admitted). Each new generation of Americans is incomprehensible to the one before it, and each dynast individually is walled-off and self-contained. True Faustians who visited America, like D.H. Lawrence, found the character of the American deeply alienating — cold, solitary and sociopathic in his description. Similarly, Kipling described a true American city like Chicago as terrifying to the Faustian type. In sum, the Faustian and the American blending is not terribly harmonious and it will take quite a few generations for the contradictions to resolve. But time and fate seem to be on the side of the Americans…

    Spengler did say too that non-Faustian groups like East Asians (under the Chinese high culture) or Jews (under the Magian/Syriac) could come under the intellectual spell of the West, and in some ways “do it better” than the Faustians. But he did not think it would last — he only thought they did it, even if unconsciously, to survive the colonization intact. In this regard, it will be interesting to watch what happens in places like East Asia or Israel over the next 100 years, if they diverge significantly — for example, if Israel blends more into the Moslem world around it, and if the East Asian identity begins to shed technological complexities in the Long Descent. Those things seem far-fetched now, but I am amazed at how fast I’ve seen some changes take place.

    PS If the Weird of Hali RPG is coming out I’d better get cracking on reading the actual series first! I always liked the idea of offbeat takes on the Cthulhu Mythos. This kind of thing is catching on, not just for the Lovecraft oeuvre either. The “politically incorrect” (read: cancelled) fiction author James LaFond recently wrote a novella, Haft. As he put it, he’s telling the other side of the story of the Tolkien Mythos, “from the perspective of one of the good races of Middle Earth: the Orcs!”

  129. From my days, long ago now, as a junior officer in the PMC there seemed to be two key characteristics of a successful “going places” leader: an ability to judge a situation clearly as needing improvement and to shape a workable solution to it; and an ability to take action and drive implementation of the solution. Clear judgement and ability to act can be effective on a smaller scale and gets you marked as a practical and reliable problem solver. But then you get promoted up the chain and at some point your ability to judge situations and take action fails to scale – you fail to see reality clearly, diagnosis and solution design becomes abstract and theoretical and actions plans are fluffy detached from conditions on the ground. At this point, most people reach their career heights and level-off or go do something else, but more heavy weight leaders keep on pushing and their progress comes to rely on more underhanded techniques: spin, blaming others, exploitation, externalization of costs, ignoring limits and the whole laundry list of things that have contributed to our current crisis.

    So Faustian civilization seems to be suffering in part from a problem of scale and I wonder whether some people’s yearning for traditionalism is as much a desire to get back to a small scale, where judgement and action can be more effective, as it is a real desire to surrender their will to community and tradition. I know from personal experience that it takes a really long time and a lot of inner work to shift those Faustian habits of mind – of judging and acting compulsively – even once you have seen the problems piling up from this type of behavior. Knowing when its wise to act and when to accept is a difficult skill to acquire and very hard indeed without some sense of higher authority. What our remaining small scale and somewhat functional communities do not need is a boatload of PMC types escaping the big cities and bringing their leadership habits to bear on local problems, at least not until they’ve repented a good bit 🙂

    Incidentally, the Faustian, Traditionalist and Tanamous civilizational archetypes seem to map somewhat to the three main mind/body doshas in Ayurveda (Pitta, Kapha and Vata), which themselves are based on combinations of basic elements of heat, cold, dryness, moisture, etc. I’m certainly not an expert but have used this lens to help understand myself and other people, in particular when people seem out of balance. For example, a Pitta person, when in balance, can be a focused, determined and wise leader, but out of balance they can get angry, willful, vain and aggressive. And PMC leader types have higher levels of Pitta in their make-up.

  130. @paleobear re: Mars colonies: “nothing good could come out of their plans for us, mere mortals…”

    I dunno. If they simply shipped themselves off to Mars to live their utopian dreams, I could see that being a net benefit to the rest of us 😉

  131. @Danaone

    re: free riders: there is definitely that problem, but I think it’s more than that. I think the attraction of communes is people trying to re-create kin-networks. Naturally, people attracted to that are largely people who’ve become alienated from their actual kin, for various reasons. If you can’t get along with your actual family (and that’s not a moral judgement: I understand there are lots of folks who’ve had to cut ties for very good reasons), odds are very good you can’t build one from scratch, either.

  132. Wasn’t Jamestown (1607) Virginia an intentional community? I recall from my history that people couldn’t get it together and starved. Only John Smith and the local Native Americans seem to be what kept them from all dying.

    U.S. history is littered with failed intentional communities. But people still think that they can form a sustaining one.

    Monks come to mind but they have rules and the like to agree to before they join. It takes a certain skill set to form an intentional community which many people lack or don’t know about.

    As to returning to the land, etc. I lived with no electricity – a wood stove, etc. In the winter in Maine, it was freezing cold. We spend all fall filling up our woodshed to make it through the winter. We also spend summers and fall canning everything in sight to make it through the winter. It is hard grueling work that takes a lot to get used to.

    I remember the PBS programs where people would relive the Bronze Age or Frontier America, etc. It seemed that most of them couldn’t handle it. Only one or two participants understood what was entailed. So, I imagine that most people just do not understand that it is like going to another planet. You do everything differently there. There is no comparison.

    As for me, I like electricity. I live in the city. I know my neighbors. We know each other and look out for each other. So whatever happens, we are in it together.

  133. @Luciano, Brazilian female celebrities often and shamelessly deliver their children abroad, more commonly in the US, to guarantee citizenship. Middle class Brazilians of Italian and German descent often go through the long and convoluted process of getting German and Italian citizenship based solely on their great grandparents birth certificate, not bothering to at least learn German or Italian. And there was a Brazilian first lady who, during her mate’s presidential term, giddily boasted that she was acquiring Italian citizenship as a safety measure in case things went downhill in Brazil.

    Your analysis is spot on.

  134. One thing that’s concerns me is the possible relationship between the fate of a great civilization and its own mythology about that fate. Two of the great myths of Faustian civilization — one native, the other adopted — are Ragnarok and Armageddon, which both predict a very bloody end indeed.

    On the other hand, the one great civilization we have actually seen come to an end — the Apollonian — didn’t get the ending Hesiod envisioned for it, except perhaps in a purely symbolic sense. So perhaps mythology is a poor guide here.

  135. ” It was one of the basic rules of thumb in the Seattle occult scene when I was there that when you encountered someone who used the name “Lucifer” or “Lilith,” back away as fast as possible.”

    Sigh. My real, actual name that my parents gave me, is that second one. Dad had been reading George MacDonald. My parents were hippies. I can see why you’d want to avoid people who chose the name voluntarily. Because of all the dominatrix and wannabe vampire types who’ve adopted it as a pseudonym, I assiduously avoid using my real name on the internet. It attracts the wrong sort of attention.

    But I still use it in person because it’s always been my name and I’m used to it and changing names mid-life is a pain (though I could, theoretically, just start using a middle name). Are there any negative consequences to owning that name (albeit involuntarily), beyond awkward social situations, that I should know about?

  136. @JMG, it’s expected that some of your elites will be attracted to Sobornost. Indeed, the future American great culture needs to go throught the motions of at least two pseudomorphosis before it fully matures, and Sobornost is a strong candidate for the first of these.
    As for the second one, only the gods may know.

  137. I’m wondering if your invitation last year to celebrate Johnny Appleseed days and to recite the poem you linked to was a working of yours to call into play the forces that urge us to follow our own tamanous, as he did.

    In other words, was it a working to call into play an older force that is in the land of North America, here before the Europeans arrived, here in the far future long after the Faustian culture has disappeared, a working to help if not birth then at least engender the new culture that is coming?

  138. @siliconguy

    You’ve probably already seen Sam Zeloof’s videos but all the steps he demonstrates to create a chip from the early 70s – I’m gobsmacked. And I’d say he’s about as far away from a 6502 as some of those foundries you mentioned are away from the M1.

    And once we’re done talking about the chips – we can move on to how you would rebuild a lithium-ion battery or make one in your garage (ha). I’ve yet to find anyone, anyone at all attempting to tilt at that particular windmill. Please, please, let me know if someone has filmed themselves trying to do it.

    You know what’s going to happen if things get bad enough right? All that chip and battery tech is just going to be forgotten. There’s just not enough people doing those things to make them resilient enough to take on a collapse of any magnitude.

  139. Dear Mr Greer

    Britain is certainly part of the heartland of the Faustian great culture, but I was wondering if there is a bit of Tamanous in these islands. Britain does seem to have a more individualistic culture than the other parts of the fustian great culture like France and Germany. You did say that the part of America you live in is geologically similar with the western part of Britain. I was wondering if this might have some effect on the people of these islands

  140. “Dances with Rednecks” – lol. I’d be careful about labeling Bannon as anything more than an opportunist, IM (cynical) O. He at the very least did tap into a zeitgeist that most of officialdom was ignoring and was able to shape and direct it to his own ends. Anything more than that, and it’s my opinion, you’re reading more into what’s there, than what’s actually there.

  141. @ Workdover RE: oil… simplified a lot…

    I’ll give you a narrow POV from where I sit, which is currently working twice as hard to survive Covid and what has occurred at half my income.

    When the lockdowns hit, we (oil guys) were already in trouble due to lack of investment in exploring for more oil. This was due to low prices in the preceding years, which make investors skittish. At the same time, shale oil ponzi investment was unwinding in the USA, putting on more pressure to curtail exploration investment. At the same time, we kept using oil at the nominal rate, depleting what we have – depletion never sleeps.

    This was GLOBAL – KSA dropped exploration plans, as did most oil majors and the shale guys. I am not going into how the traders make their own crises – but they rarely do anything but exacerbate trends up or down.

    Covid hit with lockdowns. As I had Central Asia business interests, I know how hard their lockdowns were. My business dropped by 60% almost overnight. I found other revenue streams, but they were NOT in oil. My income dropped by 50%.

    Lockdowns meant that production of oil equipment and exploring for oil dropped. Yes – demand was destroyed temporarily, but that is always temporary until it isn’t. Depletion is always happening in the background. Steel is the main thing we need for oil and gas – pipe. China had long ago become the defacto leader in making steel pipe in volume. Think back to the China iron ore demand dropping in 2018, and it never stopped…

    It takes 2 years for my industry to respond to price changes – we have to gather info, lease the land, make drilling plans, make production plans and estimates – THEN we drill and pray.

    Lockdowns shut down entire countries overseas. Only in the US did we even try to carry on, but that was difficult. So pipe inventories were being drawn down as were oil reserves for 2 years. All major exploration investment ceased. Then we had the ESG guys take over several oil majors, including ExxonMobil. They want no drilling, and block any attempt at normal drilling projects. Pro-ESG investment firms discourage investing in oil and gas – they are on the rise.

    I have had ten projects cancelled due to lack of available pipe to put in the ground. Chinese pipe is months to years away. Depletion never stops. M&A is quietly going on in the services sector, meaning our options for supporting drilling have diminished as well. The smaller service companies globally have been decimated, and the big ones have pared down to skeleton staffing. No exaggerating here either.

    The spike is coming, and it isn’t going to be an overnight thing. I believe it may resemble the 1973 embargo at this point, due to concatenation of things like pipe shortages. It will have a price ramp up rather than a hockey stick seen in 1973, due to it not being from an embargo. If you want to know how long it will take to recover, remove the word “months” from anything you read and replace it with “years”. The real question is whether we will rebound to the old ‘normal’, or if our normal will be recognizably lower.

    It isn’t like this wasn’t in view in our collective future – we have all discussed it here and elsewhere. We Peak Oil guys were right – we were just early in publication and warnings – rightly so. Covid has been an accelerant, so the future has pulled into view quicker than people can grasp.

  142. @JMG re Westria – Paxson’s Westria is not hippie-California. The culture is early-to-middle-period feudal. Polytheistic, though with a belief in the One Above All, so, henotheistic? Includes the concept that every species has its Guardian. BTW, it is decidedly not Faustian. In fact, as in Star’s Reach, the pre-Calamity world is considered to have caused the revolt of nature.

    A royal widow on the run stumbles into a shrine she finally recognizes as that of the Guardian of Men (homo sapiens, not vir sapiens, for those who think this is sexist.) I think readers will recognize this image: “A man in an adept’s robe, carrying a crook like a shepherd or a king, his aura shining bright around him, his eyes (from memory, now, readers correct me) wise, loving, and sorrowful.” Then she kneels and prays to him.

    And every nation has its own Holy People and Lady (or Lord) who is the living spirit of the land. We meet the Lady of Westria in Book 1, and the Lady of Aztlan – very clearly Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe -in the bedroom shrine of a tavern-keeper, along with the kachinas. In fact, the only monotheism we see is in the very latest book, with a madwoman in from the grasslands preaching it. (The Spirit of Reno is also seen in that book: a jaded harlot with a bottle in one hand and dice in the other.)

  143. In a fine bit of synchronicity, I did not read this post until this morning, but yesterday I was referred to an article by the No Tech Magazine that seems to straddle many of the themes brought up in an interesting way:

    Short version: at the request of some readers, a self-identified traditionalist attempts to provide a blueprint for intentionally building an organic, traditional town from scratch (if that’s not a contradiction in terms). After the JMG’s post, I interpret the linked article as a sabernost answer to a Faustian request, with intriguing respect paid to practicality and sustainability.

    What’s fascinating to me about this is that the readers making the request (a group of friends with the intention of buying some undeveloped land in Texas and building a town there) strike me as potentially living the Faustian “found a perfect community” dream, whereas the answer provided by the author has rather a lot of sabernost to it (from a few clues, like describing things in metric, using terms like “football pitches”, and assuming that a town in Texas will be built in a desert, I suspect the author is British).

    To his credit, he stresses as his inspiration the successful foundings of new towns in history and the gradual, individual-led development (with some help from local laws and incentives), rather than some kind of “all at once, everyone is part of the same political/spiritual movement” commune-type approach. I also picked up more than a few hints of Christopher Alexander, though he was not among the citations.

    I read through the rest of his short archives on substack, and there seems to be a lot of good thought around sustainability and making things human-scaled, but the opening post linked above leaves me worried that there might be too much emphasis on the fantasy of “running away to some empty quarter and start from scratch”. Of course, that’s easy for me to spot, as I’m all too prone to the same fantasy, and posts like this are a good corrective!

  144. Great article JMG – the kind of stuff I like best in your blog. I usually don’t bother to say so, but you may take it for granted that every time you produce this kind of historical/reflective essay, I read it avidly and click with its ideas. (As for your commentaries on Dion Fortune and Eliphaz Levi et al, they are, alas, as much over my head as they would be for Bertie Wooster. On the other hand you have influenced me to wish to read Spengler if I can find an affordable edition.)

  145. The space escape fantasy. ”Dinosaurs are extinct today because they lacked opposable thumbs and the brainpower to build a space program”??
    Really?? We should escape from WHAT to WHERE??
    IF on earth we cut down any remaining patch of forest, kill off any animal larger than a few hundred grams, severely reduce the biomass and diversity of what life has remained after, generate a climatic change worse than the end Permian, completely acidify the oceans, severely reduce the ozone layer…
    And to all of this we add a nuclear war.
    Earth would STILL be much, much more suitable for life as on Mars or any other planet in the solar system. It seems, as the industrial age starts to show its frailty, we almighty humans we could not accomplish such a severe catastrophe even if we wanted too. Nature is not a frail beauty. We are the frail ones.

  146. Readers who enjoy ambient drone music might like one of the “hits” by the electronic music group I was in, Neato Torpedo. The song is “Trances With Wolves” and the audience always seemed to enjoy the live version. A studio version is available for listening here:

    & that reminds me… on the eve of Johnny Appleseeds birthday I was camping with my wife, dad & step-mom, aunt & uncle and cousins down on the my aunt & uncles land in Kentucky just north of Lexington. At the fire that evening, after passing out cups of cider, I incanted the Lindsay poem, and during the last stanzas the coyotes started up another round of howls, from their last at moonrise. It was very memorable to me, those coyotes seemed to give ascent.

    Also darkly wondering if the communes that are also cults are the ones with a higher success rate? I mean, the cultists are already looking for a guru with the One True Answer…

    –beyond that I really enjoyed the discussion of the tanamous– a sobornost pseudormorphosis seems really interesting possibility that could help to downsize/shift things here in the U.S. to smaller communities. Chuck Marohn’s Strong Towns project comes to mind, as well as the second religiosity.

    Maybe as the organic restructuring occurs into actual communities, than the fluid flow, the come and go of people, pursuing their own personal visions ala their daimon, would come about. I see this to a small degree I think in my millenial kids, nieces & nephews. I had a party for my sister who is in town from Memphis last night, and people just kind of came and went as they pleased. Nothing was “on time” exactly -people came and went as they usually do at a family get together- but to the millenials who were there, it all seemed much more natural than to me and my wife and sisters (Gen X), and the older boomers who were there.

  147. Hi everyone

    I saw the conversation that inspired this post, and I remember a lot of people who added, basically, “And you shouldn’t join existing communities, either, because they won’t accept you.” That’s not necessarily true, and since so many people here are interested in community, and since it’s a tiny shadow of its former self right now, I wanted to give everyone some tips for joining small rural communities (I know nothing about cities).

    My dear friend is from Texas, she spent some years in rural Nebraska, then moved to rural Mississippi, then just moved to rural Illinois. She was complaining about how hard it was to find a rental with some acres (for her horses). I reminded her to find the place where the farmers meet for breakfast and to talk about the weather. She said, yep, she’s been visiting every little shop, restaurant, and feed mill she can find. In some places, it’s literally a gas station with some tables.

    That’s what reminded me of this.

    1. Figure out where the locals go, and go there. Introduce yourself and quietly, respectfully join in. Ask questions, if you want to, but be careful what you contribute because you don’t know the people or the area yet.

    2. Listen about the weather. Never complain about rain. About 80% of the time farmers are complaining that it’s NOT raining. They do complain that it IS raining, but only under very specific conditions, for example, when the fields are too muddy to get machines in and they’re running out of time to plant or harvest.

    3. Do not identify yourself as a farmer if you only bought a few acres. You’re not a rancher if you have a couple cows. The farmers have a couple hundred. You’re just a regular person around there. Almost everybody has a couple acres and some animals. Farmers are the ones whose lives depend on selling what they grow. If you make $200,000 a year selling crops and spend $180,000 to grow those crops, pulling in $20,000 a year for yourself, you’re a farmer. (Just to give a ballpark figure of the scale of a working farm).

    4. Have integrity and values. The more your values align with the local values, the more you will fit in. Honesty is exceedingly important in rural areas because any lie gets found out and spreads like wildfire. You do not want to hurt your reputation because the whole town will know you by your reputation (and sooner than you think). So don’t hang out at church unless you’re Christian, you are converting to Christianity, or it’s an open-to-the-public event (pancake breakfast for charity, rummage sale, etc.) If you are Christian, try out all the local churches before you settle on one, and showing up for church goes a long way toward getting accepted. Waking up early is a particularly important value for farmers. It’s a sign of a hard worker in their eyes. So you want to get to that feed mill around sunrise.

    5. If you have skills, use them, and politely offer to help others with those skills. Offer only once, casually, and do not push if they turn you down. Self-sufficiency is an important value and a lot of people don’t accept help they don’t need out of pride.

    6. You will get accepted much faster if you become a vet, vet tech, doctor, nurse, EMT, school teacher, school bus driver, fireman, postal worker, etc. Think honest work that people value. You can also meet a lot of people working at restaurants and gas stations, bait shops, feed stores, etc. but it’s a trade off meeting more people but having a less respectable position. (You’d think police officer would fall in that category, but no. All your networking goes out the window when you have to give Joe that speeding ticket. And since speeding is 99.9% of all crime…)

    7. Anything that makes you weird is suspicious. So don’t look or act weird or reveal weird things about yourself until after they get to kniw you pretty well. And then, you can expect the whole town to know about it and take some time to get over it. If you’re Druid, pagan, etc. you can avoid a lot of weird labels by not using those words and instead saying “I worship nature” without going into detail. A large number of rural people have had intensely spiritual experiences in the wilds or on the land, so the person who “spends the Sabbath in God’s country” is an accepted spiritual view (but the magick and ritual is still seen as weird).

    8. Some places are seriously curious about strangers and will ask you billions of questions for months after you arrive. Those towns will accept you faster than the ones where most people seem standoffish.

    9. Accept that you know nothing when you arrive. It will take many years to learn the place as well as the locals. Just accept that going in. It will take even longer for the locals to accept that you know the area well. Don’t take it personally.

    10. If you buy acres in the middle of nowhere and plan to move out there after SHTF, it’s going to be too late for these tips to work. You actually have to live in the community to be accepted as a part of it, otherwise you’re just a seasonal tourist.

    Jessi Thompson

  148. During the Great Recession I spent the greater part of a year writing a business plan for a planned community of sorts, under the banner of SUN, Sustaining Universal Needs, under the banner of, where I was an admin. While many in the Doomstead Diner were anticipating the apocalypse, I was more of the idea of long slow decline, and how do you manage to thrive in that? The planned community was more like many businesses on one piece of land, each family running it’s own business, controlling their own money able to leave as they like. The idea was, Americans aren’t really geared for communal living, they require a sense of their own agency; it is really hard to start a small business under the debt-loaded capital constraints of the day, find a large piece of marginal land with a big wood lot and build the infrastructure necessary for a small town basically.

    I quickly realized everyone I knew who would be good at that, was already doing well, why would they uproot their lives to go do this thing? I don’t have any Visionary charisma and wouldn’t want it, I am nobody’s organizer, so I dropped that and wrote a different business plan for a non-profit Food Forest Farm and Restaurant to replace a local municipal golf course. But I quickly realized I have no stomach for a ten year regulatory battle spending ten million for permission to do such a thing, and realized I was competing against ten thousand Visionaries about that property, so I dropped that too when the pandemic hit.

    Mostly now I am contemplating moving to rural country to collapse before the rush, to be set up living off the land in a forgotten place in the heart of lake country, while America the empire implodes around me, while I write poetry and fiction about the coming great society.

  149. A few months back I had the opportunity to visit a small town on the Wabash River which was the site of not one but two failed intentional communities: New Harmony, IN. The town is a fascinating place, and currently serves as a roadside oddity and spiritual tourist destination. It was founded as “Harmonie” in the early 19th century by a charismatic German Lutheran preacher named George Rapp, as one of three communes his followers established in the Midwestern wilderness. He was so convinced that the end was nigh that his last words (decades after the end was due) were along the line of, “It certainly feels like I’m dying and that these are my last words, but they can’t be because I can’t die before the world ends.” These Rappites, as they came to be called, sold their commune to a Scottish industrialist, Robert Owens, who wanted to build a workers’ paradise of equality and education, and accordingly brought a literal “Boatload of Knowledge” with him into what was (and still is, even if it is off an interstate highway) a hinterland. This industrialist was astonished to find that, while his calls attracted lots of similarly minded intellectuals and, yes, free-riders, it didn’t attract much of the skilled labor needed to build Owens’ utopia. As one of the docents of the Atheneum, the town’s visitors center, put it, lots of people had ideas of where to lay the bricks, but no one knew how to lay the bricks. Sound familiar?

  150. How wonderful, this concept of tamanous is! I’ve been curious lately about the American counterculture of the near future, something to observe. I guess you got tired of me quoting Crowley’s texts, but I couldn’t help and be reminded of the “Every man and every woman is a star” passage from Liber AL, indeed the individuals in this cosmology are “different” stars who dance around each other. If anything the democratic civilizations has finally to offer, it’s blossomed in this spiritual conception of liberty, and it’s something I’m trying to incorporate into my own culture as much as possible. Makes me eager to read Spengler’s opus soon to see what he has to say on the Magi cultures of the Orient.

    On the other hand, reading your thoughts on the sobornost reminded me instantly of Tarkovsky’s films, totally recommended if you haven’t seen them yet. A similar theme is found in three of his films, most explicitly in ‘Nostalgia’, followed by ‘Andrei Rublov’ and ‘Mirror’ (my personal favorite, and consider it the highest expression of cinematic art ever made). He of course deals with these themes in a poetic and rather abstract way.

    Thank you for mentioning Josephin Péladan, I’ll have to check his work soon. Always appreciated your rational and creative take on things.


  151. >We also spend summers and fall canning everything in sight to make it through the winter

    I remember what someone said about living in a CO mountain town “as soon as the snow melts in spring you’re working to prepare for the snow coming back in the fall”

  152. Where do you see the east coast of north america going in terms of culture, specifically the parts that were once joined to Britain? You’ve mentioned water a lot when it comes to the origins of great cultures – the Great Lakes being the heartland of Tamanous, the rivers of Northwest Europe being the heartland of Faustian… perhaps there is a (North) Atlantic culture that has yet to emerge?

    England may have birthed the Industrial Revolution, but intellectually and culturally we have been dominated by Europe for close to a thousand years. As George Orwell said, our intelligentsia find the idea of being Englishmen to be disgraceful. We have had a succession of kings from there. When our church stopped looking to Rome, it looked to Germany and Switzerland instead. Maybe this is just the natural state of the Thames watershed (and the Humber?), but is alien to the rest of the country? Can an island be divided in such a way? Of course, since we were conquered and subjugated so soon after your suggested start date for Faustian culture, perhaps it is impossible to untangle what is foreign and what is native…

  153. A meaty, insightful and thought-provoking essay as usual. But your chance to prophesy that “Elon Musk’s proposed colony on Mars, realized or not, will be the last and greatest failed intentional community of the Faustian Age” was lying right there — and you missed it!

  154. Here’s a modest proposal: how about an intentional community based on flying cars? What could possibly go wrong?

    Jesting aside… what is your take on how Faustian culture is related to Utopian thought? Thomas More made a revealing pun with that word “Utopia”: it meant both Eutopia, the Good Place, and Outopia, No Place. The satirist More was positing a place too good to be true, as a way to mock what is. Somehow the world was slack enough to think the impossibility was an ideal to strive for, by flying with Faust to infinity-and-beyond.

    A friend of mine, Eric Bergerud, proposed what I dub “Bergerud’s Law”: that “utopian politics always fail, always do damage, and are always incoherent”. This is due to the Outopian nature of Eutopia. Another Eric, the longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer, said of utopian novels, “Now we know how the story ends”.

    The persistent failure of utopia inspired another literary trope, Dystopia, the Bad Place. But perfect wrongness is just as unrealistic and unsustainable as perfect rightness, so dystopia too breaks down. Now the young-adult novels that start off in dystopia end with its breakdown to imperfect hope. Katniss Everdeen defeats the Games and has a baby, but loses her sister and has PTSD.

    Utopia and Dystopia are as false a dichotomy as Heaven and Hell; so perhaps Christianity had Faust built in from the beginning. I agree that we will get neither space colonies nor apocalypse; instead we’ll muddle through.

    I propose a third trope: Pantopia, the All-Place. Pantopia is where everything that happens everywhere, happens. In Pantopia, toast falls buttered-side down, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, power corrupts, freedom creates, and everything now proven was once only imagined. Its political system is the circulation of aristocracies. Its economy is based on trading real goods with imaginary money. Its technology is advanced enough to be indistinguishable from magic, but constantly needs repair. Pantopia is Utopia and Dystopia, intertwined, inextricable. Pantopia sucks and is wondrous. In Pantopia, life is nothing but trouble, yet people are for it.

    I see pantopianism everywhere. For instance, the Internet. Science fiction has long predicted a global cybernetic network containing all human knowledge. This network was always envisioned as an AI with an agenda of its own. Either it was a benevolent Multivac, selflessly guiding us to higher state of being, or a malevolent SkyNet, bent on our destruction. Instead we got the Web, which is Earthly and all-too-human. The Web is full of ads, scams, cats, and pornography. We were too wicked for Multivac’s Heaven, and too virtuous for SkyNet’s Hell. Instead we got the planetary communication system that we _deserve_.

    I write to ask you if you have seen any pantopian literature, and if so then please share a few titles.

  155. One of the common themes in Romance, especially contemporary, is finding the community you’ve always been seeking. The lucky heroine meets Mr. Right and after much travail, becomes an important part of the utterly charming, idiosyncratic, small, economically viable village in a scenic wonderland.

    Yeah, it’s also fantasy but it sells and sells.

    Heck, there’s a sort-of-related genre called MC (motorcycle club) that’s hard-core, graphic, reminds a sane reader why restraining orders and police exist, and yet, at heart, there’s a sense of finding and belonging to a tightly-bonded community.

    I suppose this is one of those unconscious searches for sobornost?

  156. Jeff Russel,

    The author, Wrath of Gnon, is Japanese (or at any rate, lives there). That other small tea drinking island off the coast of the World Island that is famous for its railways, but on the east rather than the west 🙂

  157. @ Roger # 98 – I like your vision for the Tamanous culture. I was thinking on this yesterday, after reading this post. My mind went to how such a culture would organize itself politically, and it struck me that something like the Iroquois Confederacy would probably be the method of organization, with a figurehead, filling the role of Great Sachem, mediating disputes between tribes (which themselves would be confederations of clans of family groups), but otherwise having no real ‘power’ in the sense that we, of the Faustian mind, know it. I would also assume that, as with the Iroquois, the Great Sachem is elected by a larger body of representatives, serves at their pleasure, and doesn’t so much mediate disputes as they simply keep the groups on track to come to a mutually agreed on solution.

    On the topic of built environment, the indigenous cultures that predate the USA of course engaged in large ‘public works’ (though I doubt they thought of them in that way), so I could see, for instance, a handful of tribes or clans coming together, deciding a canal needed to be built between two bodies of water, setting about building it, delegating who maintains what, then wrapping up the whole project without creating any permeant bureaucracy to manage it.

    Such a culture would have a hard time building any kind of large centralized state, and the result would be economies that are much more local, and small scale. I could see, over time, such a culture being dominated by outsiders playing the ‘divide and conquer’ game, but otherwise, it’s a tantalizing vision.

  158. @ Jessi Thompson #154

    I’d add attending local municipal meetings (listen closely but don’t talk until you have a very clear understanding of the players and what’s going on) and subscribing to any local newspapers and then reading them.

  159. Thank you for an article that makes us be aware of how we have been thinking all our lives. XD
    I have found some problems with international payments trying to buy your Weird of Hali: Roleplaying from aeongames (internet overcomplexity issues?); will try again other day.

  160. There are intentional communities that have lasted for centuries: Monastics. The Carthusians have been around since 1084 (founded by St. Bruno). Other religious orders like Cistercians, Benedictines, Carmelites, etc. are also centuries old. There are communities of monks on Mount Athos in Greece and in Ethiopia. What distinguishes them from modern intentional communities is that they take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and their goal is primarily spiritual, not material. Even with religious orders, they need to be reset every now and then because the monks and nuns become worldly and attached to material pleasures. St. Teresa of Avila spent a lot of time reforming the Carmelites (when she wasn’t having supernatural visions) and she got a lot of opposition not just from the Carmelites themselves but from high-ranking bishops and cardinals.

  161. Ray, given her Native American background, no surprises there.

    Andy, thanks for the data points. All this is definitely worth knowing.

    Sam, we’ve got an open post next week to get through first. 😉

    Info, because they’ve been taught by the public schools that repeating back canned sound bites on cue is what they ought to do instead of thinking. As for the binary between individualism and collectivism, that’s only a mess because Faustian thinkers automatically push both of them to dysfunctional extremes!

    BB, interesting. Thanks for the data points.

    Petr, the phrase “intentional community” is standard jargon in the English-speaking world for a group living situation ruled by a shared ideology. Sharing a place with housemates lacks that ideological aspect, and so it tends to work a lot better.

    Aloysius, funny! Yes, you could probably read the stories that way.

    Pushkin, I read A Hero of Our Time in my high school Russian class; I’m sure I missed most of the irony, but it was a fun read. Your broader point seems spot on to me.

    Booklover, and yet many European countries have sky-high vaccinations rates…

    Blue Sun, just one of the services I offer. 😉

    Balowulf, I first got used to that kind of defeatism in the environmental movement, where people love to pose as heroic defenders of the Earth going down gloriously before the unstoppable legions of Progress. Yes, it’s also very common among conservatives in the comfortable classes. In both cases they’re playing their assigned roles in the morality play of Progress Triumphant, and they have their reward. Thanks for the heads up about country music — it’s not a genre I listen to, so I wasn’t aware of that very portentous shift.

    Chris, hang onto your hat. I honestly won’t be surprised at this point if oil tops US$200 a barrel in the next year or two. As for Evergrande, I’ve been watching that closely. A major crash in Chinese real estate plus soaring energy costs could leave the global economy doubled over and groaning…

    Denis, exactly. Everyone wants to be the leader, but nobody realizes you learn how to lead by learning how to follow — you have to experience both sides of that relationship or you’ll never understand it at all.

    Justin, I ain’t arguing at all. Every would-be Communist I’ve ever met was primarily motivated by seething envy of people who were capable of having a life.

    Clarence, I’ll consider it.

    Spiritus, the cultures of eastern Europe are in an intermediate zone — it’s something that happens quite often in history. Like most nations, they draw on influences from all sides and create their own synthesis from it. I hope the Poles can get over their inferiority complex; western Europe is going down in flames, and the nations of eastern Europe don’t have to follow the same route.

    Mike, that’s exactly the issue. If you’re going to establish a viable settlement you’re going to have to work hard day in and day out. Your floaty hippie types can’t or won’t tolerate that — though there are plenty of young people who can and will.

    Scotlyn, there are quite a few of us here!

    Methylethyl, yes, that’ll explain it. Welcome to the retro future…

    Millicently, thank you! I’ll consider that series of Wagner posts.

    Ben, 1) yes. 2) I hope so, but it’s early days yet. 3) My guess is that Mexico will rise to regional-power status quite promptly after the US implodes, and it may well exercise a great deal of cultural influence over the former United States. Since nobody retains that status indefinitely, I expect that they’ll be in the downward end of the cycle when the future Tamanous culture gets under way circa 2600 AD.

  162. How is the “tamanous vision” different from same-old american individualism – which opened the floodgates for the modern isolation, the rat race, increased lack of shared culture (aside from glorifications of the above), mass market consumption, and so on?

    After all, the truth as “discovery unique to each person” might as well spell them out as “snowflakes”.

  163. Recently a friend told me he was reading “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, and he asked me what I thought of it. I haven’t read any of Nietzsche before so I found a summary of it online and spent about an hour reading through it. “The will to power” came up several times during the summary. I was wondering if your use of the term comes from this or if it is more common than I have noticed. Zarathustra is one of those who has found the truth and is trying to educate the rabble, but finds himself mocked.
    I’m reminded of the scene in The Matrix where Neo talks to the oracle. He is basically told that the wisdom he has gained is only useful to himself and no-one else wants to hear it. This seems to mesh with Tamanous nicely.

  164. Here is a potential template of what a political system based on tamanous might look like;

    One of the most fascinating but little known aspects of American history is the Comanche Empire, which was the dominant military power in central North America for more than a century. But unlike the other great empires of history, there were no kings, emperors, caliphs, sultans or great khans. Instead, the Comanche were a diffuse and decentralized network of tribal bands held together by a common culture and sense of identity.

    That didn’t stop them from becoming a military powerhouse. By the mid 1840’s, the Comanche had become so powerful they had driven the Mexicans almost completely out of Alta Mexico and destroyed Mexico as a major military power. losses the Mexicans still haven’t recovered from. Comanche raiding parties ranged as far south as Mexico City with impunity and by the time the gringos invaded Mexico in 1848, they found that Mexicans had been reduced to a few besieged settlements and forts in what is now the southwestern USA.

    John Michael wrote If you’ve spent time “on the res” with Native Americans you’ll have noticed what, to the Faustian mind, is a weird formlessness in social events. People drift in and out, there’s no schedule and no agenda, things happen when they happen, but somehow everything gets done.

    The Comanche built an entire empire based on those principles. It’s no wonder why our Faustian elites don’t want the masses to know about their achievements. Too many people, be they Native American, Deplorable or otherwise, might start getting some uppity ideas if only they knew…

  165. Malice @159, For what it might be worth, I suspect that in coming centuries the North Atlantic and Scandinavia, coasts and islands, will be home to a collection of seafaring nations loosely united by similar languages and shared history. The day may come when farmers are again required to grow hemp for cordage and sails, and all building will be required to be done in stone or concrete, saving trees for masts. Men going to sea and women farming is a division of labor I could like. Denmark, a very small nation, remember, repatriating migrants is, I think, a pretty strong indication of trends to come.

    Dennis @ 125, the best supervisors I have worked under made sure everyone knew their jobs, did not resent being asked to explain, and kept the bossy cows off our backs. Work was completed and morale was good.

    I suspect that volunteerism as has been done recently is disappearing for a number of reasons. For one thing, it has been far too easy for outside bad actors to infiltrate and poison the well. When that happens, your productive members leave. For another, you need money to operate and donors set the priorities, which might have very little or nothing to do with why you started the organization in the first place.

  166. “it would be very interesting to do a detailed study of those communities that work, and figure out what they do right. I haven’t done that, other than taking a good hard look at monasteries and Shaker villages.”

    I have heard that it was done. A friend who was thinking about intentional community did some research (in the late 1990s, I think) and found this study that looked at intentional communities founded during and just after the Vietnam War era, comparing the few that succeeded to the many that failed and looking for correlations. He told me that there were three factors consistent with success and every successful community had at least two of them, but no particular two. The three were:

    1. A common religion or other philosophy which all members must adhere to.

    2. A charismatic leader.

    3. A practice of networking with other communities.

    I seem to vaguely recall that Dunbar’s Number also played a role.

    If you want, I can ask him if he remembers it and, if he doesn’t, dig around on my own and see if I can find it.

  167. With all due respect, I am a bit confused by this post. It begins with you railing against someone having and expressing the idea of organizing a group based on an ideology (particularly on the ideas brought forth by you non the less) and that you seem to think that that is a fools errand. Perhaps I missed a point.
    I would ask is there any other way that human groups come together and form than around an ideology of some sort?
    obviously many have fallen by the way side. Many bad ideas fall like so many dead flies. Non the less, I’m not sure you made your case against intentional communities. if in fact that was your intention. What was the intention?
    You mentioned “the rez” and how people came and went, seemingly as they pleased, with no overt guidance. yet everything was done that was needed. Isn’t that because they are all part of the same ideology, or underlining-story( if you will)?
    Isn’t it the quality of the story, and a peoples ability to follow along individually and collectively that is the determining factor of the success or failure of an intentional community?
    i can think of many success stories of intentional communities. Countries, towns, religious communities…They are literally abound.
    There has to be more productive things we can do besides weather stripping, building solar water heaters, composting, and waiting around for blog post. Please no offense. yours are the best.
    i feel quite alone, in my immediate physical surroundings, when it comes to the issues talked about on this blog.
    I could build a hose. I could make thousands of trees from one tree. I can raise animals, hunt, pick mushrooms…
    Are you saying that a intentional community formed around the ideologies of your writing (and assuming we all read other writings, and have life skills that are useful and adaptable (and so are similarly inclined)) is just a crazed fantasy doomed to fail?

  168. “I’d point out that the survival of a technology depended on whether it was economically viable, not on whether it was technically feasible, and people would look blank and talk about technical feasibility as if that was the only thing that mattered.”

    Some of the lefty bloggers I follow use “capitalism-compatible” as a synonym for economically viable. They are sure that as soon as we dispossess the billionaires, we’ll have as much money as we need to do whatever we want. I don’t blame them, considering the unprecedented heights to which a few well-publicized individuals’ personal wealth has risen, but they don’t understand how much of that wealth is built on financial bubbles and is therefore most likely to go the way bubbles go at the next bit of major economic turbulence.

  169. Speaking of communities, intentional and otherwise. I spent my first year here either playing Let’s Pretend (I don’t see that contrail in the sky; on the backside of the lake, I’m alone in the woods (and here comes somebody with their lapdog), etc) or complaining about things that rubbed me raw. Between the lockdown, and intensive work and meditation between then and now, I’m at a place where the Let’s Pretend feels stupid, and the latest new resident telling Dining what to do (as I did incessantly before the lockdown, which meant “eat what they give you; you have no choice,” irritates me immensely.

    Now, after two years and 4 months here, and the topic of this blog post, I realize –

    I wanted a small community. This is it, a village of 600-750 people. That it’s all old people is a feature; I can see families and children when I take the shopping bus, or to any other place off campus.
    These are my fellow villagers, whether I like them or not. (And mostly I do, on a casual basis.)
    This building is my neighborhood, and the people who sit out on its front porch are my neighbors, ditto.
    The fourth floor of my wing is the block I live on. These are my immediate neighbors.
    I wanted a coffee shop. This village has a coffee shop. That it’s a Starbucks is what it has. You don’t move into a place and whine about what’s there. Even if it came in a year and a half after you did. It has two restaurants, one of between my neighborhood and the two next door; the other at the other end of town. That’s what you got. Eat there or get takeout or fix something for yourself.
    And – one of these days, the sight of the lit-up dormitories (switching metaphors here) from the lakeside path will be as fond a memory as the city lights of San Francisco from my parents’ hillside house.

    This has been sneaking up on me, but the entire picture came to me in meditation, and seems so simple now. I do remind those reading this (and myself) that “simple” =! “easy,” or any fool could have wisdom.

  170. …with regards to my comment; I have not yet read the comment thread, so feel free to not respond if you have already addressed my thoughts.

  171. @ team10 tim, #110

    There is growing evidence that agriculture first appeared in Sundaland and New Guinea, based on the cultivation of crops like rice, sweet potatoes and taro and the domestication of chickens and pigs, predating the domestication of wheat, cattle, sheep and goats in Anatolia and the Fertile Crescent by centuries if not millennia. The Southeast Asian model of agriculture is far more sustainable, and will be much better suited to the climate conditions that are coming.

  172. Dermotok, I have indeed read several of John Gray’s books — always thought-provoking, even when I disagree with some of the details. I hope you’re right about Ireland’s Second Religiosity!

    Deneb, thanks for this. Exactly; the American character right now is not even half-formed yet, still (especially in the comfortable classes) heavily overlaid with half-understood Faustian formulae, still (especially in the laboring classes) fumbling in the dark toward something not yet even imagined. It’ll be some centuries before our descendants finally reach the point at which a great culture can be born here, and until then we’ll be neither fish nor fowl nor good red meat. Thanks for the heads up on LaFond — that sounds like my kind of fantasy!

    Yupped, that makes a great deal of sense. Are you familiar with the Peter Principle? It deals with questions of scale in much the same way.

    Neptunesdolphins, it was indeed. I also lived in a commune for a while, without electricity, running water, or any heat other than a woodstove; I enjoyed the conditions but the inability of anyone to accomplish anything got dreary after a while.

    Slithy Toves, actually, in a certain sense, Hesiod got it right. Rome’s power trickled away slowly in a world that, to its inhabitants, felt old and tired and hopeless. Thus I’m concerned about the myths.

    Awkwardly, so noted! I should probably have said that it was people who chose one of those two names for themselves; I’d never met anyone before who’d had one of them given to them at birth.

    Bruno, nah, we’ve been through the first — the Faustian pseudomorphosis. The sobornost culture might be the second.

    Myriam, if it was, would I talk about it?

    Anon, that’s an excellent question to which I don’t have the answer. It interests me that the parts of North America that used to belong to the continent of Avalonia — yes, that’s what geologists call it! — have a vibe that seems oddly similar to, say, Somerset.

    Owen, so noted, but I’m not sure I’d agree.

    Patricia M, so noted! I’ll see what the library has.

    Jeff, sigh. Hope springs infernal…

    Robert, now you’ve made me wish that P.G. Wodehouse had written a theory of historical cycles. I can imagine Bertie Wooster setting it out enthusiastically to a group of baffled friends, all of whom are as drunk as he is, while Jeeves looks on impassively from a distance. 😉

    Paleobear, well, yes. But an astonishing number of people still haven’t grasped that our Mars probes didn’t land on Barsoom.

    Justin, thanks for this!

    Whd, that sounds like a much more practical idea.

    Monster, yep. The history of communes is a marvelous collection of unlearned lessons.

    Aziz, thank you. Péladan’s a fave of mine — I’m currently working on translating a couple of his books.

    Malice, that’s an exceedingly complex question to which I have no easy answers. Britain looks both ways, east to Europe, west across the Atlantic, and some parts of the American northeast — including the very appositely named New England — have some of that same energy.

    N.N., too obvious.

    Paradoctor, Utopian fantasy is one of the core elements of the Faustian dream, and one of the places that it falls flat most dramatically; Bergerud’s Law seems sound to me. The best approximation I can think of just now to Pantopian literature is the Illuminatus! trilogy, but doubtless other examples will come to mind in due time.

    Teresa, it is indeed. It’s one of the themes in my tentacle fiction, for that matter!

    Esteban, email Aeon Games and let them know what the trouble is. They’ve been having some glitches and should be able to sort things out for you.

    Julia, true, and you could as well cite the history of Buddhist monasticism as an additional source of examples. There are Japanese monasteries, for example, that are well over a millennium old now.

    European, American individualism under the Faustian pseudomorphosis always has an imperial subtext — the rat race is a competition to be the One Big Ego, for example, and the special snowflakes of today’s avant-garde (as common in Europe these days as over here, btw) are always proclaiming their own superior uniqueness (sic) to everyone else. The Tamanous vision discards that. Once you realize that your truth and your path are yours alone and don’t apply to anybody else, the frantic inflation of the ego that’s so much a part of our pseudomorphosis has no further justification.

    Piper, Nietzsche expressed more clearly than anybody else the central theme of Faustian culture, the will to power — it could as well be called, as Spengler did, a will to infinite extension. I’ve read Nietzche closely, and he’s always good as a spur to thought, but — well, I discussed him at length in my book After Progress, and that discussion is fairly critical.

    Bruno, thanks for this.

    Galen, the native peoples of the Plains and the Metis communities of western Canada are among the examples that come first to mind when I think of prefigurations of Tamanous culture.

    Joan, if you can find that, that would be very welcome.

    Travis, most human communities organize around practical necessities, and if a shared ideology evolves — and it need not do so — it comes later, organically, as an expression of shared needs and interests. You say there are many success stories of intentional communities; I encourage you to do a little more research, and discover just how massively outweighed they are by the failures. As for an intentional community based on my ideas — dear gods, that would be a total disaster. I’d be surprised if it lasted two months, much less the average lifespan of two years.

    Joan, that’s really sad. They haven’t realized the difference between money and wealth?

    Patricia, “simple” usually equals “insanely difficult.” Congratulations on accomplishing something simple.

  173. Marvellous essay, very insightful! It put words to thoughts I myself have had but not been able to articulate.

    I am Swedish, so not exactly in the heartland of Faustian civilization but close enough. I wonder what the future has in store for us here in Northwestern Europe. I mean in the sense of what will eventually replace Faustian civilization. Do you have any inklings?

  174. My dear Sir!

    I hereby dub you with the Post-nominal letters SC. Yes, that would be: Mr John Michael Greer SC. The acronym incidentally stands for: ‘Super Cheeky’, and the title derives from the – and here let me blatantly steal from another of your regular readers – the land of Kitten. Your comment in relation to Wagner arose a certain sort of fascinated horror. 🙂 Will he do it, won’t he do it, and honestly none of us here know the truth of the matter. And indeed, a touch of plausibility makes for the best jokes of all.

    And I’m still not entirely certain that you weren’t joking around. 🙂 Masterful use of the language!



  175. Joan’s list of necessary items (#175) for a planned community to succeed reminded me of one.

    Gaviotas. It’s a village built in the one of the least hospitable parts of Columbia, South America.

    It’s an eco-village, has (or had) a charismatic leader, and worked with the locals doing practical things.

    They seem to still be a going concern.

    Part of the reason might be that the land they’re located on (high-altitude and wretched climate) is so awful and so hard to make a living on that no-one else wants it badly enough to take it away.

    Alan Weisman wrote a recently updated book on the subject:

  176. Mr Greer,
    This is the first time that I have ever heard about the Tamanous culture. It sounds an awful lot like what I refer to as ‘autonomous individualism’, which involves a radical rejection of any sort of authority. The authority rejection that I have observed has included deliberate attempts to undermine the leadership of groups, as well as attempts to disrupt hierarchical social orders. The people that I have observed behaving in such a manner have a difficulty working together in groups, even if they are working towards a common goal. I am not sure how such individuals can even be considered part of a ‘culture’, since the only thing uniting them is the fact that they all follow their own vision. It might be different on an Indian Reservation, because at least on the Res, everybody involved is a member of the tribe. Individuals within a hypothetical future Tamanous culture may remember that they were all Americans at one point in time, but I’m not sure if that would be enough to create a folk identity.

  177. “It occurs to me, in fact, that intentional communities are the precise countercultural equivalent of another strange attractor of the modern mind, the flying car.”

    While I agree that there’s a certain amount of the same Faustian grandiosity in both, I believe that the roots of the impulse to intentional community go much deeper. They arise directly from the almost unique weakness of the extended family in Anglophone culture, especially in the last century or so since the industrial economy, based on mass hiring, eclipsed the agrarian economy of interlocking family businesses as the way most of us get our livelihood. In industrial capitalism, everyone is potentially everyone else’s competitor, and that’s more true the higher on the prestige scale you go. So no one trusts anyone, no one really gets to know anyone, and the more expensive the neighborhood, the more perfectly the following bit of satire in the style of an official government notice hits home.

    “Australian Government
    Department of the Inexplicable


    During the last census it was discovered that many homes in this area are actually replicas. It is not yet known who has placed them here or why. These non dwellings are made mostly out of styrofoam, cardboard and glue. Interior lights are connected to timing switches, and all sounds – barking dogs, late night arguments, etc. – are just projeted recordings on a constant loop.

    Any information regarding this matter would be greatly appreciated, but it is strongly advised that you continue with your usual routines and maintain a safe distance from unfamiliar buidings until all investigations are complete.”

    (Photo of original at

    And yet the young people who grow up there are led to believe (exaggerating only slightly for effect) that all that exists beyond their own sterile suburb are crime-riddled cities, Westboro Baptist Church types, and people of color who look on white strangers with historically understandable mistrust. Add a basic leftist understanding of our culture’s basis in conquest and exploitation, environmentalist knowledge of its unsustainability, and a combination of high social needs with a certain incompetence when it comes to getting those needs met in ordinary ways, and the dream of intentional community will reawaken no matter how many times it crashes and burns.

  178. Picking up on the Nietzsche thread, I think both the Antichrist and the Will to Power are perfect expressions of the Faustian culture. But Nietzsche also noted that such “philosophies” came at the end of long periods of culture and were, in fact, the fruits of those cultures. I still don’t really know what he was trying to do with Zarathustra but it strikes me that Zarathustra is the One who Finds the Truth all alone on a mountain but Nietzsche makes him come down to “the people” to spread his wisdom. Was Nietzsche the ultimate expression of Faustian man in philosophy? Hadn’t thought about it like that before but it makes sense.

  179. @Travis:

    In New England, the older villages functioned as intentional communities, and some of them still do, despite the passing of centuries. And, despite the stereotypes about Puritanism, each of these villages shared not so much an ideology as a spectrum of more or less related ideologies, while allowing plenty of room for dissenters and the otherwise-minded.

    The foremost commonality within such a village was not any ideology, but its customs of self-governance through its town council and the selectmen who were its members, its constable(s), its levies (what we now call taxes or duties, whether in money or mandated work), earmarks, and its commons.

    One pair of my ancestors, John and Joanna (Pratt) Cushman, ten generations before mine, lived in Plympton (now in Massachusetts, but back then in Old Plymouth Colony). They fell on very hard times and were unable to maintain themselves. The Plympton town council took care of them, even to the extent of paying for a doctor on one occasion. To be sure, their care was quite frugal. But almost everyone who lived in Plympton back then had to live quite frugally.

    There are places, especially in the rural (usually northern) parts of New England and in rural Rhode Island, where this old way of maintaining workable intentional communities still flourishes. It seems certain to endure through the coming age of slow collapse.

  180. “It’s only in Faustian culture that the transhumanist Alan Harrington could publicly proclaim that death is “an unacceptable imposition on the human race” without being taken away to a nice padded cell.”

    I think you’re being a bit harsh on Harrington. Most people, including most on this blog, believe death is unacceptable. The difference is they believe people don’t truly “die” and that instead people are supernatural spirits that live on forever or are reincarnated forever (An afterlife of people continuously growing and lasting forever sounds a lot like Faustian infinite growth to me). I don’t see how that belief is fundamentally that different than the transhumanist idea of biological immortality through science.

  181. @teresa #165

    Thank you! I was hoping others would add to it, I’m certainly not an expert, I’ve only lived in a few small communities 🙂 I hope this helps some people realize a rural life is doable, if you accept it for what it was before you got there.

  182. Hmmm. Perhaps by saying “I am the Science,” it reveals that Tony Fauci sees himself as ‘The One Who Found the Truth.’

    Even if others don’t see him that way, he certainly seems to see himself as ‘TOWFTT.’

  183. Galen @ 180 What is the Southeast Asian model of agriculture? Slash and burn would hardly work in temperate NA because our forests don’t grow back fast enough.

  184. Booklover,

    The men are caught in that same self-destructive cycle. Every single one has the same generic love of all things, even if their main passion is playing video games. When I was on those websites every single person had books, movies, hiking, partying on their interests. The viciousness of that particular pattern is that everyone has to find a way to present themselves as unique individuals in a very very narrow set of standards.

    I wonder what the gods of love and passion think about this whole affair.



  185. Archdruid,

    I’m still trying to figure out the Faustian sudo-morphasis in India. On a broad political scale one of the things I can clearly say is happening is the awakening of a pan-dharmic consciousness. Honestly though, I don’t even know what I’m looking for to determine the effects of the mix.

  186. JMG,

    That’s… disconcerting. The good news is both myths end with a new world being born under new-ish management (Baldr in Norse version, Jesus in the Christian). It’s possible that points to a post-Faustian civilization, but it’s also consistent with the myths that Faustian culture gets a second wind in a modified form.

  187. JMG, it’s funny – for a lot of us that read your blog(s), you’re the person who’s discovered the one truth, and raised a bright banner that says collapse now and skip the rush.

  188. @JMG regarding your reply to me in comment #109, when I think back to my early days in Japan 35 years ago, part of the culture shock I dealt with was that while they copied our culture in slavish detail, their grasp of it was skin deep. This would show up in their reactions to my behaviors until I finally learned how to behave in ways they could understand and accept.
    At this point, I’m really not sure how deep their adoration of transhumanism runs, but it strikes me as being quite broad and deep, independently of international trends. I think hard physical limits are the only thing that will stop it, and then they’ll take up something new. Their fads can run from a few weeks to a few hundred years, but they create very strong sudden demand for things.
    I’m being called away, so I will post this rather half-digested rumination, with apologies.

  189. “…..[I]n some of the material I’ve read, there’s a claim that the divine will arrange for anyone foolish enough to sell their soul to have three chances to walk away. The first will be shortly after the deal and will usually be unpleasant but not catastrophic, while taking the third chance is usually truly awful: becoming homeless or being forced to leave everyone you know. After the third, the divine will walk away, so to speak, and allow you to suffer whatever fate the demons decide.

    Well, we’ve had three periods during which the first steps we’d need to take became clear, and yet next to no one acted on them for long enough to matter. The first was the turn of the twentieth century, when coal prices started to rise high enough to cause problems. Faustian society went all in on petroleum instead, and we got a lot of benefits from it, but also massive social problems….”

    Or, alternatively looking solely at oil: the late 1920s and early 1930s, when the cost of the Oil Age started to become clear to a great many people; the 1970s when the inevitable end of the Oil Age came in sight; and the 2000s, when the end of the Age of Oil became impossible to ignore. Hmm.

  190. Hi JMG,

    I absolutely loved this post!

    I remember sitting in class in university when the presenter of the day talked about Peak Oil and Limits to Growth, and I remember seeing the graph and I figured something like “Clearly we’re gonna hit some big trouble, but I got until 2020-2025 to sort something out.” However I didn’t internalize Peak Oil and some of its implications until 2007-8 when I found LATOC, from where I found your blog and many other articles.

    Despite your 2007 post titled “Where are the lifeboat communities?”, I too had the reflex of trying to find or found a rural community, and I eventually prepared a list of parameters which determined what kind of land I’d buy, which I did, though I can tell you there’s no one living there (nor is there much in terms of buildings). No harm, I’d like to keep it, as it is a wonderful slice of country life not too far from the beaten path.

    Then in 2012 you posted “Collapse now and avoid the rush”, which clearly struck a chord since that line keeps being used all over your blogs. Obviously a very good idea in a time of shrinking purchasing power etc., I have been living my life since a decade before that so that DH and I could live on one income, even foregoing a car for 5 years, quickly raking in the savings once we ditched the lemon. I know I could have spent more wisely at times, but I know my work colleagues have much more expensive houses and vehicles than I, and for the most part all couples have both partners working by necessity to pay bills.

    But I still hadn’t figured it all out until this week, when I thought back to when you were describing your reasons for a move to a smaller city that would be more likely to thrive post-peak (hoping I’m not paraphrasing too badly). I had been looking around my parts to find a town or city matching the same requirements, and apparently I never managed to open my eyes and see the obvious until just a few days ago: there is a city just 1.5 hours away by road, on the water, on the rail lines, established over 200 years ago, nice and compact, with some cultural diversity (i.e. not too WASPy), with relatively affordable farm land nearby.

    It is in my nature not to see the obvious for a while, but this one really hit me because it should have been so obvious all along. I could have moved there years ago and lived a life closer to what I wanted to achieve along the lines you described, but things are the way they are and I’m working now with what I’ve got.

    On a separate note, regarding “tamanous”, I haven’t been “on the res” as such, though I have been invited to Pow wows a couple times, and the way you describe how things get done is very accurate of my experience at those events. Kind of reminds me of the notion of “do-ocracy” I read about recently (it was in the context of intentional communities): if something needs doing and you do it, you get to decide how it’s done.

    Keep up the great writing!

  191. “Slithy Toves, actually, in a certain sense, Hesiod got it right. Rome’s power trickled away slowly in a world that, to its inhabitants, felt old and tired and hopeless. Thus I’m concerned about the myths.”

    One myth that’s been popular in pop Christianity for a couple centuries now really bothers me, and has for a while: the Rapture, where right before The End Times, the “righteous” are whisked off to heaven. If one possible interpretation I see is accurate, then it suggests a lot of deaths will be coming in the near future: The End Times could be the end of Faustian Civilization; the “righteous” plausibly refers to those who are most connected to the Faustian; and “going to heaven” and similar such phrases are often used as a euphemism for died. In other words, right before Faustian Civilization comes unglued, the people who are most inclined to the Faustian worldview will die en masse.

    I can see lots of ways this could play out, but the fact that right now there is a poorly tested drug (a very Faustian thing) being used to try to cheat death (a very Faustian goal), where similar products have caused mass deaths in animals before, and which is wildly popular in the Faustian Heartland of Western Europe and among the social classes around the world which have been most strongly influenced by a Faustian Pseudomorphosis seems very concerning in that light…..

  192. “Malice, it would be very interesting to do a detailed study of those communities that work, and figure out what they do right. I haven’t done that, other than taking a good hard look at monasteries and Shaker villages.”

    Dmitry Orlov wrote a book some years ago called ‘Communities That Abide’, in which he looks at several multigenerational communities and writes about the commonalities behind their success.

  193. All this talk of Faustian Culture reminds me of the last song on the Eagles Album “Hotel California”. “ The Last Resort” tells the tale of the expansion of Faustian culture across the American continent from Providence RI to my wife’s birthplace of Lahaina Maui and got almost no airplay unlike the rest of the hugely successful album. For those not familiar with it a few verses will give you the flavor:

    “ Who will provide the grand design?
    What is yours and what is mine?
    ‘Cause there is no more new frontier
    We have got to make it here
    We satisfy our endless needs
    And justify our bloody deeds
    In the name of destiny
    And in the name of God”

  194. @Piper at the Gates, re comment 170: very interesting!
    What the oracle taught Neo is basically what the Shinto priests I studied that religion with taught me. They said not to talk very much about the spiritual experiences I was having, because those were very personal and would not apply to other people. Those experiences were never meant to be shared, they said. With “8 million gods” you could get a personal spiritual guide for more than half of the people in metropolitan Tokyo! (Note that by “8 million” the ancient Japanese meant “gazillion.”) Furthermore, beyond certain set rules on how to conduct a ceremony (any of which can be set aside if you have a reason), how you perform your prayer in particular is an art and expected to be individual. Thus Japan at its heart has this tamanous element, very similar to that of continental shamans and the Native American religions that I am aware of. It also has a strongly sobornost element from Confucianism, a more recent import from the continent, which provides good counsel for getting along in complex civilizations, but can be very rigid, and the strongly Faustian element I’ve described to our host above, which seems to dominate at this time (though I’m not sure how deeply, as they are mostly emulating the successful West. The tamanous element is most strongly suppressed at this time, especially with Shinto perceived as to blame for World War II (winners get to establish the narrative), yet it is still very much at the heart of Japan, and is one reason I could get along here as well as I did.

  195. It would be amusing to see the triple backflip mental gymnastics by Individualists who is completely against collectivism are forced by circumstances to be communitarian.

    Collectivism whilst swearing up and down it isn’t collectivism. Being a King whilst being “First Citizen” just like you and me.

  196. “Info, because they’ve been taught by the public schools that repeating back canned sound bites on cue is what they ought to do instead of thinking.”

    The men in power could control the education of their youth- they could control their minds. They opted for the Prussian education model as it promised the results they were seeking. The Prussian education model bestowed the strings of education to the men in power and promised unity and a “worker bee” mentality on a large scale. The results would be generational, but the effects would reverberate throughout American history.

    In contrast to the Classical education System. This Prussian Model that people go through in Public Schools. Train them to be NPCs.

    Not only so that they repeat scripts downloaded into their minds from the media and other mainstream info outlets.

    But also repeating behaviorial scripts as is conditioned into them since that school system.

    Its no accident I believe.

  197. JMG, thank you for your reply.

    Yeah, that’s the conclusion I’m reaching, too. Even within the country there’s a cultural line between West and East – the old border between the German and Russian Empires – and you really do see a difference (for instance, look at an election results map, especially from a decade ago, and you’ll see a pre-Great-War border!)

    I think that the tension between the Slavic spirit and the Western culture has always been there, which turns up, inter alia, in the aforementioned inferiority complex. Conservative, and poorer people cover it up with moral superiority (the “rotten West”, as opposed to the faithfully Christian Poland) and fantasies of eastern expansion, while in the more left-wing/liberal, richer circles, among the same people who’ll instist that Poland is irrevocably part of Europe, it is fashionable to talk of Poles as barbarians in need of (or incapable of) getting civilized to “get to the level” of say, Germany of France.

    On another note, I’m curious — when discussing civilizations’ historic decline, it is common, if somewhat old-fashioned, to list among its causes moral decadence. Do you think it’s true that once a civilization ossifies, people become more morally corrupt, or are they just poor souls taken for a ride by fate — or is it, as I guess, something in between?

  198. JMG, the difference between the heartlands of the Faustian culture and its periphery is obviously more complex than I made it out to be. I was talking about such things as vaccine mandates for jobs and the severity of lockdowns. In Europe, many people have drunk the kool-aid of corona vaccinations, but there are differences between the European countries. Ireland has one of the highest vaccination rates, Roumania one of the lowest – around 30 %, due to mistrust against the vaccines. In Germany the vaccination rate is currently 70%-80%.

  199. JMG, Carlos M. Apparently “self driving” vehicles simply can’t cope with bicycles (sadly the likely response to that will be to severely limit cycle access to roads, as happened in China, to give more room to cars sometime back… a mind numbingly stupid decision), and I read an article where the journalist asked a tech wizard (sorry, obviously an insult to wizards) in Silicon Valley how the cars would deal with “naughty teenagers” who continually stepped out onto the road and then back from the car. The wizard’s only response was a mystified “but why would they do that”! Clearly they’d never visited Glasgow, Scotland. Endless hours of fun for some people in the near future 🙂 . I was amazed, and pleased the last time I was in NYC, after a long time since my last visit, just how much cycling infrastructure there was. I lived in London for a couple of decades, and cycling is just the perfect means of transport in a dense (“European” style) city, you can plan journeys to within ten minutes (like walking, but slower), unlike any other means of transport. People would say to me, oh it’s far too dangerous… no it’s not, cars don’t move in Central London!

  200. I’m sure I have read articles where you talk about him. I’ve put After Progress on my reading list.

  201. Although I may be too late here for anyone to see, to the other Australians asking about what our intrinsic cultural underpinnings outside of Faustian culture are or may be, I suggest you look to both the indigenous culture and also developments between around 1850 to the first world war.

    The outlaw Ned Kelly is a cultural hero, and Waltzing Matilda is a national song about a sheep thief who commits suicide in a billabong after being caught. Now there is a certain Irish essence to Ned Kelly’s rebellion, but also there is a continual theme that we are seeing play out at present with the covid fiasco, that of a tyrannical government pursuing a wandering wild man of the land, in which the government wins physically but the wild man wins spiritually. This obviously goes to the heart of the colonial treatment of the first nations peoples (see Eureka stockade too). There is something that pulls us deeply here to the natural world and to be in it and journeying across it, just look at how much camping and road tripping goes on here. Most of us are still Faustians and run back to the city after a brief visit, but for a lot of us something is pulling us deeper into itself, revisiting ancient spiritual pathways. The insanely Faustian government is obviously terrified of this and has been since settlement, and I can see it retreating further and further to its coastal fortresses until it sails away completely.

    As to whether a great culture will form here, we’ll maybe one already did. When people arrived here 50,000 plus years ago it was a much wetter place, with big inland rivers booming through what is now the arid channel country, creating the concentrated energy situation that leads to intensifying culture and civilisation. This could have been related to JMGs sundaland hypothesis, as New Guinea is of course a part of the Australian continent, we just like to think its not for political reasons (it is closer than Tasmania, is on the same tectonic plate as us, has the same families of fauna and flora, during the last ice age you could walk there, honestly it’s very strange that we do not associate with it.) Without fossil fuels, this usually can only occur in big river valleys or archipelagos/small seas, as it allows the energy flows of large areas to be concentrated in one place. So much time has passed that we will never know. If one were to form in the future it would most likely form in the Murray Darling Basin or the east coast river valleys, as they (barely) have the river power necessary to do so, but only if rainfall stays at least somewhat constant which is a big if in present day Australia. It is interesting to note that the aboriginal peoples may have been in the process of intensifying again over the last 1000 years in particular in south western Victoria on the relatively moist volcanic Plains. Who knows.

  202. “Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.”

    Wendell Berry

    One more quote that I think applies to tamanous idea. And Wendell lives firmly and “stickily” (in his words) in northern Kentucky probably in the center or so of the Midwest area where you envision the rise of this new society.

    Eric in Maryland

  203. One more as it also fits very well. Will stop now. Thanks.

    “A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”

    Wendell Berry

  204. @ JMG – One the topic of our immediate future – what might be the inverse of the hopeful possibilities for the present moment? The PMC manages to bury any nascent movements through one means or another? Or that those movements emerge, but veer in a destructive direction? I could play out all sorts of grim scenarios, but in the interest of not staring too deeply into the darkness, I’ll leave those unwritten.

    As for the far future, you wrote that you think Mexico will rise to regional power status quite quickly, but then be on the decline by 2600, when the creative minority around the Great Lakes or Ohio River really starts to work through the founding stages of the Tamanous culture. Does that mean you don’t think Mexico will birth another ‘great culture’ or that it will, but maybe that great culture will rise in the much further future, like the early 4000s? Or will the Neo-Nahuatl culture re-emerge after its centuries of domination by Spanish/Faustian Culture, experience a renaissance that coincides with Mexico’s rise, and then begins to decline at the same time as the Mexican state?

    I wish I could say I thought of this last possibility myself, but recall reading the idea, that the great cultures of the Americans had not been extinguished by European conquest, but had only ‘gone dormant’, to rise again after the last vestiges of European rule had been thrown off, somewhere in Toynbee’s ‘Study of History’.

  205. The stone chambers that litter New England (such as the Kings Stone Chamber in Fahnestock State park and the New England Stonehenge), also seem to suggest a connection with that part of the American landmass and that of England, Ireland, etc. I’ve felt that way on my visits to Maine where I have family. I guess the same is true of Nova Scotia.

    Here in Ohio I hope to continue to explore what the land and our own mounds and ancient forts have to teach.

  206. JMG – In the category of “never let historical facts get in the way of a good political story”, a front-page, above-the-fold feature of today’s Washington Post is “Growing hotter and drier, cradle of civilization is turning into a grave: Southern Iraq, its water scarce and fields brown, is an omen of humanity’s future, scientists warn.” Global warming, climate change, and (oh, by the way, Turkey and Iran have dammed some rivers). Not even a hint that Saddam Hussein’s government intentionally directed water away from the rebellious “Marsh Arabs”!

    Even Wikipedia has a dedicated article on “Draining of the Mesopotamian Marshes”.

  207. @ Malice – I read your blog post, and I can see how the Iroquois system would look ‘Anarcho-Monarchic’. Based on my, admittedly superficial, understanding of the confederacy, sachems at the tribal level were elected, and were certainly not monarchs, at least in a European sense. They functioned more as build consensus between inside their tribes, to maintain internal cohesion. The Great Sachem was also elected, and served for a specific period of time, and could be peacefully deposed at any point, by a council of sachems from all the tribes of the confederacy.

    (If that structure looks suspiciously familiar, that’s because it served as a blueprint for both the Articles of Confederation and the US Constitution.)

    Anyhow, from my, again, limited, understanding, just about the only times the Iroquois took up and collective task with any enthusiasm, it was fighting with the neighboring Algonquin tribes, as war, indeed any violence, was forbidden between the tribes of the confederacy.

    Fun side note, the Iroquois invented the sport of lacrosse, and used matches between tribes to settle disputes, if some agreement could not be reached through the auspices of the Great Sachem.

    Unfortunately for the Iroquois, this lack of a strong sovereign, as well as European diseases, is largely considered to be a key weakness the Europeans, mostly English and Dutch, were able to exploit to bring about the collapse of the Confederacy. All that was a long, round about way of saying, I would like to see someone give such a system of governance another try.
    Do you think conditions coming out of the future dark ages be conducive to such a system?

  208. Ah yes, Illuminatus! An excellent example of pantopian literature. Robert Anton Wilson sure knew how to put the Pan in Pantopia! So of course his Snafu Principle applies. In Pantopia, communication cannot cross a power gap! You may want to tell the boss what he needs to hear, but you need to tell the boss what he wants to hear.

  209. When I read your essay this week I was reminded of my old geography lecturer, who used the idea of ‘wilderness – garden – city’ and the stresses and synergies those great concepts provided through history in his explorations of the collective geographical imagination and it’s links with collective and national identities. Big stuff!
    There are many different ways to slice things up and of course there’s a danger in that too. I’d also suggest it doesn’t take long for an outward looking, materialistic society to become fragmented, more inward and reflective, especially if forced. Having said that, my mind’s eye can easily see quite a few of a much diminished population in western Europe acting as go betweens and trading via the sea. Just love that long horizon.

  210. @JMG @here

    So much food for thought in such a short essay. I can’t wait for future installments on this theme. As a native Californian, I agree with your comment that there’s an emergent mestizo Hispano-Asian-European culture here (in that order), isolated from the rest of the continent. As for being allergic to “our” culture, I would say that the goofy culture associated with us isn’t really ours, those of us who grew up here. Rather, it’s a mythos imported from the East Coast, that we’re the “final frontier” or something, usually the final resting place for somebody’s dumb idea before they slink back home to daddy’s house in the Hamptons or Palm Beach. Few of those transplants put down roots or have kids, so once the spigot of dreamers dries up (along with the water), that culture will die and nation building will commence.

    As for your adopted nation of New England, I have much affection. Boston came off to me as the classy and mature cousin to the ongoing hot mess that is my hometown of San Francisco. And the home prices in Providence! I was picking out the drapes. If only my spouse wasn’t scared of snow.

    The other drawback is that it’s part of the Bo-Wash corridor. While being a native of the Bay Area is potentially embarassing, the bad parts are easy to avoid. However, from NYC to Philly to DC, I saw so much decay around every corner. How could any American, especially those of us who’ve been to Asia and Europe, not be absolutely ashamed at the state of our once great cities? I guess we avoid the question by moving to ever more isolated potemkin village suburbs, drowning in fantasy worlds and social media, but darn, it hurts my pride to be living at the end of Empire. It makes one feel a bit hopeless, lonely, or “awkward” as you put it, trying to find meaning outside of a dying mythos that you can’t totally disown either. I guess the Stoics had some lessons about this.

  211. In the early 1980’s a young cadre sat down to interview Molotov-Stalin’s longtime and long-suffering former right-hand man and deputy. This was after Stalins death and denunciation by his successor Khrushev.

    The cadre asked Molotov about his years serving Stalin from the Civil war, to the Terror to WWII and in turn received a hagiography of Stalin and the turgid rubbish of communist doctrine. There was not a hint of remourse for the near unparralled suffering and slaughter caused by the regime he was part of.

    When they were parting, and almost as an aside, the cadre asked Molotov if he ever dreamed about Stalin. Molotov thought for a long while and gave the only honest and refelctive answer of maybe his whole adult life.

    He said that he sometimes did dream of Stalin and that the dream was always the same. He would dream about waking in a ruined city, a necropolis, consumed by fire and death. He would walk through this empty city reaching its centre. He would then see Stalin in the midst of this ruin, Stalin would look him in the eye, and Molotov would wake.

    The arid and brittle dreams of Vyacheslav Molotov feel like a premonition of a future reckoning. I think we will see such dreams haunting the collective unconscious of our future.

  212. Fascinating as always. Functioning human communities are indeed one of the most precious arrangements and they defy reductionism. I like the way you label the hopelessness of the right and left versions of the dream of taking charge of community in a Faustian way and fixing it and creating perfect harmony. Healthy community is a wonderful if often fleeting outcome of the evolutionary process of human cultural development. The imagination of creating a new utopian community is as crazy as the idea of creating a biosphere where the ecosystem is planned to work. It has been tried. It doesn’t work. But people don’t easily learn from history.

    Seems to me a main tragedy of our age that is equal or greater than the ecological tragedy is the way progress that destabilizes functioning cultures is celebrated. Once you destroy an ecosystem, you can’t revive it when you realize your mistake. Once industrialization and colonialism destabilized some kinds of cultures, they evolved into new versions that were partially functioning. But then idealistic and totalitarian socialist and nationalist visions arose to try to fix things…and made things much worse. Then some new partially functioning cultures and communities evolved until facebook, fundamentalist religion, and social justice warriors rose up to fix things…and made an even bigger mess. What is needed is a lot more humility about the effectiveness of imposing your moral certainties on everyone else. It is not that all moralities are equally good. But human culture can’t be “fixed”; it evolves as people build trust and figure out what works in the complex constraints of each era and place. Really good food is slow food. Functioning cultural communities develop slowly…several generations with minimal social upheaval is necessary for a thriving community to evolve. How do we slow down social change so that thriving communities can develop while not simply solidifying injustices of the present? In some ways “we” can’t do a lot to slow down the chaotic consequences of the past century, but understanding the need to look for stable settings that don’t celebrate destabilization of cultural norms is a good clue to how to handle the chaotic future.

  213. @NomadicBeer re #190

    Sorry but I just can’t resist a little commentary on some of the pictures

    #3 Nice roomy airbus with everybody walled in so they don’t have to look at each other.

    #8 – Everybody’s favorite, the dirigible. They’re bringing it back because it
    worked so well before.

    #12 Avante garde design building which took its inspiration from The Handmaiden

    #13 Okay, so there’s still going to be traffic jams while pedestrians and passengers
    on the elevated rail can thumb their noses – Neener Neener!

    #14 The latest iteration of the Batmobile

    #16 A variation on the jetpack. So is it taking off or crashing?

    #18 Jetpacks for the oldsters who watched Thunderball a million times.

    #23 I’m confused. Why would a robot need breasts?

    #26 Complete with barf bags

    #29 The moon is being colonized by giant schlongs.

    #34 Well at least they admit there will be some collapse. But just
    think of the tourist dollars/yuan that will generate!

    #36 Okay no more beaches but at least we can still go to the mountains. Canary Island
    mountain getaways anyone?

    #39 Gives sleeping with the fishes a whole new meaning.

    #44 Virtual reality vacations will be just like the real thing. But that’s
    only because nobody will know what’s real anymore.

    #48 Get your earplugs out, folks. Supersonic passenger flight is coming back.
    Because it worked so well before, right?

    Okay, I’ll be quiet now…..

  214. @Michael Miller ,
    The hijinks that a prankster could have with self driving cars ( if they ever came to be) are almost endless. No need to step out in front of a self driving car, just have a human sized cardboard cutout on the end of a long stick and poke it out in to traffic to watch the AV. make a panic stop. These cars are no problem for cyclists, just tape a large square of cardboard to your back and cycle down the middle of any one lane road and the AV will have to follow behind you very slowly. Get some of your friends and herd the AV’s in to a deadens street, where they can be trapped and played with.

  215. A question and a summary: just reality-checking.

    I gather we are now in the early-middle stages of the Next Lurch Downward. Which I don’t question at all, having kept my eyes open and having never, really, been part of the PMC.
    As I understand it, this will also be the last gasp of the Faustian civilization, except for the sort of “White Russian exile” types who gather in dark corners and mutter about civilization going to the dogs. Meaning the Recovery will be quite different in flavor, and more strongly American. Country American at that. While I have no problem with that, I can name just about everybody of my acquaintance up until quite recently who will be very badly shocked and surprised. Not, mind you, that I expect to live to see it.

    I’m at the tail end of the cycle that began in the 1880s with the Social Gospel and lived through the 1914-1946 era, to peter out around 1968 or thereabouts. A member of the so-called SIlent Generation.* I have a conscious memory of the last Crisis and certainly of its end; my younger friends do not. My grandchildren – the so-called Generation Z which at least one pundit said does not exist – are in the same position I’m in, but more like the older members of my cohort who came up in the ’20s and ’30s. They have all been totally steeped in the Faustian PMC faith and will be the ones to be slapped in the face with it. [At least my very pragmatic daughter has trained them to be as resilient as they can possibly be, which is a major plus.]

    My question is: am I correct in all these assumptions?

    *I have always seen Barack Obama as a very classic Silent born out of his time, and governing like one. IIRC, he was largely raised by his maternal grandmother, or at least, she had a major influence on him. Pity – he was as unfit as Joe Biden to preside over a major crisis, but would have made a good caretaker president during a recovery, if it wasn’t too hard a one. Personal opinion only.

  216. @Anon #146 – My private analysis is that England is a thoroughly diluted Germanic culture. Germanic in its basics despite the Norman nobility, but so diluted that – metaphorically – the Mead of Poetry & Madness has turned into a cup of tea. Which I see as all to the good. During the great wars of religion, the Tudors – especially Elizabeth – settled on a totally English compromise between Catholicism and Protestantism, the Church of England. What other nations have done this?

  217. I think people in the US, at least, may be confusing Sobornost with the world of Norman Rockwell. I see Rockwell’s paintings and I do look back nostalgically for the time of the white picket fence — especially today in our over-urbanized, blighted cityscapes. Many hate Rockwell for several reasons, and those criticisms are fair to a degree, but those critics forget that Rockwell was painting an ideal that most Americans wanted to strive for.

    What Rockwell depicted wasn’t Sobornost, but an individuality within a community. In other words, the community supports your individuality, as long as you make your commitment to the community. You can speak at a town hall meeting, but you’re not respected by others unless your voice has something to do with the overall good.

    So this allows for flexibility within the community but at the same time pushes the individual to work with other people. It seems to go along with Tamanous.

  218. @Kel #189

    I think you are missing the forest for the trees here. When considering the idea of Death as “an unacceptable imposition on the human race”, it is not so much the question of whether there is an afterlife or not. Either there is or there isn’t, but most people here will agree on the inevitability of Death; either we move on to “the Next Great Adventure” or we cease to exist. Period!

    To consider this so called “imposition” (if then, by whom) to be “unacceptable” comes with a number of implications. An important one is to prioritize The Quest for Immortality as one of the top 5 collective goals of our Civilization/Nation/Guild. It is probably unwise to make it #1 because there might be some more urgent tasks to attend to first, but you cannot make it #999 and still claim Death is unacceptable. It is very relevant to have this conversation in the public sphere because, if a critical mass of transhumanists is reached any time soon, there will be a push to waste a non trivial amount of resources in what’s essentially a fool’s errand. The timing is also of relevance here: Transhumanism in the 1970s would have been one of many quirks and eccentricities in a society swimming in resources, but today it might as well break our already overstretched infrastructure.

    It is not only the cost of opportunity that is in play here. In a certain work of fiction, there is this depiction of the rebel against “unnacceptable imposition” which I find lovely, and which I will quote here: “I think I may have not made myself clear. Dark Wizards are not eager to live. They fear death. They do not reach up toward the sun’s light, but flee the coming of night into infinitely darker caverns of their own making, without moon or stars. It is not life they desire, but immortality; and they are so driven to grasp at it that they will sacrifice their very souls! Do you want to live forever, Harry?”

    (I hear it in my head with the voice of Richard Harris, but feel free to pick Michael Gambon instead)

    In my stillborn futurist novel, “Thrice blessed Angel”, the anti-villain strove to resurrect the technology of organ transplant (more specifically, kidney transplant), and the anti-heroes opposed him out of the misguided idea that organ harvest is equivalent to human sacrifice. Of maybe it is not so misguided, is it? After all, today we have plenty of young and healthy individuals who are left comatose but with more or less intact bodies in innumerable automobile accidents around the world. It is not too much of a stretch to say that these victims die in the altar of God Progress!

  219. About monasticism, Pace Mr. Dreher, Benedict did not set out to found a monastery. The various accounts of his early years agree that he lived for some years as a hermit. I think the cave can still be seen. Nor was he immediately accepted. There are stories of rival monks and preachers trying to poison him. Eventually he attracted followers and established them in communities under the Rule he had devised, small communities which were able to maintain themselves without infringing too much on available resources. His great principle, Ora et labora, was a profound rejection of the classical ideal of cultivated leisure (made possible by slave labor).

    Throughout the early and into the high middle ages, monasteries and convents made themselves useful as educators, inns for travelers, physicians and agricultural experimenters. It is no accident that we still have a fairly good selection of classical writings on farming.

    Brian, anyone living in CA today might want to be growing and distributing useful desert plants, such as Neem and Moringa as well as natives like Jojoba. There is apparently more than one kind of turmeric root, some of great medicinal value and quite astonishing colors. Roughwood Seeds collection, that is William Voys Weaver’s collection, was distributing them a year ago, I think it was. Medicinal and food plants from other places in the tropics and subtropics might not be easily obtainable for much longer.

    Joseph Lofthouse, I have spoken with him online, but cannot claim an acquaintance, is a farmer living in a quite arid part of Utah. He discovered that vegetable seeds from other parts of the country simply didn’t thrive in his inhospitable conditions and set about breeding varieties which would thrive. He became a presence on various garden fora, most now defunct, and was eventually offered a writing gig at Mother Earth News, I think it is. He is an odd bird, undoubtedly a useful fellow, but with a bit of Mormon/evangelical star of his own movie sensibility.

  220. John, I don’t know enough about Scandinavian culture and politics to hazard a guess.

    Chris, heh heh heh.

    Teresa, charismatic leaders can sometimes make things like that happen, yes.

    Antony, that’s a very Faustian take on the tamanous concept! It’s central to the Faustian sense of drama that the individual has to take on a hostile stance toward the collective, defined as “authority” or whatever other term you like. Instead of a radical rejection of authority, consider the possibility of a casual lack of interest in claims to unearned power. Certain people are wiser and more capable than others, and you might well align yourself with one of them and carry out their suggestions, but you don’t surrender your autonomy to them — it’s a willed alignment, not rigid obedience. Does that sound improbable? It’s how many tribal societies manage their affairs.

    Joan, I’m not sure the craving for the perfect community goes deeper than the craving for the flying car, but their roots are in different directions. I like the satire! Keep in mind that the people who live in suburbs choose that utter distance from their neighbors — it’s not imposed on them, it’s what they want, though they love to fantasize about imaginary alternatives. That said, of course the fantasy of the perfect intentional community will keep on popping up; it’s one of the way the children of the privileged act out their pro forma rebellions before settling down to be good little cogs in the machine.

    Simon, exactly. Like most would-be rebels, Nietzsche simply took the ideas of his culture a little further than anyone else had gotten around to doing yet.

    Kel, it was the tone of outraged privilege in Harrington’s phrase that, to my mind, makes it a fine example of Faustian lunacy. I think most people on this blog realize that death is something they have to accept, and what comes afterward is another matter.

    NomadicBeer, thanks for this! I haven’t laughed so hard in weeks. The thing that fascinated me about it — something I haven’t seen in earlier iterations — is the notion of collapse tourism. They’ve admitted the likelihood of collapse, for other people; it just hasn’t sunk in yet that it’s going to happen to them, too.

    Blue Sun, he’s trying to claim that role. Of course there’s plenty of competition.

    Varun, you may be overthinking it. Look at the current Indian upper class, in their Western clothes and Western architecture; look at the current political institutions, borrowed from Western models. That’s as deep as the pseudomorphosis has gone.

    Slithy, yes, that’s the one cheerful detail.

    Justin, oog. I’m reminded of the painting on board the submarine in Illuminatus! — the prophet stands staring as a divine hand writes on the rock: THINK FOR YOURSELF, SCHMUCK!

    Patricia O, that’s very common — pseudomorphosis rarely goes more than skin deep, and it never reaches the level of comprehension. That’s why Americans have such a reputation for cluelessness in Europe; no matter how enthusiastically we ape Faustian culture, We. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

    Poseidon, thanks for this! It’s a long strange trip for most of us — me very much included — because the implications of what I’m trying to say contradict almost everything our culture tries to teach us. Do-ocracy is a great term, btw, so thanks for that also.

    Anonymous, the Rapture is a very lightly disguised myth of mass suicide — when somebody tells their kids that Grandma just went to be with Jesus, most of us know what that means. Whether or not the current fad for mass injections with inadequately tested pharmaceuticals turns out to be the instantiation of the myth, it’s a very troubling sign.

    Dave, a good point!

    Clay, I adore that song. One of the reasons I like Providence is precisely that “the Old World’s shadows hang heavy in the air” here.

    Info, it’s a common spectacle, and very entertaining. As for schooling, yes, exactly.

    Spiritus, thanks for this. I wasn’t aware that recidivist dreams of eastward expansion are a going concern in Poland — not a surprise, I simply wasn’t aware of it. As for moral decadence, what that amounts to in practice is that when a society tips over into decline, it’s no longer to anyone’s advantage to follow the official morality of the society, since exhortations to morality in that setting usually amount to “do what benefits your social superiors no matter how much it costs you and your family.” The morality of ordinary people toward one another doesn’t change much — it’s just that they stop doing as they’re told, and the privileged classes inevitably get shrill about that.

    Booklover, I believe that in general, the further east you go in Europe, the lower vaccination rates tend to be. That makes sense, because Faustian culture is predominantly western European, and Romania is as much subject to the pseudomorphosis as, say, the United States. I’d be willing to bet that in Romania, as here in the US, the people who are running out to get jabbed are predominantly the Faustian-wannabes of the local elite classes, while the working classes and the poor are resistant.

    Michael, thanks for this! That “too dangerous!” squeal is a sign of class anxiety, by the way; I’ve walked in central London and lived to tell the tale. 😉

    Piper, you did indeed. I talked abouy Nietzsche extensively in the series of posts that became After Progress.

    Ben, I’m going to leave the less hopeful possibilities unspoken for now. As for Mexico, I expect it to rise to regional-power status as a hybrid society, still largely under the Faustian pseudomorphosis but with a strong neo-Nahuatl element. Then it’ll cycle back down in the usual way of things, shed the Faustian veneer, and — well, beyond that it’s hard to say; predicting history two thousand years in the future is an exercise in fantasy. I suspect Toynbee’s right, however, and the themes and energies of old Mexican culture will take new forms and resurface once the Faustian veneer is gone.

    Justin, yes, that’s another curious detail. Dolmens seem to cluster on the landscape of old Avalonia, on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Lathechuck, at this point the WaPo has really earned the sobriquet “Pravda on the Potomac”!

    Jay Pine, the long horizon is important, since it’s getting closer all the time.

    Brian, recall that I lived 14 miles north of California for a while! California has its own consciousness and its own energy; it’s not at all congenial to me, but obviously there are people who are comfortable with it, and, ahem, most of the people I know who embody it most perfectly were born there. (My mother was an Oakland native.) As for the east coast, remember that decay is the first stage of fermentation. We’ve got a century or so before things really settle down to the kind of long-term viability the region had in 1850 or so, but that’s normal.

    Dermotok, thanks for this! That’s vivid and, I think, very appropriate.

    Ganv, I’m sorry to say that I think the best we can do is slow down our own willingness to participate in change — that is, “collapse now and avoid the rush” — and wait for the engine of change to run out of gas and grind painfully to a halt. It’s making ominous clanking noises now, for whatever that’s worth…

    Patricia M, to the best of my assessment, yes.

    Jon, that’s a valid point!

  221. When I think of Tamanous culture, two thoughts come to mind. One is that all the American protestant Christian sects, along with all the other flavors of religion we have, seems to clearly represent Tamanous culture. Secondly, that one of the reasons we have been able to be so individualistic is because of the affluent age that we have been living through. Seems to me that as resources become scarce we will huddle together in fewer circles than we have been. Currently, we have many many groups, of which the majority are groups of one or two, sometimes encompassing a family of four, and even many of the religious don’t really go to church and group together very often so they resign themselves to their family units and even those get divorced around 50% of the time. As I see it, fewer resources leads to tighter groups.

  222. @ Jessi #191 (and everyone else)

    Another aspect of community that occurred to me as I was reading the thread:

    A *lot* of community consists of showing up and doing the work.

    If you don’t show up and work, you’re not part of the community.

  223. Thank you for dropping my penny, John.

    I can’t help now but notice the similarity between the Faustian model of utopia and behaviors observed in packs of wild dogs. Just as a wolf pack has one – and ONLY one – Alpha Male, Faustian utopia has one – and ONLY one – True Finder Of Truth. All other members of the community are followers who must follow this One True Finder Of Truth because He is the one with all the answers, the one who makes all the decisions, the one who dictates all thought and behavior to all the community. To think independently is to think thoughts He did not think, which is to challenge the absolute divine authority of The One True Finder Of Truth. Just like the Alpha Male of a dog pack – who alone eats all the kill, mates all the females, and dictates the actions of all other members of the pack. All other pack members do all the work and then have to survive on what little the Alpha Male will tolerate them stealing from him, which is seldom if ever more than enough for bare survival.

    Hence the current tendency of western society to demand absolute conformity, and the boiling outrage over those who prefer to do their own thinking – especially when they express disagreement with the established narrative.

    Tamanous society – more closely resembling a community of feral cats – may be a refreshing change should we live so long as to experience it.

  224. Stephen, your point about church architecture seems to make quite a bit of sense. Just be aware that individual bible reading and house churches have been all the rage among Pietists in Germany since the 18th century, too. JMG has written about Pietistic influences in 18th century America, especially Pennsylvania. From what little I know, among English and Welsh non-conformists, too.

  225. Owen, you have often mentioned the loss of writing at the end of the Bronze Age. Your overall point is certainly correct that basic technologies can be lost. However, the loss of writing around 1200 BC was restricted to modern Greece and Anatolia (and, perhaps fortuitously, the Indus valley). Writing stayed very much alive in Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia.

    In fact, writing was again lost from England and northernmost Gaul in the 6th century, and from almost the entire area of modern Greece and the Balkans in the 7th century AD.

    Just goes to say that technologies can be lost or kept alive depending on local circumstances.

  226. For Clay (#225); too late, they have done it to themselves.

    “Neighbors on one street in San Francisco’s Richmond District seem to be witnessing the training of robot cars in the art of the three-point turn — over, and over, and over again.

    15th Avenue in the Richmond District dead-ends at a gate to the Presidio, just before you get to The Presidio Landmark building. And while unknowing tourists and taxi drivers may occasionally end up at this dead end by accident, neighbors keep seeing the same kind of car, many times a day, doing multi-point turns where 15th ends just above Lake Street. ”

    Artificial Stupidity wins again.

  227. JMG and Booklover about Eastern Europe

    I never explicitly made the connection between you talking about pseudomorphosis and what I saw in EE but I can tell you it is a perfect match.

    Yes, it’s only the elites that are aping Western mores. Looking back at history these are the same elites that bought into fascism or communism or whatever was fashionable in the center of the empire.

    I always respected the peasants – they have a certain grace in living in poverty that speaks of a culture thousands of years old. I remember JMG mentioning once that the life of an Egyptian peasant 5000 years ago was not that different from the life of French peasant at the brink of the revolution. That resonates strongly with me – I think that is one important lesson that people miss. The peasant culture lasted so long so I hope they will survive this crisis too.

    The Eastern Europeans took longer to urbanize (they reached 50% recently) and the urban underclass created its own viable subculture. As a note of interest – both the communists and the capitalists despised the urban underclass proving that it was/is a thorn in both their hides.
    As for the peasants – they are treated like some minorities in US – praised in public while all the policies of the government lead to their empoverishment and eventual destruction. Again, this applies to previous regimes too.

    Off topic but I wish there was a European JMG – someone that can understand the culture from the perspective of millenia and is not bought and sold by the PMC. I wish I could talk to someone about how language tells us about the lives of peasants thousands of years ago (for example).

    JMG – far fetched but suggestion for a post? Just think about the fact that all the romance languages inherited peasant words while mostly forgetting the noble equivalents:
    – casa (house) meant hovel in latin, nobody is using domus
    – cheval/caballo etc meant bad horse as opposed to equus

    and so on. That tells us who actually survived.


  228. Okay. I should have been up front about the fact that I was speaking about my own experience.

    What I understand now is that the sort of suburban area I grew up in was chosen by people like my parents because they all had mental health issues that weren’t severe enough to prevent them from earning a living, sometimes quite a good one, but that required them to exercise an uncomfortable amount of self control when attempting to socialize. Their upbringing taught them to blame themselves for their dysfunction, to feel enormous shame and to stay in denial, which led to another layer of problems such as rampant impostor syndrome and legal substance abuse problems.

    I am pretty confident that a lot of what was wrong with them was PTSD or the like rather than something genetic because they passed down very little of it to us, the next generation. But it also meant we lacked compassion for them. We looked at their outward lives of unprecedented prosperity and contrasted it with their obvious but never-mentioned state of deep unhappiness and concluded that there had to be something, anything, better than this. (Cue The Graduate becoming a best seller and then a major motion picture. Cue me getting a secondhand copy of Walden for 11th grade English and finding the line “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation” already underlined. Cue “Mother’s Little Helper” by the Stones and “Mr. Businessman” by B. J. Thomas and several other popular songs with similar themes.) The turn toward intentional community wasn’t so much rebellion as headlong flight.

    I was too young for the initial wave, when the starry-eyed idealists flew high, crashed, and burned. By the time I was old enough, it seemed to be too late, so you might say I sold out early, did the long term relationship and corporate job thing right out of college. I was thirty-two (ironically the same age my mother was when she had the crisis that led to her ill-fated marriage to my dad) when I finally used the then-current print version of the Directory of Intentional Communities to go chasing my dream.

    What I discovered was the truth behind that old saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.” I kept running into the same interpersonal issues wherever I went. I was forced to recognize that I was bringing them with me. So I went back to the workaday world because I needed the money to pay for therapy.

    I don’t know how representative my experience is.

  229. Barbara Tuchman wrote this about Europe on the eve of WWI….’european civilisation was an edifice of grandeur and passion, of riches and beauty and dark cellars. Its habitants lived, as compared to a later time, with more self-reliance, more confidence more hope; greater magnificence, extravegance and elegance; more careless ease, more gaiety, more pleasure in each others company and conversation, more injustice and hypocrisy, more misery and want more sentiment including false sentiment, less sufferance of mediocrity more dignity in work more delight in nature, more zest’

    That description always evokes such a flash of images in my mind. How do ye thing a future historian will sketch us out, I try to see it myself but I can never reach any kind of height to gain a generous enough view of all this we are experiencing.

  230. Steve #234 – that’s great! Faustian society as a pack of feral dogs; Tamanous society as a clowder of feral cats. Now thinking of that delightful *un-cute* cat murder mystery series by Carole Nelson Douglas in which the detective, Midnight Louie, could easily be channeling Sam Spade, and his relationships with other cats and with the human he lives with. Meow, and pass the tuna salad!

  231. Dear JMG, this is a theme dear to my heart, so I hope I don’t incur your wrath. It is not so easy to know the reason why so many ICs fail, and why so many people are afraid to leave their comfortable but often miserable lives to try something risky and new. You have here and in the past presented reasonable hypotheses: the stabilizing effect of religion (why religious communities do much better than secular ones), the superiority of evolutionary “algorithms” of slow and small change trial and error over de novo design, and the individualist (tamanous) ethos of the north American (and more generally, albeit differently, Faustian) mind (an old timer Israeli Kibbutznik told me about 15 years ago to not even bother trying to start an intentional community in the US. I should have listened to him, but the irony is that the Kibbutzes are failing in Israel as well, as people get infected by American and Faustian values. It bears noting that many of the Kibbutzniks came from eastern Europe and had a socialist ideology, which is not exacly sobornost, but close?).

    I think you also agree (and have written about) that the industrial revolution has destroyed villages and tribes and even families, and that people miss these on some deep level, so rather than waiting for it to collapse, we can return to technologies and economies which have worked before the industrial revolution, and were more local, i.e. village- and tribe- based. What if some people in the US or Europe got a handle on the reasons of failure to launch or persist of secular ICs, and tried to address them? What if we had a design that:
    1. Left much to evolution (only mutate a few values or means of production or exchange, keep from getting swamped by memetic exchange from the mainstream or infighting about what is “right”, while not competing with the mainstream on its own terms, and hope that it can outcompete it on other terms and spread/ “go viral”)
    2. Included some religion (or at least the values that make most religions a force of cohesion, see for example: and
    3. respected and prioritized the individual and family above the community to fit in with the american tamanous ethos.
    4. asked people to do almost exactly what you propose: to find a useful skill/service/product that they could provide for their neighbors, with the additional requirement that the neighbors/community members would agree to provide a market for their community members and prioritize them over the market of the global economy.
    5. This one is probably a fantasy, but I couldn’t help be aghast at the $6.2 billion that my alma mater, MIT raised from alumni in their Faustian “Better World” campaign (, so I wondered if we could get a measly 2 million to build some infrastructure.

    Can you please get me in touch with Zhao? I will send you an email.

  232. @Siliconguy

    re: three-point turns: At my sister’s house, around 2006-ish, when GPS devices were just becoming widely used, we were seeing this with regular drivers. Not all the time, but now and then, and far more often than you’d ever expect it, people would pull into the driveway of her unremarkable house on a straight road, sit a minute, and then back out again and continue up to the stoplight. It was so weird. We finally figured it out while using maps (both paper and electronic) to find our way around the neighborhood: the bigger-than-average space between her house and the house next door, was technically a county right-of-way. The county reserved the right to *put* a road there in the future, if it wanted. Or perhaps it originally planned a road there, that never happened because it would have required a large culvert over the creek out back, and it wasn’t in the budget. Who knows? But sure enough, on maps, the road is there. Just not in real life. And people’s GPS devices couldn’t tell the difference. They were sitting confused in the driveway, frantically reprogramming their gizmos and wondering why there wasn’t a road there.

    I can’t imagine that will get any better with self-driving cars.

  233. @JMG

    I currently live in the Kootenay region of Canada. Its is an area full of attempts at intentional communities some still going, others that have failed and more attempts all the time. Its also long been a center of counterculture and people wishing to live how the see fit for close to a century. It started with Eastern European Doukbours wishing to live free of government interference. The government was not willing to accept this and it escalated from disobedience, mass nudity to bombings and assassinations. Draft dodgers and 60’s counterculture folks made it here in the 60s and 70s and never really left though many went Yuppie (contributing to the state of the major, increasingly gentrified town centers).

    Another smaller wave showed up during the 90’s and early 2000’s as the neoliberal deregulation and privatization wave hit the province, Yet another group came with the 2008 banking crisis and peak oil…(scare, false alarm, early warning). I visited around that time.

    Now, there has been another wave due to the events of the last two years and in strange twist of fate, a wave of people out as Canadian laws become stricter and cost of living becomes impossible. The last few years seem to have brought in the Identarian types as well and the very small but growing Indigenous groups/tribes are also becoming a factor. The situation is different here than the relationship with US Indian tribes. They make up a much larger chunk of the population though quite small here. In other parts of the country it can be 20 to 30 percent or even more in remote areas. And it is predicted they will make up even more of the population in the coming years. Its difficult to say how much power they have or will have. Blockades and protests are getting more frequent and intense but there is not a lot of strong organization, and business and government effectively negotiate, coerce, divide and conquer, etc. As the situation deteriorates here its unclear what will happen, megacorporations and Financial institutions manipulating certain groups into effectively or legally give up certain rights to the land in exchange for resources is a real possibility as the government pulls back. There has been low level violence for as long as the country ahs existed but the lack of guns in canada and its relative isolation has kept it at a low level for a long time, but that may change.

    . Its going to be an interesting decade here; any predictions on how might might turn out? Anyone else in the region?

  234. Archdruid,

    Sure, but isn’t culture more than just the physical expression? Doesn’t it also influence political, philosophical, and social patterns? India’s post colonial elite have used every idea from secularism to social justice to try and beat the local culture into submission, but the country’s new elite are expressing many of the political and social ideas that were born in the Faustian culture. I guess maybe I’m not totally understanding how the psudomorphasis works…



  235. I want to report to you that the first stirrings Tamanous society may already exist in America among the thru-hiking backpackers on the long distant trails. (such as the Appalachian) Some of the most common sayings are “hike your own hike” and the “trail will provide.” Backpackers are given new “trail names”, usually spontaneously early-on, and organically form loose groupings as they travel. There is absolutely no hierarchy, not much leadership, and very little dogma: nobody claims that there is one and only correct way to complete a two-thousand mile trail. In my experience it feels like you’re a member of a distinctly separate sub-culture out there.

    I think it’s something you might want to read about — maybe my book when I finish writing it!

    Also, it seems to me that “Huckleberry Finn” and “Walden” would be among the first examples of Tamanous literature.

  236. Sort-of-a-question. A weird idea just struck me. I wondered for some time why Blavatsky, Atkinson and others use empty space as a metaphor for God (or “Brahman”). It seems to incredibly depressive!

    Unless it´s a Faustian thing, of course!

    Maybe empty inifinity was a perfect metaphor for 19th century/early 20th century Western people? It conjures a vision of infinite expansion, not cold emptiness…

  237. I started reading this essay thinking “I have read this before”. Then, around the point where you mentioned “Dancing with the rednecks”, I pricked my ears, this was new, and much to think about. For now, I want to discuss here just one point that you did already make in the past.

    You have decided to deviate quite strongly from Spengler’s thesis that the universal symbols of the “High Cultures” are born not only in a specific place, but also at a specific time. Spengler categorically denies that the members of a “High Culture” share much, if anything, with the people who lived before them in the same place, be those their biological ancestors or not. He sarcastically comments that a sacred symbol on a Bronze Age “Germanic” vessel might easily be a Babylonian factory stamp. According to Spengler, the universal symbol makes just as little sense to people before the birth of the High Culture as it does to those after its death (or stasis). Now of course he sees some preliminary “awaking” period, which includes for the Faustian culture Charlemagne, and for the Apollonian culture the Mykenian cities, and that is why he hazards a guess about the awakening Russian culture. But I think predicting a culture that will arise 600 years from now would have seemed impossible to him.

    Your argument that the land itself pulls in this direction seems actually independent of Spenglerian ideas. Your pointing towards the Great Lakes and Ohio valley is of course solidly rooted in geography. Cahokia is there to show where a North American culture would place its centre when it does not come from overseas. However, speaking of Cahokia, the limited evidence I know does not seem particularly Tamanous, nor does what I know of the Southeastern Mound Culture or the Pueblo cultures. You might say that all of these were offsprings of Mesoamercian culture. What about the Iroquois? I would love to hear from more knowledgeable people than me how far back in time this Tamanous tendency goes.

    You once told me in a discussion about a Magian pseudomorphosis of Western Europe in the Gothic period, and of a new Western European culture arising after 1500, that history has countless interpretations, and that the purpose of narrating history is to guide the present discourse. I wonder if your aim with the Tamanous narrative is to nourish and strengthen the (no doubt already present) tendency to individual spiritual experience that you and so many other North American readers have reported. Yucca at #9 had similar doubts about the overlapping narratives of Tamanous, Aquarian spirituality and Ipsissimus. Would you agree with that statement?

  238. @Patricia Mathews #88: Two weeks ago there was a discussion of Spengler’s rather disagreeable writer’s voice. However, to say that he predicted Faustian culture to “crash and burn” in 2000 is not correct. He saw a drying out of specifically Faustian culture and of the older ideals of constitutional republics leading to the rise of politics based on purely individual power. Strong states (or maybe just one strong state) might, in his view, persist indefinitely, dominated by one such Caesars after another. Unfortunately, those predictions don’t seem particularly weak right now.

  239. “…community is born organically out of the dance of individual, rather than being the deep source from which individuals emerge.”

    This really resonated with me. It has been so frustrating for me, an introverted individual who recognizes the need of connection, to join in with an established community (for me, that was churches) that proceeded to attempt to make me over into their own image. I still seek the balance of self with community.

    Joy Marie

  240. Concerning the pre-history of Faustian civilization, it seems that Christianity (which I assume is “Magian”) can be given more Faustian spins than, say, very traditional Judaism or polytheist paganism.

    The idea of One Absolute Truth, and the idea that people should be consigned to the flames literally for intellectual wrong-think, both seem to come with Christianity. Also the idea that our personality (the person “Tidlösa”) will be resurrected on judgement day and live forever. (This was at least a common interpretation of the Bible, rightly or wrongly.) And the millennium, of course!

    Sounds familiar somehow?

    Modern science kept the idea of One Absolute Truth, which works (more or less) if your goal is technological power over Nature. Indeed, we think that science simply *must* be about this, how else can it be science, when (of course) science might just as well be about a disinterested search for a truth that´s somehow multivalent…

    I agree with David BTL early on this thread who said that it´s very difficult to free your mind from these preconceptions. A bit like a poster whose name I don´t recall who almost fell into a new dichotomy between evil dualists and good pantheists, when rejecting dualist dichotomies as bad…

    Perhaps the solution is that there will be some room in the future intellectual eco-system of dissensus even for people who still haven´t completely broken with the old paradigms? At least I can hope!

  241. Clark, that’s a common assumption, but history doesn’t bear it out. The United States was rather more actively individualistic in the 19th century, when it was a lot poorer, than it is today.

    Steve, a very apt metaphor. (Meow.)

    NomadicBeer, peasant culture is extremely resilient. The only thing that can disrupt it is prolonged prosperity, and we don’t have to worry about that in the next few centuries! With regard to the Latin detail, good heavens — I somehow managed not to notice that. Hmm. I’ll definitely brood over that.

    Joan, fair enough! I certainly don’t mean to discount your personal experience. I also grew up in suburbia, specifically in the south Seattle suburbs, and I ended up in a commune for a while when I went away to college in hippie-rich Bellingham, but the experience was somewhat different from yours, of course.

    Dermotok, that’s a heck of a question. I suspect historians a century from now, talking about the manic grandeur of the last years of industrial civilization at zenith, will talk about the fantastic extravagances of our comfortable classes, people jetting across the ocean for the weekend on a whim, cars clogging the roadways, gargantuan McMansions, and just below the surface, seething unrest among the poor and working classes who got none of the benefits and had to do all the work. But that’s just a guess.

    Iuval, as I noted above, hope springs infernal. Nope.

    Bei Dawei, thanks for this!

    James, fascinating. I don’t know the region well enough to guess; a lot will depend on economics and on climate, of course.

    Tidlösa, a lot of Japanese occultists think that Japan is a surviving chunk of Lemuria, and some esoterically minded types in southern India think that the Tamil country is a surviving chunk of Lemuria. That continent got around!

    Varun, well, I’m not in a position to observe them, but what I notice about pseudomorphoses generally is that they’re about as thick as a layer of paint. A pseudomorphosis shapes slogans but not thoughts, poses but not feelings.

    Nate, many thanks for this. Hiking culture certainly sounds as though it’s moving in that direction — and yes, those are among the books that belong on a shelf of Tamanous writing.

    Tidlösa, that’s a fascinating point. There’s a certain awe in the face of the infinite that seems to be a part of that set of imagery, for what it’s worth.

    Aldarion, if I did, would I admit it? 😉 With regard to your broader point, yes, this is one of the places where I disagree with Spengler — and I think he’d respect that. He was very clear on the fact that his philosophy was not a universal truth, it was simply the mature form of Faustian reflection on history. I agree with that, and note that the Faustian fixation on space rather than place seems to have blinded him to the way that the land shapes the people who live on it.

    Mark, you’re most welcome.

    Joy Marie, I think a lot of people are looking for that just now.

    Tidlösa, of course! We’ve got five centuries for the old paradigm to fade out, so relax.

  242. You know, as I am becoming familiar with Spengler, Faust, Classical music and rockets being the ultimate symbol of the Faustian drive toward the infinite, I think I’ll watch 2001: A Space Odyssey, which manages to combine rockets and The Blue Danube Waltz into a profound expression of the Faustian monomyth (ha! spell check wants to turn monomyth into monolith). I wonder if anyone has examined that film in a Spenglerian lense? And thank you JMG, for you and your blog.

  243. @JMG….RE: Tamanous

    As SWMBO and I are currently looking for an RV to buy, one might want to consider the current crop of RV nomads (RV being only domicile) as a beginning indicator. I think the reason for the tamanous is likely as varied as people, but even with fuel high, the current crop of nomads is growing. They also seem to agglutinate where they can, forming temporary communities and sharing resources when people are in a jam.

    Went into an RV park this afternoon to look at one. As we were looking and talking with the owners, several locals came by to visit. Hadn’t had that kind of thing happen before, where the neighbors just wandered over to get in on things. That’s more like small town people checking out the new guys in my experience.

    Anyway, this hit my brain, so whatcha think?

  244. “Clark, that’s a common assumption, but history doesn’t bear it out. The United States was rather more actively individualistic in the 19th century, when it was a lot poorer, than it is today. ”

    I think greater collectivism is the result of group conflict. Individualism doesn’t do so well when facing rival armed groups who could gobble up individuals far more easily than groups.

    Maybe the American Civil War increased Collectivism as did WWII.

  245. “I suspect they’ll ditch Western culture like a hot rock when some other nation rises to world power; can you imagine, for example, a Japanese version of Hindu culture?”

    The curry on rice dish that is very popular in Japan was brought there from India, by the Brits. So there is at least one example a Japanese version of Indian culture.

    I suspect Japan will adapt quite well, once they decide they must. Countries like our own where one regularly hears “It won’t work here” might have a harder time.

    As an aside my wife and I are both very fond of Japanese curry.

  246. @JMG and commentariat

    Regarding economically feasible tech, what are your opinions on low tech, old-fashioned lamps made of metal (Victorian era style) and fueled using vegetable oils? I haven’t done the numbers but looks like this can be done during the Long Descent and the eras after that. If done in a small factory setting, using traditional methods of getting oil from oilseeds, it’s certainly a viable and sustainable business idea, IMO. Sure, they’re not as ‘convenient’ as modern day lights, be they LEDs or lightbulbs or whatnot, but they’re certainly more eco-friendly, less resource-intensive than these, and beat old-fashioned torches (of the ‘pitchforks and torches’ variety), at least for me.

  247. Nate D

    I’m a former thruhiker as well. Are you writing a book? I am also. Had very similar thoughts about thruhiking culture, although I think it is still in the Faustian but by the end of the hike represents a break from it for many. (Especially with all the smart phones out there now.). But anyway, would love to exchange thoughts directly.

    Would love to exchange emails?

    E Durland number one at Yahoo

    Eric in Maryland

    The GA-ME is a foot.

  248. @Silconguy and Methylethyl re GPS maps,

    In my area there are a lot of cranberry bogs, which are bordered by sand roads that are quite smooth and drivable (used for the agricultural equipment), but apart from specific entrances they only connect to one another in ways that can be quite labyrinthine. On various maps, some of them appear as roads that do connect elsewhere (a few even have names), when actually they turn into trails where they exit the bog complexes.

    At one nearby location (where I often go for walks), the local paved road ends at the entrance to a large cluster of cranberry bogs. Various sand roads split off in all directions. There’s a street sign there, the same size and construction as a typical “no parking” sign, that reads: “Your GPS is probably wrong. Turn around.”

    A standardized symbol meaning the same thing but readable by self-driving vehicles might be useful. But then, putting up replicas in random places would be an effective prank…

  249. How about this for Faustian: an intentional community where every single-family home has a flying machine in their garage?

    Who thinks that’d work? And yet– it has worked, and it does work. The oldest ‘residential airparks’ have been around since shortly after WWII in the USA, so they’re as old as the suburbs themselves. Not bad for an IC!

    I think the key thing there is that the only “intention” uniting these little communities is shared infrastructure and a shared love of it. I mean, let’s face it– anybody who wants to live at an airstrip must be “just plane crazy”! (sic). People come, people go, but there’s always enough airplane nuts to keep them going. These airplane nuts tend to come from a different economic strata than you are I, but not always what you’d call PMC: you might see a successful plumber with a Kitfox living next to a doctor with a Bonanza. (probably both retired, generational economics being what they are.)

    (What seems to kill them, like all small airstrips, is that suburbs and exurbs grow up around them and then shut them down by noise complaints and property tax.)

    This loops back to what someone brought up with WrathOfGnon’s musings about sustainable infrastructure. What if village was layed out on a river, around canals– and the intention was only “live here if you really like the water”? Or on a rail line, and the infrastructure was a Retrotopian streetcar line, and lots were sold to railfans? I think that, like the airparks, these ‘infrastructure communities’ might prove a lot more durable IF they got built. They’re much more like quirky little villages than hippy ICs, and quirky little villages do fine. (That’s the hard part. Build it and they will come? OK, great… how do I afford to do that, Mr. Wrath?)

  250. ‘Jay Pine, the long horizon is important, since it’s getting closer all the time.’

    JMG – ok, not so long (term) horizon ! Am reminded of the small print ….
    ‘The value of your investment may go down as well as up’ – Gotta watch ’em devil pacts. 😉

    Tidlösa – Hej! I’m that strange mix of English and Swedish heritage. I’m sure that’s tempered my outlook, as I think even the more urban Scandinavians retain a stronger link with the land (and water!) and particularly the seasons. Does tend to ground and lessen the ‘one absolute truth’ inclination a little maybe?

  251. I am really fascinated with your exploration of what Russia could become after this age has run its course. Dostoyevsky, is a good guide here, such a keen observer of human nature and someone who I think took man as he found him, strangely similar to Dickens in that respect but such different books.

    Dostoyevsky diagnosed the illness at the heart of the modern enlightenment man who thought that “there is no soil, there is no people, nationality is just a certain taxation system, the soul is tabula rasa, a little piece of wax from which one can straightaway mould a real person, a universal everyman a homunculus, all one has to do is apply the fruits of European Civilisation and read two of three short books”

  252. It took me a long time to decide whether to write this reply, but I would like to shed a little different light on the “intentional community” topic. First, the very name “intentional community” currently covers a lot of ground, and does not necessarily refer to the “let’s go out into the country and form an ideal community and tell everyone else that they should do so too” idea. I’m sure there are plenty of those, but there are other approaches that are quite different. I know that because I live in a community that has recently celebrated it’s 30th birthday. I have lived here for ten years, and first let me say, this community is not perfect! And I personally would not recommend it to everyone. But at the same time, it’s a great place to live in many ways. Those who founded it may have called it an intentional community–I don’t really know–but it has also been called an ecovillage and a co-housing community, each of which has slightly different connotations. The founders of this one were very careful at the beginning. It wasn’t a quick, “let’s just do this” type of thing; instead there were many meetings, much thought and research, and years of planning that went into it. It is an ongoing project. It has changed a good bit over those thirty years. There are people here who were early residents who bemoan the fact that it’s “not the same” as it was in the beginning, but I see that as a good thing. New people, new energy, combined with with older folks with wisdom and experience is a good mix. What are some of the good things? Well, this community is not located out in some rural wilderness. It’s on the edge of a small city with a university. There’s plenty of interaction between this community, the city and the university. We have some of the advantages of a small town: we take care of each other, bringing meals to those who are ill or otherwise need some help. We have a project going that helps provide food to people in the city who can’t afford it. We hold fun activities now and then. Perhaps most important, there are lots of different folks here: introverts, extroverts, young, old, professors and those who work with their hands. In some ways there is tanamous (sp?), where someone will take the initiative to just start doing something and it has a positive influence on the community, (Although I’d have to admit that usually it takes a lot of meetings and proposals to get something going). We also learn sometimes painful lessons about how to get along with other people. Some negatives: it’s expensive to live here. We are all aware of that and keep trying out ways to mitigate that. It’s way too liberal IMO, and conservatives are very rare. But what place, or what kind of social organization is perfect? I have found much of great value here, as well as things I wish I could change. We learn by doing….

  253. @JMG

    Two questions:

    1) If Faustian culture’s defining characteristic is the will to power, isn’t the field of control theory an example of the same? If yes, then why is it that many of the top figures in the field both in the past as well as present were/are Russians? Or am I missing something here?

    2) Given the myth of Progress, are the ideas of ‘biological communication via plants’ with aliens, and ‘bionic computers’ (that, according to the book, should supposedly be able to decode biological signals, as opposed to 70’s computer technology, which couldn’t do so) as expressed in The Secret Life of Plants even theoretically possible? If yes, are they economically feasible, or are they examples of the ‘in the domain of negative returns’ technologies like space travel?

  254. Oilman2 #148, oil’s dependence on steel is mirrored in coal. During the 1984-85 Miners Strike, the miners knew when the last roof support arch had left the Scunthorpe steelworks for the Nottinghamshire coalfield. From that they could work out how many were left in stock and when the scabs would have to stop cutting coal.

    Paradoctor #161, another example of pantopia is the graphic novel series Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis.

  255. Hi Ben, re: Iroquois political forms and imagining the Tamanouan future:

    If you’re interested in exploring that more I’d highly recommend the work of Daniel Richter. He begins his Before the Revolution: Ancient American Pasts by contrasting the worlds of pre-contact Europeans and North Anericans, and he spends a good deal of time detailing very different ways in which power was conceived of and excercised. I’m resisting the urge to describe it all here, but I re-read the whole book sometime after JMG started exploring the tamanous idea and found a lot to work with.

    Richter has an earlier book specifically about the Iroquois, The Ordeal of the Longhouse. I haven’t read that one, but everything I’ve read from him has been more than worthwhile.

  256. A possible occult defence of the Faustian dream and The One Who Finds The Truth. Earth energies naturally swirl around in curves. At one time the idea they could be made to do anything else must have seemed insane and the height of arrogance. Until someone figured out how to form ley lines. They even continued long after people forgot how it was done. Similarly, history naturally moves in cycles. Is it possible there’s some way to channel history into a straight line? (regardless of whether that’s a good idea)

  257. @ methylethyl #244 and siliconguy

    We have a similar GPS issue near my house. At one time, eons ago, Hockersville Road connected with North Hockersville Road. Like, back in pre-railroad horse & buggy days.

    The railroad now interrupts the two roads, along with a significant change in grade because railroads don’t like a change in grade and thus build up or remove land under the tracks.

    There is NO way across other than on foot, up the rise, across the tracks, and down on the other side.

    The neighbors at the end of Hockersville Road (it’s not quite a dead end because you can turn left) see drivers misled by their GPS on a near-hourly basis. Worse, tractor-trailers come barreling down the street on a daily basis and are unable to make the incredibly tight left turn. The police have to come out, block traffic, and have the truck driver back up to the intersection (hundreds of yards) to escape.

    Will AI and automated cars fix this? I doubt it. The township is on record as *begging* the GPS companies to fix their maps. The local residents have told me the same thing. They *beg* the GPS companies to fix their maps.

    Nothing happens.

    It’s most exciting when a car, or worse a truck! is moving too fast to stop in time and drives right onto the railroad tracks. Norfolk/Southern really doesn’t like their multiple lines of track (it’s a major east/west line) blocked by a semi.

  258. Hi John and friends,

    Well this is a favourite post of mine and one that keeps me thinking quite deeply. It is funny John but the first time I discovered your blog was when I was looking up what the future of Russia could be (I had just moved here) and I came across your ‘Sobornost’ post back then. Been a loyal reader for 3 years now!

    Anyway, since I live in Russia, I will give you my own account on how the society works here and how it could reflect into the future…

    But first, a reflection on what I see when it comes to the land and energy…

    Within every continent, within every country is a spirit guide itself. I call it “the land soul”. You mentioned this several years ago and it is a very real fact.

    For Europe is a proud, young woman. But now she is weeping as her continent is dying.

    For America, I always see a native American woman. Africa has its own zulu looking queen, a feirce and proud warrioress.

    East Asia I think is a wise old man but I cannot be sure.

    Russia is the most interesting. Russia’s land spirit is that…of an old Babushka. It is the energy of a land that really does not like change. The old babushka is patriotic, tough and only changes when she has to but the land quickly shrugs off foreign influences and reverts back to its previous self.

    This has been the case all the time throughout Russian history. The Orthodox Church took over but the entire region quickly reverted to its pagan ways. Gods out, Saints in. Even more so then the Catholic church.

    Many attempts were made to Westernise but the country continued to resist change. Even the Communist revolution merely reverted back from a faustian idea to basically communitarianism.

    This also reflects not only on foreign influence but also how society is structured and how communities form. Basically in a nut shell, Russians do not like mixing with other groups.

    Whilst there has been some mixing in the past, it has always been very limited. Russians, Uzbekis, Georgians, Tartars, etc quite happily live side by side in their own communities but never really intermarry, instead continuing their own weird sort of community next to community.

    It is for this reason all these cultures such as Buryats, Chechens, Avars, Azeris, Bashkirs, etc still exist. Where as in Faustian Europe or even America peoples disappear with each generation, in the land of Russia the cultures survive as one and divided. They live on in a weird sort of separate brotherhood.

    This I think is Sobornost and old Babusbka in action. Many communities will live on in the land of what is now Russia. It is a land deeply conservative.

    Even in Russian history, there was no trail of tears, no mass colonisation. The Russians simply showed up, said “me big tribe, you little tribe, you be good now.” and that was it. Pretty much the two communities lived side by side in their own joint and separate worlds, quite peacefully. It was only under Stalin that it became chaotic but then it sort of got better again.

    As for the future of Russia, I did discuss this a while back but it will be a recipent of future white flight from Western Europe. Simply put, Europeans belong in Southern Russia and Ukraine, even the Caucasus, not Europe. They invaded Europe thousands of years ago and merely replicated this formula throughout the world. That time is now ending and it is time to go back home, just like the Jews had to with Israel. Spirit world is very, very angry with Europe. They pretty much have screwed the balance of the planet and get what they deserve.

    Anyway, I do have one question for you John. Will I be old enough to live to see Sobornost? I am in my early 30s and I am worried I wont really be able to see the changes Russia brings because I will be too old. It does depress me actually that I will have to live in the Faustian era.

    Ah well.

  259. Big Mike, I don’t know of anyone who’s done a Spenglerian take on 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it would be worth doing.

    Oilman2, that’s a real possibility. I suspect there are a lot of places where the proto-Tamanous culture is stirring just now.

    Info, sure, but it also generates a backlash; periods of increased collectivism due to war are promptly followed by periods of increased individualism. In the case of the Civil War, that was the 1880s and 1890s; in the case of the Second World War, the 1960s and 1970s.

    Christopher, it’s my favorite kind of curry, but then I ate a lot of it growing up.

    Viduraawakened, oil lamps of various kinds have been common wherever there was an adequate supply of oil — the Romans used them in vast number, for example. So I think you’re on to something.

    Dusk Shine, that is to say, a suburb with a slightly unusual amenity. Suburbs, at least in the short-to-middle term, have been relatively successful. As for the funding, well, find enough people who want one…

    Dermotok, where is that Dostoyevski quote from? That’s a well-forged weapon and I want to use it, but citing the source will be helpful!

    Lydia, as I noted in my post, communes — or for that matter cohousing arrangements — can be done; they’re balky fringe projects with a high failure rate, but every bell-shaped curve has its far end, and I’ve heard of a few other arrangements like yours that are still hanging in there decades down the road. If it works for you, I’m delighted to hear that.

    Viduraawakened, (1) I’m not at all familiar with control theory, so can’t answer that. (2) I have no idea, since as far as I know the experiments haven’t been done yet.

    Yorkshire, it’s possible. The results would probably be disastrous in the long run, and the straight line would eventually break down in chaotic flailings from which new cycles would emerge, but for a while, it might be possible.

    Ksim, I’m pretty sure America has more than one land soul; the United States is a temporary conglomeration of several very different nations. Thanks for the data points on the Russian land soul! As for white flight to the old Kurgan homeland, I could see it, as I’m coming to think that Europe as it’s existed for the last thousand years or so may not have much time left. As for the timeline of the rise of Sobornost culture, at most you’ll see the first tentative stirrings — remember that the rise of a great culture unfolds over centuries.

  260. Re GPS. There’s a Vine street near me which is lined with houses in reality, but according to Google maps a Toyota dealership from a town 50 km away was also there. I kept waiting for the dealership to get it fixed, and eventually phoned them. Oh yes, the receptionist told me, no one can find us on their GPS. We just tell them to drive to a nearby business and how to get to us from there.

    It turned out the side of their building was indeed on Vine Street in their town, but it was a very short connecting road between two roundabouts, only about 20 m long, and the street name wasn’t on Google maps. Their main frontage was on a bigger road, but that wasn’t their street address. I wrote to Google maps explaining the situation and it was eventually sorted out and the dealership placed in its correct town..

  261. Hi John,

    I lifted that particular mattock from Pankaj Mishra’s excellent ‘Age of Anger’. The bibliographic essay lists Dostoyevsky’s ‘Winter Notes on Summer Impressions’ trans. Richard Lee Renfield, New York, 1955).

    It is from the chapter Clearing a Space, which partly draws upon Dostoyevsky’s travels through Western Europe. The culmination of which sees him reduced to a moment of exisentential, or Faustian induced psychosis when visiting the spectacle of the 1862 World Fair at the modern marvel of Crystal Palace in London.

    About this Dostoyevsky wrote ‘You become aware of a colossal idea; you sense that here something has been achieved, that here there is a victory and a triumph. You even begin vaguely to fear something. However independent you may be, for some reason you become terrified. “For isn’t this the achievement in perfection” you think. ‘Isn’t this the ultimate’. Could think fact the ‘one fold’. Must you accept this as the final truth and forever hold your peace? It is all so solemn, triumphant, and proud that you gasp for breath’

    I think we have each felt that way over the years as we have had those contemptible, sclerotic words rammed down our throats ‘There is no alternative’ 150 years ago and Dostoyevsky nailed it.

  262. John—

    Reflecting on the business trip to Denver I mentioned in last month’s open post, it occurs to me that the theme of this week’s post very much applies. Many years ago, I had a dream of that urban loft hipster kind of lifestyle. And some fifteen years ago, as I was coping with the reality of divorce, I’d sought to return to Denver (from which I had moved a few years prior) and seriously considered that lifestyle option, looking at downtown lofts and thinking about how I might live as a newly-single downtown urban professional. (Cue the Cranberries and the opening sequence from _You’ve Got Mail_.) As it turns out, that path didn’t manifest…something for which I’m grateful; among other things, my relationship with my daughter would not be what it is today if I’d been living a half a continent away.

    In any event, returning to Denver for that business conference gave me an opportunity to compare the vision of the urban lifestyle with the rather grubby reality. A visible homeless population, a much dirtier downtown than I remembered, regular police and ambulance sirens during the night, and a sense of malaise that I didn’t recall from when I used to work there two decades ago. Certainly, the hipster downtown dream wasn’t quite as glamorous now as it had been or had been promised to be.

    It was a good experience in that, as I commented in the open post, I’m pretty much cured of that fantasy. The small-town Midwest is the place for me. The strength of the dream, however, was considerable, and it lingered long after it should have died. I can see why folks cling to the vision of how they thought things ought be, even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. It is a very human trait.

  263. Denis #125

    Americans are terrible at listening to leaders and doing what they are told.

    At first blush that comes off rather elitist, no?

    IMO it’s a feature, not a bug. I’ve been horrified at all the lemmings willingly running over the vaccine cliff. Nonetheless I certainly acknowledge that there’s certainly a significant portion of the population that can’t recognize what people are worth following and when.

    Of course, there’s very few of those (worthy of following) apparent these days, certainly not any of those put forth as “leaders”.

  264. One last one from Dostoyevsky on visiting the Cyrstal Palace….sorry lads..

    ‘Look at these hundreds of thousands, these millions of people humbly streaming here from all over the face of the earth. People come with a single thought, quietly, relentlessly, mutely thronging into this colossal palace; and you feel something final has taken place here, that something has come to an end. It is like a biblical picture,something out of Babylon, a prophesy from the apocalypse coming pass before your eyes. You sense that it would require great and everlasting spiritual denial and fortitude in order to not submit, not to capitulate before the impression, not to bow to what it is, not to deify Baal, that is, not to accept the material world as your ideal’.

    Jeremiah eat your heart out…

  265. Mr. Greer,

    I am a data point that you may find of interest to Spengler’s thesis of religiosity emerging at the end of an Age of Reason – what does that transformation look like on the ground.

    I want to sketch what this trajectory has looked like from experience. I was born in 1979, and grew up in a context of rural poverty in a Protestant household. I have noticed with some wry amusement that I seem to be a half step ahead of the generation behind me, and a half step behind my generation. For example, my peers take MTV for granted, but I did not have cable TV, we watched the three major networks on rabbit ears.

    With the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan, note that my entire adult life has borne witness to a pointless war. The exact conditions resumed almost the moment our troops withdrew. The recent death of Colin Powell, one of the chief architects of that war, attributed to Covid though he suffered from blood cancer and other ailments, underscores what I am getting at. My adult life has borne witness to a bankrupt Age of Reason. There has never been a time when the formulations of that thinking has revealed truths that make a bit of sense, or seem at all to have a handle on reality. In fact, one can more reliably bet whatever the respectable and reason-based people predict will happen as a consequence of their reason-based actions. For me, there was never any faith to be disillusioned from. There are countless examples here, but I feel confident you do not need me to underline the facts to underscore the point. It feels as though that belief system of Reason crashed right about the time I was born, and has been burning throughout my adulthood.

    In the past I have explored various religious or alternative philosophies, starting with the base of Christianity I was borne into, Buddhism (not a religion, but still), absorbing the ideas you have posted here and at the old ADR site, Stoic philosophy, and cultural contexts of East Asia. Of late, I have been exploring the ideas and beliefs of the Hindu religion. This is where I have had the ah-ha feeling of effortless comfort, that this is the one that suits me. My writing of late is a work in progress to draw the wisdom of this religion to the context of our time. The notion of a second religiosity at the end of an Age of Reason has not been foreign to me, and I have observed my mind work through these various ways of thought with a detachment and amusement. It is about finding a narrative framework that makes a sense of reality.

    So what I intend to offer here is an observation from within the process of the coming wave of religiosity that you predict. Yes, I see it coming too. The process for me has been a consequence of the old way of thinking obviously not making sense. I believe a return to religious thinking happens so often for a simple reason. These are belief systems that represent the collective labors of millions of people, over centuries or even millennia. They are well honed, and available, and work reliably enough that when the Age of Reason crashes and burns, people turn back to them to get the job of narrative consciousness done.

    I will make a prediction about our coming wave as well. It would not surprise me to see a dark horse like Hinduism take root in America. lol /grin Ok the reason why is very simple, the Christian Churches have screwed themselves by going secular and political. Becoming secularized and politicized as they have has created a big problem. People use religion to get in touch with the Godhead. In today’s climate, people do not first associate Christian church or affiliation with these religions, they first think of political and social affiliations – leading them right back to the talismans of the failing age of reason. So it may not be Hinduism, but I am sure that it is not going to be what we have – only that it will be a religion that can be outside of the failing context. Such that those interested in it are inspired with a sense of wonder and curiosity, rather than having their thoughts lead back into the traps of a failing system. Who knows, maybe the darkest of dark horses of druidry will be the one. 🙂

    So this is very rambling, and normally I may edit this sort of text down to a quarter of this draft size, but sometimes its best to leave it like that. I want to leave with a bit of levity, my attempt to synthesize Hinduism in my cultural context and lens has come out as a project I call “The Gods Must Watch TV”. The concept is of a reality show that centers on the God family; Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Parvati, Kartik, Ganesh, Lakshmi, Saraswati. A send up of the Kardashians. The gimmick is the reality show within the show, that the Gods are not omnipotent. Their view of humans is through a reality show they watch. The rules of engagement is that they can only watch humans through the eyes of animals. And they can only hear humans when humans speak to them directly, such as in prayer.

  266. Saw this article on the American Conservative today, and it actually seems tangental to this week’s post. I’m curious as to your take on it, since I’ve noticed what almost seems to be a point of disagreement between the author (and a lot of religious conservatives) on the one hand and yourself on the other. Basically, if I’m reading you right, you seem to think that everything that’s happened in the 20th century-the eclipse of Christianity, the rise of the scientific materialist worldview, and the concurrent radicalization of society and collapse of previous societal norms, is the natural fulfillment of Western (or Faustian) civilization. Our author (and again, a lot of conservatives in his vein), on the other hand, sees everything that’s happened since WWI as a giant betrayal of everything pre-WWI Western civilization stood for.

    I also find it interesting that the author is at the very least a borderline monarchist-that viewpoint would have been regarded as the height of kookiness twenty years ago, and now you see it in a semi-mainstream publication like The American Conservative.

  267. @Justin

    “People use religion to get in touch with the Godhead. In today’s climate, people do not first associate Christian church or affiliation with these religions, they first think of political and social affiliations.”

    Right here you’ve hit something my mind has been chewing on for a good while. As for your thoughts on dark horse faiths, while not nearly so far behind I do think that sentiment is another reason you see a certain interest in Orthodox Christianity in certain circles at least among english speaking people. While it does have a strong political tie to governments in the east, it’s still a comfortable distance from power that it’s “traditional” authority is not overshadowed by it.

    I’ve personally been caught in a state of limbo spiritually in that I spent my childhood in the Catholic Church, and as an adult there is a part that longs to go back, the way it interacts with power pushes me away. It feels, or better yet is presented as trying to hard to walk the line between projecting it’s vision while also walking along with the zeitgeist.

    One illustration is the Pope meeting with Nancy Pelosi. Regardless of how I feel about abortion personally, it feels like he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth when he codemns abortion yet takes a personal meeting with a woman who promotes it while claiming catholic values.

    It’s hard to articulate but in something like this I could understand him meeting with Biden, as he did win power and is in this case representing the nation as President, but Pelosi was only elected by California and then put in her position by her own party. I also understand condeming her is stepping over the line but to me it would have seemed more correct to just not meet with her at all.

    Then you also have the small dust up with latin mass, making it more difficult for those who wish to worship that way be able to do so with him citing the whole thing was causing more division in the church. It just seems like it’s about power.

    Now granted I’ll be the first to admit I’m not very informed on the church these days, but as the saying goes, “things perceived as real are real in their consequences,” and these are the most visible things going on in the church outside the abuse scandals to people busy trying to make a living and find their way.

    It all feels so grubby. That’s not to say the orthodox is any less grubby, but it’s the way people in the west can so visibly see these churches rubbing up next to power that I feel leaves a nasty taste in my opinion.

  268. JMG (and all) – What are the chances that the first real “self-driving” car will be driven remotely over 5G mobile telephony by an underpaid “tech worker” in India? It’ll be just like Uber or Lyft, except you provide your own car and gas, while the actual driving is Somebody Else’s Problem!

    (Which reminds me: we’ve just passed the 42-anniversary of the publication of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (If you don’t know why we’d celebrate a 42nd anniversary, you haven’t read the book(s).))

  269. Ah, yes, I remember reading (and hearing a first-hand account or two) of the slacker problem that plagued the movement in its early days. Most of those people were gone by the time I plunged in, although I did hear of new ones turning up from time to time.

    However, my memory was way off on the study of successful vs. unsuccessful communities. It was actually about groups founded in the 1990s and was included in a book, Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities by Diana Leafe Christain. From the blurb on the book’s listing on both Amazon and the Foundation for Intentional Communities website:

    The 90s saw a revitalized surge of interest in intentional communities and ecovillages in North America: the number of intentional communities listed in the Communities Directory increased 60 percent between 1990 and 1995. But only 10 percent of the actual number of forming-community groups actually succeeded. Ninety percent failed, often in conflict and heartbreak. After visiting and interviewing founders of dozens of successful and failed communities, along with her own forming-community experiences, the author concluded that “the successful 10 percent” had all done the same five or six things right, and “the unsuccessful 90 percent” had made the same handful of mistakes.

    Just as an aside: one of the articles that quoted the 90% number was an aeon piece from 2017 which asserted that “attrition rates for intentional communities are not all that different from many other types of human endeavour. The failure rate for start-ups is around 90 per cent”. But that number for start-ups is out of date. The latest from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, for small businesses started between 2010 and 2019, the two-year failure rate is only 31.8%. Business writers trying to explain this huge change generally attribute it to better information available more easily online. So maybe the 90% number for intentional communities is also out of date, perhaps partly because this book has been available since 2003.

  270. Dermotok, thanks for this. I’ll get a copy.

    David BTL, many thanks for the data point.

    Justin, I think it’s entirely possible that India may provide the second pseudomorphosis here in North America — Europe provided the first, and if things go the usual way, someone else will provide the second, before the American great culture begins to emerge. I think there’s a very high chance that India will rise to world power status over the next century or so — it was the richest nation on Earth before the British stripped it to the bare walls, and once it recovers from the pillaging I expect it to regain that status — and a US-India alliance would make a lot of sense for both sides as the US declines. That could well spread Hindu religion very widely here.

    Tolkienguy, as I see it, what happened in the 20th century was both the natural fulfillment and the total betrayal of what the West once was. That’s normal. All things human are subject to enantiodroma, the process by which each thing taken far enough turns into its opposite.

    Lathechuck, I’d put money on it.

    Joan, thanks for this. I’m delighted to hear that 10% of the communities made it — that’s better than usual, and suggests that certain lessons are finally being learnt.

  271. Ever since the first time you wrote about the concept of tamanous culture, I’ve been thinking about what cognitive tools might support it and work effectively with it, the way (for example) the mathematics of functions supports and works effectively with Faustian culture. (Why bother? Well, the eventual rise of such a culture is too far off for that question to be a direct concern, but if the culture takes its shape from the land then anticipating it could help me strengthen my relationship with Betwixt, here and now.)

    As I believe you’ve mentioned, new cultures don’t require completely new concepts. Some or even all the ingredients of tamanous might already exist. But that implies we would find them in incomplete forms, and since they don’t align with the present culture they’re more likely to be deprecated than respected.

    Which brings me back to polyexegy (new name, ongoing concept), the embracing of multiple and genuinely incompatible explanations (narratives, mental models) for experiences and observed phenomena. Is a rain dance ceremony a powerful engagement with imminent spiritual forces, an ineffectual gesture with no consequences good or bad, or a regrettable affront to the sole true divinity? Every community promotes one “obvious” answer or another, differing as to which one. You can point out that each of multiple narratives are strongly held by some communities, but you can expect to be told which is really true, or asked which you believe. You’re expected to have strong and specific preference for one and only one narrative, and being caught out entertaining more than one (even as just hypotheticals one is willing to discuss, let alone hard polyexegy) tends to invite even more suspicion than merely choosing the “wrong” one. Many people have learned to respect others’ contrary beliefs (or at least pretend to). Even when they don’t, there’s often honor in bold opposition. But who respects inconsistency, waffling, tergiversation? Is that not the hallmark of a troll?

    Yet, if it’s better to know many stories, there should be validity to applying many stories and accepting many stories, even if that means believing none. (Which is a consequence of appreciating when the stories do contradict, rather than trying to revise them into compatibility.)

    As long as the idea of one truth remains prevalent, tamanous sounds fragile. It might need polyexegy. Does that make any sense?

  272. “Info, sure, but it also generates a backlash; periods of increased collectivism due to war are promptly followed by periods of increased individualism. In the case of the Civil War, that was the 1880s and 1890s; in the case of the Second World War, the 1960s and 1970s.”

    Agreed. But I suspect the long-term trend especially when Individualists have to contend with Collectivists over the long-term is that Individualists tend to get eaten especially in a more crowded ecology without escape to new frontiers.

    There is always a back and forth in competition. The boxers exchange blows in the boxing ring.

    But unless something forces a stalemate. This advantage persists and will tend to make the backlash weaker and weaker.

    Until individualism and collectivism can both be leveraged to the best advantage of each arrangement making said group triumphant.

  273. JMG (answer to Info):” As for the binary between individualism and collectivism, that’s only a mess because Faustian thinkers automatically push both of them to dysfunctional extremes!”

    This, and some of the other comments made here, has answered one of my questions I’ve had for a while. When I attended an evangelical church, they and other conservative Protestant churches considered liberals and the left as individualists because they spurned the old ways of traditional communities and relationships (especially regarding sex and marriage), so were seen as wanting to “do their own thing”. When I left them and attended a liberal church (Unitarian Universalist) and looking at some of the sources they followed, I heard and read some comments about the conservative right being individualists because they wouldn’t go along with the leftist interpretation of community! I was so confused; I just thought that individualism was Randianism on steroids and here everyone was accusing the other side of being the most selfy-selfish of individualist selfishness that ever was! Thank you for clearing this up for me.

    Also JMG, I think your old stomping grounds are feeling the pull of the tamanous.

    Bye, Maryland? Lawmakers in 3 Counties Float a Plan to Secede From the State.

    Joy Marie

  274. @Hubbs

    “People use religion to get in touch with the Godhead. In today’s climate, people do not first associate Christian church or affiliation with these religions, they first think of political and social affiliations.”

    Right here you’ve hit something my mind has been chewing on for a good while. As for your thoughts on dark horse faiths, while not nearly so far behind I do think that sentiment is another reason you see a certain interest in Orthodox Christianity in certain circles at least among english speaking people. While it does have a strong political tie to governments in the east, it’s still a comfortable distance from power that it’s “traditional” authority is not overshadowed by it.”

    Its the Nature of the Orthodox/Catholic to result in Social Conservatism at least if they are consistent with the Magisterium, Church Fathers and Canon Law so basically Church Tradition. So its inevitable that it will influence their Politics by default.

    But at the same time they are meant to be above Politics.

  275. Another group that has a tight community structure similar to the Amish and Mennonite are the Hutterites. They are from the same Anabaptist background, but the main difference between Hutterites and the more well-known Amish and Mennonite communities is that the Hutterites live communally. The land, buildings, equipment, etc. are owned by all and worked by all. This would fit in with other examples of religious communities that work as a communal whole, but a major difference is that family units live together, not like in a kibbutz where the children live separate. I think this strengthens the Hutterite model and enables them to flourish in a different way from most other communal set ups where either celibacy is required or, in the opposite direction, “free love for everyone!” That last example usually doesn’t work out so well.

    Also, here’s an interesting article on why that 70’s experiment in communal living, The Farm, kind of fell apart. It still exists, but in a different form than the founders envisioned. I think I posted this link once before, but it never hurts to post again so that (hopefully) past mistakes won’t be tried again.

    Joy Marie

  276. Hi John,

    The underlying moral fault of Faustian infinite growth is the denial of the need to share. After all, infinite growth implies infinite amounts for everyone! That didn’t work out so well even during the exponential phase of economic growth shortly after the discovery of oil, a phase that’s now in the rearview mirror.

    Your essay called to mind the the familiar “vases and faces” black-and-white drawing: is the face merely the outline of the vase, or is the vase merely the outline of the face? Rather than toggling between answering “both” or “neither,” I prefer to see the face and the vase as aspects of a deeper reality, symbolized by the entire picture. And likewise with the primacy of the individual versus the primacy of the collective.

    Other aspects of reality have their own deep mysteries: Free will somehow resides beyond the antimony of determinsim vs indeterminism. On a personal note, within combinatorics I’ve come up with new definitions and new theorems based on them: was I engaging in invention or discovery? Both and neither.

    Some things within our culture will continue to speak to the cultures of the future. Here’s what I believe are two examples: St. Paul’s passages about many-parts-but-one-body will resonate with sobornost; it will be seen as a paradigm example of how parts derive their identity from the whole. But it will also resonate with tamanous; it will be seen as a paradigm of how self-organizing systems can over time create a greater unity. Shakespeare’s genius can be seen as emerging from the collective project of the English language at the time, but also as part of the spontaneous creation of the English language (he invented many words and phrases in the course of his career.)

    A final thought: the tamanous culture will prove to instantiate “the invisible hand” far more successfully than has the Faustian culture.

  277. Tolkien guys comments on Interstellar were so spot on. There are some people who watch that movie over and over and over again. If that isn’t a Faustian Ritual I don’t know what is.

  278. re: Hinduism in the US

    A kind of weak sauce Buddhism is already somewhat popular here.

    Hinduism did have a brief stint of popularity in the 60’s but its fundamentally very strange to us and has trouble getting adherents. Than again who knows, two friends of mine neither from anywhere neither White nor from anywhere near the subcontinent practiced that religion so who knows .

    If I had to hazard a guess longish term aside from local Christian strains like the Amish ,I could see something we’d vaguely call Paganism. New Age stuff without the egocentrism and woo with handed down teachings. Wicca and maybe a splat of Heathenry which will very from place to place with say Florida and California having some Santeria like practices and the Midewest more Heathery

    Short term, I could see some of the less devoted Faustians shifting to Ancient Aliens Theory which is religion and a heck a lot less harmful at least.

  279. Diana Leaf Christian also wrote a sequel Finding Community about how to join a pre-existing intentional community.

    Two of the modst compelling elements of the 1960s vision of change were the psychedelic revolution, and the pilgrimmage-like convoy of cheerfully coloured vehicles on the way to the event that would change everything. The basic concept can be explained in a few sentances, but which authors dug deepest into it? Either theorists going into detail of how it was supposed to work, or fiction writers who conveyed what it was going to to feel like. Did anyone ever show the vision of what it would be like if the psychedelic wave Hunter S Thompson described hadn’t crested and retreated, but kept going?

  280. @ JMG – re Jeff’s phrasing “the fantasy of “running away to some empty quarter and start from scratch”, I have just realised that this is EXACTLY the same fantasy that powers some people’s idea of humanity’s (nice and abstract) future in space.

    Data point – my recent social media conversation with a person of that very persuasion whose contributions made great reference to habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, climate change and other such destructive patterns that humanity appears to be hopelessly mired in on this planet, as reason to hope that humans arriving at a new blankslate planet, given our current technological skills and current state of knowledge (both of which appear to be at the core of this person’s faith), they would do it all right this time around.

    My gentle suggestions that whatever current advantages/knowledge/powers/wisdom we currently have could be put to work on this planet, which still has the considerable advantage over every other planet in the universe, in not needing to be “terraformed” to permit surviveability, met with simple incomprehension. To this person, this planet is already a write off, and space is “our” only hope.

    Needless to say, this conversation left me rather troubled. Because I realised that the corollary to running away to “that” to make a fresh start from scratch, is that “this” (whether a city, a way of life, a society, a political economy, or even a whole planet) has nothing at all worth saving or redeeming, and therefore there IS no visible or viable alternative to “running away” from “this.”

    Ah! *lightbulb flash* And now, suddenly, in the course of writing this comment, I realise why such an important element of the “collapse now and avoid the rush” suite of ideas you have been propagating is the bit about finding something you love, something you consider worth keeping, and developing and practising the skills, and sharing the knowledge that might (in fact) enable that thing to survive… Yes, that! Thank you!

  281. @ Poseidon – Thank you for “do-ocracy”! As in… “if something needs doing and you do it, you get to decide how it’s done.” This exactly expresses the basic “rule” that has been put to work in most if not all of my domestic arrangements. Not sure it has ever worked well at any higher level of organisation I have experienced, but it accords with my personal sensibility and is therefore, for me, a perfectly “doable” arrangement. It also has the clear advantage of side-stepping any and all energy-sapping theoretical arguments. 😉

  282. I’m wondering a lot about this week’s essay, specifically where you say people “edit” ideas to make them conform to preconcieved narratives. I’m thinking that running off and starting an intentional community – usually with a strong agrarian tilt, is mainly due to the lack of “narratives”. There are not a lot of people suggesting voluntary premptive collapse and therefore few examples of how to do it. As you point out, Faustian culture really isn’t about accepting limits. So when someone attempts to make sense of voluntary simplicity we have either Henry David Thoreau building a cabin at Waldon, or hippy communes of the 60s and 70s, and not much else to emulate. Both those narratives end -usually- in abandonment after a couple years. Collapsing now, while staying in a town or city doesn’t have a well developed narrative for people to plug into. I’m thinking people know they are going to have to share resources and depend on the help of others as we make our way down the long descent, but they don’t know how to do this in an urban setting. There’s no well developed urban simplicity narrative, therefore it’s off to the mountains, or the farm, or a cabin by the lake. As a new narratives develop people will have more options.

  283. >What are the chances that the first real “self-driving” car will be driven remotely over 5G mobile telephony by an underpaid “tech worker” in India?

    There’s a movie out there called _The Sleep Dealer_, where they answer a similar question, what if all the labor was done by mexicans operating robots from Mexico? But that sort of business model where you sell a steak and then swap it out for hamburger at the last minute, that’s classic Silicon Valley.

  284. @Walt F (#287):

    Polyexegy! I’ve never had a convenient term for this before. Thank you so much!

    It’s crucial in trying to make sense of this self-contradictory reality in which we have always lived out our lives.

  285. Hi JMG,

    Thanks for your response. I should have meditated on the edge case I asked about before hand and did afterwards. In the example of the astral light I essentially came up with that experiencing it consciously isn’t actually a possibility for some people due to the limits of the cosmos and the state of the unfoldment of their Words. I think there is a broad landscape of meaning behind this question. Schopenhauer is sitting on my shelf right now so I will revisit this in future meditations when I get around to reading him. Thanks for the post.

  286. I was interested to hear the possibility of India as the second pseudomorphosis . My wife and I are in the process of buying a home in a subdivision that is essentially (except for us) an Intel company town. We like it because it is close to my wife’s work, near small industrial spaces ( that I hope to move to from my digs near the docks in Portland) and it is walkable to everything that we need. Interestingly, every single one of our neighbors ( on the little curved alley style street) will be a 30 something couple from India. It will be good to be exposed to a different ( and perhaps rising) world view as faustian culture winds down.

  287. @Ray Wharton 111: did you ever watch her documentary (shows up in the playlist a couple videos down)? It came with the Running for the Drum album, and is an incredible example of someone living their genius.

    She said when she was six, her parents got her one piano lesson, the teacher observed how good she already was and told them never to let her take lessons, they’d ruin her. She’s self taught at everything – song writing, all her instruments, her digital art, her co-creation of digital music recording and streaming (she had to find a way to work with the studios from her home studio in Hawaii), online education and language instruction.

    I also have to generally recommend, for anyone who wants to see what a nascent post-contact tamanous society looks like, read about the daily life in the Métis Red River Settlement in Manitoba. It only lasted in type form fifty years before being crushed, but it’s a good pointer. I have a website I need to dig up again, having lost my bookmarks, but in book form, Alfred Silver’s historical fiction will not at steer you wrong: Red River Story, Lord of the Plains and Where the Ghost Horse Runs. The last one was written as the end of the trilogy, but is actually second in historical timeline, and perhaps gives the best overview of how such communities also coexist and intergrade in practice with surrounding ones. Both the second and third show how a Faustian saviour complex contributed to derailing the project at that time; religiously with Riel, and politically with Grant. Maybe next time…

  288. Tolkienguy @ 282 I have never understood the nostalgia of American traditionalist conservatives for vanished Austria Hungary. Maybe it is the music, the pastries, the fact that Hapsburg scandals have been forgotten while the unseemly doings of some of the Windsors grace the front pages of every tabloid on three continents. You need only read a good history of WWI, a history which covers all fronts, not just the Western one, to see for yourself how rickety and unstable was that empire at the time of its’ demise. While I can’t claim to be particularly well read about Central Europe, what I have learned suggests to me that the best that could be said for the late Hapsburgs was that they meant well.

    I found it interesting to read, in the article to which you linked, President Wilson referred to as the “Great Satan”. I agree that Wilson was one of our worst presidents, but he was also from the south, Virginia, I believe, while his advisor House was the son of a Texas smuggler and gun runner. It used to be a convention among conservatives at places like National Review that one never criticized Southerners unless in sighing over the transgressions of a brother mode. Of course traditionalist conservatives are monarchists; they are the kind of court historians and intellectuals who can hope for preferment under a monarchy. What is interesting is the hint that they might be abandoning their customary Anglophilia.

  289. @ info re: NPCs, well, I mean… 2 things here : 1) How many really are, and how many times is that just a thing someone likes to say about someone else to shut down the idea that other person is also a living human with thoughts of their own that might not be welcome by the person saying it, or had simply assumed about them based on their manner of dress, background or affiliation?

    When I was in university, a friend and I coined the term Alternative and Therefore Better Than You because we met a lot of people who really felt they weren’t under the thrall of the man, man, and did their best to adopt habits of speech, fashion and lifestyle to prove it, but I would lay money I know what soundbites they now parrot with the vaccines, you know what I mean? Because their alternative thoughts at the time on peak oil, resource limits, food security… Were all already the same, if still disent from “mainstream”. I’m also equally sure that when they see me carrying my briefcase in to work for the gubmint, they know I’m an NPC with complete certainty, whatever I might disagree, and who are you going to believe? Which team of experts shall I call in to prove my thoughts are original and free enough upon the axes that matter to be a player?

    2) We’ve also had the emergent pop culture narrative of the video game character that suddenly realized what they were in The Matrix, which is like digital Logan’s Run with a saviour narrative tacked on, The Truman Show, where it is all about the protagonist – but now we’ve got a literal NPC who becomes a player and tries to get everyone else into the game, too, that might be edging closer to a tamanous concept Free Guy. I haven’t watched it, but the vein of Reynold’s work intrigues me, so I don’t mind the research…

  290. JMG, a bit off-topic for this week, but… what format do you want the story for the Gristle contest in? Do I indent paragraphs or leave spaces between them? I actually have something to submit this time, and I’d like to put my best foot forward.

  291. “Americans are terrible at listening to leaders and doing what they are told. ”

    Yes we are, especially between the coasts. And a big part of that is the fact the Great Leaders are from the coasts, and don’t listen very well. Some loyal members of the PMC make decisions from 2000 miles away based on obsolete data from a place they have never visited and then they wonder why those rulings get ignored.

    Back a decade ago Paul Krugman was devoting multiple columns about how the people of Kansas were voting against their own interests. He was quite certain that he knew what those interests were without ever having to set foot in Kansas.

    This morning on NPR there was a segment on the current mismatch between the number of unemployed and the number of job openings. They talked to three people from Las Vegas, New York City, and Washington DC. What a representative sample (not.) Not one word about why so many “entry level” jobs require multiple years of experience, which is the problem my daughter is running into.

  292. JMG, Thank you for another thought-provoking essay. and thank you commentariat for entertaining me through to the bottom, so far. As a miserable student of I Ching and as a lapst Taoist living in a right wing edge of suburban desert high country Colorado,,,,,,a follower of Medusa, looking in a mirror and finding i grew up in an intentional community, near a socialist intentional community, near Bedrock, and near Paradox. I grew up on the Myth of Progress in a company town that is now extinct, so that the utopia that is disappeared, lives on. I went to Mesa Verde enough times to develop my fantasy of living in the rock or near the river that provides water and I think that is the future here, in the models of the previous inhabitants, and some cultural artifacts left in the rocks. I wander into precambrian rock, or at the 1.5 billion year gap of Chinle formation on top of the precambrian. I think the Uncompaghre is a mighty old entity. I discovered I Ching talked to me in metaphor, as did the Way of Life translations, teaching me how to live in all circumstances with a touch of humor to temper the cynicism of being a stranger in a strange land. The Medusa interlude is brought to you by Pegasus, the winged horse and Conoco symbol bowing to flying cars, with pellets of uranium too cheap to meter, the form of pataphysics we set next to the utopia where I am King. The “real” community I recall had its roots at the end of the Frontier in the 1880’s and grew out of the World War II paranoia into the cold war paranoia, until its demise into a superfund burial site, with only the radon daughters of radioactive ghosts left to remind me.

  293. Archdruid,

    I guess I was interpreting the word culture by its classical definition “to cultivate a way of thinking.” I understand your point about the forms of culture vs. the substance. India’s post colonial elite managed to implement to forms by hijacking the economy and education system, but even they never managed to internalize the substance of Faustian culture. Their Will to Power over the country’s political system was never absolute, and was always negotiated with local chiefs whose substance was Dharmic or Magian.

    What I think is happening is that the Magian psudomorphasis wasn’t fully digested before the Faustian was introduced.



  294. Ksim
    Do you read Dmitry Orlov? The touches on the subject of the Russian soul though he disagrees with you on the intermixing aspect.

    I agree with him – the melting pot that we see in US and Europe is a relatively thin veneer over deep cultural differences. Basically people are bought by riches and “encouraged” to forget their culture. Instead they are provided with an artificial ready-made TV “culture” that consist of shopping, propaganda and religion of progress slogans. We see separate subcultures forming right now.

    Lydia and Dusk Shine – you seem to be talking about fancy (as in expensive) types of suburbs/towns. How is this related to the future? The rich will have their own compounds where the control is very top-down while the poor will rediscover how to live in a peasant village. Rich suburbs/communities are just a temporary distraction for the PMCs.

  295. Mary Bennett #306, I did the Open University course Total War and Social Change, which claimed Austria Hungary is unjustly maligned. That they did remarkably well for what they were. Conscription policies did leave their most skilled miners and metalworkers dead in the Carpathians, but a lot of countries made similar mistakes. The army was multilingual, but so were the officers – so it worked well enough. The coal industry expanded throughout the war, and the railways held together just long enough to demobilise the army after it ended. I don’t have an opinion one way or another, just pointing out Austria Hungary isn’t universally seen as a joke.

  296. Walt, polyexegy (nice moniker!) is an essential part of the Tamanous concept, and it’s showing itself in various ways already — it’s not popular among the intelligentsia these days, but William James (especially his A Pluralistic Universe) is an important philosophical forebear. Yes, it’s something that can use much more development as we move through the betwixt period.

    Info, alternatively, one predominates and then the other, as conditions change. As we reach peak population, peak collectivism is also likely — and then the tide flows the other way.

    Joy Marie, it amuses me no end that both sides use “individualism” as an insult! As for Maryland, it makes a great deal of sense, as those three counties have been systematically ignored and maltreated by the government downstate for a couple of centuries. Thanks for the links!

    Greg, every culture finds its own balance point between the individual and the community, and its own way of understanding how one flows into and out of the other. So, yes, the rest follows.

    Simon, I’m familiar — ugh — with watered-down American Buddhism, having grown up with some exposure to the real thing. I hope we can manage something less pallid if Hinduism becomes a rising presence in American religion. As for ancient aliens being harmless, er, not so — look up the Heaven’s Gate UFO cult sometime.

    Yorkshire, I don’t know of anything of the kind. The nearest thing that comes to mind is an old SF novel called The Texts of Festival, which was a postcollapse novel in which hippie culture was the seed from which the future society unfolded.

    Scotlyn, yes, that’s exactly it. I think it’s ultimately the fantasy of becoming God and creating a universe out of nothing. You’re most welcome, btw.

    Christopher, that’s a valid point. I’ve tried to communicate some narratives here and elsewhere, but it occurs to me that it might be worth pursuing that in some other ways.

    Youngelephant, good. I think that everyone experiences the astral light, for what it’s worth, but our culture makes it difficult to grasp this.

    Clay, congrats on the move! I hope it works well for you.

    Pixelated, thanks for this.

    Pygmycory, as long as it’s in Word, that doesn’t matter at all — it’ll be instantly reformatted when I paste it into the manuscript. So format it however you like, and I’ll look forward to seeing it.

    Varun, the thing to keep in mind here is that India had its own well-established great culture before the Magian and Faustian waves of invasion. Spengler didn’t talk much about the later phases in the history of a great culture, and it’s a complex subject — it seems to me that intrusive cultural elements are dealt with at once more shallowly and more adroitly than in a true pseudomorphosis, of the sort we have here in the US. It looks to me as though the Indian elites simply picked up Faustian forms as the temporary rules of the game by which they needed to play for the time being, while US elites tried their level best to ape European ideas and worldviews as well as material culture.

  297. Walt F, JMG,

    Walt’s description of polyexegy sounds like what I’ve been calling model agnosticism. I either got that directly from Robert Anton Wilson or someone who was riffing on him..can’t remember. At the very least the ideas sound similar. Wilson’s Prometheus Rising quite literally changed my life.

  298. gregsimay, JMG, and all:
    gregsimay (#292) says “Your essay called to mind the familiar “vases and faces” black-and-white drawing: is the face merely the outline of the vase, or is the vase merely the outline of the face? Rather than toggling between answering “both” or “neither,” I prefer to see the face and the vase as aspects of a deeper reality, symbolized by the entire picture. And likewise with the primacy of the individual versus the primacy of the collective.”

    This triggered a memory. I once took a drawing class where we had an assignment in viewing and drawing objects in a totally different way. Say you were going to draw a common wooden chair, such as one of these.

    The way most people would start is by drawing a leg, or the seat, or maybe sketching the outline of the chair. In this assignment, we were told to draw the space around and within the chair. So you could start by going big and drawing the space around the chair, or start within and chose an area between the legs or slats. It really forced you to change your focus and look at the surrounding space in relationship to the chair. This example might also apply to the relationship between the individual and the collective. Chair=individual, space=collective. One makes the other possible, one without the other cannot exist.

    Joy Marie

  299. “Info, alternatively, one predominates and then the other, as conditions change. As we reach peak population, peak collectivism is also likely — and then the tide flows the other way.”

    Perhaps. But I don’t think its going to be a perpetual cycle. Eventually there may be a synthesis which includes the best of both.

    A progression in favor of one or the other over the long term need not exclude cycles. Not that different to the exchange of blows in a MMA match.

    The Chinese Dynasties for example when viewed over 1000s of years. There is a trend which indicates that they were able to become more and more durable over time unlike in Rome:

    “The imperial center was destroyed, but the bureaucratic structures that held the imperial system together at the lower levels of society lived on. The structures used to govern China and wring taxes from the Chinese people did change over the course of Chinese history, but there was never anything comparable to the total administrative collapse seen in early medieval Europe or the late medieval Near East.

    The old regime had been decentralized, but not destroyed. This not just made it easier for the next generation of Chinese warlords to mobilize the armies needed to reconquer all of China, but it also made it far easier for them to incorporate what they conquered as fiscally productive parts of their domain.

    Each period of unification deepened the connections between different regions of China, making it that much easier for warlords, rebels, and foreign conquerors to administer their new conquests then next time China fell apart. It’s a classic example of virtuous cycle at work. The more time China spent unified the easier it was to unify it in the future. This led to one of the more striking patterns of Chinese history: each major period of disunity was shorter than the last.”

    Perhaps this is an example of Collectivism that became stronger and stronger every cycle of rise and fall. The periods of disunity became shorter and shorter.

  300. Darkest Yorkshire, I don’t doubt your superior knowledge of Austria-Hungary. What I do wonder at is why some of our conservative intellectuals harbor nostalgia for that particular empire, when they are not being rabidly Anglophilic that is. Does there exist in English a good history of A-H or of that part of the world in the 19thC?

    I think of American individualism, not as I get to do whatever I want, but I am responsible for whatever I do do. You don’t get to blame your parents, or your spouse, or “society”, or “historical forces”, or your company or co-workers. If you run into some unforeseen obstacle, not an excuse. You should have known it was coming. Part of being a grownup is you need to learn how to behave. Which made things a bit difficult for an anti-social hermit like me, but I eventually figured out a set of strategies to avoid giving offense while maintaining my privacy.

  301. Esteemed Archdruid and engaging commentariat: don’t think anyone’s mentioned, surprisingly, the frankly-bizarre intentional community “Telosa” proposed by mega-wealthy Marc Lore. See:

    Flying cars? Check. Societal inclusion aspirations? Check. Frankly-ridiculous financial underpinnings? Check. Boatloads of high-end CGI graphics to entice the gullible? Check.

    Also see an absolutely scathing reply to the above article here:

    Some great quotes in that second article. I particularly like how that author ends the piece by pointing out that tech billionaires as a group are making lots of private contingency plans (armed bunkers in New Zealand, for instance) that are at odds with the utopianism supposedly aspired to by a proposal like Telosa.

  302. I think an example of tamanous in action as a response to the covid lockdowns is the organization of the QuaranTUNE online dulcimer festivals.

    Although the only thing mountain and hammer dulcimers have in common is their second name, there have been for many years festivals across the US that feature both instruments, with a magazine called Dulcimer Players News that serves people who play, make, and teach both instruments. Outside of the magazine and the festivals that have brought players and makers and teachers together, there is no organization to the dulcimer community. The festivals bring everyone together: makers can sell their instruments, students can learn from teachers and thereby expand their musical horizons and become better players, and teachers can share their love of the instrument and bring in some portion of their income from the festivals.

    When the lockdowns went into force in March 2020, the festivals also stopped, as did the outside gigs that most teachers also have. All teachers of both instruments faced an unknown period of time with no income. Without the festivals, makers also stood to lose money, and players found their access to teachers and their local dulcimer groups cut off.

    A hammer dulcimer maker and teacher worried about the effect that covid would have on everyone in the dulcimer community. He pitched the idea of an online festival to another hammer dulcimer teacher, who offered to produce the festival. They found other hammer and mountain dulcimer teachers who were willing to contribute time and other resources to the effort. Due to their work the first QuaranTUNE online festival came into being in June 2020. For dulcimer players like myself, not only could we again take classes from teachers and expand our musical horizons, but we knew that by doing so we were helping to support our teachers and instrument makers at a very difficult time and make it possible to keep the community going until we could meet again in person.

    Since then there have been four more QuaranTUNE online festivals plus a Christmas concert in December 2020. Another Christmas concert is coming up this December and QuaranTUNE 6.0 will happen in February. The success of QuaranTUNE inspired some of the yearly festivals to move to online versions until such time as in-person festivals can resume (a few of these are now taking place as well). Players, makers, and teachers have been able to support each other in our love for these instruments and the music we play with them during the pandemic, strengthening the community and making it more likely that both instruments can survive the long decline.

    I think there are some good lessons to be taken from this example, which I will leave for interested readers. 😉

  303. Justin and JMG, regarding a possible Hindu pseudomorphosis in the future USA/North America, it is a topic that has been on my mind for decades. As a person who has been practicing Hinduism for over 40 years and who was born in North America and spent most of my life here, I certainly would like to think that it is possible. However, the longer (and deeper) that I practice the religion, the harder that I find that as likely.

    The main problem that I see is that Hinduism is inherently attached to the land of India, where the great rivers themselves are goddesses, certain mountains are home to specific gods (I could give hundreds of examples). Even though gods are known in an abstract way – say, Shiva, Ganesha, Krishna, etc., — in reality, they are ritually worshipped in a particular form that belongs to a specific temple in a specific town/village where that specific “version” of the abstract god manifested. Also, in order to do proper ritual worship (pooja) a great deal of paraphernalia is required – nearly all of which are parts and extracts of plants which are native to India. Even dealing with a “minor” issue such as a lunar eclipse is a problem for foreign-living Hindus like me because the specific kind of grass that is used to protect one’s windows and doors from the eclipse’s ill effects does not grow in North America. Certain religions – the three Abrahamic ones come to mind – are easily transported because they are inherently more transcendental (even though their holiest places are here on Earth). I do believe that whatever religion arises in much of the future North America will be rooted to specific places – as it was with the Indigenous peoples who were the sole inhabitants for many thousands of years. Similar to Hinduism in some respects, yes – but not Hinduism itself. At least, that’s my two cents’ worth.

  304. SLClare,
    I’m working on making a simple appalachian dulcimer, and I found the Quarantunes videos on youtube. I mentally bookmarked them and some other things for when I had something to play. So they are being found by newbies and outsiders, too…

  305. JMG,
    well that’s simple! Good to hear. Will be submitting in the next few days. Just have to catch those last small errors, that are catchable by me, first…

  306. Galen (#173), thank you for that fascinating history of Comanche power!

    Jonathan (#270), thank you for the recommendation of Daniel Richter on the Iroquois!

    These two examples might clarify how far and how far back an individualistic outlook reaches in North America.

  307. I am a bit confused about how much of America’s Faustian-ness comes from being founded by Faustian colonists and the cultural continuity from there, and how much comes from purposely adopting/aping European Faustian ways (the pseudomorphosis, which I gather was primarily a 19th-20th century thing?).

  308. Ron M, you could take a look at how non-Indian cultures adopted Hinduism, especially in Southeast Asia.

    Basically, they relocalised all of the locations, herbs and so on to a local context.

    Bali has the four castes, although it’s unlikely many locals have any kind of Indian DNA. In Java, there’s a localised version of Mount Meru:

    Outside of Hinduism (as in Brahmanical texts) even the Buddhist cultures absorbed a lot of Indian culture. Tibetans refer to the whole earth in general as Jambudvipa and think that the Tibetan plateau is Jambudvipa although in all likelihood Jambudvipa, the continent south of Mt Meru, refers to India itself being south of the Himalayas.

    I bet syntheses like this are more likely than strict adherence to an imported orthodoxy.

    JMG, could you point out some contemporary or recent examples of the Faustian spirit? I remember Spengler indicating Cecil Rhodes as a example of the Faustian elite to come for example.

    I guess in general the American tech billionaires would be an American pseudomorphosis of that same impulse.


  309. If anyone is interested, you can get a feel for sobornost in a lot of the you tube videos put out by the Russian folk group ‘Otaba e’ (Otava yo);
    It’s not the words of the videos, but a sort of community that draws them in–
    I particularly like “Ivan the Crayfish” and “Ivan’s Groove.” Links here:

    Ivan the Crayfish

    Ivan’s Groove

    Also worth a look, this one was filmed at the ‘Family Circle Festival’ in the city of Myshkin;

    In North America, we would have a county fair, with contests for the best pie and things for individuals to do and excel in. In the Family Circle Festival, perhaps there are also these things, but it also includes community/communal activities. Tamanous contrasts with Sobornost…

  310. Mary Bennett #320, I don’t have book recommendations. I’ve been meaning to read about the more unusual countries like the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Grand Duchy of Moscow and early Tsarist Russia. Just haven’t got round to it yet.

    I think I know what the appeal to conservatives is. To the modern mind, countries like the fictional Ruritania and Grand Fenwick are exotic anachronisms at best – a kind of in-house Orientalist attitude. But to a certain kind of conservative, they were the last holdouts of How Things Should Be. Even if they were disaster areas, the were structured right. Sort of like a commune that uses consensus decision-making can take the attitude it doesn’t matter if nothing ever gets done as long as the consensus procedure is followed.

  311. @Malice – your column is very intriguing, and I like where you are going with it. I think you would particularly enjoy the newest (posthumous) work by David Graeber in partnership with David Wengrow, “The Dawn of Everything”… (not that I have read it myself… yet! But it is next up on my list!)

    One of many reviews is here: “”

    The tl;dr version is: “There are more [possible human social arrangements] in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

  312. BigMike and JMG,
    I thought at the time (and still think) that “2001: A Space Odyssey” is about the ultimate futility of technological progress. Remember that this was in the phase of Clarke’s writing that included “Childhood’s End.” The famous scene where the club turns into a satellite is saying that humanity has not changed – we just have “better” tools. We need to become something different, something probably incomprehensible to our present selves, in order to really change.

  313. re: Joseph Lofthouse – his work is evidence that amateur plant breeders can make significant progress in creating locally-adapted vegetable varieties (technically “landraces”).

    He has a book out this year, “Landrace Gardening: Food Security through Biodiversity and Promiscuous Pollination”

    I have not read it yet, but I suspect the topic is of interest to many Ecosophians.

  314. @James R #246 – please stop repeating the mythology about a “lack of guns” in Canada, I assure you there are tons and tons of them!

  315. OT: but straws in the wind. From this morning’s Gainesville Sun:

    Front page: Inflation ahead (and already here), via Bloomberg News. “Think everything’s expensive now? Get ready for what’s next.” Subhead, “Inflation accelerated this year to strongest since 2008.” No alternatives to inflation mentioned, so that’s what the Powers That Be have apparently decided to go with.

    Front page story, page 10A for the kicker in the deal. Via the Associated Press, “Biden, key senators, meet on deal.” Meaning his current, progressive program. The kicker, buried deep, “Democrats were hoping Biden could cite major accomplishments when he attends a global conference in Scotland in early November after attending summits of world leaders in Rome.”
    In plain English, correct me if I’m wrong, “We want it for bragging rights among the other heads of state.”

  316. @TJandTheBear So you don’t disagree with what I said, you just don’t like the tone of what I typed? OK so try to imagine said it in a nicer tone then, I guess? I’m not sure what the point was of your post to me.

    I spend most of my day in 18th and 19th century original records so my perspective isn’t anything like yours, unless you are doing the same 365 days a year.

  317. Hi John and friends,

    To NomadicBeer,

    Like I said before, there has been intermixing in Russia but its always remained very low. This is why you have many different nationalities in Russia compared to melting pots such as America or Brazil.

    Its interesting to note that Russia never had segregationist laws in place or anything like apartheid in South Africa. They had lots of different tribes to mix with…and mainly they didnt.

    Even the minority populations here such as the Tartars, Uzbekis, Buryats, etc as a rule of the thumb marry their own. Russians are no different in this respect although they are slightly more liberal then the groups mentioned.

    This is how I envision Sobornost will play out in the long run. You will have many different and separate tribes of peoples united in some kind of federation, cooperating on various issues and at the same time maintaining their own identities.

    I guess you could say Russia really does have a workable form of multiculturalism.


    I can agree with you when it comes to America although so far I only still see this native American woman. She is very young however. Maybe the others I cannot see although I have another possible theory – they havent “been born” as of yet and are in the process when the new great culture starts to emerge. That is just a potential theory but all I can say is this – she is very young and just getting started.

    As for old babushka, she is old but wise. Yes, she is not as young as Faustian Europe’s has been but it is going to become her time soon down to one simple reason – balance, spiritual growth and way too much change that has been basically been screwing over the planet. Time runs much more slower in Russia I feel and that is what the planet needs – time.

    It is said in Russia that only a strong king (basically a caesar) can turn Russia into a formidable power. But that has always never led to great consequences for the country (such as Stalinisation) and it has mainly been to compete with Faustian Europe that was buzzing along too quickly. Like the orient, old babushka likes to take it much slower.

    As for Europe, my own thoughts are that as I said last time, the spiritual world is really angry and fed up with Europe. They have had what – 3000 years to figure it out now and they kept screwing it up majorly.

    They should have grown up a long time ago but they could not do it. Their last chance was 1914 and they blew it – big time. They were supposed to improve their colonies, invest in education and improve the lives of others but their ignorance and stupidity destroyed them once again. So I really think Europe is the case of “whom the Gods make mad” scenario.

    America I think is on the verge of creating many new races and peoples, along with cultures. Nobody ever really stays dominant for long in America. It really is a land where new tribes are forged, people mix constantly and new ideas are created. It has a fast energy like Europe but not as fast (like all of those conservative ideas that continue to permeat).

    Honestly though John, America confuses me. I scratch my head trying to understand it. Russia I can understand easily but America? Its one weird one. My only guess is that it remains individualistic with many different peoples being born, tribes mixing and forming and yeah but still America does confuse me. A lot.

    Btw South Africa is an interesting case. The Boers there were supposed to be like the Americans. They were supposed to colonise Africa and turn it into another America but obviously heat, climate and the soul spirit of Africa fought them off. Unlike America’s that sort of allowed the English colonists (with some disruptions) in, the Afrikaners could never succeed. The land kept throwing obstacle after obstacle at them. The only place the Afrikaners can go now is to leave.

    Just some of my own spiritual thoughts on the matter. Sorry for the long post!

  318. Also sorry for this extra post but I forgot to mention but it is interested you mentioned before now Volgograd being a centre of Sobornost because it is smack bang where the old European “heimat” used to be…

    St. Petersburg is interesting too. Although it was mainly built as Peter the Great’s attempt to Westernise, it also has a very powerful spiritual energy here so I think Piter (as we call it here) had a very prominent destiny in Sobornost too. Nothing in Moscow, however. Nothing to say about it. Its all money there but it was (and still is) the city of merchants.

  319. @Phil Knight: Wonderful stuff! Just one additional thought, if I may – couldn’t what you call the Faustian archetype (of blank looks) be driven by the Magian archetype?
    If I’m understanding it correctly, the thrust toward infinity is Faustian, but might not the degree of unquestioning belief in that One Thing actually be of Magian origin, which would, from a European perspective, necessitate a renunciation not so much of what we’ve now believed for centuries, but first of all of the degree to which we’ve taken it as gospel?

  320. @JMG, polyexegy being essential to tamanous is an even stronger link than I was willing to speculate “out loud,” but that makes sense. So much sense.

    It helps explain, for instance, why my path seeking a closer spiritual relationship with this region has repeatedly challenged and altered my prior narratives of what such a relationship should look like. Such as the unexpected (though gentle enough) rebuke I mentioned last year: “Why, when you call out to water, do you address my river, my ponds, my clouds, and my rain, but not my (adjacent) sewage treatment plant?” One old overused model of human artifacts being separate from or outright displacing nature spirits might have valuable truths but isn’t enough.

    Thank you for the pointer to the William James book. That goes to the top of my reading list.

    @Robert, I had the same problem, so thank you for your encouraging response to the term. I hope it proves useful. I’ll point out that it would score pretty well in Scrabble, if we can get it in the dictionary!

    @youngelephant, it’s very close. If there’s a main difference, it’s that model agnosticism appears to be mostly precautionary (beware of mistaking your particular mental, scientific, etc. models for reality) while I imagine polyexergy becoming more prescriptive (actively seek out, learn, appreciate, and utilize a variety of models).

    It’s interesting that we have so many different cautionary phrases and references relating to applying the “wrong” model (whether too general, or too specific, or simply unsuitable, in the speaker’s opinion) to a particular situation or problem:

    Mistaking the map for the territory (per Korzybski)
    Every problem looking like a nail
    Not seeing the forest for the trees
    Not grasping the bigger picture
    Not getting to the root of the problem
    The Blind Men and the Elephant
    A solution looking for a problem
    Hunting (something large) with a microscope
    Tilting at windmills
    Tunnel vision
    Cherry picking
    Misguidedly seeking “the one truth” or “the meaning of life” or an “ultimate answer”
    Misguidedly thinking one has found (ditto)
    Ideological blinders
    Not thinking outside the box
    Cargo cult thinking
    Treating symptoms instead of the disease
    Hearing hoofbeats, thinking zebras (instead of horses)

    There are also a number of humorous or sarcastic sayings whose implied meanings also fit the list, like “try unplugging it and plugging it back in” (when the problem is not a malfunctioning electronic device), or “nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.” It’s clear that misapplication of models is a common issue, but only understood for specific instances. When I started the list above and wanted to check if I’d forgotten any obvious items, I searched for analogous published lists but found none.

    I think you’re correct attributing the wider usage of model agnosticism to Robert Anton Wilson, who apparently generalized it from its earlier usage in quantum mechanics designating a particular philosophical stance on the Copenhagen Interpretation, which was perhaps ultimately traceable to Niels Bohr.

  321. “Dances with Rednecks” — hee! PMC ventures into flyover country sound like anthropological studies of distant exotic tribes.

    Read a comment ages ago. Catholic girl writing about when her brother brought a Baptist girl home to meet the family. She wrote something like, “The look on Mom’s face when [girlfriend] mentioned her personal relationship with Jesus! Mom’s firm stance is, that relationship should be left to professionals such as priests, nuns, and bingo callers.”

    Related because Baptist girlfriend practices Tamanous. Not that she knows that. Most likely doesn’t even know the word Pietism. I didn’t until I was plenty grown, and I was raised Campbellite.

  322. JMG, your take on Wotan in Wagner would be interesting indeed.

    I think especially of the beginning of Act III in Siegfried, when the Wanderer rouses Erda from her sleep, hoping to learn from her wie zu hemmen ein rollendes Rad, how to stop a rolling wheel. There are explicit references to his magic, a few paradoxes of intention and will, and the wistfulness of the mighty one who has discovered the limits to his power.

  323. Zach, This might interest you, if you are not already aware of it.

    341, I can’t say about whole archetypes, but I am strongly convinced that gothic architecture was in part designed to be Not Islamic and Not Byzantine. You guys won’t allow graven images, we are going to put 4000 statues on the outsides of our great churches. You want to build domes, we will build forests of spires. You want to pretend you are in Plato’s cave, we will bring the light of heaven directly into our worship places.

  324. Here’s Joseph Lofthouse’s website, where he sells signed copies of his book that Zach mentioned, “Landrace Gardening: Food Security through Biodiversity and Promiscuous Pollination”.

    Many of the seed varieties I keep have ancestors from his fields. We’ve meet a couple times and have gifted seeds back and forth a fair bit. If you go through permies and look for his comments on gardening you can find some good thinking about the whole systems around gardening, sustainability, and all that, bits of it explicitly influenced by some of JMG’s writtings.

    Very pleasant person, and has taught me directly a lot about being a better gardener and community member. It’s kinda funny for me to think of him in terms of tamanous, but it makes enough sense, at least enough for me to take some time to think of what a tamanous culture’s community would be like in light of how Joseph writes about community.

  325. Alvin (no. 328), Mormonism did this too. Utah (among other places) is Zion, the Garden of Eden is in Missouri, the trek to Salt Lake City recapitulated the Exodus, the dedication of the Kirtland temple was Pentecost.

    In Roman Catholicism, there is a tradition to the effect that angels carried the house of the Virgin Mary to a succession of European countries, ultimately leaving it in Italy:

  326. Thanks for the shout out. I have read most of the blog posts made by John Michael Greer since early in the Green Wizard days. His writings have influenced me significantly, particularly “crash now, and avoid the rush”. My early Mormon upbringing was undone by doing missionary work in the heart of tamanous culture. I’ve never been the same. I call myself druid, for lack of a better noun.

  327. Ben, re: the fate of Mesoamerica: this is a subject I’ve put some thought into for reasons I went into back in the comments of the very post JMG linked above (short form: visionary experience). I am reasonably sure that the entire Great Plains, with the possible exception of the furthest northern reaches, are part of the same great culture. The question is which – is the southern terminator I sensed the Balcones Fault or further south? (That post somebody linked on the Comanche is the most useful thing I’ve seen in a while – if the Comanches were in the Tamanous ambit, that’s the ballgame and the entire Great Plains are Tamanous.)

    The thing is, I think that’s actually a blind spot for our host – I’m not actually sure the undercurrent in American culture these days is sobornost, at least outside of small intellectual circles. I think it may be straight-up Mesoamerica resurgent, the reactivation of a pseudomorphosis older than European colonization by some centuries[1]. (Alternately, we could be looking at sobornost vs. Mesoamerica.)

    I am uncertain of the central mythic image of Mesoamerican culture, especially given how much of the surviving Mesoamerican corpus is Aztec which has its own issues[2]. But I think I’ve managed to grasp two pieces of it: the shape of time (easy because it’s very similar to the Tamanous sense, I think – it’s a fractal sense, that’s why the Mayan calendar has its nested cycles) and , more importantly, its image of the ideal society: the undifferentiated mass of fans at a ball game or other festival (the ball court is AIUI an almost *universal* part of the classical Mesoamerican city, with the possible exception of Teotihuacan, and this was the case for well over two thousand years). That image has been running rampant in American culture for a long time – the obvious examples, as I noted the last time this came up, are Texan high school football and Southern SEC football culture, but these days I think the camp revival may be another example. Why that particular image is beyond my understanding, though I can think of two possibilities. First, in a world where even the gods are predators it pays to act like every other member of the herd (AIUI exactly who was sacrificed after a ball game is disputed in the literature, but it seems clear that at least some ball players were sacrificed, and I think that culture may have preferred to sacrifice the exception). Alternately or additionally, it could be enantiodromia: the Nahuatl origin story, at least, said they came from the north (that is to say, territory that may well be Tamanous). (There is one old set of stories – myths, really – that I started to tell myself when young that would be consistent with the latter, which wouldn’t rate a mention at all except that it wouldn’t be the first time that those stories turned out more reflective of events of this world than I ever thought possible. Note that if that’s the case then there’s a pretty good chance that Dion Fortune was straight-up wrong that American occultism should reactivate the Maya contacts. or perhaps correct but only via a path that involves unification of opposites.)

    If my first instinct is right and the Balcones is the dividing line, then I’d expect Texas to be the borderland between Mesoamerica resurgent and the rising Tamanous culture. Exactly how things work in the Rockies and west thereof I’m less sure about, but my hunch is that California at least is more Mesoamerica than North America and the interesting question is where the dividing line is.

    Malice: Huh. I recognize the description of the anarcho-monarchist king you talk about, and since that’s the third time I’ve sensed that particular image (including my own independent derivation) we’re now firmly in the “enemy action” bucket. That said, I think you have the wrong label for that figure, and the funny thing is that I think you use the right one in the post itself: “Arbiter”.

    [1] – AFAICT Cahokia, at least, was influenced by Mesoamerica to the south. It’s worth noting that I keep an outpost in parts of the Internet adjacent to Native American activists, and there’s a post I saw in those parts way back (and long since lost) that is interesting but that I cannot verify: someone claimed that the traditional lore in the tribe they were descended from, as handed down to her, was that Cahokia was abandoned because the common people felt that they weren’t benefiting from it – so they left.
    [2] – I’m pretty sure at this point part of the Mesoamerican human sacrifice follows from its sense of spacetime. The Aztecs called people the tortillas of the gods, and I suspect they were being quite literal: as men grow and reap maize to feed themselves, so to the Mesoamerican mind did gods raise and reap men for their sustenance. But the Aztecs going so, uh, above and beyond in that department has a second root, I think, that I only recently noticed – there is an *exact* analogy between the Legend of the Five Suns and how vampirism works on the etheric plane.

  328. @JMG

    Regarding: sustainable tech

    Could a form of electroculture powered by some sort of atmospheric electricity generator be a viable option for an ecotechnic society’s agricultural base? From what I’ve seen, not only are these generators theoretically possible, but also that working designs of them date back to the late 19th century, so I guess it can be possibly built with relatively meager investments in energy, resources and labour. Interestingly, these generators seem to be actual examples of ‘free energy’ machines, although their efficiency<<1, but would cost very little to build and maintain, and none to operate. No match for fossil fuels as a source of cheap concentrated energy, though.

  329. @Walt F – and anyone else who has joined in on the theme of “polyexegy” – a most excellent term.

    Walt, you said: “Which brings me back to polyexegy (new name, ongoing concept), the embracing of multiple and genuinely incompatible explanations (narratives, mental models) for experiences and observed phenomena.”

    I really have no idea how this fits the greater cultural “themes” being discussed here. (I don’t know what the great name of Chinese culture is) However, as a student and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I will say that “polyexegy” excellently describes a Chinese cultural feature that we Western students struggle to understand.

    That feature is that no useful “model” or “map” of body/disease is ever discarded or disregarded. The most useful ones become “classics” and can reach a great age while still being regarded as clinically useful. But new ones, or more frequently, new elaborations of old models, can be added all the time, largely depending on clinical experience. One model is not necessarily commensurate with another. But equally there is no sense that “this new model is *now* the One True Model that replaces all previous models”. Instead clinicians are simply expected to develop a basic familiarity with the workings of several models and to be able to switch easily from one model to another, depending on the patient and the context of their illness, ultimately letting results inform and guide the ongoing suitability of using any particular model.

    Polyexegy seems to me to be a very good word for this specific feature of TCM, of which I myself am inordinately fond.

    In my experience TCM is to Western Medicine as polytheism is to monotheism.

  330. The end of one thing is often the beginning of another. There are stirrings of more activity in the Great Lakes region already thanks to the port crisis. It’ll be exciting if legislation is changed to make shipping in the Great Lakes more open, although that will come with it’s own risks as well.

    Thanks for the essay this week. One of the difficulties with this dream ending is going back within oneself to rediscover themselves. A lot of us have found things we don’t like. Finding solutions isn’t something we’ve been taught well. Those answers are without a doubt going to be very spiritual in nature, and I can see more stirrings of tamanous will make themselves known.

  331. @ Denis #338

    I’m not sure what the point was of your post to me.

    I’m reflexively taken aback anytime someone suggests that adults should be “doing what they are told.”

    Can you please elaborate on what circumstances you deem that acceptable?

  332. Youngelephant, it’s the same broad concept, though of course Wilson had his own focus.

    Info, “best” is a value judgment, therefore irreducibly personal; what is the best synthesis for you will not be the best for me. That’s what keeps the wheel spinning forever.

    Bryan, too funny. Thanks for this.

    SLClaire, that’s a great example!

    Ron, remember that it’ll be a pseudomorphosis, not an actual adoption of Hindu religion and Indian culture in their richness. Outside the subcontinent and a few adjacent areas, both of those can only put down shallow roots. It’s through learning what can be learned from its two pseudomorphoses, and rejecting what can’t be made to work, that a protoculture prepares for its rise to great culture status.

    Pygmycory, I’ll look forward to it.

    Jeff, it’s both, of course, but the pseudomorphosis goes all the way back to the colonial period.

    RPC, I could see that!

    Patricia M, thanks for both of these.

    Ksim, America generally baffles people from elsewhere, so you’re not alone! It’s a weird place. As for the Volga river watershed, I know — it may be that the flight of Europeans back to that area in the wake of European collapse will be what triggers the rise of the future Sobornost culture.

    Walt, excellent! It’s precisely when the spiritual realm challenges our preconceptions most deeply that something new shows itself being born.

    Nemo, a fine example!

    Gray Hat, Wotan’s interactions with Erda in Das Rheingold and Siegfried alike are very important to my understanding of the operas. Of course I also see Parsifal as the fifth Ring opera, the resolution of the conflicts the tetralogy leaves unfinished, but we’ll get to that!

    Ray, many thanks for this.

    Wa1kij, funny. Yes, Emerson’s definitely another ancestral figure.

    Joseph, welcome to the blog! If my posts helped encourage you in your work, I feel even better about the effort I’ve put into this project.

    Pretentious (if I may), I’m by no means certain that it’s sobornost, and Mexican culture is a very likely candidate for the second pseudomorphosis ahead of us. It’s early days yet, so I’m considering all the available options.

    Viduraawakened, excellent! Yes, and in fact a very simple version of that technology was put to work quite a while ago in several parts of the world. No moving parts and very durable devices for attracting atmospheric electricity made it quite functional…

    Aldarion, fascinating. Thanks for this. ‘Bout time they noticed…

    Prizm, many thanks for the data points!

  333. Community is something I’ve thought a lot about, if you’ll indulge me in a bit of a ramble.

    At school I had a friend who was a first-generation child of immigrant parents. Their local community was small and close-knit. Everyone knew everyone, reputation mattered, and she was mindful of her behaviour at all times outside the house. To my teenage eyes it seemed alien and smothering. Perhaps because western civilisation has made a concerted effort to destroy them, many ‘modern’ westerners have no idea what a community actually looks like or how it functions. Which explains why, when we try to create our own, they fail with such predictability.

    Communities can’t be ‘wished’ into being. They develop only slowly, over time, and it takes at least one generation of children to be raised and grow to adulthood before they are any more than tentatively established. Communities are rooted in at least one sense of shared identity – be that religion, ancestry, or location – but that’s the glue, not the wood. And make no mistake, they begin not for lofty ideological reasons but for simple survival. It’s a mutually-beneficial reciprocal exchange: although members have to share resources, expend effort and modify their behaviour to confirm to the codes of the group, the community provides work, trade, education/apprenticeship, marriage partners, collective wisdom, physical protection and a safety net against hardship – and let’s not romanticise, they can and typically do ostracise individuals who are not members, to the detriment of the outsiders and the benefit of the in-group.

    And in this we see the reason communities have so thoroughly withered in the western world: most of the above functions are now the responsibility of the state, which carries them out with robotic indifference, and in some cases outlaws their provision by anyone else. The wild boom in prosperity that we enjoyed during the second half of the 20th century allowed families – and even individuals! – to become entirely self-supporting. (That last truly is unusual, even unique; for all of our history as a species, and before that, we have needed others to survive. Our ill-adaption to such solitary existence is evident in the current epidemic of depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.) Along the way we embraced a transitory mode of living, where individuals and their families changed locations frequently – for work, or just for improved quality of life – and a commuter culture where it was possible and normal to travel very long distances to work, rather than working close to where you lived. Both resulted in very little connection to a neighbourhood or community.

    It will all shift back, of course. Between decaying welfare safety nets and the painful grind back down to subsistence living we’re going to endure over the next century or two, we will come to need each other again, and communities will be reborn.

    But to circle back to the original point, artificial communities almost always fizzle out because they’re formed out of novelty, or ideology, rather than necessity. Anyone who has the resources to buy fifty acres and set up a free-love commune, has the resources to go back to the city once the boredom and jealousy set in. The members don’t actually *need* each other, and so there is nothing to hold the community together once they realise they no longer like each other.

  334. Those interested in polyexegy will also find the concept of heuristics valuable –

    These have significant use in computer programming as a problem solving technique but also in order to judge the quality of a system. For even a relatively simple system, there are a theoretically infinite number of tests that need to be run to test that system. Given the impossibility of testing everything, we must fall back on heuristics which I think of as different lenses through which to view a system. These are not necessarily incompatible, just different. Heuristics are of real practical value in finding bugs.

  335. This has been a terrific year for black walnuts. I wonder how much burnable walnut oil they contain. Maybe I’ll experiment.

  336. JMG, you state that at least two pseudomorphoses are necessary for a new civilization to get off the ground. What do you base this on?

    My reading of Spengler, is that he regards pseudomorphoses as, essentially, accidents of geography. He seems to have believed that great Cultures arise when it is time for them to do so, and that each Culture is absolutely sui generis. In his view, pseudomorphoses are, if anything, a hindrance to this.

    Toynbee, on the other hand, believed that there are “generations” of civilizations, starting with the Sumerian and Egyptian. In other words, Egypt “begat” the Hellenic Culture, while Sumer/Babylon “begat” the Magian. The Faustian civilization, in turn was “begotten” of the Hellenic and the Magian. Is that roughly the scheme you follow?

    I am very curious about your reasoning.

  337. @JMG (#356) answering viduraawakened:

    What a lovely photo of Callanish(I)! I’ve just been reading Margaret (and Gerald) Ponting/Curtis’s booklets and papers on that site with an eye to lost temple technologies, especially the role that rituals played in activating them. Some of the local folklore about the stones collected by Otta Swire points in that direction.

    Have you noted Trevor Cox’s recent work on the acoustic properties of Stonehenge? It’s been reported in s everal places, including:

    Something not too dissimilar has been long noted in the famous Hypogaeum on Malta:

    And it is well known many early and medieval Christian churches and Jewish temples were constructed with acoustic effects in mind.

    Archaeologists seem entirely comforable supposing that these striking acoustic properties were used to enhance the effects of rituals, even if they’re chary of drawing any broader technological implications from such enhancement.

  338. @zergonipal #358 – when asking myself what (US regional) culture I was born and bred to, the only answer I could find was “The I’ve Been Moved” culture.

    Pat from Pittsburgh, West Haven CT, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Las Cruces (NMSU), Albuquerque, and Gainesville, FL. That’s Appalachia, New England, “The Lakeland Republic,” Ecotopia, Atzlan, and Deep Dixie.

  339. Just a random thought on “community”… in a more-or-less self-contained community, everyone has a niche, and the entry of a new person or family will necessarily upset the equilibrium. If someone comes in with a service to offer, whoever is currently performing that service will not welcome the competition. If someone comes in “with an external income” (e.g., remote work, or pension), they may bid up the price of goods and services in a way that impacts the existing consumer pool. I suppose the best option might be to take over the position of someone who is retiring out of the community. All kinds of businesses close down because the founder cannot continue, and their natural successors (the next generation, if there is one) has other ambitions. I wonder how such a position might be found (not that I’m actually looking, for myself).

  340. Isn’t that tamanous or something – Google is uselsess – very Protestant in a large part?
    What the Rona laid bare was a huge chasm between the mountanous regions of Europe and the flat cities. I do not expect a clear sorting. Russia too has huge differences in attidudes dependent on the terrain.

  341. What makes community from my inside is not trying.

    After years of actively trying to ‘fit in’ it was when I stopped trying to adapt, to be agreeable, I found acceptance. This, within a community that I described after arriving, as being the most unfriendly place I had ever lived, so yes, gradual evolution. Superficial friendliness can be almost detrimental because community is where we live our own lives among others in an ebb and flow of involvement, where we have to be able to be the best and worst of ourselves and allow the same for others. This needs to include the freedom to be angry at encroachments not of conformity, but egregious infringements of our own personal ‘space.’

    Again from my own experience, genuine diversity is helpful as a community gradually accommodates the new and different and becomes comfortable. It helps because it lowers expectations of heterogeneity for everyone. It helps if the community is not starting from scratch but is evolving as people come and go.

    Another thing is hardship: The pains of life collectively and individually. Responses that are able to be organic rather than forced. People get to know each other through not being fabulous, but laughing, hurting, arguing and coming to know foibles. Tolerance for getting things wrong, and getting things right, responses, plus time.

    If people are allowed to be, there can be a great deal of warmth and goodwill. It doesn’t need to be mandated or manipulated because for most, it is a part of us being ourselves.

    Having said this community often doesn’t happen, or is soul-crushing, stepford wife social control, which to me is not community. This is not a general prescription. God only knows how in general.

  342. European, thanks for this. An important data point!

    Zergonipal, I ain’t arguing.

    Patricia M, good heavens, no. They can’t possibly admit that their patrons treat working class Americans like crap…

    Michael, that’s one of the changes I’ve made to Spengler’s theory. In every case I know of after the first round of historic civilizations, there are two pseudomorphoses, not just one, before a great culture is born. Apollonian culture received its first wave of influence from the Levantine end of the Mesopotamian culture and its second from Egypt; Magian culture had its first pseudomorphosis from Mesopotamian culture and its second from the Apollonian; Faustian culture had its first from Apollonian culture and its second from Magian culture — all through the Dark Ages Europe could best be described as a backwater strongly influenced by the Islamic world. The future Russian high culture had its first pseudomorphosis from the Magian world via Byzantium, and its second from Faustian culture; the future North American high culture had its first pseudomorphosis from the Faustian culture and we don’t yet know what the second will be. The pattern is consistent enough, however, that I’m confident there will be one.

    Robert, thanks for this! I’ll have to look into those as I proceed with research into the temple tradition. Yes, I’ve seen the discussions of megalithic acoustics, and I’ve also experienced them myself. At the Long Man of Wilmington chalk figure, there’s a flat area just below his feet; if one person stands there, and another stands on his head, the two of them can have a conversation as though they’re standing next to each other, though they’re 300 feet apart. Sara and I did just that.

    Michael, no, it was old on this continent long before the first Protestants landed here.

  343. “Info, “best” is a value judgment, therefore irreducibly personal; what is the best synthesis for you will not be the best for me. That’s what keeps the wheel spinning forever. ”

    In a Darwinian Sense. What makes you think such syntheses wouldn’t overcome the other but is able to exist in parallel without any of them prevailing long term?

    As in regards to another topic. In regards to the pictures posted. It is bizarre that some stoneworks look like Ancient Astronauts:×420.jpg

    Time Travel? Or was Civilization just as advanced on even more so existed?

    More images. Helicopter, Planes and Tanks?

    A perpetual historical cycle?

  344. @Sarah J #367 – Amen, sister! Every time I’ve gone the “Pretending to be Normal” route, I’ve struck out. Every time I’ve thrown my hands up and said “Nuts to it. I’m going to do my own thing, take it or leave it, !Bingo!

    One of my gay friends raised in a conservative small Midwestern town said that when he finally came out, everybody said “What took you so long?” Because “All closet doors are made of one-way glass.”

    People can spot an act a mile away. It’s when the act is real and has swallowed up the person that the trouble begins. Anyway, congratulations!

  345. Michael,
    I know the life-span of most modern intentional communities is very short, but a few do survive for decades. I lived at Tui Community in Golden Bay, New Zealand for about 6 months in 2000. In 2024 it will celebrate 40 years. Founded by a mix of Kiwis, European and American immigrants, it never had a “visionary individual”.
    Another intentional community near Nelson, NZ, Riverside Community, was founded by religious conscientious objectors during WWII; its still developing, organically, with many changes.

    Building and maintaining community is “hard yakka” as they say in Kiwi-speak. Lots of meetings and frustration. Tui started out with a model of total democracy; no major decision was taken unless there was 100% agreement of the members. This led to interesting dynamics when 1 person “held out”. Later that was changed to 100% -1, so a lone holdout couldn’t jamb the works forever. $ is another other big issue. The founders had modest means and the aim was to provide everyone with accommodation, food, and work on site. I worked 4 hours a day in the communal garden and got a communal lunch every day and dinner twice a week. Every week everyone got a basic free allowance of grains and vegies at the community “store”. In the last few years, some of the members have become “more equal than others” due to inheritances, involvement in outside business, money brought with them when they joined the community.

    Riverside was pretty radical in the beginning. All members had to give ALL their $ and property to the community trust. In exchange they got a house rent-free, a car, and a job in one of several community owned business: auto-repair, dairy, forestry, organic garden, etc. That all changed when the original founders died out and their kids, many of whom had left to explore the “outside” world, returned and didn’t want to give up their personal wealth.

    In California in the 60’s, I saw lots of fly-by-night intentional communities come and go. It was a hoot watching all the drama from the outside…

  346. @TJandTheBear Not sure if you considered this, but the “Americans not doing what they are told” also applies to our elected representatives and highly paid bureaucrats who do whatever they want instead of what citizens want or need them to do.

    There’s this constant idea among many classes of people who insist that if people just voted different people into office or more people contacted their representatives, things would be different. Ha ha ha no. They don’t do what they are told by us commoners and have never done so. Washington D.C. has done whatever it has wanted to do and expects everyone to follow along since it formed in Philadelphia.

  347. Hi John,

    Thanks again for this great piece, I am very much taken with the intellectual path that you are on and I look forward to your next post with a growing anticipation. Your post and books have had a greatly invigorating effect on me during these stultifying times. Somehow It reminds me of childhood games with friends in the fields and how we would to carved new ways through overgrowth to claim back spaces that had long been taken back by nature.

    As someone who grew up in rural Ireland during the 1990’s I can’t say that I can’t easily relate to what you and you readers are experiencing in America, but I think that we are catching up. Ireland’s history has always run counter-clockwise to its neighbours. I do fear though that we here are on the tail-end of the same whip-crack as ye in the US. Carl Jung once wrote that he viewed his father most sympathetically as Jung Snr. had grow up in what he considered the late middle-ages and had therefore witnessed and experienced great dislocation and tradition obliterating change. I feel too that I have grown up at the tail-end of a vanished age.

    I have a quick question for you John (which might be a stretch), can you think of any societies or fraternal organisations that have chapters here in Ireland that would be enlightening to join.

    Also, thanks for the Malcolm Kyeyune tip in a previous post, He is a very thought-provoking writer.

  348. Some questions and comments before you go to open post – first, I don’t remember whether you addressed this or not, but Toynbee could not find any trace of any pseudomorphises for Egypt. Were there, and what were they?

    Also, when, earlier, I said I have never been a member of the PMC, I lied. My 10 years working for UNM – on a salary, with benefits I’m still riding on today, gives that the lie. The correction should read: “I have never fallen into their trap of thinking they’re not an elite, but “ordinary, struggling middle-class people” – I know I’m lucky beyond my deserts – and have long since had the “one of the Smartest People” nonsense knocked out of me. It was,of course, individually-based and not class-based. However, as a daughter of a hillbilly-born Roosevelt-and-Social-Gospel Democrat, my inclination is to cast my lot with the working people. And have taught my daughters from the cradle to never be rude to those who serve, but if you have a beef, go to the man on top. But – still – I said something that was not true and issue this correction.

    And an observation, via Fourth Turning, about the proper response to a disintegrating society – *It depends on where you are in the cycle of life.* And that the sellout of the Boomers was preceded by the sellout of the Greatest, who took their wealth and retired to the senior-living enclaves in Florida, retreating from public life except to vote themselves more benefits. What leadership they were supposed to provide during the Reagan years or after, I can neither remember nor reconstruct, so complete has this been. At any rate:

    The Boomers were supposed to provide moral leadership. They still are. It’s just that their definitions of “moral” and their self-righteousness on either side would, as you’ve outlined, make a pig puke.

    The Xers – my daughters and nephews and niece – were and are supposed to provide the practical pragmatism that gets things done and cut the crap – just do it. I am very pleased to see that my daughters, at least, exemplify this excellently.

    The Millennials were supposed to carry out the Boom agenda, just as their counterparts in the mid-1800s marched to war to carry out those of Lincoln or Lee. Right now, I think they’re struggling with the gap between “should” and “is.”

    And the grandchildren’s job is to be helpful and make themselves useful. (And to survive the Crisis and clean up whatever mess the Millies didn’t quite finish taking care of.)

    And mine and my fellow seniors? “Be kind, mentor the young, and get the blazes out of the way of those who are doing what has to be done. Even though the brutality of a lot of it will leave you anguished. And DO NOT LECTURE THE YOUNG. They’re doing what they have to. Let them do it.

    Anyway, thanks for listening.

  349. @JMG (#368):

    Some fairly recent research has demonstrated that prehistoric (and presumably, medieval) Europe was criss-crossed by a network of recognized natural “shout-lines,” which worked like the short one you found at the Long Man, but had a much greater length than 300 feet. They could have been–and most likely were–used for long distance communication, much like our own telegraph and telephone lines. The Swiss alpenhorn is probably a remnant of this ancient acoustic technology. Graham Robb has written popularizations of this research.

    I’m very much inclined to think that deliberrate acoustic effects played as great as role in the lost temple technology you are researching as did specially crafted incenses.

    And, on the subject of hill figures, have you seen the quite recent archaeological work that has shown the Cerne Abbas giant (in its current form) was cut out of the hill sometime in the period 700-1100 CE?

  350. @Scotlyn, that’s a fine example. I don’t know much about TCM, but your description of it in those terms helps me understand its appeal.

    There’s a parallel counterexample in Western “medical recovery” narratives, where someone has survived a deadly illness or injury. The narratives almost always focus on ONE thing, sometimes the modern medical treatments used, sometimes prayer and faith, sometimes an alternative treatment, sometimes positive thinking. As far as I can tell, most people in those situations do most or all of it. That is, most get hospital treatment, most pray, most try to stay positive and hope for the best, and most use at least one form of alternative treatment as well. But the recovery narratives rarely mix. If it’s a modern-medicine narrative, for instance, prayer will be mentioned only to dramatize how dire the prognosis was. If it’s a religious-miracle narrative, any hospital treatment will be mentioned only as part of the mysterious ways God granted a miracle. And so forth. The culture here tends to avoid acknowledging the polyexegy that’s there.

  351. Hello John Michael,

    I though of you this week when Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Australia will reach “net zero carbon emissions by 2050” by using technology that does not yet exist. Of course it can exist, he said, look at BIll Gates and Steve Jobs! Anything is possible! Try to tell him otherwise!

    No one on the radio has yet mentioned, or even alluded to, a reduction in the amount of energy we use as individuals or industries.

    Regarding Australia’s spirit of the land, I’m learning (as a non-Aboriginal person) that it has something to do with boundaries. A person’s country is where they are bound as a caretaker to the land, as defined by their totems and complex systems of relations. The more I learn, the more I trip over my own feet when I do the wrong thing in the wrong place, and prosper when I do the right thing in the right place 😀

    The time when the spirit of the land will be again loudly heard seems very far away, as we’ll have to go through the Chinese-Australian experience first (now underway) and who knows what after that.

    DIfferent from the commune fantasies in the US, Australians seem to believe that the government will solve all of their problems. If I point out the difference between what government actually does and what the people are hoping for, they’ll complain about whatever political party they don’t like. If I talk about subsidies and their warping effect on the economy, I become the Grinch Who Stole Their Lifestyle Choice. Homelessness, which is rising faster that sea levels right now, may shake some from their dreams, but the COVID propaganda is drowning out nearly everything else.

    The end of the dream here will most likely be delayed by smart phones, is my guess, because so long as people have functioning phones I’ll wager that they’ll put up with anything short of footy season being permanently cancelled.

    To end on a positive note, our local government library system has a surprisingly decent selection of occult books, so there is hope.

    Live from Tidal Reach,


    PS. Please give my best to Clare.

  352. @Stephen DeRose

    I have a somewhat opposite view.

    What the Evangelical churches did was turn churchgoers from celebration of Christ and church (as a body of people) into a celebration of themselves. It had to increasingly be all about “me” (“appeal to different peoples’ needs and tastes”), a precursor to today’s spoiled brat culture. That’s how they ended up with “cozy living room spaces and coffee shops” – the Starbucks version of a religion. That they are “designed to facilitate comfort, not submission” is exactly on point, but is a regression: so is every commercial space today too. In other words, they’re designed not for people to let go and submit to the glory of God, but to feel comfortable and cuddly.

    “There was a whole new emphasis on experiential faith which previously did not exist.”

    There has been over a millennium of tradition of “experiential faith” in Europe by that time, plus mystical theology (widely accepted), asceticism, respected holy fools, monks living normally within the civic life (all the way to drinking, sex, etc.) and so on. Christian faith had been heavily “experiential” from the beginning, just check out Augustine of Hippo’s biography for an early example.

    As for “Sunday school, which was there to give the individual more knowledge totally apart from the sacraments, and thus could be thought by any learned person and not just a priest” – yep, Europe had that since forever too.

    European churches and christian communities had sermons since forever, in language people understood. There are thousands of those, called “homilies” saved today.

    St. Basil, for one example, made such speeches on all kinds of topics (from the environment to usury), to common folk, like groups of fishermen and so on.

    And people in general had a good grasp of those things (better than today’s “christians” who want just to talk about “themselves” and “their experiences”), to the point that Gregory of Nyssa is quoted to have said of Constantinople that:

    “This city, is full of mechanics and slaves, who are all of them profound theologians; and preach in the shops, and in the streets. If you desire a man to change a piece of silver, he informs you, wherein the Son differs from the Father; if you ask the price of a loaf, you are told by way of reply, that the Son is inferior to the Father; and if you inquire, whether the bath is ready, the answer is, that the Son was made out of nothing.”

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