"My tastes and habits are simple; I am neither erudite nor sophisticated. I prefer jazz to classical music, musical burlesques to Greek tragedy, A. Conan Doyle to Balzac, Bob Service’s verse to Santayana’s writing, a prize fight to a lecture on art. I read the wood pulp magazines and enjoy them. I laugh uproariously at slap stick comedy in the movies. I respect men’s religion whether I believe in it or not. I am a 100% American and damned proud of it." (Howard letter)
Americans do have a reputation for being sceptical of European philosophy, but I would say it is still very useful to be familiar with in order to critique with intent. In Nietzsche, Artemis is kept at bay by her radiant brother, Apollo (vision), who is in a precarious balance with the gay god Dionysus (lust). Artemis, hunting with Diana in tow, you could easily say is the soul of action – not thought – a very American quality. This could make her less philosophical – but it depends what you mean.
The soul of Weird Tales, the introspective adventurer of Howard and others, is active intelligence. They can be gloomy and often grim and melancholy because they live in twilit vistas of rapacious nature. It is the realm of Artemis, which you also find in Walt Whitman and, in his homespun wisdom, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
It seems justifiable to say that the American adventurer pioneer is the heir of Elizabethan melancholy – that Elizabethans were proto-Americans. You could say adventure is contrary to European philosophy but not to romantic courtiers! Nor to classical myths which were the times of conquest undreamt of (The Iliad). Weird Tales has a specific classical resonance that can be identified with Artemis. The eternal presence of sanctified females in night –shrouded monuments; blood, gore and heroic figures in momentary action; emblems of ancient deities.
Females had great power in antiquity – maybe not domestically, but in the myths and visions that people sought out. Howard’s lusty female warriors are well known. There’s a way you can look at it that the active side of a civilization has feminine roots; Persephone (Proserpine) – spring; Demeter (her mother) –ceres; Gaia – Earth. Action is in the moment, and that is a very classical concept.
There’s also the trickster myth, and in The Wizard of Oz the wizard is a sort of trickster-cum-huckster and doesn’t actually do much. I guess he makes a comfortable living in the magic kingdom where he accidentally settles, not much else. The guy’s a cunning charlatan, relic of the good old days of the old west, so one can’t really say he has any hubris. Hell, when he’s exposed as a fraud his charm gets him off the hook nicely with Dorothy and her pals.
Tricksters occur throughout myth. Prometheus stole fire from the gods; Coyote runs rings round Indian tepees. They are too primal to have hubris; that comes with the Greek tragedies of dysfunctional families and the like – see The Bacchae, CH3. In Euripides’ play, King Pentheus, with social harmony and order in mind, decides to rule without the aid of the rustic god Dionysus, with horrific consequences. The rule of order, as I’ve been saying since CH3, breeds a sort of psychotic hubris. The Nazi’s slogan, “Work Makes You Free” is a nice one! Order breeds parallel realities of sameness where fact becomes fiction.
There's something quite peculiar here. How is it that ancient empirical traditions are rough-and-ready, whereas Bacon presages a society of precise order? If you recall (Tales of Faith 4) Francis Bacon introduced empirical reason to research circa 1600, roundabout the Elizabethan period? I picked-up a book on ancient Palestine, and there’s the line
Much was gained by giving up the suffocating detail into which the Mosaic law had developed; much was also lost by surrendering the ancient sanitary taboos and the empirical refinements suggested by centuries of practical experience in applying these rules. (Archaeology of Palestine page 216, WF Albright, Pelican 1949)
The answer has to be that everything in material nature is empirical: we see it, that verifies it. The thing that isn't empirical is thought (abstract reason).
Bacon seemed to have been aware of this danger since he characterises four false notions of the mind: the four Idols. Idols of the Tribe (nation), Idols of the Den (individual), Idols of the Marketplace (false language!) and Idols of the Theatre (authority!) He was trying to avoid bias in any system of thought, but there's one bias you can't avoid. Any system of thought is logical, so the assumption is the universe is too. This is the false Apollo which seeks to deny any use of Dionysian urges of the body. It is a parallel reality of logic running alongside nature.
Bacon applied empiricism to logical proofs, which eventually leads to a parallel reality of abstract theory (Einstein). This is the very opposite of empiricism in nature, which is what we see, feel, touch – and like. You could look at it as parochial pottery styles (ancient Palestine or Greek) versus verified experiments of atomic clockwork. The two are opposites; they inhabit different temporal frameworks.
When “they” say Einstein is proven, that's in a parallel reality of clockwork. There's another temporal reality which is horology. “They” will say that's superstition, and they're right. There's a choice to be made. Either we are approaching cy, or we are approaching empirical nature. The latter, as I've been saying for awhile, has meaning and power (Pictorial 11).
Constable, Stonehenge at Sunset
There is a sublime primitivism to Stonehenge – so where does it come from? It doesn't come from thought, logic or proof. It comes from the landscape, the merging of the wild with artefacts of civilization. As mentioned in Pictorial 11, Westminster wants to burrow under the neolithic shrine.
The stones look magnificent from this distance. They have no need of close inspection. They can be appreciated at a glimpse, without need of visitor centres, car parks, coaches and multimillion-pound tunnels.(DT Sir Simon Jenkins)
With hubris comes nemesis (see Korvac Weird 8), and we are in Euripides' The Bacchae. The dark faerie of human desires, the naiads of stream and bower, circle round a world of rational planning, infusing it with psychoses that spring from ego-lust. Dark faerie is the land of eternal regeneration, Artemis and the lunar cycle. The land of bewitchment that would have infused the grottos of Sulis-Minerva (Weird 11). Dark faerie is “thingness”, awareness of spirit of place and, by extension, unconscious urges associated with spirit of place (Dionysus).
There is no Apollonian vision without unconscious awareness (Nietzsche). There is the false Apollo of empirical reason we find ourselves in, since empirical reason has no “thingness”. It's a parallel reality of sameness, as opposed to a vertical, tiered community of differences (see “The Human hourglass”).
That's the curious thing, that empirical nature is the opposite of empirical science, dated from Bacon's The New Atlantis. The pungent products of the edge of a forest, spores in rotten trunks, the ferns of a fey grotto mired in mineral wealth, Roman springs and ceremonial baths, Mosaic law and sanitation.. all empiricism rooted in “thingness” that has been lost to The New Atlantis
If The New Atlantis is the first parallel reality of the rational mind, then that is the reality we are in, since the principles outlined therein are one and the same. What’s missing is the temple we inhabit – the body. Laws or customs associated with the body are very ancient, and associated with places of meaning and power such as a Roman spring/baths/grotto/temple to Minerva. Meaning is often associated with dirt and cleanliness; dirt is actually a product of healthy-living with microbes in air and soil forming a living eco-system.
Rituals and tabus cleanse the body of dirt, so it is necessary to have dirt present. The idea of “Trumpian hygiene” is just a bizarre off-shoot of the parallel reality of mind (over body). Whether you take the ancient Greeks or the Hebrews they bathed, anointed the body with oils, used perfumes but also lived in places of power. That is to say, places that are non-hygienic, that are natural. Meaning is figurative, both dirt and cleanliness; power is present in the cycles of life and death under our very feet. Salisbury Plain vaunted by unknown builders to sun and moon, harvest and fertility.
Artemis and Diana running in tandem, spears hoisted ‘neath harvest skies, blood flows, the earth is renewed. Figurative meaning and power of renewal are the two things missing from the parallel world of New Atlantis – despite the seeming neutrality of scientific method. It’s a conspiracy of “nothingness” that has nothing to do with the rhythms of the body that are celebrated in Greek art and medicine. Nothing to do with the higher truths of Yggdrasil or
horology (or TCM), CH5.
Empiricism is leading us forward along parallel tracks and away from an awareness of the empirical truths of place and commune (the Greek city-state). This can get so confusing and conspiratorial it’s untrue! (if you google Francis Bacon you’ll find he’s a one-man conspiracy theory, and an “Ascended Master”?!) So it’s worth having a very firm grasp on what parallel worlds are, and why their origins are suspect and hypothetical.