Again we will look at the thought of Julius Evola. Today we shall examine his ideas on the "absolute man",
The three most valuable achievements of Julius Evola are:
. He took Nietzsche’s superman and made him more spiritual, more mindful, in the form of Absolute Man – L’Individuo Assoluto.
. He interpretated Hindu philosophy in a more rigorist vein than is usual by 20th century standards.
. He gave radical conservatism a doctrine footed in ancient history, linking our past to polar and northern climes instead of the usual Levantine and Middle Eastern.
In this post we will focus on point no. 1, the idea of the Absolute Man.
The sometimes empty and unspiritual Nietzschean superman needs a mindful injection.
Can Evola give us that?
L’individuo assoluto... Absolute Man...
What, then, can be said about this potentially mindful superman?
We won’t fall into the trap of discussing it in a sober, transparent manner, the way Evola himself does in for example Path of Cinnabar – because the subject doesn’t lend itself to sober discussion. It is a concept best captured in an intuitive way; Nietzsche himself understood this. He presented his superman in novel form – qv. Zarathustra. And in his essays he often shared his thought in the form of aphorisms. Below we will do the same, giving you a kind of text collage presenting Absolute Man. The sum of its parts will, hopefully, be greater than the whole.
L’individuo assoluto... this is Action as being, Evolian variety: “Every externalization of the interior awakens a deeper interiority.” (Fenomenologia dell’individuo Assoluto)
The absolute individual enjoys “the ability to be unconditionally whatever he wants”, we read in Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump by Gary Lachman. Lachman continues: “For Evola the ‘absolute individual’ is a condition of self-awareness that perceives the identity of itself and ... Will. For him, ‘I’ am the will become conscious.” Cf also Max Stirner, The Ego and its Own, which in turn is said to have influenced Rudolf Steiner to write The Philosophy of Freedom. Individual, freedom, reality, be totally free, create the world anew...
Evola was inspired by German idealist thought. But in this venerable strain there is also the tendency to neglect the individual, neglect the will. Evola therefore refocused on the individual, saw his connection to “the divine”, the Absolute – and voilà, Absolute Man, Total Man, Magician Man comes into being...
Nietzsche had shown the way to this attitude. Evola took Nietzsche’s supermanism, freed it from its plain vitalism, and linked it to higher realities... he said that worshiping life isn’t enough, what is needed is something more than life. Of this we spoke in Borderline (2015).
A will-driven, self-reliant superman; that’s “Absolute Man”. He is Total Man, Magician Man, a vīra heading for the glory of a Sonnenmensch divya...
Nietzsche inspired Evola into becoming more than what he was. It was the grandiose attitude, to go beyond the Beyond; a transcendent supermomismo. It was “the pitilessness, without caring about himself” (Hansen) and the caustic language; to be an elitist aristocrat of the soul, that was the goal. Evola already had his aristocrat being (he called himself a baron, he had some noble ancestry, he always wore a suit and a monocle) and now he elevated it to a higher plane, a philosophical plane, an existential plane. Everything Absolute Man does becomes mythical and Evola knew this; like Nietzsche knew the need for stylizing himself, in word and deed.
“Hierarchy, spirituality, order” – voilà the mindful supermanism of Evola.
Evola once wrote an autobiography. It is called The Path of Cinnabar. In the chapter “The Speculative Period of Magical Individualism” he presents his Absolute Individual.
It is a way to make Nietzsche’s superman, indeed, all of “existentialism” (like Sartre, maybe even Heidegger) more mindful. The model existentialist is lost in this world; the Absolute Man, on the other hand, lives by his will. He has a strong will, stronger than anything in the universe. With willpower and vision he acknowledges his spiritual power.
Heidegger, for his part, spoke about the poor state of the individual, being “thrown out” (= “Geworfen”) into this world. Evola flatly denied this aspect; he said that we all are exactly where we should be. We have the life our karma has allotted to us.
This is the glory of the Absolute Individual, a mindful superman. Nietzsche’s superman is spiritualized, given a link to inner, hidden realities, like the “aham brahmāsmi” of Hindu thought. I am god...! That is what mindful superman can say, “devoid of any sinister or titanic overtones” (Evola 2009 p. 71).
Evola’s Absolute Man takes the tranquil Hindu ātman, and the angst-ridden European reflective self, and fuses them into a new spiritual superomismo. By reciting the mantra “Absolute Man – Total Man – Magician Man” he claims every moment for himself, for his superman self.
Absolute Man acknowledges the divine light within, lifting himself by his bootstraps to become more than what he is.
Absolute Man steers clear both of the shrill and obtrusive Nietzscheanism, and of the defeatism of 20th century existentialism. However, the attitude of existentialism saying that you have to go out and live your life, you can’t construe a perfect morality on paper – this is sufficiently captured in Evolian thought, when he criticizes the “school” idealism of Descartes, Hegel, Kant, etc. Evola for instanced called the academic idealism of his day “professor philosophy for philosophy professors” (Evola 2009, p. 34).
Even while noting its shortcomings, Evolian superomismo is, in European thought, the best doctrine so far regarding a mindful supermanism. No other thinker has rescued Nietzsche from the quagmire of materialism, emotionalism, and emptiness like Evola.
For an Evolian critique of Nietzsche, see Borderline. For an Evolian praising of Nietzsche, hear what he says in Pagan Imperialism:
Freeing the doctrine of Nietzsche from its naturalistic part, we see that the “overman” and the ”will-to-power” are not true except as supra-biological qualities and, we should say, supernatural qualities, then this doctrine, for many, can be a path by which the great ocean can be reached – the world of the solar universality of great Nordic-Aryan traditions, from whose summit the sense of all the misery, of all the irrelevance, and of all the insignificance of this world of the shackled and maniacs imposes itself.
(Evola 2017, p. 86)
Evola gives the individual absolute power by identifying an Absolute Self.
Evola reanimated esoteric thought after the seeming death blow it had received after Nietzsche’s “God is dead”. And the onslaught of utilism, logical positivism, and Darwinism. Evola’s way meant: avoiding mere vitalism and instead searching for that which is “more than life”. It meant the need for the individual to find hidden, inner spiritual forces within his own being.
The individual is taught, by Evola, that he is “a god in being” – an absolute indivual – an Absolute Man. Saying I am, saying “aham brahmāsmi,” evokes this dimension in the individual.
Absolute Man frees the individual from solving everything by discursive thought, instead taking him to a land where reality is expressed by means of symbols and myths. Ratio and analysis isn’t everything; intuition and feeling are also needed to navigate the cruel seas of modern life. This Evola preached from the 20s through the end.
In other words, intuition supercedes discursive rationalism. Evola’s though is supra-rational à la Plato, Plotinus, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Heidegger, and Jünger. According to Hansen Evola’s creed was “a supra-normal self-realization centered on transcendence” (Hansen p. 7).
Evola goes beyond the mere human dimension. We have all heard, “man is the measure of all things,” a saying by an ancient Greek. However, this stands for a flat, reductionist attitude devoid of anything spiritual. Instead, Evola meant that we have to overcome the human condition. We have to seek the divine within ourselves, stressing “supra-personal and supra-temporal values”.
This points the way to how Evola looked at Tradition, at the eternal values of mankind’s past. Tradition, to him, was more than human; it was a way to reach “immanent transcendence” by way of a non-human (= divine) force embodied in the leaders, like in the form of divine kingship. Tradition expressed itself in objective and supra-personal legislation.
Our spontaneous commentary to this, is that few if any Western thinker of the 20th century has the boldness to deny the sancity of the person, of “the ordinary man”. The Evolian way is to be more than what you are, “be all that you can be,” go beyond humdrum, everyday, alltäglich “human condtiton”... There is more to man than mere “humanity,” mere “humanism”. In saying, “we have to overcome the human condition” Evola shows us the way out of this emotionalist, reductionist, myopic perspective.
“I have said, Ye are gods”...
Absolute Man is sovereign. Evola himself utilized this term. And as a way of interpretation you could say: we saw this sovereign status of the individual in Evola’s own life in WWII.
Thus we hold: the powers that fought WWII in Italy were: the Allies, the Italian state, Nazi Germany, and Evola...
While acknowledging the slight hyperbole we want to say: Evola, not denying his Italian ancestry, in the whole matrix came through as something of a sovereign power, a force unto itself. This was achieved by being self-assured, knowing that “aham brahmāsmi”... knowing that he was Absolute Man – Total Man – Magician Man.
Evola, Julius. Pagan Imperialism. 2017
Evola, Julius. The Path of Cinnabar. 2009
Hansen, H. T. in Evola's Men Among the Ruins. Foreword. 2002
Some of my books
Painting Nic Roerich
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