The Machine Will Never Triumph, part twelve
Let the dead bury their dead—
Let the dead go bury their dead
don’t help them.
Let the dead look after the dead
leave them to one another,
don’t serve them.
The dead in their nasty dead hands
have heaps of money,
don’t take it.
The dead in their seething minds
have phosphorescent teeming white words
of putrescent wisdom and sapience that subtly stinks;
don’t ever believe them.
The dead are in myriads, they seem mighty.
They make trains chuff, motor-cars titter, ships lurch,
mills grind on and on,
and keep you in millions at the mills, sightless pale slaves,
pretending these are the mills of God.
It is the great lie of the dead.
The mills of industry are not the mills of God.
And the mills of God grind otherwise, with the winds of life for the mill-
Trust the mills of God, though they grind exceeding small.
But as for the mills of men
don’t be harnessed to them.
The dead give ships and engines, cinema, radio and gramophone,
they send aeroplanes across the sky,
and they say: Now, behold, you are living the great life!
While you listen in, while you watch the film, while you
drive the car,
while you read about the air-ship crossing the wild Atlantic
behold, you are living the great life, the stupendous life!—
As you know, it is a complete lie.
You are all going dead and corpse-pale
listening in to the lie.
Spit it out.
O cease to listen to the living dead.
They are only greedy for your life!
O cease to labour for the gold-toothed dead,
they are so greedy, yet so helpless if not worked for.
Don’t ever be kind to the smiling, tooth-mouthed dead
don’t ever be kind to the dead
it is pandering to corpses,
the repulsive, living fat dead.
Bury a man gently if he has lain down and died.
But with the walking and talking and conventionally persuasive dead
with bank accounts and insurance policies
don’t sympathise, or you taint the unborn babies.1
Modern humans are the dead leading the dead. The man in the street is a dead man, but the men running the factories and offices are also dead men. Only those men who are in touch with the Gods are alive; only those men who are free from the tyranny of buying and selling, working, toiling, and earning are alive. Those who are alive should escape from the affairs of the dead and leave them to their own devices. If the alive are truly alive, their example will be enough to wake the dead, if they are capable of any sort of awakening. One must be like the early Christian monks who went to the Thebaid, and like them one must be free from all the tyrannies of society. To be alive, one must be free from money. When the bankers, politicians, and men on the street talk to you and try to convince you to join the corrupt and evil world, say unto them retro me Satanas (Get thee behind me Satan). All of the seeming, teeming strength of the modern world is a veil covering cowardice and weakness. A man with inner strength would never need trains, automobiles, computers, calculating machines and factories. The mills of men grind the earth to death, but the mills of the Gods will grind the worldly mills to dust.
One must not be afraid to be called “bad” by the masses, since what is “good” by their standards is their own depraved way of life. As Lawrence writes:
For what does goodness mean? It means, in the end, being like every-body else, and not having a soul to call your own. Certainly you mustn’t have a feeling to call your own. You must be good, and feel exactly what is expected of you, which is just what other people feel. Which means that in the end you feel nothing at all, all your feeling has been killed out of you. And all that is left is the artificial stock emotion which comes out with the morning papers.2
So, don’t bother trying to be good, but try to be yourself, in touch with your soul, and if you can do that, true Goodness will come through.
When people are dead and peaceless
they hate life, they only like carrion.
When people are dead and peaceless
they hate happiness in others
with thin, screaming hatred,
as the vulture that screams high up, almost inaudible,
hovering to peck out the eyes of the still-living creature.3
Pay attention: Modern people, when they see peace and happiness try to destroy it in the name of progress, which is really death and destruction. Aboriginal cultures, ancient ways of life, and sanctuaries from the hustle and bustle of the modern world are all steam-rolled in the name of progress. If a person chooses to live alone, in the forest, society claims that person is mentally ill and puts him or her in an institution, but it is society itself that is insane. As Lawrence Durrell writes: “No mummies, chunks of tissue latched to bone; no pillars of salt, no cadavers, have ever been half so dead as we are today.”4 Our world is tremendously, almost unimaginably beautiful, yet we blacken and defile the beauty of things. Jeffers writes:
The earth is a
star, its human element
Is what darkens it. War is evil, the peace will be evil, cruelty is evil; death is
not evil. But the breed of man
Has been queer from the start. It looks like a botched experiment that has
run wild and ought to be stopped.5
What is one to do? The answer is to escape the clutches of modernity any way one can. Lawrence writes: “I wish I was a blackbird[…] I hate men[…] It would be nice if the Lord sent another Flood and drowned the world[…] The world of men is dreaming, it has gone mad in its sleep, and a snake is strangling it, but it cant wake up.”6 We must struggle within ourselves, and we must fight for the best for the plants, animals, and even the mountains; and sometimes we must take refuge in our creative imaginations, where we can fly like birds or frolic through the fields like rabbits. But when we return to reality, the dead modern men will be there staring us in our faces. As Jeffers puts it:
Man, the illogical animal. The others go wrong by anachronistic
Instinct, for the world changes, or mistaken
Observation, but man, his loose moods disjoin; madness is under the skin
To the deep bone. He will be covetous
Beyond use or cause, and then suddenly spendthrift fling all possession
To all the spoilers. He will suffer in patience
Until his enemy has him by the throat helpless, and go mad with rage
When it least serves. Or he’ll murder his love
And feast his foe. Oh—an amazing animal, by education
And instinct: he often destroys himself
For no reason at all, and desperately crawls for life when it stinks.
And only man will deny known truth.
You story-tellers, novelist, poet, and playwright, have a free field,
There are no fences, man will do anything.7
When men are made in bottles
and emerge as squeaky globules with no bodies to speak of,
and therefore nothing to have feelings with,
they will still squeak intensely about their feelings
and be prepared to kill you if you say they’ve got none.8
Men may not, actually, be made in bottles—yet—but the school systems and the process of socialization produce people who are inhuman, yet will fight you if you tell them they are robots or cyborgs. It is funny how those with the fewest feelings will ramble on and on about their feelings. The humanity of today is like some mass-produced product from China: not of very high quality. This is what capitalism, democracy, and modern technology produce, namely worthless people; lots and lots of worthless people. We should, instead, desire a few great men, rather than these swarms of machine-like masses. “We want quality of life, not quantity. We don’t want swarms and swarms of people in back streets. We want distinct individuals, and these are incompatible with swarms and masses. A small, choice population, not a horde of hopeless units.”9
All I care about in a man
is that unbroken spark in him
where he is himself
And all I want is to see the spark flicker
vivid and clean.
But our civilisation, alas,
with lust10 crushes out the spark
and leaves men living clay.
Because when the spark is crushed in a man
he can’t help being a slave, a wage-slave,
The goal of any sane society should be the fostering of the spark in all its men and women. The problem is that no society is sane. By its very definition, society is insane. The last time full sanity reigned on this planet was prior to agriculture, when people were hunter-gatherers and the limit of society was the family. We have been going downhill since then. Just look at the remnants of Greek religion or ancient Egyptian religion, and compare them to what is taught in most places of worship today to see how far we have descended. Ancient men may not have had the engineering knowledge of today—though they accomplished far more with the tools available to them—but they had direct access to visions of the divine realities. Now it seems no one can reach a God unless there is an app for that. Right now “[m]ankind is largely bad, just now especially—and one must hate the bad, and try to keep what bit of warmth alive one can, among the few decent. But even that’s a forlorn hope.”12
Know thyself, and that thou art mortal
If you want to know yourself
you’ve got to keep up with yourself.
Your self moves on, and is not today what it was yesterday;
and you’ve got to run, to keep up with it.
But sometimes we run ahead too fast
running after a figment of ourselves.
And that’s what we’ve done today.
We think we’re such clever little johnnies
with our sharp little eyes and our high-power machines
which get us ahead so much faster than our feet could ever carry us.
When, alas, it’s only part of our clever little self that gets ahead!
Something is left behind, lost and howling, and we know it.
Ah, clever Odysseus, who outwitted the cyclop
and blinded him in his one big eye,
put out a light of consciousness and left a blinded brute.
Clever little ants in spectacles, we are,
performing our antics.
But what we also are, and we need to know it,
is blinded brutes of cyclops, with our cyclopean eye put out.
And we still bleed, and we grope and roar;
for spectacles and bulging clever ant-eyes are no good to the cyclop,
he wants his one great wondering eye, the eye of instinct and intuition.
As little social ants perhaps we function all right.
But, oh, our human lives, the lunging blind cyclops we are!
hitting ourselves against unseen rock, crashing our head against the roof
of the ancient cave, smashing into one another,
tearing each other’s feelings, trampling each other’s tenderest emotions
and never knowing what we are doing, roaring blind with pain and
Ah, cyclops, the little ant-men can never enlighten you
with their bulging policeman’s-lamp eyes.
You need your own great wondering eye that flashes with instinct
and gleams on the world with the warm dark vision of intuition!
Even our brilliantest young intellectuals
are also poor blind cyclops, moaning
with all the hurt to their instinctive and emotional selves,
over their mutilated intuitive eye.13
If a person trains one muscle group, such as the biceps, while ignoring another group, such as the triceps, injury is bound to follow. This is what we are doing today with all of our inner faculties. We are building up the rational faculties at an ever accelerating pace, but we are ignoring the soul, the emotions, and the faculty of creative imagination. All our abilities to think symbolically and intuitively are atrophying. This is bound to cause injury to the deepest self. Regarding this, Lawrence writes:
The deep psychic disease of modern men and women is the diseased condition of the atrophied intuitive faculties. There is a whole world of life that we might know and enjoy by intuition, and by intuition alone. This is denied us, because we deny […] beauty, the source of the intuitive life and of the insouciance which is so lovely in free animals and plants.14
Any life-loving person should vastly prefer the “primitive” life of tribal peoples, the deep symbolic representations of reality of the ancient Egyptians, or the insouciance of animals to the vast technological edifice, which modern man has built. Even the relative greats of the last two thousand years, such as the poets and philosophers, simply were those who came closest to grasping the simple truths that every ancient shepherd knew intuitively. Jeffers has the following to say:
Except the occasional auxiliary horse or hound
A sculptor has nothing to say but “Man, man, man.” A painter has more
Marine and landscape, mankind and the other animals, and all the wild
Of light and shadow. As to the playwrights and novelists—
There were enormous talents in the ancient time. As to the poets:
It is really extraordinary that the time’s poets
Have so little to say—little, false, and juvenile.
In this thunder-packed time
Whom shall I choose then? Philosophers?
I will have shepherds for my philosophers,
Tall sullen men who lie on the hills all night
Watching the stars, let their dogs watch the flock,
I hope they know much more about God and the universe
Than all the clergymen and mathematicians.15
Forte dei Marmi
The evening sulks along the shore, the reddening sun
reddens still more on the blatant bodies of these all-but-naked, sea-
bathing city people.
Let me tell you that the sun is alive, and can be angry,
and the sea is alive, and can sulk,
and the air is alive, and can deny us as a woman can.
But the blatant bathers don’t know, they know nothing;
the vibration of the motor-car has bruised their insensitive bottoms
into rubber-like deadness, Dunlop inflated unconcern.16
Revolution is not the solution to our problems unless it is a revolution of one’s inner cosmos. At least a hundred years ago people were willing to try to have better lives, even if the revolutions ended in failure, but now the only revolutions people know are the revolutions of car wheels and cogs in machines. Everything is alive; not just animals and plants, but everything, from the great mountains to small pebbles. There is nothing in the entire cosmos that is lacking in life except the Machine. When people give their souls to the Machine, they lose much of their life and vitality. Only those free from the Machine can ever be truly full of life. Since technology penetrates all aspects of our existence, none of us can be truly free, and so the Machine saps our vitality, but we can fight and struggle, and through the fighting we can reclaim some vitality. Through the fight, one may suffer, but one may also separate out from the crowd and become more than ordinary, or what Nietzsche terms the Übermensch. The average person today is the opposite of an Übermensch. Lawrence writes:
The all-to-one pattern modern system is too much for most extraordinary individuals. It just kills them off or throws them disused aside[…] We detest ordinary people. We are in peril of our lives from them: and in peril of our souls too, for they would damn us one and all to the ordinary. Every individual should, by nature, have his extraordinary points. But nowadays you may look for them with a microscope, they are so worn-down by the regular machine-friction of our average and mechanical days.17
We die together.
Oh, when I think of the industrial millions, when I see some of them,
a weight comes over me heavier than leaden linings of coffins
and I almost cease to exist, weighed down to extinction
and sunk into depression that almost blots me out.
Then I say to myself: Am I also dead? is that the truth?
Then I know
that with so many dead men in mills
I too am almost dead.
I know the unliving factory-hand, living-dead millions
is unliving me, living-dead me,
I, with them, am living dead, mechanical at the machine.
And enshrouded in the vast corpse of the industrial millions
embedded in them, I look out on the sunshine of the south.
And though the pomegranate has red flowers outside the window
and oleander is hot with perfume under the afternoon sun
and I am “II Signore” and they love me here—
yet I am a mill-hand in Leeds
and the death of the Black Country is upon me
and I am wrapped in the lead of a coffin-lining, the living death of my
All of us, each and every one of us is a slave to the tyranny of the technological system. Even if we attain self-realization and retreat to the desert, still our conscious minds, and the desert as it exists today, have been formed by the technological system. We cannot completely escape, but we can get farther away than many. Most people are slaves of machines, and these slaves are destroying both their own lives and the life of the planet. We must feel with and for these multitudes, for only by empathizing with them and understanding them can we ever hope to pull them away from their machines. Some have sold their souls to the system out of evil motives, but most have done it out of ignorance, since “man has never learnt any better! We are really far, far more life-stupid than the dead Greeks or the lost Etruscans. Our day is pretty short, and closing fast. We can pass, and another race can follow later.”19
Men like Gods
Men wanted to be like gods
so they became like machines
and now even they’re not satisfied.20
Every step a single person, or humankind as a whole, takes towards technological domination, leads two steps closer to spiritual ruin. The more godlike a man becomes in the material sense, the less godlike he is in the spiritual sense. Destroying the planet and the health of the organic body through an overt attachment to devices, which make most people more like cyborgs is a sure road to damnation. Human hubris is destroying all beauty in this world. The remedy is humility. We are already godlike in our inner souls, and the way to realize that is through meditation, not self-aggrandizement. We have got ourselves into a terrible situation. What is to be done? “Well, there’s nothing to do but invoke the gods.”21
We need to re-learn the concept of natural law. Humans were not meant to fly, nor were they meant to probe the depths of the oceans. Only the biggest coward, lacking faith in his inner strength would surround himself with weapons. Likewise, only a coward, who is unsure of his metaphysical station would ever feel the need to create the vast and horrific edifice of ugliness with which we surround ourselves today. As Jeffers writes:
For fifty thousand years man has been dreaming of powers
Unnatural to him: to fly like the eagles—this groundling!—to breath
under the seas, to voyage to the moon,
To launch like the sky-god intolerable thunder-bolts: now he has got them.
How little he looks, how desperately scared and excited, like a poisonous
insect and no God pities him.22
What has killed mankind—for the bulk of mankind is dead—
the nasty lying pretence of seeming to feel what we don’t feel.23
We need to pay attention and to practice the fine art of self-awareness. The first step of self-awareness is to be aware of lies you tell, especially lies you tell yourself. It is the easiest thing in the world to lie to yourself, but it is the best thing to face harsh reality and tell yourself the truth. There is nothing more beautiful than truth. Or as Jeffers writes:
Ants, or wise bees, or a gang of wolves,
Work together by instinct, but man needs lies[…]
Yet I believe that truth is more beautiful
Than all the lies, and God than all the false Gods.24
The God that Jeffers refers to is the God of Plato and the ancient Greek philosophers, and the false Gods are not the true Gods of every ancient religion, but the gods we make ourselves, such as the god in the Machine.
Systems make liars of people. Currently, every child is placed into a system that demands success, and the most likely path of monetary success in the world today is through technological and scientific skills. As such, children who have the propensity towards poetry, art, music, philosophy, or even sainthood are squeezed into a little box and reduced to the state of a machine. Lawrence puts it well when he writes:
There are few, few people in whom the living impulse and reaction develops and sublimates into mental consciousness. There are all kinds of trees in the forest. But few of them indeed bear the apples of knowledge. The modern world insists, however, that every individual shall bear the apples of knowledge. So we go through the forest of mankind, cut back every tree, and try to graft it into an apple-tree. A nice wood of monsters we make by so doing.
It is not the nature of most men to know and to understand and to reason very far. Therefore, why should they make a pretense of it? It is the nature of some few men to reason, then let them reason. Those whose nature it is to be rational will instinctively ask why and wherefore, and wrestle with themselves for an answer. But why every Tom Dick and Harry should have the why and wherefore of the universe rammed into him, and should be allowed to draw the conclusion hence that he is the ideal person and responsible for the universe, I don’t know. It is a lie anyway—for neither the whys nor the wherefores are his own, and he is but a parrot with his nut of a universe.25
The human face.
Hardly ever, now, has a human face
the baffling light or the strange still gleam of the gods
within it, upon it.
Even from the face of the children, now,
that spangled glisten is gone, that at-oneness without afterthought,
and they are bridled with cunning, and bitted
with knowledge of things that shall never be admitted,
even the fact of birth: even little children.
Holbein and Titian and Tintoret could never paint faces, now:
because those faces were windows to the strange horizons, even Henry VIII;
whereas faces now are only human grimaces,
with eyes like the interiors of stuffy rooms, furnished.26
Human faces, human eyes were once the gateway to the profound mysteries of the soul, and from there to the profound truth of the Gods. Now, faces show only blank, staring scowls of lifelessness, and there is nothing behind the eyes. A simple, illiterate saint or a wandering dervish has so much life in his face, but the face of one of the mad men of modernity who looks blankly at his phone reflects nothing; it is an object without a subject.
To free ourselves from the tyranny of materialism and scientism we need the solid foundation of a spiritual science, just as the ancients had. This spiritual science was not mental, but was based on directly lived experience and was a science of life. Lawrence writes:
[L]et me say, that to my mind there is a great field of science which is as yet quite closed to us. I refer to the science which proceeds in terms of life and is established on data of living experience and sure intuition. Call it subjective science if you like. Our objective science of modern knowledge concerns itself only with phenomena, and with phenomena as regarded in their cause-and-effect relationship. I have nothing to say against our science. It is perfect as far as it goes. But to regard it as exhausting the whole scope of human possibility in knowledge seems to me just puerile. Our science is a science of the dead world. Even biology never considers life, but only mechanistic functioning and apparatus of life.
I honestly think that the great pagan world of which Egypt and Greece were the last living terms; the great pagan world which preceded our own era once had, I believe, a vast and perhaps perfect science of its own, a science in terms of life. In our era this science crumbled into magic and charlatanry. But even wisdom crumbles.27
Only some small parts of the ancient spiritual sciences have come down to us and they are corrupted in the forms of theosophy and other doctrines. Some mystical groups may have retained some parts of the ancient sciences, but by and large it is up to us to gather up the threads and forge our way forward.
Durrell, Lawrence. The Black Book. London: Faber and Faber, 2012.
Jeffers, Robinson. The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers. Edited by Tim Hunt. Vol. Three. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1988.
Lawrence, D. H. Late Essays and Articles. Edited by James T. Boulton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
———. Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious. Edited by Bruce Steele. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
———. Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays. Edited by Michael Herbert. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
———. The Letters of D. H. Lawrence. Edited by James T. Boulton, Margaret H. Boulton, and Gerald M. Lacy. Vol. VI. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
———. The Lost Girl. New York: Modern Library, 2003.
———. The Poems. Edited by Christopher Pollnitz. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
———. The Selected Letters of D. H. Lawrence. Edited by James T. Boulton. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
D. H. Lawrence, The Poems, ed. Christopher Pollnitz, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 382–83.
D. H. Lawrence, Late Essays and Articles, ed. James T. Boulton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 158.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:434.
Lawrence Durrell, The Black Book (London: Faber and Faber, 2012), 21.
Robinson Jeffers, The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, ed. Tim Hunt, vol. Three (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1988), 206.
D. H. Lawrence, The Selected Letters of D. H. Lawrence, ed. James T. Boulton (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 100.
Jeffers, The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, Three:411.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:434.
D. H. Lawrence, Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays, ed. Michael Herbert (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 106.
Lawrence’s use of the word “lust” often refers not to sexual desire, but to any overwhelming desire or craving, or intense eagerness or enthusiasm.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:455.
D. H. Lawrence, The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, ed. James T. Boulton, Margaret H. Boulton, and Gerald M. Lacy, vol. VI (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 267.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:472–73.
Lawrence, Late Essays and Articles, 145.
Jeffers, The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, Three:472.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:540.
D. H. Lawrence, The Lost Girl (New York: Modern Library, 2003), 90.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:544.
D. H. Lawrence, Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious, ed. Bruce Steele (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 118.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:552.
Lawrence, The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, VI:297.
Jeffers, The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, Three:482.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:564.
Jeffers, The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, Three:3.
Lawrence, Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious, 116.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:566.
Lawrence, Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious, 62–63.