War and Peace
The Machine Will Never Triumph, part seventeen
I would call Attila, on his little horse
a man of peace.
For after all, he helped to smash a lot of old Roman lies,
the lies, the treachery, the slippery cultured squalor of that sneaking court
And after all, lying and base hypocrisy and treachery
are much more hellishly peaceless than a little straightforward
which may occasionally be a preliminary to the peace that passes
So that I would call Attila, on his little horse
a man of peace.1
War is a horrendous thing, but one must—as with all things—be aware that traditional ways and modern ways are different not only quantitatively, but qualitatively. Traditional war clearly caused less suffering, less bloodshed, but it was also less evil in that civilians were often not involved, and warriors often kept to codes of chivalry. No one in the modern era hated war—especially modern war—as much as Lawrence, but he was not a pacifist. During the first world war, he did everything within his power to object to the war, both publicly and privately, but refused to be a conscientious objector, since he felt it would be hypocritical to ease his own potential suffering—and suffer he did at the hands of the authorities—by taking a stance that he did not believe in. The natural world knows of no such thing as war, but it is a violent place. For Lawrence, violence could be justified, but never killing, especially indiscriminate killing. As discussed above, the best way to a new world, which would look a lot like the old world, would be a spiritual revolution. But, if a man like Attila came and swept away the entire edifice of modernity, that could only be viewed as a good thing. Where is all of the peace we strive for getting us? It is only burying us in a mass-grave. Perhaps we need a good dose of tribal violence. As Aldo Leopold writes:
We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness. The deer strives with his supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with machines, votes, and dollars, but it all comes to the same thing: peace in our time. A measure of success in this is all well enough, and perhaps is a requisite to objective thinking, but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau’s dictum: In wildness is the salvation of the world. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf, long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men.2
Modern human civilization is a disaster both for man and animal. Ancient civilization had war, but without all the horrific modern implements of war. An ancient soldier would have to face his enemy and look him in his eyes as he fought him. Additionally, despite the cruel use of animals in classic warfare, there was a certain love and bonding between man and beast that we never see today. Lawrence makes this point powerfully:
And she felt a great woe: the woe of human unworthiness. The race of men judged in the consciousness of the animals they have subdued, and there found unworthy, ignoble.
Ignoble men, unworthy of the animals they have subjugated, bred the woe in the spirit of their creatures. St. Mawr, that bright horse, one of the kings of creation in the order below man, it had been a fulfilment for him to serve the brave, reckless, perhaps cruel men of the past, who had a flickering, rising flame of nobility in them. To serve that flame of mysterious further nobility. Nothing matters, but that strange flame, of inborn nobility that obliges men to be brave, and onward plunging. And the horse will bear him on.
But now where is the flame of dangerous, forward-pressing nobility in men? Dead, dead, guttering out in a stink of self-sacrifice whose feeble light is a light of exhaustion and laissez-faire.
And the horse, is he to go on carrying man forward into this? — this gutter?3
So we no longer have horses carrying us at all, but various machines, which are leading us, so gradually as to be virtually unnoticed, to our collective graves. All this peace and boredom of the modern word which is a peace without any real inner peace, almost makes one long for ancient wars with their honor, codes of conduct, and most of all life. A classical soldier knew how to live in ways modern men and women can only dream of. The will to power as embraced in the modern world is a terrifying thing, but divine power is a wonder to behold. Perhaps, it is time to pray for a new Attila to come along, a sun-man imbued with divine power to wipe away this castrated society of eunuchs we now live in. As Lawrence writes:
Attila, the Scourge of God, who helped to scourge the Roman world out of existence, was great with power. He was the scourge of God: not the scourge of the League of Nations, hired and paid in cash.
If it must be a scourge, let it be a scourge of God. But let it be power, the old divine power. The moment the divine power manifests itself, it is right: whether it be Attila or Napoleon or George Washington. But Lloyd George, and Woodrow Wilson, and Lenin, they never had the right smell. They never even roused real fear: no real passion. Whereas a manifestation of real power arouses passion, and always will.
Time it should again.
Blessed are the powerful, for theirs is the kingdom of earth.4
After our industrial civilisation has broken, and the civilisation of touch
war will cease, there will be no more wars.
The heart of man, in so far as it is budding, is budding warless
and budding towards infinite variety, variegation
and where there is infinite variety, there is no interest in war.
Oneness makes war, and the obsession of oneness.5
In the future there will be no more wars. Either the human race extinguishes itself, or the heart and soul will reawaken. The former option leads to a wasteland in which most life on the planet perishes along with the humans, and the latter possibility leads to a new paradise. For those few humans today who are not robots, their hearts are largely free from the desire to war. If a Lawrencian society were ever to come to pass, there would no longer be wars in the conventional sense of the word. Of course we may have men of today who have a desire to war with the Machine, but they are branches of the old roots and once the Machine dies, warfare would die with it. We are told so many lies, but one of the biggest lies is that unity brings peace. Where has unity gotten us? There is no longer any peace in the world, for the entire human civilization wars with all living things and the planet itself. When there were almost as many tribes as people upon the planet, there were battles but no wars, and these were waged not out of greed, or to create a larger state, but to prevent overpopulation6 and the dominance of any one tribe.
War is evil because it is a group thing, but fighting is not evil. Some of those most full of life are fighters. Lawrence was a great fighter. What a world we would live in if rather than all these mechanical wars being waged, duels were fought between leaders of countries. A duel, whether won or lost, is done in honor, but a war, whether won or lost, is done in disgrace. We must never give in to group-thinking, nor must we ever be party to society’s wars, but we must be ready to fight for Life. As Lawrence writes:
I’m the enemy of this machine-civilisation and this ideal civilisation. But I’m not the enemy of the deep, self-responsible consciousness in man, which is what I mean by civilisation. In that sense of civilisation, I’d fight forever for the flag, and try to carry it on into deeper, darker places. It’s an adventure,[…] like any other. And when you realise what you’re doing, it’s perhaps the best adventure.7
The only way forward is a religion of life and wonder, where every moment is directly lived, and all those moments are a great adventure. But this is probably not destined to take place. Humanity could also extinguish itself and end up like the dinosaurs. A human soul is immortal, but there is no ontological necessity for the human form. If humans disappear, perhaps other more beautiful creatures will take our place. Just imagine all the beautiful birds, beasts, and flowers that we have killed off, or that could have appeared if we had never existed. Our existence is a great gift, but we have misused that gift and become a bane to the rest of creation. Lawrence has this to say:
Man, as yet, is less than half grown. Even his flower-stem has not appeared yet. He is all leaves and roots, without any clue put forth. No sign of a bud anywhere.
Either he will have to start budding, or he will be forsaken of the Holy Ghost: abandoned as a failure in creation, as the ichthyosaurus was abandoned. Being abandoned means losing his vitality. The sun and the earth-dark will cease rushing together in him. Already it is ceasing. To men, the sun is becoming stale, and the earth sterile. But the sun itself will never become stale, nor the earth barren. It is only that the clue is missing inside men. They are like flowerless, seedless fat cabbages, nothing inside.8
All the devices and gadgets in the world can’t make humans whole again. Modern humans are like Humpty Dumpty: All the Machine’s computers, and all the Machine’s algorithms can’t make roboticized humans whole again. Only the Gods and the cosmos—the sun and moon most of all—can make men whole again. What we need is a new Dark Age free from robot, machine, and mechanism, where the world can regenerate, and where men and women can commune in silence with the cosmos, just like the monks of the middle ages, and the great sages of all times. Jeffers puts this as such:
Radar and rocket-plane, the applications of chemistry, the tricks of physics:
new cunning rather
Than new science: but they work. The time is in fact
A fever-crisis; the fag-end of nominal peace before these wars, and the
so-called peace to follow them,
Are with the wars, one fever; the world one hospital;
The semi-delirious patient his brain breeds dreams like flies, but they are
giants. And they work. The question is
How much of all this amazing lumber the pale convalescent
Staggering back toward life will be able to carry up the steep gorges that
thrid the cliffs of the future?
I hope, not much. We need a new dark-age five hundred years of winter
and the tombs for dwellings—but it’s remote still.9
When strife is a thing of two
each knows the other in struggle
and the conflict is a communion
But when strife is a thing of one
a single ego striving for its own ends
and beating down resistances
then strife is evil, because it is not strife.10
As Lawrence states above, strife—which is necessary in life—needs others. Even a fight between two can become a togetherness and even a deep friendship. On the other hand, when the ego fights for its own ascendency over the natural world, it is not an organic strife that is taking place, but the grinding of two dry wheels, one upon the other, which will create heat and friction that will destroy the person and everything he or she touches. We think we control the trajectory of life, but one of the purest joys in life is to go with life’s flow. To try to control one’s destiny with an iron fist only leads to disaster. As Lawrence writes:
With what rigid, cruel insistence we clutch the control of our lives; with what a morbid frenzy we try to force our conclusions; with what madness of ghastly persistence we break ourselves under our own will! We think to work everything out mathematically and mechanically, forgetting that peace far transcends mathematics and mechanics.11
The late War
The War was not strife
it was murder
each side trying to murder the other side
As Lawrence makes clear above, modern warfare is not strife. Ancient warfare could have been a holy thing, but in modern warfare, there are no victors, and there is no side of the good, for each side is evil, purely evil. After the Copernican revolution and the following “enlightenment,” man’s ego started to get inflated, which led to the invention of new and terrifying devices. These new and terrifying devices then led to a swelling of egos and the atrophying of the sensitive centers of consciousness. As Schuon states:
Somewhere we have read that only the advances in technology can explain the new and catastrophic character of the first world war, and this is very true. Here it is machines that have made history, just as moreover they are making men, ideas and an entire world.13
Though men make machines, now it is the machines that are making men. Modern machine men are no longer active participants in war, but are simply cannon fodder. This makes modern warfare foul beyond description. Lawrence writes a great prayer for the self against modernity, militarism, and machines below:
The war was foul. As long as I am a man, I say it and assert it. And further I say, as long as I am a man such a war shall never occur again. It shall not, and it shall not. All modern militarism is foul. It shall go. A man I am, and above machines. Modern militarism is machines, and it shall go, for ever, because I have found it vile, vile, too vile ever to experience again. Cannons shall go, guns shall go, submarines and warships shall go. Never again shall trenches be dug. They shall not, for I am a man, and such things are within the power of man, to break and make. I have said it, and as long as blood beats in my veins, I mean it. Blood beats in the veins of many men who mean it as well as I.
Man perhaps must fight. Mars, the great god of war, will be a god forever. Very well. Then if fight you must, fight you shall, but without engines, without machines. Fight if you like, as the Romans fought, with swords and spears, or like the Red Indian, with bows and arrows and knives and war-paint. But never again shall you fight with the foul, base, fearful, monstrous machines of war which man invented for the last war. You shall not. The diabolic mechanisms are man’s, and I am a man. Therefore they are mine. And I smash them into oblivion. With every means in my power, except the means of these machines, I smash them into oblivion. I am at war! I, a man, am at war!—with these foul machines and contrivances that men have conjured up. I, a man, will conjure them down again. Won’t I?—but I will! I am not one man, I am many. I am most.14
Lawrence above writes in the prophetic mode. It is clear that he is engaging in profound psychic warfare with the evil forces of modernity. He is at war, but his war is a psychic and spiritual war, not a war of devices and machines. Lawrence refuses to fight the Machine with its own limbs, but uses instead a more powerful weapon, namely passionate words that symbolically articulate divine truths. We must all look to Lawrence for guidance, and then smash the machines; both the physical machines, as well as the machines that are enslaving us spiritually.
The first step to freeing ourselves from the Machine is to achieve self-realization. It is not some other outside force that is destroying us, but it is we who are destroying ourselves. As Lawrence writes:
But that curious, flashing, black-and-white costume! I seem to have known it before: to have worn it even: to have dreamed it. To have dreamed it: to have had actual contact with it. It belongs in some way to something in me—to my past, perhaps. I don’t know. But the uneasy sense of blood-familiarity haunts me. I know I have known it before. It is something of the same uneasiness I feel before Mount Eryx: but without the awe this time.
In the morning the sun was shining from a blue, blue sky, but the shadows were deadly cold, and the wind like a flat blade of ice. We went out running to the sun. The hotel could not give us coffee and milk: only a little black coffee. So we descended to the sea-front again, to the Via Roma, and to our café. It was Friday: people seemed to be bustling in from the country with huge baskets.
The Café Roma had coffee and milk, but no butter. We sat and watched the movement outside. Tiny Sardinian donkeys, the tiniest things ever seen, trotted their infinitesimal little paws along the road, drawing little wagons like handcarts. Their proportion is so small, that they make a boy walking at their side look like a tall man, while a natural man looks like a Cyclops stalking hugely and cruelly. It is ridiculous for a grown man to have one of these little creatures, hardly bigger than a fly, hauling his load for him. One is pulling a chest of drawers on a cart, and it seems to have a whole house behind it. Nevertheless it plods bravely, away beneath the load, a wee thing.
They tell me there used to be flocks of these donkeys, feeding half wild on the wild, moor-like hills of Sardinia. But the war—and also the imbecile wantonness of the war-masters—consumed these flocks too, so that few are left. The same with the cattle. Sardinia, home of cattle, hilly little Argentine of the Mediterranean, is now almost deserted. It is war, say the Italiana.—And also the wanton, imbecile, foul lavishness of the war-masters. It was not alone the war which exhausted the world. It was the deliberate evil wastefulness of the war-makers in their own countries. Italy ruined Italy.15
War is often presented as if it were an exciting thing. Just look to the thousands of films made about war. But, war is a rote, boring, stagnant mob thing. Lawrence presents one of the most powerful descriptions of the evil nature of war as follows:
What work was there to do?—only mechanically to adjust the guns and fire the shot. What was there to feel?—only the unnatural suspense and suppression of serving a machine which, for ought we knew, was killing our fellow-men, whilst we stood there, blind, without knowledge or participation, subordinate to the cold machine. This was the glamour and the glory of the war: blue sky overhead and living green country all around, but we, amid it all, a part in some iron insensate will, our flesh and blood, our soul and intelligence shed away, and all that remained of us a cold, metallic adherence to an iron machine. There was neither ferocity nor joy nor exultation nor exhilaration nor even quick fear: only a mechanical, expressionless movement.16
As Lawrence makes clear, war and technology are intimately related. R. S. Thomas makes the same point poetically, juxtaposing the modern system of the Machine to a vanquished Christianity as follows:
The Nativity? No.
Something has gone wrong.
There is a hole in the stable
acid rain drips through
onto an absence. Beauty
is hoisted upside down.
The truth is Pilate not
lingering for an answer.
The angels are prostrate
“beaten into the clay”
as Yeats thundered. Only
Satan beams down,
poisoning with fertilisers
the place where the child
lay, harrowing the ground
for the drumming of the machine-
gun tears of the rich that are
seed of the next war.17
If we must fight, then fight we shall, but in a traditional way, and in a dignified manner. Fighting with machines is unnatural. Machines are evil no matter their function. Both the device keeping a person on life-support and the giant bombs that kill and maim civilians are part of the same system, and hence both are evil. Lawrence writes:
[T]hey cannot feel themselves parts of a machine. They have all the old natural courage, when one rushes at one’s enemy. But it is unnatural to them to lie still under machine-fire. It is unnatural to anybody. War with machines, and the machine predominant, is too unnatural for an Italian. It is a wicked thing a machine, and your Italians are too naturally good. They will do anything to get away from it. Let us see our enemy and go for him. But we cannot endure this taking death out of machines, and giving death out of machines, our blood cold, without any enemy to rise against.18
Killing is not evil.
A man may be my enemy to the death,
and that is passion and communion.
But murder is always evil
being an act of one
perpetrated upon the other
without cognisance or communion.19
Modern wars don’t involve killing; they involve wholesale murder. Just picture a fight between two medieval knights over a matter of principle. One knight may be killed in the course of his defense of that principle. Whether on the side of right or wrong, that knight lived and died justly, and his abode in the hereafter is guaranteed. But today, most killing is done not for transcendent principles, but for things, and that is always murder. Governments that murder entire states to take their oil are no different than corner thugs who rob liquor stores. A just man, a man of the sun and moon and stars will never murder, but he may kill. Lawrence describes the reasoning behind this in the following passage:
What then, if a man come to me with a sword, to kill me, and I do not resist him, but suffer his sword and the death from his sword, what am I? Am I greater than he, am I stronger than he? Do I know a consummation in the Infinite, I, the prey, beyond the tiger who devours me? By my non-resistance I have robbed him of his consummation. For a tiger knows no consummation unless he kill a violated and struggling prey. There is no consummation merely for the butcher, nor for a hyena. I can rob the tiger of his ecstasy, his consummation, his very raison d’être by my non-resistance. In my non-resistance the tiger is infinitely destroyed.
But I, what am I? “Be ye therefore perfect.” Wherein am I perfect in this submission? Is there an affirmation, behind my negation, other than the tiger’s affirmation of his own glorious infinity?
What is the Oneness to which I subscribe, I who offer no resistance in the flesh?
Have I only the negative ecstasy of being devoured, of becoming thus part of the Lord, the Great Moloch, the superb and terrible God? I have this also, this subject ecstasy of consummation. But is there nothing else?
The Word of the tiger is: my senses are supremely Me, and my senses are God in me. But Christ said: God is in the others, who are not-me. In all the multitude of the others is God, and this is the great God, greater than the God which is Me. God is that which is Not-Me.
And this is the Christian truth, a truth complementary to the pagan affirmation: “God is that which is Me.”
God is that which is Not-Me. In realising the Not-Me I am consummated, I become infinite. In turning the other cheek I submit to God who is greater than I am, other than I am, who is in that which is not me. This is the supreme consummation. To achieve this consummation I love my neighbour as myself. My neighbour is all that is not me. And if I love all this, have I not become one with the Whole, is not my consummation complete, am I not one with God, have I not achieved the Infinite?
After the Renaissance the Northern races continued forward to put into practice this religious belief in the God which is Not-Me. Even the idea of the saving of the soul was really negative: it was a question of escaping damnation. The Puritans made the last great attack on the God who is Me. When they beheaded Charles the First, the king by Divine Right, they destroyed, symbolically, for ever, the supremacy of the Me who am the image of God, the Me of the flesh, of the senses, Me, the tiger burning bright, me the king, the Lord, the aristocrat, me who am divine because I am the body of God.20
As Lawrence makes clear above, one must struggle and fight if one is attacked. To perform passive resistance is a form of death to the living fire within a man’s solar plexus. A tiger who refuses to eat a lamb denies its own existence and nullifies itself ontologically. A man who refuses to wage war against the robots becomes a robot himself. Despite the surface differences, Western Christian metaphysics (Eastern Orthodoxy never fully adopted Scholasticism and may never have led to the Machine) led directly to modern metaphysics, which led to the technological epoch, the ascendency of the Machine, and the roboticization of humankind. God is not that which is not me, but is that which is me. Objective truth has no meaning without directly lived subjective truths. The ancient Gods have not absconded from this world, but live deeply within the breast of every man, woman, and child on this planet. We all contain Artemis, Zeus, Aphrodite, and Dionysus within the very core of our being. Our souls are full of dark Gods that must be worshipped, and only by seeing, worshipping, and obeying the dark Gods within may one glimpse the spectral luminescence of the Gods that spring forth from the Fire at the core of space and time. Only the sun-men realize this, and they must run forth in battle against the robot hordes proclaiming the battle cry that caused the death of Al-Hallaj, namely “We are Gods”!
The sun-men are sacred warriors like the tiger. Ted Hughes provides a marvellous poetic juxtaposition of the sacred tiger and the modern robot-soldier below:
The tiger kills hungry. The machine-guns
Talk, talk, talk across their Acropolis.
Kills expertly, with anaesthetic hand.
Carry on arguing in heaven
Where numbers have no ears, where there is no blood.
Kills frugally, after close inspection of the map.
The machine-guns shake their heads,
They go on chattering statistics.
The tiger kills by thunderbolt:
God of her own salvation.
Proclaim the Absolute, according to morse,
In a code of bangs and holes that makes men frown.
Kills with beautiful colours in her face,
Like a flower painted on a banner.
Are not interested.
They laugh. They are not interested. They speak and
Their tongues burn soul-blue, haloed with ashes,
Puncturing the illusion.
Kills and licks her victim all over carefully.
Leave a crust of blood hanging on the nails
In an orchard of scrap-iron.
With the strength of five tigers, kills exalted.
Permit themselves a snigger. They eliminate the error
With a to-fro dialectic
And the point proved stop speaking.
Kills like the fall of a cliff, one-sinewed with the earth,
Himalayas under eyelid, Ganges under fur—
Does not kill.
Does not kill. The tiger blesses with a fang.
The tiger does not kill but opens a path
Neither of Life nor of Death:
The tiger within the tiger:
The tiger of the Earth.
O Sister of the Viper!
O Beast in Blossom!21
The robot murders, and murders brutally, but the tiger and the sun-man blesses. A man of the sun will never use a gun or mechanical implement in a fight, but only his bare hands or an ancient tool—such as a samurai sword—that is an extension of the hands. As Lawrence writes:
Let us get back inside our own skins, sensibly and sanely. Let us fight when our dander is up: but hand to hand, hand to hand, always hand to hand. Let us meet a man like a man, not like some horrific idea-born machine.22
So guns and strong explosives
are evil, evil
they let death upon unseen men
in sheer murder.
And most murderous of all devices
are poison gases and air-bombs
refinements of evil.23
Modern weapons are ontologically just as evil as computers or refrigerators, but their evil is far more manifest. If a man wants to understand the essence of his computer, he should simply think of the poison gas attacks of WWI, or of Hiroshima, since the essence is the same: pure, unadulterated evil. In this epoch, which is a technological epoch, the devices we have surrendered control to are changing our psyches, making us slaves good at nothing but destroying truth, beauty, and goodness. Modern people “are only good at destroying—just mere stupid destroying. How can you make a people free, if they aren’t free? If something inside them compels them to go on destroying!”24 Lawrence, prophetically, could see what was coming with the age of machines. He “could see what war would be like—an affair entirely of machines, with men attached to the machines as the subordinate part thereof, as the butt is the part of a rifle.”25
On the other hand, a free man who knows the Gods could never allow himself to be subordinate to, or in any way connected with a machine. He would want to fight it. Wendell Berry writes:
Don’t try to call. I have no phone.
There’s not much left I want to shoot,
but I would like to shoot a drone.26
And as Lawrence writes below, no matter how horribly unthinkable all of this is, we must rend the veil from in front of our faces and confront this dreadful reality.
My God, why am I a man at all, when this is all, this machinery piercing and tearing?
It is a war of artillery, a war of machines, and men no more than the subjective material of the machine. It is so unnatural as to be unthinkable.
Yet we must think of it.27
We must know this reality, but we must never become resigned to or complacent toward its evil nature. We must always fight evil manifestations of transient reality in the name of the eternally Real. Ultimately, if the whole world goes insane, as most of it now seems to be, one still has his or her soul as a palace of peace. As Lawrence writes:
[I]f you see the world inventing poison-gas and falling into its poisoned grave: never give in, but be alone, and utterly alone with your own soul, in the stillness and sweet possession of your own soul. And don’t even be angry. And never be sad. Why should you? It’s not your affair.28
What the human race has turned itself into is nearly unthinkable, however, since the difference between ancient hunter-gatherers and modern death dealing robots is so great. It almost seems as if the modern man is capable only of fostering death and destruction. Lawrence writes:
We know what it is to be fulfilled with the activity of death. We have given ourselves body and soul, altogether, to the making of all the engines and contrivances and inventions of death. We have wanted to deal death, ever more and more death. We have wanted to compel every man whatsoever to the activity of death. We have wanted to envelop the world in a vast unison of death, to let nothing escape. We have been filled with a frenzy of compulsion; our insistent will has co-ordinated into a monstrous engine of compulsion and death.29
The peace that is worked towards by industrial magnates and the United Nations reeks even worse than the worst of wars. Behind all the peace of the modern era is a war with all non-human life on this planet. Compared to the vapid, putrid peace of industrial civilization, even war seems preferable. Either way, humans march towards their own demise and the demise of all life on this planet. As Lawrence writes:
[W]hy, perhaps we shall have sense enough to fight once more hand to hand as fierce naked men. Perhaps we shall be able to abstain from the unthinkable baseness of pitting one ideal engine against another ideal engine, and supplying human life as the fodder for these ideal machines.
Death is glorious. But to be blown to bits by a machine is mere horror. Death, if it be violent death, should come as a grand passional climax and consummation, and then all is well with the soul of the dead.
The human soul is really capable of honor, once it has a true choice. But when it has a choice only of war with explosive engines and poison gasses, and a universal peace which consists in the most sordid commercial and industrial competition, why, believe me, the human soul will choose war, in the long run, inevitably it will; if only with a remote hope of at last destroying utterly this stinking industrial-competitive humanity.30
Things are getting worse and worse, and acceleratingly so. The one experience that equalizes all men, and which once was the door that led all men to transcendence, namely death, is now, for most men, simply the breaking down of a machine. The cataclysm is coming where all the robots and the Machine itself will break down, bringing much death and destruction in its wake. Lawrence writes:
For a hundred years we have been given over to the slowly advancing progress of reduction, analysis, breaking-down, dissolution. Now we have reached the point when the sex is exhausted, and there can be no more reduction through passion: when criticism and analysis are exhausted in the mind, all the units broken down that can be reached. There remains only the last experience, the same to all men, and to all women, the experience of the final reduction under the touch of death. That the death is so inhuman, cold, mechanical, sordid, the giving of the body to the grip of cold, stagnant mud and stagnant water, whilst one awaits for some falling death, the knowledge of the gas clouds that may lacerate and reduce the lungs to a heavy mass, this, this sort of self-inflicted Sadisme, brings almost a final satisfaction to our civilised and deeply passionate men.31
For those who know the Gods, however, there is nothing to fear, for the soul is immortal, and the Gods are good. Death is not an end for one who is awakened, but simply a journey towards brighter worlds. As for this material world, we can hope for the best, but if things keep on their current trajectory, we can only follow Ludwig Klages in the following conjecture:
We know of no “progress” except that towards complete dissolution and final destruction, in so far as things continue on the straight course down which “civilized” mankind has been racing since about 1790 at ever-increasing speed[.]32
Berry, Wendell. A Small Porch. Berkeley: Counterpoint Press, 2016.
Hughes, Ted. Selected Poems, 1957–1994. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.
Jeffers, Robinson. The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers. Edited by Tim Hunt. Vol. Three. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1988.
Klages, Ludwig. The Science of Character. Translated by W. H. Johnston. Rogue Scholar, 2021.
Lawrence, D. H. Introductions and Reviews. Edited by N. H. Reeve and John Worthen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
———. Kangaroo. Melbourne: The Text Publishing Company, 2018.
———. 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.
———. “Sea and Sardinia.” In D. H. Lawrence and Italy, 137–326. London: Penguin Books, 2007.
———. “St. Mawr.” In Collected Stories, 791–925. London: Everyman’s Library, 1994.
———. The Plumed Serpent. Edited by L. D. Clark. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
———. The Poems. Edited by Christopher Pollnitz. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
———. Twilight in Italy and Other Essays. Edited by Paul Eggert. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
Schuon, Frithjof. Language of the Self. Bloomington: World Wisdom, 1999.
Thomas, R. S. Collected Later Poems. Hexham: Bloodaxe Books, 2004.
D. H. Lawrence, The Poems, ed. Christopher Pollnitz, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 430–31.
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 133.
D. H. Lawrence, “St. Mawr,” in Collected Stories (London: Everyman’s Library, 1994), 853.
D. H. Lawrence, Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays, ed. Michael Herbert (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 328.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:527.
See the writings of Pierre Clastres.
D. H. Lawrence, Kangaroo (Melbourne: The Text Publishing Company, 2018), 401.
Lawrence, Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays, 360.
Robinson Jeffers, The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, ed. Tim Hunt, vol. Three (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1988), 135.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:628.
Lawrence, Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays, 29.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:628.
Frithjof Schuon, Language of the Self (Bloomington: World Wisdom, 1999), 125.
D. H. Lawrence, Introductions and Reviews, ed. N. H. Reeve and John Worthen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 71.
D. H. Lawrence, “Sea and Sardinia,” in D. H. Lawrence and Italy (London: Penguin Books, 2007), 197–98.
D. H. Lawrence, Twilight in Italy and Other Essays, ed. Paul Eggert (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 82.
R. S. Thomas, Collected Later Poems (Hexham: Bloodaxe Books, 2004), 97.
Lawrence, Twilight in Italy and Other Essays, 83.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:628.
Lawrence, Twilight in Italy and Other Essays, 119–20.
Ted Hughes, Selected Poems, 1957–1994 (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002), 201–3.
Lawrence, Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays, 162.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:629.
D. H. Lawrence, The Plumed Serpent, ed. L. D. Clark (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 166.
Lawrence, Twilight in Italy and Other Essays, 81.
Wendell Berry, A Small Porch (Berkeley: Counterpoint Press, 2016), 6.
Lawrence, Twilight in Italy and Other Essays, 84.
D. H. Lawrence, Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious, ed. Bruce Steele (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 164–65.
Lawrence, Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays, 32.
Ludwig Klages, The Science of Character, trans. W. H. Johnston (Rogue Scholar, 2021), 58.