Norman Mailer suggested that, whereas the scientist placed his trust in the collective effort, the artist embodied the idea that the individual, with enough flair and grace, could reach single-handedly for the truth and pluck it from the branch like a ripe fruit.
Indeed, ever since the elucidation of the scientific method, a chain of writers have offered us alternative visions of reality. These have come in numerous guises, including poets such as Blake, Rimbaud and Yeats, philosophers such as Spengler, Nietzsche and Bergson, and novelists such as Lawrence, Stendhal and Mailer himself.
While numerous small connections interlink this rare species of intellectual – distinguished not only by their ability to philosophise with creative boldness but also aesthetically render their resulting systems – it is inevitable that, in contradistinction to their scientific counterparts, they will tend to have less in common with one another than they do more. Of course, if Mailer’s definition holds (and I think it does), then this makes perfect sense. Spengler and Lawrence, say, if they are to affirm the individual over the collective intellect, are bound to contradict each other at least as much as they do the status quo.
What then, if anything, can this species of writer affirm?
How about the pre-eminence of the subject over the object…
“Masturbation may be more immoral than rape.”
Up until around the middle of the last century, the reader of such authors – typically someone that preferred to keep their distance from the scientific worldview – would steadily amass a strange collection of meta-spectacles, through which they could choose to transfigure any perception they deemed in need of invigoration – whether a passing cloud or an advertisement. In her 1962 novel The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing observed that this type of writer was declining. Herself an exemplar of this very breed, Lessing was being a touch playful here, but the pattern was accurate. Fifty years later – this type of writer can appear all but extinct.
The deterioration is evident, for example, in the modern novelist, a pusillanimous creature that assiduously occupies – often with admirable agility – the moral, political and metaphysical middle-ground, territory demarcated (implicitly or otherwise) by the very forces literature once made a habit of opposing. How often, in recent decades, have we seen ‘significant’ novels concluded with a page or two of tribute crediting the academic research that did the novelist’s thinking for them!
Whatever their differences, one inevitable characteristic shared by all those old literary worldviews was an anti-rationalist inclination. Take, for example, history, that domain beloved of all mystically inclined intellectuals. Whereas science looked for natural historical laws (or indicated their absence), the mystics exhumed the concept of teleology. From Yeats’s gyres to Spengler’s cycles to Bergson’s ‘creative evolution’, history was handed back over to the supernatural. In this area as in others, magic and mysticism rediscovered their centrality.
...a warm admiration for the treatment of ‘Chandalas’.
By the end of the twentieth century, however, the emergence of Conspiracy had arguably rendered this terrain as barren as others.
Where Norman Mailer could draw endless reserves of psychic energy from the imaginative supposition that history was the battleground between God and the Devil, the similarly disposed modern imagination will find itself – likely via the internet – in the hands of Conspiracy before it comes near to making its own, creative conclusions about human destiny.
From the CBS logo to the footage of the vaporising Twin Towers, Conspiracy has certainly changed the way millions of us view the world, but I would readily exchange the entire paradigm for a single Proust. While the conspiratorial worldview is certainly a powerfully dark glass through which to view the quotidian present, it also tends to be dogmatic and oppressive, and ultimately delivers the individual into the greedy clutches of the ‘objective’ world (through the back door, as it were).
But within the Conspiracy paradigm (or rather mythos), there exists individuals whose analysis and elaboration is becoming conspicuously creative. The Celtic Rebel is one of these, a blogger who, although I must stress some almost extraordinary reservations, is the first writer for some time to slip a brand new pair of lightweight meta-spectacles into my breast pocket – wrought, furthermore, by his own two hands!
I guess I should start with the reservations, a tricky task. Before doing so, however, I’d like to enumerate some of the more eccentric/offensive opinions espoused by a few of my favourite writers of the past (and cannonical ones at that):
Dostoevsky was a fairly rabid anti-Semite.
Nietzsche expressed warm admiration for the treatment of ‘Chandalas’ prescribed by the Indian caste system.
Norman Mailer repeatedly opined, “masturbation may be more immoral than rape.”
We’ll leave it there (while noting the list could continue almost indefinitely). Doubtless many will say, ‘ah, but these writers were victims of their times’. While they may well be right that, had any of the above writers been raised within the prevailing zeitgeist, none of the above sentiments would have found expression, it is notable that this same zeitgeist have given us... no such writers.
We tend to run a mile from the politically incorrect, and in so doing perhaps deprive ourselves of richer threads bound up in the Gordian knot of any unique view on life.
Enough stalling. Let’s turn to the Celtic Rebel’s ‘foibles’…
He is anti-Semitic (“lift a rock, find a Jew”).
He can be unbearably crude (“lift a rock, find a Jew”).
He is pathologically conspiratorial. Among some of his more outré assertions include the entirely unsubstantiated claim that Theodore Adorno wrote the Beatles’ songbook (a dark horse, that Adorno).
But I recommend wading through his written essays (his more recent podcasts I recommend avoiding), in which he develops a perturbing Gnosis of popular culture through an intriguing blend of word, image and synchronicity, frequently attaining harmonies between the three which are outright uncanny.
Which is not to say that the Celtic Rebel doesn’t operate within the Conspiracy paradigm. He does, emphatically. Presupposed in his analysis are venerable Conspiracy bulwarks such as – the covert paganism of the ruling elite (and consequent pagan propaganda in modern culture), the widespread and covered-up practise of ritual paedophilia, and of course the manipulation of world events (such as 9/11) for political and symbolic purposes.
(None of which this writer would readily dispute.)
...a fairly rabid anti-Semite.
The Rebel’s symbolism, however, is uniquely his own. After a certain amount of study, neither hearts, targets, ‘V’s, cubes and many other formerly innocuous symbols will ever seem quite the same again – especially emblazoned on a bus or billboard. Hollywood films and primetime television, meanwhile, may henceforth assume the texture and threat of a psychosexual nightmare.
While the obsession with popular symbolism is a hallmark of Conspiracy in general, the Celtic Rebel begins where others leave off. He is the Freud of Conspiracy, scatological, sexual and esoteric, and fixated with, among other things, anal sex, punning and hot dogs (which can never be ‘just a hot dog’). As with Freud, you admire the ingenious perversity even when you outright reject the interpretation, and at other times can only wonder at the extreme naivety of our preceding outlook.
Morally, the Celtic Rebel is something of a Tolstoyan. Strident vegetarianism underpins all his symbolic excursions, and the sincerity of his convictions can be quite arresting, making one realise that moral seriousness is almost as rare in our civilisation as original thinking.
Metaphysically, the Celtic Rebel is a modern Gnostic. To him, popular culture underscores our souls’ subjugation to the illusory material world, but through his homemade Kabala the same symbolism is subverted into a tool of liberation. Certainly, it can liberate the imagination. Appreciation of the subtlety of the Celtic Rebel’s thought requires real concentration. And, while his writings frequently deserve as much scorn as they do amazement, they certainly provide a new perspective on the present day. Who else can you say that about?
Visit Celtic Rebel blog»