Many of our readers are familiar with Wrath of Gnon, the cerebral meme-master who pairs classic art with insightful quotations from writers and thinkers. Although he exists only on social media, his elegant images spread across the web and, interestingly for social media, re-appear years later. We were lucky to get some time to chat with the elusive Wrath of Gnon.
When did you first know that you would pursue a different path than that of the majority? Is there any way for someone who aspires to sanity to feel good about this modern world?
I was not exceptional in that I was born reactionary. I believe most people are for the simple reason that all the hollow slogans of the progressives — Equality, Brotherhood, Liberty, etc. — are so obviously untrue to even the most socially isolated child (and I was not in the least isolate, I grew up in a large loving family).
To maintain the progressive mindset it is vital that people remain detached from reality (from their roots, families, friends, communities), and plugged in or attached to the propaganda machine. Take a man away from media for a fortnight and you will see emerge a more sensible, realistic human being. My own reactionary thinking has only strengthened the more I remove myself from modern media and groupthink.
It is not difficult: stop looking at mass media, distance yourself from all writing that “feels” modern; keep going backwards in times until you find what you are comfortable with. There are even some recent writers with an old fashioned mind set, you don’t have to read Chaucer, as certain works of Kerouac will do just as well. Immerse yourself in reality: aspire to experience and perform all the functions of life, as far as it is humanly possibly for you.
This can include growing your own crops to taking your friends for extended hiking trips in the wilderness. There are no excuses and I believe it is possible for everyone to cultivate a timeless mindset. The important thing is to, in some way, manner or form, reach backwards. This is the meaning of the slogan “Revolt Against the Modern World”: to turn your back on modernity.
What, in your view, went wrong with the West, and how do we fix it? How deeply does the rot go?
As for when (even though you did not ask), there is the famous quip — “For the average person, all problems date to World War II; for the more informed, to World War I; for the genuine historian, to the French Revolution.” (Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn) — but the Traditionalist-Catholic wing of reactionary thinkers go further, blaming the reformation. And so on. This is a fun but ultimately pointless game.
Personally I would not even call it a rot, as I subscribe to the Evolian idea that we are already “men standing in the ruins.” Rome has fallen all around us, it is just that we have not noticed yet (or as Adam Smith mirrored it “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation”). This question brings to mind the two famous portrayals of two different Roman nobles in the fifth century A.D., one who leaves the Imperial Capital to return to his family lands in Gaul, to “weather out the temporary unrest”, while the other quietly slips away to eventually found his own Holy Order, the Benedictines. The first thinking that order will soon be restored, the other with his mind already set on eternity. Both accounts make for fantastic reading.
The good thing is that everything we need to turn things around is already here. All the material, all the plans, all the accumulated wealth and knowledge of millennia of human thought and creativity is scattered all around us. We even have a time table for how to do it (and this was suggested by someone on Twitter three or four years ago), we just start turning the clock back, step by step, reversing history as we go along, keeping only the reality compliant, Gnon friendly parts.
And we might unwittingly have started this already: education, housing, vacation homes, etc., it is all becoming too expensive very fast. We are losing the means of production to more ruthless countries in the Far East, and we are running out of natural resources. Unrest in far away countries have started cramping our wanderlust—quick now, 2017 might be your last chance to see the Louvre, the Pyramids and the beaches of Pattaya! And speaking of Pattaya, sexually transmitted diseases are quickly becoming immune to treatment, thus limiting us even in our choices of partners, and in their numbers, automatically unwinding the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s.
Mark Stein said “The future belongs to those who show up,” and as Evola noted, what we have to do now is to hold out, to “ride the tiger,” to “remain standing in the ruins,” to (as Rod Dreher posited) take the Benedict Option and become neo-monastics. And have children, of course. Lots and lots of children.
You publish a series of intellectual memes — striking images overlaid with notable quotations and cutting insights — which reveal much about what is wrong, and where we might go. What appealed to you about this format? How do you choose images and quotations?
I had been skimming the outer fringes of the “reacto-sphere,” but I think I was influenced in taking the step to participate more actively by a few people, and a few memes. The first was an anonymous image showing a leafy green, beautifully airy urban street from the turn of the last century, overlaid with the words: “NEVER AGAIN.” That one hit me like a brick in the forehead.
At the same time, I happened to find @shaunwesleywyrd and E.H. Looney on Twitter. S. Wes shared a photo of an old book by Oswald Mosley he was reading, photographed with whiskey and a pipe, and Looney shared (and I still think this is a most fantastic meme) an image of a young woman in medieval garb with the text: “The First Reich was the Best Reich.”
I saw a way to present (to the general public) very “politically incorrect,” almost caustic ideas, in a fun setting. It took me a few weeks of experimenting to realize that I needed two more vital ingredients: a pinch of gravitas (which I got from relying mostly on very old literature) and beauty. Beauty is the beginning of all things good, and goodness is the beginning of all beautiful things. At the very same time I was reading NRx, I read Bryce, MM, Sailer, Jim, Nick Land etc., and the rest is (well documented) history.
I have a decent image memory, so I remember a lot of images I have seen, and when I find a good quote in my readings (I read a lot, and almost only autobiographies these days) or online or suggested by helpful people on Twitter or Tumblr, that fit an image, I add it. And of course, the other way around. I think my best work is actually when I see an image and the text just comes to me naturally, whether it is my own or a quote from someone else (I do realize that there are almost no original thoughts out there, so as far as possible I try to give credit where credit is due).
Unlike many within modernist movements, including the Alt Right, you are an out-of-the-closet monarchist. What led you to have faith in monarchy? How do we get there from here?
Humankind has at the very least thirty-five centuries of monarchy under its belt by now (at least Europeans, much longer if you include the other great historical cultures), and this has taken us from roving bands of hunters to the outer reaches of the solar system. Furthermore the amount of beauty in the world is diminishing at the same rate that Modernity is growing.
I noticed that globalism is erasing differences both geographically as well as culturally while increasing meaningless ugliness! It is the differences that are important, the distinctions that make everything on this planet so interesting! I even have a love for borders (and walls and fences, demarcations, ditches, hedgerows, etc.): strange and wonderful things happen in borders regions: the starkest contrast, the strangest amalgmations and syntheses, the most interesting crossovers. Borders are great things — we need more of them!
I hate the leveling leviathan of globalization and commercialism. I do not trust systems — is there any system that has not achieved a long history of atrocities by now? All systems are inherently unsustainable, as they are founded in ideas rather than in observable reality, and once the people holding these ideas change, so do the ideas (witness social democrats in Europe or social justice warriors in American campuses).
By contrast, I find Monarchy the most robust, sustainable (and ecological if you will) form of societal organization. It mirrors only those structures that already exist in reality and in nature, it is so simple that even a child can understand it, even participate in it. When ever a group of pre-schoolers gather to play without adult interference, a natural hierarchy will establish itself within seconds. Between the two genders, between the members of the group, between the group (the culture) and reality (nature). The Monarch is to the nation what the Father is to the family.
Humans are the only animals that will actively invent problems in order to provide solutions for them. But monarchy is one of those things that just will not be improved upon, it is one of the eternal truths about mankind and of the reality of things. If mankind ever stops needing a King, well then I posit to say that we have already evolved (or devolved, more likely) into something post-human. But as long as the idea of the King survives, it will live on, ready to spring back into reality.
As Georges Bernanos asked of a four-year-old Lorrainer boy: “What is a king?”, “A king is man on horseback who is not afraid!” As fine a definition as ever I heard, and far more correct than a whole indoctrination camp of university professors.
How have you found ways to adapt to modern life? What is it like, living in a world where basically everyone is not just wrong but insane, and every institution is subtly corrupted?
Humor helps. And the knowledge that all institutions are merely guided by corrupt men and women, and that we are all more or less brainwashed from birth by Modernity. As a culture, we have always had ways to deal with people whose grip on reality is less than robust, only these days they seems to end up Chancellors, Chairmen of the Committee or with Tenure. As we were all once brainwashed, so we can all find our ways out of the modern labyrinth.
Here is where the allegory of the Red Pill comes in handy. I have, by now, a pocket full of them, and the more I give out, the more I seem to carry around. It is a self-feeding fire: every conversion is the seed of a dozen more, and the anecdotes of these “red-pillings” are moralizing tinctures indeed. On a more personal level, I am helped by reading, and finding that I am not alone. Everything I think and feel has been felt or thought before. As Evola put it:
My principles are only those that, before the French Revolution, every well-born person considered sane and normal.
I have tons of allies. Mind you, most of them (as of now at least) dead, but still. Tons.
If people want to break out of the mental virus of modernity, how should they do so? Is there a universal path, and do all people need to come to in-depth realizations, or can they rely on gut instinct?
Most of us are in it too deep. Every time we reach towards the light of the surface, modernism is there again, Chthulu dragging us downstream and into the murky darkness. Sometimes we can be helped by friends, someone reliable to help us climb back up. Find sanity again. Sometimes it happens in flashes of revelations (everyone knows these and Twitter is a great place to share), but like any idea whose time has come, we are slowly building towards a critical mass. Our ideas are sustainable, confirms to reality: when nature, long in tooth and red in claw sneers at us form the dark thicket, we are ready to sneer back, and soon there will be more of us. We will reach, sooner or later, the necessary critical mass.
There are of course savants out there, people who are so remarkably grounded that they are immune to modernity: you probably know many. Your uncle the air force mechanic. That aunt who is a nurse and never opened a book in her life but has started and ended more lives than Sitting Bull. That cousin who can build an engine from spare parts but has never heard of Affirmative Action in his life. Surround yourself with them. Go to them. Bask in their clearheaded glory. And then come back to the fray to pick up a few more lost souls. As Tolkien stated so well: “It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”
We hear a lot about environmental problems these days. In your mind, what is the relationship between modernity and ecocide, and is it purely industrial, or related to underlying political or social problems?
The simplest way I can put it, is that the environment has stopped being something wonderful from which to draw resources and strength to start being a problem that we have to “deal with”. Just listen to yourself, the phrase, “environmental problems”! It is amazing when you think about it. How did we get here? It is a combination of many things (let me name a few):
- Individualism: I have needs, so screw the rest.
- The Tragedy of the commons: No one owns anything any more. Everything is up for grabs. This ties in to nationalism, which is a natural defense mechanism and reaction to weak states. Environmental concern is the left wing shadow of this reaction.
- Receding horizons: We are so used to there not being any more fish in the ocean that we forgot what it was like just two generations ago. We are so used to worrying about our kids walking two blocks to school by themselves we think it is normal, even though we ourselves would happily bicycle ten miles or more to go skinny dipping in ponds and lakes when we were twelve.
- Rootlessness: Why should I bother about this place that I have never seen before and that I will never see again? I have no idea what it was like ten years ago, never mind a generation or more!
- Unqualified Optimism (in Eternal Progress): Things will only get better. Progress leads to better things and evolution always climbs higher. Well, I have news for you buddy: nature does not care if it produces Beethoven’s Ninth or a superbly infectious tape worm. Whatever remains standing at the end of the day is what will remain. Nature is a blind God and you can never ever outrun or outsmart it. Moloch is not going to protect you either, despite how many babies you roast at its fires.
These all combine to create the situation we have today: Holidays in Cambodia and 120 channels on your TV, meanwhile the Springs keep growing more and more Silent for every year. But it is my firm opinion, that the environment (its uses and abuses, including the whole “environmental problem” subject) is fundamentally and unquestionably a right wing issue.
The left is the side of the favelas and locusts, the factories and the mercury spills, the estrogen in our drinking waters and the loneliness of the last rhino on the savannah. The right is about stewardship, firm action, boundaries, and responsibility. Green is a reactionary color. Just as in this neighborhood we shoot dealers, in this forest we also shoot poachers.
What activities do you find fulfilling outside of politics and philosophy? How do these help you and others live normal lives in the midst of the maelstrom of insanity?
Oh, I hate politics. With a passion. I will only talk politics with actual politicians and even then it is just a ruse to get them so close that I can kick them. Politics divides friends and splits families. Politics starts out with a discussion on the fair way to handle lay offs in industry and ends in one side digging mass graves for the other side. If politics does not get you mad and fuming you are doing it wrong.
I yell at people starting a conversation with the words “So what about that election uh?” Politics is of the enemy. I mine it sometimes, for ammunition, or for making more Red Pills. But that is it. Nothing more. As for philosophy I hardly ever read it. I have always been an “Oh yeah? Show me!” kind of guy. I want to see why monarchy works. I want to taste why democracy doesn’t (Anyone care for Soup? Our chef is legion).
Roger Scruton’s is the only philosophy I ever read, and even then I only read his most down to earth passages and grounded texts. I had enough abstract philosophy at university (and boy was that ever the biggest mistake of my life!), overdosing on Kant and Derrida at twenty.
But as for normal activities, I take an interest in drafting classical architecture, rural crafts, etc. It all helps me refocus, or retune myself to reality.
Right now, what is one thing that a normal person can do to resist modernity and encourage a shift toward a saner, healthier form of civilization?
I touched on this subject in an earlier answer, but if I would have to say one thing, it is to Stop consuming: media, stuff. Once that is done, start by gathering your friends and allies: “Form a Gang.”
I am no fan of rock stars, but they had the right idea when they started defenestrating TV sets. Everyone should try it sometime. The fresh air will do us good! As moms everywhere and in all times have pointed out: “It is a nice day outside, go out and play.”
How can people stay on top of your writings and creations, and what can they do to support your work?
I post most creations on Tumblr, and a lot of my readings and opinions on Twitter. I am not in this for money, I borrow quite freely from the dead and the living, I require no fame. I take up little space and need little nourishment. Kind words help though. If you find the mass of my messages too much, feel free to edit out my name from the images (lots of people do). Use whatever you need.
If you feel like helping, I would love to receive more suggestions from non-English speaking reaction, as long I can double check the sources independently, I am usually happy. If something strikes my fancy I will use it. I sometimes suggest titles that are in need of translating into English. Feel free to get started. Donoso Cortes, Barras, Bernanos, etc. there is so much out there that deserves a bigger audience. Quality is important, but so is quantity. The sheer weight, the volume of thought we can point to—it all adds up.