About the Relationship between the Dying World

& the World to Come

(from "Revolt Against the Modern World") 




Just like people, civilizations also undergo their own cycle, consisting of a beginning, a development, and an end; the more they are immersed in what is contingent, the more this law is inescapable. This obviously is not enough to frighten those who are rooted in what cannot be altered and what remains as a perennial presence by virtue of its being above time. Even though it may be destined to disappear, modern civilization is certainly not the first to become extinct, nor is it the one after which none will follow. In the life of what is conditioned by space and time, lights are continually being put out and kindled again, cycles end and new ones begin. As I have said, the doctrine of the cycles was known to traditional man and only the ignorance of modem man has induced him to believe that his civilization, which is characterized by the deepest roots in the temporal and contingent element, will enjoy a different and privileged fate.


To those who have a vision in conformity with reality, the problem is rather to what degree can there be a relationship of continuity between the dying world and the world to come; in other words, what elements of the old world will survive and be carried forth into the new one? The predominant view in the ancient traditional teaching is that some kind of gap separates one cycle from the next; the new cycle allegedly will be characterized not by a gradual getting up and reconstruction, but by a new beginning, a sudden mutation brought about by a divine and metaphysical event, just like an old tree does not flourish again, but dies and a new tree grows out of its seeds. This view clearly shows that the relationships of continuity between two cycles are only relative and, in any event, do not affect the masses and great structures of a civilization. These relationships only concern essential vital elements, much in the way the seed is related to the new plant.


Thus, one of the many illusions that needs to be rejected is the one nourished by those who try to see a superordained logic behind the processes of dissolution, and who think that somehow the old world had to die in order to bring forth the new world toward which mankind is heading. And yet, the only world toward which we are heading is simply that which picks up and reassumes in an extreme way that which has acted during the phase of destruction. Such a world cannot be the basis for anything meaningful, nor can it provide the material from which traditional values may be revived again, precisely because it is the organized and embodied negation of these values. There is no future, in the positive sense of the word, for modern civilization as a whole. Thus, it is a mere fancy harbored by those who dream about a goal and a future that somehow may justify what man has destroyed both inside and outside himself.






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