This is the conclusion of Massimo Scaligero‘s essay describing his first impressions on meeting Julius Evola. In this part, Scaligero gets to the heart of Evola’s thinking, describing what unites them and what separates them.
Unlike other reviews that describe Evola as a political figure, a philosopher, etc., Scaligero understands Evola in the way that one esoterist can understand another.
The way which I personally followed at that time was my own synthesis, which, I believed, could not correspond to a doctrine. The term “Science of the I” resonated pleasantly familiar with me: in fact it corresponded to the ideal of asceticism to which I tended and to the correlative method. This was the true help that I got from Evola: to perceive the doctrinally justifiable asceticism of the I, independently of Tradition. The reality of this proved to be traditional, even as it did not correspond to any conceivable form in Tradition. In a similar way, however, it was possible to come to see the source of this asceticism. For a while I had the feeling of having found in Evola the master that I was looking for, and he had indeed more than a claim.
I think I was affected more than Evola, by the disappointment of the fact that, at a certain time, even as I was following the “way of the I”, I was no longer able to follow his path. I could recognize in him only a characteristically strong indicator, an individuality from autonomy so sufficient in himself, since it does not require dimetanoia, or conversion, of his own dialectic to arouse in others the feeling of his strength through dialectic: naturally, without possibility of the resolution of individual limits: in the end a resolute titan: whose strength however had its foundation in himself, but he could not become the weakness of the less autonomous disciple who is unable to find the foundation in himself, that is, his inner path.
Along the way, I could understand even better my relationship with Evola. Generally it happened — and it is happening — that one reads his works and then decides to follow him. In substance it had happened to me in a something different way: I had gone to him without reading a single line of his: for a long time our conversations had as its theme the mountains, nonconformity, the courage to oppose the pseudo-culture. I kept company with a group of aggressive transtiberine friends, that I mobilized when he was in danger of being attacked again on the occasion of the different causes that he had in court for lawsuits and aftermath of lawsuits. I remember that, at our second meeting, he lent me Meyrink’s Golem, probably to give me the opportunity for an esoteric connection with him: but, just flipping through the pages, I was not too convinced of their content: in truth I did not read the book at all and after a fortnight gave it back to Evola, avoiding telling him that I was not interested. I noticed, however, in Evola a minimal expression of disappointment. Later, however, I carefully read Evola and Meyrink.
The true meaning of what had driven me inwardly toward him, became clear to me with the passing of time: it was the meeting with expert disciples of Steiner, collaborators of Ur (although I was already connected with Giulio Parise and Arturo Reghini through the journal Ignis), among whom the significant and decisive one for me had to be Colazza, and the inner encounter with the one whom I to recognize as the Master of the new age, Rudolf Steiner; in fact, the original edition of Ur contained impartial appreciations of Steiner. Actually, it was not so much the knowledge of Evola’s works that united me to him for several years, but rather his lively, exceptionally individual, personality. Of course, I then would examine these works line by line, before making the decision for another path.
The meetings I had with Evola were filled with a Hermetic climate, from which the feeling of magical forces regularly arose, something like what I actually had from the habit from personal meditation. Or else there were Bacchic-gastronomic meetings, based on spirited philosophy and spaghetti all’Amatriciana, but with the unusual addition of peperoncino. I was struck by the fact that Evola, who was a compelling alcohol supporter, cared to drink very sweet wines such as vino passito, or Gaglioppo. He explained it to me, saying, I don’t know how jokingly, that, having learned from Colazza that alcohol deadened the I, while sugar was the physical food of the I, he, not to take risks, tried to reconcile them. Moreover, he connected me to him by an inclination that has always guided my action, to support the one against whom everyone, the koinonia ton kakon [communion of evil], manages to feel themselves sympathetic: so-called “public opinion”, or Phariseeism, whose hypocrisy I have always felt. At that time Evola had only adversaries, even if, truth be told, he did everything to provoke them.
The idea that the truth was from the party against whom everyone lined up in solidarity, in a certain sense corresponded for me to a specific supersensible law. On the other hand, Evola today is translated into the major languages of the world, and he has a following even in Asia. However Evola never assumed the role of the “master”: guidance counselor, instigator, yes, but not the master. Sometimes when I had problems with respect to the method, and I turned to him, he demurred, recommending Colazza or Bonabitacola to me, that is, Steiner’s disciple or Kremmerz’ disciple. Evola found Bonabitacola interesting especially because he received all insults like a Zen master; while Colazza was the character for whom he professed the utmost deference, because he recognized him as an outstanding investigator of the “occult”.
Colazza also had respect for Evola as a strong personality: he reproached him only for his yoga and the fact that he wrote books. “One of us”, he said to me one day, “must not write books. Books occultly bind the author, they bind him to his present thought, preventing him from opening himself up to the new, to the unknown, to what he still is not capable of thinking. Besides, whoever plays the role of teacher, loses the opportunity to be a disciple.”
Something substantially true can be recognized with this thought of Colazza. Nevertheless, you cannot help but consider in Evola’s case the mission of sacrifice by the word: namely the compromise of one’s own way, on the dialectical level, for the way of others. The snare that he throws would not be necessary if the initiatory path were not in relation to a free choice, to self-determination, that is a determination that is not fated to occur, otherwise it would not be free. This can sufficiently explain his dominant and bold reconciliation of Buddha with Nietzsche; for us it is valid, even if only introductory to the true sadhana. When esoterism is realized, it ceases to be mental position.
The enigma of Evola’a inner personality and his relationship with Tradition remains. In truth, the traditional form cannot conceal the powerful thrust of his anti-traditional system of thought. If you observe, Evola makes use of the traditional element for building his own absolutely personal spiritual cosmos. He uses the value of Tradition as the aristocratic touchstone, that is, as the opposite to the modern world. He seems to propose a return to Tradition, but in fact, he wants something that is not Tradition, indeed positively against it. And this is what we can recognize as important in Evola.
Guenon is in Tradition, Evola leaves it all the time, while appealing to it: it is a juxtaposition, a dialectical theme, a habitus cogitandi [habit of thinking]. From Novalisian ”magical idealism” to Tantrism, from the Nietzschean formulation of Mahayana to the “pagan” interpretation of Alchemy and the Grail, to the sympathy for Michelstaedter and Meyrink, Nietzsche, Kremmerz and Crowley, the imperious authority of thinking is clear, that makes everything subject to an intimate personal vision, to an individual, determined “will to power”, ultimately, to an impulse of freedom that subordinates everything to self- affirmation.
Evola succeeds in making his own world real through the power of thought. This is the aspect that could give real help to those who want to follow his path, not as a follower dazzled by his light, but as a conqueror of the Light. It does not matter whether the thinking is correct or not, it becomes correct when it is powerful. It is undeniably true: error, immorality, is weak thinking, or merely dialectical, or reflexive. The power of thought is the truth: the truth that coincides with reality. But only a free man can realize it and make it his own. Those who believe in that thought as a content that comforts him, excites him or hypnotizes him, is not free, he is not in the current of reality. He believes he is in Tradition, but he is against it in the worst form, that of dogmatism and mystical subjection. So we said, at the beginning of this essay, that Evola is a strong medicine, a shock treatment: a discipline that it is necessary to possess. If you do not possess yourself, you actually betray yourself, because you act with respect to it as one who is subjugated.
The living element of Evola’s work is the idea of liberation, which requires, however, pure recognition, the decision of self-knowledge, by the person who encounters it. This is the demand and the virtue of his system, but also the real thrust of his personality, which can be seen as a synthesis of what he is individually with that which the real Guides of humanity implant in him, despite himself. Certain inspirations in the ascetic become operatively individual, even as they draw on the Super-individual. Julius Evola points out a direction that, to become creative in the esoteric sense, requires its separation from its phenomenology, that is, from maya, from the ethos resulting from it in a social, political sense: especially from this. Certain mixtures betray the spiritual proposition: the worst disasters always come from the collusion of the Sacred with the profane. A similar separation, just like the assumption of the discrimination of subtile a spisso [the subtle from the dense], is about Evola’s own karmic direction. You can metaphysically become aware of his cosmic-spiritual future. It will be determined by how much independence he has achieved from the written works. The possibility will be decisive that he not be identified with his own doctrinaire expression, i.e., with the mythical and mystical world of his followers.