Renaissance man Quintus Curtius, through his podcast Fortress of the Mind and his works, the stories of great men and the translated works of ancient minds, serves as a living bastion for those of us who may not otherwise have had people in our lives to recommend such material. More and more young men, once they graduate past the pick-up artist stage of their red-pill awakening, begin yearning for perennial wisdom. Given the anti-traditional nature of media and a general ignorance displayed in the men–if there are any–who are presently in their lives, such young men must embark on haphazard pilgrimages to find those who can at least point them toward tradition. As despair-inducing as it may be some days to observe the young with their narcissistic, snowflake ways, anyone who has the eyes to see can attest that the young are the ones who are returning, often at great personal sacrifice, to traditional worldviews and religious practices. For example, the traditional Latin Mass is extremely popular among young families, not those who were alive during the havoc unleashed by Vatican II. Those who see through the phony divide that keeps ostensible liberals and conservatives at each other’s throats and who see the destructive effects of both statism and unchecked capitalism tend not to be those collecting social security.
In this podcast, Quintus discusses the importance of the will–though not in the “alt-right” kind of way. Rather, he seeks to stress the necessity of cultivating a will power that endures through the trials that life will undoubtedly bring to all. I have never listened to one of his podcasts that did not speak to me; however, this one resonated with me powerfully. I have lingered these past few months in a listlessness that, despite my age or perhaps because of it, has never been more vicious: I have not found consolation in religious practices; I cannot stay focused long enough to finish reading anything of substance; I no longer take the joy I once did in the company of my friends; I find the benefits of exercise to fall short of the effort; I fail to find familiarity with the buildings and streets that once gave me a geographic sense of self; I have long ago ceased to find any excitement in what I do to make a living; I have even begun to think that writing itself has become merely a prop that I use to trick myself into thinking that I possess something worth sharing. Only a manic walking routine that allows my nebulous thoughts to interact brings me any semblance of relief. Thus, to be reminded that I need only to keep moving and that such itself constitutes a victory is exactly what I needed to hear.
While the victory may go with the one who keeps moving, the victory may not go with the one who keeps moving in the same direction. Yukio Mishima once wrote about the “corrosive power” of words. The irony: a man who wanted, in the end, to be remembered for his steely actions will, more than likely, live in history as a penetrating wordsmith. However, I am coming to sense that a darker truth abides. Yes, I realize the gall in using words to express my fear that words per se words can capture only an exposed amount of reality, leaving the rest to hide below the surface like the bottom of an iceberg.
Perhaps if we were not so image/video-driven, I may have greater faith in the alchemical properties of words–signs that go on to transform the very reality they seek to capture, but we are–and there is no indication that will change. I am reminded of something that St. Mother Teresa once wrote (and I paraphrase): only prayer and works of charity seem to make this sense in these deranged times. Okay, I know what you are going to say: prayer = words. Usually, but not always. Even then, I am not arguing for an atavistic, wholesale abandonment of words, for our ability to use words is what distinguishes us from other species and grants us the curse/blessing of self-consciousness. (This leaves aside whether such an endeavor is even possible for any sentient person.) Rather, I am coming to terms with my own waning desire to write and the futility of it.
I still want to finish my current collection of short stories, and I believe that I have one more in me. After that, I cannot imagine that I will have anything left to say either in fiction or non-fiction. Realistically, I doubt that I will abandon a skill for which I seem to have some facility, but I think that I will direct my writing toward private self-examination, messages to family and friends, and scattered aphorisms.
Thus, the bourbon apocalypse may soon occur, but I have appreciated the consolation and the provocation that this blog has provided me has provided me over the years, especially as I bitter-sweetly reminisce on all that has happened in my life during that period. Sadly, as someone who has regrettably later in life discovered the emptiness of a verbally expressed “I love you,” I cannot say that there is much left to attempt that will require that I continue to live a life so divorced from measurable actions.