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Lady Aquila

May 10, 05 - 12:50 PM
A Tellurian Scholar on Aristasia

A recent scholarly work by Dr. Mark Sedgwick on the Traditionalist school, entitled *Against the Modern World* contains a section on Aristasia which readers may find of interest. It contains a few oddities, such as the assertion that Aristasia is all-female "in order to avoid the risk of a return to the domination of women by men", and that Aristasia was once the same group as the Romantics; not to mention the hideous bongo habit of calling women by the naked surname.

Nevertheless, here it is. It is divided into two parts owing to the charachter limit on messages allowed by the Club:

Aristasia is the post-1980s name of a group which, in slightly different form, was earlier known as The Romantics and The Olympians. It was started in the English university city of Oxford in the late 1960s by a female academic who used the name of ÒHester StClare.Ó StClare was born in the 1920s other details of her career are unknown. A Traditionalist, in the late 1960s she began to gather a group of younger women, mostly Oxford students, who were dismayed by the Òcultural collapseÓ of that decade. They took Guenon one stage further: worse even than modernity was the Òinverted society,Ó the postmodern, contemporary era produced by the cultural collapse of the 1960s an event often referred to by Aristasians as Òthe Eclipse.Ó Inverted society Ñ often referred to as Òthe PitÓ Ñ stands in much the same relation to modernity as modernity stood to tradition, argued ÒAlice Trent,Ó StClareÕs most important follower. Not all that was produced before the Eclipse was worthless Ñ Beethoven and Wordsworth are clearly not Òmalignant aberrations,Ó for example. Each phase in the cycle of decline may produce developments that, while Òof a lower order than was possible to previous phases É nonetheless are good and beautiful in their own right.Ó Nothing produced after the Eclipse is of any worth at all, however (though theoretically something might be). In practice, all in the Pit is inversion Ñ Òthe deliberate aim is an inverted parody of all that should be.Ó The higher classes imitate the lowest, Òfamily life and personal loyaltyÓ are replaced by Òa cult of `personal independence,ÓÕ and even the earlier achievements of modernity are lost, as crime and illiteracy increase. Chaos is preferred to harmony in art and dress, and masculinity replaces femininity.

StClare, like Evola (though without any direct debt to him), added gender to Traditionalism. Evola was distinctly Òmasculinist,Ó to the extent that his Òabsolute individualÓ was threatened with feminization as a result of modernity; Aristasia took the opposite line, that woman was threatened with masculinization. In Aristasian cosmology, the first age was not the age of the brahmin (as it had been for Guenon) but the age of the goddess. The rise of male deities and of a male-dominated society were the consequences of the earliest stages of decline. Modernity brought the triumph in the public sphere of Òmaterial and quantitativeÓ male characteristics (aggression, warfare, and technical sciences) over Òspiritual and qualitativeÓ female characteristics Ñ essentially Òthe principle of harmony or bonding.Ó This was an early instance of inversion, since the female characteristics are inherently superior to the male ones, and the female is properly Òthe primary or fundamental sex.Ó The final stage of decline Ñ the Pit Ñ brought Òthe ultimate triumph of patriarchy,Ó normally described in the Pit as the general acceptance of feminist views. With the Eclipse, Òthe Masculine Principle has come to dominate the culture entirely, extirpating femininity even from the heart of women herself. Ò

The Aristasian elite, then, is entirely female, and not only female but Òfeminine.Ó It also excludes men in order to avoid the risk of a return to the domination of women by men, which was a product of decline, not a characteristic of primordial tradition. Further, it endorses a variety of EvolaÕs apoliteia (though it does not use the term). Since everything in the Pit is contaminated by inversion, Òthe entire tendency of every aspect of the culture is corrosive, and this corrosion is a ritual act that disrupts the soulÉ. that É furthers the process of psychic disintegration.Ó It is thus necessary to control what enters our consciousness, just as we Òwill not normally pick up any interesting edible thing from the street and swallow it.Ó
Lady Aquila

May 10th, 2005 - 12:51 PM
Re: A Tellurian Scholar on Aristasia

In addition to excluding the Pit from their lives as much as
possible, Aristasians attempt to recreate for themselves an
environment corresponding to one preceding the Eclipse. Since "truly
traditional É images É are too far from the everyday workings of our
present consciousness," the era chosen for re-creation is the one
immediately preceding the current one Ñ the 1920s to 1950s
Aristasia, in addition to being the name of a Traditionalist group,
is also a form of virtual reality (though Aristasians do not call it
such, since they exclude neologisms as they exclude everything else
characteristic of the Pit). Various aspects of pre-Eclipse life are
painstakingly re-created in Aristasians' houses Ñ 1950s restaurants,
1940s clubs, 1930s homes. Aristasians dress in the clothes of their
chosen decade, use the equipment and utensils of that decade, if
possible drive the automobiles of that decade, and even watch the
movies of that decade. This behavior is advanced as an alternative
to the standard spiritual way of "sainthood" or "spiritual
transcendence," for which only a few have the vocation.

Aristasian Traditionalism is promoted through occasional magazine
advertisements and on an elaborate website, which also includes
Aristasian fiction. In Trent's "Strangers in Paradise" a non-
Aristasian has just caused confusion by using the word "men" in
conversation with two Aristasians:

"Have you any idea what she's talking about?" asked the woman with
the notebook.

"Classical reference," said her colleague, Eileen. "Men Ñ mythical
creatures: like humans but very ferocious and cruel. Said to inhabit
the Northern wastes in ancient times. Sabrina the Younger mentions
them; so does Ulalua."

At the end of the twentieth century Aristasia consisted of some 40
fulltime, dedicated Aristasians, along with many part-time
followers. Most Aristasians were in their 20s or 30s, with some
older and a few younger; the most frequent occupation was "some
connection to academia." Almost all these Aristasians were in
Britain Ñ Aristasianism failed to find any significant following in
America, perhaps because of cultural differences. Aristasia is
permeated by the quirky humor characteristic of its Oxonian
birthplace, where the _expression of deeply held convictions is
rarely free of an element of jest, and where no joke can be safely
assumed not to conceal a very serious point.

British press coverage of Aristasia has emphasized less its
Traditionalism than two aspects of its practice which, in the view
of Trent, are more peripheral than central One is the division of
Aristasians into "blondes" and "brunettes," categories approximately
corresponding to female and male in the outside world. This resulted
in Aristasia's being described as "a lesbian enclave" by The Pink
Paper, one of Britain's main gay and lesbian newspapers. The other
was the use of discipline Ñ beating Ñ seen by Aristasians as "a
quest for purity É a means of spiritual submission, " and by
outsiders as sado-masochistic fetishism.

The role that lesbianism plays within Aristasia is unclear, if only
because in the era before the Eclipse such things were not talked
about and so Aristasians will not willingly talk about them either,
but "intimate relations with men" are not encouraged." The practice
of submission, however, can (just about) be seen as being in line
with more mainstream Traditionalist spirituality Ñ the Sufi submits
to his shaykh, and Trent is not wrong in her view that "submission
to a higher power É is the very essence of spirituality," though one
might wish to distinguish different varieties of submission.
Similarly, the separatism of the Aristasian community echoes the
separatism of the Sufi order.

Aristasian Traditionalism is presented more seriously in Trent's
book The Feminine Universe. This book, aimed at the general reader,
deals, for example, with Nietzsche before Guenon, and uses
historical arguments with some skill. Aristasianism has also
received some coverage in the British press and on television.
Isabel Trent

May 10th, 2005 - 4:51 PM
Re: A Tellurian Scholar on Aristasia

Thank you so much, Lady Aquila, for making Mr. Sedgwick's somewhat skewed views available to us. I have sometimes considered investing in a copy of his book just to see what he had to say about us, but now I'm awfy glad I didn't!
Alice Lucy Trent

May 10th, 2005 - 8:43 PM
Re: A Tellurian Scholar on Aristasia

It is very flattering to hear that I am the most important Aristasian (-in-Tellurian, presumably) after Dr. St.Clare, but actually that accolade would have to go to Miss Genevieve Falconer. She is not such an "ivory towered intellectual" as Dr. St.Clare and I, and her organising ability and charismatic personality really pulled aristasia together in the early days. But for her, there would probably be no Aristasia-in-Telluria.

Her untimely retirement from active life following a serious accident was a blow from which Aristasia is only now beginning (we hope) to recover.

Aristasia was so called before the 1990s, but the name was used internally, not publicly at that time.

About the Romantics. They were a different group that overlapped with early Aristasia (meaning especially that early Aristasians attended some of theit rather splendid parties). Romantianism, the more serious philosophy of some Romantics, was inspired by early aristasian thought and supported by Aristasians who felt a non-Aristasian secession to be a good thing. It did not last, however. Aristasia was built on firmer ground and has withstood many difficulties - and will continue to do so.
A righteous if rough brunette.

May 10th, 2005 - 11:26 PM
Re: A Tellurian Scholar on Aristasia

"[Miss] Trent uses historical arguments with some skill"

Condescending berk.
Alice Lucy Trent

May 11th, 2005 - 1:49 PM
Re: A Tellurian Scholar on Aristasia

Oh! Just to be clear. When I said that Miss Falconer was not an "ivory-towered intellectual" I did not mean that she was not an intellectual. She was a sort of Renaissance Maiden, combining both practicality and intellect, and contributed important things to the development of Aristasian thought.

On the statement that Guenon thought the first Age "the Age of the Brahmin", while we think it "the Age of the Goddess", a little clarification is required. In the first place, Guenon, following tradition, actually says that in the first Age humanity was above distinction of castes. The lower types of humanity only came into being at later stages of history. The single Primordial Caste was known as Hamsa.

Aristasians concur with this. Unlike Guenon, but in accordance with both the archaeological evidence and Guenon's great collaborator, Ananda Coomaraswamy, we hold that the first Age was permeated by feminine symbolism and a feminine concept of the Divine. This, indeed, continued through the succeeding ages and only ended during the last age, the Kali Yuga, which began some five or six thousand years ago, as is quite clear from the archaeological record.

Kali Yuga is known in the Classical tradition as the Age of Iron (this is corroborated in the Hebraic tradition by Ezekiel's Vision). Iron is the metal of Mars and Mars is the planet associated with the masculine principle. That the last Age, the age of Iron, of conflicts and of Mars, should also be the Age of Masculinity makes perfect sense.
Miss Juliana

May 11th, 2005 - 9:13 PM
Re: A Tellurian Scholar on Aristasia

I am given to understand that comments made on a particular forum refer to "Aristasia's great mistake" - that is, that we "exclude men".

I don't see it as much of a mistake since the exclusion of the masculine (of Mars) principle is the only foundation I can think of for establishing a feminine world (of Thame and Sushuri etc.)

However, I have recently been asked three or four times whether there is a secession that men with a more 'feminine' view of the world might follow.

I have also had cause to wonder how women who are determined to live with the masculine characteristics of conflict, devisiveness and general hostility ought to be dealt with in relation to Aristasia. The question of the pseudo-brunette might also be helpfully addressed here, perhaps.

May I ask Miss Trent for some of her towering intellectual insight and wisdom on these questions?
Alice Lucy Trent

May 11th, 2005 - 9:57 PM
Re: A Tellurian Scholar on Aristasia

I hardly think Aristasia's being all-female is a mistake any more than a Chinese pagoda's not being a Mediaeval castle is a mistake. It is what it is, and if it wasn't it would be something else.

And it has actually worked relatively well. Many Aristasians have long been friendly to the idea of a non-Aristasian secession and have lent support to efforts to create one; but none of them have lasted, while Aristasia has.

There is still no reason why a mixed secession movement should not be created. It would clearly be a very different thing from Aristasia, owing to the very different dynamics of mixed groups; and what precise form it would take would be determined by the group itself.

As had been said before, we would recommend that a mixed group should not include discipline after the Aristasian manner. With a mixed group this would be a recipe for disaster.

Whether it would be of a more feminine sensibility I cannot say, though clearly the hyper-masculinism of the Pit, with its rejection both of femininity in women and of every sort of delicacy, grace, elegance and dignity in society as a whole, would seem to be something all wise people should reject.

We have long spoken of a New Sensibility for Telluria: a return to the artistic spirit of Art Neo, and to the romanticism of the 19th century - picking up, as it were, the positive threads that were dropped. A finer, more delicate, sensibility is needed as well as a purer and more innocent approach to life as a whole.

The damage that has been done to the group-psyche by the errors of Darwin and Freud (and of Marx, whose influence on the modern right as well as the left is considerable) needs to be undone. A renewed metaphysical understanding must lie at the root of a renewal in all areas of social and intellectual life.

These are the tasks that face a more general Tellurian secession. Many Aristasians will, I am sure lend intellectual and other support to such a movement. But our primary task as Aristasians is to build Aristasia, not to become something else.

The impetus to a more general secession and a New Sensibility will have to come from outside Aristasia. Aristasian thought has laid a lot of groundwork and will certainly continue to help if called upon. But there needs to be something for us to help.