I have given a lot of thought to the issue of gender identity and the tendency some of us might entertain to want to caricature our own sex or the opposite sex. In earlier articles, I have speculated on things like androgyny: a man remains identified with his gender but enjoys assimilating feminine characteristics, whether physical or psychological or both. I intensely dislike labels and names which we are all wont to use in the way doctors typify diseases and other pathological disorders in their efforts to help the sick. We can be humans without worrying whether our image is sufficiently stereotypical of our gender or the opposite. Ideally, a human being integrates the two genders in his or her personality in that delicate balance between art, intuition, empathy and the things usually attributed to “real men”. I fail to understand the person who decides to have a surgeon alter his or her body to appear like the opposite sex, the so-called transgender or transsexual. A person thus becomes a caricature of the desired gender identity. The person remains human and enjoys the same rights to life, freedom and happiness as the rest of us. But, why single that person (with mutilated body) out for special treatment in the name of political correctness?
The more recent article Frithjof Schoun, Perennialism, and Christology is of particular interest. I have come across people of the Perennialist tendency in France and read some their works. Schoun and René Guénon felt compelled to forsake Christianity as something not viable or able to reach the deepest aspiration of the human spirit. They embraced Sufism, a mystical version of Islam, which if studied would reveal something beautiful and profound. The only thing is that I see no reason to abandon Christianity but rather the shallow and parasitical caricatures that have emerged over the centuries. Schoun and Guénon saw Christianity as emptied of its metaphysical content and replaced by shallow moralism. I agree, but would differ in believing that there is an almost unknown Christianity that has survived alongside institutional orthodox Church religion. It has never left us, but we have to seek it within ourselves, in the immanent Kingdom. This was one of the most shining intuitions of the Modernist George Tyrrell. Many eyes have been opened by the discovery shortly before our own lifetimes of the Nag Hammadi Scriptures.
A serious counter-force against modernity? By modernity, it is not so much the invention and use of technology by man but the tendency to allow his humanity to be replaced by the Machine and hyper-rationalism. It is the theme of the Romantics when they re-claimed the imagination and sensuality. Julius Evola too evoked the theme of Christianity’s impotence. There are some very unhealthy tendencies who take their inspiration from such forms of Perennialism. We find Nietzsche at the root of some of this philosophy with its determined criticism of Christianity. Evola eschewed the totalitarianisms of the twentieth century, but shared many of the themes used by Nazism to persecute those who were deemed to be of “inferior races”. We have to be careful how far down this road we go!
Our friend seems to have a clear appreciations of the excesses of Perennialism. Like Gnosticism, I could never completely assimilate a way that is fraught with many dangers to one’s spirituality and our very mental health. There are better ways to relate with modernity (hyper rationalism and anti-humanism) and keep it at arm’s length through a critical spirit. Christianity is both esoteric and exoteric. Exoterism is to Christianity what the skeleton is to the human body. We need a way to follow…
Perennialism shows a critical attitude to shallowness and the moralism of pious cant. It is the aspiration of a restless souls. Without this aspiration, we would be left only with the steamroller of modern rationalist bureaucracy. Many of us will spend our whole lives in conflict or find the way to the coniunctio oppositorum as Jung coined the notion. Perhaps this will give a clue to the reason why many of us live through a crisis of gender identity.