Midsommar Review

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Midsommar is the second full-feature film written and directed by Ari Aster. Capturing both horror and rapture within a picturesque landscape, Midsommar ceaselessly ensnares the viewer psychologically and empathetically.

Supported with stellar performances by Florence Pugh and Vilhelm Blomgren, the film’s script and pacing carries the momentum of the movie fluidly. The viewer feels swept up in each scene, and the movie’s long runtime, two hours and twenty-seven minutes, feels forgivable and maybe even essential.

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Viewers who are familiar with Aster’s breakout hit, Hereditary, will be familiar with the themes of Midsommar. Familial conflict, mental health, and the supernatural are intertwined. In a departure from Hereditary, there is no magical realism to speak of. In essence, the pagan elements of the movie, greatly displayed by the film’s trailer, act as a world building mechanic rather than essential qualities of the plot. The scenes which focus on these pagan elements include ritual sacrifice, mating rituals, and murderous revenge for ancestral desecration.

Our protagonists are academics, scholars of anthropology and psychology respectively. At first, they play the role of cultural-relativists: attempting to understand and forgive the life-giving and life-taking rituals of Swedish commune. That is until they are selected to be included within their rituals.

As the movie progresses, we might even begin to sympathize with the cultists. Dani (Florence Pugh) our protagonist certainly does.

Like Dani, the audience is swept up in the beauty of Midsommar‘s world. The customs of the cultists are foreign and brutal, but their selflessness and empathy make them seem ascendant among the likes of Mark (Will Poulter), Josh (William Jackson Harper), and Christian (Jack Reynor). Mark, who plays the role of both fool and skeptic, provides a very necessary comic relief.

By the film’s resolution, I was remarkable appreciative of the way in which Midsommar treated psychedelic experience. The film did not dip into platitudes or exaggeration. Instead, it captured the anxiety, the terror, and the existential dread that are all a part of taking psychotropic drugs. There was no “Woah… man…” hippie-dippie nonsense. We see the demons of the characters full bare. The psychedelics are a path to revealing the characters’ interiority.

Like a psychedelic experience, the sounds and sights of Midsommar are almost overwhelming. The aural and visual elements of the film work perfectly in concert to create horror. Bright yellows, reds, and verdant greens work great in juxtaposition to the film’s sombre tone. The film’s score, composed by ambient, drone producer The Haxan Cloak, is a perfect pairing which greatly underscores the dread that the viewer experiences.

So far, Midsommar is my favorite movie of the year. I place it above Hereditary. It is a must watch, and I encourage everyone to support Ari Aster so that he can continue to make great films.

—Nathaniel

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Victims of the Hyperreal: On Cannibal Holocaust (1985)

I am not averse to shock if applied correctly. Often times, brutality as a means of reprisal is one of the most effective means of conveying justice. Viscera and tragedy are components of life: boogeymen which create balance.

In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche refers to the essential nature of dualities. Opposites inform one another and even construct one another. Logic is often informed by illogical, subjective impulse. Death brings with it rebirth. Terror, in its way, can bring with it rapture.

The Greek tragedians Sophocles and Aeschylus knew this as they wrote Oedipus Rex and Agamemnon respectively. These ancient, foundational tales were warnings, lessons in morality, and nation building myths which are essential to understanding the Western logos. So, tragedy, existential anguish, and gore are as ancient as man himself, and the artists have and will continue to delve into the creative abysses which hold these eldritch forces.

Modern attempts are stoking the fires of human fear can succeed, but they also can fall flat. Cannibal Holocaust does worse than fall flat. It is a confused, stomach turning exploitation film which contains no heroes and plays with a jumble of confused themes. Even worse so, the film makes attempts at moralization.

The film centers around the mystery of a group of missing, American documentarians. After deciding to embark on a journey to the Amazon rainforest, the group mysteriously disappears. New York University anthropologist Harold Monroe is sent to uncover the story of their disappearance. In doing so, he connects with the indigenous Yacumo and Ya̧nomamö tribes. After politicking with the Ya̧nomamö, Monroe discovers the rotting corpses of the four documentarians. Soon thereafter, the natives begin to trust the strange foreigners, and, as a sign of trust, they return the tapes of the four dead filmmakers. Returning to New York, a production studio decides to broadcast the film of the missing Americans as part of a documentary. Monroe decides, first, to view the footage. The footage—which captures death, animal execution, rape, and lurid pornography—is too gruesome to broadcast. The production studio decides to burn the footage instead of airing the documentary.

If art is suffering, then director Ruggero Deodato is an artist. After the film’s premier in Milan, Deodato was charged with obscenity, and the charges were later amended to add murder. This may appear like an early attempt at viral marketing, and, to be sure, that is certainly a part of it. However, I believe this is a credit to how horribly the film makes the viewer feel. Although what is occurring on the screen is smoke and mirrors and movie magic, it still creates a palpable sense of revulsion and distaste.

Not one character is sympathetic. The Americans are remorseless, sociopaths who murder ceaselessly. They threaten the natives with rifles, rape their women, and destroy their homes with arson. The natives, on the other hand, are murderous cannibals which practice ritual rape and murder.

The sense of depravity and disgust that I experienced while watching this film reminded me of Jean Baudrillard’s concept of hyperreality. Essentially, hyperreality is the idea that the image or simulation of a thing can be more real than the thing itself. The thing has impermanence; it is subject to the whim of time and decay. While the thing fades away, the image of the thing remains. The image of the thing replaces the thing, becoming more real than the thing itself. The hyperreal is “more real than the real, [and] that is how the real is abolished” (56).

Even though the viewer knows that Cannibal Holocaust is fiction, it affects the psyche to the same degree as it would if it were happening before our very eyes. In a sense, the movie is more profoundly impactful than if it were happening before us. There is a rationalization that occurs while experiencing fictional violence. The viewer says “I know this is not real. Therefore, it cannot affect me. The fear, anguish, remorse, love, lust, etc. that I experience now is not real. I am not actually experiencing it.” This refusal of the mind, this disavowal of the subject is conflicting and traumatic. It would be better if we were really experiencing this dread, because then we would not feel the impulse to use reason to dispel it. This conflicted paradoxical self is the product of hyperreality. We deny ourselves the right to feel emotion because this emotion is not the perfect, Platonic ideal we have concocted in our minds. The real fails to achieve the reality expressed by the simulation.

To make matters worse, Deodato blends fictional violence with real violence. The death of the tortoise, the monkey, and the pig is real. But, by this point you are dulled. The decapitation of the tortoise, the shooting of the pig is an anticlimax. It does not satiate the sadistic desire. The question becomes: where does this new desire guide you? Or, if you do not crave this violence, how do you seal the wound that this violence has caused?

Cannibal Holocaust does not provide those answers. The movie makes only the most haphazard attempts to answer its own questions. Seemingly, Deodato tries to imply that the Westerners are the real violent actors. Our imperialism, our greed, and our lust for power drives us to commodify violence against the peoples and lands of the aboriginal world. If so, why does Doedato seek to gain profit and prestige off of the undervalued labor of these native actors? Why does the movie culminate in the brutal execution of the four American documentarians? Why are innocent creatures killed simply to stimulate an emotive response?

The natives are not eking out a well-deserved revenge; they reifying the Western image of natives as violent primitives. So, this movie fails to provide any moral resolution. All that Cannibal Holocaust provides is a totem which symbolizes the postmodern desire to transcend our postindustrial Utopia. We have comfort, pleasure, and ecstasy, so we must seek to subvert it. Our workplace dramas pale in comparison to the primitive world of a Darwinian, evolutionary power struggle. Comfort is always the harbinger of decay, and Cannibal Holocaust proves just that.

—Nathaniel Schwass

Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and simulation. University of Michigan press, 1994.

Tyler the Creator: IGOR Review

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Tyler the Creator has had a complicated and multifaceted tenure in the rap industry.

Starting with the abrasive, irreverent Bastard, Tyler later evolved into taking on a kingship in the realm of indie rap, releasing happier, joyful albums such as Cherry Bomb and Flower Boy. The tone of these albums are all a clear manifestations of Tyler’s optimism and self image at the album’s release.

It is unfair to call Tyler’s mind and Tyler’s art bipolar. While his earlier albums deal with psychological trauma, his later albums discard the kitsch, taking on a pleasant, jovial tonality. It is clear that fame and success has brightened the horizons of Tyler, and his music reflects that.

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So where does IGOR fall along that spectrum? IGOR is a perfect balance between the morose, horrorcore of Tyler’s early work and the soaring positivity of Tyler’s contemporary albums. For me (and maybe this is projection), I always found Tyler’s positivity to be tongue-in-cheek, almost satirical. His vocals and lyrics reflected a sincere positivity that was subverted by the melodies of his production. IGOR, on the other hand, does not possess that pretense. It feels earnest and honest. But, these are simply just first impressions.

EARFQUAKE is definitely the radio single from this album, if there even is one. Featuring Playboi Carti, Dev Hynes, and Charlie Wilson, this song is an ode to the complications of love. Sharp synths, sweeping piano and blending vocal melodies, this song is sure to be a repeat favorite.

The next track, I THINK, is another standout on the album. Tyler’s production feels strongest here. There is a dusty, crackling sample with some throaty drums that are set against some synths that scream 1980’s.

NEW MAGIC WAND is a favorite of mine. The vocals are mostly Tyler’s, but his voice is obfuscated by pitch shifting. The track builds nicely, culminating in an aural explosion that masterfully incorporates some of the motifs explored in the earlier parts of the track. This track also marks a darker point in the album’s progression. The next few tracks are reminiscent of Tyler’s earlier work.

The tenth’s track, GONE, GONE / THANK YOU, is very interesting. The hook almost sounds like something taken from a 50’s/60’s soul sample. The second part of the song feels almost tactile. Gun sounds, bassy wooden thuds are intermingled with bubbly electronica. The mixing of the vocals creates a vocal medley which is very entrancing.

Unfortunately, I think that that the album ends on a low note. The last track, ARE WE STILL FRIENDS, is a ballad which features Al Green’s Dream. This song is more of a conceptual piece than an enjoyable song. It’s messy and not well put together. Forgivable, however, given how well the rest of the album carries momentum up until this point.

I consider this to be one of my favorite projects in Tyler’s entire discography. IGOR has many features and many moving parts, but it incorporates them very fluidly. IGOR feels akin to an auteur film. This album is experimental, but it possesses an aura of Tyler on every track, and his presence as a composer cannot be unfelt. IGOR is recommended.

8/10

Nathaniel Schwass

Good Time (2017) Review

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The dark and sinister elements of the urban sprawl are magnified after dusk has settled. Night, ascending its throne, carries with it an assorted cast of characters: the degenerate, the indulgent, and the inconsequentially free. For these people, a good time can mean many things. For some, it might mean a quick fix, a good high, and an immediate reprieve from the day’s monotony and toil. For others, it’s a quick lick, an easy target to rip and rob. For most, it’s a time of rest and relaxation, set against a night lit by neon. The night is paradoxical. Good Time, directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, is a film which captures the elements of night: heightens them and embellishes them with a gritty realism that is, at times, overwhelming but is, at most, ceaselessly intriguing.

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Good Time is a character driven thriller set in New York city. The heavy, oppressive narrative of the film surrounds two brothers: Connie (Constantine) Nikas (Robert Pattinson) and his brother Nick (Benny Safdie). As the narrative unfolds, a series of misfortunes and missteps leads both brothers down the rabbit hole. Steeled only by a brotherly resolve, they struggle to maintain their freedom and safety in a crime ridden hellscape of their own making.

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This theme of brotherly resolve is complicated by Nick Nikas’ mental deficiencies. Connie, a sort of parodic representation of a Nietzschean sociopath, is clearly manipulating his brother into acting as wingman in Connie’s crackpot plans to get rich quick. Dragging his brother to a bank for a stickup job, the movie immediately captures a sense of skin pricking mania. The previous scene has established Nick’s poor cognitive abilities, so we know something must go wrong. However, the viewer’s expectations are subverted. Nick’s retardation is not the wedge which splits the job wide open; it is Connie’s headstrong greed which buries the two brothers. In a runaway scene which eventuates with Nick’s capture, Connie—clearly feeling a sense of dedication to his brother—is set on the warpath, exploiting every ways and means available to him. He is of singular mind and purpose: get Nick out of jail.

The juxtaposition between Connie and Nick is an important one. Nick is clever, and devilishly so, but he suffers from a myopia which leads him to take advantage of every single person which comes his way. Like his brother, most end up in jail but some much worse so. Connie’s depravity is so extreme that it normalizes his brother.

Although, the viewer cannot help but empathize with Connie. The Safdie brothers have created a cinematic tone which makes the viewer feel as if the walls are closing in on him. This sickly, sinking feeling that the viewer experiences forges a synaptic link between the protagonist and the spectator. We are, just like the side characters in Good Time, taken along for the ride.

I must take note of the soundtrack, produced and written by Oneohtrix Point Never. The score carries the momentum of the movie quite dramatically. It is energetic, forceful and very moving. I hope to see OPN create more film scores in the near future.

Unlike in Gummo, which I reviewed just yesterday, the inclusion of mental deficiencies in this movie does not seem exploitative or cliched. Nick is humanized, and he has a depth and gravity that cannot be found in many of the film’s other characters.

This film, I would argue, is one of the best modern films to approach the decay, turmoil, and sociopathy of the modern West. Good Time is a tale of bold, unbridled will: the unwanted, yet necessary, flipside of American socio-cultural life. As creatures of desire, we crave what is most central to enacting our vision of ourselves. We turn ideas into reality, becoming into being, but at what cost? Good Time places that cost front and center. It is uncomfortable and stomach wrenching, but what hard lessons are not? Good Time is a hard lesson, and, for that reason alone, it is worth watching.

—Nathaniel Schwass

Gummo, an Exploitative Freakshow

Gummo is the second release by eccentric writer and director Harmony Korine. Aberrant, unsettling and ceaselessly weird, Gummo captures the experiences of a series of rag-tag children who have fallen through the cracks of a postmodern American society. In this movie, our setting is Xenia, Ohio, a rural backwater ravaged by a twisters.

The narrative, which is a collection of fragmentary scenes and vignettes, is strange, upsetting, and, often, hauntingly intriguing. Your author found himself entranced by the movie’s ochre tint and dynamic soundtrack, which features an eclectic mishmash of Burzum, Roy Orbison, Madonna, and a few metal bands.

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Most of the narrative surrounds a few “central” characters, the two most notable being Solomon (pictured left) and Tummler (pictured right). The movie’s diegesis unravels certain pieces of the protagonists’ past very selectively, often within monologues which are laden with distressing, unfortunate life experiences. Interspersed are side characters which have experiences of equal depravity. These interpersonal tales are undergirded by an indifference and casual tonality which undermine the gravity of their life stories. This casual indifference to suffering and blight creates the movie’s overarching tone: solemnity.

The viewer, most likely viewing the film from an air-conditioned abode nestled within the bosom of suburbia, is likely supposed to marvel at how life is lived “on the other side of the tracks.” Korine is trying to recenter marginalized peoples, exposing the disenfranchised to the privileged. This, I counter, is strictly an exploitative endeavor.

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Like the photography of Diane Arbus, Korine’s efforts in Gummo are meant to reframe American identity. How can the lavish excess of cosmopolitan futurism coexist with the antiquity and nostalgia of the communities that live off the beaten track? This paradox is supposed to unsettle and unnerve us, but what else? Who among us is spurred into action by seeing these photos? What change, positive or negative, is netted through this art?

Both artists ask that we do not see these people as the freaks that they are. These people are just like you. Disagree? Then you are a bigot. It’s a faux humanitarianism meant to make a quick buck and attract the approval of intelligentsia and artists alike.

The real humanitarian response is to cringe at the blighted and maligned. We may want to help, but cannot or simply will not. With this in mind, the movie becomes an exploitative freakshow done in bad taste. The movie features a victim of pedophilic rape, a crossdressing child, the sexual exploitation of the mentally disabled, and the hunting of domestic feline pets. What is this if not exploitation under the auspices of art as cinema?

If Gummo is meant to be a midnight movie which underscores America’s seedy underbelly, then let it be that. But do not tell me, as Korine does in his interview with Roger Ebert, that Gummo is “about middle America.” This is not middle America. This is a sour, indigestible inversion of middle America as seen through the eyes of a jaded Gen-Xer. Nothing more, nothing less.

—Nathaniel Schwass

Outward: a Comprehensive Review

Outward is an action, survival RPG developed by Nine Dots studio, a relatively small and untested group of developers from Quebec who have only released two titles prior. In Outward, their most ambitious release yet, Nine Dots has honed a creative image into a very compelling hardcore role-playing game with survival elements.

Cutting into the already over saturated market of survival games seems daunting. Players have a plethora of games to choose from which scratch that itch: those games which create a harsh world of intrigue and brutality that must be overcome with wit, game knowledge, and player skill. Outward’s approach to this genre is—thankfully—creative, bold, and engaging.

Playing Outward successfully requires a multidimensional approach to the game’s punishing system of combat and layered approach to crafting. Venturing out into the world requires preparation, and the player cannot hope to faceroll the entire game simply with good combat skills alone. Likewise, being loaded up with healing items prevents any chance of returning to town with any loot worth selling, as the character’s choice of inventory is a major constraint on the character’s movement both in and out of combat. Outward encourages the player to both understand the game’s combat systems while engaging with the game’s vast array of recipes, alchemical crafts, and smithing choices. This leads to a challenging, yet rewarding, experience of play that warrants clever gameplay. Comparable in this sense to Dark Souls, Outward certainly is the thinking man’s game.

Outward’s emphasis on exploration is as strong, and as gratifying, as its crafting and combat systems. Challenging areas often come with great rewards, and the sheer beauty of Outward’s world makes exploring and investigation the game’s central appeal. Dungeons, which at first seem labyrinthine, have a circularity and coherence. Challenging enemies are often combative with each other, and they can be kited together to duel it out while you sit aside as spectator. Powerful weapons, found in these cruel, unforgiving arenas, make the tough fights seem entirely worthwhile.

Weapons, too, are one of Outward’s great strengths. Each weapon has its own, individual moveset and combos, while some of the more rare items have powerful debuffs which can trivialize combat. Together, weapons and armor are the means by which the character scales their damage, as Outward has no leveling or attributes system.

One developmental blindspot in this area seems to be weapon balance. Some weapons and weapon types just greatly exceed others. For instance, two-handed weapons deal the most impact damage, something akin to poise from the Dark Souls series. With enough impact damage, the enemy is made immobile and ineffective, stunning it for a few seconds. This allows the player to chain-stun some enemies with successive attacks, making them a breeze to roll though.

On the topic of balance, magic and spell casting in this game is incredibly tedious. Most powerful spells require a sigil to be placed before the spell can be cast. With most enemies being highly aggressive, this makes in impossible to both place a sigil and cast without the player becoming incredibly vulnerable. Furthermore, sleeping, a great necessity in Outward, halves the player’s total maximum mana, requiring potions to restore that then reserved mana. This sigils cannot be placed without stones corresponding with their designated element (i.e. to cast a fire spell you need a fire stone). With these impediments, what could have been an interesting and unique take on spell-casting has been reduced to tedium, set aside for a challenge run and negated as a viable skill choice.

Likewise, some skills have cooldowns which are impossibly long, some examples being 500 seconds for a buff which grants a boost to physical damage and 200 seconds for a block. Modding is an available option for people who want to reduce the annoyance of insanely long cooldowns.

Questing in this game ranges from mostly inane to occasionally intriguing. Expect fetch quests to take up most of the game’s quest logs. Thankfully, this is made up for by allowing the player to explore the world at their leisure, which is, in my opinion, the recommended way to delve into the world of Outward.

While Outward is not the perfect game, it takes risks where they count. Outward presents a fun experience for gamers willing to put up with some level of tedium. The genre of the “suvival, role-playing game,” as tired as it is, still delivers some interesting titles from obscure studios with an eye for talent and an artistic vision. Unlike many of its cousins, Outward is far from an early access cash-grab, delivering a enjoyable, worthwhile explorative experience easily worth its forty dollar price tag. Unconventional, multidimensional, and rich with chances taken, I encourage you to support Nine Dots by taking a chance on Outward, as they did in developing this game.

— Nathaniel Schwass

 

 

C.S. Lewis Meets Evola: the War between the Traditional and Materialistic Ontology

C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength (1945) is one of the most important works of contemporary fiction that I have read in my lifetime. In the epic narrative, which pits the forces of evil against those of good, Lewis engages in a critique of modern society and its materialistic paradigm. Satirizing politics, bureaucracy, journalism, and the objective sciences, Lewis’ protagonists revive tradition as a counter-modern way of being.

For modern readers, this traditional worldview is one of antiquity, as foreign and unfamiliar as the living, breathing Gods which appear in the novel’s text. However, Lewis’ rapturous style of prose brings them to life, putting the modern reader in the awkward position in which he must engage with his own modern prejudices while coming in touch with eternal truths. The return of the pre-modern world stands in stark opposition to the philosophical aperture of the modern age: objective materialism, an idea which takes form within the evil, technocratic N.I.C.E. institute.

As an arm of the state, N.I.C.E. is the harbinger of the old, living world’s demise. Natural law is inverted in pursuit of scientific achievements, God is discarded so that humans may become God in His stead, and the populous is subverted so that N.I.C.E.’s perversions are seen as good, true, and moral.

In opposition to N.I.C.E. stands a group of people housed in a manor in the town of St. Anne’s. Armed with tradition, companionship, and a higher power, the little group endeavors to swing the balance of power back to the time-honored customs of Western civilization.

This war between the materialist objectivists and atavist spiritualists is reminiscent of—if not directly making reference to—Julius Evola’s traditionalist critique of modern civilization. In his works of spiritualist philosophy, most notably within Revolt Against the Modern World (1934) and The Mystery of the Grail (1972), Evola creates a mythical, spiritual review of premodern religions, showing how their threads coincide and codetermine a way of being. This “traditional method” works “ontologically and objectively by the principle of correspondence… presenting [mystic themes] as simple homologous forms of the appearance of a central and unitary meaning” (Evola, Revolt xxxv).

Evola’s review creates a sense of hierarchy and ascribes a sense of importance to themes and ideas which appear as anathema to our modern minds. The patriarchy is privileged over gynaecocracy: “relationships can either be normal or abnormal. They are abnormal when the woman dominates the man” (Evola, Grail 21). The heavenly is privileged over the lowly or earthly. Autocracy is privileged over democracy: “the state derives its origin from the demos and that the principle of its legitimacy… rests upon it is an ideological perversion of the modern world” (Evola, Revolt 24).

Lewis, like Evola, challenges the modern allegiances of the Western anti-traditional world. Objectivism, materialism, secularism, egalitarianism, and statism—those views which we hold to be the most bedrock of our modern morality—are exactly those same tools by which N.I.C.E. is able to subvert the British people.

One of the prime examples of the manipulation of our modern world is N.I.C.E.’s utilization of the media. In a masterful stroke of narrative architecture, Lewis places the novel’s two main protagonists, Mark and Jane, at a fork between the road of tradition and the road of modernity. Mark, a college professor, social climber, and narcissistic intellectual, follows the path of modernity. Contracted by N.I.C.E. to write articles favorable to their goals, one of which rehabilitating the image of Alcasan (a radiologist guillotined for murder), Mark listens as N.I.C.E. police chief Mrs. Hardcastle explains his task ahead:

You begin with a quiet little article—not questioning his guilt, not at first, but just hinting that of course he was a member of their Quisling government and there was prejudice against him. Say you don’t doubt the verdict was just, but it’s disquieting to realize that it would almost certainly have been even the same even if he’d been innocent. Then you follow it up in a day or two with an article of quite a different kind. Popular account of the value of his work. You can mug up the facts—enough for that kind of article—in an afternoon. Then a letter, rather indignant, to the paper that printed the first article….” (Lewis 96).

In this passage, the ideas of journalistic ethics, jurisprudence, and public faith are subverted for the collective aims of the N.I.C.E. institute. Hardcastle understand the weakpoints of the modern, Western world: a blind, fledgling belief in journalistic integrity, an unflinching agreement with the accepted intelligentsia, all tied together with the desire to seem correct.

One might say, “Oh no. I’m not so easily misled. I well versed enough that I can see right through this manipulation.” Lewis anticipates this reaction, as Mark quips: “I don’t believe you can do that… Not with the papers that are read by educated people” (97). Hardcastle responds, “Why you fool, it’s the educated reader who can be gulled. All our difficulty comes with the others. When did you meet a workman who believes the papers? He takes it for granted that they’re all propaganda and skips the leading articles” (ibid). Hardcastle understands that the common man, in this case the traditional man, has a profound sense of incredulity towards the manipulation of fourth estate. Lay people are particularly resistant because they are more in touch with that essence which has been swept away by the modern.

Following the other fork, Jane, Mark’s wife, finds herself involved with the forces for tradition, having to choose between her egalitarian ideas and a greater purpose. Dealing with visions that connote a dark and evil future, Jane seeks solace in the manor at St. Anne’s. However, Arthur Denniston, a member of that party, asks her that she consult her husband before going with him: “the Head—or the authorities her obeys—have rather old-fashioned notions. He wouldn’t like a married woman to come in, if it could be avoided, without her husband’s [permission]” (Lewis 114). Jane is floored, “Do you mean I’m to ask Mark’s permission?” Her mind begins to fill with a “resentment which had been rising and ebbing, but rising each time a little more than it ebbed…. All this talk of promises and obedience to an unknown Mr. Fisher-King had already repelled her. But the idea of this same person sending her back to get Mark’s permission—as if she were a child asking to leave to go to a party—was the climax” (Lewis 114-115).

Jane’s initial reticence and disapproval of this traditional masculine and feminine hierarchy can be juxtaposed with her acceptance and submission after meeting Ransom, the Director and Pendragon at St. Anne’s. After encountering the masculine, traditional, and holy image of the Director, Jane reflects that “whatever she tried to think of led back to the Director himself, and in him, to joy” (Lewis 149). She finds herself appearing more beautiful, yet she acknowledges that her “beauty was made for others. Her beauty belonged to the Director” (ibid). However, as a married woman, she begins to respect the sanctimony of marriage: “when her mind was most filled with another there arose, clouded with some undefined emotion, a resolution to give to Mark much more than she had ever given him before, and a feeling that in so doing she would really be giving it to the Director” (148).

The joy with which Jane returns to her traditional center is as extreme, profound, and efficacious as Mark’s devolution into rationalism, manipulation, and subversion. This is exactly that which Evola describes through his traditionalist critique. While the traditional ideas of the old world seem as foreign as antiquities from another age and another country, they are the lost pillars of our civilization. An exploration of and return to these ideas is not unfamiliar, but familiar in the deepest sense of the word.

— Nathaniel Schwass