85. After completion
Updated: Dec 18, 2020
I said that the political right is embodied by responsibility. This is true, and, yet, it is not the entire truth of the matter. As Paracelsus observed, what makes something good or evil is not its inherent qualities but the amount: radiation in the correct amount can cure a tumour, but in an excessive amount it can cause a tumour; everything in life is a matter of balance.
The most absolute right-wing society we could imagine would be a society of maximal responsibility. It would be well-ordered and pleasant to live in; it would be, using the analogy to physics, a place of energy conservation—and it would feel Swiss. Switzerland, however, is boring. This is the problem with responsible people: they are obliging, polite, and decent. Responsible people do not interfere with the affairs of others; this is truly loving your neighbour, leaving him alone. Conservatives make good, boring neighbours.
Creativity is opposed to responsibility. This is evident as soon as we think about the great poets, scientists, and men of the world. These men—feminine men, pregnant with ideas—are often characterised by chaotic habits and environments, bizarre or dissolute personal lives, and sometimes unfortunate ends. The rock singer, virtue-signalling about starving Africans, who dies of a heroin overdose at twenty-five is commonplace. I observed that the left emerges from the section of society concerned with tastemaking: actors, musicians, journalists, and, to a lesser extent, technologists. Why? It is because these are creative people; they are people who love novelty—a trait correlated with intelligence—and so become irresponsible.
The creative person sees links others do not perceive; and these links are often outside the regularity of responsibility. This is why creativity and schizophrenia are connected: the right level of schizophrenia will cause a person to perceive links that nobody else has ever seen. Artists not gifted with a tendency towards schizophrenia will often imbibe drugs or drink to artificially stimulate this state. “Write drunk, edit sober,” said Hemingway, summing up a balance between chaos and order—a balance he did not maintain, finally killing himself. The person who is drunk or on drugs is disinhibited—rather like the schizophrenic—and it is in this state that the cosmos comes rushing towards them and they merge with the cosmos and novelty explodes. They lose all individuality and the cosmos speaks through them; since they have lost all individual identity they cannot be responsible: there is no self to be responsible for.
Spengler observed that there are two types of chaos: young chaos, as with a boisterous teenager or young woman; and old chaos, of the type we see when an old man’s heart malfunctions and his toes turn blue. Young chaos is an excess of energy; it can be very destructive, hence the risks of youth. The goal of a conservative—the masculine principle—is to canalise this youthful energy in a productive way. It is women who, as muses and mothers, provide the necessary chaos that gives birth to new life and culture.
Youthful energy begets healthy creative genius: people like Shakespeare or Newton. These creative people are irresponsible in a vigorous way. They tell us more about the world, providing high art and science; perhaps they sacrifice their lives to do so. They have such an abundance of energy that they always have more to give; if they break a leg, they recover. In a late culture, such as ours, we have pop singers (the names change too often to mention a particular one) and technological bureaucrats (playing number games, not doing real science). We live in the chaos of death: it is not chaotic because it is releasing too much energy, as with an atom bomb; it is chaotic because there is too little energy left: if we break a leg now, we die. And so we arrive at the age of virtue-signalling actors and lying scientists; their creativity is perverse, they provide illusions—entertainment and sophistry—not tragedy and science.