Der Ritt auf dem Tiger – Live at Cinema Oblo (2008)

“[…T]he final age is called the Kali Yuga (Dark Age). Its essential quality is emphatically said to be a climate of dissolution, in which all the forces – individual and collective, material, psychic, and spiritual – that were previously held in check by a higher law and by influences of a superior order pass into a state of freedom and chaos. The texts of Tantra have a striking image for this situation, saying that it is the time when Kālī is ʻwide awakeʼ.” – Julius Evola, Ride the Tiger.

1. Presentation of “Der Ritt auf dem Tiger” and the two related music videos.

“Der Ritt auf dem Tiger” was originally composed and recorded in 1998 at the request of Collectif EA for their audiovisual piece Julius Evola : Le Chemin du Cinabre based on the spiritual and intellectual autobiography of the Italian metaphysicist. The song was the soundtrack of the part IX titled “Chevaucher le Tigre”, inspired by Evola’s iconoclastic work Cavalcare la Tigre “Ride the Tiger” published first in 1961 and regarded as “darker than the den of darkness” by the French writer Jean Parvulesco. The full piece was projected by Collectif EA in Switzerland in November 1998, during a colloquium for the centenary of Evola’s birth.

1998 Presentation booklet of Collectif EA’s audiovisual piece.

Using German lyrics, a quote from the French translation of the book, and a mixture of heavy industrial music and symphonic doom metal, “Der Ritt auf dem Tiger” was later sightly reworked and recorded during a live act in an old cinema in 2008. In spite of inevitable flaws of sound and playing inherent to a real live performance and German mispronunciation, we chose to present this historical version, steeped in a particular atmosphere capable of rendering the Idea behind the song – the most important criterion for us – and musically more accomplished than the original one.

Two music videos have been finally produced to illustrate the topics of the song. The official one is a partial reconstruction of Collectif EA’s visual work, using notably art pieces by 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich, traditional representations of the Hindu warrior goddess Durgā “Impassable”, but instead of industry photos and art not in the public domain, scenes from several early 20th-century documentary films about modernity, factories, metropolitan cities, and from 1923 silent movie The Ten Commandments directed by Cecil B. DeMille.

The unofficial music video released by a fan, Shudra Bose, features scenes from Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou’s 1927 German film Metropolis and paintings – chiefly from early 20th-century art movements like Futurism and Cubism – to create impressions and, according to the cento poetic practice, a new narrative related to the human condition in modern world, the doctrine of cosmic cycles outlined by Hesiod and Purano-Tantric Hinduism, the eschatological event Ragnarök, Northern Germanic Paganism and Jötnatrú, more precisely Heljartrú. The original movie itself is certainly not without using symbols, myths and divine figures – even if euhemerized, humanized or “robotized” – from Christianity and other religious traditions.

The dystopia mentioned in Metropolis may illustrate remarkably the fetishisation of modern technology and the point made by Nietzsche in Human, All-Too Human: “The machine, itself a product of the highest mental powers, sets in motion hardly any but the lower, unthinking forces of the men who serve it”.

But on a few elements the film is no more futuristic or a matter of science-fiction: due to subsequent developments of modernity like postmodernity and hypermodernity, it is in some measure obsolete. The modern city configured to mass production with well-defined conflicting social classes like proletariat and bourgeoisie has been replaced by postmodern city, a location where “barbarism” is no longer outside the walls but inside, dedicated to consumerism, leisure activities, and Homo consumericus – buyer and vendor being related –, with a social stratification defined on the basis of purchasing power and ruled by a globalist false elite, the “superclass”, exercising the real power with the help of useful peons. Those who do not want or can not play the game are marginalized or ruthlessly suppressed, in one way or another. Needless to say, in a world dominated by the marketplace, there is no room for a so-called unproductive activity like a real and deep spiritual quest.

1928 Advertisement for the film Metropolis,
from Archives New Zealand

2. Modernity, postmodernity, hypermodernity…

Modernity – in a narrow sense, because its roots are considerably older – was born with reason regarded as the only valid means of knowledge and growth of sciences and technology, that are essential prerequisites for massive industrialization, mass production and building of “great truths” founded on materialism, scientism and the ideology of unlimited progress. Postmodernity is marked by the flexible, the moving, globalization and the anonymous, universal type of the consumer, but also by the partial deconstruction of the metanarratives of modernity and the final rejection of the idea of the past and traditions as a referent point, replaced with fashion and an impetuous headlong rush.

In our vision, hypermodernity is dominated by digital, persuasive, information and communications technologies, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, gadgets, electronic media, online social networks, indiscriminate mass surveillance, and aspires to a convergence between biology and sophisticated technologies, with the hope of restoring or enhancing mind and physiology as in transhumanism – latest manifestation of capitalism – and cyborgs; man dreams of being only a brain in a machine, trying to make technically possible the impossible and for those who can afford it when it will be feasible, to achieve a hypothetical physical immortality, paving the way for an unprecedented totalitarianism.

The modern devotion for sciences with their logic and methodology restricting reality to a narrow field – based for instance on the axiom “real is what is measurable with reproducible experiences” – forgets that they are produced by a worldview, being the result of historical background connected to a particular sociocultural environment and institutions, and that in turn, they generate ideologies shaping the society and are used by ideologists. Despite their claim to objectivity, sciences are made by human beings with subjective experience[1] and their own conscious or unconscious schedule. They are often funded by and in service of powers like states or individual, corporate interests, even concealed under the guise of Universal Good. The totalitarian cognitive tendency inherent to the paradigms and methodologies of sciences is however hardly ever questioned.

The“Man-Machine” from 1927 film Metropolis.

3. Of Tantrism and the “differentiated man”

Nevertheless, the different stages of modernity and its alienation desired by most people must not obliterate the primordial fact that in the opinion of Tantrism[2] the utmost potentiality and specificity of the human state of being is the possibility to achieve mokṣa, the spiritual liberation and deconditioning of one’s being. Kulārṇava Tantra (1. 16) says: “Human birth, ladder to liberation, is difficult to obtain. Who is more to be pitied than he who gets this birth and yet does not liberate himself?”

Tantrism’s worldview especially in Śākta oriented schools emphasizes Śakti “power, energy”, the kinetic and active aspect depicted as female of the ultimate reality – Śiva being the static and immutable male aspect –, and contends according to a spiritual perspective that we are currently in a dark age, called Kali Yuga in Hinduism, Iron Age by Hesiod, a time when black goddesses like Kālī are fully awake and where only practices founded on śakti, physical, subtle and imaginal bodies are regarded as really efficient.

Considering this, Evola in Ride the Tiger suggests to a rare differentiated human type involved in the modern world existential orientations based on some fundamental ideas borrowed mainly from Nietzsche and Tantric Left-Hand Path (Vāmamārga).[3] This spiritual path often misunderstood may use antinomian practices and tamasic ingredients (or substitutes, or “internalized” ones) in a ritualistic context to attain mokṣa,[4] but this means owning the ability needed “to transform the poison into medicine”. Otherwise to mention an example from Kulārṇava Tantra, “if by the mere drinking of wine one were to attain perfection, all drunkard-creatures would be perfect” (2. 117), and the final result could be quite different from the one expected.

Śmaśāna Kālī standing on Śiva, unknown author.

Therefore, Tantrism uses a human typology – similar to the Gnostic one – based on the theory of the three guṇa-s (“qualities, tendencies”) to make a distinction between people informed by either paśubhāva “domesticated animal disposition/state”, i.e. the worldly man “bound by bonds”, vīrabhāva “heroic disposition”, or divyabhāva “divine disposition”. Only the two latter types are considered to be qualified for Tantrism, but those inmost dispositions are not static and an individual can progress from the lower to the higher category if the practices adapted to his temperament are successful.

Likewise, the differentiated man[5] according to Evola is characterized by “an existential dimension not present in the predominant human type of recent times – that is, the dimension of transcendence”. The possible use of tamasic ingredients should not lead to some sort of inferior psychic dissolution, but rather to allow contact with a superior dimension of reality if not to enstasis. As in our society this man can no longer count on traditional organizations, structures, initiation (transmission of a “spiritual influence” allowing the entrance in an esoteric path, dīkṣā in Tantrism) and guides like guru to achieve mokṣa, he must therefore rely first on his idiosyncratic capacities and often conduct at his own risk a solitary quest – important difference with Tantrism. This problematic situation is the inevitable consequence of the dissolution in the spiritual and social fields, with the destruction of holistic societies, domination of the economic sphere and the rise of atomized individuals and masses. The way of the differentiated man represents a radical answer to extreme circumstances and has not a safe character, as the outcome is unpredictable: it is like walking on the sharp edge of a sword or holding the neck of a tiger. In the current nihilistic spiritual climate, there is little guarantee of success, but even in the case of failure his life at least will have been validly used.

A a support, he can meditate deeply on his own mortality and that of material forms (contemplatio mortis, “contemplation of death”), considering “every day as the last of his individual existence”, an attitude helping to redefine choices, behaviors and priorities in everyday life. The differentiated man  may remember too the teaching given by don Juan[6] to Carlos Castaneda: “Death is the only wise advisor that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch.”

”Death descends upon the city!”, from 1927 film Metropolis.

Ride the Tiger is not directly a practical handbook, even if it reflects in many aspects Evola’s life and constitutes in a way a return to his youthful radical approach rejecting the existing world and its values, when he was involved in the avant-garde and anti-bourgeois art movement Dadaism. It is essentially an analysis of Nietzsche’s philosophy, contemporary nihilism, existentialism, phenomenology, death and the right over life, utilization of entheogens and sex became autonomous, dissolution in action in different fields: individuality, knowledge, consciousness, moral, modern art, sociopolitical, spirituality and so forth.

The possible benefits of this situation for a differentiated man are considered; it thus includes some guidelines such as “acting without desire”, “being oneself”, not for a narcissistic purpose or as a slogan used by publicists but in a Nietzschean way “to assume his own being into a willing”, and apoliteia (complete detachment and non-participation in politics, “the inner distance unassailable by the current society and its principles”) that are still valid, inspiring, and adapted to the postmodern situation, even if some ones may require an updating.

For instance, Evola in a subchapter dedicated to modern music and jazz notes two musical developments only apparently opposed: intellectualisation, with the propensity to abstraction since the end of Romantic period in Western classical music, conducting to an elimination of the human world of passions, and physicality, with the predominance of dance music arousing and stirring the body.

In his time, classical composers like Igor Stravinsky with his work The Rite of Spring, compositions with machine-age aesthetic like Iron Foundry by Alexander Mosolov and Arthur Honegger’s Pacific 231, atonality and later dodecaphony (Second Viennese School: Arnold Schönberg, Anton von Webern, Alban Berg…), Pierre Schaeffer’s musique concrète, John Cage and aleatoric music, jazz, Charleston dance, boogie-woogie, beat music and rock ‘n’ roll were iconic figures of these tendencies, marking a musical resurgence of the substratum of primordial forces of nature, with often an underlying orgiastic element, a sort of eager Dionysian quest.

La musica (1911-1912), painting by Luigi Russolo,
probably the father of noise music. 

However most of these styles, if they have not disappeared into the limbo of history, have emerged today from marginality and have become either academic, consensual or popular, losing the impact of sonic, verbal, visual, sociocultural and ideological transgression usable in the Left-Hand Path. Over time, that which was culturally seditious and fierce has become suitable to turn a profit. Art has long since ceased to obey traditional aesthetic canons given by deities, ancestors or spirits. Thus according to Andy Warhol’s famous formula summarizing very well the alliance between art and capitalism: “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

The status of the artist in the modern world is significant by its paradoxical side: he is officially so often at the forefront of subversion with the blessing of authorities or submitted to entertainment industry that it possible to speak about a “tradition of subversion” and “institutionalized rebellion”, far away from a possible Nietzschean revaluation of all classes of values. As postmodernity has an important capacity to absorb, soften and twist transgression to make commercially and socially acceptable products to serve the logic of consumption, artists in the end fully contribute to the making of “sham objects”. Revolt and existential attitude are thus neutralized and reduced to a simulacra, as nature is for the modern world.

Consequently, a differentiated man receptive to the power of sounds and speech should be now interested above all in authentic dark music in its most radical, controversial, unassimilable forms.[7] To paraphrase Robin Cook, a crime writer quoted by Maurice Dantec, the link between dark music and philosophy lies in the fact that the experience considered essential by both is the place of death in life. Such styles as (non-exhaustive list) extreme subgenres of heavy metal (black/death/funeral-drone doom metal…), industrial, noise, power electronics, some gothic, neofolk, ambient, experimental, electronic music may offer to a differentiated man nourishment and elemental, ecstatic possibilities, a sonic equivalent of the harsh and primordial landscapes in nature.

The Sea of Ice (1823-1824) by Caspar David Friedrich.

“Those who truly meditate on Thee, the Spouse of Hara, who art seated in the cremation-ground strewn with funeral pyres, corpses, skulls, and bones, and haunted by female jackals howling fearfully; who art very youthful, and art in full enjoyment upon Thy Spouse, are revered by all and in all places.”

“If by night, Thy devotee unclothed, with dishevelled hair, recites whilst meditating on Thee Thy mantra when with his Śakti youthful, full-breasted, and heavy-hipped, such an one makes all powers subject to him, and dwells on the earth ever a seer.”

Karpūrādi-Stotra 8/10, translated by Arthur Avalon, 1922.[8]

4. Credits

“Der Ritt auf dem Tiger” is dedicated to Julius Evola and his masterpiece Ride the Tiger.

Mordor were at the time of this recording:
Scorh Anyroth – voice, guitar, machines, noises
Dam Gomhory – bass, voice, machines
S3th – guitar
ᛦAlghor Dursan – sound engineer
Industrial field recordings for the opening section by H.G., 1998.

Recorded live in August 2008 by ᛦAlghor Dursan at Cinéma Oblò in Lausanne, Switzerland; mixed in 2018 at Dark Sound Studio.
Music by Scorh, 1998/2008; words by Scorh/H.G., 1998.
Official music video by Vorknasor/Scorh, 2019.
Unofficial music video edited by Shudra Bose, 2019.

[1] Scientists do not escape neither triality of subject, object and their relation nor that human apprehension of the world is a representation, even in their monistic attempt to solve the problem of awareness by considering it eventually an epiphenomenon of matter. A Gnostic viewpoint is not primarily interested in the rough description, rearrangement, prediction and manipulation of the physical (matter, energy, or quantum entities), psychic elements and forces constituting the universe, the “prison” where we are locked up, or improvements in detention conditions, but to escape from it, or more precisely by the recognition that there is ultimately no jail, no screw, no prisoner, but only the ineffable One.
About traditional knowledge like metaphysics, myths, magic, medicine… regarded as psychosis, obscurantism, or creations of an infantile “primitive mind”, the arrogant attitude of most scientists and supporters of the “open society” is not really different from that imperialist of colonial era, convinced of the intrinsic superiority of its religion, civilization, science and methodology. Thus the pejorative term voodoo science is regularly used to describe “junk science”, voodoo meaning a magical solution of little value to a problem, which is both an insult and a deep ignorance of what is Voodoo.

[2] Tantrism and Hinduism are not native terms but constructs of Western scholarship or writers by external observers like Orientalists, although “Hindu” was already used before by Greeks, Persians and Muslims; we employ them for convenience and keep the word Tantra to denote a category of traditional scriptures. A narrow definition of Tantrism could be “esoteric traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism”; however, there is a popular Tantrism and influences are present in Jainism and other religious traditions. Its area is not limited to its country of origin, India, but also covers Nepal, Tibet…
Tantrism should be not confused with recently built Neotantra or Navatantra focused frequently on “spiritual sex”, hedonism, or contemporary ideological, societal and political utilization. If sex and aesthetic pleasure may be actually used in the Left-Hand Path, there are means, not an end in themselves; Tantrism’s primary concern is not sexual freedom, personal fulfillment and well-being, but mokṣa, spiritual liberation. Most of the Sanskrit vocabulary and conceptions quoted here are from Hindu Tantrism (or Tantric Hinduism if preferred), a branch of Hinduism or sanātana dharma “Lex Perennis”, composed of a plurality of paths, methods, worships and philosophical points of view, from materialism to non-duality.

[3] Vāmamārga “left path” or Vāmācāra “left-handed attainment” (alternatively the first word could be not vāma “left, pleasant, fair”, but vāmā “woman”) is not the only Tantric way; Dakṣiṇācāra “right-handed attainment” is another possibility, not engaged in heterodox practices. Kulārṇava Tantra states that the Siddhānta is superior to the Left-Hand Path and that “there is nothing superior to Kulācāra”, a kind of dialectical synthesis between Left-Hand and Right-Hand paths. For Kashmiri metaphysicist Abhinavagupta, the Trika school is still superior to the Kaula path.
If very few Westerners like Sir John Woodroffe, Alain Daniélou, Mircea Eliade or Leopold Fischer were able to be deeply immersed in traditional Hinduism and in some cases Tantrism, the way of the differentiated man draws its inspiration from Tantric Left-Hand Path’s worldview but does not claim to be Tantric. Unlike Agehananda Bharati, Evola in The Yoga of Power was “not even dreaming” of importing directly Tantrism in the West, since it is closely linked with a specific spiritual, cultural and linguistic context – although Sanskrit is member of the Indo-European family of languages –, and opportunities of “conversion” are scarce. The aim is not to sink into powerless cultural appropriation, “spiritual tinkering” typical of the second religiosity or innocent and inefficient parody. For Westerners, there are some possibilities offered by their own ancient esoteric, magico-religious traditions, even recovered, reconstructed or “revealed” again. The contribution of the last surviving religions of Proto-Indo-European (as Hinduism and Zoroastrianism) or Finno-Ugric origin could be also relevant.

[4] Mokṣa or mukti is not the product of an act or non-act but the nonconceptual recognition of one’s true Self (ātman) identical to the ultimate reality, the Absolute (brahman, ādi paraśakti or paramaśiva), the incommensurable principle of all manifestation, normally covered by the veil of spiritual ignorance (pauruṣa ajñāna or avidyā), karman “action, deed” and its imprints, innate mala-s “impurities, dirt” bounding the individual self, forgetting of our “divine” natural state (sahaja niṣṭa) trough misidentification with the limitations of mind and body… The purpose of the practices is to dissolve all these impediments to realize mokṣa, to regain the original nonrelational awareness (cit) free from any sort of conditioning, including means (upāya-s) to achieve it. Put differently: it is the permanent experience of the essential unity of Śakti and Śiva, the identity of object and subject, or more accurately, direct gnōsis that they are correlative and devoid of ipseity: in the end there is neither subject nor object but only brahman.
Consequences of mokṣa are liberation from the tyranny of the pair of opposites and from the repetitive cycle of death and birth, svātantrya “absolute freedom” and supreme autonomy. The ultimate reality being absolute freedom has the power to negate itself, causing the worlds to appear like a “cosmic deception”. According to Mahānirvāṇa Tantra (14. 115), “man becomes liberated by the knowledge that he himself is brahman”. Definition of mokṣa can vary depending on the Hindu schools.

[5] Man is used here in the sense of a person whether male or female, or possibly both. Likewise, “he” when not referring to a male being is employed traditionally for an individual of unspecified gender instead of  “he/she” or “s/he”.

[6] Don Juan may not be an organic being but an inorganic one from non-ordinary reality, or Casteneda’s didactic creation to explain his own experiences and philosophy, a Platonic noble lie; what really matters for a differentiated man is the practical value of Castaneda’s teachings and terminology.

[7] Some metanarratives still playing presently a major role are never questioned by science, art and deconstruction, which is even used to produce new paradigms and ideologies, and often forgets to deconstruct its own assumptions, lacking the possibility to realize ultimately the emptiness (in the  Mādhyamaka meaning) of any opinion and proposition. Various secular dogmas have acquired in the modern world nearly a religious status similar to myths and taboos in traditional societies, except that they are pure human constructs and do not refer to something superior, suprahuman.
Myths are originally not fictions but nonhuman revelations received, directly perceived (śruti, “what is heard”), and then orally transmitted, recorded and possibly distorted by men. According to the Ceylonese Tamil metaphysicist Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, myth is “the penultimate truth, of which all experience is the temporal reflection. The mythical narrative is of timeless and placeless validity, true nowhere and everywhere”. Only very few authors, artists, marginal people and musical styles even in the underground scene dare to challenge status quo in modern society and are not converted into merchandise and subject to recuperation serving the industrial production of codified differences.

[8] Tantras are often deliberately obscure and may use “twilight” or “intentional, secret” speech, a kind of code language offering the possibility of several levels of interpretation.