The Path of Cinnabar by Julius Evola
I have read The Path of Cinnabar by Julius Evola, which is his autobiography. In the book, he discusses some of his ideas and the events surrounding the publications of his books. He lived during tumultuous times, to say the least, and even if the book does not contain overly many personal stories, it is still interesting from that perspective. Most of the thoughts presented in the book will be familiar to those who have read his other works. I have discussed these books and thoughts in other reviews – which can be found here: Book Reviews.
Evola shares precious few notes regarding his personal life; the book follows his intellectual and spiritual journey and the corresponding works. However, he shares the following interesting insight:
‘As for my character, it is chiefly defined by two dispositions. The first is an impulse towards transcendence, which manifested itself from my early youth./…/ A spontaneous detachment from what is merely human, from what is generally regarded as normal.’Julius Evola – The Path of Cinnabar. Page 6.
‘The second significant trait of my character might be described, in Hindu terms, as my kshatriya bent. In India, the word kshatriya was used to describe the human type inclined to action and performance: the ‘warrior’ type, as opposed to the religious, priestly and contemplative type of the brahma.’Julius Evola – The Path of Cinnabar. Page 7.
As I noted in my review of Men Among the Ruins, Evola served as an artillery officer during World War 1, and applied to join the war effort on the Eastern Front during World War 2, but since he was not a member of the Fascist Party those wishes did not come to pass. As we have noted in several of the previous reviews, a reoccurring point in Evola’s thought is the distinction between the kshatriya and the brahman.
In the introduction, Evola also mentions that Nietzsche served as an inspiration with regard to his anti-Christian sentiments. He also notes that he grew up Catholic but always felt an ‘utter indifference’ for Christianity.
Another thing to note about Evola’s personality is that he ‘made a point of not receiving any degrees’ since he could not stand to be called Doctor or Professor (he would still be called thus later on though). This was due to his anti-bourgeois sentiments.
Evola’s Dadaist Phase
Evola had, and this may be surprising to some, a Dadaist phase. Dadaist ‘art’ is anything but beautiful and should, in my view, not be called art. I asked my friend Tom (Survive the Jive) how it was that Evola, at any stage of his life, would find an appreciation of degenerate art. Tom answered me thus: ‘Because he hated bourgeois sensibilities and Dada was a deliberate affront to them.’ This makes perfect sense when taking his world view into account.
‘What attracted me to Dadaism was its radicalism: Dadaism was not merely conceived as a new avant-garde artistic tendency; rather, it stood for an outlook on life which expressed a tendency towards total liberation, conjoined with the upsetting of all logic, ethic and aesthetic categories, in the most paradoxical and baffling ways.’Julius Evola – The Path of Cinnabar. Page 19.
Evola would eventually move past this state, however:
‘The movement I had joined out of my high esteem for Tristan Tzara was destined to accomplish few of the things I had sought to find within it. While Dadaism certainly embodied the extreme, unsurpassed limit of all avant-garde artistic currents, it never consumed itself in the fire of a ‘leap of boundaries’ beyond all art forms and similar forms of expression. Dadaism was soon followed by Surrealism, which, in my opinion, gave proof of its regressive character.’Julius Evola – The Path of Cinnabar. Page 22.
Evola’s Book Recommendations
The book contains an appendix in which a few interviews are included. In a question regarding his books, Evola responds with the following:
‘Young people chiefly interested in my work for political reasons should stick to Revolt Against the Modern World, as it provides both a general overview of the world of Tradition and the modern world, and gives the reader an idea of a ‘metaphysics of history’ in contrast to mainstream historiography. One might also turn to The Mystery of the Grail and Men Among the Ruins.’Julius Evola – The Path of Cinnabar. Page 257.
This was quite interesting to note since I gave the same top three recommendations in my review of Revolt Against the Modern World. I talk more about where to start with Evola in the following video: Starting With Julius Evola.
I would recommend The Path of Cinnabar to those who have read a good number of Evola books. I found it interesting to get to know more about the context in which the books were written. However, may the spirit of Evola forgive me for saying so, the chapter titled The Speculative Period of Magical Idealism is quite uninteresting in my humble opinion – the subsequent chapters are much more interesting, so if you decide to read it, do not be disheartened by that chapter. Evola’s philosophical writings are not nearly as interesting as his other writings (esoteric, historical, societal etc.).
Thank you for reading this book review; it will actually be the last one for a while. I will now focus all of my writing on my upcoming book – which will be out sometime next year. Onwards and upwards!