The ideal man might be very slightly different in my mind than in yours, but there are a great wealth of things that we can likely agree on. We hold that he is grand, a leader, direct, honest, pragmatic, athletic, sober, confident, reasonable, steady in the face of any danger, we may even hold him to be fair, to be fine featured, to be tall and lithe — and these last few are as important, symbolically, as aspects of his personality.
At the unveiling of King Alfred’s statue, Lord Rosebury intoned thus:
The Alfred we reverence may well be an idealised figure. For our real knowledge of him is scanty and vague. We have, however, draped round his form, not without reason, all the highest attributes of manhood and kingship. The Arthur of our poets, the paladin king, without fear, without stain, and without reproach, is to us the true representation of Alfred. In him, indeed, we venerate not so much a striking actor in our history as the ideal Englishman, the perfect sovereign, the pioneer of England’s greatness. With his name we associate our metropolis, our fleet, our literature, our laws, our first foreign relations, our first efforts at education. He is in a word, the embodiment of our civilisation.
We are to explain the magnetism of history, but do we worship history? We will tell of worth what we will. It is intimated further in this speech, which can be found produced in full by my good friend here, that we know little about Alfred the Man, but everything about Alfred the Ideal. This is because just as he represents the highest of us each, we imbue him with the highest of our values. However, we can no longer allow these to be subjective: our values are as previously intimated, and are being explored with each essay, and they must be decided by us, and we will ensure that we promote and inhabit them. But it is our consciousness that drives us, and it is for this reason we are not slaves to history: our monumental view celebrates what is uplifting and diminishes what is harmful. Of course, we understand, just as well as Lord Rosebury, that it is the best of us who embody our civilisation.
However, while we uplift what is salubrious, we must also overcome that which is deleterious. In this tradition — and it is told by the most wise, who are cultists or priests or mages — there were periods, perhaps 300 years in length, where the Good powers ruled, and then they were overthrown and the Evil powers ruled. This is the dying and rising myth of Abraham played out in pagan terms; it is the snake sloughing its skin to be born anew — this is Spenglerian.
If it is tragic to consider this as an American, where the decline of your Empire might have begun perhaps fifty years ago, think of Europe: if we are so weak as to accept the rise and fall of nations, ours is long dead, and we know what will happen to our corpse. No. We deny these cycles. There is not a cosmological push and pull to which our belief is anchored — there is only the glorification and onward protection of our people.
Do we worship humility, sacrifice, suffering, pity, or faith-as-such, the powers of that priest-class on earth? Do we worship those people for whom “conversion is their bone marrow?” Would we worship the druids who would only exist at the behest of our worship?
It has been said, I think by Mead, that even the Ancients conceived of their divinities as stooping sympathetically and not infrequently to don the mouseskin of humanity. This has been posited as the meaning behind Temples of Apollo maintaining white mice, and the mouse’s sacredness to Horus in Egypt, and of heroes deigning to serve, or to undergo menial tasks for unworthy masters. But does this mean that they worshiped meekness, frailty, the diminutive? If it does, then here is one of the very few aspects of life wherein we have improved over the classical.
For noble we, of course, do not need sympathetic Gods, nor inclusive ones, and certainly not ones which are emphasised as being humble, or in service to anyone, whether someone other than us, or Logos. We do not need them, they are not good-for-us, so they have been discarded. We have a forward, direct, war-amenable God — he has myriad names but many of us are taken to calling him Apollo, and he is within us and is us.
Yes, as Nietzsche says, we must abolish the belief that pacifism is a moral standard and deny that cowardice preserves life. But we must also prove that in our minds there is the potential for beauty, worth and glory, and that through our actions, these things will be manifested in this world. It is in doing this that we worship our God properly, and by strengthening ourselves and enlivening ourselves and keeping ourselves social and brilliant that we ensure our God remains the same. In that philosopher’s words it is in esteeming that we can bring ourselves out of the mire.
John Ruskin wrote:
It may be easy to prove that the ascent of Apollo in his chariot signifies nothing but the rising of the sun. But what does the sunrise itself signify to us? If only languid return to frivolous amusement, or fruitless labor, it will, indeed, not be easy for us to conceive the power, over a Greek, of the name of Apollo. But if, for us also, as for the Greek, the sunrise means daily restoration to the sense of passionate gladness and of perfect life — if it means the thrilling of new strength through every nerve, — the shedding over us of a better peace than the peace of night, in the power of the dawn, — and the purging of evil vision and fear by the baptism of its dew; — if the sun itself is an influence, to us also, of spiritual good — and becomes thus in reality, not in imagination, to us also, a spiritual power, — we may then soon over-pass the narrow limit of conception which kept that power impersonal, and rise with the Greek to the thought of an angel who rejoiced as a strong man to run his course, whose voice calling to life and to labor rang round the earth, and whose going forth was to the ends of heaven.
Thus our journey is one of overcoming the night, making perfect our lives, purging the reprobated, inhabiting the good, — that is to say, what-is-good-for-us — and this journey takes us to the end of heaven, which is the realm of the gods: paradise. In living explosively and well, towards eudæmonia, we must march onwards. We are not playing the game of image and invisibility, nor are we aristocrats attempting to restore the monarchy, we are simply agonistic men of Europe, as our blood wishes us to be, worshiping how we will: that is, being active towards glory.