It has been eight years since the last issue of Tyr. For a while it seemed like the publication had ended for good, promises from the seldom-updated Ultra Press website notwithstanding. I was surprised and enormously pleased when I received Tyr Vol. 4 three volumes of Tyr were published in 2002-2006, they were lauded for delivering consistently top-quality material which introduced European New Right thinking to an American audience for the first time. What was an innovation in those days has since become the standard for truly alternative right-wing ideas in this country, with a renewed willingness on the part of Americans to engage with modern and contemporary continental strands of thought which bear only a family resemblance to our grandfathers’ radical conservatism. Alain de Benoist spoke at NPI’s 2013 conference– and for that we owe no small debt to Tyr.
Stylistically, this is the most visually impressive volume to date, with beautiful cover art by Benjamin Vierling, depicting an aquiline woman handling a beast. The symbolic value of the work is discussed by Joshua Buckley in an appendix. The printing, typesetting, and illustrations make Tyr an aesthetic pleasure to read, befitting a movement that, while ostensibly dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Beauty, has too often put out garish and stylistically uninteresting publications. Thankfully this trend is now at a low-ebb, and Tyr deserves all credit for leading the way. The limited advertising is unobtrusive.
The first essay, “What is Religion?” by Alain de Benoit, is interesting less for its ostensible purpose, to explain the nature of religion, than for its many little asides and revelations. De Benoist’s mind ranges over vast expanses of literary, historical, and cultural studies, to the great benefit of his readers. We read with interest that Islam is “the natural religion of the revealed God” and exactly why this is the case. Of course, his aims being meta-political, one often has to mentally tease out his meaning: do the compliments paid to Islam in his essay reflect his deeply held convictions, or are they political compliments to a group he views as a potential ally in the political struggle to attain a future Nouvelle Droite European state? In this way he is similar to Alexander Dugin, who once described de Benoist as the Western European whose thinking was most like his own: often illuminating, sometimes infuriating, and always interesting.
Moving from the theoretical to the practical, the next essay is a Collin Cleary piece on the nature of Odinism. While it is dedicated to Edred Thorssen, suggesting a certain commitment to occultism, Cleary’s actual definition of Odinism is much more wide-ranging: he believes that Odinism is the inner experience of the Northern European soul, essentially the spiritual drive behind Spengler’s Faustian civilization. Whatever one might think of attempts to revive heathen religions today, the explanatory power of the old gods in a psychological context cannot be denied. In this sense, Cleary’s essay is in the tradition of Jung’s “On Wotan”.
The next group of essays treat more specific aspects of tradition, and have a more scholarly cast. These include “Traditional Time-Telling in Old England, and Modern” and “Garden Dwarves and House Spirits.” This collection is marred only a little by the essays on “Geiler von Kaiserberg and the Furious Army,” “On Barbarian Suffering,” and “Germanic Art in the First Millenium.” The first essay is of some interest, but the archetypal use of the concept of the Wilde Jagd—its raw appeal to the imagination of the European—far outweighs what little material can be mined by scholarship, and the result of this attempt is somewhat flat. “On Barbarian Suffering” is just bad, and the same goes for “Germanic Art in the First Millennium” which reads like a term paper. I recommend skipping these two articles, as the surrounding material is of such high quality that they disrupt the flow significantly.
Michael Moynihan’s lengthy essay on midcentury artist Rockwell Kent is a superb work of scholarship and interpretation, bringing to light the work of an unjustly neglected American. Too often those with an interest in tradition assume that America has produced nothing artistically valuable. This is entirely due to a systematic miseducation that ignores those American artists who were not utter degenerates. Moynihan evaluates Kent’s self-illustrated books, which are primarily concerned with a Nietzschean, polar spirituality that took him from Greenland and Alaska to Tierra del Fuego in a quest of self-understanding. Kent’s socialistic politics are also touched upon, but it appears that his socialism has more in common with Jack London’s than Leon Trotsky’s. It is highly unlikely that this will prove any barrier to modern Identitarians. Rockwell Kent’s oeuvre is a shining testament to what an American can accomplish by sacralizing our own unique landscape and pursuing our considerable Faustian tendencies to the limit.
The most fascinating aspect of Tyr is its cultural project, it is not mere airy scholarship, but a practical guide to ways of thinking and acting in the world to bring about a definite shift in orientation toward the numinous. Tyr 4 seems intent on pushing the American alternative right outside its comfort zone, with explicitly counterculture material. This is clear from the excellent article by ethnopharmacologist Christian Rätsch on “The Mead of Inspiration,” which includes a recipe for a psychoactive beer. Taken with Cleary’s article emphasizing Odin as a shamanic guide and an interview with drug culture guru Ralph Metzner, there is clear effort to harness the energies contained within the drug culture and turn them toward traditional and spiritual ends. This is not something that should be dismissed out of hand, as we shall see.
Two music interviews by Joshua Buckley follow, with Benjamin Bagby and Cult of Youth’s Sean Ragon. They are comprehensive and well-conducted, but I will leave it to the musically-minded reader to investigate them more thoroughly.
The music reviews which make up a healthy chunk of Tyr‘s second half are all of high quality, and should be taken as a guide to exploring the neofolk genre, something Tyr 2 explicitly promoted by including a CD sampler of the music syle. The American alternative right has previously embraced black metal, whatever one thinks of that genres it cannot be denied that we would profit by adapting as many different styles of music as possible to our purposes, and neofolk appeals to sensibilities that remain unmoved by metal.
The book reviews range from Evola’s Path of Cinnabar to Edred Thorssen’s Alu: An Advanced Guide to Operative Runology and are all of superb quality. The former in particular deserves mention as it contains a summary of a scholarly work on Evola’s Pan-Germanism that is as yet unavailable in English. This section could profitably serve as a “to-read” list until the next issue.
Tyr‘s editorial introduction cites Martin Green’s Mountain of Truth: The Counterculture Begins 1900-1920, a book on the countercultural colony of Ascona in Switzerland, as a reminder that there is a common root between the counterculture and rightist movements: the lebensreform philosophies so prevalent in central Europe in the 1890s onward. This milieu formed thinkers from Guido von List to Carl Jung. From the perspective of Tradition, one of the healthiest modern phenomena is the urban farming subculture and the move toward healthy, organic living generally—a movement entirely driven by Whites. This sort of thing has potential. Tyr is providing a bridge between Identitarians, Heathens, Neofolk fans, and those nominally liberal Whites who are becoming dimly aware that organic lifestyles dedicated to spiritual seeking and the simple pleasures (and hardships) of our ancestors is only possible within the context of homogenous community building. I highly recommend Radix readers support that project.