0:00:00 – 0:07:30
On his Intellectual Origins, Futurism, Dadáism and the Theory of the Absolute Individual.
Interviewer: Julius Evola, could you talk to us about your origins, your youth and your spiritual formation?
Julius Evola: My origins: I was born in Rome. In regard to what is my purely biographical aspect, I shall not expose it — I have buried it. In regard to my intellectual formation, my official studies were in the domain of mathematics, and at the same time after my youth I felt very interested in philosophy and its mystical aspects. A little later I delved into the history of religions, in orientalism, and particularly the study of subjects which were linked to traditional doctrines, which allowed me to learn a critique of our modern civilization. And at last, the subject that I was devoted to was sexology corresponding to a work published in French: Metaphysics of Sex.
I: We know that you participated during your youth in vanguard movements. What are, in this period, your relations with Futurism and Dadá?
JE: In regard to Futurism, it emerged autonomously, since in Italy, Futurism didn’t exist as a vanguardist art. I met Marinetti, one of the main exponents of the Futurist movement. But a little after, I perceived that no homogeneity existed between my orientation and that of Futurism, which I accused of a sort of chaotic dynamism, a sort of “elan vital” of a chauvinist kind and a problematic exaltation of “future.” I didn’t appreciate many of these things. Contrarily, I was therefore immediately interested in the Dadáist movement that emerged after the war during 1919. I got acquainted with Tristan Tzara, and we both understood each other well. And during those times, I provided my contribution in the art of painting and in the art of poetry. In the case of poetry, what assisted me was my previous formation that, as an axis, was characterized by the symbolic French currents (Rimbaud, Mallarmé and so forth). As I said before, Tristan Tzara and I understood each other well, but also in his case, he rather had some misunderstandings in regard to some particular interpretations of Dadáism, not only as an artistic movement, but as the passage from a conception where the main interest is a sort of “absolute devotion.” I would say that this rather mystical aspect of Dadáism was denounced by me when, giving speeches around Italy, I encountered some incomprehension on the part of Tzara. That part of Tzara is little known.
I: We are aware that in 1923 you stopped being interested, in an active manner, both in painting and in poetry. What were the causes of this change?
JE: As I formerly said, for me all these artistic experiences did not only have an artistic value, but were a reflection of a deep existential crisis which emerged within me after the war — when returning from the war. Therefore, I could not remain in that crisis or state. This is the difference, I think, between the abstract art of those days, and the abstract art of nowadays. At that time, abstract art had a deep existential dimension, and today, it is rather a “fashion” or “cliché” having no deep dimension. Therefore, it is obvious that when I overcame the crisis, also the exterior expression in the artistic domain no longer made sense. But if one had seriously lived in such a deep crisis, there was no other alternative to choose: one could commit suicide or one could withdraw — which is what some Dadáists did, after the case of Aragon, for example — or rather, one could experience another path towards a dominion of interior experience, which is what I attempted.
I: In 1925 and until 1930 you formulated the theory of magical idealism, and that of the absolute individual, as exposed in your book The Path of Cinnabar. Could you explain to us such a doctrine?
JE: In order to explain it I should delve into technical and philosophical domains. However, I can say that this doctrine is a synthesis between the absolute idealism exposed by the successors of Kant (Schelling, Fichte, et cetera), existentialism before it was even grasped intellectually with an esoteric dimension, and thirdly, a doctrine of power. And as it might be easy to guess, one of the authors who exerted upon me a particular influence was Nietzsche, even though I don’t share all of his views. Therefore, it is a certain synthesis. The theory of absolute individual starts from a gnoseological standpoint, or doctrine of knowledge, where there is an established doctrine of the “I,” then I consider the further possible developments of this “I” towards the ideal, since the absolute individual is rather a chimera. The phases of this development were exposed in the second volume of The Theory of the Absolute Individual, which is called The Phenomenology of the Absolute Individual. The word “phenomenology” refers to the same Hegelian meaning: “Phanomenologie der Geist” (Phenomenology of the Spirit) in the sense, more or less, of a collection of diverse phenomena.
> Part II