This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Be yourself, but which self?

The motto of modernity is to ‘be yourself.’ That motto, in the context of a true doctrine about man, is the epitome of wisdom. In the modern world, however, it becomes poison, since the modern world does not know the Self. Man needs to learn to be himself through an arduous process of self-discovery and self-realization, which is at the same time a journey into the transcendent and ultimately a union with the Self who is God. The modern world teaches, on the contrary, that to ‘be yourself’ is a matter of self-invention. The self is not given from above and hidden within–it is created by the being who would be it, as one chooses a set of clothes and then puts them on. The question is never asked how a person who does not know himself is able to design and create this ‘self’ which he will then be. It is a kind of absurd ‘chicken before the egg’ conundrum, but the modern world does not care. It’s two primary requirements for a doctrine are that it not involve any power higher than the individual, and that it flatters him.

The rose in all its beauty is the manifestation of an idea hidden within God, and insofar as the rose perfectly manifests this idea, it manifests God, and is in its essential inseparable from God. The rose is ‘like God’ not in amplitude but insofar as it is His expression. If it could somehow refuse to consent to be what it is, and instead be something else, it would be less like God. Since God is Reality, to be less like God is to become less real. This is why the journey to God is the only way to discover our “real” selves; and it is always why the modern idea of ‘self-invention’ is a kind of suicide.

Every person is different, just as all things in the material order of manifestation differ from one another. All are ‘individualized,’ and because we tend to only see the surface of things, and especially with persons we tend to see their weaknesses, we take individuation as a type of imperfection. We imagine the ‘ideal man’ as this abstract perfection, with each and every ‘actual man’ as a sort of flawed version of that abstraction. There is truth in this way of thinking, but there is also error. The truth contained in it is that we are all imperfect, and that there is a perfection beyond each of us that we only reflect dimly, and which we must strive to realize. The error, however, is that we each have a ‘perfection’ that is uniquely ours, and that it is a grossly oversimplification to set up a single, abstract perfection in front of everyone regardless of who they are and what their vocation may be. If we do this, we inevitably wind up substituting some imaginary and culturally-influenced ‘superman’ for the much more real and much more perfect saint that God has in mind specifically for us.

We do not perfect ourselves by becoming like the greatest men who have ever lived; we perfect ourselves by becoming like the greatest men who have never lived. To each his own perfection, for a perfection that is not ours is actually an imperfection in us. By speaking in this way I do not mean to undermine the dictum that we are called to imitate Christ; I merely insist that the kind of imitation He asks of us is that we be animated by the same spirit, and not that we emulate his specific diet, lifestyle, and walk around parroting his words emptily.

Do you really think the reason so many billions of men have walked the face of the earth is because God keeps trying to get it right, but fails, and so keeps trying over and over? Or could it be that the limitless perfection within Him finds expression through an unlimited number of created beings, each called to realize a particular aspect and variation of the Absolute Perfection?

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