Ep. 19: Gary Lachman on Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump (Interview in 2-Channel Stereo Version)
On this edition of Parallax Views I speak with author Gary Lachman about his latest book Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump which details the metaphysical underpinnings of the Trump Presidency and the alt right through the New Thought Movement, Russian geostrategist Aleksandr Dugin, and the obscure Italian occultist Julius Evola.
The conversation begins with Gary explaining how and why he became interested in the occult and metaphysical underpinnings of the Trump Presidency and the alt right, comparing and contrasting it to his previous work Politics and the Occult: The Left, the Right, and the Radically Unseen.
From there we delve into the influence of New Thought on Donald Trump through the figure of Norman Vincent Peale as well as detailing the alt right's own flirtations with New Thought ideas. This leads us into the topic of "meme magic" which the alt right, sometimes seriously and other time ironically, claim led to Trump's victory in the 2016 Presidential election. In this portion of the discussion Gary guides us through the alt right's mythologization of the cartoon frog Pepe into a metaphysical avatar called KEK and how it ties into the concept of synchromysticism. This leads to Gary giving a rundown of what he calls "trickle-down metaphysics" in an era of social media and reality television.
Norman Vincent Peale and his book The Power of Positive Thinking
We then segue into discussing two of the most prominent figures discussed in the book: Russian geostrategist Aleksandr Dugin and the fascist Italian occultist Julius Evola. Gary notes how both names became relevant in Western media thanks to Trump's former right-hand man Steve Bannon before dissecting the thoughts and ideas of the two figures. He explains Evola's relation to the Traditionalist School of thinkers led by Rene Guenon and his significance amongst the far-right during and after WWII. Then he delves into the strange history of Aleksandr Dugin, who he descibres as starting out as Russian punk dissident before developing into a thinker of the modern far-right who popularized the concept of "The Fourth Political Theory". We get into how Dugin seems to have been influenced by the ideas of German reactionary and historian Oswald Spengler, author of The Decline of the West, and has begun taking ideas from pre-Bolshevik Russian traditions.
Aleksandr Dugin, often referred to as "Putin's Rasputin"
From there we delve into the idea of "occult war" which Evola and Dugin both subscribe to in their own ways. This leads us into a discussion of the philosphical tensions between postmodernist and essentialist thought. Gary gives postmodernism it's due in trying to grapple with the flaws of the Enlightenment project while also criticizing what he calls its "pop nihilism". This lead Gary to discuss the importance of the importance of imagination and the idea of transcendence. We round out the conversation by delving into the possibility of a future "bellum omnia contra omnes" or "war of all against all" arising from the round of culture wars. This allows us to briefly touch upon one of Gary's primary influence, the late British philosopher Colin Wilson, and how we can go in different directions philosophically than the alt right and overcome these tense political times in the age of Trump.